Thank you, Matt January 14, 2005 9:35 AM   Subscribe

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank Matt for deleting the Invisibility/Flight thread in Ask.Me
posted by esch to Etiquette/Policy at 9:35 AM (134 comments total)

Don't you think we're taking the anti-chatfilter a little too far?
This was an interesting thread, certainly with more value than I-saw-something-45-years-ago-this-is-only-useful-to-me-filter.
posted by esch at 9:42 AM on January 14, 2005


The 'would you rather be deaf or blind' thread was removed as well.

I don't mind the questions if there is a legitimate reason for them, help for ideas for a research paper or if someone has a genuine desire for information, etc.
posted by Arch Stanton at 9:48 AM on January 14, 2005


More interesting? Perhaps.

More useful? No.

AskMeta is about usefulness, not interest. I-saw-something-45-years-ago-this-is-only-useful-to-me-filter is useful for one person. Invisibility/flight posts are useful (in a strict sense of the word) to no-one.
posted by Bugbread at 9:49 AM on January 14, 2005


It was useful to me. I found out who was a sneaky/voyeuristic one.
posted by dame at 10:00 AM on January 14, 2005


I would categorize both as "pissing in the wind." We've gone over this many times before, but general questions asked to no one in particular without any real answer isn't quite what the site's about.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:01 AM on January 14, 2005


Then I think there needs to be a change the copy on the posting page. I just think Ask.Me is too great a resource to be relegated to strictly practical matters.
posted by esch at 10:05 AM on January 14, 2005


I concur. It's either about "sharing knowledge", or it's about solving problems. I prefer the former.
posted by Jairus at 10:07 AM on January 14, 2005


Even if it's about "sharing knowledge", questions like "Which would you rather be, blind or deaf?" are not about knowledge, they're about opinions. And if we're going as far as saying, "opinions are knowledge, because you know that you think certain things", then we may as well throw out the idea of asking questions, because all statements have implicit questions as well. But I think that's silly.
posted by Bugbread at 10:13 AM on January 14, 2005


How many people must something be useful to for it to be a valid post? I asked an "I need a transmission place in Chicago" question and got an answer quickly; this could be useful to someone else who needed a transmission place in Chicago, I suppose. But what's wrong with "I saw a TV show when I was a kid but I can't remember what it's called"? Does it take another person saying in the comments, "Hey, I saw this show too, but I couldn't remember what it was either! Thanks!" for it to not be "pissing in the wind"? It just seems like there's no telling what's going to be ignored and what's going to be deleted. I agree that the flight/invisibility post was chatfilter, but where's the line?
posted by goatdog at 10:14 AM on January 14, 2005


While the conversation about "which do you prefer" might generate interesting dicussion, it's not exactly "sharing knowledge".

"I hypothetically prefer this in this hypothetical situation that no one's ever been in" is not imparting knowledge.

I can see this in retrospect, but it didn't occur to me as I posted in those threads.

On preview: what bugbread said.
posted by raedyn at 10:17 AM on January 14, 2005


I think we should delete all meetup notices as well, since nothing happens at those things except idle chitchat.
posted by scarabic at 10:17 AM on January 14, 2005


Y'now. I didn't think Matt was right on this.

We have all these sort of curious questions. I was truly interested in how it split. It was interesting enough that one of the best radio-documentaries ran an episode on this.

This wasn't political. This was just a curiousity thing. I guess it's alright to ask "What to name my pet?" but not this sort.

So, i guess Ask is just about Factual knowledge.
posted by filmgeek at 10:17 AM on January 14, 2005


So, i guess Ask is just about Factual knowledge.

That's a much less interesting AskMe.
posted by Jairus at 10:26 AM on January 14, 2005


I think we should delete all meetup notices as well, since nothing happens at those things except idle chitchat.

Yeah, if someone posts a meetup notice on AskMe, it should probably be deleted. Hell, a meetup notice isn't even a question. You can't seriously be saying meetup notices should be posted in the Green now, can you?

We have all these sort of curious questions.

I think that's more a matter of matt being too busy to delete them all, than a matter of them being allowed.

So, i guess Ask is just about Factual knowledge.

That's a much less interesting AskMe.


Less interesting, more useful. Same reason I like my car mechanic to fix my car, and not put on magic shows for me.
posted by Bugbread at 10:30 AM on January 14, 2005


That's a terrible analogy. Metafilter isn't a problem-solving tradesman-for-hire, it's a community weblog.
posted by Jairus at 10:32 AM on January 14, 2005


Lately Matt is giving me the feeling I'm at work, wasting company dollar on personal phone calls. I used to have a very strong instinct not to use MeFi as a discussion board, because that was an unfair expense to put on someone who's hosting the site out of his closet. But now that it's hosted professionally, at the members' expense, Matt's insistence that we keep it brief and on-topic appears more arbitrary and controlling than before. Obviously we don't want people showing up here every morning to discuss last night's episode of Desperate Housewives, but deleteing whole conversations that many enjoyed or found interesting (and have already run their course anyway) just seems cranky.
posted by scarabic at 10:36 AM on January 14, 2005


Similarly, Ask.Me is quite clear that your question should not be too specific.

If ChildhoodBookFilter isn't, I don't know what is.

Also, how can we leave up the medical/legal advice threads? Is there anything more specific? Not only that, the advice that's given usually says "don't take my advice."
posted by esch at 10:39 AM on January 14, 2005


You can't seriously be saying meetup notices should be posted in the Green now, can you?

[whisper] don't look now, but your sense of humor is slipping out your left pant leg [/whisper]
posted by scarabic at 10:40 AM on January 14, 2005




We have totally become ArbitraryFilter.

