We do seem to have gotten a little boost in merchandise, cosplay, and itasha id questions after deciding they were the only image-based identification questions we would take. I hope we won't come to regret allowing them.
So far, though, they haven't been troublesome. If they become a plague like the other image-only questions, we might have to reassess the decision to allow them. For now, I'm going to give sort of an abstract response. I recommend thinking about why the image-only id requests that we're currently outlawing are bad questions:
- They require no effort from the asker. Anyone can be idly surfing the internet and stumble on some picture with a character they've never seen before. A trained pigeon could do it. Good questions come from thought and experience.
- They are meaningless and trivial. Yes, I know we're an entertainment site, so nothing we do is deeply meaningful or weighty. But good questions present a real problem or a topic that can elicit deep thought and intelligent discourse, spurring answerers to use their expertise and intellect to respond. My favorite questions on Anime and Manga aren't going to save anyone's job or life, but they require answerers to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of anime history, or how animation is created, or literary analysis, or art criticism, or Japanese culture and language, or the specifics of a certain universe (e.g the Nasuverse); or they require answerers to notice small details, or have unique life experiences, or have amazing research skills. Image id requests require none of those things.
- Because it's so easy to slap up a picture and ask "Where is this from?", people don't do any research of their own before asking. Even if you don't know about reverse image search, keyword searches for images on Google can be surprisingly effective. But even thinking to do that is harder than just punting to someone else.
- 99% of these questions are solved with Google (or TinEye, iqdb, e-shuushuu, or some other Internet service). These facilities were available to the asker. Everyone knows Google exists and helps you find things. They didn't, because it was easier to just ask someone else to do it for them.
Judge these questions on the same criteria. Did the asker look at the figure for an imprint of some kind? Or did they have a piece of paper with the name of the series the character was from on it, and chose not to even bother Googling that name, like in Who are these two girl figures?? Did they take a picture of the cosplayer themselves, or are they asking us to id a picture they stumbled across on some blog because they're too lazy to try Google?
This is all pretty abstract and subjective. I'm giving you this abstract answer because, honestly, I don't think we should sit around trying to come up with generic failure modes for merchandise, cosplay, and itasha questions. People who post bad questions keep finding inventive new ways to suck, and if our guidelines are too specific, we'll have to keep amending them. If you find an on-topic question that you think is bad according to my abstract guidelines, feel free to downvote, or go ahead and vote to close as "too little detail". The community will sort it out.