Right now the text of it is this:

Identification questions are off-topic, because they tend to attract low-quality and low-effort posts. The community has decided to no longer support these questions. Please refer to this meta post for additional details.

The meta post it links to explains why IDs are not allowed, but doesn't immediately offer help. It should.

Let's change the "why" to "how can I still get my answer".

This meta post was proposed in chat: Where else can I go for identification help?

If you have other meta posts in mind for this, or if you think we should create a new very minimalistic meta post for people who we know don't like to read much, you're welcome to post below.

  • 1
    What noticable benefit can be derived from such a change? We shouldn't be redirecting traffic when all we need to do is discourage it. Other communities might not appreciate us dumping things on them, even if it gives them extra traffic or new users.
    – кяαzєя Mod
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 21:17
  • 1
    You mention that most don't read. Even if we do this there will still be new users that ignore the notice, no matter how hard or fast we push it. IMO its better to discourage and close as we have done now and focus efforts elsewhere.
    – кяαzєя Mod
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 21:20
  • 1
    I agree with @кяαzєя. If most of the users we still get who ask ID requests are the kind who don't read directions, it seems like a stretch to think that they will go to a post that we direct them to, read the answers there, go to the other sites that allow ID questions, read their directions regarding identification questions, and post a useful contribution there as defined by that community. We can help the ones who come to us looking for help, but beyond that I don't think we need to do anything here.
    – Logan M
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 2:31
  • You might be right. But what if this close plaque sets the person on the path of reading such notices and solving these problems on their own? I don't know if I could say it's a bad thing then. I know we don't need to do anything more to help our site not get worse with this topic at this point, but what are we losing by suggesting a way to find answers elsewhere? How much effort would it cost to just add some helpful links? If it's to the sites which openly accept ID requests, I don't think there could be any harm.
    – Hakase
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 2:36
  • Are you suggesting to migrate them or just adding the 'Where else can I go for identification help' question to our close reason? I don't see any harm if we just add that question on our close reason but we shouldn't migrate id request on another site
    – Darjeeling
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 6:53
  • 1
    Thanks for opening the meta post, it was proposed by me on the chat. I have to admit the proposal was on impulse, thus I haven't put more explanation. The reason I asked that because on Android Enthusiasts (where I was highly active participating before) has an off-topic "development-related" reason which links to Where can I ask questions that aren't Android Enthusiast questions?. That's actually the idea for this proposal.
    – Aki Tanaka Mod
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 7:57
  • 1
    @Darjeeling I only meant referring users to sites outside of the StackExchange network for identification requests. If anyone understood it as migrating to SciFi for example, I meant no such thing.
    – Hakase
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 8:28
  • @Hakase - I'm pretty sure that SFF:SE would be delighted to accept your unwanted ID questions, as long as they look like they contain some element of science fiction or fantasy. I was going to suggest a formal migration path to make things easier for y'all
    – Richard
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 23:48
  • 1
    @Richard there should be a meta agreement on SFF, it's not for us here to decide on A&M if they'll accept it. I'll post a proposition in chat.
    – Hakase
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 0:57
  • @Hakase - Since ID questions are widely accepted as on-topic on SFF, I can't imagine there will be any problem whatsoever
    – Richard
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 0:59
  • 1
    I posted your comments in their chat, let's wait for someone to reply chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/58631/…
    – Hakase
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 1:02
  • I've opened the relevant meta on Meta:SFF - Should we offer a migration path to Anime story-ID questions?. I can't see any reason why it wouldn't attract a decent level of support. Give us your poor, tired huddled mass of ID questioners, yearning to be answered.
    – Richard
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 1:32

3 Answers 3


The main worry that I have is that (to use programmer terminology) this creates an extra "dependency" on a meta post. That forces us to keep the meta post useful, complete, and up to date, which is not an easy task. Right now the suggested meta post hasn't been updated in 2 years. When it was written, we still allowed identification requests. The answers focused on what was wrong at the time with a single user's particular questions (which were notably low-effort and came in large numbers) and what would need to be changed to have them be allowed here. The situation has changed drastically since then, and 90% of the content in the answers there will not help a user here who is looking to ask identification questions. The one useful piece of content is 2 links to other sites which are claimed to accept identification questions, but little direction is presented for how to acceptably ask there. So it already fails on the "useful" mark.

