Maybe there's just some confirmation or recency bias going on, but it feels to me that in recent months there's been a large upsurge in questions of the form "What is the song playing in Episode X of show Y at time Z?" - for example, there are plenty of recent questions including what song or name of the song, and indeed 7 of the 15 most recent questions are asking some form of song identification, of which a grand total of 1 has received an upvote, and 1 has received an answer.

It looks like there was some discussion 3 years ago (and about a year after show identification requests were disallowed from the site), but as I said they seem to be on the rise, at least as a proportion of new questions.

While song identification requests don't have quite the same problems as show identification ones, there are some reasons why I think they don't necessarily provide a lot of value:

  • As in show identification questions, the askers rarely do much more than ask their question and leave.

  • The questions are typically poor quality - the complete question is generally exactly as I described at the start, there is no evidence that the asker has done any of their own searching, and it doesn't seem like there's much follow-up done on most of them either to provide more information or to thank the people who track down an answer.

  • Frequently, the questions are asking about a recent episode of a currently airing show. In those cases, it's likely to be some time before the soundtrack gets released, which is the best opportunity to actually identify the tracks by name, but by that time the asker has probably forgotten they even asked about it.

  • Sometimes, the question has no available answer ever, because the show's soundtrack doesn't get released, or it's released without that particular piece of background music included. Sometimes, that fact is interesting in and of itself, but then there usually isn't enough information to provide any answer other than "We don't know".

Short of someone going back and trying to answer all the song identification questions that might now be answerable, is it worth revisiting the question of whether to make these kinds of questions off-topic?

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If the majority of the community does not enjoy seeing these types of questions, I am all for rolling them under the music identification questions. But there might be more to all of this besides music id-reqs.

I've been pondering about this and issues like for quite a while. It's about time we considered looking deeper instead of just scratching the surface.

What might be lurking beneath

I personally feel that there is a deeper underlying issue that lurks beneath it all. Instead of picking off types questions we don't like, I'd prefer to ask the community about what types of questions and content they wish to see more of. But I do realize that it's not an easy task due to ambiguity, so perhaps listing potential problem areas or pain points can be helpful in finding the underlying issue. Getting rid of certain types of questions feels more like addressing symptoms than addressing the cause imo.

We are what we are

We're not going to get much support from SE, inc, in developing the community, so we need to look at ourselves and see what we want more of. We've ask for feedback in the past, but most of what we got back was just numbers and data. We're free to develop our community as we like. We don't have have to commit to the same culture as other SE sites. We can set our own precedence as long as we are within SE, inc's terms and guidlines. Various incidents in the past have displaced much of the previously active community, so there have been less and less incentives for participation. We should take the good and the bad and find a way that works for us with what we have.

Us, the community, and where we are now

The disinterest and distate in music request become apparent in a vacuum of activity as more pop up than new questions. From past experiences, I've come to understand that the community is divided or unsure on what it likes and/or would like to see, but they tend to be more united on what they wish to see less off.

We're a loose gaggle of people (with the occasional duck wandering in) from different backgrounds located in differ areas, from past experiences, coordinating an event to get together with will be tricky.

Finding focus on the community

If we want to discuss the removal of music id-reqs we should also looking at addressing less desirable content across the site and community. Once we have a idea of the undesirable areas we can work on recifying or incentivizing the community to help contribute to the betterment of these problems, through rep bounties or other extrinsic and intrinsic means (potentially sponsored by the mods and anyone interested in contributing), via something like a bounty or quest board.

Finding what's right for the community

Finding the right content to drive user interest is tricky. Chat lately has been a very contemptuous place for certain types of anime content, so interest and activity has waned considerably.

Forcing content or participation can cause interest to fizzle out with time. We are community on a recreational topic so we don't command much authority in anything besides Japanese and like style cartoons. It's an interest and past time not to be take seriously by most people, despite the work that a few do to nurture what they enjoy.

The past, present, and what's to come

In the past we've tried throwing things at a wall to see what sticks. The results, sadly, didn't develope into much. Do instead of focusing on ambigious and potentially naive like to haves. Let's focus on a listing things the community finds less desirable. If we can collaborate on that perhaps it's a direction to move in winning back participation in the community.

It's about time we thought about putting the people back into the community. Every bit of feedback from the community matters. After all, with out its users, a community is nothing but a shell. It's about time we started talking more.

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  • I think that's a very worthwhile way of looking at it. I think some of the drivers behind the original identification-question discussion are key to working out what we want to be doing with this site, but turning those ideas into an actual plan is going to take some work. – ConMan May 3 at 23:07


Personally, I am currently undecided as to whether these questions should remain on-topic. Although, yes, I agree that there have been a lot of music identification requests lately that are unclear and some do not even log back to re-edit their questions, there are also some okay, if not good, quality music identification posts. There are also those who reads and accepts suggestions to make the question clearer. There are those who actually put effort on finding out what they were and make you want to help them, albeit rarely.

However, if this influx of low-quality music identification requests go on for some time, making it off-topic seems fair, too, as it might put off visitors, expecting probably more interesting topics on anime and manga, only for the latest topics to be mostly identification requests of low quality.

If these questions should remain off-topic, it would be possible to, like with identification questions, create a topic/thread where we redirect the asker, if there are those willing to do so. This page would contain resources, like for example, common websites where OSTs and the like are usually found and/or some tips on how to search for OST's on their own. Similar to this one. Or we can simply redirect them to chat. This, to me, would be fair to those who are actually making an effort in trying to find an answer to their question.

It might be worth mentioning, however, that making questions off-topic do not necessarily prevent users from asking them. Some do not read or skim through the tour page, of which I am guilty on my first time here (sorry). Identification requests are still here, even though they were already off-topic. Maybe we probably need to do something else other than making these questions off-topic so users would stop or can't ask them? Although, I am out of ideas as to how this would be done.

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It is starting to get to that point, isn't it?

So I have two thoughts to this - one and half of them are pessimistic, the other is largely a question for us all.

To start off with...

What kind of community do we want to be?

Do we want to be the place where people can ask us the question about what music was used in the 38th episode of Pokemon, just before Pikachu let loose a Thunderbolt? (Note: this particular episode would be really bad to try to find the song for...)

Do we want to be the place that offers discussions about the motifs of songs played throughout shows, such as when Blumenkranz started playing during an early fight scene with Ryuuko in Kill la Kill after a transformation?

Or do we not care enough because it's easy enough to ignore?

My personal opinion is that I would rather not permit music identification requests for the same reason as show/manga identification requests. It's not going to stop them, but it'll give us more cover/impetus to start closing those questions.

My second thought:

Would we get the support from Stack Exchange to make this change?

Behold, my pessimism laid bare: I'm not so sure that, with the current situation in the world and with Stack Exchange Inc. that they can really spare the resources to help us out here.

But, do we need them? If we had enough of a quorum to decide this, I think diamond moderators could just change the verbiage of the close vote reason to make it work.

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Personally, I have no interest in music identification questions. If we continue to allow them, I think that should be renamed (and re-wiki’d) to and then we create a new tag for non-id music questions (as this seems to be less work; non-id music questions are rare but still exist: How are the themes and songs picked for a particular series?) so that music id questions can be easily ignored. (I think we would also need to add the tag to some questions that only have an anime tag.) It also opens the door for employing tag warnings to try to address the issues with these questions so long as OPs are using the tag (as opposed to having it edited in).

So long as it’s easy to ignore music id questions I don’t care if they’re allowed or not.

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