Metafilter had some questions for me this month October 17, 2002 10:47 AM   Subscribe

Metafilter had some questions for me this month.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders to MetaFilter-Related at 10:47 AM (52 comments total)

Do TV channels need to make it clearer that something is an ad, or do people need to be more careful watching TV?
What wildly popular "works" will our great grandchildren forget completely?
Is Kim Jong Il genuinely turning over a new leaf?
Do you read such things?
How are we feeling about this?
Anything missing from this list?
Is this for real?
Have you ever been in an awkward situation with a not-quite-stranger?
Any MeFi people know more about this?
Is it all about oil?
Is it time to call James Bond?
Are you annoyed by pop-ups?
And why aren't men allowed to be as touchingly affectionate toward one another today as they were more than 100 years ago?
Would you rather go to a thrill seeker or an angel of death?
What does this have to do with a war in Iraq?
Is this just political grandstanding?
Should we be worried about this?
Whose pecs will reign supreme?
Why do we pretend to understand the culture of the middle east?
How does one separate the morbid fascination with aging from the spiritual joy of growth?
At the end of the day, who are we?
Are knowledge management systems feasible or practical yet?
Would you buy a house from this guy?
Is it a low-blow to use an unflattering photo from someone's past?
Might dressing like a hooker go out of style someday?
But is hippie crack always bad?
What's up with people using "hosey" to refer to the "shotgun" seat of a car?
What makes a music movie compelling for fans and non-fans?
Has anyone been to any of these places?
Who is Delmart Vreeland? - Conman, Intelligence Agent, or both?
Have you ever used a food thermometer when cooking at home?
Care to second guess the Norwegians?
Anyone else done anything like that?
How many obvious right-wing ideologues with strong industry ties purporting to be objective scientists will Americans tolerate?
What happens next?
Will Dave Eggers succeed at NOT being a major commercial success, or will it happen despite his best efforts?
Why will no one from our government discuss this situation?
Will TiVo be the next Apple Newton or Commodore Amiga?
Wouldn't you be worried if your car could just stop itself if it saw a squirrel in the road?
Is there really such a wide gulf between Western culture's obsession with womens' breasts and and our refusal to wean ourselves, unlike the rest of the world, from milk?
Does this toe an ethical line?
Are there other reasons why we shouldn't all run our cars on Mazola?
Would you express yourself freely?
Ever heard of him?
Why isn't anyone talking about it?
Which outweighs, legal chicanery or creative bankruptcy?
Should we take the scientific mainstream seriously?
Anyone have a particular author they'd like to see get the gold?
Bored with McSweeneys?
Is there anything you shouldn't be allowed to change your name to?
Has Matthew Engel been reading Metafilter?
Did this really happen?
Ironic? Hypocritical? Justified?
Where's that gosh-darned knee-jerk reaction from the media that we've come to expect?
How about Carmen Miranda?
What would your design be?"
Is your favorite on the list, and if not, what is it?
Did you play in the marching band at your college?
Do you know of any other weblog obituaries?
Do these movie stars really think that globalization is just a myth?
What do you think are the greatest conservative hits?
Have the UN overreached, or this really as bad as they say it is?
Isn't this censorship?
Does this amount to Nuclear Apartheid?
Should we get serious about child care in the land of "family values"?
Is not everything Rumsfeld produced in his capacity as a government agent owned by the US public?
What would happen if Oscars was held in Iran?
Where/when should hard power be utilized to bring about longer-lasting peace?
What good does it do us to have information available on the web if we can't afford to buy it?
Are any mefi's out there regular on-line gamblers?
Overwrought or spot on?
Is the situation hopeless?
Is this just a 1st ammendment issue or is there a moral question to be thought out?
Bad news for govt. run health care, or media hype?
How can one culture judge another in such a biased manner?
Why is religion so goofy?
How real is too real?
Could lawsuits ensue?
Is this something that happens all the time, that I've missed, or is it, well, remarkable?
Anyone else have similar experiences?
Why is chiropractic controversial?



posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:49 AM on October 17, 2002 [1 favorite]


Did you google for each instance of "?" in the last month, or what?

