A question (about a sore nose) should have been answered by your mother/google. November 26, 2004 6:25 PM   Subscribe

I've just read the worst ask.me of all time and the risk of devaluing the site is irritating me to hell. I seem to remember a suggestion that maybe I should make use of google - does that sound like a reasonable soultion?
posted by dash_slot- to Etiquette/Policy at 6:25 PM (83 comments total)

Three words: Ask.Your.Mother.

She probably remembers when you had a cold as a kid.

Really folks: is anything OK on ask.me, including fatuities, inanities and trivialities?
posted by dash_slot- at 6:29 PM on November 26, 2004


How is that worse than "what's the best Trek?"
posted by helcat at 6:34 PM on November 26, 2004


It's certainly more legimtimate than where to find warez or how to commit your own suicide. Especially because there are oh-so-many conflicting ideas as to how to cure colds. The worst ask me I've ever seen was someone asking if anyone would join so-and-so for a drink in a town he was visiting. That's trivial, not this.
posted by calwatch at 6:35 PM on November 26, 2004


It's not about cold cures: it's about "sore skin". Don't people have pharmacists, family members and common sense?

What's next - "I just grazed my knee, should I put a band-aid on it?"
posted by dash_slot- at 6:45 PM on November 26, 2004


Nothing wrong with that one, IMO.
posted by mrgavins at 6:45 PM on November 26, 2004


Can we not just get rid of Metatalk? Having only Metafilter and Ask would keep it simple, without the incessant need to pull apart anything that fails inspection.
posted by SpaceCadet at 6:48 PM on November 26, 2004


The Trek one was pretty damn bad though.
posted by Bugbread at 6:48 PM on November 26, 2004


I agree with dash-slot-. I don't really care, because I just skip over those questions, but it is pretty ridiculous. AskMe is becoming Google for lazy people.

AskMe: Let other people Google for you!
posted by BradNelson at 6:49 PM on November 26, 2004


Except Google often has conflicting opinions. How to determine the credibility or veracity of information? How am I supposed to figure out which advertiser has the best product without a second opinion? Unfortunately, some people have problems parsing a long list like this without external help. And if they are really suffering from this problem, and want opinions, then they should have them.
posted by calwatch at 6:53 PM on November 26, 2004


Three words: Ask.Your.Mother.

Excellent suggestion, except that we've just returned from her house (that's two
hours away) and the boys (ages 1 and 2) have managed to pack her cordless phone
in our luggage - I'm assuming no calls to or from her until she realizes that her phone
is gone and buys another or she receives the one that we're shipping back tomorrow.

AskMe is becoming Google for lazy people. AskMe: Let other people Google for you!

I consider myself a decently savvy Google user and all I was able to find
were sites shilling homeopathic products, information on chapped lips, info
on cold sores, how to treat a dog's chapped nose (interesting but not useful)
and one suggestion to try chapstick.

For the price of having my balls broken by dash-slot I have my question answered, several suggestions for alternative treatments and a couple of suggestions on how to avoid the problem in the first place. Thanks for all who responded.

I now return you to the regularly scheduled, "which alien chick that Kirk banged was the hottest" ask.me thread.
posted by jperkins at 7:07 PM on November 26, 2004 [1 favorite]


Can we not just get rid of Metatalk? Having only Metafilter and Ask would keep it simple, without the incessant need to pull apart anything that fails inspection.

No shit. Ask MetaFilter is a resource for people to ask questions. If it doesn't pass muster, Matt will undoubtedly delete it if/when he's around and if/when he cares. In the meantime, fucking RELAX and, y'know, allow people to use it for its intended purpose.
posted by Danelope at 7:11 PM on November 26, 2004


I am loth to say "skip over them," because I never buy that number in the Blue, but the Green is different. It's a means to help each other, not a creative endeavor per se. If the help given concerns bodily functions, it's still help. I'm more inclined, with the Green, to just say "skip over them."

Some folks seem to consider any and all bodily functions questions to be in the "ask your mother" category, but really, they don't all equate with "How should I wipe my ass?" This one is close, but konolia's response suggests that at least there might be something interesting to be learned.

While your question is certainly worth asking, dash_slot- why do you let it get to you so? Oh, I know, the quality of the site, and such...

