Making MeFi Experts December 11, 2003 11:23 AM   Subscribe

Perhaps we should make Ask MetaFilter a Clydesdale instead of a pony: if user profiles included a means of categorizing one's expertise, we'd be able to have Ask MetaFilter automatically email appropriate questions to the experts; we'd be able to hunt down an expert for 1:1 communication; we'd be able to create some sort of synergy.
posted by five fresh fish to Feature Requests at 11:23 AM (18 comments total)

F'rinstance, I have some amount of expertise in the technical writing field, especially re: XML>XSL>PDF workflows. I'm also a backpacker and could contribute very usefully to anyone needing info re: how to get started. I'd be happy to share recipes. I repair my own car. I'd be pleased to support anyone doing Python work, not that I'm an expert but am keenly interested.

And etc.

It'd be quite the thing if we could develop some sort of loose network of experts and special interests, as a means of supporting one another, and especially as a means of making Ask MetaFilter even more powerful and relevent.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:27 AM on December 11, 2003

Ha, you used synergy without irony. Penalty! Ten yards!

Yeah, this is but one possibility of many to come. I'm going to do my best in the next few weeks to really bulk up the feature set, but I don't think I'll ever quite take it to the point where questions are emailed to people, as it seems a bit forward and annoying.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:41 AM on December 11, 2003

A sample letter could go as follows:

Dear mathowie:

I understand you are some sort of "expert" on ponies. Could you please make it so that anyone who uses the word "synergy" in any context gets a shock from the keyboard?


posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:45 AM on December 11, 2003

if user profiles included a means of categorizing one's expertise

In the mean time, text in user profiles is searchable, so people interested in participating could simply list their areas of expertise there.
posted by eddydamascene at 12:02 PM on December 11, 2003

Hildago is an expert on:

Ernest Hemingway
posted by Hildago at 12:13 PM on December 11, 2003

Just an example of how this might be implemented.
posted by Hildago at 12:17 PM on December 11, 2003

My favorite list like that, among the avid interests of a great guy I wrote an article about for Air & Space/Smithsonian, includes:
Geologic Poetry
Critical Analysis of Pseudoscience and Creationism
Abraham Lincoln
Early Aviation History (emphasis pre-1909)
Antique Pressing Irons

(He coordinated the creation of the 40-mile-long Maine Solar System Model.)
posted by LeLiLo at 12:26 PM on December 11, 2003

Or we could make categories, organised hierarchically. People could then subscribe to the categories they wanted and get to see only posts in those categories. This would probably become rather popular, so we could make a system of several servers which forward posts and comments to eachother. A webbrowser might not be the easiest way of handling this data, so we could make a separate protocol through which clients can connect and retrieve posts (let's call it Metafilter Mmessage Transfer Protocol). Then, one day, someone will get annoyed with the category system and add a new top level category called Alt, and people will mutter TINC mindlessly.

My expertise is in taking the piss, in case you couldn't tell.
posted by fvw at 4:41 PM on December 11, 2003

Slightly more seriously: There are plenty of sites with experts on specific topics (though most of them technical, I must admit I don't know where I'd go with questions about shaving or searching books by their plot).

I think a lot of the charm of ask.mefi is that everybody scans through the questions and can add their own experiences, even if they're not an expert in the area. ("Yes, that confused me too" can be very helpful, or at least encouraging)
posted by fvw at 4:44 PM on December 11, 2003

Right now I'd just like a "sort by most recent comments" option, like there is on the blue. Things scroll by awfully quickly on the green side.....
posted by anastasiav at 4:57 PM on December 11, 2003

What about people who think they know more than they actually do?

It's my opinion that allowing people to call themselves experts just leads to even more self-aggrandizing than there already is around here and elsewhere online.
posted by angry modem at 6:49 AM on December 12, 2003

"Perhaps we should make Ask MetaFilter a Clydesdale instead of a pony" - hey, that made me think : maybe Metafilter should have it's own clydesdale, just like Budweiser does (or used to).

The Metafilter Clydesdale could clomp around in parades, and stuff like that, with a big blue blanket over it that read - "Metafilter - We're all in this together" and the URL, of course.

Two potentially fatal problems with the idea - Would the big horse live on the West coast or on the East coast? And who would clean up the shit?
posted by troutfishing at 9:14 AM on December 12, 2003

I don't think we'd want to keep anyone and everyone from contributing to the Ask threads, but it'd sure be nice to somehow make the system more manageable: Ask is literally flooded with questions.

And, actually, I think I'd like to extend the idea. It's not so much that I want to contribute my expertise to a thread, as it is that I want to read others' opinions on the things I'm good at. If there's a technical writing/XML technologies thread, I want to see it, dammit!

But, then, I'm also not at all sure how this would be made to work well. There was a shaving thread which naturally interested me, being of the beardless male persuasion. It would never in a million years have occured to me to put down "shaving" as an interest or expert topic.

Maybe some sort of bayesian-style filtering? Dunno.

Maybe we just need fewer questions.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:05 AM on December 12, 2003

The horse would live in Portugal.
posted by Hildago at 11:08 AM on December 12, 2003

You know, that sounds like something a spy would say to his contact.
posted by Hildago at 11:09 AM on December 12, 2003

Hidalgo - what horse was that ? I've had a bad cough the last few days, and my voice was.....
posted by troutfishing at 7:22 PM on December 12, 2003

Maybe we just need fewer questions.

It will almost certainly settle down to a steady flow once the novelty wears off, I'd think. Everybody's jumping into the pool at the moment, which is very cool, but I'd imagine that's in part because it's new and shiny.

(Crikey, it's like 1999 with kottke, megnut and pb and others long since absent from the Blue and the Grey all posting threads within a day or two. Garsh!)

I'd also think waiting to see how it looks next month, when Matt has said he'll implement some usability features, might be wise.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:18 PM on December 12, 2003

Would the big horse live on the West coast or on the East coast
Well, given that most of Australia's population lives on the East coast, that would be a logical place for it to live.
posted by dg at 2:11 PM on December 14, 2003

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