Which is okay, I guess.
posted by xmutex at 10:44 AM on January 14, 2005


if you could be a twee, what kind of a twee would you be?
posted by crunchland at 10:49 AM on January 14, 2005


Metafilter isn't a problem-solving tradesman-for-hire, it's a community weblog.

Yes, but AskMe is a community-problem-solving-tradesman-for-free.

don't look now, but your sense of humor is slipping out your left pant leg

That's not my sense of humour.
posted by Bugbread at 10:49 AM on January 14, 2005


I thank Matt as well. IMO AskMe is best when the questions solve actual problems. I say this even having not always posted such questions.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:50 AM on January 14, 2005


I imagine hundreds of mirthless AskMe scolds staring at their monitors and silently nodding in approval as one cold, hard fact is posted after another, just waiting to start a MetaTalk thread as soon as someone says something off-topic.
posted by driveler at 10:54 AM on January 14, 2005


I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank Matt for deleting the Invisibility/Flight thread in Ask.Me

I just think Ask.Me is too great a resource to be relegated to strictly practical matters.



First you thank him for deleting it, then you imply such trivial questions should remain.

Which is it? Make up your mind, man!
posted by dhoyt at 10:56 AM on January 14, 2005


I imagine hundreds of ADD addled AskMe spazzes staring at their monitors and gnashing their teeth in anguish as their "A/S/L?" and "Who would you rather screw?" questions get deleted one after the other.

Actually, I don't imagine that at all, but it's about as accurate a mental image as the AskMe scold mental image.
posted by Bugbread at 10:58 AM on January 14, 2005


Even the most specific question helps at least one person. The wankery under discussion doesn't even do that.
posted by mcwetboy at 11:02 AM on January 14, 2005


I e-mailed Matt this morning, specifically referencing the two aforementioned threads as examples of pointless posting-in-lieu-of-chat. As has stated in a variety of locations, Ask MetaFilter isn't a discussion board, and particularly not for posting questions which are functionally and intellectually no different than "Who likes pie?"
posted by Danelope at 11:03 AM on January 14, 2005


That's what I thought, dhoyt!

But now that it's hosted professionally, at the members' expense, Matt's insistence that we keep it brief and on-topic appears more arbitrary and controlling than before.


scarabic, some members make a one-off payment of $5 - most have not (about 90%). That sounds like griping to me.
posted by dash_slot- at 11:07 AM on January 14, 2005


I like pie.
posted by aberrant at 11:13 AM on January 14, 2005


He deleted my "How do I make dogshit snowballs?" question-- a question that could potentially help every meanspirited cold-weather MeFite. He never told me his reason for deletion.
posted by Kwantsar at 11:14 AM on January 14, 2005


But now that it's hosted professionally, at the members' expense, Matt's insistence that we keep it brief and on-topic appears more arbitrary and controlling than before.

"Members' expense"? Where on earth do you get that idea? I'm the one cutting $500 monthly checks to the hosting company, not any of the members. I do ask for new members to kick in a one-time donation, and that offsets the costs along with the ads, but I'm reading your comment as now it's no longer a donated space but one in which the members own, so I'm being unfair by asserting any control over what is in effect, your space.

I'm not being artibtrary or controlling because of this example of two deletions and a metatalk thread closer. I've often deleted these pissing in the wind posts (you can scour metatalk to see people complaining about them) and earlier this week I did something to curb the freakouts on MetaTalk, because I was tired of hearing from longtime members that were fed up with how negative everyone has been (they're quitting in droves, if you haven't noticed) and I was tired of it too.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:16 AM on January 14, 2005


Amen. Don't let 'em give you any shit, Matt.
posted by cortex at 11:33 AM on January 14, 2005


and particularly not for posting questions which are functionally and intellectually no different than "Who likes pie?"

Yeah Danelope, but who does like pie? You ever think about that? Who really likes it?

Hmmm, I gotta go...I've got an...intriguing pastry-related post I need to make to...a certain help forum...


While we're at it, can we discourage drenched-in-sarcasm commentaries posing as answers and winking, transparent political asides, since they aren't much substitute for a helpful, unbiased answer? Weren't certain other objectivity-challenged users hammered not long ago for not-so-subtley displaying their political baggage in AskMe?
posted by dhoyt at 11:45 AM on January 14, 2005


cortex, it's not about anyone giving me shit, it's that scarabic has been very "the sky is falling!" this week and I wanted to explain why I see things otherwise.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:45 AM on January 14, 2005


I recall months ago on kuro5in.org, Rusty took 70K from members and ran away while the site faltered.

At least mh is around to field questions.
posted by orange clock at 11:49 AM on January 14, 2005


...I was tired of hearing from longtime members that were fed up with how negative everyone has been (they're quitting in droves, if you haven't noticed)...

I hadn't noticed people were quitting in droves. And I hadn't noticed how negative everyone has been. I thought things had calmed down since the election. Maybe I'm not good at noticing things.
posted by euphorb at 12:08 PM on January 14, 2005


IMO AskMe is best when the questions solve actual problems.

I concur!!!!!

I'll add that people should look for answers BEFORE they post on AskMe. How difficult is it to click "search" and type a keyword or two into google? I would bet all of mathowie's money that 95% of the people who post questions never search the archives and don't google the internets. AskMe should be a place to get info that is not easily found elsewhere. It is our collective brains that make AskMe such a good resource. Stop wasting it on pointless chatter, questions that are best answered on Ebay boards, questions that can be answered by a google search, and questions that can be easily answered with a quick phone call to the children's section of your local library. [/rant]
posted by Juicylicious at 12:09 PM on January 14, 2005


First you thank him for deleting it, then you imply such trivial questions should remain.

Is this double secret sarcasm?

