Best Answers Arrive on the Scene February 10, 2005 9:55 PM   Subscribe

Another pony is roaming free. It's now possible to mark great answers to questions you've asked on Ask MeFi. Details and screenshot inside.
posted by mathowie to Feature Requests at 9:55 PM (79 comments total)

A lot of people have asked for the ability to mark the best comments to their questions posted as the best, and many asked for the ability to mark more than one as "the best answer." So I've created a simple system where you can click the link to mark those.

Here's an example of a thread I've marked the best two answers, and here's a screenshot of what it looks like on my end, as the question asker.

I know the text isn't quite right, as "best" implies just one answer, and I'm allowing more than one. I've put this on the title tag of the marker links: "if this is one of the best answers here, mark this to help others find the information. You may mark more than one answer as the best."

My goal is to help folks find questions that had answers, and people going through the archives to quickly find the very best information. I know not all questions have a best answer. The question about childhood moments that changed your life forever doesn't really have a "best" answer and all the answers are pretty good, but it's kind of a weird question without a definite answer. But for obvious ones like this one, there's an answer that would help others in the future when searching, and someone got it right.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:58 PM on February 10, 2005


I'm still working on the output display and I've already found a bug I need to fix. There will be some indicator on the front page, archives, and the comment pages themselves to indicate that this question has best answers. Should be done soon.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:04 PM on February 10, 2005


So how many "best answers" do I need to collect to steal Stan Chin's gold star away from him now?

More ponies!
posted by DaShiv at 10:07 PM on February 10, 2005


I forgot to say from the outset I'm not setting this up as a karma thing, there's no record of who had the most great answers, and there's no rewards for the metric.

I'm doing it to make the archives more helpful for those seeking information.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:15 PM on February 10, 2005


Great feature! Who do I pay? But only one answer is showing up as "best."
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 10:17 PM on February 10, 2005


Freakin sweet.
posted by Quartermass at 10:17 PM on February 10, 2005


Cool feature... however, I've tried this with a few of my questions, and only the first answer I click on as one of the best ends up getting highlighted. Nothing happens to the second one.

And in your example, Matt, I see only one marked answer. (Mac, Firefox, fwiw)
posted by Robot Johnny at 10:19 PM on February 10, 2005


Matthew, will we be able to mark "best" answers even after the thread is closed to comments or must we do so within the 30 day window?
posted by bradlands at 10:20 PM on February 10, 2005


It doesn't work anymore.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 10:20 PM on February 10, 2005


Beta's a bitch!
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 10:21 PM on February 10, 2005


Suck it Bucket!
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 10:22 PM on February 10, 2005


Mean Mr. Bucket broke the Internet!
posted by Robot Johnny at 10:24 PM on February 10, 2005


Ok, while fixing the only-one-gets-marked, I dropped all the first wave of markings. It should work now. Go back and mark the right ones again. Oh, and you can't mark your own answers as the best.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:27 PM on February 10, 2005


It works on questions greater than 30 days old.

I just found out it kind of functions as a subtle way to do follow-ups. I asked this question a while back, and it turns out the phone cards were a big hit with the new parents, so I marked the answer as the best one.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:33 PM on February 10, 2005


Swizzle-swazzum-sweet!
posted by scarabic at 11:05 PM on February 10, 2005


Bitchn'!
posted by dong_resin at 12:20 AM on February 11, 2005


Matt, I haven't played with it yet, but this pony looks *awesome*. Since I'm more of an AxMe contributor than a prolific FPPer, I kind of felt left out when the blue got tags but green didn't. Highlighting good answers is definitely sweet!
posted by b1tr0t at 12:22 AM on February 11, 2005


b1tr0t, if you want to help make this useful, I'd suggest going back to your old questions all linked here, then scanning the answers for the one you felt was the most successful at solving your problem.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:44 AM on February 11, 2005


Oh and tags will be coming to ask mefi soon, almost all the code is in place for that.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:44 AM on February 11, 2005


Will anonymous posters ever be able to go back and give these updates? There were some anon questions that I know I would be interested in knowing the reaction to....
posted by amandaudoff at 1:04 AM on February 11, 2005


This is an awesome feature. One ancillary pony (would that be a foal?) I'd love to see would be something on my user profile page indicating which answers I've given have been marked as "Best"--it's always nice to know when somebody has found your answer helpful.
posted by yankeefog at 1:36 AM on February 11, 2005


I'm just waiting for mathowie to finish on that "world peace" pony while he's at it. At this rate, it should only take him a couple more nights of work.

Thanks, Matt!
posted by DaShiv at 1:59 AM on February 11, 2005


I know this seems like a stupid idea - but would it be possible that we could mark our own answers to our own questions as a "prefered answer". Since we won't be getting any karma points for preferred answers then I guess it wouldn't do any harm - assuming it doesn't get quonsar'd.

