Proposal: visible ratio of questions answered to questions asked February 26, 2005 4:44 PM   Subscribe

Petty Pony Request: Although it's easy to find out a persons AskMe ratio of questions to answers, I think it'd be nice to see that information on the comments page. It sounds quite childish, but I'd rather focus any answers I have towards those who themselves answer questions.
posted by seanyboy to Feature Requests at 4:44 PM (45 comments total)

I likes this suggestion.
posted by AlexReynolds at 5:04 PM on February 26, 2005

It actually does sound quite childish. Would you give an answer to someone who has contributed to 50 "chatty" AskMe threads over someone who once gave a "best answer" to one tech thread? What difference does the ratio make, if you can contribute a helpful answer to a fellow member's question? I think you have the Golden Rule backwards.
posted by ArsncHeart at 5:09 PM on February 26, 2005

What method would help you determine the noise/signal ratio?
posted by geekyguy at 5:13 PM on February 26, 2005

I'm with ArsncHeart: this is a bad idea. It encourages people to make thoughtless posts for the purpose of getting their numbers up as opposed to waiting until they could actually be helpful. If you really want to know this information, it's already there.
posted by amandaudoff at 5:20 PM on February 26, 2005

Extremely ungenerous attitude behind this suggestion.
posted by mcwetboy at 5:22 PM on February 26, 2005

Bad idea. I'm not going to vote for Matt to do extra work so you can lazily determine who you'd like to snub.
posted by NortonDC at 5:22 PM on February 26, 2005

Noise / signal ratio is a problem, and I'd be loathed to suggest anything too complex. There's also a chance that people would game a system like this.

If someone gave one good answer, and yet had asked a large number of questions, then I'd still probably categorise them as abusing AskMe.

There are a number of issues though. I think Matt wants AskMe to be lots of questions answered well, and this sort of feature may impact this.

However, I do think that having the ratio next to your question would provide an impetus for people to contribute more. I know that Metafilter isn't about competition, and this seems a bit too much like SlashDot's karma system for comfort, but in this situation I can't see any harm in encouraging people to answer more.

Finally, to slap my own idea down... I guess that as questions are (for the most part) answered comprehensively, adding a feature like this probably wouldn't benefit the site too much.

I still want the feature though. It may be ungenerous, but I don't want to help out people who are simply using Ask as a research facility.
posted by seanyboy at 5:24 PM on February 26, 2005

I have in the past added people who gave me good answers to my contacts list. That way, I can easily scan to see when one of them has asked a question (via my contacts & contributions page). I don't have time to scan all the incoming questions to AskMe, but I would go an extra mile to help out someone who'd helped me.

Beyond this, yeah, I don't much care for the attitude implicit in this suggestion. I don't think that people who give LOTS of answers always give the BEST answers. Rewarding based on quantity not only passes over some of the most helpful people here, it encourages others to chime into as many questions as possible, hoping to elevate their status as an answer-god(des). One of the most annoying things about AskMe is when one of us chimes in to say "Huh, I would guess X" or "It would seem that Y" when we really don't know or have direct experience to offer. Rewarding quantity of answers would probably only encourage more of that.

I know, you're not suggesting that people be rewarded for quantity. You just want better visibility on info that's already available. But still. The intent points to the same place.
posted by scarabic at 5:27 PM on February 26, 2005

If someone gave one good answer, and yet had asked a large number of questions, then I'd still probably categorise them as abusing AskMe.

This is, if you'll pardon the term: fucked. The question limit is already set in a way that seems to satisfy most (starting with Matt). How is it abusive to ask questions? You forget that the person who asks the question gives rise to the conversation that follows, from which all of us can learn and benefit. I see your point about taking more than you give, but it's hardly "abuse" to use AskMe as it was meant to be used.
posted by scarabic at 5:30 PM on February 26, 2005

How about if you answer questions and share your knowledge when you can because it is a good thing to do not because of your perceived level of deservedness of the asker?

