Should I Eat This Website?
February 25, 2008 10:34 AM   Subscribe

Can you help make my "Should I Eat It?" website awesome?

A number of weeks ago I was inspired by my favorite type of AskMetafilter questions to create a site where people could post "Should I Eat it?" questions and others could provide answers. The recent MetaTalk post inspired me to resurrect said project and make it a reality, and I'm looking for advice about what all of you would like to see on such a site.

Currently, it's a very simple concept, done in blogspot, where there is an email address for people to send me their "should I eat it?" questions and I then post them along with any pictures, and people comment away. Pictures are encouraged, as they make the questions that much more fun. I also have an AOL IM and GTalk account set up for rapid turn around on questions of extreme timeliness. Other than a sidebar with some links to webpages with information about spoilage and food safety, that was it.

Any other features or ideas I should incorporate? I considered some sort of built in poll, but I think most of these questions aren't strictly binary, so it would be unnecessary and overly restrictive to include a Yes/No option with each question. Besides, the fun is in the comments.

Even if Blogger could adequately handle everything I would need from the site, does it look lame in today's day and age to host something on blogspot?

Also, does anyone know what sort of language I would need to protect me and any answerers from all legal liability if someone gets advice to eat something and then get sick?

Any other thoughts on how to bring the joy of "Should I eat it?" questions to a new site would be greatly appreciated.

[And yes, Metafilter is credited throughout the site as being the inspiration for the idea.]
posted by andoatnp to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
And although it probably seems like I'm just riding the MetaTalk post, I emailed Jessamyn at the time I was thinking of doing this and got a reply from her, so I'm assuming she can vouch for my prescience.
posted by andoatnp at 10:41 AM on February 25, 2008

I would totally read this. I'd like it if there was a picture of the item along with the description, and a post-mortem report (pun not intended) about any aftereffects, lessons learned, etc. Possibly a picture of the serving vessel after the food has been eaten.
posted by loiseau at 10:53 AM on February 25, 2008

I think you should have both a yes/no poll and comments. One will be good for getting a quick take on which side is winning, and one will let people share stories.

Also, I would definitely want to see people post back with updates about what happened when they ate it.
posted by MsMolly at 10:57 AM on February 25, 2008

I considered some sort of built in poll, but I think most of these questions aren't strictly binary,

Does it have to be a binary poll? Couldn't you have a scale of 1 - 10 of eat-ability, where 10 is the most perfect chocolate confection ever, and 1 is something which is most assuredly poisonous and quite probably explosive as well?

I don't doubt that commentary would also be good, but a quick numeric at-a-glance answer might also be a way of pulling people in. (Kind of like Metacritic reviews)
posted by quin at 10:57 AM on February 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Even if Blogger could adequately handle everything I would need from the site, does it look lame in today's day and age to host something on blogspot?

Eh, kind of. But if you can get a creative layout, I think it'll be fine.

Categories would be good.

Should I Eat This>Categories>Sandwiches 'O Death.
Should I Eat This>Categories>The Liquid Sniff
Should I Eat This>Categories>Ancient Meal
Should I Eat This>Categories>Congealed Weapons

I would whip out a faux importance bigger than an extra large pizza. Create your own discourse about the techniques of eating food that may make you sick. Talk in great detail and provide graphics about how to properly hone your mold-shaving techniques so that you can properly get mold off of something. Experiment with different methods and report the trials.

Take it seriously, like it's something the president appointed you to do.
posted by cashman at 10:58 AM on February 25, 2008

As a just-get-it-going solution, there's nothing really wrong with going the blogspot route; if you're not willing/able to put in the effort of doing something fancier, that's not a great big deal as long as the content is entertaining.

That said, a nice clean personalized look to a site is a plus if you're up to it; getting off blogspot means you have more control over how you want to managed and display the content (do you want to offer alternative views of the site than just index, single post, archive list? do you want to track custom stuff in a db?), and it keeps the data in your hands entirely. But, again, if goal #1 is Get Thing Going, that may not matter to you right now and there's no reason you'd need to sweat it.

