The answer to that is that we can't. From the stats provided by JNat, we see that a overwhelming number of new users don't bother going though the tour page to see what our site is about. Instead, they treat us as if we're just any other web forum and do as they post what they want expecting the work to be done by the time they return. While we can't force them to listen and stop them from asking, we need to remind them that if they want to ask something here, they need to at least follow our follow our guidelines.
We have a right to refuse questions if they don't comply. We're not here because we have to, we're here because we want to help. Let them know that it's not alright to take advantage of those giving you help.
What are the guidelines suppose to mean to you?
The guidelines for writing good identification question were originally intended to help new and old users alike in both writing and determining the appropriateness of whether an id-req has enough information to be answered or not. Since the intent is not clear, I will acknowledge my shortcomings here and go over our guidelines as they are now and more clearly articulate my original intent:
An identification-request should have as many of the following points as possible:
The intent here is to tell users, while there is a minimum number, often times the bare minimum is not enough. Often times people's memories of the past get jumbled up, sometimes what they recall is completely different from what it is in actuality. This is one of the reasons why nostalgic games of the past are never as good as you imagined it to be. So the more details you have the more opportunities there are to connect dots, in case one is a red herring.
- Any description of the leading/recurring character(s) (i.e. physical description, behavior, etc.)
Often times the main protagonist character is (or should be) the most distinguishable character from the series, so outline key points that make him stand out can be an important clue. Just saying he's in his teens, has spiky colored hair does little to distinguish him from the common tropes and clichés in anime. Let's say he has a big sword, if you can't remember any features about it, describe what you remember them doing with it, or how they got it.
- Any description of any distinctive features, including the plot and related elements (e.g. girls who are soda cans that do battle, or i.e., the setting, the plot)
Like describing the character, describing the details of a chapter, episode, arc, or overall plot points such as the protagonist getting summoned to another world, getting tangled and blamed for some conspiracy, and ending up having to buy a slave because he can't fight for himself, gives people an idea of how things start off.
- What the genre or cinematic style was (e.g. mecha, sci-fi, fantasy, shonen, shoujo, seinen, noir, cyberpunk, etc.)
Sometimes genres overlap, such as a mahou shoujo anime. Despite having an all female cast doing girly things, an anime can actually be a shonen action anime. Genre types also help describe the setting without needing to remember too many specific details and is often times a good secondary hint in locating a piece of media.
- What the drawing/animation style is like
While not helpful all of the time, this point is intended to serve as a test for the asker to see if they can tell distinguish difference between certain anime or manga. The primary intent is to differentiate older anime from newer anime, but sometimes since the character design archetypes are (for a lack of a better word) recycled, it is possible to narrow things down to the studio or artist.
- When and where you saw it (if you saw it when you were a kid, don't give your age, give the approximate year, and month if possible)
Because anime and manga fans come in different ages, their idea of anime can be very different. With anime being available all around the word, not every country has been exposed to the same things. Some anime might have only made an appearance during one time and place with not making one in another place (like how Doraemon was localized in many other Asian countries and select European countries prior to 2000, but not the US).
- Who the publisher, licensor, and/or distributor was
Often times knowing who published, distributed, or broadcast a show can narrow it down greatly, especially if it's outside Japan, because the number of licenses for anime and manga outside of Japan is drastically lower than those in the US.
- Type of media: TV show, OVA, movie, manga, web-series, one-shot, etc.
This point is supposed to test if the asker can properly recall what they are talking about. If they can't distinguish whether or not what they are looking for is a manga or anime first and foremost (even if both adaptation exist), it's a sign that they don't remember things clearly should call into question the other details the asker provides.
- Any image(s), audio, or video(s) related to the series (an exception may be made for questions with one or more of these items)
It's true that pictures speak more than words. However not all pictures are created equal. Bad low resolution pictures, videos, or audio can be just as bad if not worse than having none at all, as there's the potential for misinterpretation by overanalyzing (e.g., clouds are still just clouds, no matter what you imagine them to be like). However, including a picture along should only count as a point and not be an excuse: it should not take the place of any of the abovementioned points as well, regardless of whether or not they fulfil those points. More points are always better.
All identification-request questions should have a title that is phrased or edited to be phrased as a question containing at least one pertinent detail from the body of the question. Vague title like "Requesting an anime identification" or "What is this anime show?" will lower the visibility of your question by fellow users since they'll have to click on it to find out what it's about.
