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This is a second time I'm asking this question. Previously I asked it 9 months ago, but with how much time passed and the public opinion has had enough time to change, I thought I'd give it another go.

If you're active on the main site, you might have noticed that we've taken the task of deleting every incoming ID request and that it's like a 1/3 of all questions that we get.

See Logan's answer for a list of possible actions. But to summarize, the main 2 options are:

  • It's not that big a deal, let's not do anything about it;
  • Delete all remaining locked IDs and hope Google ranks us way down on "identify anime" search results;

There are no guarantees that search engines will actually hide our site from those seeking to identify anime. But if it's that big a deal, we could try.

Are you annoyed enough by the still never-ending ID requests which we regularly delete? Is it not such a big deal? Let's discuss.

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    Perhaps shockingly, I am slightly inclined towards keeping them. It is not a large imposition to close and delete new id-requests as they come in, and they now do provide a very small benefit in that they keep some tags alive, which could be useful to future low-rep users wanting to ask legitimate questions about them. – senshin Aug 14 '17 at 1:45
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This question is predicated on a false premise, namely that we are still getting identification requests because we have strong SEO specifically for questions asking for anime/manga identification. That is a misunderstanding of how SEO works on SE sites.

By far the most crucial aspect of SEO is the presence of tags. Popular tags give keywords which are present on the questions they are tagged. Tagged questions link to the tag pages, which link back to all the questions with the tag. Google looks at the internal structure of the site and determines what the big topics are. For us, until early 2016, identification requests was one of the big topics.

None of that is happening with identification requests, which is ultimately the reason why we removed in the first place. The tag barely even exists at this point, and there is no risk of it growing (in fact, as time passes it will shrink relative to the site as a whole). Google also updates regularly enough that we can't reasonably blame any form of caching. Individual posts in random tags will not have any big effect on SEO just from their titles. Indeed, I tried a few representative searches for things like "What is this anime?" or "Anime identification" and I never saw this site on the first page of results, except this single question once near the bottom of the first page of one search: Where is this picture from? How do I use Reverse Image Search to find the source of an anime/manga image?. If you want to propose doing something specific with that question, such as locking or deleting it, I think that deserves a separate meta post, as it isn't really an identification question at all.

So if we aren't optimized specifically for identification questions, why do they keep showing up? The answer is simpler than you think. It's because that's still a common type question people on the internet as a whole want to ask about anime/manga. We're no longer targeting identification questions specifically, but we are still targeting people who want to ask questions about anime/manga generally. And a lot of those questions are identification questions. Like it or not, that fact should be obvious to anyone who was on the site when they were allowed. Even if we remove every reference to identification questions from the site, the rate of incoming identification questions might drop 10%, but it would not drop to 0. Even in the early days of the site, when we had barely any external traffic, identification questions occasionally showed up, and not because of any SEO-related phenomena (the tag then, as now, was not one of the top ones); they will continue to appear occasionally as long as this site exists and regardless of anything we try to do to preempt them.


So what can we do? We could try to kill all SEO for anime/manga questions in general. Which would basically amount to deleting the site, as far as search engines are concerned. Obviously we aren't ever going to seriously consider this, but it's the only way to completely eliminate incoming identification questions.

We could remove from the 27 remaining questions that use it. However I suspect at this point the tag (which is not even in the top 50 tags on the tag page) is doing more good than harm, by announcing that identification questions are no longer permitted and giving an error message when users try to use this. I suspect this is why, concurrent to the overall drop-off in identification questions, we have seen them become low quality spammy questions: the askers who wanted to ask serious high quality identification questions and put work into asking well tend to see this and withhold their questions, leaving only the ones who are not willing to put much effort in. Almost anything we do to reach them and preempt them from asking is likely to be in vain for that reason.

We could change the titles of the remaining identification questions to be less obviously identification-related. Like I said above, I suspect this would only affect things at the 10% level or so, not completely eliminating the remaining trickle of identification questions. I'd be open to suggestions in this direction, but personally I don't understand the details of SEO enough to know what kinds of changes would affect the situation, and it seems equally possible to make the situation better or worse with a move like this, so I don't think it makes much sense.