But while I personally consider "help me remember a song I once heard" an insufferable inanity of a question, I don't hope to influence others to join me in that opinion.
posted by scarabic at 7:29 PM on November 26, 2004


I'm with dash_slot- on this one. Too many dumb, or too specific, questions water down the value. But the it's free, so YMMV.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:40 PM on November 26, 2004


While your question is certainly worth asking, dash_slot- why do you let it get to you so? Oh, I know, the quality of the site, and such...

I suspect dash's annoyance comes from the speed with which questions roll off the main page, meaning that each question suffers an increased chance of being missed by posters who may have the answer but don't read daily. Just a guess.

And I'm not saying it was a bad question. I'm just positing as to why a person might be annoyed with a question in the Green.
posted by Bugbread at 7:44 PM on November 26, 2004


I'll tell you why, bugbread: there's a streak of distatsteful arrogance in me, 2mm wide, which absolutely refuses to accept the complete abdication of intelligence involved in that particular query. Like most, I've sometimes been gullible, ill-informed, confused, hoodwinked and undereducated at times, but am always reluctant to demonstrate it in public. It's usually only after the fact has been pointed out that I became aware of such descents into banalities. From those interventions I hope I've learned (no doubt, future observations by members will swiftly be brought to our attention).

But if we discuss it we could reach a consensus. OK, maybe it should be each to their own, and Ask.Me is off limits to 'community policing' - it'll become a ghetto of 'where did I leave my keys' and 'is fabric conditioner worth it?'.

What a great searchable resource that will be.
posted by dash_slot- at 8:03 PM on November 26, 2004


I've just read the worst ask.me of all time

HA! Good one, dash. Spot on. Because that... they... you...

uh... you are kidding, right?

the risk of devaluing the site

The risk... from people now and then asking questions that you think they should know the answer to... uh huh. That's greater than the risk from the constant lame-ass overblown calling-out of blue or green threads that one person objects to for some ridiculous reason? OK, yeah, that's a real serious risk we should all discuss here. Have at it.
posted by soyjoy at 8:17 PM on November 26, 2004


By the way, dash, I found your car keys.
posted by wendell at 8:21 PM on November 26, 2004


Thank god! Where were they?
posted by dash_slot- at 8:27 PM on November 26, 2004


Here's one reason the post should be allowed: I have a bad cold. I am beginning to suffer from precisely the problem described in the post. Furthermore, I am incredibly low energy. Even the idea of applying google-fu, then sifting through queries to find the most appropriate/valuable response, is enough to tire me out in my current state. This post was in exactly the right place at the right time - now I'm going to put chap stick on my nose.

While you're all doing the thinking for me, tell me to stop reading Metafilter and get some rest.
posted by louigi at 8:28 PM on November 26, 2004 [1 favorite]


dash is right; it's not an offensive question, merely inane. Sufficiently inane that discouraging a trend of similar inanities clogging up the green strikes me as a good idea.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 8:42 PM on November 26, 2004




So, if somebody is experiencing physical discomfort asking for suggestions on a solution is a bad use of Ask MetaFilter, but wondering if Gary Oldman's american accent better than Rene Zellwegger's british one is a fine use of the resource. Is that really what you think, or are you just being really disagreeable? Dude, seriously, get some perspective.

And, I thought when I clicked in here it might be about that Trek question.
posted by willnot at 8:45 PM on November 26, 2004


[T]here's a streak of distatsteful arrogance in me...

You don't say.

Like most, I've sometimes been gullible, ill-informed, confused, hoodwinked and undereducated at times, but am always reluctant to demonstrate it in public.

Your basic assertion is that any question whose answer falls within the realm of "obvious to me" or "obvious with a bit of googling" is inappropriate for Ask MetaFilter and is therefore an appropriate target for your Outrage. Unfortunately, this postulate falls flat when you realize that the answer to every question is obvious to someone somewhere and, if all posting followed said guideline, there would be nothing but the ephemeral and unanswerable.

As a test case, here are a list of easily-answerable and obvious questions I have seen on Ask MetaFilter:

Firefox Cache: is it weird, or what? Answer available by Googling firefox cache.

Is it possible to get someone in trouble for posting song lyrics? Answer available by Googling "posting lyrics" "copyright infringement".