Abuse of The Green has already been addressed with a cap on the number of questions that can be asked in a period of time.

I'm with scarabic.
posted by geekyguy at 5:37 PM on February 26, 2005

I'm not suggesting that people are rewarded for quantity. I'm suggesting that people are punished for using the resource which is AskMe without contributing to it.

I don't think its that fucked either. It seems equivalant to partys you go to where one or two people consistently turn up without drink or food. After a while, that gets annoying. Ask is about asking questions, but its also about answering them. I think people should be reminded of that fact.
posted by seanyboy at 5:44 PM on February 26, 2005

Ask is about asking questions, but its also about answering them.

Only if you have a helpful answer. Your suggestion would lead to a lot of noise, which AskMe definitely does not need.
posted by amandaudoff at 5:47 PM on February 26, 2005

I think scarabic touches on something important here, that when a question is answered it benefits not only the asker, but the community as well. By witholding information due to one's perception of the asker, one witholds answers from everyone. I agree that one should answer questions simply to help out others, but I think there are also practical reasons for offering answers when one has them.
posted by spaghetti at 5:48 PM on February 26, 2005

And the more I think about this, it would follow that if Seanyboy had a question that I could give a definitive answer, I should no longer feel pressure to. I mean, I don't like his idea here, so why should I help him out?

Not that I would do that, I'm just making a point.
posted by amandaudoff at 5:49 PM on February 26, 2005

I'm not suggesting that people are rewarded for quantity. I'm suggesting that people are punished for using the resource which is AskMe without contributing to it.

Okay, I am hearing that. Two things for you to consider about it, though.

1) Can you do the one without doing the other?
2) Is using AskMe without contributing to it a problem? I certainly haven't seen anyone complain about a lack of able answerers, including you, here. Who's being "hurt" by this so-called abuse? Really, isn't your objection based more on absolute principle than any real problem facing the site?

Just think about it.
posted by scarabic at 5:50 PM on February 26, 2005

I do not like this idea.
posted by nthdegx at 5:55 PM on February 26, 2005

Also, what is your take on people who just read AskMe and don't post questions or answers? This is another one of those behaviors that doesn't add anything to the site, but really doesn't take anything away either.
posted by spaghetti at 5:56 PM on February 26, 2005

Do you get your questions answered? Do you like being able to answer someone's question? What more do you want?
posted by c13 at 5:59 PM on February 26, 2005

It is a childish idea. That's why Matt won't do it.

posted by five fresh fish at 6:02 PM on February 26, 2005

Duh. Maybe a person is only asking questions because he/she has no fucking answers! Like, you'd rather a person who might be clueless to to just type random shit or you won't play with him/her? Please.
posted by LouReedsSon at 6:04 PM on February 26, 2005

It takes a smart person to know when to keep her or his mouth shut.
posted by mischief at 6:06 PM on February 26, 2005

What is AskMe if not a place to research? All of the questions, in a way, are research, are they not? Also, I find a lot of the questions here specific to certain industries or locales (that I, and I'm sure others, don't know anything about) and I'm quite in awe of those members that seem to be able to answer them all!

Seanyboy, if you're not comfortable with the way some people use AskMe, you don't have to answer their questions - someone else always will. I think as long as people are at least attempting to find answers before posting, then that's all that should be required.
posted by eatcherry at 6:13 PM on February 26, 2005

Bad idea. I'm not going to vote for Matt to do extra work so you can lazily determine who you'd like to snub.
posted by puke & cry at 6:25 PM on February 26, 2005

Okay. I'm officially pissed off.

If I can help, I am happy to do so. But whether I answer depends on whether I know the subject matter. Under seanyboy's dehumanizing calculus, my worthiness on AskMe is subject to the content of other people's questions. It's out of my control. What seanyboy is proposing is to pass cold judgment on members of this community in a wholly arbitrary fashion. The idea is anathema to me. It's the polar opposite of a sense of community. It shows up seanyboy as a mean-spirited misanthrope: he's only happy to help you after he's calculated whether you deserve his help. He's asking for the ability to judge your worthiness. Does that belong on this site? (Note that Matt has consistently resisted implementing a karma/whuffie system here. Ask yourselves why that might be the case.)

