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27 May 2005

AskMeFi Hyperpost Is it me or is it really freakin' strange to have the front page turn over in AskMe in like 18 hours?? Damn. I posted a Q about this time yesterday and it's gone. pfft.
Yeah, the biggest weakness of AskMe is its popularity, I think. I have prettymuch given up on it, because everything is gone the next time I come back and it gets too hard to follow-up threads.
posted by dg 27 May | 00:55
that is a big problem. too many questions. just goes to show you how valuable a resource it is for questioners. or that people ask a lot of unnesessary questions, which i find happens a lot.
posted by puke & cry 27 May | 00:57've got to be keen to bookmark stuff. Matt was talking about having onsite bookmarks for MeFi-pro$ candidates when/if he ever launches a new version.
But for me, it's not just following the threads - I'm more annoyed or whatever that not as many people get to see it. My question was a wholly intellectual exercise where input from as wide range of big thinkers was preferable - I mean, it got a healthy response, but there's a bunch of luminary brains around whose thoughts I was hoping to inspire, as it were.
posted by peacay 27 May | 01:00
It was this, just by the by.
posted by peacay 27 May | 01:02
This is one major reason why I posted that rambling plea to 'wikify' askme on MetaTalk. Linky here.

Though, "Wiki" is totally the wrong thing to describe what I was talking about. I'm totally talking about a front page that looks like, rather than something like Wikipedia or anything really wiki-like.

One of the great things about the frontpage of E2 is that it displays a wealth of information at once, including: A real-time list of new "threads" (as it were), a list of random threads, lists of best-of threads, and navigation to drill down into the database either by clickthrough or search string. The "feature creature" at that place is like some 800 foot tall rubbery, radioactive monster climbing out of the sea of Tokyo Harbor or something.

It wouldn't be hard from the user-interface/design perspective to lay something like this out. But the whole stream thing for AskMe just plain sucks. It's frustrating as hell. The window of opportunity is far too narrow. Revisiting old threads with newly acquired information is cumbersome. Etc.
posted by loquacious 27 May | 01:34
Oh yes, I remember well your MeTa thread and when I re-read it just then (!) I noticed too that I only threw a snark in your general direction. I guess I still feel that megapony requests are just so ethereal -- I can look at a site like E2 but I sure as hell don't really have a feel for it because it's so esoteric. Matt's obviously got some changes planned as he indicated in that thread you linked. We all just have to take what we're given I guess and push him toward logical tweaking as things become clearer.
I was just whinging starting this thread - this last 24 hours seemed like a helluva lot of traffic on the front of the green.
And in actual fact, I do quite like the linear structure the way it is. That's most likely due to familiarity. Certainly there's lots that could be done. I'd be happier for a front page that was a bit fuckin' longer at the very least. But it gets the traffic and people do get involved so while it may not be the ultimate in logical structure, it isn't abysmal either.
posted by peacay 27 May | 02:08
Yeah, I expected snarks so don't sweat it or anything. I mean, it's MeTa.

And yes, it is heavily ethereal. Especially E2, but we could pluck any number of features straight from E2's front page and readily and successfully apply them to AskMe. (Say, keeping the linear stream, having a rolling "best of" stream, having a "random selection" stream, and then maybe a tag-based catagory drill-down section.)

That being said, I'd love to see better ways to navigate tags in the same way E2 uses softlinks, rather than just a list of most popular tags or whatever. Tags should cluster and associate and cross-reference themselves automatically, so you could navigate from something like "outdoors" to "exercise" to "bicycles" to "road rash" to "first aid" or "helmets" (to bifurcate this last example to show an example of the clustering)
posted by loquacious 27 May | 03:47
How about something like this? (very quick and dirty mockup).
posted by taz 27 May | 04:59
That looks great, and it preserves a lot of the clean lines of MeFi.

Though, I'd personally like to see actual titles of questions listed, and maybe a random question function, but then, I like a lot hairiness and cruft in my collaborative partakings.

But it preserves almost all of MeFi's aesthetic while offering a denser info-space and more functionality and maintaining a lot of balance.

One of the things I really, really like about E2 is that there's a sort of "churning" going on, old stuff gets churned up alongside new stuff, a sort of organic database Brownian motion. This is more conceptual than anything overtly functional in the readily apparent user interface design. It's very, very sticky but still very fluid and dynamic.

There's really nothing that is overtly "too old" or "too new" to be brought back up to the front page (either via an appearance in the random node 'nodelet', or via being picked with a "C!" or "cool pick" - which are bestowed by users who have achevied the required leveling-up). So stuff is constantly being rejuxtaposed and crosslinked.

Granted, a lot of this functionality is inherently tied to the functions of E2's user-space and the "user validation and reputation through work" scheme they have going there, so most E2 functions can't be directly tied or compared to things that would work for AskMe.

But the most important concept I'd like to spread to AskMe is this database churning, where topics bubble back up to the front page for further answers and attention - even years later*, but still maintaining AskMe's linear stream.

*Because it's not just for the immediate asker or answerer of the question that AskMe exists, or should exist. In an ideal world by now AskMe would be easier to search for previous questions that answer someone's current question.