What song contains the lyrics "What do I wish, for on a clou-dy day..."? Answer available by Googling lyrics "what do i wish for".

Since all of these questions (and the majority of the ones found here) are obvious and easily answerable with a bit of Googling, I feel wholly justified in directing my Outrage at their author. Please discontinue the posting of such queries on Ask MetaFilter, lest our searchable resource become inundated with inane prattle.
posted by Danelope at 8:57 PM on November 26, 2004


This all coming from someone who posted an opinion based question with no concrete answer.

Tell me, how does this question of yours help the "searchable resource"? The very definition of an AskMe "trivialty".
posted by dflemingdotorg at 9:02 PM on November 26, 2004


On post-posting: I'm fairly sure that was the most anti-dash_slot few minutes ever on Mefi.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 9:07 PM on November 26, 2004


clogging up the green

I dunno. I kinda flip both ways on this. You have to remember that the Green is not a pristine document we're busily preparing, it's a person-to-person service that's supposed to be useful for all of us. Disallowing people from using the service doesn't make it more valuable. But at the same time, yes, there is a bandwidth problem - too many questions to scan for possible answer contributions.

The latter is going to happen no matter what, though, and will require an infrastructure solution - categories or what have you. Matt has one in mind and has said it's on the way. Bascially, I think we wait for it. Even in the very beginning, I don't know who ever had time to scan all the incoming questions, so this has always been an issue to some degree.
posted by scarabic at 9:20 PM on November 26, 2004


"I just grazed my knee, should I put a band-aid on it?"

If it's infected and you can't sterilize it, fill the wound with maggots. They only eat necrotic flesh and leave the healthy tissue intact, potentially warding off a nasty case of gangrene.

There's always potential for interesting answers from trivial questions ;-)
posted by Shane at 9:22 PM on November 26, 2004


I do think that AskMe should be a resource for knowledge, not opinion, though. Sure, there's overlap, and "the best thing for a sore nose" may be a mix of opinion and knowledge, but it's useful. Someone else may be thinking, "Huh, my nose is irritated. What should I do?", finding the thread, and finding it useful.

I can't see anybody, any time, ever, thinking, "Huh, I wonder which Star Trek is the best. Oh, I see, apparently that one is." That kind of question brings out opinion, and not knowledge, and isn't what AskMe is supposed to be about.
posted by Bugbread at 9:31 PM on November 26, 2004


the Green is not a pristine document we're busily preparing

Agreed. And as others have pointed out, this question is not uniquely inane. We don't need to dump on the particualr questioner, but, especially given the current spate of questions, loosing some of the more trivial would be a help.

Some whimsey and the occasional goofy question is healthy, but in the end it is a signal-to-noise issue: too much inanity is corrosive.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 10:10 PM on November 26, 2004


WHAT
THE
FUCK
HASH_SLUT?

Here, have some pumpkin pie. No, really. I've got another one in the oven, and another one behind that. I insist, please, eat the pie. JUST EAT THE FUCKIN' PIE ALREADY! erm.. thank you. Cool Whip?
posted by loquacious at 10:14 PM on November 26, 2004


I found jperkins question so relevant to my perennially runny nose, that i answered him with enthusiasm. Twice. TWICE motherfuckers!!

dash_slot-, remember: The correct answer to: "There are no stupid questions," is "If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask?" Unfortunately, I’m not smart enough to figure this out…
posted by naxosaxur at 10:16 PM on November 26, 2004


To be honest, I'm not sure how I feel either way (if I feel either way), but there is something to be said for personal experience anecdotes from "real people" (As opposed to the advertising bots you're lucky to run across when Googling certain sorts of questions.) and the interesting wisdoms that can come out of natural thread derailment.
posted by digifox at 10:20 PM on November 26, 2004


naxosaxur: Stupid people don't ask questions. That's why they are stupid.
posted by aspo at 10:34 PM on November 26, 2004


Shouldn't AskMe be a last resort for information? Too many of these questions are "I felt like posting something: here's what came to mind..."

I've personally started many AskMe questions, only to hit "Back" and look elsewhere.
posted by BradNelson at 11:28 PM on November 26, 2004


Shouldn't AskMe be a last resort for information?

Why should Ask MetaFilter be a last resort for information?