But yeah, you're right - tagging a post with a question to spark discussion is weak and should be avoided.
posted by yhbc at 10:56 AM on October 17, 2002


Actually, I come not to bury Metafilter, but to praise it.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:58 AM on October 17, 2002


I've obviously missed some great sounds threads. Thanks!
posted by timeistight at 11:05 AM on October 17, 2002


Whoops!

MetaFilter: You're right! No, you're wrong!
posted by yhbc at 11:05 AM on October 17, 2002


tagging a post with a question to spark discussion is weak and should be avoided.

Absolutely. All the best posts simply tell the reader what they should think, and ask for agreement.
posted by Galvatron at 11:06 AM on October 17, 2002


?
posted by thomcatspike at 11:08 AM on October 17, 2002


I'm with stupid. (ha!)

But seriously, what's your point here, flanders? I agree, many of these questions are thought-provoking. And? I already know that MetaFilter is a great place to read, precisely because it makes me think and even change my viewpoint on things (rarely, but it happens).

If this is a shout-out to how great MeFi is, okay. Woot! Woot!

And what yhbc said.

Is that truly what you think, galvatron? If so, that's too bad. It makes me wonder why you joined.
posted by ashbury at 11:12 AM on October 17, 2002


Absolutely. All the best posts simply tell the reader what they should think, and ask for agreement.

How ridiculous. The really good posts don't prompt for discussion; they lay dormant for five minutes until someone invents a connection to Israel and Palestine.
posted by PrinceValium at 11:12 AM on October 17, 2002


Hey, you forgot my questionmark!
Mindsurfing?

Is this a mefi-quiz of some sort?
posted by ginz at 11:13 AM on October 17, 2002


I think galvatron was joking ashbury.
posted by ginz at 11:16 AM on October 17, 2002


what thomcat asked

posted by matteo at 11:16 AM on October 17, 2002


ashbury, my hope was that the comment would be more thought-provoking if I didn't have to explicitly label it as sarcasm...
posted by Galvatron at 11:17 AM on October 17, 2002


I don't know, Galvatron, read the questions he listed. I think many of these questions are basically equivalent to, if not worse than a statement of opinion in an FPP and serve to limit the discussion instead of open it up.

Inflammatory, like this one:
"Why is religion so goofy?"

Or false dichotomies...

Or the ever popular when-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife type questions...

And of course we all know why the "What's your favorite ____" type questions generate so much discussion. But that doesn't make them good questions.
posted by pitchblende at 11:24 AM on October 17, 2002


I think this entire argument is utterly ridiculous. Most of the questions listed above are simply a style of saying the poster's opinion and then acknowledging that he/she wants to hear others opinions on it. Last time I checked, the "internet" has these things called "weblogs" and "message boards" that are meant for that. I wonder if anyone else has heard of these.

Seriously- this is like listing all the FPPs that included periods and saying "gosh, people sure do like to make sentences." It's a community board. If this was a weblog that didn't want to have group discussion and points raised on it, it wouldn't have a comments section.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:26 AM on October 17, 2002


point made, galvatron.

I see this thread turning into a slippery slope very soon...
posted by ashbury at 11:29 AM on October 17, 2002


Might have to change the tagline to:

MetaFilter: You're right? No, you're wrong?

posted by mkelley at 11:29 AM on October 17, 2002


pitchblende: I see your point; it is not difficult to wrap a statement of opinion within a (poor) question. At the same time, I think a good question or two can serve to direct the course of a discussion in a useful direction. Browse through the list above and you will see a number of genuinely thought-provoking questions.
posted by Galvatron at 11:34 AM on October 17, 2002


Some questions are good, some questions are bad, some questions are redundant, some questions are a feeble attempt to make a boring post look interesting, some questions are necessary, some questions are helpful, some questions are inflammatory.
"Question" has no intrinsic value. It's all contextual.
posted by Fabulon7 at 11:35 AM on October 17, 2002


The use of questions in an FPP is poor style, plus it always comes off as begging for comments. High comment counts aren't really the goal and are not indicative of the quality of the FPP.
posted by whatnot at 11:39 AM on October 17, 2002


I just thought it would be cool to enjoy the randomness of all these questions all together on one page, so I spent 10 minutes with copy/paste.