Frankly, seanyboy -- and what the fuck is your problem, exactly? -- if these are the conditions under which you will offer your help, I don't want it. You overestimate your usefulness if you think you can dictate terms as obnoxious as these.
posted by mcwetboy at 6:33 PM on February 26, 2005

It takes a smart person to know when to keep her or his mouth shut.

Matt, please add this to the note under the answer box. There's much wisdom in it.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:46 PM on February 26, 2005

Well that one elicited more anger than I thought it would. I'm perfectly happy (by the way) with the way Ask is at the moment. I just don't want to see it turn into a $5 Ghost Site full of questions without answers.

I think it's an issue that's going to come up sooner or later, and I'd prefer it to be asked in this manner rather than the "User xxxxx has asked 20 questions in the last year and not answered a single one" flamefest which will surely turn up in the years to come.

I guess what prompted the question was the article posted earlier where the author said that people could *use* AskMe to get answers (no mention of joining in) and the fact that I noticed one member who had asked a number of questions but contributed nothing else to the whole of Metafilter.

btw. I knew there were flaws in the idea, and this was more of a "floating an idea to see who agrees" thing than anything else. It's interesting that scarabic (a monster answerer, and someone for whom I have a huge amount of respect) already limits his answers towards the people who have previously helped him.

From the tone of the responses, I'd say that it's a bad idea though, and I'm happy to concede to that.
posted by seanyboy at 6:47 PM on February 26, 2005

mcwetboy. Fuck you too. Firstly, I was asking for an easy way for people to determine for THEMSELVES if a person was abusing the system. Your worthiness would still (as it is now) be determined by other individuals on there own individual basis's. Secondly, I wasn't dictating ANY terms. Thirdly, don't call me a misanthrope because you've no fucking idea. Did I even say. "Hey, I want to know who drops below a certain threshold because then I can treat them like shit." No.

Count me officially pissed off as well.
posted by seanyboy at 6:54 PM on February 26, 2005

Well, actually I did say that last bit. But my threshold is pretty low. It'd take a serious abuse of the system before I stopped eliciting answers. And I'm still pissed at you.
posted by seanyboy at 6:57 PM on February 26, 2005

And in this corner...
posted by Quartermass at 6:59 PM on February 26, 2005


(1) I reject the premise that someone asking more than they answer is "abusing" the system.

(2) You were proposing metrics based on certain presumptions of what was good and bad behaviour on AskMe (see #1). Whether or not other members would be doing the judging, they'd still be judging, and they'd be doing so by your rules. I challenged those presumptions, and pointed out the implications of what you were suggesting. Obviously, I don't like those implications very much. At all.

(3) Re: misanthrope. No, I suppose I've no fucking idea. I'm just going by what you said, which kinda sounded misanthropic to me. Being stingy with one's help made me think that. Possibly not the mot juste, but I wasn't the only one who interpreted your proposal as a means to snub other members. If there's a better word for that, I'm listening.

(4) On preview. You never did explain your threshold, did you? Without defining what you thought constituted serious abuse of the system, we were left to our own devices to determine what Q-to-A ratio constituted abuse, and whether (a) you were talking about a severe but so far hypothetical case, as you now suggest, or (b) you had someone in mind.
posted by mcwetboy at 7:17 PM on February 26, 2005

I signed up for AskMe specifically. There were lots of times I had really good answers to questions before I signed up. Now? I haven't seen too many that I can give a helpful answer to. Some questions have already been answered really well by other people by time I get to them. Some I have only a vague idea of how to respond and I don't think it would be helpful overall.

Count me in as thinking this is a bad idea as well.
posted by schnee at 7:19 PM on February 26, 2005

You can already do what you want accomplished, seanyboy. It's called mental calculation.

