Chatty asks are fun. Why not make it permanent? September 14, 2023 11:14 AM   Subscribe

I see there's a real-time chat, why not one in the style of the site? A sort of miscellaneous, Not Otherwise Specified subsite. I'm imagining basically chatfilter questions & maybe funny or interesting things not chewy enough for a FPP. (This is not really A Suggestion, more a what if & why/why not curiosity.)

+ Maybe could help contain people's excess silliness/irreverence/desire to blog? (I'm not sure how big an issue this is currently, if at all.)

+ The free threads are really fun & it's neat to find out what people are up to, but the format and the sheer volume of comments makes it feel like everyone's mostly talking into the void. Even more specifically themed threads (eg life updates) would make it easier to follow & respond.

+ Might make metafilter feel less intimidating/severe by redirecting instead of rejecting/removing posts & questions not suitable for the front page/askme.

-/+? Less particular rules & guidelines = easier to post = more posts.
- Maybe more likely to produce posts of a controversial or inflammatory nature, needing more mod awareness than the average FPP or ask?
- possibly outsized impact on budget & workload.

- Not the direction Metafilter wants to go in/not in keeping with the core values & spirit of the site?

-? the list of subsites is a bit scary and I don't know that adding another one would make it better. (This is probably a personal problem)


One of my favorite things about all of metafilter is that it has the type of standards and expectations that often produce interesting discussions and good information.
IF miscfilter existed & found a happy balance between quality and freedom, what would that look like & what rules/formats/stated expectations/style of modding/???? might accomplish that?

Would such a subsite ever be desired or realistically doable?
posted by Baethan to MetaFilter-Related at 11:14 AM (40 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

I totally agree - I thought the streaming services one in particular scratched an itch that this site has historically had that I think builds a lot of community. Think of the past "show your desk setup" type ones that happened from time to time in MetaTalk - it is nice to see how people approach relatively mundane aspects of life.

I think the open threads and Friday themed questions that existed at one time are on the same vein - however, having them focused on a topic (not a free for all) and initiated by a community member and not a staff member to me feel like a great way to get more engagement. I know there will be some worry that it will make AskMe a little more unruly to get rid of the "no chatfilter" rule permanently, but maybe this site needs a little more unruly.
posted by openhearted at 1:42 PM on September 14, 2023 [3 favorites]

Chatfilter Friday
posted by phunniemee at 2:58 PM on September 14, 2023 [18 favorites]

And if we find it works well to contain certain site behaviors, I also propose Wet Blanket Wednesdays
posted by phunniemee at 3:01 PM on September 14, 2023 [20 favorites]

Metafilter has a chat. No idea if anyone uses it. And there used to be that other site, MetaChat, but I have no idea if that still exists.

Honestly, I've been thinking for a while now that MetaFilter would do better with fewer subsites. I would archive FanFare and Jobs, and roll Music into Projects, even though I'm charmed by how Music is like a miniature dive bar, an itsy bitsy mushroom hiding in a patch of grass.
posted by betweenthebars at 4:25 PM on September 14, 2023 [4 favorites]

MetaChat definitely still exists, although it's become an extremely small community. New and returning people are absolutely welcome to join in!

I do think the more chatty threads have value and the potential to act as something of a pressure relief, enabling members to interact in a less formal way. I'm inclined to think the addition of a specific section where chattiness is welcomed would be a good thing and clearly demarcate where it's OK to chat and where it's not. MetaFilter Chat is a real thing and linked from the menu, but it's never really got a great take-up and I believe most would prefer something they can drop in and out of and have asynchronous conversations more in line with the rest of the site. The current chat facility is a bit clunky and doesn't look or feel like part of the site.

I know tech resources are thin on the ground and what seems as simple as copying the code for (eg) MetaTalk and applying a different background/labels is not anywhere near that simple because of legacy issues in the code. I'd like to see it, though.
posted by dg at 6:29 PM on September 14, 2023 [2 favorites]

I love the fact that they all start with a hyperlinked hashtag, because, to be a wet blanket myself, it makes it really easy for me to just skip them. Which I don't always do but sometimes I want to.
posted by aubilenon at 6:50 PM on September 14, 2023 [3 favorites]

Yes. Do this. Anything to drive engagement. The site needs it.

I tried chat once and couldn't remember my site password and couldn't log in! And then figured it wasn't a thing anyway as it is rarely mentioned and I've been here over 20 years. Maybe it is and I'm not cliquey enough and that's fine.

