So you probably know about those Identification Request type of questions, most probably from them swamping the front page pretty often. Let's talk about where they are now and where they may better belong.

A while ago the main site classified such questions as off-topic until one day we decided to allow them for reasons of goodwill. It's great to help others discover new things and remember old ones. Everybody feels good about doing that.

But what's not good is that those types of questions are usually of very low quality level, compared to all the other, "main" types of questions before ID requests. They bring down overall question quality and flood "recently active questions" tabs/views.

Also, they are not useful to a lot of viewers. Honestly, have you yourself read a lot of those? Is it that much better than just asking for recommendations in chat? How do you think the "satisfied customer count" differs between an average ID question and an average in-universe rule explanation?

Rules don't apply to IDs the same way they do to regular questions. There is a whole other ruleset to govern IDs now, which makes it apparent that they themselves are a whole different type of question (and this is why I'm talking about IDs and "main" questions separately).

Most users that come by to ask ID questions, disappear forever. Very few edit after getting closed, and very few stick around. Talk about time well spent.

I'm not saying IDs are bad and we should ban them. I'm saying maybe both IDs and the "main" content would be better off if they were separated from each other.

One idea that I've had for a while is to put them all into a separate tab called "ID requests". That would clear up all the "main" site views from them, and it would serve as an "exploration" view for some connoisseurs (personally, I don't think that's a viable exploration method).

Another idea is to completely move them from the main site to chat. That would also automatically mean 20 rep minimum requirement, and I see how a lot of the ID answerers wouldn't agree with this, as it basically doesn't allow 99% of newcomers to ask anything, while your goal is to help everyone in need. It's just one of the ideas. One important note: in chat, it's gonna be hard to track down all posts related to one ID request. So perhaps one "place" per ID is better.

Lastly, how about just moving this whole ID thing to a separate site from StackExchange and offer help there? Perhaps to one of the Anime&Manga social network pages? It would still be affiliated with SE but not clutter up the site, and anyone can post with a social network account.

How does all of that sound?

that's what it looks like here after id req conversations

  • While being quite new on this SE, I do agree that ID-req should be placed apart. Even though the "chat" solution does not guarantee an unicity, does any "1 rep guy" check for existing answer before posting in the current system?
    – Ikaros
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 13:43
  • You could find out the real numbers by searching for all duplicate IDs. I wouldn't expect anyone to find a dupe of an image-only ID with little or no text.
    – Hakase
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 13:58
  • 1
    Maybe the time has come to disallow ID requests? Or maybe we should add asking ID request(or tagging one as such) as a privilege?
    – Keale
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 4:53
  • 1
    @Keale we've discussed this a lot in chat before and the general impression is that it would be very hard to govern who's allowed and who's not. Basically if you only allow users with 200 rep to use [ID] tag, and they only have 123 rep, they could easily type a [1D] or something to circumvent the restriction, and it would be a nightmare to enforce.
    – Hakase
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 9:35
  • If we decide to remove them we need to have a good idea of how we're going to remove them. Are we going to restrict the topics (e.g., cosplay and merchandise only)? Are we going to blacklist the tag and remove all prior id-requests? Are we going to lock all id request posts?
    – кяαzєя Mod
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 3:33
  • @ʞɹɐzǝɹ: Insta-close all new id-request, and close all past id-request after 6 months. <s>Black list the tag without removing it (which means the tag stays, but new user can't create new question with the tag).</s> On second though, we may need to edit those posts, so black listing will cause a dilemma for the editors.
    – nhahtdh
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 10:01
  • 1
    @nhahtdh what about merchandise and cosplay IDs? Are we going to gloss over those? Or move them to their respectively named tags?
    – кяαzєя Mod
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 20:29
  • @ʞɹɐzǝɹ: I foresee the same problem with cosplay id, but merchandise id seem to be fine (with the exception of the cel sheet incident, but I guess it can be taken care of on case-to-case basis). We probably will move them to a new tag.
    – nhahtdh
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 2:09
  • @ʞɹɐzǝɹ Close + historical lock for all extant ones seems like the easiest way to do this (granted, it's a fair bit of work for you three diamonds, but it's not like it all needs to be done in one fell swoop). Dunno the exact mechanics of blacklisting, but if that's not feasible, closing and deleting any new id-reqs that come in seems not too difficult to do.
    – senshin
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 5:02
  • 1
    @senshin: I don't think we should lock them. Closing those questions is enough. Blacklisting means that we request SE to prevent some tags from being used in a question, which means that when you submit a new question or edit something, the tag must not be there, but the tag is allowed to stay on existing question. It can be requested, since it's being used on SO. It will automatically prevent new id-req questions, but it also prevent people from cleaning up the question (unless they remove the id-req tag). That's why I had my second thought.
    – nhahtdh
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 6:04
  • If ID Requests were removed from the website what would happen to the existing questions?
    – Memor-X
    Commented Feb 6, 2016 at 11:46
  • 1
    @Memor-X Lock up all of them, lock the tag, throw away the keys. Maybe delete the un-answered ones. But we blow it, do a power walk and never look back. After all, cool guys.... Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 20:18
  • Maybe assign an ID response team, have a pizza prize bounty for whoever clears the most ID questions per month? Or print a book of the most odd and inane ID requests? I mean, just like those "people of walmart" books, some of what people submit must be worth putting into a coffee table book. Dumb stuff people do isn't always bad, just most of the time. Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 5:11
  • I'm sure there can be a place for such an activity, just not here.
    – Hakase
    Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 5:46