Sorry, but this whole idea strikes me as very judgemental. There are way too many reasons someone could be asking more than they answer, and won't necessarily fall into anyone's interpretation of the numbers.
posted by Lush at 8:09 PM on February 26, 2005

If the answer is a good one, does it matter if it's a person's first answer?
posted by Arch Stanton at 8:46 PM on February 26, 2005

So, let me recap:

User proposes idea, which he admits is childish.

Other users agree that it's childish and further point out that it's a bad idea.

Original user gets angry and responds childishly to other people having pointed out that his self-admitted childish idea was, in fact, childish.

Won't someone think of the children?
posted by anapestic at 9:02 PM on February 26, 2005

bad idea.


or should I just start to post crap answers to EVERY AskMe thread?
posted by exlotuseater at 11:10 PM on February 26, 2005

"Petty Pony Request"
posted by NinjaPirate at 9:00 AM on February 27, 2005

Won't someone think of the children?

*squints eyes, concentrates

posted by Quartermass at 9:15 AM on February 27, 2005

seanyboy: I'm suggesting that people are punished for using the resource which is AskMe without contributing to it.

And I could not disagree with this sentiment more. If we ideally contribute to AskMe as much as we ask, one assumes that we each have an equal amount of questions and answers, which is clearly not the case, nor should it be. Mr. X may be a confused kid, Ms. Y might be a zen master. The former would ask many questions, the latter provide many answers. So what? If you have an answer, give it; if you have a question, ask it. I view AskMe as an altruistic endeavor.
posted by mek at 9:23 AM on February 27, 2005

The zen master wouldn't provide answers, they'd ask questions of the question asker, then the asker may or may not find answers on their own. Most likely, the asker would no longer have a need to know the answer and therefore have found the solution to the question. Ideally, none of us will need to ask, for none of us will need to know. Zen is much more dangerous to the future of AskMe than people who post too many questions without posting answers.
posted by spaghetti at 10:07 AM on February 27, 2005

Well well. Somebody gets a couple of his answers flagged as "best" and now he wants to start his own exclusive club.

I'm just kidding... can I join?
posted by Eamon at 10:17 AM on February 27, 2005

I do not think this is a good idea. Any scoring system will be gamed, and lead to a decline in the quality of the site.
posted by majick at 10:31 AM on February 27, 2005

[This is bad.]
posted by ori at 10:35 AM on February 27, 2005

I just don't want to see it turn into a $5 Ghost Site full of questions without answers.

seanyboy - if and when this happens, then yes, let's consider various merit systems for rewarding contribution, or setting up more reasonable gates to question submission. Right now things seem to be fine, as you agree.

It's the polar opposite of a sense of community.

Wow - I can't recall seeing mcwetboy let it fly like that. But he is definitely right about this one point. Community is generated around and by people who give (and give and give and give) not people who judiciously withhold.
posted by scarabic at 3:57 PM on February 27, 2005

I don't like this idea either; I think that if you (a general "you" here) don't have a definitive answer or even something thoughtful or thought-provoking to say, then it's probably best not to say anything.

Also, why would people necessarily be interested in the ratio of posts to questions? All comments are not equal. Some are snarks, some are informative, some are trolls, some are opinionated but well-researched, etc. I think that quantity in this case is not relevant, and quality is highly subjective.

/long-time lurker.
posted by Tuwa at 9:27 AM on February 28, 2005

One more vote for rejecting this mean-spirited turd of a pony outright. I doubt you intended ill, seanyboy, but this idea is based on a horrid premise and purports to fix a problem which doesn't exist.

Those who can answer a question, do. Those who have a question, ask. There is no need for metrics, there is no basis for the perception of "abuse." I don't give a god damn if someone asks 100 guidelines-approved questions and never once provides an answer. No one is hurt by this.
posted by cortex at 11:20 AM on February 28, 2005

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