Moderators have access to your sign-up information and other information, such as your IP address. That information may be used for site purposes (such as checking out potential spammers), but it is kept strictly private from other members and the wider internet. This means that if you choose not to display your real name, email address or location to other members, moderators will not reveal it. Mods also will not reveal the identity of second (sockpuppet) accounts as linked to your main account if you do not reveal this.
Members are also expected to respect each other's privacy in certain basic ways. Members' profile page information is not visible to search engines and should not be brought over to the rest of MetaFilter. Similarly, copying and pasting MefiMail to any other part of the site without the writer's permission is a bannable offense.
In emergencies--cases where someone has threatened to harm themselves, or if we are contacted by law enforcement--we cannot guarantee user privacy. Likewise, the Anonymous question function in Ask Metafilter is only intended to keep your details anonymous from the MeFi community, not to provide absolute anonymity--see here for details.
Metafilter occasionally allows use of site data for academic study and there is an Infodump available for number crunchers. Members can download a copy of their site activity as a text file (see links at the bottom of your Preferences page).
How do I post an anonymous question in AskMe? Is there a function for anonymous follow-ups?
The anonymous posting form can be reached from the "New Question" page of AskMetafilter. When you use this form, your question goes into a queue that is only read by the admins. It will have to be approved, so it won't be posted immediately. Generally questions are approved (or not) within 48 hours. Not all anon questions will be posted, but most will. If you are wondering about a question you submitted a few days ago, it is fine to ask an admin about it.
Your posting is not linked to your username in any way in the MetaFilter database; anonymous questions are posted through the Anonymous user account. However, the admins can ascertain who posted the question if they need to. Anonymous questions are for basic privacy, not for hiding from Interpol. You can read more about how the AnonyMe mechanism works in this thread.
Questions about illegal activities are unlikely to be approved. Questions whose only answers are "see a doctor" or "see a lawyer" are unlikely to be approved. Questions about ordinary subject matter that doesn't seem to fit the needs of being anonymous may not be approved. Please do not ask questions about suicide or revenge. (If you are feeling suicidal, please seek in-person help. The ThereIsHelp page has a list of resources/hotlines.) We can not promise to keep your information confidential if we think you might harm yourself or others.
There is no mechanism for following up anonymously, but the admins will post a follow-up comment to an anonymous question for you -- use the contact form linked at the bottom right of each page to reach the admins. Other MeFi users are often willing to do this too. Sometimes people set up disposable email accounts so they can be contacted about an anonymous posting. This feature is not intended to provide absolute anonymity, please do not use it if that is what you require.
If you need to ask a question that's not associated with your main account, and you want to be able to follow-up by yourself, you are permitted to buy an extra "sockpuppet" account. Here are the guidelines about second accounts. We ask that people use the anonymous feature sparingly, not more than once or twice a year. If you feel you want to ask a number of questions separately from your main account, getting a second account may be a better solution. (tags: askmetafilterprivacyanonymousaskmeanonyme ) March 6, 2006 - permalink - back to questions
How long does it usually take for an anonymous question to be posted to Ask Metafilter?
Usually anonymous questions are posted within a few days. Some types of questions may not be approved such as illegal, repetitive, trollish, ranty, unanswerable or obvious questions, or ones that don't appear to require anonymity. If you have a question about the status of your anonymous question, you can contact cortex or get in touch with the mod team via the contact form. (tags: askmeanonymeaskmetafilteranonymous ) April 20, 2006 - permalink - back to questions
My Ask Metafilter question was removed as chatfilter. What does that mean?
Ask Metafilter questions need to have some possible answer or should be asking for information that will be put to some practical use. Chatty open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of Ask Metafilter and push other questions off the front page. If you want to avoid having your question flagged and possibly removed, here are some things to avoid.
- Questions where everyone's answer is equally valid along the lines of "What's your favorite X?". Maybe there is a reason you want to know? Super, just put it in your question.