Ask MetaFilter isn't a discussion board, and particularly not for posting questions which are functionally and intellectually no different than "Who likes pie?"

Don't be dense. There was interesting and insightful discourse going on in both threads. I fail to see how it dilutes the purity of Ask to have a few questions that are a break from the MY COMPUTER/ARM/KITCHEN APPLIANCE IS BROKEN and NAME MY CAT/BABY/CAR/RELIGION.

We're always going to have silly questions on Ask. I don't think a few chatty ones are going to push it over the edge.
posted by esch at 12:12 PM on January 14, 2005


It is not a hard distinction to draw between questions with answers and those soliciting opinions. If AxeMe is not the discussion board you desire please find one instead of actively diverting this resource from its purpose.
posted by norm at 12:16 PM on January 14, 2005


"There was interesting and insightful discourse going on in both threads."

"Interesting and insightful discourse" is not "answer to a question." The reason there's so much bitching about the chattiness is because -- unlike other areas of the site -- the value of good discourse to Ask is less than zero.

Abusing the Q&A format for a sort of member poll/interview/discourse is precisely counter to the Ask's purpose and worth.
posted by majick at 12:21 PM on January 14, 2005


Is this double secret sarcasm?

Kinda ;) I was doing a Jack Handeyesque "dumb guy" voice, but it doesn't translate to MeTa discussion...Or does it?
posted by dhoyt at 12:21 PM on January 14, 2005


The purpose of AskMe has always been very clear to me, since day one. It's supposed to be a resource, not only now, in real-time, but in the future - a respository of knowledge, ideas, suggestions and advice... not hypothetical opinions. Some day, any one of us, might say, "perhaps someone on AskMe as had this same problem/situation... lemme run a little search and see".

And since it is next to impossible for someone to ever think, "I wonder if more metfilter members would rather be deaf than blind" (you know, like a year from now), the question just doesn't have a place on AskMe. I'm sure the discussion was wonderful. But it was in the wrong forum - simple as that. If you came up with your question while stoned, don't post it. If you have an IQ at or above 48, then this shouldn't be so hard to understand.

Here's how you might have been able to get away with the question:

"I'm thinking of mutilating myself. I'm either going with a vicious eye gouge or an aural acid soak. Which is the better idea?

...maybe not.

on preview:

esch - You obviously want AskMe to be something it is not. A great discussion doesn't justify a chatty proposition. That's it. Done. What is there to debate?
posted by Witty at 12:35 PM on January 14, 2005


I fail to see how it dilutes the purity of Ask to have a few questions that are a break from the MY COMPUTER/ARM/KITCHEN APPLIANCE IS BROKEN and NAME MY CAT/BABY/CAR/RELIGION.

...I don't think a few chatty ones are going to push it over the edge.


I dunno if they will push it over the edge either, but isn't what you wrote pretty much the definition of "diluting the purity" of something?

"I fail to see how it dilutes the purity of ethyl alcohol to have a few drops of gasoline in it"
posted by Bugbread at 12:36 PM on January 14, 2005


What esch said in sarcasm I say with sincerity: Thank you, Matt. You did the right thing.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:39 PM on January 14, 2005


Obviously we don't want people showing up here every morning to discuss last night's episode of Desperate Housewives,

frankly, despite my best efforts not to, I really like that show. I'd love to discuss DH here -- with the members who do own television sets, of course
posted by matteo at 12:39 PM on January 14, 2005


I actually think the "What was this book/movie/tv show/play" are ideal questions for AskMe. They are often impossible to google for when you only have a vague recollection of the story and may even have a key point or two wrong.

The opinion and anonymous relationship questions not so much.
posted by Mitheral at 12:40 PM on January 14, 2005


"Members' expense"? Where on earth do you get that idea? I'm the one cutting $500 monthly checks to the hosting company, not any of the members.

I recall very clearly your stating that $5 signups had brought in the next year's worth of hosting costs. With a couple of thousand of them in at $5 a pop, with $500 a month to the host, it seems to work out. If I got the wrong idea, I'm sorry. I thought you were out from behind the 8-ball there. If you're bleeding $500 a month, I'd certainly like to know as that would be time for another donation.
posted by scarabic at 1:07 PM on January 14, 2005


scarabic has been very "the sky is falling!"

I've been critical of some of your thread deletions/closures. I'm under the impression that this is all right.
posted by scarabic at 1:08 PM on January 14, 2005


AskMe threads already scroll off the page pretty fast. I figured the Invisibility/Flight? thread was a goner, as it's a discussion thread, not a usefulness or even knowledge- sharing question.

MattDaddy's been more strict lately, likely because all the new kids need breaking in. Once they're borken, maybe he'll lighten up.

Pony Request: I would really like to have Chat.Metafilter.com.
posted by theora55 at 1:41 PM on January 14, 2005


what scarabic said. :)
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:46 PM on January 14, 2005


I have been enjoying the stricter Matt. Thank you.
posted by redfoxtail at 1:46 PM on January 14, 2005


Do the resources required to set up your own chat room not already exist on the Internet? It seems to me that they probably do. Go find a place that does that sort of thing and set up a Metafilter chat room there. It seems that a substantial number of people will be happy to follow you. I wouldn't be surprised to find that it had already been done.
posted by anapestic at 1:47 PM on January 14, 2005


I would really like to have Chat.Metafilter.com

I'd rather be deaf.
posted by Witty at 1:49 PM on January 14, 2005


I was going to answer: "Well, if I could fly, I could drop rocks on your house for having posted this question. But if I were invisible, I could sneak into your house and disable your internet connection."

But that would be snarking on the green.
posted by LarryC at 2:03 PM on January 14, 2005


You know, I have been thinking...if I want cool links there are lots of places for me to go. Boing boing is one, there are tons of others. If I want conversational craziness interspersed with talking to really intelligent people, I have found another place to do that (I'm not sharing because they cannot handle an influx of bandwidth.)