Once I got them all on one page it tickled me so much I wanted to share it. No profundity intended.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:41 AM on October 17, 2002


MetaFilter: no profundity intended

You are right Flanders, they are funny. Surprised there are so many.
posted by whatnot at 11:45 AM on October 17, 2002


I don't mind questions in the proper context. Personally, I'm taking bets on how long 'til someone links to Drudge's snark that Barbara Streisand called Saddam Hussein "Iranian".

posted by RavinDave at 11:46 AM on October 17, 2002


I was under the assumption that FPP were supposed to incorporate some sort of question. Kind of like how the funniest joke in a Letterman Top Ten list usually comes in at #3, not #1.

posted by herc at 11:57 AM on October 17, 2002


so, um, when do we get the answers?
posted by quonsar at 11:58 AM on October 17, 2002


The use of questions in an FPP is poor style, plus it always comes off as begging for comments.

I agree with RavinDave. It depends on the question and the context.

High comment counts aren't really the goal and are not indicative of the quality of the FPP.

The guidelines paint a somewhat vague picture on that topic.
As a first-time poster or new member of MetaFilter, take a look at the older posts to get a feel for what constitutes a good link. Look at the links that carry 10 or 20 comments to see what everyone is talking about.
Understandably Matt is simply trying to outline ways to determine what constitutes a good post, but one criteria he uses is comment count.
posted by mikhail at 12:04 PM on October 17, 2002


I would like to se quonsar answer all of these, dating-service-video style.

many of them make good taglines as well:
Metafilter: Is this just political grandstanding?
Metafilter: Bored with McSweeneys?
Metafilter: Should we be worried about this?
Metafilter: Do you read such things?
Metafilter: Overwrought or spot on?
Metafilter: Whose pecs will reign supreme?
posted by whatnot at 12:11 PM on October 17, 2002


That may have been the criteria of yesteryear, when 10 or 20 comments was equivalent to 80 or 90 today.
posted by PrinceValium at 12:11 PM on October 17, 2002


Metafilter is not a discussion board, XQUZYPHYR. It's a weblog for new and noteworthy links that "might warrant discussion from others." Most new people see all the questions and the links that are strictly discussion-bait and reach the wrong conclusion about the place. Discussion is secondary.
posted by rcade at 12:12 PM on October 17, 2002


I believe Matt is on record as saying that participation on MetaFilter didn't really "take off" until he added a question explicitly asking what people thought to one of his posts. So the tradition is a long one, and the technique has been noted by our learless feeder as being useful for provoking discussion.

That's not to say that a question is all you need for a good post, but the practice's pedigree is impeccable.
posted by kindall at 12:13 PM on October 17, 2002


but one criteria he uses is comment count.

...because there is currently no metric for how "good" something is, and I had to grasp at straws to say something.

Suggestions for edits are welcome. How else would you tell new users to look to good posts to use as reference when making their own?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:14 PM on October 17, 2002


I believe Matt is on record as saying that participation on MetaFilter didn't really "take off" until he added a question explicitly asking what people thought to one of his posts. So the tradition is a long one, and the technique has been noted by our learless feeder as being useful for provoking discussion.

I did say this, because up until that point few comments, if any, were ever made. So yeah, it worked to kick the site off, though it might have been lazy discussion fodder.

Like all things on this site (and in life) moderation is key. A couple posts where the poster is actually looking for clarification or feedback from time to time is fine. When every post does it, it's tiresome. Ending a post with a question isn't always bad, and it isn't always good, it's another one of those tools for your toolbelt. Use it when necessary, not at every opportunity.

This would be another example of how things don't scale forever. Even if 90% of the membership can agree that 1 post every few days with a question mark is fine, a small minority might not pick up on that and make every post into a question, then more users see that and keep it up, etc. until we're here pointing out that perhaps 5-10 a day are happening.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:19 PM on October 17, 2002


How else would you tell new users to look to good posts to use as reference when making their own?