Or we can keep doing what we're doing. It's not a big deal at all that occasionally someone asks a question that we don't take and we have to click a few buttons to close it and remove it. The questions are removed quickly and there's no lingering effect, so basically no harm done to the site. Unless you spend a lot of time in the chat room or review queues, you'd never even see 90% of them. It's by far the easiest moderation we ever have to do on the site. If annoyance over needing to moderate identification questions is the main motivation here, the only way way we ever could have avoided that was to not ban the questions (or even restrict them); deciding to ban identification requests was exactly a decision to moderate the new ones that show up. The community decided that the effect the questions were having was worth the extra sustained moderation effort to remove them, and so we just have to keep removing them.

Of course, we also should not forget the negative effects of removing hundreds of well-written, answered questions from the site as well. Some of the information in the identification requests we've closed is not available in any form anywhere else. Some of it is linked to from this site or externally and some have thousands or even tens of thousands of views. Most of the questions that remain are well written and solidly answered (contrasted to the reason we banned the type of question, because a lot of them were poorly written and fundamentally unanswerable). The fact that we no longer accept more questions of this type does not mean that we should destroy good content that they contributed when it was allowed, nor is it a license to ignore that content.

Additionally, removing such posts would delete most of the tags that were newly created based on the resolution of the previous request, harming the overall accessibility of the site (and wasting many hours of senshin's time). Based on this query that's over 200 tags, which is quite a large number, over 10% of all the tags on the site if I counted correctly. In my mind, accessibility is one of our greatest issues, especially as SE has provided next-to no technical support to make it easy for new users on sites like ours to ask questions that may not yet have appropriate tags despite acknowledging this problem years ago. Deleting all those tags again just because we still have a (completely expected and predictable) incoming trickle of identification questions seems like a huge overreaction.

When identification were allowed, many people were working very hard to improve those questions and answer them, and the ones that are still around (and historically locked) represent the best of that effort. Now that they're disallowed, I think having to click 4 or 5 times, taking 10-20 seconds apiece, to close vote such a question a couple times a week (reading the question is barely even required, and the close notice is clear enough that commenting isn't necessary) doesn't even register as a real problem, and certainly not one that we ought to be removing hundreds of old posts over.


In any case, if the real worry is that a sizable fraction of the incoming questions are identification questions, I think it is ultimately more productive to ask what we can do to improve the existing allowed questions and attract more questions (including asking more ourselves). The overall quality of the site as a reference has nothing to do with what fraction of incoming questions get deleted immediately; it has to do with the quality and quantity of good questions and answers that stick around. We should think more about what we can do to increase those numbers (especially since the raw question/day numbers have dropped dramatically due to the removal of identification requests as well as some very popular series ending) and less about the occasional bad questions that take 10 seconds to deal with.

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  • Sidenote: googling "identify anime" returned 2 results from Anime & Manga: the reverse image search and identify anime with submarine under aerial attack. I'd edit the latter to remove "identify anime", but it's locked (or probably not worthy to edit). Googling "identify manga", "anime identification" or "manga identification" is dangerous though; it returned newest identification-request questions. – Aki Tanaka Aug 16 '17 at 5:41
  • ... but I agree that it won't make any difference. People will just post identification-request anyway because they don't bother to read. – Aki Tanaka Aug 16 '17 at 5:48
  • @AkiTanaka I can't reproduce those search results. Are you doing the search in a private browsing window? If not, Google will customize your results based on previous searches and other data, so if you visit this site regularly you're likely to have biased results toward this site. Even if you are in private browsing mode, some location data will still be used, meaning search results can still be inconsistent depending on who does the search. – Logan M Aug 16 '17 at 8:07
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    In any event, the first text one is likely to read on the tag page is "IDENTIFICATION REQUESTS ARE NOW OFF-TOPIC, AND THIS TAG HAS BEEN BLACKLISTED". People may skip that or see it and post anyway, but there's little we can do about that, and it's likely any such users would cause the same problems no matter how they end up here. – Logan M Aug 16 '17 at 8:11
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As per what Makoto had already said we don't see so many ID Requests anymore.