This pony is an easy way to loosen up on the most popular part of the site and I'm all for it.
posted by tiny frying pan at 7:20 PM on September 14, 2023 [6 favorites]

I actually find the rules around participation in AskMe sort of … interrupt the flow sometimes. Threadsitting can be problematic, but responses from the OP to add context feel helpful to me more often than not. And I’ve never really understood the prohibition on more open questions or on member back and forth. I would be in favor of relaxing the rules on both of these. I’m not sure if this is responsive to this MeTa or not.
posted by eirias at 7:24 PM on September 14, 2023 [18 favorites]

It seems like it would be very easy to just add a category on the green for chatfilter and give people a setting to hide chatfilter posts if they're allergic to fun.
posted by potrzebie at 7:48 PM on September 14, 2023 [20 favorites]

I literally tell people all the time that I am allergic to fun, but I don’t mean internet yammering, I mean like carousing and rollercoasters and stuff. If I were allergic to internet yammering maybe the dishes would be done by now.
posted by eirias at 8:05 PM on September 14, 2023 [2 favorites]

I'm all for allowing chatty asks and it would bring me to the site more often, definitely. Giving them their own category would be a great way to do it, and make them easy to find for people who like those questions. I've enjoyed reading the Chatfilter questions the last few weeks and they were all interesting, there weren't any that I felt detracted from the spirit of the site. I don't use any of the subsites so if chatfilter were to go there, I'd totally miss out.
posted by daikon at 11:17 PM on September 14, 2023 [5 favorites]

I like this idea!
posted by ellieBOA at 12:14 AM on September 15, 2023 [1 favorite]

daikon: I've enjoyed reading the Chatfilter questions the last few weeks and they were all interesting, there weren't any that I felt detracted from the spirit of the site. I don't use any of the subsites so if chatfilter were to go there, I'd totally miss out.

Sorry, but I don't understand. AskMeFi is a subsite, isn't it? If you don't go there, where did you read the Chatfilter questions? And MetaTalk is a subsite too, so I feel I'm missing or misunderstanding something.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:56 AM on September 15, 2023


Just a note that IMO, FanFare with proper UX/tagging/etc. is a solid contributor to the future of the site, because it could be made fairly search-friendly (unlike the blue, where the cute titles and lack of relevant text kill it) or the way Ask has been degraded in search. So “people who like to talk about media” might actually find it at the point they want to talk/read about [show] and be able to quickly participate without having to learn 125854 rules, and that’s one affinity group for “people who like MetaFilter.” It’s also a lower-stakes topic area for me to recommend to my friends who love (x thing) than some thread that looks interesting but becomes weird because of the err, quirks of this community that trend towards doomcommenting. A quirk I can live with but cannot recommend to my friends.

FanFare also, if it were grown, could actually be sponsored by ad budgets around services and show launches and even books (and podcasts and games), without interference with the actual conversation, so it has a modest potential there. It could also partner with select creators, who don’t want to run their own Discord or whatever, to be the official “home” for fans, esp. in the wake of Twitter’s demise. Why would creators partner? Well, they could drop in to discuss only their bonus episodes and that might drive their paid subscriptions. Etc.

I doubt Netflix would give huge budgets but with hiring an expert to do some sales work (again, predicated on UX changes and a more active community) I would guess you could well outpace affiliate revenue and it’s a diversification from donations.

Okay sorry for the derail…on to the misc site. I like the idea and it would be cool to set it up on a different platform to test it (although there are a lot of challenges there that are probably currently unachievable.)
posted by warriorqueen at 4:17 AM on September 15, 2023 [23 favorites]

And sorry, my brain is buzzing so I’ll just add that I think the unique prop for FanFare is:

- it crosses types of media, so if you like X person’s smart comments on WandaVision you can also see if they’ve posted and graphic novel recommendations

- the moderation in this case works for sponsors, meaning they know nods will keep discussions relatively focused

- being able to surface discussions by latest comments and also a robust search lets ppl like me who do everything late find it, and the vibe of our community is some people are happy to discuss Succession a year later, so it’s a bit different in pacing (this works less well for sales revenue but you’ve still got join fee/donations)
posted by warriorqueen at 5:10 AM on September 15, 2023 [7 favorites]

Yes please to chatty Asks.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 7:33 AM on September 15, 2023 [1 favorite]

On the one hand I like the idea, but on the other hand, it makes it much harder to enforce the culture on the other questions. I mean is the rule "no threadsitting" or not? What about jokey answers? I think if chatfilter questions were allowed on AskMe it would kind of ruin the good thing going with the existing style of AskMe.

So...if it existed I think it should be a separate site. DiscussionFilter? WonderFilter? I think ChatFilter implies we're all just here shooting the shit wherever the conversation goes. Even if chatfilter type questions were allowed it should still be "here's the topic of this post. Discuss THIS." not just "Come in and tell us whatever."
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:03 AM on September 15, 2023 [8 favorites]

Can we keep chats on Metatalk?
Or have them on Metafilter with good tags?
posted by calgirl at 8:06 AM on September 15, 2023 [1 favorite]

The "chatty" asks aren't even chatty, they're just asking more open ended and nonspecific questions than what's prescribed by standard Ask guidelines.
posted by phunniemee at 8:35 AM on September 15, 2023 [9 favorites]

I've really been enjoying the chatty asks too! Another user here who would be happy if they were made permanent.
posted by unicorn chaser at 8:50 AM on September 15, 2023

I guess I don't like fun, because neither a less-useful (less signal, more noise, and it's not always easy for me to distinguish serious and less-serious answers, especially on subjects I don't know a lot about) AskMe nor yet another subsite are especially appealing to me.