- Asking the question and giving your own answer before getting the answers of others, saying some variant of "I'll go first" If you can authoritatively answer your own question, it's probably not right for AskMe.
- Questions with no problem to be solved or where the problem is some variant of "I'm curious if other people feel like I do"
- Open-ended unanswerable or hypothetical questions like "What if Hitler had never been born?" or made up "what if" science questions. Creating arbitrary constraints and then playing "what if" is not a good use of AskMe.
- Questions that are some version of "What is the deal with X?"or "X sucks, am I right?" tend to not go well on Ask MetaFilter. Please do not rant on AskMe and pretend it is a question.
My Mefi post or AskMe question was edited to remove my cute "more inside" play on words, wtf?
The "more inside" words don't appear when people read Mefi or AskMe via RSS. As a result when you end your question with "as always there's..." it makes no sense to people reading via RSS. Editing cute more inside jokes is one of the only edits we make to a post that is not at the poster's request. (tags: moreinsideaskmeeditingaskmetafiltermetafilter ) October 18, 2007 - permalink - back to questions
Is there a way to turn a non-anonymous old question into an anonymous one?
We do have a way to anonymize old posts. Doing this does somewhat decrease the value of the questions to the community -- since people answered it with a user in mind and some answers may not make sense -- so it is not something we do lightly. However, we will anonymize old questions rarely, if it's important. Contact a mod if you want this done. Please do not ask questions under your real name that you plan to anonymize later. (tags: askmeanonymousanonymeaskmetafilterprivacy ) March 28, 2008 - permalink - back to questions
Why can't I remove a 'stumped' or a 'resolved' tag from my AskMe question?
The tags 'resolved' and 'stumped' have a special meaning and are treated differently at Ask MetaFilter. A question with either of these tags shows up in different places on the site to help others find them. A question tagged with 'resolved' appears in the list of Resolved Questions on the Answered Questions page. Questions tagged with 'stumped' appear in the Stumped Questions list on the Unanswered Questions page. This gives people interested in seeing complete answers or helping with particularly hard questions an easy way to find them.
Because these tags move the questions into different areas of the site, questions can only be tagged 'resolved' or 'stumped' once. This prevents the question from appearing at the top of these lists more than once.
Because the site strips a lot of extraneous HTML from questions, it can be difficult to post things that need special formatting or include special characters. If you want to include code snippets or other text with your question, you can use a tool like pastebin that allows you to link to properly formatted code that you can mark up with syntax highlighting. (tags: codehtmlaskmesyntaxmarkupaskmetafilter ) June 16, 2009 - permalink - back to questions
What makes a good question for Ask MetaFilter?
Here are some guidelines. Often the key to getting good answers in Ask MetaFilter is spending some time crafting a good question. Here are some tips
1. Be concise. While it can be tempting to include every detail of a conflict or a dilemma, try to stick to details that are necessary for people to understand and answer your question. Try to differentiate between what is just venting and upset feelings and what is important to the answerer about your problem.
2. Be specific. Some questions literally can not be answered if we don't know the details. Relevant details make for more helpful responses.
3. Break information into memorable chunks. Put important details together. Feel free to use bullet points. Even if you started with your question, if your question is long, repeat the thing you'd like help with at the end.
4. Proofread, spellcheck and preview. While mods can go in and make edits, they may not be able to do it immediately. Make sure you've spelled things correctly, make sure your links work, make sure your question isn't just a big wall of text with no paragraph breaks.
5. Stay calm. You will get a better response to your question if you do not seem angry, irritable, ranting or otherwise unreliable as a narrator. If you can't ask your question with some level of objectivity, it might be better to wait until you can.
Try to read your question as if you didn't know you. Is there enough information? Is there too much information? Is the story easy to follow? If it's on a sensitive topic have you included another method of contact [MeMail or a throwaway email address]? If it turns out you've left something out, please feel free to email the mods via the contact form and we'll be happy to update your question or you can leave a comment in the thread. (tags: askmequestionsaskmetafiltergoodpost ) October 21, 2011 - permalink - back to questions
When is it okay to do a "Critique my X!" post on Ask MetaFilter?