8 Answers 8


I'm not an active user on this site, and I don't have a particularly large interest in anime. However, I'm here for a simple reason. I'm a power user over at the Movies & TV Stack Exchange, where we have struggled with this problem for years and someone happened to highlight this discussion to me. There are a plethora of questions on our Meta discussing our identify problems, but I can refer you to something I wrote quite recently, which is a very detailed analysis of the questions asked on our site over the last five years.

In short, retention rates of identify-askers is pretty terrible (just 25% of askers have 125 rep or more, compared to 75% of non-identify askers) and the quality of questions is generally very poor (with substantial editing and modding needed for each one to make them legible). We've added in pop-ups and more information to assist users posting these questions, and largely they're ignored. We even put in a link to an external website which is a specialist place for these questions, and all it appears to have done is increase traffic to our site for these questions.

In short, 30% of all our questions are identify this, from 2011 (which was when we opened). However, that's all time. In the last two years, they've averaged 36% of questions on the site and they're continuing to grow.

If you take a look at our Movies & TV home page you'll hopefully see some wonderful, in-depth questions and analysis. But sadly, there's also a clutter of identify-this questions, most of which are looked at once by the OP and forgotten about. It's not clear they have any value to users down the line which is one of the fundamental purposes of any Stack site.

I don't believe chat would be a good place for these questions either, and new users wouldn't know to post them there.

Therefore, I'd strongly urge removing them from your site, so you don't have the issues we have on our own beloved site. The problem (and volume of them) will get worse, and sadly it will make the home page, for any new users, look like a random trivia dump, as opposed to a detailed, in-depth question and answers page.

  • 13
    Thank you for taking your time to share your thoughts with our community.
    – giraffesyo
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 4:32
  • For anyone still wondering why so many of us hate and downvote the poor innocent id requests, Andrew has also written a great post on that over at Movies and TV meta.
    – Torisuda
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 6:41

enter image description here

The battle of id requests begins anew.

There are very strong opinions on this topic, which I hope people can restrain in this thread.

Ignoring the question of if do these questions belong here, let me comment on your ideas instead.

  • New Main Section: The first thing that sticks out to me is (As @Gao mentioned), It's unlikely that SE will devote some engineering time to this. So I think that option is out.

  • Moving to chat: We allow recommendation questions on chat, not the main site, so does that 20 rep matter?

