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05 June 2005

Sometimes you just don't know the answer, man What do you think about people who get too eager in AskMe and answer every question, whether they have an answer or not? Some folks have racked up 1,000+ answers, many of which read like: "I don't know the answer to your question, but my uninformed guess is such-and-such."
Please, don't answer the above question if you don't know the answer. ;)
posted by agropyron 05 June | 17:00
you have posted 126 comments and received 6 ticks. looking back over the same number of history pages (to get a similar size) i have 150 comments and 7 ticks. so our posting quality, measured in ticks per answer, is pretty much equal (4.8 v 4.7%).

but i have posted over 2600 answers. so i think your logic is wrong.
posted by andrew cooke 05 June | 17:29
andrew, what the hell does what you said have to do with what he said? He's talking about people who write "I don't know the answer to your question, but my uninformed guess is such-and-such." There are lots of these people and I hate them more than is probably good for me. Unless you're one of these people, which I don't recall being the case, you're not at issue here. Every once in a while I can't resist commenting along the lines of "why do you post a guess when you don't know what you're talking about?" but I try not to, because that's Not What AskMe is For. But shit, it's irritating. "What language is this sign in?" "Could it be Arabic?" No, dickhead, it couldn't be, but it looks vaguely like Arabic to you so you just thought you'd jump in and hear the sound of your own voice. I mean, I know jack shit about techie stuff, and as a result I don't go into techie threads and say "Maybe it's the reverse frammistan?"

posted by languagehat 05 June | 17:59
What language do they speak in Frammistan? Could it be Arabic?
posted by Armitage Shanks 05 June | 18:10
oh, ok. i thought they were talking about me.
i know, i know, it's not always about me. god, i seem to be apologising a lot lately.
posted by andrew cooke 05 June | 18:23
apropos nothing, except that it's why i've come through to the office to use the computer, did pynchon mention zag and the ziggy zygoats in vineland? cos byatt just referred to them in babel. which seems odd. unless they really existed, i suppose. or maybe they both have the same taste in bad puns, no more.

and yes, those people annoy me too, on askme. but i get annoyed so often, and by such a myriad assortment of things, that they tend to blur together...

a blood-red blurring in front of the eyes, perhaps.
posted by andrew cooke 05 June | 18:29
*hugs languagehat*

It's going to be all right.
posted by mr_crash_davis 05 June | 19:05
Well, an informed guess is one thing, and perfectly acceptable for those "help me remember/identify this book/song/thingamajig." Total left-field answers aren't helpful, but I don't necessarily associate them with arrogance.

If there's one particular AskMe habit that irritates the holy hell out of me, it's the increasing number of people who take others to task for answers they disagree with. Disagree with advice, sure; offer alternatives, sure; but comments like this make me want to stay out of AskMe altogether, particularly those threads that are about messy human problems that are inherently difficult to answer.

Certainly, sometimes you just don't know the answer and are best off staying silent, but sometimes the answer is just so complicated that we're all just blind men saying things like "It's a tree! A fan! No, wait, a snake!". We're all volunteers, and I respect whomever takes time to compose something thoughtful, even if I disagree or outright know that they are wrong. The only correct thing to do in that instance is to say what I know, and try to say it well, and leave it to the questioner to decide who provided the best answer.

Speaking of which -- tick-counting icks me. Don't count mine, and I won't count yours. (Which sounds suspiciously like the punchline to a joke starting "Two dogs walk into a bar...".)
posted by melissa may 05 June | 19:07
*hugs mr_crash_davis*

*thinks it's good to see him again.*
posted by melissa may 05 June | 19:10
re tick counting - it was only in (imaginary) self defense, i promise.
posted by andrew cooke 05 June | 19:13
It's cool, andrew cooke. In fact...

*hugs andrew cooke*

(That's my real answer: hugs. Here's my real question: How did a language so capable of sublime nuance and beauty come up with such a nasty word for such an appealing activity?)
posted by melissa may 05 June | 19:23
"Maybe it's the reverse frammistan"

*slaps forehad*

That's it! I was configuring my whedlepopper and couldn't control the brupplebop function. I had been using the forward frammistan all this time, and had totally forgotten about the reverse frammistan. I kiss you, languagehat!
posted by iconomy 05 June | 19:32
hugs iconomy just for the fun of it. and quonsar, whose bashing he is about to check up on...
(thanks, meilissa may)
posted by andrew cooke 05 June | 19:39
(That's my real answer: hugs. Here's my real question: How did a language so capable of sublime nuance and beauty come up with such a nasty word for such an appealing activity?)

And yet "pleurisy" is so beautiful.
posted by kenko 05 June | 19:44
*buys andrew cooke a beer*
posted by mlis 05 June | 20:02
I see this a lot, and it makes me wonder whether I am doing something wrong when I skip over questions that I have no idea about. I guess I'm on the right track?
posted by invitapriore 05 June | 20:03
I just don't know.
posted by dg 05 June | 22:13
I like big hairy bushes.

just going for AskMe versimilitude. don't mind me
posted by jonmc 05 June | 22:56
Whoa, man. Whoa.
posted by loquacious 06 June | 02:49
*hugs everybody, feels better*
posted by languagehat 06 June | 09:49
I try not to post if I don't know the answer. Of course this has the depressing effect of making me realize how little I know. But the site is better for it.
posted by Orange Swan 06 June | 09:54
Forgive me, MetaChat, for I have sinned.

Actually, I think I've only guessed once (the sweet sixteen question) and it turned out I was right. But, yeah, I've started to blather on and realize that either the question has been answered adequately or I really don't have a good answer and delete my blatherings before posting. Or, at least I hope I do.

I'll keep an eye out for it.
posted by deborah 06 June | 10:27
What I hate (not to answer your question or anything) is the stoopid qustions. I have yet to let anyone know that I think that that their question was dumb since, God knows, I've asked a dumb one or two in my time, in fact just this week, but stuff like "why do I have to poop in book stores" just makes me want to bite someone.

Thanks for listening.
posted by puddinghead 06 June | 12:47
The anonymous feature in AskMe has started to make me paranoid as I'm in a relationship with a MeFite and whenever one of those "Oh, help me, I can't talk to my wife anymore because she doesn't understand my pain" threads comes up, I start wondering...

And then I look over to the other computer and realize that my husband is playing a video game with ninjas and take a deep breath and go back to reading questions about poop.
posted by grapefruitmoon 07 June | 22:32
I caught up with this days late (as you can see), but grapefruitmoon, that was great.
posted by puddinghead 11 June | 11:14
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