I loved this place because of the people here,and the interactions...it had gotten a wee bit stale, so Matt opened the gates. Well and good. Well, everyone forgot their company manners and their indoor voices, and this place turned into a huge turd-throwing contest. Whereupon Matt had no choice but to start tightening up.

Unfortunately-as he said above-a lot of people have left. Or at least threatened to. That plus the fact that Matt's necessary corrections is probably going to turn this place into just another link depository among many in cyberspace....

Matt has the right to want a site to his specs. It may be that some of us would rather be in a different place. Maybe those of us who feel that way would be doing the site a favor by going to find that different place instead of trying to play tug of war with this site, making it into something he has said repeatedly he doesn't want.

I don't want to tear up Metafilter. What about the rest of you?
posted by konolia at 2:05 PM on January 14, 2005


If I want conversational craziness interspersed with talking to really intelligent people, I have found another place to do that (I'm not sharing because they cannot handle an influx of bandwidth.)
posted by Witty at 2:11 PM on January 14, 2005


If you came up with your question while stoned, don't post it.

That's not fair, now I'll never be able to use the site.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:13 PM on January 14, 2005


The only thing I wish would happen when Matt deletes something I've written, is that an email would be sent showing me what was nuked. Wouldn't even need to have an explanation.

That way I can learn from my errors.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:20 PM on January 14, 2005


so, how do you make dogshit snowballs?
posted by mr.marx at 2:23 PM on January 14, 2005


Look down, you're standing in them.
posted by scarabic at 2:46 PM on January 14, 2005


I'll add that people should look for answers BEFORE they post on AskMe. I agree and disagree. I've always compared the answers I've gotten here to the ones on the Googles and I'm much happier with AskMe, thank you.

While doing a little advanced Googling is always a good thing, I'd rather have the opinions of fifteen to twently thousand people who have personal experience in any given area - not the "opinion" of a spam-addled and curiously jaded search engine.


so, how do you make dogshit snowballs?

1 cup of shit
2 cups snow
Mix and throw
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:52 PM on January 14, 2005


We have totally become ArbitraryFilter.

Not in this case. Mathowie made it clear from the outset that AskMe was to be for questions that at least in theory had correct answers. Opinion polls do not fit that criteria. Some people may wish it could be more open and inclusive (and many have made this argument in various Meta threads), but it's his site and he has been consistent (and uncharacteristically explicit) with his intent here.

And I hadn't noticed how negative everyone has been. I thought things had calmed down since the election. Maybe I'm not good at noticing things.

I'd have to concur if you haven't noticed the negativity, which I think has been twice as bad since the new members were allowed in (and I'm not pointing the finger at them, believe me) than it was prior to the election (much of the open rancor has been in MetaTalk...perhaps you don't read that as much as you do Mefi?).
posted by rushmc at 3:17 PM on January 14, 2005


Is that your sense of humor is slipping out your left pant leg, or are you just happy to see me?
posted by quasistoic at 3:24 PM on January 14, 2005


Another thanks to Matt for deleting those threads.

With a link or two, say to some previous survey or that TAL episode, they could have been posted in the blue and everyone would have been happy. Though, I'm pretty sure there already was a flight vs invisibility post at some point.
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:36 PM on January 14, 2005


rushmc:

I also haven't noticed an increase in negativity, because as far back as I can remember the grey has been a pit of venom, and it's hard to compare things at the far end of a scale ("Which feels hotter, putting your hand in this pizza oven or putting it in this campfire?"). The grey may, indeed, have become more hostile, but this may explain why some, like myself, don't notice it.

I have to say, though, that the blue has calmed down a lot, thank god, since pre-election. There has been more abuse of posters for things like double-posting, uninteresting posts, etc., but the huge and unilateral political and religious flame festivals have become little more than sputtering candle flames.

Overall, the blue feels a whole lot less hostile than it used to.
posted by Bugbread at 3:51 PM on January 14, 2005


I only saw the blind/deaf thread. But it's interesting that there was no rancor or negativity in it, and there's a bit of it here, now, over the deletion. If negativity is the issue, I think we need to take notice of what actually helps. I realize that people get off topic, carried away, chatty, etc, but if curtailing all free-form discussion is a poor way to head off negativity. Not all conversations are bound for that. I don't think we're going to improve MetaFilter by making sure there's as little of it as possible.
posted by scarabic at 4:04 PM on January 14, 2005


if
posted by scarabic at 4:07 PM on January 14, 2005


(Genuine) Question: How far in one direction (useful) do we go? I mean, my Ask question about toasts was "useful" to me, but not in any practical sense. One of the reason I prefer it to Google Questions is the open endedness of it. I'm not generally looking for an *answer*, but a selection.
posted by absalom at 4:15 PM on January 14, 2005


Oh, and *please* don't delete my thread!
posted by absalom at 4:16 PM on January 14, 2005


Absalom:

That's an important question that Matt hasn't weighed in on, so we're going to have to assume his intentions by his silence but be prepared for future contradiction of our assumptions: Advice / idea questions, while not having technically "correct" answers, seem like they're accepted. Which, I think, is a good thing.

But, again, we're going to have to wait until Matt says something either way to know for sure.
posted by Bugbread at 4:18 PM on January 14, 2005


Absalom's question about toasts fits the format, broadly speaking, of "Help me solve my problem." I think there are even poll-type questions that fit that general model -- for example, that one someone brought up not long ago in which grumblebee asked chronically late people to explain what they were thinking when they were late, because he wanted help understanding what was going on with late people in his life so that he could cope better. Both seem fine to me. Questions that don't in any way have a "Help me out, please" dimension are different, and that's what I think bothers me (and apparently others) about questions like the blind/deaf and flying/invisibility ones.