  • Moving to chat: Id requests sometimes need time to identify - apart from the low-effort questions, there's usually some research / specific knowledge needed. In a chat based enviroment, I forsee they would get only a few moments of attention and then dismissed.

  • A new SE site: This would presumably work similar to Code Review SE. I don't think the subset of users interested enough to monitor 2 sites is significant enough to make a new site.

  • A new social site: From what I've seen (I don't control the social sites), the interaction with them is pretty low from the userbase.

  • A new separate site: Why not just give the work to an existing site?

  • 3
    Robert Cartaino seemed markedly unhappy with the "new SE site" solution when I brought it up.
    – senshin
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 15:48
  • 1
    To be honest, I think if we are moving id-requests away, they should just be removed. Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 16:04
  • Also to clarify, I am neither for nor against Id requests. Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 17:53
  • 4
    To be sure, a new site would be weird, a probable mishmash of people looking for one-time Fox Kids anime, obscure 1980s movies, old science fiction stories, and Commodore 64 games (since I can't see getting a whole site just for anime identification, and I bet Movies and TV, SF&F, and Arqade would love the chance to be able to escape off their own id request nightmares), and the users who know how to identify them. On the other hand, Software Reqs.
    – Torisuda
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 1:18
  • We can't just dump stuff on another site, we should at least ask other sites if we can refer these questions to them. I don't want any SE site to be flooded with LQ id-reqs.
    – кяαzєя Mod
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 3:05
  • 2
    @ʞɹɐzǝɹ a new area51 site presumably Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 7:39
  • 3
    I was imagining a new area 51 site, something like "Media Identification Stack Exchange" that we could all dump our id reqs to. I don't think that's a good solution, I was just pointing out that there are weird edge cases like Software Reqs where a topic that seems unsuited to SE gets a site.
    – Torisuda
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 17:26


  • Question Quality
  • New user turnover
  • Flooding out other questions

I understand that no one wants this to become an identification request oriented site. I don't want that either.

I have heard the same information about new user retention for identification-request questions being extremely low. That's disheartening, as I'd really like our efforts we put forward count as an effort to grow the community.

Your argument about these questions having a different set of rules shows that the community is trying to improve the quality of these questions by setting up these standards. However, we can expect most users to be unwilling to read a large set of rules before posting a question. Thus, the lack of quality remains.

If Stack Exchange was willing to put in the development time to make such a place to house identification-request questions then I'd be 100% for such an option. As the others have said, I am doubtful that this will be the resolution to this issue. As a company it'd be easy for Stack Exchange to just say, either ban the tag, or allow the questions. It's also likely that if this option did get taken another war on identification-requests could take place some time down the road. If that happened, and we had asked Stack Exchange to make a feature for us it would make it much harder to change, as we, as a community, would have effectively wasted their development time.

As for putting these types of requests in chat: I would like to say that's not a good idea.

It's easy to offer recommendations at a moments notice to someone in chat since we can ask what type of genre or style they are looking for and offer them some titles we liked. However, ID Requests are different. There is a single answer to their question. It belongs in a Q&A style format. It has a single question, and a single answer.

Answers to identification requests are not ideal for a chat environment. This is because we cannot just produce an answer at a moments notice unless they give us an extremely detailed explanation of what was involved, and the right people read it. We know from experience that this would not be the case. Another thought about chat is the rep requirement would bar nearly all identification-request questions from happening, as these generally come from new users.

Having these identification request questions open as a question allows people time to come in and look at the question and determine if it's something that can be answered. Question and Answer is the correct format for questions. The issue is not the format, it is the quality of the questions, and the results we receive for answering them (e.g. turnover rate).

So what do we do?

Remove the tag from the site. These types of questions will then be off-topic on Anime.SE.

Redirecting these types of questions to another site as Toshinou suggested would be fine. There are plenty of forums that offer help with identifying anime & manga. We could simply make a post that offers suggestions of sites that can help similarly to how we instruct users to do reverse image searches.