Many people don't pay much attention to subject titles, for one reason or another. However, for those that to realize their importance, they will know that they are an important segue into the body of a question. Many people won't bother or are not willing to look inside a box without any indication of it's contents. Why should you, as a user of this site, bother looking at the question if the title gives you no idea of whether it's something you even want to answer?
Please limit your identification-request questions to ask for only one series or piece per question.
This is pretty self explanatory, having too many unrelated questions in one post reduces the chance that all of them can be answered by someone in one answer. Just as if you ask someone a question, you have to give it to them one by one or risk overwhelming the answerer.
If the question have less than three (two for questions that include image(s), audio, and/or video(s)) of the the above mentioned criteria, or if the description provided is deemed to be too ambiguous, it will be put on hold as "Off-Topic: This identification request contains too little detail to be answered." You should edit your question to add more details, before it can be reopened.
This criteria is intended to gauge the amount of effort a user puts into a question. The intent is to tell new users that ask id-req question that you only get as much as you put in. For other observing users it's intended to ask them: has this poster fulfilled the bare minimum to ask a question? If so do you think it's enough?
Explaining it all like this would have been lot of reading, so an attempt was made to consolidate them into a shorter and more readable format.
Well, what should we do then?
Ideally I would like those users to treat these question something they would ask of themselves.
Going forward I would like our users to consider to and act as the following:
If a question establishes are the bare minimum for id-reqs, think to yourself: are the points they used to describe what's on the tip of their tongue, unique and distinguishable enough to you as a person (not other potentially more knowledgeable)?
- If so, leave it as is if you can't answer it.
- If it is and you're interested in it in hopes of that it getting answer, upvote it so it gets more visibility and start it if you want to come back to it later.
- If not, then cast a close vote. The faster the community lets them know that they didn't give us enough to work with, the faster they know that they need to make changes. Reasearch shows that in general, iq-req asker only stick around for about an hour after the post is posted and some back between a day and a week later.
- If you're unsure, consider closing it anyway. If you are unsure, others could feel the same way and be more reluctant to answer. While there is no notification to a user that their question has been closed, the notion is still under consideration. While this may seem like an unfair double standard, if we wait too long to let users know that their question doesn't have enough information to be answered, more are likely to popup. They might think, oh if no one is taking action against it, it might be alright to ask more of it. I would like to avoid this as much as possible.
If an answer to an id-req question is just a one-liner and/or a link
- Without offering any distinct explanation of why, consider flagging it as "not an answer."
- If there is an answer in it seems to be what the OP is talking about, even if it's the OP answers it themselves, feel free to flag the answer as "not an answer" and write a better one for yourself. You'll probably get more rep than the OP's answer.
If a id-req has visual-audio artefact like a image, video, or sound clip, but nothing else descriptive, count it as fulfilling only one point of the guidelines. Consider voting to close that question.
- We need let people know just leaving us with an image and expecting us to do the rest of the work gets them nowhere
- Just like homework questions on Math.SE and programming question on SO, the users need to how that they at least made a bit of effort in trying to solve the problem themselves. Their explanation of what they've tried and what it's not can narrow things down as well.
We need to start showing new users that if they want to get their questions answered and/or gain reputation on our site they need to put in more effort than the bare minimum. If we want to keep id-req questions we need to lead by example telling new users what they should be doing. Nobody likes being told what to do, but at the same time they shouldn't be left to their own devices. We need to lead them down the right track by showing them how it's done.
But I don't care enough about identification-request question to do anything about them
While I can't force you to agree or act on identification question, we can address in another way as well. Stop paying attention and ask other types of questions, there are various topic we've barely or rarely touched upon these days but have in the past.
We can ask about tourism spots related to anime and manga (because Japan), for those interested in learning more or are otherwise curious about.
We can ask more about plot explanations as some stories tend to be more abstract than others. You might learn something new about your favorite anime though another's enthusiastic interpretation of the plot.
We can promote questions about the currently airing anime, as eventually more fans will catch on either after a season has ended or as is progresses.
Even simple general questions that are a given more long-time anime fans, like what and how a question about the differences between OVAs can lead to another about how OVA differ from specials and what is the Manabi or anime saving line mean?
Often times newer anime and manga fans aren't familiar with these terminologies and will stumble onto our site thanks to our site's high search rankings. I'd like to find more ways to eventually convert both new users and habitual users to become more regular users to help our community grow.
We can also do some private screening of anime on a weekly to monthly basis (like the LWA Academia showing) on the off chance that you discover some older anime that fits your palette.
There's a lot of possibilities of what we can do if we put our minds together and go about doing them. Any other suggestions and counter proposals are welcome.