Are questions asking for a song that plays in a movie or in a specific episode of a television show on-topic here? Why or why not should they be on-topic?

To serve as examples, there are a few such questions already:

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    TIME FOR ANOTHER VOTE QUESTION! – Tablemaker May 27 '14 at 23:08
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    I've tended to allow these questions to remain open, its not for me to say what is trivia or not, if it not a simple IMDB lookup. – iandotkelly May 27 '14 at 23:09
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    @TylerShads I'd prefer a discussion on the matter (arguments for and against) instead of just a brute "yes/no". I would like to leave the actual voting until after discussion. – IQAndreas May 27 '14 at 23:09

I think the "identify this x" type of questions can be kept, if the identification contributes to the understanding of the film/scene in question, or how it affects the viewer by knowing it.

I'm not explaining well, but if the ID in question is "I like this song and wanna listen to it", it's trivial and tangential to the movie. If it's "Hey, I liked the way this song sounded, can someone tell me the name and why it would be used in that scene?" it contributes materially to the experience.

If it's "Hey, was that {insert actor here} in the background of x", it's trivial and tangential. If it's "Hey, that looked like actor X, was that just an opportunistic cameo, or was there a reason for his inclusion in the movie?" (To wit, I am thinking of the many "bit part" inclusions of future heroes in the Marvel movies, such as Hawkeye's minor appearance in Thor, etc.)

Also, I think that if the question shows no research and can be found in a minute on google/imdb, I think it should be closed even if it is technically on topic.

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    Exactly, very good points. Unfortunately though, they don't seem to apply to the Quicksilver question so much. – Napoleon Wilson May 28 '14 at 9:53
  • @NapoleonWilson - I think it applies directly to the Quicksilver question. Would knowing what song was on the headphones materially change the understanding of the scene/mood? If yes, then the question needs to be changed to reflect that aspect, as it stands right now it's "hey, I liked this song, what was it?" – JohnP May 29 '14 at 19:51
  • That's what I was saying. The general answer applies to it, of course. But at the moment the question just doesn't reflect that and as you say would need to be changed accordingly. – Napoleon Wilson May 29 '14 at 19:59
  • @NapoleonWilson - I gr0k. – JohnP May 29 '14 at 20:01
  • Hey, I liked the way this song sounded, can someone tell me the name and why it would be used in that scene? - Those are two questions, of which the second is a valid analysis question, if you ask me. If you post an analysis question about what significance a song has for a certain scene, that is totally cool. To analyse the meaning of the song you would probably have to talk about what song it is. That's not your classic identify-this-song question though and I certainly would not apply the tag to it (and instead use analysis). That still does not justify the tag I think. – magnattic May 30 '14 at 13:23
  • What I am saying is, you are comparing analysis questions to simple identify questions and say that song identification questions are bad and song analysis questions are good. I agree, but that still means that we can scrap the simple song identification questions including the tag which is pretty much only used on those. – magnattic May 30 '14 at 13:25
  • @atticae I'm not sure if anyone actually ever argued about such a tag at all (though would totally agree with you about it's uselessness in case if). – Napoleon Wilson May 30 '14 at 13:39
  • You are right, I might have misinterpreted parts of the discussion. I think I basically agree with what JohnP is saying. – magnattic May 30 '14 at 13:43
  • I disagree that music is tangential to a film. Whether or not it's plot related is somewhat open to interpretation. Soundtracks are often meticulously and purposefully chosen because they do play a critical part of the flim as a whole. – DA. Feb 16 '15 at 0:24
  • @DA. Again, nobody argues that the soundtrack of a movie is anything but substantial and highly important to it. I don't see how this automatically makes each and every "what name of song" question important, though. This is not about making any discussion about a movie's soundtrack off-topic. – Napoleon Wilson Feb 16 '15 at 0:46
  • Given how much of a film can be left open to interpretation, I wonder if we could even come up with a consistent way to measure what makes a particular question important or not. That's a tough one. – DA. Feb 16 '15 at 0:53
  • @DA. Sure, the distinction between "trivia" and "not trivia" has always been difficult and this discussion is important. But you seem to assume that ruling plain "name this song" questions off-topic means declaring soundtrack questions off-topic, which is just not the case. – Napoleon Wilson Feb 16 '15 at 0:55
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    @DA.: Currently, it really depends on how the question is asked. "Hey, what's the song at 1.07 in this clip" is just a boring, trivia, music question. If instead they edit their question and provide some sort of reasoning behind why they want to know and how it differs their cinematic experience, it becomes more interesting and can lend more understanding to the scene (e.g. this question) – Andrew Martin Feb 16 '15 at 0:55
  • @NapoleonWilson no, I'm not saying it's an all-or-nothing thing. I'm saying that, by default, they seem to be on-topic and we'd have to have a well-defined way to state which one's could be considered off topic. I understand JohnP's proposal, but don't see any way to really define that in any universal way across all films and all viewers. It'd be like saying we're not going to ID actors unless they are pertinent to the plot. I don't know we could agree on which actors in which films are pertinent or not. – DA. Feb 16 '15 at 0:58
  • @AndrewMartin that question is definitely interesting, but it's not a song ID question. It's a song that's already been ID'd. But i guess I see where you are going. Alas, it seems that then we'll just get a bunch of song ID questions with a token "...and how did that enhance the scene" to meet the on-topic criteria. Maybe that's OK. – DA. Feb 16 '15 at 1:00