I am for the separate tab idea. However, despite what everyone else is saying, there is an existing functionality on Stack Exchange which can be used for this purpose, given some more tweaking by SE Programmers (which I think will be less work adapting this functionality than building new functionality).

Currently on Stack Overflow, you can create tabs which you can specify tags, and the results are questions which contain those tags.


This only exists on Stack Overflow for now, so I suggest that Anime.SE, Gaming.SE, Scifi.SE, Movies.SE and any other entertainment SE site that may be created in the future have an automatically created tab for ID requests, where the tags specified for this tab is set up by the Community Moderators of the site, to account for the different tagging schema used across these sites.

But what about the other tabs which will still show ?

Like the above, there exists functionality for this:

Ignore tags

To adapt this, the tag in this new tab would be automatically added to the Ignored Tags for new users and guests, so if registered users want to see these questions again, they can remove the tabs from this section in their profile.

  • 2
    While this approach may be useful to existing users which know a bit about how to customize their views, any unregistered (and probably most) viewers would still see the front page as festering with IDs.
    – Hakase
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 12:26
  • 2
    @Hakase you didn't read the second part about the tags the mod select for this id request tab being "automatically added to the Ignored Tags for new users and guests". ofcause incase if it wasn't obvious the hide questions option would also be used rather than the grey out option
    – Memor-X
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 12:29
  • I misunderstood. Well, this is rather hacky. I don't think SE would ever employ such a workaround, they'd rather just make a clean feature from scratch, but that's also a fat chance.
    – Hakase
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 13:28
  • 4
    Delegating the less desireable question by no means helps resolve it, it just delays the inevitable. Someone still needs to wade through these question and prune out the bad ones. Since SE is moderated by the community, it's up to everyone to pitch in. However not everyone wants to deal with those questions. Bad questions will continue to pile up, attracting bad answer and ire. This tab would eventually be regarded as the rubbish bin of the site discouraging many to go there because they know how bad the questions maybe.
    – кяαzєя Mod
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 3:16

I stumbled across the Anime and Manga Stack Exchange recently and squeed with delight. And then noticed all of the poorly written, downvoted identification requests.

Then I started to think about what kinds of questions you might ask in a Q&A style format, instead of a discussion format. Honestly, I think there's more content to be had with discussion style, but occasionally I see interesting, valid questions float by.

However, the flood of ID requests is a flood, and kind of annoying for all the well known reasons stated above. Due to that, I don't see many other questions.

I think the tab idea is a great solution, and the fact that @Memor-x found a way to implement it is great. And then you can have a few default settings to get the desired effect: a tab just for ID requests, and a tab for everything else.


IDs on a separate tab: not going to happen unless SE decides to implement this just for us.

Move IDs to chat: keep them on the main chat room, like on Arqade. There is no need to track down all posts related to IDs. Just ask, and if no one answers, tough luck. Maybe ask again later, or don't bother. We have already written Where is this picture from? How do I use Reverse Image Search to find the source of an anime/manga image? and An arsenal of tools and know-hows for tackling identification request questions, read them and try those tools/techniques.

Move IDs to a site separate from SE: I don't know, since I probably won't be visiting said site.

  • I haven't been looking at IDs for a long time now even while they're still on the main site. I think we need to ask the users who do look at them if they would still look on another site.
    – Hakase
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 14:06

So I've been lurking from the shadows on this one, watching the number of identification requests steadily increase, and I've been thinking to myself...

This can't go on. This isn't how I wanted to contribute; by identifying series.

The thing is, if we want to support this, the only ideal place for it is chat. Why?

  • A separate tab sends the message that it's okay to ignore these types of questions, and it's guaranteed that this tab will not get the same amount of traffic to it.
  • A different site all but dooms these sorts of requests, and there's no real Q&A value to be had out of them (at least, in my mind).

Chat has its pros in that:

  • Users are forced to have some modicum of participation on the site overall before they can ask an ID request
  • There are users that are willing to help with ID requests in chat
  • Questions with ID attempts are off the main site

For what it's worth, my vote is chat. That is, if the community-at-large wants to support such things in chat. It at least sounds like that's the direction we're going, but I don't want to burden them with something they may not really want.