Ask MetaFilter is sometimes used for people who want feedback on something they have worked on whether it's an OK Cupid profile, a resume, a piece of fiction/poetry or a website. While AskMe is not for general critiquing sessions, it is for solving problems. Problem-solving based questions are okay. Here are some guidelines on how to make a post asking for a critique that is within the site guidelines
- Content must be publicly viewable and stay that way. Making an OK Cupid profile only temporarily public, for example, breaks the question for future readers.
- Askers must have specific questions about the content not just "Tell me what you think." What is the outcome you are looking for? What have you already tried? What is not working that you need help with?
- Questions must not be looking to self-promote. Resume critiques must be clearly not also job-hunting. Web site reviews must also be clearly not click-bait. See here for more about self-linking.
After you have posted a thread (a post in MetaFilter, a question in AskMetafilter, etc), you have to wait this long before posting a second thread in that same area of the site. There is no similar limit for comments.
MetaFilter - 24 hours
AskMetafilter - one week
Projects - one month
Music - 24 hours
Jobs - 24 hours between posting job Openings; you can only post one Availability total
Podcast - only admins post the podcast
IRL - no time limit, but you can have no more than 10 active IRL threads at a time
MetaTalk - one week
If you know how to use HTML, you can use an abbreviated list of HTML tags in your posts, including a, b, blockquote, center, em, i, li, ol, pre, small, strike, strong, sub, sup, and ul. You can just type them into the compose/comment box.
To add italics, for example, you would type: <em>italicized word</em>
which shows as: italicized word
To add a link to example.com you would type: <a href="http://example.com">here is a link to example.com</a>
which shows as: here is a link to example.com
If you use a modern browser, you'll see B/I/link buttons below the compose/comment box that you can use to add basic formatting. To make a link using the button, you highlight the word or phrase you want to be the link text (like the phrase "here is a link to example.com" above), click the link button, and type or paste the URL into the box that appears.
Here's a short screencast showing how to use the buttons to insert HTML for you:
If a thread has been deleted, can I still find it someplace?
Yes. Threads that are deleted from MetaFilter, MetaTalk or AskMetaFilter still show up at their old URLs with the reasons for deletion written in, but they no longer show up any other place on the site. They are also closed to new comments. In extremely unusual instances a thread will be removed with no trace.
If your post was deleted, check your Mefi Mail. If you received a Mefi Mail automatic reminder message when your post went up, that message will have the URL of your post. Go to that URL and you will be able to see the post and a brief note about why it was deleted.
What are self-links? Are self-links ever okay on any part of the site?
"Self-links" are links to your own site, to a site that you host or contribute to substantially, or to a site of someone who is a client, friend or relative of yours, or a site/event/cause you're promoting. Some more detail is in this MetaTalk comment.
It is never okay to include a self-link in a front page post on Metafilter's community blog. People who self-link in front page posts on MetaFilter will have their posts removed and their account banned. It is never okay to use MetaFilter as a promotional tool. Transparency and honesty are important to the community and we rely on users to abide by the guidelines and participate honestly.
On Ask MetaFilter, questions that seem to be thinly veiled promotion or self-promotion will be removed. Questions that seem to be being asked with the intent to promote a poster's product or service, or client/friend's product or service, will be removed and the participating accounts banned. If you are unsure about a specific example, please contact us.
Linking to your own site in an Ask MetaFilter question is only okay if it has something specific to do with the question being asked and is necessary for people to provide an answer, for example "Can you look at my logo and tell me why everyone thinks it looks like a devil?" or "What else do I need to do to this website to make it ADA compliant?" (Even then, an extra-safe move is to link your site on your profile page and tell people they can see it by going through your profile.) Other self-links will be removed. AskMe posts that look like link-heavy MeFi posts or other promotional posts with a question tacked to the end of it are not okay.