Scarabic, avoiding negativity is a goal, but not the only one. There's nothing wrong with general rules for what counts as "on topic" for a given site, and a little enforcement of those guidelines can combine very well with a little enforcement of guidelines against jerkiness to make everything more harmonious. I think it's great that people avoided being jerky in the poll questions today. I don't think that's evidence that they belonged on the page.
posted by redfoxtail at 4:28 PM on January 14, 2005


The toasts question seemed to have a point -- a person giving toasts wanted to get some suggestions. Just like when people ask for good movie recommendations it's not done for the hell of it, people state why they are looking for something.

I find open ended "would you rather be deaf or blind" type questions incredibly dull and I don't think I've answered anyone that asked me since I was 19, drunk, and in college. There's no real resolution and I don't really like having them around. People like ask metafilter because of how useful it is. I always hear the word "useful" when I hear praise of the site. I don't think open ended chatty polls are useful.

When ask mefi launched, I deleted like half a dozen similar threads by folks asking stuff like "how many is several" which seemed too inane to be of any use.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:43 PM on January 14, 2005


How many *is* several, anyway? I searched and searched on askme, but I couldn't find any useful information.
posted by interrobang at 4:44 PM on January 14, 2005


Amazingly, none of these chatty, asshat threads have the mark of migs on them.

no, really, what kind of a twee would you be?
posted by crunchland at 4:54 PM on January 14, 2005


You have to search several times before you find the answer, interrobang.
posted by rushmc at 4:55 PM on January 14, 2005


Amazingly, none of these chatty, asshat threads have the mark of migs on them.

And yet, that doesn't stop you from badmouthing him in absentia, I notice...
posted by rushmc at 4:56 PM on January 14, 2005


There's nothing wrong with general rules for what counts as "on topic" for a given site, and a little enforcement of those guidelines can combine very well

True. There is, however, a somewhat jagged line demarking "on topic" and "off topic." I'm simply advocating for erring on the loose side. This isn't a factory where we all must keep our noses to the grindstone to boost our "usefulness" quota. Allowing some latitude for chatter gives people room to breathe, relate and grow as a community. I come back here repeatedly because I am enriched by the place. Sometimes enrichment means "learning useful information," and sometimes enrichment just means "being surprised and delighted by interesting people." You can't draw a razor-straight line between where one ends and the other begins, and it's destructive to try.

There is some latitude now. I'm not saying it's all work and no play around here. Things are probably where they need to be. But given the current clampdown it does seem to be a good time to voice this POV for the record.
posted by scarabic at 4:58 PM on January 14, 2005


Maybe we need (or want, whichever) lofi.ask.metafilter, and maybe even lofi.metatalk.metafilter.
posted by loquacious at 4:59 PM on January 14, 2005


At some point all these xxx.yyy.metafilters are going to be hard to keep up with unless there's an RSS feed for each one (and even if there is. . . unless there's one already that I'm missing.).
posted by absalom at 5:10 PM on January 14, 2005


Maybe we need (or want, whichever) lofi.ask.metafilter, and maybe even lofi.metatalk.metafilter.

The point of deleting threads is that they're, y'know, deleted, for the betterment of the site. Not merely hidden from all but the elite few who know how to dig them up. If we're going to have ten different levels of deletion, it makes no sense to delete them in the first place.

Matt has previously stated that the reason there are no repositories of deleted threads is because it would then encourage the posting of shit to see who could be king of the shitpile. The only reason that threads on MetaFilter proper remain quasi-visible after deletion is so that the posters might see the reason for deletion rather than posting yet another MetaTalk thread asking why their shitty post was deleted.

As for why lofi displays deleted threads, I believe that's merely a low-priority bug that has yet to be fixed.
posted by Danelope at 5:14 PM on January 14, 2005


Who left? ... really.. i'm curious.



Many of the questions in AskMe seem to be desirous of chat more than answers, and if a person wants to chat, there's a large number of places (with intelligent people) where chat can be found. I think the "look at me" posts have slowed down, though.
posted by reflecked at 5:17 PM on January 14, 2005


Making deleted threads available would have an incredibly negative impact. The only reason we make them available is that doing so has a marginally positive impact.

Er. Uh. Yah.
posted by scarabic at 5:26 PM on January 14, 2005


yeah--who left? and what did they say their reasons were?
posted by amberglow at 5:59 PM on January 14, 2005


scarabic, he really does want minimal play. We have had this discussion on this site so many times, going back years. The pendulum swings depending on how much time he has to actually deal with the site.

I am actually pretty pissed off at all of you right now. I can't be mad at Matt because it is his place and he does pay the bills. But up until recently he was being very lenient-but the leniency was abused. We have lost a lot of people over time-not just recently-just because people want to be buttheads.
posted by konolia at 6:18 PM on January 14, 2005


I didn't do it.
posted by rushmc at 6:24 PM on January 14, 2005


So much of metatalk is filled with complaints about things that are not creating a situation where the website is going to explode, despite what you people try to con the rest of the site into thinking. And on the other hand, it is just a thread, and it was deleted, and I can think of worse things that could happen.

So, the moral of the story is, lighten up. Take that whichever way seems best.
posted by angry modem at 6:27 PM on January 14, 2005


several is anywhere from 7 to 11 [after that it's a lot]
a few is 4 to 6
a couple is 2 or 3
posted by kamylyon at 6:29 PM on January 14, 2005


given the current clampdown

This is why I said you've been very sky-is-falling lately. What clampdown? I introduced a way to close threads in response to an incredible freakout where a whole bunch of members went off on each other in a 400 comment trainwreck.