So, yeah, that looks quite nice, even if only as a jumping off point, but it certainly stands as more than just a jumping off point.
posted by loquacious 27 May | 05:45
Though, I'd personally like to see actual titles of questions listed

Erm, I mean, like, in the secondary sections. I'm sure there will be other stuff that I reread as unclear. It's only like 3 am here or something, where's my brian?
posted by loquacious 27 May | 05:51
where's my brian?

posted by taz 27 May | 06:22
That's great taz! Send it to #1 or post it to MeTa. That would be a simple to follow and I'd think (although I haven't really a clue) also to implement touchup that would be very useful. One last little suggestion to add would be perhaps 'the last 10 threads that have had answers supplied' sort of thing -- you know, so you can see where the current action is happening. That's actually something that would be useful for all 3 pages of MeFi -- it's easy to get bogged down reading yesterday's thread about something while missing out entirely on carnage happening live in the grey for example. Heh.

And on prev: one thing about the idea of organic churning (now there's a phrase I'll be folding into my next fantasy) is the possibility of shit being thrown. If there's that many more open forums, then there's less chance that there would be as much active 'policing' for wont of a better word. But I do like the idea of having say 1/4 of the front page of the green framed off with perhaps random or nominated or some other mechanism, raising old questions back up. Hmm....although realistically, knowing Matt's laissez faire approach, a retooling as taz has mocked up is likely the best way to move the packaging of the site forward.
posted by peacay 27 May | 06:25
That looks great taz and would be an excellent way of allowing threads to stay live a bit longer.
posted by dg 27 May | 08:40
I'm not going to post about this, or send it to Matt, because I'm sure he has his own plan for what he wants to do there, but if a discussion/call for ideas comes up, I'll bring it to the party.
posted by taz 27 May | 09:05
Also, ^^^ that wasn't me being passive-aggressive; everybody has ideas, and if it comes up seriously, I'll be happy to add my thoughts. I'm definitely not asking for someone else to bring it up at MeTa so that my idea can be offered.
posted by taz 27 May | 09:08
That does look like the solution, taz. Hope it is implemented someday soon. If anyone is interested in other Q&A forums, I have a list on
posted by mlis 27 May | 10:51
I just want to say that I have totally got a brain crush on peacay. I hope mlis doesn't get jealous.
posted by matildaben 27 May | 11:22
You should email it to him. Just email him the pic or link - no text, y'know, mysterious-like. Then we can all pester him on AIM and ask him if he saw the new AskMe layout yet.

Don't be afraid to make waves in the pool you're already swimming in. This is how users effect change on systems. It's fine. The very worst that'll happen is Matt will go "blargh, you're being slightly annoying.", but he'd get over that quickly. (It's not like we're stalking him and sending him pictures of knifebutt or something.) From there on out, the best that can happen is quite good.

But if we don't prod him, shit's never going to get done. Look at the timescale of change for MeFi. It's stuck in like the year 2000. The only thing that has saved it are it's users - and the fact that we're pretty much allowed to run amok and self-police.

Seize your destiny! CARPE BLOG'EM!!

posted by loquacious 27 May | 11:26
brian crush? do not crush the brian.
posted by loquacious 27 May | 11:28
No, I appreciate that line of thought, loquacious, but it's just not me. I'd been hankering for some kind of metachat / meta salon / user-doody kind of thing for ages, but I was thinking that if Matt was smart he would include in a premium package, or that if it was enough of a priority with other members, it would appear somewhere, like magic!

It was only the extreme frustration of about a week of really nasty nearly-constant downtime that made me go forward on this idea myself (and by myself, of course I mean me and dodgy!). It's not really my style. But I only hang out at MeFi, so when it's down, I'm alone... and desperate... despondent... And thus, clearly, the need for drastic action! (also, Matt had said before that he had absolutely no interest in a chat-sort-of-space, and that anybody was welcome to set one up, and he might even welcome it.)
posted by taz 27 May | 11:57
There is support for a redesign of AxMe.

*tries to find an answer to the seatbelt question for matildaben*
posted by mlis 27 May | 13:05
seems like a lot of it has to do with luck and timing with whoever is on.
not checking sites all day everyday means sometimes i get a day when it looks like there's a wealth of things to peruse in catching up, sometimes a wall of text i don't feel like climbing. some great stuff comes from people who aren't on all the time, but it's kind of geared to people who are.

i end up saving some links on webpages to eventually get back to them, because in any day of being online, i can get such a ridiculous amount of bookmarks, the filing that constantly awaits me is... daunting...

i don't think the categories have set in enough so people separate the want of hard, dry info from personal opinions.
it would be great if someone had the time to filter the filter more specifically to different interests. it would be great if there were separate "think tank" groups as people will be grudgelike or cliquely no matter what.
it would be great if i could stop yawning and didn't get comp burn out so quickly these days. (want to steal a good comp chair from the newly redone library)
posted by ethylene 27 May | 13:57
weird page cut-off || Update on emcee #1 collaboration.