Why should a MetaFilter member need to spend $n + 1 hours struggling to Googling information they can't find when they know for a fact that there are knowledgeable, intelligent members who may be able to answer their question, often in a matter of minutes?

Why should a MetaFilter member not take advantage of a resource made available to all of us?

Why are so many people attempting to actively discourage users from participating in this community site?

Why are questions worthwhile only so long as they interest you?
posted by Danelope at 12:22 AM on November 27, 2004


Because, again, having too many questions means that questions scroll off the page before they have been visible long enough for itinerant resident experts to see them. You either have to constantly watch AskMe or be extremely lucky to catch any questions that you happen to have expertise in.
posted by Bugbread at 12:25 AM on November 27, 2004


There's a Current Archives link at the bottom of the page, which takes you to a complete list of every post made to the site during the current month, whether or not it has scrolled off the front page.
posted by Danelope at 12:31 AM on November 27, 2004


You either have to constantly watch AskMe or be extremely lucky to catch any questions that you happen to have expertise in.

Or subscribe to the RSS feed.
posted by jperkins at 12:32 AM on November 27, 2004


Sorry, I'm tired, and I'm not expressing myself well.

Let's see how to say it: the more questions there are, the less likely any individual question is going to be seen, resulting in a reduction in the likelihood of any given post being seen by any given person. With 40 or so questions a day, someone who reads the site biweekly will be dealing with 140 questions of backlog, and will be very unlikely to go through the archives and see every question.

I'm not saying "this is something bad, and something must be done", I'm just answering the question bout why people are discouraging users from participating, and pointing out that "Why are questions worthwhile only so long as they interest you?" begs the question of whether people think they are worthwhile only so long as they interest the reader.

On preview: JPerkins, I may not be using the RSS feed right, but when I open it up, I just get a list of links like this:

Question number 12215
Question number 12214
Question number 12213
etc.

Which is just the first 25 questions listed on the AskMe page anyway. How does having a limited and less descriptive list of questions enable people who don't read daily to catch questions they have expertise in?

Sorry if I'm sounding argumentative or snide, I am intensely sleepy but must stay awake to readjust bio clock, so language is not my forte right now.
posted by Bugbread at 12:39 AM on November 27, 2004


For me, the speed at which items scroll off the Ask MetaFilter page somewhat mitigates the inanity of some of the questions. I often enjoy the whimsical nature of the questions and answers on the Green. Perhaps a 'Second best of AskMeFi' category could be added to the Wiki to preserve links to useful-but-not-memorable questions?
posted by Deepspace at 12:43 AM on November 27, 2004


Sorry if I'm sounding argumentative or snide, I am intensely sleepy but must stay awake to readjust bio clock, so language is not my forte right now.

No problem - this cold is keeping me awake and throwing my bio clock into chaos.

the more questions there are, the less likely any individual question is going to be seen, resulting in a reduction in the likelihood of any given post being seen by any given person. With 40 or so questions a day, someone who reads the site biweekly will be dealing with 140 questions of backlog, and will be very unlikely to go through the archives and see every question.

Doesn't more questions imply more readers and potential responders, though? As long as the percentage of readers:responses doesn't take a dive then the system is still working. It's only when that ratio starts to fall that there's a problem.

I may not be using the RSS feed right, but when I open it up, I just get a list of links like this:

Question number 12215
Question number 12214
Question number 12213
etc.

Which is just the first 25 questions listed on the AskMe page anyway. How does having a limited and less descriptive list of questions enable people who don't read daily to catch questions they have expertise in?


Two things:
  1. it'd be nice to have an extract consisting of the first x number of characters of the post as the title of the post (instead of the 'Question number x');
  2. My aggregator is set to check for updates to RSS feeds every hour hours, so it's only when more than 25 posts happen in a four hour period that I won't see all of the posts to ask.metafilter.

posted by jperkins at 1:09 AM on November 27, 2004


Ah. I see. I am new to RSS.
posted by Bugbread at 1:44 AM on November 27, 2004


I think AskMe is a great tool, no matter the question; it should be used in conjunction with Google, other web searches, mothers, and Ouija boards. Tapping into the Mefite community for personal opinion is immeasurably useful, and you get any number of answers derived from synaptic connections others have formed out of obscurity.