These ask mefi deletions are just like the ones I've been deleting since day one.

And if you want to know why a thread closer was added, one of the many reasons is that I get several emails a week from people reporting problems or finding bugs and mentioning that they emailed me directly instead of posting to metatalk because they didn't want to get yelled at, mocked, or otherwise taken to task for merely reporting an anomaly on the site.

But I disagree there's a clampdown, or suddenly MetaFilter feels like "work" or that suddenly you feel that freedoms are being curtailed drastically at MetaFilter.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:32 PM on January 14, 2005


he really does want minimal play.

Nope, wrong. I never said that. It'd be nice if I could speak for myself without users putting words into my mouth.

I'm amazed people feel like I'm suddenly ruling with an iron fist when I added one small feature to shut off pointless discussions that go on for too long.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:33 PM on January 14, 2005


I am SO not a "butthead". That said, I try to avoid piling on, and I try to avoid being snarky. I have noticed more corrective action being taken, but I don't have a problem with it. That thread was fun though.
posted by exlotuseater at 6:35 PM on January 14, 2005


With respect, konolia, I think the free play I would advocate is worlds apart from the free play you once overindulged in. You're probably this community's best example both of Matt's leniency and the abuse thereof (not in that order), so, once again with respect, please give me a break.

Oh well. It seems like a high priority to make a site that will impress people on the outside looking in. That's just not a core principle that inspires me much.

I'm amazed people feel like I'm suddenly ruling with an iron fist when I added one small feature to shut off pointless discussions that go on for too long.

Matt. Seriously. Look at this statement again.
posted by scarabic at 6:40 PM on January 14, 2005


scarabic, my friend, I think you're on the crack.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:55 PM on January 14, 2005


If that's an iron fist the velvet glove encasing it is way too thick.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:55 PM on January 14, 2005


More like a rubbery fist.
posted by exlotuseater at 6:58 PM on January 14, 2005


Aright. I'll shut up now.
posted by scarabic at 7:00 PM on January 14, 2005


There is, however, a somewhat jagged line demarking "on topic" and "off topic."

Maybe on some issues, but here, I just don't see it. In what way can the "deaf/blind" question be seen as conforming to the rules of AskMe? About the only thing I can see that fits is that it's a question. By that reasoning, posting a link to Fark on the blue is in the fuzzy area, because it is, after all, a link.

a 400 comment trainwreck

Actually, it was over 900.

I'm amazed people feel like I'm suddenly ruling with an iron fist when I added one small feature to shut off pointless discussions that go on for too long.

Matt. Seriously. Look at this statement again.


I know that's directed at Matt, and not the rest of us, but I'm lookin' and lookin' and I don't know what I'm supposed to be seeing. It's like one of those magic eye 3D things.
posted by Bugbread at 7:11 PM on January 14, 2005


How about questions that are essentially surveys? I was thinking about asking a lay-of-the-land question because I want to know what a sampling of generally intelligent people thinks about something (the question is of the form "What do you guys think about X?"). On one hand, it's a general question asked to no one in particular without any real answer, and similar in structure to the "fly-or-invisible?" question. On the other hand, it would be useful to me, and it's the kind of information that would be hard for me to procure elsewhere.

Are surveys like this ever appropriate? How about if I explain why it's useful to me?
posted by painquale at 7:24 PM on January 14, 2005


Painquale:

I think it would depend on the topic and what you would want it for. If you're looking for a bunch of opinions to read about something totally subjective and go "hmm, that's interesting", probably not appropriate. But if you're actually looking for informed opinions that would help you out in some way, it woudl probably fall under the "a person giving toasts wanted to get some suggestions" category.
posted by orangskye at 7:30 PM on January 14, 2005


Speaking of "opinion poll" threads, I suggest that What major epiphany have you had most recently and how has it changed your life? deserves deletion for being chatfilter, as is Since when is it an apology to say "Sorry if I offended anyone..." and What are your favourite things to do on a date?

To me, they all seem to be very chat-oriented, and do not present specific, solveable problems. (The latter two are on the edge, and could be interpreted as genuine questions, yes. A little too close to the edge, IMO.)
posted by five fresh fish at 7:40 PM on January 14, 2005


Scarabic, I was not chastening you. You probably come the closest to my own views re this site. But I also know my views, with all due respect don't matter as I am not Matt.
posted by konolia at 8:02 PM on January 14, 2005


It'd be nice if I could speak for myself without users putting words into my mouth.

But you deleted the metatalk thread where I asked you to do just that and then you did. I am really puzzled why you would delete your own comment. AFTER closing the thread.

And as to the iron fist, it is true that before the election it was a free-for-all around here, and now, comments, threads, etc all get deleted at the drop of a hat. Again, the swing of the pendulum. I know why you had to do it, but again, the perception of the average user is that indeed, the iron fist has come out.

For me maybe the problem lies that your vision for the site and what it frequently is have been so different much of the time (not all.) I think that as the owner of the site it is appropriate that it reflect what you want of it, but at the same time a lot of us kinda wish you wanted it to be a little different.

But I never got a pony for Christmas either. I'll live.
posted by konolia at 8:11 PM on January 14, 2005


I agree with konolia, and the site feels less enjoyable to me for a number of reasons lately. But I don't have time to hang around much anyway, so don't mind me. Wish I could come to the NYC meeting -- have a beer for me...
posted by languagehat at 8:23 PM on January 14, 2005


I am content with the way things have been, are, and will be. MetaFilter is my Krishna.
posted by sciurus at 9:29 PM on January 14, 2005


Please don't delete the "epiphany" thread. I find it very interesting and informative.
posted by interrobang at 10:21 PM on January 14, 2005


And yet, that doesn't stop you from badmouthing him in absentia, I notice...