However i would be against wiping out the remainder of the questions. the reason is because when we chose to get rid of most of them as apart of Phase 3 of the phase out some people did loose reputation on the questions/answers that got deleted because of the questions and answers not meeting the requirements

Please delete all "identification-requests" without a question score of 4 or higher AND at least an answer with a score of 3 or higher.

now while the "complaints" in the chat room i had saw about rep loss because of this may have been just joking about i would think some users may have taking it about more personally (after all, some people can really get hot and bothered when they loose rep [INSERT COMPLAINT SO.META QUESTION ON DOWNVOTING]).

if we delete these people could be loosing more rep than what they may have lost the first time. this can also add insult to injury after a bunch of questions/answers were removed by a DMCA Request. also it would be kinda unfair for those who put in the effort to post well received questions/answers only to loose the rep from them now just because a bunch of zero effort users ignored, and continue to ignore all the sign posts we stuck up. also no one can claim to have an unobtainable tag badge

In regards to the concern about Google Ranking Anime and Manga higher up in "identify anime" or "what anime is this" i don't get Anime and Manga.SE on the first page. i would think that anyone who is putting in the time to check out more than the first Google Results Page will learn that id requests are off-topic here before posting.

if users are landing on one of the locked questions they should see the in use tag, assume we allow them and try to use it only to get the message that it's black listed with the links back to Meta, if they still post their id request after this then they would have posted it anyway regardless of what we do (save some regex that 100% correctly ids an id request about to be posted and throws a fist out of the screen hitting the user and yells "READ THE RULES!")

it is also my opinion that just like "what anime?" comments, because we are Anime and Manga related we will always get people who see random images or remember plots from when they were young and what to know the source. what stops us getting pointless "what anime?" comments is series tags and the rep requirement for comments.

If you're active on the main site, you might have noticed that we've taken the task of deleting every incoming ID request and that it's like a 1/3 of all questions that we get.

while i can't say i am as active as some (ie. wasn't on at all for most of yesterday) the trickle of id requests i see isn't all that much, maybe 1 every few days? if these are a third of our new questions then this might speak to a bigger problem of us not getting enough questions to reduce this 1/3 to be like 1/5.


DISCLAIMER: i too would loose rep if all remaining id requests were deleted however i stand to only loose 22 rep which is chump change to me so i wouldn't be torn up loosing it

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    This is a valid concern. It'd be worth a query to see how much rep is at stake for various users. I can author one when I get to a machine. – Makoto Aug 13 '17 at 17:10
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  • Increasing the number of good questions is not something we can "work on", in my opinion, and we're not after improving any metrics here, there's no need for that. I just used a large fraction to underline that it's a pretty big percentage of what we see, and it's not something completely unnoticeable. – Hakase Aug 13 '17 at 20:26
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Nowadays it's more of a trickle than a flood, and the occurrence of it isn't as high as it was long ago. I'm going to admit to only seeing the trickle as SEDE doesn't expose post history events to deleted questions.

The larger issue is one I alluded to in my nomination answers: we're weird in an ecosystem of forums and discussion boards which very much allow those sorts of things. We can say that they're not allowed until we're blue in the face; they'll still keep coming through, little by little. How we've handled these things thus far has been satisfactory; nuking them on sight seems to have gotten the message across such that it's not as bad as it once appeared to be.

With that, I'd say let's finish the job. I did say at one point that I was tentatively in favor of it, but in all frankness, we don't want to maintain those kinds of answers nor do we want to entertain them either. We can nip questions about why they're still around and okay but the newer ones aren't okay in the bud with this, at least. Doubt it'll stop the questions from coming in, but it's worth a shot.

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