Besides, a Google search for 'chapped face cold cure' is probably not going to tell you that you could cause harm by inhaling petroleum jelly.
posted by id at 1:55 AM on November 27, 2004


Nothing annoys me more than the stock "you could have googled this" response. The whole point of ask.me and, by the sounds of it, the other sections to the site that are going to be added, is that we have here a community that trusts and respects eachother. Advice from a fellow MetaFilter user beats random internet advice all to hell. It also promotes discussion. Discussion is good.

What's wrong with asking a question that's "too specific", y6y6y6? Don't make a bit of sense to me...
posted by nthdegx at 2:34 AM on November 27, 2004


I think superspecific questions are the most interesting, personally.

As for Googling...well, there's things that should be left to Googling, and things that shouldn't. Easily researchable right/wrong answers ("What's that song whose lyrics are 'I like big butts and I can not lie'?", "What's TCP/IP stand for?") don't really need Mefi's collective might. Hard to research questions ("What's the first rock song that uses power chords?"), or opinion/fact questions ("What's the best way to...", "How can I...", "Which is better...") are perfect for Mefi. There are cases where "Google it" is the best response, but not as many as people make out to be.

Plain ole conversation questions ("What is the best Star Trek?") are (uh, well, can be) interesting, but really not what AskMe's about, from what I understand.
posted by Bugbread at 3:09 AM on November 27, 2004


I agree with you, bugbread. Clearly, asking "what's the capital city of Burkina Faso?" is ridiculous; and questions for conversation's sake swing too much the other way. The question raised in this thread, though, is a good example of an "opinion/fact" question that Ask MetaFilter is very good at.
posted by nthdegx at 3:38 AM on November 27, 2004


we have here a community that trusts and respects eachother. Advice from a fellow MetaFilter user beats random internet advice all to hell. It also promotes discussion. Discussion is good.


late to the party, I am, but so be it. This in a nutshell is the purpose of AskMe IMHO. Previous to AskMe, "trusted" sources for information [not buried under a search engine result pile] for many of us included siblings, friends, parents. However, if family has drifted afar, (or is no longer with us, as is the case for many) and / or communications have broken down for whatever reasons, that source is no longer there. Additionally, it's sometimes easier to ask in a semi anonymous format certain questions. It is, after all, called a Community Weblog.

Back to this question - I agree that there have been many more mundane / inane fluff questions than this one. I'd also like to applaud Danelope's entry in this thread.

That being said, a lot of this may be solved with the new ponies on the way, as we have been told.
posted by yoga at 5:41 AM on November 27, 2004


bugbread, jperkins. A more descriptive AskMe feed can be found here.
posted by sebas at 6:16 AM on November 27, 2004


So many of the AskMe threads that I think are the dumbest get the biggest responses. And I'm amazed at how many of the questions are a SMART Google search away from being answered. It seems to me like a lot of folks would benefit from MetaSmallTalk or MetaFiveMinutesToKill. I love AskMe for the posts from people that actually need an answer or are really damned curious, but I am amazed at the number of posts from folks that just seem lonely.
posted by HifiToaster at 6:19 AM on November 27, 2004


I'm also thinking new ponies can alleviate some of the problem - I don't know how many equines are slated for the stable, but being able to search by various criteria - especially to see active questions that have under, say, five responses, or questions posted in the last X days, or within certain categories would probably solve a lot of the frustration that people are currently feeling. At the moment, as has been noted, AskMe is simply a victim of its own popularity - changing the presentation will hugely transform how people use it, and probably mollify most disguntled parties.
posted by taz at 6:23 AM on November 27, 2004


"I felt like posting something: here's what came to mind..."

Nah, Miguel would appear to be taking a break right now. But thanks for thinking of him!
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:55 AM on November 27, 2004


I found the Star Trek post both interesting and informtive. Kudos to whoever posted it.
posted by hughbot at 6:57 AM on November 27, 2004


Nice ad hom, Danelope. Predictable, but not entirely appropriate. The issue is: have we tried other sources of information for easily answered questions. "Should I use vaseline for irritated skin" Guess what: Vaseline.com says -
"- Provides visible relief of dry skin when used regularly
- Offers soothing protection for minor burns
- Protects skin from wind burn and chapping
- Helps prevent diaper rash
- Use daily to heal dry skin
- Hypo-allergenic and will not clog pores "


As you didn't query my searches or see a deteriorating pattern back when they were asked, the only reason to do so today is to aggressively derail, not to query the merits or otherwise of my points.