And you know I'd do it if he were still active here, too.
posted by crunchland at 10:58 PM on January 14, 2005


But you deleted the metatalk thread where I asked you to do just that and then you did. I am really puzzled why you would delete your own comment. AFTER closing the thread.

It was directed at just me, and I thought the question and answer were obvious enough that they weren't worth restating. I answered it after almost deleting it, and then I closed the thread because I didn't want another crapfest, and then I got a complaint about the closed thread and figured I might as well go on my first instinct and delete it.

You asked what my goals were and you say that they seem to have changed from time to time, but I haven't strayed from the basics of having a place for interesting links.

And as to the iron fist, it is true that before the election it was a free-for-all around here, and now, comments, threads, etc all get deleted at the drop of a hat. Again, the swing of the pendulum. I know why you had to do it, but again, the perception of the average user is that indeed, the iron fist has come out.

But it doesn't sound like I've made bad decisions, just that they are faster now, and that's the problem?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:30 AM on January 15, 2005


What's real curious is that you closed this one after dropping in to say that the post kind of sucked but you're leaving it up anyway. I don't get it - was the conversation over at that point? I never got the impression that Metatalk was supposed to be nothing more than a public way to e-mail mathowie.

As an alternative, I might suggest discouraging posting bug reports at all, and instead offering an e-mail link on the front page where people can report things like this that require only action, not discussion. You'd have to close a lot fewer threads that way, and you'd free up the real estate in the grey. win-win.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 1:10 AM on January 15, 2005


I agree with konolia and Saucy on two points here.

First, mathowie, your goals and direction haven't changed, but it's good to have those posted and visible, and I can't see that leaving konolia's question and your answer up as a bad thing. Obviously, someone disagrees, but I can't really imagine on what grounds they would.

And as Saucy says, if a grey post gets closed once you've "answered" it, it seems like bug reports / double post notifications / AP links should be sent to you directly, because (in those cases) the grey is just functioning as a public way to email you.
posted by Bugbread at 2:35 AM on January 15, 2005


This is all very interesting, isn't it? Matt, I do think that there's truth to the perception that you've become noticably more heavy-handed. The sky isn't falling, true. And scarabic seems overly sensitive about it. But it really does seem like you've lost your patience or something.

Isn't it possible that a lot of this is the inevitable tumult that comes with a community that is going through some big changes? The "changes" in this case are the new memberships which, given how long memberships were closed, is a big deal and unavoidably disruptive. I think things will settle down.

I'll agree that a good portion of the attraction of mefi for me and many, perhaps most, people is the element of intelligent (and not inane) playfullness. But there's a fine line in there somewhere where playfullness becomes inane chatter and, well, just trash. Not to mention the trashtalk. Seems to me that mefi had been moving in the direction of excess in this matter for a while—long before membership was reopened—and it needs to be curtailed. But curtailed to the point that this playful je ne sais quoi disappears? Not good.

My 2 cents on askme? I've never read it regularly because it's always seemed excessively chatty to me. But also I don't think the concept appeals to me as much as it does other people. Google suffices. However, and I don't mean this in a negatively critical fashion, I've always thought that a big portion of why so many oldtimers liked askme so much is exactly because it was a friendly, well-mannered and chatty place that worked via the nominal utility of problem-solving. Problem-solving is the priority, yes; but it's always seemed to me that the companionable (and familiar) atmosphere is a big part of its appeal.

Miguel and konolia are very good examples of the "friendly, chatty" mefi contingent and, at their best, represent strongly that part of mefi's appeal. At their worst, they also represent the beginning of a slippery slope where mefi becomes something much less interesting than it is. It seems to me that the optimum mefi is one where it stays precariously positioned on the top of that slope: being not primarily a chat site, but having a bit of that friendly chat site atmosphere. I honestly think Matt's done a very good job keeping mefi positioned on that precipice, and I think it's been a difficult job (no matter how hard or easy Matt claims it's been) to do. It seems to me that it's inevitable that mefi will topple in one direction or the other before things get put back into place and the equilibrium is recovered. Give Matt a chance to do exactly this.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:50 AM on January 15, 2005


Give Matt a chance...

This is my thought exactly. I've been observing his actions here for about four years now, which is why I rarely get panicked about changes. As I said earlier, I actually hate the idea of the "close button", and I'm sad it became necessary, but I'm not really very worried about it because I don't believe that Matt intends to turn MeTa into something completely different than what it has been up 'til now. I think he still wants member input and discussion, and I really don't sense that he minds some playfulness... but, obviously, frenzies and orgies are right out. Let's see.... hmm. Yep, I can live with that.

As for AskMe, there's never been any change of Matt's position from the beginning, as far as I am aware, but I can see why users who don't hang out at MeTa wouldn't realize that the poll/philosophical/what-if kinds of questions aren't welcome, because it's not addressed on the post page, or on the main page.
posted by taz at 3:46 AM on January 15, 2005


Let's see.... hmm. Yep, I can live with that.

Ditto.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:13 AM on January 15, 2005


Ditto.
posted by Bugbread at 5:24 AM on January 15, 2005


Ditto.
posted by Witty at 6:26 AM on January 15, 2005


Matt clearly did the right thing here, not that my opinion matters.
posted by grouse at 7:46 AM on January 15, 2005


five fresh: you'd really get rid of the favorite things to do on a date thread? That's *super* practical. I mean, it would be if I ever went out on a date. (One day!)
posted by absalom at 7:59 AM on January 15, 2005


Give Matt a chance...