In comments, in well-defined circumstances, self-links can be okay. Including a link to your own site in a Metafilter comment is okay provided that it has some relevance to the topic being discussed, and you clearly disclose your affiliation to the site or site-owner, and this type of comment is not your only form of site participation. Random off-topic insertions of self-links into other posts are discouraged and such links may be removed. Similarly, linking to your own content in AskMe answers is okay to do occasionally and with disclosure. People who seem to be self-linking continually, or seemingly with spammy intent may have their content removed and their account banned.
How do I create the [more inside] jump when posting?
The break and the "more inside" text are created for you automatically after you fill in the posting page form. There are several boxes to fill in when posting. On Mefi, the title and the box called "Description" will form the part above the fold (before the "more inside") which appears on the main page; the "Extended description" forms the part below the fold (after the "more inside") which appears after a person has clicked on your post.
On AskMe, the question title and the box called "your question" will be the part that appears on the main page; keep this part brief. The next box called "extended explanation" will be the [more inside] part of your question and can be longer. Again, the words "more inside" will automatically be added to the end of your question.
You can't delete or edit your own post once you've submitted it, so be sure to use the preview and spellcheck features. If you want to fix an error or have your post removed, you must request this of the moderators by using the contact form.
Why are some people's answers in AskMe highlighted in their own box?
This is what it looks like when the original question asker highlights a best answer. Best answers are chosen by the original asker of the question. A question can have multiple best answers. The answers can be either the "right" answer or answers that the asker found useful in some way. When an answer is marked as a best answer it's highlighted in its own box on the AskMe question page and the user with the best answer sees a check mark next to the question on their list of answers off their profile page. There is also a green check mark next to the question on the main AskMe page. (tags: askmebestanswercheckmarkgreentickaskmetafilter ) November 10, 2006 - permalink - back to questions
What is the etiquette concerning members' or non-members' personal details and profile information?
User profile pages on MetaFilter are not indexed by Google. This means if someone's profile says that they live in a certain city or gives their real name, that information is not considered "public" on the site. Bringing a user's personal details into an unrelated thread to hector or harass them (especially details from other websites that they participate in) is generally considered not okay. Use care when deciding to bring someone's personal information into a thread, and try to err on the side of mentioning without linking.
Bringing WHOIS and other personal information into a thread [i.e. "Here's this guy's phone number!"] is also not okay. We harbor no illusions that this stuff isn't available, but bringing it into a thread can cause trouble for the site and creates an atmosphere that we'd rather avoid. When in doubt, please feel free to ask a mod. (tags: profileetiquetteprivacymetafilteraskmetafiltermetatalkaskme ) August 20, 2009 - permalink - back to questions
How do I mark my question as "answered" (e.g. green check mark)?
Once you've selected a comment or comments as a best answer by clicking on the "Mark as best answer" link next to a comment, your AskMe question will show up with a green check mark on the main page. It's fine to choose best answers whenever you want, but some people may see your question as "answered"if you choose best answers early. (tags: answersbestanswersaskmeaskmetafilter ) December 29, 2009 - permalink - back to questions
How do I edit or delete my comment? What are the rules about the edit function?
Once you post a comment you'll have five minutes to fix any typos. Click the 'Edit' link in the comment byline to edit your comment. After five minutes, the Edit link no longer appears next to the comment. At that point, you can use the contact form to ask a moderator to make the changes for you.
Please keep in mind that this feature exists to fix typos only. Please do not use the "Edited to add" notation that is used on some other websites. If you need to make changes to the meaning of your comment (including fixing a factually incorrect statement, or just adding another thought), please just post another comment to clarify.
If you want to delete a comment after you make it, do not use the edit feature. Flag it or use the contact form to reach the mods, who can delete it for you.
How do I include a picture or photo with my AskMe question?