Poll/rating could be fun—a little per-comment ajaxy widget with a Yes/Maybe/No choice or even a five-point Yum-to-Yech scale would be neat—but, yeah, comments-as-content seems like a good primary goal.
posted by cortex at 11:04 AM on February 25, 2008

From the MetaTalk post:
I would be more intrigued by a "did I eat it?" site. The user would be given the choice of two food (or nonfood) items. Users would be shown a series of pictures of the submitter after ingestion, and would try to decide which the submitter ate. Look for such classic battles as "dented can of crabmeat with no label" vs. "2 year old Dr. Scholl's insert", or "some prechewed gum I found on Madison Ave" vs. "five-day-old macaroni 'n cheez made with bongwater".
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 11:04 AM on February 25, 2008

Think "Hot or Not" but food targeted.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:34 AM on February 25, 2008

definitely a post-mortem report like loiseau suggests. and a disclaimer, displayed prominently.
posted by kidsleepy at 12:27 PM on February 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm assuming she can vouch for my prescience.

I can.
posted by jessamyn at 1:34 PM on February 25, 2008

Use this image as the header until they discover you:

From here:
posted by cashman at 2:19 PM on February 25, 2008

You think you're prescient? How about this?

Fark Headline from 6 months in the future: "Man eats moldy food on advice from blog. Lawsuitilarity ensues."
posted by Mr. Gunn at 2:20 PM on February 25, 2008

You don't really have to use that image, I just think it would be funny with a caption of "should I eat this?"
posted by cashman at 2:20 PM on February 25, 2008

My obvious answer each and every time would summarized in the following word: "YES!"

ZOMG I can't believe he ate it, sucka!
posted by furtive at 2:29 PM on February 25, 2008

I would gladly check that blog daily. "Should I eat this?" questions are often the most entertaining on AskMeFi.
posted by umbú at 3:35 PM on February 25, 2008

Here's the thing: a question like "Should I eat it?" on this type of website is always going to overwhelmingly elicit "Yes" responses. No matter how mundane or disgusting, every item is going to receive over 80-90% Yes.

To create interest and readership, you need to generate controversy and foster discussion. For your website, the question should not be "Should I eat it?" but rather "Which should I eat?" Every "post" should present readers with the option of deciding whether the victim should eat A or B. With a "Should I eat it?" polling website, you're stuck in an arms race to make every new item more exciting/gross/dirty/ugly than the last. In a "A or B?" website, you can do an infinite number of combinations: dirty/moldy, stinky/bland, gross/tasty, super-super salty/super-super sour, canned/cooked, etc.

To start, you should find/develop a few characters for "victims" complete with bios. A hunky, good-looking guy will get female readers to choose the less awful option while male readers will pick the more awful option. Expect the reverse if you set up a hot/cute girl as the potential victim. Find a guy who can be the douchebag character that everyone loves to hate. Let the victims reply in comments before the "deed." Let your readers continue to interact with the characters and discuss them in forums. You want to develop fans that gravitate to certain characters and defend them as only rabid fans can. Be selective and don't be afraid to (silently) cut unpopular characters in favor of popular ones. Do at most 1 or 2 events a week to build up anticipation.

Don't score the A/B challenge yourself - let the readers use a 5-point poll to do it. Make the criteria open-ended so people can argue about it.

Enable embedded video. People need to see it happen or they won't believe it. Fear Factor-style requirements: put in mouth, chew, swallow, open mouth for a few seconds to verify. Picture proof is no good.

Turn the score of the challenge into a game by converting the average score of each challenge into "points" that can be accumulated. Once your website starts becoming popular, do a video submission casting call to get more characters and allow them into the game.

I highly recommend studying niche "curious appeal" websites with strong fanbases like HotOrNot and Yelp to see what makes them popular. Hint: on the Internet, everyone has an opinion.

I thought about this way too much.

posted by junesix at 6:10 PM on February 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

It should be more than just potential food poisoning food. Tricking/goading your friends into eating strange or disgusting things should be included to. This still makes me laugh my ass off: bacon mints
posted by Jacqueline at 6:47 PM on February 25, 2008

Steve, Don't Eat It!
posted by plinth at 7:05 PM on February 25, 2008

I agree with the "Which One Should I Eat?" idea, with well-crafted, thoroughly detailed descriptions of the nastiness of each offering.

In addition, ask for people to send in their own, "Guess Which One I Ate?" (avoiding liability as it is a done deal), or maybe "Did I Eat It?" or "Worst Stuff I Ever Ate," or, "I can't believe I/He/She Ate That!" stories. Or, hey, all of the above.

Have pics of the offerings. Enable comments. Post it in Projects. And make sure you describe what happens after the fact--people love the gory details!
posted by misha at 7:32 PM on February 25, 2008

Homer, have you been eating that sandwich again?
posted by happyturtle at 12:54 PM on February 26, 2008

Incorporate this. Table of Condiments that Periodically go bad.
posted by cashman at 6:06 PM on February 28, 2008

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