For example here's one of my questions. I was looking for people who had cats with epilepsy and their experiences in this area. I'd like to think my answer would be helpful to anybody going through the same thing (as well as a couple of others in that thread)
posted by dodgygeezer at 2:00 AM on February 11, 2005


The page with "answer marked!" isn't probably needed. You could just redirect back to the answer page and scroll down to that selected answer automatically (using the # in the url).

Nice idea, I like it!
posted by ralawrence at 2:53 AM on February 11, 2005


MABA rocks.

It would be nice if "[answered]" linked to the first answer to cut down on the scroll factor, but since there can be multiple MABAs I can see why that wouldn't be desired.
posted by gluechunk at 3:54 AM on February 11, 2005


i'm curious about the motivation behind this. is the hope that it will encourage "better answers" and/or reduce chatter by reenforcing the "best"? i'm kind of ambivalent about this - i like askme pretty much as it is. is this going to change it?

(i'm not saying this is a bad idea, just that i can't see how it will pan out. i guess i'm worried that something that ain't broke is being fixed, but it's a very vague worry...)
posted by andrew cooke at 4:14 AM on February 11, 2005


Love this.


Might it, however, encourage chattiness, as people realize the repository-of-all-knowledge function of askme is now made simpler and actual helpful answers are highlighted, meaning chat can be more easily ignored?

Also, I still would love a way to update my own threads. And why not be able to mark one's own comments in the thread? In a few cases, I have found an answer to my own question that no one else did and either I posted it, or it was past the deadline.

(Off to fetch the saddle and go riding!)
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:50 AM on February 11, 2005


I'm with dodgygeezer. I've seen plenty of times when someone posted a technical question, and halfway through the thread found (and posted) the answer themselves. Marking your own answer as best would definitely be useful.

This is great, Matt!
posted by Plutor at 4:52 AM on February 11, 2005


andrew cooke i'm curious about the motivation behind this. is the hope that it will encourage "better answers" and/or reduce chatter by reenforcing the "best"? i'm kind of ambivalent about this - i like askme pretty much as it is. is this going to change it?

mathowie My goal is to help folks find questions that had answers, and people going through the archives to quickly find the very best information.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:02 AM on February 11, 2005


Wow, it's like Christmas in February. This is way cool, Matt. Will go back through my old questions later today.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:53 AM on February 11, 2005


This is a great feature. My one concern is that "answered" seems a lot like "closed" -- when I first saw it, I assumed it meant that the thread was closed. But it seems like in practice, people might mark an answer or two as "best" when they would still welcome further input. What do people think?
posted by redfoxtail at 6:23 AM on February 11, 2005


I think I'm overthinking this, on second (cough) thought.
posted by redfoxtail at 6:25 AM on February 11, 2005


It really needs "Jump to best answer."
posted by smackfu at 6:40 AM on February 11, 2005


And I agree with redfoxtail. "Answered" looks final, which is kind of weird on something like a relationship question.
posted by smackfu at 6:48 AM on February 11, 2005


I saw this feature before the MeTa thread and also thought "answered" was somehow like "closed" in MeTa. Maybe changing it to what it is "best answers" might ameliorate that? Or just a star with "best answers" as ALT and title tags?
posted by jessamyn at 7:01 AM on February 11, 2005


Has anyone heard from Sidhedevil? I just marked one of my threads with a 'best answer' by her, which reminded me that I've been meaning to ask if anyone knows how to contact her - she's been MIA for a few weeks and I miss her comments.

I don't think an 'answered' notice would stop me personally from reading or contributing to any thread that intrigued me, but I agree that it does have an air of finality about it. Maybe it could say 'great answer' or 'good answer inside', or something like that, instead. [/apologetically but deliberately kicking the new pony]
posted by iconomy at 7:02 AM on February 11, 2005


I'm ambivalent too, but I'm sure we'll get used to this. One immediate improvement that I see is that this will call attention to definitive answers. I'm sometimes bothered by seeing a fact-seeking question answered very thoroughly, only to be followed by 20 more posts containing off-the-mark answers. I get the feeling some people don't read through the answers already posted before posting their own. Maybe this will make it clear when there's an answer that really satisfies the question.

On the other hand, sometimes questions raise sub-questions and related material, which I also love. Within a thread, the original ask-er may find answers to questions s/he didn't even know s/he had. I wouldn't want to see the expansive nature of the responses, encouraging extension of knowledge, cut down to 'just the facts, ma'am'.
posted by Miko at 7:42 AM on February 11, 2005


I get the feeling some people don't read through the answers already posted before posting their own.