AskMetafilter does not host images, so there is no way to upload a picture directly to AskMe. Instead, you must upload your picture to another site and then link to it from AskMe. You can post the image on your own website, or use one of the many free image hosting services that will allow you to upload an image - such as Flickr, Photobucket, imgur, etc. Once you upload your image, copy its URL and link to it from your AskMe question. (tags: AskMeAskMetafilterpicturephotoimagelink ) February 15, 2013 - permalink - back to questions
Where can I find a list of common lingo and Mefi-specific abbreviations?
Should I use an URL shortener or link shortener, like I would on Twitter?
Please don't. There's no length limit here, and it's better if people can see what they're clicking on. Mods will expand short URLs when they see them. There is a difference, however, between site-specific URL shorteners like youtu.be and nytim.es and link shortening sites such as is.gs and j.mp, where the former is okay if not preferred while the latter is something we'd prefer people avoid. People who use link shorteners as a way of sketchily hiding affiliate codes may risk having their account banned. (tags: linkslinkshortenersshortlinkmetafilteraskmetafilteraskme ) July 25, 2011 - permalink - back to questions
Can I choose to see only posts or questions with certain tags or in certain categories?
My Mefi (a tab on the Metafilter front page), and My Ask (a tab on the AskMetafilter page), are customizable views of the sites. For both, you can choose tags or categories you are interested in, and then the My Mefi or My Ask tab will show you only the posts or questions related to the subjects you chose.
To get started, go to either tab, and it will have a link to your Preferences page where you can set up which tags and categories you're interested in. For example, you could set up a Mefi page that only shows you posts about art and food, or a version of AskMe that includes everything but relationship questions. You can always change your preferences later, too. (tags: askmemymefimyaskcustomviewsmetafilteraskmetafilter ) December 10, 2012 - permalink - back to questions
What is flagging? How can I flag a post/comment for the moderators to look at?
Members have the ability to flag posts and comments for a variety of reasons. Flags alert the mods to problem posts and comments, and indicate the level of severity of a problem post.
To flag something, click the [!] link by the post or comment.
When you flag something, the flag goes into a queue read by the mods. All flag reasons go into the same queue, so don't get stressed about the exact reason for flagging. If you think your reason for flagging will be hard to understand (for example a non-obvious problem with a link) you can use the contact form to explain.
Moderators will look at every flagged item, but not every flag will result in obvious action. Even those flags can be helpful, though, for example putting a contentious discussion on the mod's radar, or allowing the mod to email someone behind the scenes.
There is no need to flag 20 comments in a thread, because a moderator will read the thread when checking out the first few flags; please flag only the most important. Flags are generally used for current comments and threads, so flagging old posts and comments doesn't usually result in any action. Here is a good summary of when to consider using the flag feature.
FIAMO stands for "flag it and move on" and is a good first step with problematic posts or comments.
Who is in charge here? Are there admins and moderators like other sites?
The moderators are: mathowie, cortex, pb, vacapinta, restless_nomad, taz, goodnewsfortheinsane, LobsterMitten. jessamyn is retired.
The best way to reach a moderator is to use the contact form, which emails all of the mods. The site is staffed 24/7, and the contact form will reach whoever is on duty.
All the moderators are also regular site members, so you may see them around participating just like anyone else. When a moderator leaves an official moderation comment, the comment will appear [in small type, in square brackets]. You can confirm someone is a moderator by looking at their profile page. They'll have a "staff" badge under their profile picture. The "staff" badge also shows up next to their name on comments in the MetaTalk area of the site (if the person was a mod at the time of the comment; it does not show up on old comments from before the person became a mod).
Some history: MetaFilter was created by Matt Haughey (mathowie) in 1999. He was the sole admin of the site until 2005 when Jessamyn West (jessamyn) started helping keep Ask MetaFilter on track. In March 2007 Josh Millard (cortex) started helping out around the place. pb keeps the back end running smoothly and does bugfixes and feature builds. In May 2008 vacapinta became the unofficial "Midnight Mod", checking in a few times during the North American night, and in April 2011 Jeremy Preacher (restless_nomad) came on to keep an eye on things over the weekend. October 1, 2011 saw the first regular non-US mod when taz joined the team. In 2012 LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane joined the team as "floater" mods. In May 2014, due to a budget crunch, jessamyn retired, and LM and gnfti cut back hours sharply. All of the mods watch the flags pile up, delete questionable posts, occasionally post to the sideblog/Best Of blog, and settle any disputes that might arise. (tags: modsMetaFilteradminsmoderationaskmetafiltermetatalkfanfareprojectsirljobschataskmemusic ) March 20, 2006 - permalink - back to questions
Are posts or comments edited by mods?
Post or comments are not edited for content. Sometimes a post or comment will be edited for these reasons
- at the request of the poster, for minor reasons
- fixing a broken link
- fixing a typo or broken HTML
- putting a NSFW indicator in
- moving part of a long post to a "more inside" location
- AskMe posts where the only question is in the title
- adding tags
- removing personal information from a post [ex: whois records, email addresses] that is against the guidelines
- removing a gratuitous self-link in an otherwise okay post or comment (tags: editingcommentspostsmetafilteraskmetafilteraskme ) May 3, 2006 - permalink - back to questions
Why was my Ask MetaFilter post/comment removed?
Ask MetaFilter has more strict guidelines than MetaFilter. If an Ask MetaFilter thread is removed, there will be a reason for deletion at the old URL for the question. If you posted a question that disappeared, check your MefiMail for an automated New Post message that includes the URL of the question. Go to that URL and you'll be able to see why the question was deleted.
Ask MetaFilter questions should have a purpose or a problem to be solved. Since members get one AskMe post per week, please do not try to jam multiple questions into a single question, a few related questions in one post are fine.
Common reasons for thread removal are chatfilter questions, open-ended hypothetical questions, rants posing as questions, questions asking how to do things that are illegal or borderline illegal, questions about suicide, questions about how to get revenge, questions asking for detailed personal/private information, "why does X suck/not suck?" questions, and nonsense questions. Please do not Ask MetaFilter to do your homework for you. If you are feeling suicidal, please seek in-person help. MetaFilter has compiled a list of resources to assist you.
Ask MetaFilter comments should address the main question being asked. Common reasons for comment removal are wisecracks, derailing/ranting/axegrinding, picking a fight with or heavy chastising of the question asker, debating/chat among commenters, single word posts (yes, no, DTMFA &c.) and other non-answers that should probably be brought to MetaTalk. While it's okay to ask follow-up questions to the original asker, piggybacking questions [asking your own related question within someone else's AskMe] will often be removed. (tags: askmeaskmetafiltercommentspostsdeletion ) September 10, 2006 - permalink - back to questions
How does advertising on MetaFilter work?
MetaFilter carries a bit of advertising space devoted to Google's Adsense keyword-matching text and image ads, and small image ads on the front pages of subsites from The Deck Network. If you are a member of MetaFilter, you won't see any ads on comment threads but you may see the occasional small ad on the front pages of each subsite (which you can turn off). Ads from Google's Adsense program are automatically generated and matched and aren't approved ahead of time.
If you spot an annoying, obnoxious, and/or offensive ad, your best bet is to note the URL of the site it's pointing to... then use the contact form to let us know where you saw the ad, what it said, and the URL of the site it led to, and we'll be able to filter it out of the ad system.
What does 'threadsitting' mean? What does 'threadshitting' mean?
Threadsitting is when a user assumes a proprietary approach to a thread and becomes the person through which all thread discussion happens. This can be when one person has an oppositional stance on a topic and demands the other participants satisfy their repeated questioning. It can also occur when an AskMe querent responds to all comments in their thread or asks a number of follow-up questions. Making a thread "all about you" in a variety of ways is discouraged and sometimes mods will step in to please ask people to not threadsit so that everyone can join in the discussion. In general, we require that AskMe updates from the asker be a) relatively few and b) focused on clarifying the original question as necessary, rather than discussing the answers as they come up.