Is it unethical to use Ask Metafilter to answer your employer's questions? March 24, 2004 3:49 PM   Subscribe

Without getting specific, does it not seem unethical to use Ask Metafilter to answer your employer's questions?
Is this acceptable, or what is the limit? (or maybe we need to implement some sort of "I'll answer for a percentage"
scheme - since you are getting paid to know the answer)
posted by milovoo to Etiquette/Policy at 3:49 PM (22 comments total)

If it's OK, I know a whole fact-checking department that could be replaced by these volunteers,
it would save the company a fortune and probably get me promoted, it's just a couple hundred
questions a day. You guys mind?
posted by milovoo at 3:51 PM on March 24, 2004

Hope your company has lots of insurance.
posted by anathema at 3:56 PM on March 24, 2004

It is unethical, but if the asker will be fired or something if he/she doesn't know something, and we're here and can help, then it's ok, i think.
posted by amberglow at 4:33 PM on March 24, 2004

wanted: 17,000 gullible nerds to do my research for me gratis.
posted by quonsar at 4:34 PM on March 24, 2004

I was just going to start posting huge chunks of code to AskMe and hoping that someone would make the shit compile.

Guess I won't, though.
posted by xmutex at 4:37 PM on March 24, 2004

I'm going to assume you're actually serious about the general concept of your question despite the tongue-in-cheek tone of the post and answer it, as such. If you're actually just posting in MeTa because Matt's still in Texas, please go away.

If you want fact-checking for pay, the google answers site works well. Depending on how much you pay for fact checkers you might plausably outsource some of the work there. Of course, you might then be forced to fact check their facts.

I don't think there's a problem with the occasional work related post, checking on something for the office. One a day is too many. One a week might be too many. It's probably a judgment call. In general, I think it's note unethical, just potentially annoying.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:41 PM on March 24, 2004

We saw this a lot on Google Answers, actually, where people would ask questions that were clearly intended for some sort of business purpose and offer us like $3 to answer it. These questions got bad answers. On the other hand, I got paid $50 to answer someone's idiotic question about "how many streams are on the Internet?" once, and I'm pretty sure it was for their work. I agree with Jacq, if you've got the rare question, fine. If you use MeFi instead of paying someone, trading favors with someone, using Google Answers or your local library [or not-so-local freelance librarian...] then you're abusing a community resource, especailly if your question is really only useful in that specific business context.
posted by jessamyn at 4:50 PM on March 24, 2004

What? No, of course I'm not serious about firing any fact-checking department. I was making a point. Sorry, I thought it was obvious. You think that no one would really mind "a couple hundred questions a day" suddenly dumped on the site?
(not interesting questions that came up during work mind you, actual tedious questions that people get paid to figure out)

(I would have posted to if it was a question, it's a (in my opinion, legitimate) policy / etiquette concern.
I'm sorry if that was unclear, I thought the example was far-fetched enough.
posted by milovoo at 4:52 PM on March 24, 2004

No, that's my point. Your question was clearly a ridiculous and far-fetched example, about which you are clearly not serious. Underlying it, however, is the more general concept of 'Is it okay to post work related questions to Ask.Me?' which is what I was trying to answer. However, I was unsure if you were actually, seriously, asking the underlying question or just being a bit of a twit like so many other people who have been posting record numbers of MeTa threads lately. It seems you were serious, and thus my relatively serious answer was appropriate.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:26 PM on March 24, 2004

posting record numbers of MeTa threads lately.

This is record MeTa? Now?

Fine, sorry, ignore it. I thought it was a debatable practice, and worth clarifying.
If no one else is bothered then by all means, let it continue.
I will shut up and clear the bandwidth for someone else.
(hardly seems "twit"-worthy though)
posted by milovoo at 5:34 PM on March 24, 2004

She just said you're not a twit and she was trying to make sure you weren't before venturing too far into the topic. Stop being a twit.
posted by The God Complex at 5:37 PM on March 24, 2004

step away from the computer gc.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:48 PM on March 24, 2004

This commons... it has a tragedy?

