Krazer's post from July 2014 about identification requests asked the following question:
Do [identification-request questions] attract so-called "help vampires" that plague much of the Stack Exchange network of sites (especially Stack Overflow)?
That is, do identification-request questions attract users to the site that consume the time of answerers, while not contributing back to the site?
It sure looks like they do!
Here are some data about participation of users whose first post (meaning "question or answer", i.e. comments ignored) on the site was...
- ...an identification-request question: data for "category 1"
- ...in naruto, bleach, one-piece, or fullmetal-alchemist (these four tags together have about as many questions as identification-request, though significantly fewer users): data for "category 2"
- ...any question: data for "category 3"
All of these exclude users who created their accounts less than 4 weeks before the latest data dump was imported to SEDE, as well as users who created their accounts during the site's private beta.
Consider the following summary statistics:
╔══════╦════════════════════════╦═════════════════════╦═════════════════════════════╗ ║ ║ Asked other questions? ║ Posted any answers? ║ Commented on non-own posts? ║ ╠══════╬════════════════════════╬═════════════════════╬═════════════════════════════╣ ║ cat1 ║ 42 -> 8% ║ 45 -> 8% ║ 161 -> 30% ║ ║ cat2 ║ 53 -> 39% ║ 33 -> 24% ║ 69 -> 51% ║ ║ cat3 ║ 184 -> 19% ║ 153 -> 16% ║ 367 -> 37% ║ ╚══════╩════════════════════════╩═════════════════════╩═════════════════════════════╝
It comes as no surprise that category 1 users (people whose first post was an id-request question) contribute less to the site in aggregate than category 2 users (people whose first post was a big-3 or FMA question) or category 3 users (people whose first post was a question of any kind).
Data becomes very sparse as you look for more fine-grained statistics (since we're still a small site), but a glance at the histograms for the various columns in the SEDE queries universally has the right tail being meatier for categories 2 and 3 than for category 1, indicating, again, that category 1 users are (on average) more vampiric.
I will now take a moment to reiterate all the reasons I'm aware of that we should ban identification-request questions:
- They do not make the site interesting and bore the site's users.
- Voters don't like these questions, as evidence by the low score of identification-request questions relative to questions on other popular tags (sort by "# Ans" to see this more clearly). [On SF&F: same deal.]
- Many of these questions go unanswered - they're zombies. [On SF&F: even worse.]
- Fully 20% of the questions on this site are now identification-request questions - and this trend is accelerating! (Why is this bad? A superabundance of questions on any one topic makes a site unpalatable to users who don't like that topic. Would you enjoy Stack Overflow if it was brimming with COBOL questions?) [On SF&F: the fraction of identification requests increased for a while but then leveled off.]
- 32% of identification requests that received an answer within 24 hours have no response from the OP (in the form of a comment or accepted answer). The corresponding figure for the site as a whole is 17%. For the site minus ID requests, it's just 13%. [On SF&F: 27% for ID requests; 14% for the site as a whole]
- Lots of identification requests have been showing up in the Hot Network Questions sidebar lately. This is bad, because this makes our site look dumb to users on other sites in the SE network. (Unfortunately, this is anecdotal, because I don't have data about what has being showing up in HNQs lately. I know Logan was keeping track of this stuff at some point in the past - maybe he still is?)
- Many identification-request questions are tantamount to "can you read my mind?", or worse, "can you read the mind of my friend, on behalf of whom I'm asking this question for some bizarre and utterly incomprehensible reason?". Christ. Arqade has banned "game-identification" questions that lack an audiovisual artifact. They've been doing this longer than we have. I think they know what they're doing. (Comparisons to Movies.SE would be helpful, but running similar tag-based analyses there is unfortunately intractable because of the absurd amount of meta-tags they have.)
- Despite there now being a popup thing that tells you to try reverse image searching, some people just aren't doing that (one, two, three). Yes, some of these will end up only giving you Japanese or Chinese results, which the OP may not be able to read, but quite frankly, if you really care what an image is, I expect you to at least run it through Google Translate and see what that tells you (i.e. I basically subscribe to the Jeff Atwood school of thought: posting on Stack Exchange should be what you do after you've exhausted every other option available to you). What this tells me is that allowing identification requests is attracting lazy people to the site, and we don't want lazy people.
- Identification requests generally don't get very many views (despite prurient identification requests yielding large positive outliers, as I point out further below): out of 61 tags with at least 10 questions, identification-request questions are the 7th-least-viewed in aggregate on a per-question basis. (This assumes that a question with V views tagged with A and B adds V to the total view count for both A and B. This is imperfect, but I'm not sure what works better.) Alone, this is no argument (we don't want to get rid of nanoha, after all), but seriously, these questions aren't (and by nature, cannot be) helpful to future viewers. If they were, they'd be viewing them!
Other things that peeve me about identification requests:
- We have a steady stream of people posting things that are just vaguely anime-style that we end up having to trace back to some rando's original art on pixiv. Super-useful, right?
- Most of our highly-viewed identification requests appeal to a rather prurient interest. 6 of the top 10 strike me as prurient:
- https://anime.stackexchange.com/questions/9587 - seems prurient
- https://anime.stackexchange.com/questions/13867 - prurient
- https://anime.stackexchange.com/questions/6045 - jesus christ guys
- What is the name of the anime this pink-haired girl is from? - prurient
- Manga/Anime of two female secret/military agents featuring countless upskirt moments - prurient
- https://anime.stackexchange.com/questions/6191 - oh heavens above