Then again, I don't usually participate in the free threads either, but it's not like they cause me any harm, and other people certainly seem to enjoy them.

Land of contrasts.
posted by box at 9:36 AM on September 15, 2023 [7 favorites]

The "chatty" asks aren't even chatty, they're just asking more open ended and nonspecific questions than what's prescribed by standard Ask guidelines.

Yes, I guess that's what i mean by why I don't think if we did that it should be called chatfilter, because it's not actually chat (and I don't think it should be).
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:09 AM on September 15, 2023

How about one ChatFilter allowed per user per day or week, and unlimited regular Asks? 🤔
posted by tiny frying pan at 11:20 AM on September 15, 2023 [2 favorites]

+1 to chatfilter Friday, I really like that.
posted by capricorn at 3:20 PM on September 15, 2023 [1 favorite]

If you say it right, Chatfilter Tuesday has some nice alliteration.
posted by aubilenon at 6:12 PM on September 15, 2023

Really lean into the t’s.
posted by box at 8:55 PM on September 15, 2023

I like this - the chatfilter threads are fun! Chatfilter friday is a good idea if it's not worth spinning up its own subsite.

I also agree with a commenter upthread that it might make sense to revist some of the smaller subsites and their relevance in today's mefi. Jobs had exactly 2 posts for all of August, July had 1, June 0, May had 3. IRL, although once a great part of community building for Mefi, is also looking pretty spare. I'm assuming this is a covid fatality, but I'm too lazy to check. However August didn't have a single post. July had 1. May and June both had none, but April had 4! But one post since then? Yikes.

I realize these subsites don't require a lot of mod effort, but that shouldn't be the criteria for keeping them alive; engagement should be. They add clutter and dilute metafilter's purpose IMHO. And if removed they wouldn't need a flagging UI fix, either!
posted by cgg at 9:00 PM on September 15, 2023 [4 favorites]

I don’t participate in the open threads, but I have loved the chatfilter posts. I’ve been back on the site DAILY since they’ve come around. I’ve been a member since 2007ish, donating $7/month for years, but haven’t used the site actively in ~2 years.

I literally came to meta talk to propose this idea. But here it is, ready for me.

My proposal:
* chatfilter posts on AskMe are tagged as chatfilter
* no special day/time for chatfilter
* the first 2 chatfilter posts of the day (mods to define when the day begins) are first-come-first-serve, and any subsequent chats require a donation

Potential problems: what if a chatfilter post is not appropriately tagged? Requires extra modding.
posted by samthemander at 9:57 PM on September 15, 2023 [2 favorites]

I take it back. It should be 1 first-come-first-serve chatfilter/day, and the rest are on a donation basis.
posted by samthemander at 10:00 PM on September 15, 2023

Chatty comments on the Blue seem to be very popular— look at all the personal anecdotes in the FFP about Antarctic accents.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:23 AM on September 16, 2023

Yes to catfilter, no to cattyfilter.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:51 AM on September 16, 2023

Love this idea of ChatFilter Friday, probably within existing AskMe. There's probably not an equitable way to do a "first one's free then by donation" indicator but maybe a some user ask like "Friday chatty AskMes are okay if you use the chatfilter tag. Please consider a donation to the site because it's helpful." I'll talk to the team this week, see how they feel and if we can make this happen, how to deal with timezones, etc. Since it doesn't really require coding (except possibly a "hide" option which seems like it might be nice) it's a thing we could make happen.

I’ve been a member since 2007ish, donating $7/month for years

Just wanted to specifically say thanks for your support.

I think the unique prop for FanFare

Could not agree more. Probably a conversation for another thread but I just wanted to say "I hear this"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:10 PM on September 16, 2023 [9 favorites]

Donations or not, it might well increase engagement, which is in itself a Good Thing.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:34 PM on September 16, 2023 [1 favorite]

bring back the jabber server
posted by glonous keming at 5:14 PM on September 16, 2023

Generic Chatting is what the free threads are for, right? This is about questions that are chatty and in my mind those are two different things. I remember some metatalk threads about why people won't just answer the darn question and suggestions that some people welcome a wide range of answers and others want very specific solutions. I said we should have a way to indicate what kind of answers we are looking for. At least one person replied the way to do that is in your own question, but to me that isn't working well right now since most people are not indicating that in their post. I've seen people get upset at my own answers that are maybe not as specific as they were hoping, and rather than come back and explain, I noped out of the question because it was clear to me that I was the wrong person to deliver that message.