However, to answer: Google searches produce different results at different times, so the fact that that song lyric is #1 now is not evidence of where in the results it was when I searched. I guarantee you, it wasn't in the first two pages of returns back then, nor did any muso I know recognise the artiste.

As to "Is it possible to get someone in trouble for posting song lyrics?", my question was 'I've seen the lyrics to a UK band's song posted on a blog hosted in the US, without a copyright notice or a 'with permission' blurb. Is that legally OK in the US? Previous search of ask.me questions reveal little.' We're not talking of an individual fanboy who for love of a superstar reprints words to his favourite song; the case I made was against a large site with a distatsteful agenda, run by a US webmaster who failed to credit a UK band's songwiters, or their publishers (for rights purposes). It also had the UK/US angle, the law and a band from only 30 miles from my town. Personal animus mixed with defending creative rights: less a case of 'can I stick it to someone' than you make out. I considered very carefully and thoroughly before posting that: you denigrate it in 10 seconds flat.


You use the terms "obvious to me" or "obvious with a bit of googling". Actually, in my callout I was clearly parodying the posters query, hence the google reference. Even if a google search had proved fruitless, I wouldn't think "I seem to remember a suggestion to use vaseline on the irritated skin - does that sound like reasonable solution?" was a valid submission. I was inwardly screaming 'Yes! Yes! That's reasonable, very very reasonable! You remember your mum's advice - thank god for mum's!'

Finally, quality of answers: the question prompts a disgorgement of personal, unverifiable lore. The idea that anyone should change their use of a common household product for a common human ailment because of urban myths surrounding it's possible inhalation - with no evidence backing it up - is ridiculous. Garbage in and garbage out does not a resource make.

Well, anyway, I wasn't alone in not appreciating the question as good for Ask.Me, which is reassuring. I can see though that virtually all and every query is allowable according to many, and "let the site search and archives help us sort wheat from chaff" shall be our motto. OK: good to know.
posted by dash_slot- at 7:28 AM on November 27, 2004


Look, I'm not saying that you're wrong, dashie - it's just that, for me personally, pretty much no AskMe questions get under my skin except the outright joke questions, or questions that are slyly formulated as a commentary reflecting someone's disapproval of how a front page post was handled (deletion, the fact that it wasn't deleted - whatever). I don't mind the unanswerable philosophical questions, or the just-plain-curiosity questions, or the my-deity!-don't-you-have-a-lick-of-common-sense? questions. Thus, I clearly should not be the person to draw up AskMe guidelines, but I do think that if you ask 10 different people what AskMe should be like, you will get 10 different answers, and the one thing that I have in common with the other nine other people is frustration at how fast questions disappear from the front page, and how they seem to die once that happens.
posted by taz at 7:45 AM on November 27, 2004


Nice ad hom, Danelope. Predictable, but not entirely appropriate. The issue is: have we tried other sources of information for easily answered questions.

I didn't construe his response as a personal attack of you. Look, you're the one who's attempting to establish the criteria that questions shouldn't be asked that are easily answerable (specifically via Google). Danelope showed that many of the questions that you've posted had answers easily found with Google using nearly the exact phrase that you included in your question. I took this as evidence that there's another dimension to soliciting for answers here and that's that personal anecdotes for suggested remedies carry more weight than blind Google searches. And you reinforced that point when you quoted vaseline.com - wtf do you think that they're going to say, "there are many other remedies to your chapped nose that do at least just as good a job, if not better, than our product and here's the complete list of them."

As you didn't query my searches or see a deteriorating pattern back when they were asked, the only reason to do so today is to aggressively derail, not to query the merits or otherwise of my points.

You sure he's not trying to show that many of your posts to ask.metafilter fail to meet the same criteria that you're trying to impose on everyone else?
posted by jperkins at 8:14 AM on November 27, 2004


It's not about 'easily answerable' via google. It's about 'devaluing the site with...fatuities, inanities and trivialities'. Nor is it possible for lil ole dashie to impose anything.