We're trying to get rid of several other ID questions that are basically trivial.

Now, quite often the criticisms of one of these "types" of question can be applied to all of them (that they are hard to answer, relevant to just one person or a small group of people, that they are poorly worded with little thought etc).

I have said before that questions are A-OK provided they are actually about the soundtrack in a way that isn't trivial.

ID'ing a song from a soundtrack of a movie is easily done most of the time and provides just basic trivia about a movie's soundtrack. These questions, along with any other like this one that is just an ID Question in the tag should be closed.

But that's just my rant.

  • "These questions, along with any other in the soundtrack tag should be closed." - Wait a minute, I was quite with you, until the "along with any other in the soundtrack tag" part. Are you really saying that any other question in soundtrack is as trivial rubbish as ID-this-song? – Napoleon Wilson May 28 '14 at 1:16
  • @NapoleonWilson i derped. Fixed – Tablemaker May 28 '14 at 1:24
  • Isn't one person's trivia another person's obsession? Where else to discuss movie trivia than on a movie based QA site? – DA. Feb 16 '15 at 0:25
  • Tyler, I noticed you're an admin. Would you suggest any one particular meta question as the one we should point people to in regards to song ID policy? – DA. Feb 16 '15 at 1:23

I personally feel "identify this song" questions are as on topic as (take that however you want).

And although not an argument for "the on-topicness of here", these questions would be off-topic elsewhere unless you can provide a link to a recording (such as a clip of its containing scene) of the song you are asking about (this is not always possible, especially considering the strictness of copyright law*).

Whereas here, most users (at least the ones that follow the tags for that movie or open the questions based on the title) have seen the movie/television show in question, making the question easier to answer for them.

* Yes, I realize these clips would fall under "fair use", but YouTube's content matching algorithms don't know that. Also, it can be difficult extracting such clips from a DVD or movie currently in theaters.

  • I tend to agree with this...songs are as relevant as actors. Granted, we may argue that not all of them are as relevant as others, but that seems like a really hard benchmark to define. – DA. Feb 16 '15 at 1:05

There's some good discussion on this page about this. Thanks to those that have contributed. I think I have a better understanding of the policy we may be striving for.

To expand on JohnP's answer and many of the comments, here's my humble attempt at trying to formulate it into a policy statement.

Song ID questions are on-topic if they adhere to the following:

