So i have been noticing some users posting answers to questions which clearly do not meet out Minimum Guidelines for Identification Requests eg.

Girl with face paint or tattoos. With a wolf

Anime with a blue 4 legged creature

Looking for a manga about fighting for stars but I can't remember the name

Now i get the desire to help people out if the question's very brief description seems to point to one particular anime and isn't as unclear as everyone else might think. To me however this sends the wrong message to new users (who are the ones who will kill id requests) that these guidelines can be ignored so long as someone gives them their answer before their question is closed.

I am wondering this should really be acceptable? If not then should we do anything with the answers?

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No, we shouldn't. These questions are crap, and answering them will encourage more questions like them. On the other hand, there's pretty much nothing we can do to stop people from answering them, so deciding here that we shouldn't answer them is basically meaningless. Therefore, we shouldn't sanction the answers unless we're going to finally ban id requests altogether. If id requests are on-topic, then no matter how crappy the question is, we shouldn't punish people who post answers. (Unless their answer is also crappy, which is frequently, but not universally, the case.) Whether to answer a crappy question or not should be a personal decision; whether the question is crappy enough to close remains a community decision.

The exposition

As I wrote on another answer somewhere around here, I recently did some incredibly superficial research to find out if there was anywhere else on the net that we could direct people with id requests so we could at least get rid of some of them. I know Movies and TV found somewhere to send people (it was on one of their community ads), so they've been able to relieve the pressure a little.

I checked the usual suspects: Quora, Reddit, Yahoo Answers, and the forums at MyAnimeList, Crunchyroll, and AnimeSuki. You'd think, with the number of id requests we get here, that at least one of those places would also be flooded with them, but no, they had plenty of other stupid questions, but no id requests. Quora seems to have a pretty small anime segment anyway, but Reddit's is pretty huge and they weren't doing id requests at all that I could see, nor was Crunchyroll. On Yahoo Answers and MyAnimeList there were a few that went like this:

hai gaiz when i was younger i saw this anime...it was like about these people with like speclial powers who fghout over justize adn stuffs...teh op was like "DUH NUH NUH NUH NUH DUH NUH NUH" and it said the name of the show that i cat rememeber lol...anyone of u know it?

Boku no Pico.

The thread would then promptly die.

On AnimeSuki they actually did have an identification thread where people could post id requests, but it was all one big long thread, so new id requests would get buried way at the back of fifty pages of off-topic posts.

On the other hand, suppose someone posted that question on Anime and Manga SE:

hai gaiz when i was younger i saw this anime...it was like about these people with like speclial powers who fghout over justize adn stuffs...teh op was like "DUH NUH NUH NUH NUH DUH NUH NUH" and it said the name of the show that i cat rememeber lol...anyone of u know it?

This can't be answered without more detail. Voting to close.

This is clearly Ore no Udon Monogatari, an obscure shounen series from the 1980s based on a sentai show of the same name, released in English as Yoodon Fighters. It ran for 147 episodes from 1985 to 1987. I figured it out because your "DUH NUH NUH NUH NUH DUH NUH NUH" was clearly a phonetic representation of a song composed in 17/68 time on a 1983 Yamaha Model IVB synthesizer, the exact same measure and machine used by 80's synth band Rock the Prevarication, who performed the OP for the English release, which isn't mentioned on Wikipedia because it was only broadcast in the US for three days, and only in areas with zip codes ending in odd, prime Catalan numbers that fulfill the Goldbach conjecture.

My point is, as far as I could see, we're basically the only site on the net that consistently gives good answers to awful, vague id requests. Our users seem to have vast knowledge of anime and manga and to enjoy using their time to answer people's ill-defined questions. We get results, so our legend spreads as a magical place where wishes come true, as long as those wishes involve finding out the name of some anime you saw a long time ago that you barely remember.

If we want to discourage people from posting such bad questions, we have to stop answering them. We have to become as useless as the rest of the Internet at answering these questions.

Why we can't stop

On the other hand, even if the entire Metaclass, the class of users containing everyone who participates in Meta and is worried about closing questions and maintaining quality, decides to stop answering awful id requests, they are still going to get answered by other users who aren't aware of our policy, or don't agree with it and have decided to just ignore it instead of arguing.

We really have no way to enforce this except closing awful id questions faster, and I'm not sure we can do it any faster; we've already got our moderators working like demons (welcome to MgRonald's, demonic Toshinou Kyouko) to mop up all the terrible id questions that show up every day, and in the absence of anyone armed with a Hammer of the Mods, it seems to take about 16 hours for a close vote to coalesce around a question. That's more than enough time for someone to come along and slip in an answer.

And while lots of those answers suck, there are also lots like my model answer above: so thoroughly researched as to be almost miraculous. As much as I hate these questions, and as much as I wish we could get rid of them (I recently blocked the tag just so I wouldn't have to look at them anymore), it seems wrong to sanction good answers even if they're answers to crappy questions. We should sanction answers that suck, but we should do it because they suck, not because the question they answer sucks.

Unfortunately, it's a little more complicated than that, because I absolutely do think that users getting answers for crappy id requests that don't meet the standard before they can be closed sends the message that they can ignore the guidelines and still have a good chance of getting an answer. But as I said above, I don't think we can stop this practice anyway, except by banning id requests. The users who post crappy answers probably won't be bothered, because they're just as oblivious to the sanctions as the people posting crappy questions. The people who post good answers, on the other hand, will be hurt and offended that we've sanctioned their answer when the question was completely clear and obvious to them.

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  • Myanimelist does IDs, see this thread: myanimelist.net/forum/?topicid=1404673 – Michael McQuade Mar 28 '16 at 1:36
  • @u人ʘ‿‿ ʘ人u Good find. I still stand by my point: we consistently crack the case of the incredibly obscure shoujo one-shot that the OP read on some random blog five years ago, and I still not seen anyone else do that on a regular basis. (Plus, our format is much nicer than one giant long thread where you have to scroll past everyone's giant signatures full of obnoxious animated GIFs.) – Torisuda Mar 28 '16 at 4:59
  • 'tl;dr'? What is that? – D. Tunus Apr 11 '16 at 0:48
  • @D.Tanya It's net speak for a basic summary for people who don't want to read the whole thing. – Torisuda Apr 11 '16 at 3:02

We decided that while some anime can be identified with very few details, we should judge all ID requests the same, so we can form objective decisions on when to close and when not to close. The fact of whether or not it should be closed is not the same as if the question is answerable in its current state.

However, these guidelines that we've created should not be a reason to prevent a user from adding an answer if a user feels like the information provided by the identification request is enough to answer the question.

Whether or not you feel that an ID request is going to be closed is not a reason to prevent someone from adding an answer while the question remains open. Before it is closed, the community has yet to decide that it is off-topic.

I say leave good answers to bad questions intact. The users added those answers the intent of helping someone out, there is no reason to remove the answer if it meets our normal quality checks for answers.

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  • I agree, helping someone is not a bad thing. – Light Yagami Apr 3 '16 at 1:42

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