How about:
As a first-time poster or new member of MetaFilter, take a look at the older posts to get a feel for what constitutes a good link. MetaFilter members will often post "Great link" or "Thanks" in the comments of particularly good links.
posted by timeistight at 12:24 PM on October 17, 2002


It don't mean to cast aspesions on the guidelines Matt. Comment count is a valid way to see what constitutes a good post. And you didn't make it the ONLY way to determine a good post. But in reference to what whatnot said, and not to put words in your mouth, but part of the goal of MeFi seems to be generating discussion with good links. In essense, comments and comment count are a goal. No?
posted by mikhail at 12:24 PM on October 17, 2002


ack! aspersions...
posted by mikhail at 12:25 PM on October 17, 2002


so, um, when do we get the answers?

Yes.
Earth in the Balance
No.
No.
Bad.
Yes.
No.
Yes.
Yes.
Sort of.
He wouldn't answer anyway.
Yes.
It's complicated.
Mu.
Everything has to do with a war in Iraq.
Yes.
Yes.
George W's.
We're funny that way.
Wait long enough and you'll forget the whole thing.
People ready to hit the hay.
What's the difference between feasible and practical?
No.
No.
No.
Yes.
Nothing much.
Sex.
Yes.
Huh?
Yes.
No. My mama wouldn't like it.
Yes.
Lots.
Lots.
It's already too late.
They could tell you, but they'd have to kill you.
No.
Yes.
What are you, crazy?
Does it have a toe?
Yes.
I'd charge.
No.
Why should they?
Both.
Yes.
Yes.
Yes.
No.
Christ knows.
Yes.
Hypocritical.
Right over there.
How about her?
Creepy.
It's in there somewhere.
No.
No.
Yes.
I should care.
Nah, it's not quite that bad.
Yes.
Sort of, I guess.
Yes.
Well, that's complicated.
A lot more Iranian movies would win.
Well, that's complicated.
Not much.
Without doubt.
More truth than poetry.
Oh, I wouldn't go that far.
Depends what you mean by "moral."
A little of each.
Oh, it's not really that hard.
Next...
When Barbie bleeds, it's too real.
No doubt.
It's fairly remarkable.
Not me.
It just is.

(And, to answer a question you missed, it's both.)

posted by languagehat at 12:26 PM on October 17, 2002


Sorry, languagehat. I had:

People need to be more careful.
All of them except the sitcoms and the tweener bands.
Nope.
Not me, nope.
Perturbed. Dismayed.
Yes, prosthetic feet.
No.
Yes, my wedding night.
It's a lock.
No, it's about freedom. And jobs.
If it's not, it's getting close.
Yep.
Insecurity fed by media.
Angel of death.
It really doesn't, apologies.
Purely.
Yes.
Not mine.
It makes us feel superior.
Botox.
Lutherans.
I'll give you the same answer I gave you when you asked five minutes ago: They'll be ready when they're ready.
Depends on the house, the price, and the location. And the location, and the location.
I can only hope.
God forbid.
Not always.
Ignore them, they're different.
Dramatic tension and a good story.
Yes.
Both.
Often.
Wouldn't dare.
Not bloody likely.
1,542.
Dinner.
He will succeed at failure.
They are frightened of the citizens.
No.
No, I respect and admire the squirrel.
No.
Yes.
The smell might be one reason.
I try to, but it's not always practical.
No.
It's conspiracy.
Creative bankruptcy.
Yes.
Peter DeVries. But he's dead.
Yes.
No, as long as it's possibly to represent it in low ASCII.
Doubtful.
Yes, several people were there whom I trust.
1,3.
They were preoccupied with something else, apparently.
Yes, she was certainly something.
Some kind of image of a fruitbat combined with a printing press.
It's not: Emphysema.
No, I didn't.
No, I don't.
Yes, but they're uninformed and thinking primarily of their careers.
Ballad of the Green Berets.
It's that bad.
Not really, because it's not prior restraint by government.
Naw.
We should.
Seems so.
Many attractive U.S. stars would decline to attend.
In the face of clear and present danger.
It doesn't do you any good. It's good only for those who can afford it.
Yes, many are.
Spot on.
Utterly.
There's a moral question involved.
Media hype.
Wish fulfillment, probably.
Primarily because of the vestments and funny words.
Quite real.
Inevitably.
It's remarkable.
Yes.
Because it sounds like an adjective, yet people use it as a noun.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:32 PM on October 17, 2002


MetaFilter members will often post "Great link" or "Thanks" in the comments of particularly good links.

in which begins another moderation problem: people will start posting "great link" and "thanks" much more often (since they were being directed to do this in the guidelines), until eventually we will be complaining about it here in MetaTalk.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:37 PM on October 17, 2002


In essence, comments and comment count are a goal. No?

