Apparently we still rank pretty high on "identify anime" search engine query, and it's supposedly because we still have around 400 of them, which makes them the 3rd most popular tag, and that means it is displayed on our front page for every non-logged in visitor. And the StackExchange authorities already told us they can't hide specific tags from the front page. Also I don't think that's how search engine ranking works anyhow coz there would still be a huge number of questions left with the tag to get us a high position in search results for anime identification. So we still get some ID requests which get closed and deleted pretty often.

It's been almost 6 months since we banned the ID requests. Have they had enough visibility by now? Should we dispose of them for good in hopes of lowering our search ranking for identification?

(note that there's no guarantee it will actually work as well as intended or at all)

  • 3
    FYI, the feature-request is currently on the roadmap. It is, however, pretty low-priority, so it might take a while to get it implemented. Does not invalidate the rest of the discussion, but thought you should know anyway.
    – JNat StaffMod
    Commented Nov 17, 2016 at 13:52

7 Answers 7


Assuming our feature request is not done, I can see 4 ways to proceed with this. All but one would need to be done by moderators, because ordinary users can't do anything apart from favorite/unfavorite/share to historically locked questions (not even flags).

  1. Status Quo. Do nothing and leave on the main page. It will eventually disappear, but this may take many years. It's questionable how big of a problem the presence of really is. We are not getting that many new ID questions, and the ones that do get asked are shut down quickly. No one even noticed this issue for months. So perhaps no action is really required. However the status quo is admittedly annoying even if mostly harmless.

  2. Delete all existing questions. I'm not a fan of this because the remaining ones are generally agreed to be fairly high quality, and historical locks were done for a reason. Removing those questions entirely for 99% of visitors isn't a good idea in my opinion. They are high-quality content, even if it's a type of content that we've decided not to continue going forward. This is exactly the situation where we should be preserving the questions with historical locks. In addition, it would require moderators to manually delete almost 400 posts, which is a lot of work. Probably someone at the CM or dev level can do it automatically, but I don't think an ordinary mod can.

  3. Merge the remaining questions into a different tag. The only one which could plausibly be used here without causing major harm is . I don't like the idea of being a big tag on the site, even if the questions are all historically locked. It would solve this issue of being one of the top tags, but being one of the top tags is not great either. That said, this is also fairly easy for a moderator to do; it would only take a handful of clicks total.

  4. Retag the remaining questions individually to have the identified work's tag. The remaining questions are all solved, so there's nothing stopping us from switching the tag to the identified work apart from old policies that made sense when we were taking ID requests but are irrelevant now. Moderators can retag the questions without unlocking them first. Hence this is not a lot more work per question than just deleting them. Probably a handful of the questions will not be able to be retagged easily, but enough should be doable that we'd get off the front page. This has the undesired effect that all of these questions will be bumped to the front page again, but if the retagging is done slowly enough that is not a huge problem. It also will add a lot of small tags (which is probably a good thing) but populate them with now-offtopic questions that aren't very interesting to anyone who cares about the tag (a slightly negative but mostly inconsequential thing).

All of these except #1 need to be done by mods, and #2 and #4 require a significant amount of effort from the mods over questions that we mostly just want to ignore. My personal preference would be a combination of #3 and #4, to first merge all remaining ID requests into , and then individually tag them as the solved series as time and front page space permits.

However because of the amount of work this would require from the moderators, if they don't have the time and energy to do this, I'd rather leave the decision up to them. They're the ones who will potentially have to spend a few hours to do this depending on what is chosen, and ultimately I don't think this is a big enough problem that we should force any particular solution on them. I'd be willing to do it myself over the course of a couple weeks, but I'm certain there is no way for an ordinary user can edit a historically locked question (that's kind of the point) so this is moot.

  • 3
    Something tells me that simply editing the tags to not say "identification" would not make google drop our ranking much or at all, because the text of the questions would remain along the lines of "what is this anime" which is most relevant when searching for anime identification sites. I also feel a little bad every time I type "identification" here which presumably increases our search ranking even more :s
    – Hakase
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 7:37
  • I don't think this is a big deal. Google's algorithms are based on the amount posts are linked to (especially external links, which are rare for ID questions) and the proximity of keywords to the top of the page. The biggest thing is removing [identification-request] from the main page. If the questions are several clicks away and hard to find, Google will also rate that low. Similarly meta gets very little weight...
    – Logan M
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 7:56
  • 1
    ...In addition, I have not seen a large number of incoming attempted traditional identification questions, and the number will continue to drop with time as new posts of that type cease to appear (newer content is ranked higher typically). So all-in-all I think this is a non-issue from an SEO perspective, apart from possibly [identification-request] from the main page which may have a small effect.
    – Logan M
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 7:58
  • 5
    I like #4 - putting these locked questions to good use by using them as anchors for new series tags sounds like about the best possible thing we could do here. I, for one, would be willing to spend the time doing the retagging needed to implement #4.
    – senshin
    Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 15:33

I'm going to leave this matter up for the community to decide.