  • show some level of effort prior to asking (for instance, if the answer to a song ID question is listed on the film's IMDB page or found via a quick Google search, it's not on-topic for here)
  • show some level of effort to explain why the song is a relevant part of the film. Does it add to a scene? Detract from a scene? Does it play into a larger theme?
  • Can we mark answers as duplicates? In this case: duplicate of an already existing answer. I'm not sure what we're we supposed to do now, wait with any enforcement of the already accepted policy from JohnP's answe runtil yours gets equal or more votes than his? Or what else is the exact prupose of this answer here? – Napoleon Wilson Feb 16 '15 at 1:18
  • @NapoleonWilson you can downvote answers. I was trying to make a clear, concise statement to point other's at based on what JohnP wrote. I like what JohnP wrote, but I don't think it's written as an easily understandable (clear and concise) policy statement to refer people to. This was my attempt at it. It's just an answer to a question (as this one is). I would hope eventually admins would be able to post something based on the conversations here in their own words that we could all then refer people to. – DA. Feb 16 '15 at 1:20
  • "but I don't think it's written as an easily understandable policy statement" - That's true, but I don't think posting an alternative answer even though it says exactly the same does anything to help this case, though. Since nothing gives this answer some kind of special "that's the accepted policy" state, except for the votes, that JohnP's answer already has. – Napoleon Wilson Feb 16 '15 at 1:23
  • @NapoleonWilson should I just add this as an addendum to JohnP's answer? I'm fine doing that, I just don't like editing other people's answers in general without them giving me an OK to do so. – DA. Feb 16 '15 at 1:24
  • That's also true. I for myself would have just kept his answer as is. Even if not written as formally nice as yours, it says pretty much the same and makes clear what's going on. – Napoleon Wilson Feb 16 '15 at 1:28

I notice a lot of these types of questions getting closed or comments stating they are off topic.

I don't know how we can pick one particular aspect of film/movie making as being off-topic but other's are. The music soundtrack of a film/TV show are as much about the film as any other aspect. Many films are defined by their soundtrack. It seems arbitrary to decide only certain aspects of film are off topic.

I vote that they stay on topic.

THAT SAID, I get how they can clutter up the place, so would suggest they meet some minimum require of effort on the asker's part. For example, if the info is right there on the IMDB page, it's off topic here.

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    I don't see how anyone is proposing a complete aspect of movie making to be off-topic here at all. This question is not about making any discussion about a movie's soundtrack off-topic, which I agree (and I can't imagine nor have seen anyone argue against that) is a fundamental aspect of every movie and not to be ignored. However, this is not what this question is about. Of course if you can argue in which way your question is relevant in this case, there doesn't seem to be any problem with it, as JohnP's answer nails it pretty much. – Napoleon Wilson Feb 16 '15 at 0:50
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    You can of course argue for each and every identify-this-song question to be on-topic, but at the moment your argumentation therefor seems entirely flawed since it assumes that the alternative to this would be to rule any kind of soundtrack question off-topic, which is apparently not current policy. – Napoleon Wilson Feb 16 '15 at 0:52
  • To put it succinctly - ".what @NapoleonWilson said" – Andrew Martin Feb 16 '15 at 0:53
  • @NapoleonWilson I'm not following you. What, exactly, are we deeming as off-topic in this case? – DA. Feb 16 '15 at 0:54
  • The question being asked is why or why not should song IDs be on topic. I'm suggesting that since music is integral to a film, by default, one should consider these on-topic UNLESS there's compelling arguments as to why they'd be off-topic (I don't know that I've seen that compelling argument yet.) (In other words, where are we drawing the line and is that even a definable line?) – DA. Feb 16 '15 at 0:55
  • @DA. Your answer sounds like since sountrack is an important aspect of movies means that any kind of soundtrack question is automagically on-topic, including "name this song". This is just a line of argumentation I can't really follow and which could be extrapolated to make pretty much any question on-topic. – Napoleon Wilson Feb 16 '15 at 0:57
  • @NapoleonWilson I am saying that as the default stance. I'm not arguing that they SHOULD if there's a better argument to counter it, but barring a counter argument, it seems to me that movie-related questions should be assumed as on-topic. So not ANY question would be on-topic by default. Only questions that have some relevance to the movie in question. – DA. Feb 16 '15 at 1:03
  • We can perhaps agree on a proper counter argument, and even a set of rules to better define it, but I have a hunch these questions will still be constantly asked as anyone looking for a place to ask a question about a song in a movie will likely end up asking it here. – DA. Feb 16 '15 at 1:04
  • @DA. Sure, as anyone wanting to know the movie he just dreamed about will end up here. Still this doesn't stop us from separating the wheat from the chaff. But I don't say here that those questions are on-topic or off-topic, just that I can't follow your "make any question remotely related to movies on-topic by default" currently. – Napoleon Wilson Feb 16 '15 at 1:06
  • @NapoleonWilson I'm making (an incorrect?) assumption that any film related topic should be deemed on-topic by default on a film-related QA until it's otherwise deemed as off-topic. (Unless there's a well defined list of "only these questions are on topic for this site" that I"m not aware of) – DA. Feb 16 '15 at 1:09

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