And I do mean this in the context of a good link.

If you look at alot of the posts that generate high comment counts (excluding news links), many of them are a lot like, "100 greatest albums of all time - So what's your favorite album?", but these aren't generally "good links".

Meanwhile, unique links, in context of well defined posts, speak for themselves and often don't generate much discussion, unless there is a provocative nudge in some direction.
posted by mikhail at 12:38 PM on October 17, 2002


people will start posting "great link" and "thanks" much more often (since they were being directed to do this in the guidelines), until eventually we will be complaining about it here in MetaTalk.

Exactly. MeFi is essentially a blog and works like almost any other blog. Links to unique sites don't generally spark discussion, or comments outside of "Cool! Thanks!", but post your opinion or a question and a discussion ensues.
posted by mikhail at 12:43 PM on October 17, 2002


Want to have more fun? Go back to that list and replace all the ?s with interrobangs (?!). It'll give you an anxiety heartattack. What does everyone else think about my comment?!
posted by Stan Chin at 12:56 PM on October 17, 2002


Yes, my wedding night.
Because it sounds like an adjective, yet people use it as a noun.


stupidsexyFlanders wins!
posted by languagehat at 1:07 PM on October 17, 2002


in which begins another moderation problem: people will start posting "great link" and "thanks" much more often (since they were being directed to do this in the guidelines), until eventually we will be complaining about it here in MetaTalk.

positive voting was recently raised here. that is, a system where one could post the equivalent of [this is good] for a mefi post. you could tack on a couple of fields in the table where threads are kept: 1) a boolean flag such that if it is true, votes may exist for this thread and so they should be shown; 2) a number that is incremented for every positive vote. the purpose of 1) being that older threads shouldn't have any vote number shown, since no one could vote back then. voting could be disallowed the way that commenting is for threads older than 30 days. a user could not vote more than once for any given thread.

good posts would be rewarded, regardless of commentary.
posted by moz at 1:08 PM on October 17, 2002


I think 10-20 comments are a sign of a good post. Less than 10 comments and the post is usually too dull to provoke a response; more then 20 or 30 and you can pretty much assume that it's degenerated into flames.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 1:10 PM on October 17, 2002


I agree that the link is more important than the discussion, but I can't imagine this place without the discussion, either. To my mind, any good link should have some sort of discussion, whether it's as short as "good post", "yeah, I think so too", "thanks for the link", to any one of the decent not-ending-with-a-question hundred comment threads. Metafilter wouldn't be metafilter without the discussions we have.

And not to pinpoint you, rcade, but if the link is so important, why do you have 2200 comments to your credit? You can't tell me that you haven't had your share of discussions somewhere in those 2200 comments.
posted by ashbury at 1:25 PM on October 17, 2002


There's a metric nobody's talked about, but which I think is a pretty good indication of thread quality -- that's comment length (combined to some degree with number of comments). I'm as guilty as anyone, but if I click through to a discussion filled with one-line, snarky 9622-type comments, that's probably not going to be Mefi at its best. With this metric you can see at a glance whether a given thread may cause you to change your mind or your POV, or at least enlighten.

Some enterprising soul might put all those "golden years of MeFi" claims to the test with this metric. Go back to January 2000, pick any thread with at least 15 or so comments, and count up the words (use a bookmarklet from here). Divide by number of comments. Do this over a few threads for each of a few 2000 months, then stack up against threads from a few 2002 months. I'm going to guess the longer threads have shorter comments. Prove me wrong?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:26 PM on October 17, 2002


I'd like to see more exclamation marks and semi-colons, myself.