Whether or not the tag shows up in the list of popular tags makes little difference was the users will be informed that they cannot use the tag. Feeble attempts to circumvent the restriction by tagging it with some completely unrelated tag will be met with closure (and deletion) by the collective user community. It that doesn't tell the user we don't want these types of question here, not much else will.

If you stopped to take a look at the types of users that attempt to post identification question you'll observe that very few, if any have the Informed badge. By inference you can assume that they did not take the time to take the tour and get to know the site a bit better before position. Instead they see venue for asking about their long-lost nostalgic memories of what they assume to be anime/manga, ignoring the attempts we've made to deter them.

I am one to argue that this ignorance won't be resolved with the deletion of the remaining id request. These oblivious new users will still come straddling in to our site asking for identifications question, because all they see is a website about questions and answers, they assume it's like the web forums they frequent, and post what they want without much care for our format, nettiquette, or articulation.

Regardless of whether or not these users are registered or not as soon as we admonish them, by closing their question, the likelihood that they return or make an attempt to understand us drops significantly. These users just give up and leave. Few make an attempt to gather the prerequisite 20 rep to ask these off-topic in chat.

So what can we do about these greedy and selfish new users? I leave that up to the community. The bulk of the matter has been more or less addressed by the feature request. What's left is a little clean up or maintenance. These request already are becoming less frequent, so given time you might only see them show up once in a blue moon. I personally would wait to see if it will die out naturally... what about you?


When browsing the site before ID questions were outlawed, the questions were full of them and you sometimes had to go back a few pages of active questions to glance at one day’s worth.

Now, with ID questions not allowed the overall question volume is rather low. I have a few ignored tags which means I don’t take much more than five or ten minutes to check a day’s worth of anime.

It is possible that most of those ID questions use a tag that I ignore, I don’t know. But my perception tells me that we basically did away with them consequently. The remaining that still make their way through are quickly nuked dealt with with downvotes, flags and close votes. If they are not manually deleted, Roomba deletes them automatically after seven days. (I have no way to check the method of deletion.)

Having the tag standing there is, well, unfortunate. The best solution is to get more questions that use other tags so that it will no longer be among the top five.

I don’t think that there is any action that must be taken.

  • There's no way we're getting up to 400 questions on any single tag to make the id tag go away from that page, let alone 7 times that much. The next most used tag has only 263 questions.
    – Hakase
    Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 1:45

I like Logan's proposition #4 to retag questions individually to have the identified work's tag. The main benefit, I think, is that it removes from badge tracking. It also makes more sense to not keep a tag that can not be used anymore on the site.


I'm tentatively in favor of it.

I say "tentatively" because it does mean that we'll be losing some of the better answers that we actually decided to preserve, but at the same time, I'd rather we finish cleaning up the mess outright.


Just a quick observation: If the official policy is that ID reqs are banned, wouldn't leaving current ones in place possibly send a mixed message?

Clearing out what is banned should be even across all banned questions. Are questions that are banned for other reasons left in place?

The way I see it, if new users do not see a bunch of ID requests, even with closed tags, on the front page, they may possibly slow down and eventually stop posting new ones.

A quality answer to a banned question, while a quality answer, is still to a banned question. I see it as a having your cake and eating it too situation. Keep the questions with quality answers, and you may be leaving the door open for new ID requests, as people will get the sense that the ban is not an "every ID request" thing.

  • 3
    It is fairly common practice on other Stack Exchange sites to keep around old questions that are no longer deemed on-topic, if they were considered good at the time. This is what the historical lock feature is for, and all existing [identification-request] questions are historical-locked. (Not saying that we should necessarily follow precedent, but the precedent does exist.) Note also: users will never see [identification-request] questions on the front page because historical-locked questions cannot be bumped.
    – senshin
    Commented Nov 5, 2016 at 8:02
  • Ah, yes true. At around 1am, i think part of my brain was asleep. Anyway, how about reclassifying the ID requests that were considered good, say, have a page with those answers on them, so the actual ID requests are not searchable? Again, likely not a good option, just tossing out an idea. Commented Nov 5, 2016 at 15:47
  • As senshin said, new user’s won’t see any questions with this tag on the front page unless they explicitly open the tag. (Reposting that part of the comment to give it more visibility. The remainder of senshin’s comment is also valuable, though!)
    – Jan
    Commented Nov 5, 2016 at 17:55

This is basically a piggy-back suggestion to Logan’s answer. I’ll not integrate it into my previous answer which says something entirely different. However, I think Logan has provided a great idea of what else can be done.

Who says we cannot implement Logan’s idea number 3 but create a new tag for the job? The tag I would propose would be . Granted, it still doesn’t look great to see a large number of but it removes both the idea that ID requests are okay and does not interfere with .

Naturally, could also be a soft transition from Logan’s third to Logan’s fourth suggestion.

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