Proto-AskMetafilter December 8, 2003 10:13 AM   Subscribe

It's been mentioned a few times here, but one thread in particular got me thinking about it, and this weekend I finally got off my ass and did something about it. I bring to you, Ask Metafilter.
posted by Hackworth to MetaFilter-Related at 10:13 AM (29 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Basically, there is an untapped potential in the mefi userbase when it comes to advice and general knowledge, and I wanted to provide a way for it to be accessable without taking away from metafilter itself. Hopefully, this can fit the bill. This is very "first draft", and I am open to suggestions about how it might work better, so please, let me know what you think.
posted by Hackworth at 10:13 AM on December 8, 2003

Well, obviously, it'd be cool if it already used existing user accounts here. I've always wanted to create an Ask MetaFilter area of the site but was weighed down in issues of how to manage it, if I should charge some nominal fee to ask a question (to keep the number of questions down), etc.

It could just be a section of MetaTalk, and grow into its own section if need be. Hackworth, would you be pissed if I did that and sort of undermined your whole thing?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:44 AM on December 8, 2003

This is a great idea, if people use it--Maybe Matt can put in on the sidebar? (I just picked everyone's brain at the hoboken meetup, so I know I could use something like this.)

on preview: if it's actually part of here, that's even better. : >
posted by amberglow at 10:47 AM on December 8, 2003

Harnessing the collective brain power of the mob - love it. Unfortunately I have no worthwhile area of expertise, so I don't think I'll be contributing much. Unless anyone needs to know something about flowers. Then I'm your man, as it were.

On preview: If Matt takes it over it would be nice if Hackworth could oversee it. And charging money to keep the moronic questions to a minimum is a good idea.
posted by iconomy at 10:57 AM on December 8, 2003

It could just be a section of MetaTalk, and grow into its own section if need be. Hackworth, would you be pissed if I did that and sort of undermined your whole thing?

DO IT! It's not really "Ask Metafilter" if it's not on Metafilter....

I'd like to put in a vote for tying it into MeFi blue, though. That's where the real power is.

We just need some kind of additional outlet for the community so people won't feel the need to force things into FFPs that really shouldn't be there.

There's a very real community here, as everyone knows, but that community has no way to really ask what kind of digital camera they should buy, announce the birth of a child, or talk about anything else without it being crafted into a perfect FPP.
posted by oissubke at 10:59 AM on December 8, 2003

[this is good]

This really needs supervision and moderation. It becomes much more valuable if you know the information provided has been validated. Sure, this will happen naturally in the typical MeFi Scooby manner. But it would be more valuable if we had 20 great comments, rather than 20 great ones hidden in 100 pancake injokes.
posted by y6y6y6 at 11:12 AM on December 8, 2003

Hey, if it gets integrated here, great. As long as it gets done. Maybe I can get a discount ;)
posted by Hackworth at 11:25 AM on December 8, 2003

that community has no way to really ask what kind of digital camera they should buy, announce the birth of a child, or talk about anything else...

Are we going to have to pay to make personal announcements as well as ask questions? If so, I'm making mine while it's still free: I'm moving upstate this weekend! (Don't worry, NYC MeFites, I still work in the city, so will be available for lunch and MeFi get-togethers in the city.)
posted by languagehat at 12:07 PM on December 8, 2003

When did annoucements become questions?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:16 PM on December 8, 2003

"When did annoucements become questions?"

Or, if you charge for posting a question:

I think keeping it focused is key. Help desk questions - Yes. Questions about social what-ifs and glassware - No.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:29 PM on December 8, 2003 [1 favorite]

hmm, maybe I'll leave my forum open for the social whatifs and glassware if the helpdesk (which, I am assuming, means more ask-google-ish content) stuff is done here for a fee. Ponies for all!
posted by Hackworth at 12:40 PM on December 8, 2003

I've always loved the 'which piece of software is best for x' and so on question threads at Discuss at a certain other unnamed site, so [this is good].
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:51 PM on December 8, 2003

Perhaps the way to implement this is to mutate “Karma” a la Slashdot or K5. Not to reinvent “karma” or anything, but perhaps a modified version could be useful. In the beginning, a user gets a certain number of “Asks.” These “Asks” are increased by some additional unit every time the user answers another user’s “Ask”. If the user’s “Ask” was modded up as +X (Informative, Interesting, ETC.) then the “Ask” given to the user is multiplied/increased. The advantages of this system, it that those who give the most relevant answers are rewarded, without penalizing those who just need a quick answer and who do not use the system. A section of random users are given moderator points, and mod the answers. The downside of all of this is, of course, the addition of new coding and service by Matt. On the other hand, there would always be areas and opportunities for abuse. Perhaps those with areas of expertise could somehow be used. Maybe when you sign up, you could indicate what you do, and what level of knowledge in different areas the user has. Perhaps those with more knowledge in one area, such as Architecture (in my case) could earn the distinction of a moderator in their given area. This could come about by better Karma, and use. But, I think I’m just thinking out loud. It all sounds fine and dandy, but that also sounds like a lot of work, and I wouldn’t know where to start.