I still think there should be some kind of site convention that indicates how tightly constrained the asker's criteria is or how freely the replies can interpret the question's requirements. I don't have a strong opinion on a solution, just glad to see people acknowledging the need for options.
posted by soelo at 10:00 AM on September 17, 2023 [2 favorites]

I think a regular ChatFilter in AskMe is a fine idea, but I don't love it being on a particular day each week. For example right now, it is Monday morning for me while most of MetaFilter is still hopefully enjoying Sunday. So if the designated ChatFilter day were Monday, could I post a chatty question or would I have to wait until the Official MetaFilter Time (I'm not sure which time zone this would be) clicks over to Monday? Or is it a rolling day so if it's Monday (or Friday, whichever day is picked) for the person posting, it's ok?

Other free/chat threads have built off of a single post rather than being initiated by all and sundry so it hasn't been much of an issue so far, and maybe it still isn't. Just think of this as your periodic reminder that not all of MetaFilter lives in the same country.
posted by Athanassiel at 1:52 PM on September 17, 2023 [4 favorites]

> Jobs

I guess I'll pipe in with a defense of Jobs. It's probably been the most directly or tangibly useful or helpful subsite here for me and some others, and sometimes there's an Ask where a good rec was to post it on Jobs so a fellow MeFite could fulfill the request. It's a good matchmaking service for people who don't want to go through Fiverr, TaskRabbit, Etsy, etc.

It probably doesn't look as active as it is because the listings disappear when the Job is filled.
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 5:23 PM on September 19, 2023 [5 favorites]

I don't get the distaste here for an actual ChatFilter subsite. Half the time when I come to MetaTalk, I'm looking for something exactly along those lines to kill some time.

It could be set up like a clone of Ask or FF, structurally, except that each thread has a nominal topic (with many/most going wildly off-topic, and that's OK and expected). The Free Threads don't seem to me to be…quite that. To use an analogy, a ChatFilter thread would be like an actual chat, like at a party when a handful of people interested in a topic gravitate together, then change groupings for other topics—whereas Free Threads feel (to me) more like one of those raucous meetings with too many people in it who like each other a little too much to stick to the agenda but also nobody made an agenda and everybody's totally cool with the lack of an agenda.

And for those who actually use it, the actual live chat that "Chat" links to now could still persist, as a sort of sub-subsite of ChatFilter (which would become the new destination of that "Chat" link). But 90% of why I don't use the current Chat is that it's kind of impossible to participate when you want to about what you want to. An Ask/FF-style structure seems like it'd resolve that issue.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:07 AM on September 22, 2023 [3 favorites]

Is it tabulated/ communicable how much the askme chatfilter fundraiser raised?
posted by porpoise at 8:14 PM on September 22, 2023

I had a similar thought when the chatfilter questions were going up, and also found myself what made some of them chatfilter. For example, the question "Why don't people reply to invitations?" that someone posed as their chatfilter seemed to me like a legit Ask - the user had a problem (annoyance at people not responding) and wanted to get the perspective of others who are those not responding.

Anyway, I just re-read the rules and pasted them below - the bits I've bolded/italicized seem worth re-thinking, in my opinion:

"Ask Metafilter questions need to have some possible answer or should be asking for information that will be put to some practical use. Chatty open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of Ask Metafilter and push other questions off the front page. If you want to avoid having your question flagged and possibly removed, here are some things to avoid.

- Questions where everyone's answer is equally valid along the lines of "What's your favorite X?". Maybe there is a reason you want to know? Super, just put it in your question.
- Asking the question and giving your own answer before getting the answers of others, saying some variant of "I'll go first" If you can authoritatively answer your own question, it's probably not right for AskMe.
- Questions with no problem to be solved or where the problem is some variant of "I'm curious if other people feel like I do"
- Open-ended unanswerable or hypothetical questions like "What if Hitler had never been born?" or made up "what if" science questions. Creating arbitrary constraints and then playing "what if" is not a good use of AskMe.
- Questions that are some version of "What is the deal with X?"or "X sucks, am I right?" tend to not go well on Ask MetaFilter. Please do not rant on AskMe and pretend it is a question."

The questions that are the most enjoyable to me are those that are thoughtful and that produce thoughtful answers - a question like "What's your favorite color" isn't going to do that, whereas questions "Why don't people reply to invitations?" make space for people to reflect on a common social problem. Both are a bit chatty, but I'd say one is valuable whereas the other is just noise/best left for free threads. Another difference, which I think is key, is one doesn't really benefit from the hive-mind, whereas the other clearly does.
posted by coffeecat at 4:13 PM on September 23, 2023 [1 favorite]

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