Clearly, my subjective view on what is defined as such differs from the majority's, which initially surprised me. I accept the verdict of the jury.
posted by dash_slot- at 8:34 AM on November 27, 2004


The question sucks a lot less than many of the others. I'd rather a useful question like this than the endless parade of people asking questions that can be answered by picking up a New York City phonebook.

"Three words: Ask.Your.Mother."

I don't know about you, but the last person's advice I want on effective treatment is my mother. Some people -- adults, even -- haven't accumulated a broad base of high quality folk knowledge. Now, at least, they can ask for it.

"Don't people have pharmacists, family members and common sense?"

Do you know what a pharmacist does? They count pills and read your prescription's Idiot Sheet to you. You're not going to get high quality information if you walk into Walgreens and ask the buffoon behind the pharmacy counter.

Family members, no, not everyone has them available. And it turns out that what you call "common sense" is predicated on a certain breadth of folk knowledge that, as I mentioned, not everybody has.

It's easy to dismiss people as stupid and helpless -- I do it all the time -- but I don't think this particular question is as offensively useless as many of the others, and was certainly asked in far better faith than a lot of recent questions.
posted by majick at 8:39 AM on November 27, 2004


Personally, I find the selection of dash_slot-'s questions helpfully assembled by Danelope far more worthless than the one called out, which has been helpful to a number of people. Meanwhile, the unhelpful callout has caused the already overstuffed MeTa page to scroll down past yet another question from long-ago Wednesday. Good work!
posted by languagehat at 8:57 AM on November 27, 2004


Wow--I read this post, and thought it just HAD to be referencing that Internet Explorer/Mozilla question.
posted by availablelight at 9:05 AM on November 27, 2004


Oooh. Sorry to derail, but pharmacists everywhere are not as useless as you suggest, majick; here in Greece they are helpful and educated, indeed - in fact, just about as helpful as a GP in a great many cases, and since there is a greater range of pharmaceuticals that can be bought over the counter, I find that I don't have to go miserably sit in a waiting room for two hours so that a doctor can prescribe something that the pharmacist can give me in five minutes. I heart the Greek pharmacists (if not the Greek pharmacies, which are always closed when I need them).
posted by taz at 9:08 AM on November 27, 2004



"Three words: Ask.Your.Mother."


But what if you don't have a mother? What if you are a poor, forlorn orphan with nowhere to turn except for your good buddies at metafilter? What if you are a 1700lb recluse whose butt is embedded in your chair at the computor desk and the only way you get sustenance is your dog is trained to greet the pizza delivery boy with a $20.00 gold coin which you found in abundance in your father's sock drawer after he died? Please, sir, my nose hurts. It chapeth and bleedth. And I have run out of lanolin-impregnated kleenex but I have a tub of Vicks Vapor Rub right here in arm's reach.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:13 AM on November 27, 2004


It's about 'devaluing the site with...fatuities, inanities and trivialities'

well, i'm glad to see that you're doing your part to make this happen.
posted by Stynxno at 9:14 AM on November 27, 2004


SLoG: Oww!
posted by taz at 9:16 AM on November 27, 2004


majick: Prior discussion on Mefi about pharmacists, and their skills in ensuring new medicines are not contra-indicated for a pre-existing condition, made them seem more qualified than you now say. Certainly they are in the UK more than pill-counters.

LH: feel free to keep piling on. Why not - it doesn't matter that I accept and will conform to this norm. Including the right to ask as assinine a question as occurs to me: that seems to be the community (non)standard, even if it's not the site owner's.
posted by dash_slot- at 9:19 AM on November 27, 2004


askme: where the tough questions get no response and everyone is your mother.
posted by dabitch at 10:08 AM on November 27, 2004


Just when you think we've hit bottom. someone surprises you. At this point I'm assuming that people are just fucking around based on this thread.
posted by HifiToaster at 10:20 AM on November 27, 2004


the ending of half life 2 is shit. also, i would like more useful information on how to survive when the dead begin to rise like a loaf of bread.
posted by bargle at 10:34 AM on November 27, 2004


I'd like to nominate this thread as example number one of why the problem with Metafilter is not the new users, but the old ones.
posted by PissOnYourParade at 11:15 AM on November 27, 2004


I'd like to nominate PissOnYourParade as an example of why breeding is bad.
posted by sebas at 11:16 AM on November 27, 2004


Now thats a sentiment I can get behind.

I hate everyone here and think they are stupid..