[flicks lighter]

It's not that I'd get rid of the date thread, it's that were I being a conscientious user, I'd never post it in the first place.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:18 AM on January 15, 2005


Honestly five fresh fish, I have no qualms about having posted the dating activities thread. I consider it on par with the threads asking what to do when visiting a city or how to entertain someone elses' kids for an afternoon. I honestly need creative ideas for inexpensive, fun things to do with men I don't yet know very well, and I'm really happy to have gotten them. I also think "what is your favourite thing to do on a date" is a more effective and appealing way of asking that question than "I don't know what to do on dates, so give me ideas". If you read the thread, you'll see it's completely non-chatty and contains many great ideas that will be useful to a number of others besides myself.

Perhaps there's an element of the two of us having lived such different lives that you don't understand how someone else can be in need of such information. As I recall, you're happily married, and perhaps you're very well versed in the activities available in your area. I lead a very solitary life, and although I have many interests, they mostly aren't the kind you can do with someone else (i.e., writing, reading, spending time on the Net, making items by painting, drawing, calligraphy, and various kinds of needlework, etc.)
posted by orange swan at 12:00 PM on January 15, 2005


No, no. I completely understand that it's very, very close to the "what do I do in X city" threads, and I'm a little wary of those threads as well: they are very personal, very open-ended, very much opinion-filter threads.

I have asked such questions myself. I am not wholly confident that they are the best use of AskMe, which I see as holding the potential for becoming an excellent fact-based, solution-delivering, problem-solving, generic-knowledge sort of resource.

"OEM filters are no longer available for my '87 VW Rabbit. What alternatives are good?" has a fairly straightforward answer: there are only a few filter manufacturers, there are a few important design features that indicate a well-built filter, and here are a few makes and models that fit that description.

"I'd like to do something interesting in Chicago" has no real answers. First, there are a billion things to do, depending on one's interests; second, the things to do changes from day to day; and third, there's no ability to make a qualitative measurement.

Perhaps that what it comes down to: in my opinion, the most valuable questions on AskMe are ones that result in a qualitative analysis, because that analysis is likely to hold up over the long term, whereas opinion-filter questions are applicable only for a specific time period.

And some opinion-filter stuff will be good for all time, and some will be good only for the weekend user X is in city Y. The former is better than the latter, IMO.

You can probably tell that I'm not very good at figuring out where the line is...
posted by five fresh fish at 1:54 PM on January 15, 2005


... the best use of AskMe, which I see as holding the potential for becoming an excellent fact-based, solution-delivering, problem-solving, generic-knowledge sort of resource.
How is needing city info or hotel info or date activity suggestions not those things? In each case, there's a problem needing to solved with facts and other's experiences. They're also helpful to other readers (whether members or not) who may go to those places, or have dates once in a while.
posted by amberglow at 3:07 PM on January 15, 2005


to be solved...
posted by amberglow at 3:08 PM on January 15, 2005


Amberglow: I think the difference here is in the interpretation of "fact-based", which I believe is intended to be that there is a limited set of factual, "correct" answers. Date activity / trip suggestions have a virtually unlimited set of answers which can't really be judged as "correct" or "incorrect".

Personally, I'm fine with those questions, because they do provide solutions and solve problems, unlike chatfilter questions. I was just trying to clarify where I see the difference of opinion between different factions occurring.
posted by Bugbread at 3:26 PM on January 15, 2005


Thazzit. And chatfilter questions also have a virtually unlimited set of answers. Either one rejects both sets, or one has to figure out how to distinguish between the two sets. I dunno how to do the latter except by "gut instinct," and that's not a good way to do it.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:49 PM on January 15, 2005


I don't know--haven't you guys ever heard "There's no such thing as a stupid question..."
posted by amberglow at 5:26 PM on January 15, 2005


Have you stopped beating your boyfriend yet, amberglow?
posted by five fresh fish at 5:52 PM on January 15, 2005


Dunno if I can distinguish between the two sets, but I would say, off the top of my head, that questions should meet at least one of the following two criteria:
1) They should have factually correct answers ("What drivers are necessary to get component A to work on motherboard B with OS C?")
2) They should provide advice, which may or may not be acted upon ("What would be a good place to take someone on a first date?")

That would keep the factuals and the advice but knock out the curiosity polls.
posted by Bugbread at 6:21 PM on January 15, 2005


Have you stopped beating your boyfriend yet, amberglow?
why, yes. yes, i have.

How long have you been luring kids into your van with promises of "candy"?

; >
posted by amberglow at 6:52 PM on January 15, 2005


No time at all, of course. What a stupid question!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:05 PM on January 15, 2005


Mu.
posted by Jairus at 8:51 PM on January 15, 2005


You meant "", because it's cooler that way.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:36 PM on January 15, 2005


Oh, okay, fff, I thought your criticism of my thread was more specific than it was.

I do think though that limiting AskMe to questions that have one definite answer is too narrow a scope. AskMe is supposed to be a place where we can help each other solve problems by providing each other with advice and information, and there are so many problems that profoundly affect people's lives that don't have a single, definite solution. Brainstorming-type answers can be enormously helpful and useful. My criteria for deletion would be, "Can anyone actually make practical use of the material in this thread?" If I were asking something that seemed border line I would state why I needed it or how I intended to make use of it, which would make the question seem more justified and improve the quality and helpfulness of the answers I was going to get.
posted by orange swan at 8:03 AM on January 16, 2005


I like that whole Mu thing, but it doesn't erase or minimize the damage of a trick question and lets it just sit out there in the world, festering and spreading.

and I think orange swan has it exactly right.
posted by amberglow at 8:27 AM on January 16, 2005


I should hope my stupid question isn't damaging. If it is, I'll ask Matt to delete it.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:23 AM on January 16, 2005


a couple is 2 or 3

Funniest thing I've read all day.
posted by cosmonik at 2:00 PM on January 16, 2005


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