Personally, I think “Ask MeFi” would be a great addition to MeFi. Perhaps, this wouldn’t have a home on the Blue, but perhaps a list of the last X “Asks” could be placed on the sidebar. (???) Either way, can we Ask MetaFilter how to implement "Ask MetaFilter"?
posted by plemeljr at 12:56 PM on December 8, 2003

I don't mind questions about glassware actually. If I could ask any question on earth right now to the members here, it'd probably be about HDTV stuff, which is more homeware than software.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:11 PM on December 8, 2003

I don't mind questions about glassware actually.

I suspect the "social what-ifs and glassware" kvetch is just y6y6y6 taking yet another swipe at MiguelCardoso.
posted by timeistight at 1:18 PM on December 8, 2003

yet another swipe at MiguelCardoso

I suspect you're right, but honestly if anyone is going to push the boundaries of what is acceptable it's bound to be Miguel.

(of course, I may just be joining in the Miguel flogging because he spilled the beans about my xmas gift all over MeFi when I've been successfully avoiding other blogs talking about it -- who hasn't heard of "more inside"? I would have liked for it to be a surprise, and was surprised to learn it today.)
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:23 PM on December 8, 2003

On that note -- would it be possible to block Miguel's IP in the "Ask Metafilter" configuration? I just mean, you know, hypothetically.
posted by dhoyt at 1:29 PM on December 8, 2003

don't worry, matt--we switched to a different gift (and we're not letting miguel know about it this time) : >
posted by amberglow at 1:40 PM on December 8, 2003

Damn me, I'm deeply sorry, Matt. I tried to do the space thing, like boing boing, but it didn't work. I feel awful now.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:40 PM on December 8, 2003

"just y6y6y6 taking yet another swipe at MiguelCardoso."

For the record........

I said a while back that I was done taking swipes at Miguel, and I meant it. I'm trying, really hard, to not take swipes at him. Clearly I'm failing. But I really am making an effort.

Miguel has my respect. He is part of the culture here. And I love this place. If he was offended by the glassware remark, I'm sorry, that really wasn't my intention. It was suppose to be more playful ribbing - Something he and I could sip port and laugh about rather than a sharp poke in the ribs.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:04 PM on December 8, 2003

This is a great idea - it was sort of tried with the MeFi Tribe but the bottom line is, if it ain't part of MeFi "proper" it ain't gonna fly. While I can see why you would charge to ask a question, the work involved in administering this and the number of people who will be left out in the cold by being unable to pay for whatever reason may outweigh the benefits in terms of cutting down frivolous questions.
posted by dg at 3:11 PM on December 8, 2003

As someone who is a veteran of Google Answers... I have some advice.

++If you charge, let it be nominal and unless you want to moderate AMF forever, let it just be the up front "ask a question" charge and not have some sort of completion-implication wrapped up in it.

++ karma is a good idea, or allowing the question asker to close the question once they've gotten the level of info they need [since it's in MeTa it will drop off the front page fast and can't be revived with "my comments" like on the front page]

++ think of some nice way to avoid doing people's homework, offering legal or medical advice [if you're not a lawyer/doctor, or maybe even if you are] or doing people's market research, otherwise the place will fill up FAST.

++ it will quickly take over MeTa, might want to give it its own page, or a way to toggle it on and off....

++ be hardass about cutesy bullshit, unless you like that sort of thing. I got attitude from the google answers powers that be for giving a flip answer to the question "I like girls. do you like girls?"

++ let the questions begin! that's cool Matt.... [and hackworth!]
posted by jessamyn at 3:23 PM on December 8, 2003 [7 favorites]

migs is attention seeking by being naughty
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:33 PM on December 8, 2003

space thing my arse
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:37 PM on December 8, 2003

I love this idea. I'm remembering a while back someone posted a link to a site with a name like "Life Support," which was basically running a freeware/shareware script that could run a tech support site - open and close cases, response archiving, etc. Would an arrangement like that work?

It'd be nice if questions with answers could be categorized and archived to create a kind of all-over-the-map "knowledge base" of MeFi knowledge.
posted by pzarquon at 3:39 PM on December 8, 2003

I guess I don't understand the idea of charging for the work of volunteers—admittedly, I may be missing something. Can someone explain to me how this model would work and why it is preferred?
posted by rushmc at 7:21 PM on December 8, 2003

I think the idea is to keep people from asking any old frivilous question and to keep moderation requirements low, rather than a money generating plan. or not, depends on Matt.
posted by Hackworth at 7:31 PM on December 8, 2003

I guess I don't understand the idea of charging for the work of volunteers—admittedly, I may be missing something.

Never read Tom Sawyer?
posted by timeistight at 9:09 AM on December 9, 2003

Hey, thanks for the props... It should be called Banished Ask Metafilter ehh? I'm just damn glad you got Matt excited about this again. I've wanted it for a long time now.
posted by banished at 7:48 PM on December 9, 2003

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