Of course people are going to abuse Ask. Take it as a given. I, and apparently some other like-minded folks, would really rather they not, but no good, free service is going to escape being used in some way that someone would consider abuse.

I don't mind if someone stands to gain financially from my or the community's hard work, that's fine, as long as the question is interesting and the answers are informative. Maybe if we're lucky, the questioner will pick up a research skill or two, and be able to handle the next request without resorting to Asking.

I am, however, kind of alarmed by those occasional "my boss wants to know where to go on holiday" questions, but mainly because I can't imagine why any employee would be researching the boss' next vacation. That seems icky to me, but who am I to judge someone's relationship to their boss?
posted by majick at 6:48 PM on March 24, 2004

I beginning to think one of isn't speaking English, milovoo, because we seem to be talking past each other. The God Complex is correct. What I was trying to say, in my obfuscated and round about manner, was that I was initially concerned that you might be a twit, but that you have since cleared up your intentions and proven your non-twitiness and thus I am happy to have helped answer you question.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:04 PM on March 24, 2004

step away from the computer gc.

It was a joke.
posted by The God Complex at 9:28 PM on March 24, 2004

I don't know... It doesn't really bother me. We wouldn't refuse to share our favorite recipes with someone just because they were a professional chef, I think, or talk about good, little-known bands with a DJ, so... nah. I don't think it's a big deal. People are not going to respond to questions that don't interest them, so if someone is just trying to get a pain-in-the-ass chore done for them, I doubt they'll get much response.

I just hope none of the people describing their symptoms were actually doctors....
posted by taz at 11:39 PM on March 24, 2004

Will you use the answer to your question on Ask.Metafilter for any of the following purposes? (Please check all that apply)

[ ] For commercial purposes
[ ] For personal (monetary) profit
[ ] For persons other than yourself whose use of this knowledge you cannot control
[ ] For stem-cell research
[ ] For the election of a member of the Republican party
[ ] For the purposes of developing Weapons of Mass Destruction
[ ] For the aid of any terrorist organisation
[ ] For purposes of sexual gratification
[ ] As a substitute for making a bit of effort by using Google, you lazy fuck
[ ] As a substitute for love
[ ] quonsar
[ ] To encourage others
posted by Blue Stone at 3:56 AM on March 25, 2004

i don't think the distinction is always that clear. when someone asks for a recommendation of a hotel for their boss then it's an easy call, but what happens when someone posts a computer question? maybe it's for home use, maybe it's for work and, in many cases, it will probably be for both.

i say leave it to the people answering. if people don't want to answer questions that are clearly for work, then they won't. i, and everyone else, i'm sure, already do this to some extent, based on whatever criteria each person thinks important (not helping people who come across as jerks, or who are interested in weapons, or status objects, or whatever...)
posted by andrew cooke at 7:10 AM on March 25, 2004

If someone asks a question about something I know about, and I am confident in my responses, then I have no objection to how they use the info.

One, it's worth what you pay for it, regardless of the soundness, completeness, or accuracy. Caveat Emptor. Or sumthin.

Two, I have to come up with information for my employer and if I do not know I have to ask someone and then filter the responses I get into a product I can pass along to the people I work with/for.

Three, if I came to AskMefi first for information that I needed, well, I would deserve whatever results. . .
posted by Danf at 7:44 AM on March 25, 2004

Yeesh. AnswerScroogeFilter.

tagline: Where's my fucking percentage?!
posted by scarabic at 10:39 AM on March 25, 2004

My boss wants a 24-page annotated PI read word for word and the proofreaders are too busy right now. Can you guys do it?

Oops, sorry, thought this was AskMeFi.
posted by languagehat at 11:33 AM on March 25, 2004

As with some of the easily-Googled threads, my attitude is this: If someone's willing to do it, let them! You never really know how close-at-hand the information might be for someone else out there, and some of us get a nice feeling out of ducking into AskMe to help out. I hardly think it'll be a very profitable place to farm out hours of hard labor (languagehat), and if that's the case, then those questions will probably wind up being few and far betwen, moratorim or not.
posted by scarabic at 7:22 PM on March 25, 2004

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