What about a quick way to mark best answers or solutions in askme? January 13, 2004 7:10 PM   Subscribe

It would be nice, for the sake of closure, if there was a quick way of checking what solutions were eventually chosen by those who Ask MetaFilter, after having considered the answers provided to their questions. [More inside.]
posted by MiguelCardoso to Feature Requests at 7:10 PM (24 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Once Matt has organized AskMe's search facility, the usefulness of its threads will transcend the personal needs of the original inquirer, allowing people in similar situations to profit from the set of suggestions.

To this end, it would be satisfying if posters, once they'd decided what course to take and had time to evaluate its consequences, would take the trouble to add a concluding comment, in which their final choice would be stated and described. Hopefully, these will be happy endings but, when they're unhappy, their usefulness to others is just as great and may even reopen or relaunch the original question, qualified by experience.

Responders are naturally curious as to what course of action was ultimately decided upon (So what X did you buy? How did Y work out? Was problem Z solved in the end?). But, more importantly, for readers and, specially future readers, the typical, most interesting AskMe thread will be incomplete without some sort of definite, practical conclusion (however open-ended) by the asking poster.

As it is, it's almost impossible to check for follow-ups and conclusions, specially as the quick "falling off the page" also discourages updates. Perhaps in the future there can be (off the top of my head, just to start the ball rolling) something like a sidebar, called "Recent Solutions" or "Answered!" or "ThankYou!" or something), with links to those old threads which have achieved closure. You know, how things worked out. Was that printer, software, hotel, technique, etc. any good?

An additional consideration: as these solutions will often take longer than a month to decide and evaluate, perhaps threads shouldn't be archived after only 30 days, as currently happens on MeFi and MeTa.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:11 PM on January 13, 2004


This is true.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:53 PM on January 13, 2004


/me nods
posted by quonsar at 8:15 PM on January 13, 2004


Good idea, Miguel.
posted by bshort at 8:27 PM on January 13, 2004


"I agree," he said sheepishly.
posted by The God Complex at 8:32 PM on January 13, 2004


Default sorting by recent comments would be a quick and dirty solution. That and getting rid of the 30 day shelf-life would take care of this nicely. good call, migs.
posted by PrinceValium at 8:34 PM on January 13, 2004


I was going to say what PrinceValium said. The default for Mefi and AskMe should be seperate, as recent comment sorting is much more useful for the latter to me.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:42 PM on January 13, 2004


Yeah, I want to know what name they picked for their baby myself. Seriously!
posted by konolia at 8:42 PM on January 13, 2004


tamaratomeekeeshianna.
posted by quonsar at 9:30 PM on January 13, 2004


Your mouth looks purty when you say that, quonsar.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:39 PM on January 13, 2004


Also, I agree entirely with Miguel. Although the devil's always in the implementation, it must be said.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:41 PM on January 13, 2004


Yep, that's on my list of things to add to ask mefi, the ability for the original question maker to pick what the best answer(s) was(were).
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:57 PM on January 13, 2004


as these solutions will often take longer than a month to decide and evaluate, perhaps threads shouldn't be archived after only 30 days, as currently happens on MeFi and MeTa.

They will? And what makes you think that? Have you got anything to back up that statement, especially the "often" part? We're barely a month into this and I'd bet that over 90% of the questions asked so far are solved and won't be getting additional play.

I was toying with the idea of not only closing them automatically after 30 days, but letting the question poser close them earlier too, but I keep seeing answers come in a few hours after what seems to be the best answer, so 14-30 days should be it (actually the activity on posts seems dead within a day or two and I could go to 7 days). I don't see any benefits to going more than 30 days and the potential for harm (misinformation, hacking, general BS) goes up the longer they stay open.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:01 PM on January 13, 2004


Swap you that often for a sometimes? ;)

I was mainly thinking of the time it takes to choose, buy and evaluate a product but also of longer courses of action, such as learning skills, languages, behaviours; relationships; that sort of thing. Often Sometimes these make for the most interesting conclusions.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:40 PM on January 13, 2004


Yep, that's on my list of things to add to ask mefi, the ability for the original question maker to pick what the best answer(s) was(were).

And for the worst answers.... catapult.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:50 PM on January 13, 2004


the ability for the original question maker to pick what the best answer(s) was(were).

cool! are you going to give karma points to the winners?
[ducks]
posted by quonsar at 11:44 PM on January 13, 2004


if that's the case, I'm going to fp more than anyone else here combined.
posted by angry modem at 11:54 PM on January 13, 2004


are you going to give karma points to the winners?

wasn't planning on it, as I don't really care how gets the most questions right. I'm more interested in making it clear for people reading an old thread that they can see what the best answer was according to the original question asker.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:28 AM on January 14, 2004


Karma can only be portioned out by the cosmos.
posted by homunculus at 1:51 AM on January 14, 2004


I'm more interested in making it clear for people reading an old thread that they can see what the best answer was according to the original question asker.

Do we really even need code for this? A simple comment like "Thanks, guys, Billy-bob's idea of refronking the dibulator coil did the trick" from the ask-er oughtta do it. If that's not clear enough, visually, maybe some CSS or something to differentiate the ask-er's comments would make it visually clearer? Just a thought.
posted by arto at 3:33 AM on January 14, 2004


Have I yet mentioned that Wikifying the asked questions might be one way to create a better Q&A resource? I think I did...
posted by five fresh fish at 10:11 AM on January 14, 2004


actually the activity on posts seems dead within a day or two and I could go to 7 days

Matt, I *think* at least some of the time that's an artifact of the current UI combined with the volume of new questions. After a couple of days you have to go to current archives to track questions, and there's no new comment count on that page. The extra click combined with the lack of cues as to a thread's livliness subtly steers users away from questions over the age of two days. In some cases, a thread's useful life would probably be a day or two longer if it were possible to see a new comment count.

Having said that, based on the level of activity I think it's probably a good idea to archive as read only every thread that hasn't had a new comment in 24-48 hours or 7-10 days from being opened, whichever comes first. Let dead threads freeze quickly, and set the upper bound on lifespan aggressively to deter the kind of tomfoolery you mentioned.

I'm also in arto's camp of thinking: "Thanks for the help everyone, I tried Z and failed, but X worked fine" is infinitely more valuable and rewarding for answerers than getting the gold star. Also, I don't believe there's always (or even frequently) a single comment that deserves to be identified as The One True Answer Comment. The Q:A ratio isn't always, and shouldn't be, 1:1.
posted by majick at 11:12 AM on January 14, 2004


a single comment that deserves to be identified as The One True Answer Comment

I agree, and that's why I said the question asker could flag more than one.

The summary in their own voice is even better, though that requires more input from the person asking the question than simply clicking a box next to the one that worked best. Plus the best answer becomes a datapoint in the database that can be used in display, i.e., "show me all of the answered questions about iPods" would be possible.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:20 PM on January 14, 2004


The summary in their own voice is even better, though that requires more input from the person asking the question than simply clicking a box next to the one that worked best.
But nowhere near as much input as the combined answers involved, surely? Given the time and effort that many people go to in answering questions, the very least the question poser should do is give some feedback on which answer fit the best and why. The why may in fact be even more important than the what, as it provides some context.
posted by dg at 11:29 PM on January 14, 2004


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