Seriously, to question the question mark goes against the grain of the whole of Western civilization. Or doesn't it?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:37 PM on October 17, 2002


I half agree with you, Miguel. Semicolons, yes; exclamation marks, no!
posted by moss at 1:52 PM on October 17, 2002


Perhaps the tremulous question trend is really a reflection of the rising intonation that is so prevalent these days. If you read some of the questions off the list (to pick one at random): Is Kim Jong Il genuinely turning over a new leaf?, rearrange it in your head to be Kim Jong Il is genuinely turning over a new leaf? [now imagine a lift in the speaker's voice] --- sorta sounds like a Valley Girl who's not sure what to think [and i am a Valley Girl, so no dis intended]. I think it's a yet another reflection of how our conversational tone is changing written standards.

And yes, the form has been getting a little repetitious lately(?)
posted by DenOfSizer at 2:28 PM on October 17, 2002


it's another one of those tools for your toolbelt

Ack! I didn't get a toolbelt! Where is my toolbelt!

And I have to disagree with you, stupidsexyFlanders, about the comment length equaling merit of the thread. True, too many short comments is a bad sign, but I submit that a great many long comments can also be a bad sign. Long, drawn out comments often indicate the writer has a great deal of emotional involvement with the issue, has a lot of opinion to express, and a lot of argument to refute.

At the present moment some of the longest comments are found here at the discussion of an ex-soldier's call for soldiers to oppose the possible war with Iraq. Great Post? Hardly...just another in the long series of warblogs currently being featured here in Metafilter.


posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:45 PM on October 17, 2002


of course in greek the semicolon is the question mark...
posted by stinglessbee at 8:29 PM on October 17, 2002


In the spirit of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, I'll answer these as if we were playing "Questions Only" (a game in which you can only speak in questions). I'll be Colin Mochrie. You be Ryan Stiles.


Are we on TV right now?
Which will they remember?
Is he still alive?
Doesn't everybody?
Are we supposed to be feeling something?
How could there be?
Am I on Candid Camera?
Haven't you ever seen The Game?
Do MeFi people know anything?
Is it all about sex?
Is it time to kill James Bond?
Who isn't?
Are you coming on to me?
Is that really a choice?
What does this have to do with anything?
Is it any better than gerrymandering?
Are we supposed to be?
Do dead people count?
Why do we pretend to care?
Is this a trick question?
Don't you know?
Are those my only choices?
Do you think he's dangerous?
Does it count if they're dead?
Does it ever?
When is it good?
Am I supposed to answer that?
Does it have nudity?
Has anyone *not* been to any of those places?
Was he in ABBA?
When have I not?
Is that legal?
What do you mean?
Can that be considered a question?
Will we ever know?
Will Dave Eggers offer his throat to the wolf with the red roses?
Shouldn't you put that in writing?
Do you think it should be?
There's a squirrel in the road?
Am I on Jeopardy!?
Does it toe an ethnic one?
Could there possibly be any?
Why shouldn't I?
Who hasn't?
Are they supposed to?
Are you calling me fat?
Does anyone?
Can I nominate myself?
Isn't everyone?
What's wrong with my name?
Should we hack his computer?
Are you calling me a liar?
Which one of those doesn't belong?
Are you high right now?
How about Carmen Electra?
Can I have Bob Mackie design it?
Who wants to know?
Doesn't every dork?
Is there more than one?
Do they think anything?
Has there been any?
Could it get any worse?
Shouldn't you be asking Dee Snider?
Does this amount to anything?
Should we get serious about the Land of A Thousand Dances?
Am I the only one who thinks Rumsfeld is sexy?
What would happen if Oscars imploded?
When shouldn't it be?
Are you poor?
You wanna bet?
Could you elaborate?
Are you clinically depressed?
Isn't it both?
Isn't that faulty parallelism?
Are you referring to Canadians?
Isn't it obvious?
Isn't that Soren Kierkegaard?
Do you know a good lawyer?
Could it be all three?
Is this déjà vu?
Don't you know why?

posted by Zulujines at 7:09 PM on October 18, 2002


« Older "When does a thread cross the line...?"   |   Don't derail to recommend me a different browser Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments