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Frequently Asked Of Metafilter

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So there seem to be a handful of questions that pop up on AskMe all the time. Unfortunately the current searching options don't make it easy to figure out if your question is a dupe. Maybe this FAQ will help.

Computers & Internet


Q: Where can I get an invitation to (private beta of web 2.0 site)?

A: Site Invites or Invite Share

Q: I'm looking for a web application that does (Photograph sharing/ Time managing/ Document collaboration/ Set up a calendar / Etc.)

A: I Want To - links to over 300 web applications. Try here first. Or try this list - hundreds of web apps

Q: I'm looking for a scheduling website to coordinate a meeting for busy people.

A: Meet With Approval or Pointment

Q: I'm having Problem X with Firefox.

A: MozillaZine's Firefox support forums - anonymous posting is allowed

MozillaZine Knowledge Base
Known problematic Firefox extensions

Q: I need a Firefox extension to do X.

A: I want a Firefox extension to...

Userscripts that work with the Greasemonkey extension


Q: Can you help with a particular computer/peripheral/software problem?

A: Protonic offers free tech support.

Q: I'm looking for some FREE software to do X, or a free alternative to Program Y

A: Huge list of free software

I want a Freeware Utility to...
Open Source Alternative
NoNags Software
Alternative To... just about anything

Q: My iPod has stopped working, what do I do now?

A: iLounge

Q: I'm visiting my family to do some tech support on their computer, and need to bring the proper tools. What software do I need?

A: Two AskMe threads contain a wealth of suggestions for useful tools. 1|2, as does one MeFi thread. Also, see the under 32MB PC Repair System from Daily Cup of Tech.

Q: What are some great programs for my new USB Flash drive?

A: Previous thread and Portable Freeware Collection and Portable Apps

Q: My hard drive has failed, what do I do now?

A: Free Tools to Recover Lost Data. Also try TestDisc.

Q: What program do I use to [do something related to audio editing]?

A: Audacity. This is Linux software that also works on OS X and Windows. Examples: 1 2

Q: How do I record streaming media (e.g. realaudio)?

A: Total Recorder for Windows, Audio Hijack for OS X. Note that both of these will capture the decoded audio signal and not the original stream, resulting in some loss of quality. MPlayer is less user-friendly, but it can dump the original stream to disk; it has Linux, Win32, and OS X ports. For a more easy-to-use interface (Windows) that allows one to rip streams (WMV, RM, ASF) try Streamdown. Examples: 1 2 3

Q: As a [beginner or inexperienced] programmer, what language should I use to [do something]?

A: Programming language preferences differ a lot. Having said that, many will recommend Python as a powerful language that is both easy to learn and well-supported by many useful libraries. Examples: 1 2 3


Q: Help me pick out a cell phone that does X, Y, and Z on Carrier A.

A: PhoneScoop's Phone Finder or MyRatePlan's Cell Phone Finder

Q: What's a good introduction to electronics?

A: Introduction to Electricity

Home & Garden

Q: What is this spider and is it going to kill me?

A: Spider ID

Work & Money

Q. I am trying to help someone experiencing homelessness, what can I do?

A. The Homeless Survival Guide has a collection of resources and information.

Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation

Society & Culture

Legal advice

Q: Do I need a lawyer for X?

A: Call a lawyer and ask. To be on the safe side, probably.

Q: I need legal advice on X topic for X state.

A: Get a lawyer. We are not lawyers; if we are, we are not YOUR lawyer.


Q: Is it OK to ask for money for my wedding?

A: Opinions vary. (See also: YouWHAT.)

brutal honesty filter: asking for money instead of wedding gifts?
How do we ask for cash as a wedding gift?
DIY gift registry and wording of said registry - help!
Wedding Registry Language
Which Service to Use for Collecting Wedding Cash?
What does the couple who has everything register for?
Giving Individualized Future Travel
Is this a wedding or a fundraiser?
So few options, yet so many questions...
Modern Wedding Questions from a modern kind of guy
We'd prefer invites with tact
Wedding etiquette
I hope their first child be a masculine child
How much money do I give for a wedding gift?
What is the proper way of asking for cold, hard cash for wedding gifts?

Travel & Transportation

Q: What are some must-see sites/must-do attractions in (city/country)?

A: Lonely Planet, CitySearch, WikiTravel. Also, many cities have their own website - try searching for it.

Science & Nature


Q: I want to learn a language. What do?

A: Immersion is the best way to do this.
If you can't: LiveMocha or Babbel.

Q: I want to learn French. What do?

A: FrenchMe.


Q: Where can I find affordable eyeglasses?

A: Glassy Eyes

Q: I would like to sleep less. How can I sleep less?

A: Some people seem to be able to do it, others can't, but here are some things you can try in various MeFi threads: 1 2 3 4

Q: I would like to sleep more/better. How can I do this?

A: Exercise, warm milk, noise machines, turning off the TV/Computer well before bedtime, keeping a regular sleep schedule. See 1 2, 3, 4, 5

Q: I need therapy but have no insurance and can't afford it.

A: Many therapists have income-based sliding scales. Call them up and ask. Additional resources are listed at the ThereIsHelp page, including low-cost/no-cost health and mental health care.

Q: I want to lose fat from / tone body part X. How do I do this?

A: Spot reduction isn't really possible, but there are lots of helpful suggestions about exercise and weight loss in general


Q: I'm looking for some good cookware.

A: Try the suggestions in these threads general pan question, outfitting a kitchen, non-stick, non-teflon options

Q: I need help buying a gift for my mother/friend/etc.

A: There are over 1300 posts tagged with "gift" on AskMe. Please try looking through them.

Q: What should I buy that's reliable, durable, and possibly worth spending a lot of money on?


Q: What's worth spending a little more money on?

A: What is worth paying a *little* more for?

Q: Where you can go for high-quality household items?


Food & Drink

Q: Do food pills or Bachelor Chow exist? Is there a basic food that will supply all required nutrients?

A: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Q: How do I eat every day, preferrably without cooking every day or spending a fortune every day?

A: Don't know how to food
I'm a lazy vegetarian.
Breakfast: Healthy, savory, and super, super easy
One base, several meals?
Make-ahead camping meals/snacks that don't need refrigeration
Help me avoid the Domino's app.
How do I food?
Is cooking meals a good use of time?
Give me your easiest, tastiest, healthy meals!
Make ahead food for surgery recovery
Semi-homemade healthy
I need foods that don't need refrigeration or cooking for one week.
easy x delicious?
Help us not starve

Writing & Language


Q: What's the origin of the expression...?

A: Some common phrases are references to pop culture. Many, many phrases aren't, and have no traceable origin.


Q: I'm trying to remember a book I read from when I was younger....

A: Stump The Bookseller

Q: I'm looking for a good book to read.

A: What Should I Read Next. LibraryThing combines library management with social features such as suggestions. Also, if you already have an Amazon wishlist, but instead put in books you have already read, Amazon will make recommendations to you.

Q: What's a good introduction to electronics?

A: See Technology.

Human Relations

Q: I am tired of going out to movies, restaurants, watching TV, etc. all the time with my date / partner / spouse and would like suggestions (preferably inexpensive) for alternative things to do with him/her. Help me make unexpected, fun dating plans.

A: See these threads:

Fun with the S.O.
What can we do together?
What do you want to do? I don't know, what do you want to do?
Carpe the crepuscular diem
Help us turn off our TV
Budget dating without being cheap
Reclaiming the marital entertainment space

Q: My partner / crush wants us to have a more open relationship and I've never done something like that before. Can this work out?

A: Maybe, if this is really what you want. Otherwise, probably not. Communication is the best strategy here. Relevant threads:

Should I give this polyamorous relationship a chance or end it?
Between a polyamorous rock and a monogamous hard place??
Should I let my boyfriend sleep with other women?
You say toMAYto, I say toMAHto...

Q: My partner has foo problem and I'm trying to convince them to see a therapist. How do I do this?


Q: We've been together for three months. *lengthy description of multiple problems* How can we work this out?

A: The first three months should be easy. Your partner has been on their best behaviour. It will not get better. You are not a good fit, so DTMFA.

Q: My partner has been treating me badly - should we work it out?

A: DTMFA. not safe for work definition
Keep in mind that couple's therapy does not work when your partner is abusive: it only gives them new ammunition.

Q: I've decided it's time to DTMFA. How do I do this the best way?

A: See Miko's comment on the best breakup she ever had.

Q: I have a crush on person X. I've gotten all these signals, but I'm not sure what they mean. What should I do?

A: Be straightforward: tell them how you feel, and ask the person out. It'll put an end to your sleepless wondering, and the worst that can happen is that they'll say "no".

Media & Arts

Q: What is the name of this story/movie/book about children? The central plot device is it rains all the time except for one day/hour of the year/decade?

A: All Summer in a Day by Ray Bradbury. Probably the number one repeated ID me question.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,7, 8, 9, 10, 11.


Q: What is that dark, dramatic choral music you hear all the time in movie trailers?

A: "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana by Carl Orff. Examples: 1 2 3 4

Q: What is that song that is always used in X situation ?

A: Check the what song do they use always use thread

Q: How can I find new music that I would like?

A: Try the suggestions in these threads: 1 2 3 4 5 or check the mixcd or mix tag if you are considering music with a unifying theme.

For new indie music try: 1.

Q: Help me make a mix CD with music about X?

A: There are several sites dedicated to doing just that: Tiny Mix Tapes (under Automatic Mixtape Generator), MixMatcher, Webjay, and Art of the Mix

For happy/anti-depressing music, read 1 and 2

Q: What song is this?

A: Humming Search SongTapper Musipedia


Q: I saw this weird set of photos of a creepy muppet. What the heck? 1 2 3 4 5

A: It's Understanding Joshua.


Q: What is this font?

A: Try Identifont or WhatTheFont.

Pets & Animals

Q: My cat exhibits this crazy behavior; is he/she the only one?

A: Nope, mine does it too. (x 1000)

Q: My pet is not eating / drinking / peeing / pooping. What should I do?

A: Time to see the vet: this could be urgent.

Q: Who's a good boy / girl / other?

A: You are!

Religion & Philosophy

Clothing, Beauty & Fashion

Q: How do I get this gasoline smell out of my clothes?

A: Drycleaning solvent. [1] [2]

Law & Government

Q: I have a complicated legal issue I need advice on. What should I do?

A: Get a lawyer.

Q: I have a less complicated legal issue that I merely need information about, rather than the advice of an attorney.

A: Legal information available online.

Grab Bag

Q: What are some other great blogs and news websites that I should be reading ?

A: See: For consumer electronics and video games, for news, for aggregators, and here