  • 6
    Chat is a terrible place to do id-req. I wouldn't readily invite people to join chat to post their requests. Sure, they can ask, but whether people want to answer or not is a different issue. And there is the same issue like the main site, with the amount of details in the description. In contrast, recommendation is fine, since everyone has their favorites or recently read/watched series that they can share
    – nhahtdh
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 6:20
  • I'm comfortable with that sentiment. I only agreed with chat since it seemed like a lot of the others felt the same way, but if that's not something that chat wants to support, then we shouldn't make them support it.
    – Makoto
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 16:13

I see way to many Identification requests get closed, even when they have enough unique information for someone to come up with an answer.

Here is a list of Identification Requests that are closed, presumably due to a so-called "lack of information", despite the fact that they clearly had enough information that someone was able to post a correct answer:

  • Ah, ok. So you think it's unfair that we ask ID posters to google keywords and look up similar works on anime/manga database sites?
    – Hakase
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 18:06
  • 1
    @Hakase No, in fact it's the opposite. I think we should stop trying to do their research for them, and instead focus on answering questions that the OP doesn't even have the means to research Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 18:18
  • 1
    I'm not sure we can easily distinguish between the two types. Or disallow the easily researchable and only allow non-researchable types. What if OP remembers some unique keyword and it makes their question searchable?
    – Hakase
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 18:27
  • @Hakase You misunderstand me completely. I am saying that we need to change our standards to forbid searchable questions. I am saying that we need to change our standards to allow questions that are not searchable. Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 18:59
  • 1
    how do you think we can do that? Most users aren't aware they post searchable questions, or they're playing dumb and want us to search for them
    – Hakase
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 20:04
  • @Hakase I am not saying that we should ban searchable questions. Yes, that would be unenforceable. I'm saying that we should allow non-searchable questions. Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 20:17
  • Can you give an example of what you mean by searchable vs nonsearch able? I think the disconnect here is how to determine if something is searchable, as there can be some overlap that can cause ambiguity.
    – кяαzєя Mod
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 23:58
  • @ʞɹɐzǝɹ Why do you need an example Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 0:12
  • Because there are people misunderstanding what you are trying to say here.
    – кяαzєя Mod
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 0:14
  • @ʞɹɐzǝɹ I've already given examples, and now I'm asking you for what purpose you need one so that I can understand what the confusion actually is about. If I give examples that don't fulfill your purpose, we don't get anywhere Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 0:19
  • 1
    Basically I'm asking how do we differentiate something searchable from something non-searchable. WE don't want to encourage a lot of back and forth guessing which is why we ask the OP to provide as many details as possible. Most of the time the OP is too lazy to try searching for themselves because they don't know how to look or what resources to use. I don't understand what you mean when something is "unresearchable."
    – кяαzєя Mod
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 1:35
  • Every details provided it searchable is some way, but not every details given is actually correct. The greatest flaw behind id-requests is that they rely on human memory. Very few ppl have good memory, even fewer are good at describing what they remember.
    – кяαzєя Mod
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 1:35
  • @ʞɹɐzǝɹ I've recomposed the question. Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 1:58
  • @ʞɹɐzǝɹ The point was that people here predominantly ask for details that are easy to search and hard to remember like the date they saw it, when questions usually already contain details that are easy to remember, but hard to search, such as the strange power the protagonist had. Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 1:59
  • 2
    This is true. As much as I'd rather them include specific details (as opposed to generalized details), we can't expect them to remember these specific details, specially after a long period of time. We ask them to provide more general details so we get more chances there is to make connections. We have a simplified checklist to help ppl: meta.anime.stackexchange.com/a/2662/63 We've made a lot of effort to try to accomidate new users in writing id requests. We're almost at the point where we're spoonfeeding them. Our ongoing reminders are getting tedious and wearing our patience thin.
    – кяαzєя Mod
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 3:45

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