We could alleviate that by writing a new meta post that would actually be useful (or editing the old one but a new one seems more appropriate). Specifically, we could list in answers various other sites that allow identification questions and their policies on them. A complete list would have much more than 2 sites. I don't know all sites which allow identification questions but I can think of at least 5 which are relatively big.

Overall this would be a fair bit of effort, but we wouldn't be done yet. In all likelihood the situation here will not change substantially for years. There is no suggestion to unban identification requests that I can see, and as I've argued before it seems likely that the incoming ones aren't going to slow down much no matter what we do because they're coming from people who aren't bothering to read directions (which are very clear and easy to find). Hence, the meta post will be relevant for years, and so we also have to keep the meta post up to date. If those sites change policies, we have to stay up to date on that and edit the post. Given what I've seen in the past here, it's very likely that we won't keep it completely up to date for years (which isn't intended as criticism; this is just not the type of content SE does well with). At that point, we're doing a disservice to anyone who reads the post, because they can get better, more up-to-date information from Google easily.

As I argued in the comments above, the users who come here asking ID requests have already demonstrated that they aren't likely to read directions, so spending a lot of effort on trying to write more directions for them is probably not worth the effort. For the few who do honestly ask for help finding other places (in comments, meta, or chat), we can make suggestions. However, I think making a canonical source for those and linking to it in the UI will just end up creating a lot more work for us that will ultimately not even make much difference. Actually if they have enough information for the question to be answerable, we can usually just direct them to chat and it's likely someone can answer, and if not we can at least provide better guidance on where else to ask than a mostly static meta post.

  • 2
    All valid points, but you're assuming a certain level of effort in creating a new redirection meta post. I say let's not try too hard to summarize every other site's policy and etiquette on posting ID requests. Let's just list some of them and indeed preface it all with a sentence about how easy it is to find these sites on your own. It really does not require much effort on the asker's part, and so let's not expend more than required of our own. But still more than "let's not change the close plaque text at all" :p
    – Hakase
    Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 11:35

If we don't support a subset of questions, we should not be encouraging users to do so elsewhere. While there may be communities more suited for much discussions. We shouldn't out right make it someone else's problem.

There will always be low effort users that don't bother with the tour or even getting to know our site before asking or answering. Ignorance by new users is am unavoidable given no matter how prepared a community is. They will get mad, they will make excuses, they may even try to argue themselves to be the exception. The close reason we have right now is us drawing the line. We've dealt with and tried to reason with these questions, but it was a losing one no matter how hard we tried.

Identifying tip of the tongue questions require a fair amount of deductive reasoning and prior knowledge, a specialized skill that may not come naturally to many. In the past identifications requests have been polarized to many users, and eventually became tedious to some. The reason why identification questions are still allowed in chat is in order to form a rapport with these users can affect your willingness to interact and work together. It's a how smaller teams that work closely have better productivity than remote teams. Informal communication plays a large part in getting past social barriers. The better you know these users the more willing you may be to help them, most of the time at least.

This community is still relatively in size (for a variety of reasons) and really has no real goal in mind except to help fans enjoy the all aspects of anime and manga, plus its subculture. That being said we can't possibly cover everything, we are limited to what our community can manage.

I'm all for helping those that make an effort to contribute. But there's a line between helping and efforts akin to spoon feeding. We can only work with what tools and resources we already have. At the moment these I don't think this seem to be a noteworthy issue to be addressed. There backlogs of anime that need trimming for some people, much more worthwhile investment of time and effort, coupled with a spot of tea.


Update: I added the link to What identification requests are acceptable here? Otherwise, where else can I possibly get helped with it? on What we'd like to do about those gosh darn "identification requests" questions (the meta post on the current close banner).

This is (a bit?) late, but there's a more recent meta post providing alternatives to ID request: What identification requests are acceptable here? Otherwise, where else can I possibly get helped with it? (disclosure: I wrote it).

The post should have covered most kinds of off-topic ID requests. Otherwise, anyone is free to improve it.

Anyway, I have manually posted "canned" comments on some posts that look like on-topic on other SE sites, or otherwise on outside of SE, and I observed some users (although minimal) reposted their question on the correct site and getting answered correctly.

So, I'd propose that meta post be at least included somewhere (either on the close-reason banner or on the currently linked meta post) to allow a kind of self-service for them.

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