Yes! This drives me buggy.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:50 AM on February 11, 2005


On the other hand, sometimes questions raise sub-questions and related material, which I also love. Within a thread, the original ask-er may find answers to questions s/he didn't even know s/he had. I wouldn't want to see the expansive nature of the responses, encouraging extension of knowledge, cut down to 'just the facts, ma'am'.

I would hope that the original asker in those situations would use his/her fearsome highlighting powers judiciously then, no? Seems a little odd for someone to ask an open-ended question and then turn around to decree one or two responses as being the "definitive" ones.

Also you're getting into the territory of that previously-fought debate about whether AskMe is fundamentally about meeting the asker's needs or generating discussion for the entire audience, but that's another issue altogether (not that these two goals are mutually exclusive, of course).
posted by DaShiv at 8:04 AM on February 11, 2005 [1 favorite]


I'm just waiting with bated breath to see what the definitive "best" answer to the cat puke question is.
posted by availablelight at 8:17 AM on February 11, 2005


This is going to be hard to do for the "What is your favorite/best SF novel/ cake recipe/ granny movie?" type question.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:22 AM on February 11, 2005


I'm not as excited about this as most seem to be. In general, it's not hard to tell which are the good answers as you read a thread (especially since they're usually greeted with "Wow, great answer!"), and whatever usefulness it's intended to have is obviously dependent on the seriousness and good judgment of the questioner who is marking the answers (those not being qualities for which MeFites are known the world over). I don't see any particular downside, I just don't see this changing the way I use or think about AskMe.
posted by languagehat at 8:24 AM on February 11, 2005


"I don't see any particular downside, I just don't see this changing the way I use or think about AskMe."

I gave my initial impressions in the other thread, but lh fairly sums up my own opinion.

What is 'best' for one, may be 'worst' for another.
posted by mischief at 8:48 AM on February 11, 2005


It should probably be possible to unmark a response as the best answer in case you accidentally click on the link.
posted by stopgap at 8:53 AM on February 11, 2005


This is going to be hard to do for the "What is your favorite/best SF novel/ cake recipe/ granny movie?" type question.

There is nothing that requires the original poster to mark a best answer. But even for your examples, it might not be so hard as you think. If the question is "What's your favorite SF novel? (Because I'm looking for some good SF to read)" then the asker might come back weeks, months or years later, having read several of the recommendations, and mark his favorite as the best answer. On the other hand, if the question is "What's your favorite SF novel? (Because I'm bored today and want to discuss something)" it may not have a best answer, but the question probably shouldn't have been posted in the first place.

In fact, on my own looking for a recipe recommendation question, I did trial runs on three or so of the recommendations, and I have marked as "best answer" the one of those which I liked the best (and ended up making for the picnic, where it was a big hit).

On preview: What is 'best' for one, may be 'worst' for another.

Then we definitely shouldn't erase the answers which are not marked as best. Fortunately, I haven't seen anyone proposing to do that.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:58 AM on February 11, 2005


This is great - thank you Matt!
posted by xammerboy at 9:31 AM on February 11, 2005


I changed the "[answered]" tag to instead just have the soft highlight. The [answered] was too much like [closed] and that definitely sends the wrong message.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:15 AM on February 11, 2005


Matt this is not pretty. Maybe an icon or something would be better.
posted by riffola at 10:17 AM on February 11, 2005


This makes the answered questions pop out at you....if anything, I would think that they should recede into the background.
posted by amandaudoff at 10:21 AM on February 11, 2005


I don't like the highlight either; it's distracting. How about a tag like like "[helpful answers]" instead of "[answered]"? It's less final, plus if there are three helpful answers inside, maybe the tag can say "[3 helpful answers]" or whatever.
posted by boomchicka at 10:22 AM on February 11, 2005


In fact in my opinion until the question is not in the archive, there is no need for an indication saying there have been good answers inside. I say that because that way people who come in late will still look at the questoin and add what they have to add rather than skip the question thinking it's been answered.
posted by riffola at 10:23 AM on February 11, 2005


Oo I like boomchicka's suggestion of saying how many helpful answers are there. I think that's a much better solution.
posted by riffola at 10:24 AM on February 11, 2005


Yeah, an icon would be ideal. Like a couple of golden check marks that lead to great answers. I can't show you a picture of what I want (I'm not all that technically oriented) but if the check marks matched the golden colour of AskMeFi and placed where the "closed" tag is, that'd be great. Thanks for the effort. This was a needed addition to the site.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:25 AM on February 11, 2005


Yes, it is a really good feature. I was so quick to criticize the execution that I didn't even commend Matt for the great idea. Good job!
posted by boomchicka at 10:33 AM on February 11, 2005


How about doing it as follows?