Well, not you, just everyone else.
posted by PissOnYourParade at 11:28 AM on November 27, 2004


so? i started that four YEARS ago.
posted by quonsar at 11:35 AM on November 27, 2004


Vaseline.
posted by your mother at 12:27 PM on November 27, 2004


*throws kisses at your mother* brilliant.
posted by dabitch at 12:46 PM on November 27, 2004


Vaseline? Oops, I thought you said GASoline.
posted by wendell at 12:51 PM on November 27, 2004 [1 favorite]


what do you do if you're a zombie (the kind that likes to eat brains, but doesn't have to, and you have a sore runny nose? inquiring minds want to know.
posted by exlotuseater at 3:02 PM on November 27, 2004


What's wrong with asking a question that's "too specific"... ?

I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth, but I believe the thinking here is something along these lines:

If it's really really specific then the questioner is, perhaps, the only person who will ever need to know this. The goal of AskMe is to build a searchable knowledgebase that will serve lots and lots of readers over time, not to serve the immediate needs of one person, one day at a time.

I don't subscribe to that, personally. Without extensive overhaul, it's not equipped to be any kind of "repository of knowledge," but it is, in fact, quite useful for answering immediate needs. This isn't Hari Seldon's Encyclopedia Galactica, folks. It's a ham radio channel set aside for Q&A. There are other projects out there, like Wikipedia, which seek to assemble a living document full of knowledge. But I think AskMe is more of a "service" than a "document."
posted by scarabic at 3:21 PM on November 27, 2004


The goal of AskMe is to build a searchable knowledgebase that will serve lots and lots of readers over time

is that in the charter? could you tell me where the official articles and bylaws are? or are you just, ya know, stating YOUR goal and hoping nobody notices?

Without extensive overhaul, it's not equipped to be any kind of

...searchable anything. heh.
posted by quonsar at 3:43 PM on November 27, 2004


For 5 years I've been waiting for this.

I'm so gay for you Quonsar.

Meet me behind Tubgirl in an hour.
posted by PissOnYourParade at 4:49 PM on November 27, 2004


The goal of AskMe is to build a searchable knowledgebase that will serve lots and lots of readers over time

I think that may be a hope, but I think it's overstating things to say that it's a goal of AskMe. My impression is that AskMe's goal is to answer the questions that plague the people of MetaFilter, the specific as well as the general. If that can be done via searching an existing database, great. If it means asking the question again and having someone with better MeFiSearchFu find it, that's okay too. I'd suggest that it would also be done better with more well-phrased questions too [like this one. love the question, hate the phrasing, this one is too long, etc], but that's just the librarian in me talking. I thought the question was totally fine and jperkins' follow-up in this thread made me laugh out loud which is hard to do in holiday season. If it's all mostly hidden behind the [+] who cares what people wonder about?
posted by jessamyn at 5:09 PM on November 27, 2004


"contact cleaning solution or just cheap-ass saline?"

I think that was supposed to be a "too specific therefore bad" example, but er, I found it useful and missed it the first time around. I've been wearing contacts over 20 years and damn, I have to admit I'd never thought much about this. I'm going to save some money now.
In other words - who the hell can say what's useful for ALL users here?
I for one do not smite my forehead in angst if I don't find anything helpful in AskMe or see a bunch of questions I don't care to read the answers to. Nor do I tear my hair, rend my clothing and ask the heavens "Why can't this all be used for a better purpose?! Why can't there be better questions?!"
But then, I'm silly that way...
posted by batgrlHG at 7:29 PM on November 27, 2004


I read ask.me a lot less than I used to, I think perhaps most of the really pressing questions have been asked and answered, now they just seem like rephrasings of previous questions, or people too bored or vain to use google.
posted by milovoo at 12:32 PM on November 28, 2004


I just read this whole thread in one sitting. I need 911 help now. That or therapy.
posted by apocalypse miaow at 10:28 AM on November 29, 2004


I'd like to see a meta-ask.metafilter that links to "frequently asked questions". Essentially they are:

1. How do I steal stuff?
2. Does this look infected to you?
3. Is there a good CMS system out there?
4. How do I score with the babes?

And let me pre-emptively apologize for having posted questions in the above categories.
posted by mecran01 at 2:51 PM on November 29, 2004


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