What was that movie you had to leave or turn off when you were in your more impressionable years? Or, was there a specific one that marked a loss of innocence? Lastly, did it affect your "growing up" in any way? [mi]
posted by hellbient at 3:23 PM PST - 11 helpful answers in 97 comments (1 new)
posted by riffola at 10:34 AM on February 11, 2005


Oh and yes sorry for not saying it earlier, but thanks Matt, I appreciate the improvements all over the place.
posted by riffola at 10:34 AM on February 11, 2005


I don't think that the original poster should have that much influence over the thread. Thread moderation in any of the three sites is bad; unless you opened up the feature to everyone, I think that having a max of 2-3 great answers would be the way to go.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:36 AM on February 11, 2005


Dude. Thanks.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:49 AM on February 11, 2005


Likin' the checkmarks; they're effective yet unobtrusive. Now, not to look a gift pony in the mouth, but would it be asking too much for each checkmark to link to a highlighted answer?
posted by boomchicka at 10:53 AM on February 11, 2005


The checkmark is awesome.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 10:53 AM on February 11, 2005


Love the icon. Much better than [answered].
posted by grouse at 10:54 AM on February 11, 2005


Best. Pony. Ever.
posted by matildaben at 10:55 AM on February 11, 2005


I thought I would like this, but after seeing it in action for a few questions, I don't.

I find that reading the answers now is kind of like when you buy a used textbook and certain sections are highlighted - for me it's really hard to read the rest of the text, as my eye is inevitably drawn to the highlighted text, or in this case, the "right" answer. Without this feature, I find the answers are kind of like a conversation that often sparks my interest and new ideas. Now that there's a "right" answer, I just glide over all the other ones, even though there's lots of useful information contained in them.
posted by jasper411 at 10:57 AM on February 11, 2005


I find that reading the answers now is kind of like when you buy a used textbook and certain sections are highlighted - for me it's really hard to read the rest of the text, as my eye is inevitably drawn to the highlighted text, or in this case, the "right" answer.

I tend to agree with that. Perhaps if the checkmarks (on the frontpage) led to checkmarks within the thread, next to the answers, those who were looking for the "best" could find them easily and the readability for everyone else could be unimpaired.
posted by BlueTrain at 11:08 AM on February 11, 2005


The check marks are a much more elegant solution. I like that you've explained what the check marks are for in the alt tag, for curious people who know enough to mouse over them. Hopefully that'll thwart biweekly "What are the check marks in AskMe for?" MeTa posts.
posted by iconomy at 11:36 AM on February 11, 2005


I like the checkmarks, and the entire idea. Thanks Matt. This week or two is like a ponypalooza.
posted by raedyn at 11:39 AM on February 11, 2005


I, too, like the checkmark. The whole thing rocks.
posted by me3dia at 11:51 AM on February 11, 2005


I didn't "get" this concept at first, but now it looks really tight. Well done!
posted by naxosaxur at 12:29 PM on February 11, 2005


Nice. Now I could possibly use it as a reference resource at the library. A resource, mind you, not the definitive word.
posted by icontemplate at 12:41 PM on February 11, 2005


A problem with the checkmark is you can't search for it within the page.
posted by Caviar at 1:23 PM on February 11, 2005


Check marks are good. Yay for happy poines!
posted by amandaudoff at 1:58 PM on February 11, 2005


What if you mark something the best answer, and then someone else comes along and says it was bullshit? Because this is the internet.
posted by smackfu at 2:20 PM on February 11, 2005


Thanks for modifying it Matt, the checkmarks flow well with the look of the site.
posted by riffola at 4:21 PM on February 11, 2005


I must be missing something totally obvious, but how does one get to a screen where one can select these best answers? From my user page, clicking on the AskMes asked and then clicking on the go to detail view doesn't show anything noticeable to me. Sad, I want a pony too!
posted by billsaysthis at 5:10 PM on February 11, 2005


billsaysthis, look up one of the eleven questions you've posted, on that page, each comment by a person other than you will have a link besides the time saying "[mark as best answer]" Click that and go back to the page to see the change.
posted by riffola at 5:19 PM on February 11, 2005


I for one don't like the checkmark. It implies too strongly that you shouldn't comment. The gold star works better in my opinion. Search by good answers still is great though.
posted by calwatch at 10:53 PM on February 11, 2005


matt - it turns out that my questions fall into two categories:
(1) so open ended that most or even all responses are "correct"
(2) too obscure for any of the answers to be "correct"

I'm marking the ones with obviously good answers.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:14 AM on February 12, 2005


reading the answers now is kind of like when you buy a used textbook and certain sections are highlighted

I would agree with this as well and would vote for having the desgnation a bit more subtle than highlighting the entire box (which also decreases readability, for me). Maybe just a check, or a thin light line on the left border?
posted by transient at 5:22 AM on February 12, 2005


Riffola, thanks.
posted by billsaysthis at 3:27 PM on February 12, 2005


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