The impact of identification questions has been discussed by and large already and I want to concentrate here on a particular aspect whose reasons and counter-measures have been largely agreed upon already. One of the biggest advantages of identification questions has always been their potential to attract new users. But this is also one of their biggest dangers in that they also have high potential for attracting one-shot ID-askers who won't return to the site ever again and contribute any further to its thriving, or even the management of their own questions. This together with the inherently lower long-term information value of identification questions poses a problem for the signal-to-noise ratio of the whole site.

For this reason we have the established policy that unanswered identification questions inactive for 14 days and asked by unregistered users are eligible for deletion, as specified in the help center and the related meta post. While this doesn't immediately tackle the problem of newly asked low-quality identification questions, it at least helps the long-term goal of curating the existing identification questions and eliminating those with very low long-term value, which ultimately helps to keep up the image of this site as a place for interesting and valuable questions and prevent invaluable ask-and-forget questions from damaging this image.

So much to the current state of affairs. In an effort to further improve the positive effect this policy has on the site, I would like to make the suggestion of extending this policy a little, in particular in two different directions:

  • Extend the applicable users from only unregistered users to every kind of registered but inactive user. It stays debatable if the inactivity period of 14 days should also be applied for registered users, or if it might be extended to a longer period in those cases (maybe a month).
  • Extend the applicable questions from those without any answer to those without any upvoted or accepted answer (i.e. it only has unaccepted answers with score of 0 or lower). After all, if an answer stays without any positive votes and without any acceptance over the whole period, the community has decided that it is without value. In fact this viewpoint of effectively equating questions with no upvoted or accepted answers to "unanswered" questions is also applied by the SE framework itself, as evident from the behaviour of the Unanswered tab as well as the rules for automatic deletion of closed questions.

So what are the community's opinions or further suggestions on this proposed policy extension?

Since Flyk's approach has been unanimously accepted by the community, the rules for deleting inactive identification questions are hereby updated to any identification question inactive for 30 days and without any upvoted or accepted answers.

  • Answered question or registered user doesn't make the question acceptable either, so my suggestion is to keep the same policy for both registered and non-registered user with after 14 days closing with removing the criteria for being answered or not. – Ankit Sharma Mar 2 '15 at 9:55
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    @AnkitSharma Well, completely removing the criteria for being answered is a bit overkill. We're not supposed to kill old questions which do have good (i.e. upvoted) answers. We shouldn't completely run riot and delete every old ID question, then we could as well completely ban them (well, in fact, we could indeed), but this isn't the purpose of this proposal. Once they're deemed valid and on-topic, upvoted answers do by definition have value. – Napoleon Wilson Mar 4 '15 at 17:35
  • +1 to this because I agree that the registered/unregistered difference isn't important and upvoted/accepted answers are all that counts, so under the assumption that the original policy was valid, this would be a valid amendment of it. Whether or not I support the original policy being amended here is, well, a different question :-) – Rand al'Thor Mar 23 '17 at 2:35

As a result of further discussion and taking into consideration the bad question policies, this is now 30 days, not four weeks.

The current way we go about deleting posts allows a large number of other posts which are low quality and not of much use to future visitors to slip through the net, here are some fine examples of questions I'm proposing we delete:

I am personally in favor of banning all identification questions but I can appreciate that allowing them does generate traffic and new users.

Ignoring the type of user or other account activity, change the threshold for deletion to:

  • four weeks of inactivity on the post, and
  • post is "unanswered" (has no accepted answer or answers with positive scores)

Since "closed" questions are already in line to get deleted at some point (with the exceptions of Duplicates, since these serve as pointers to valid questions), whether the post is open or closed shouldn't have any relevance when dealing with questions.

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    When you say limit the threshold to four weeks, are you saying that you want all ID questions, regardless of status, should be deleted after four weeks? It is unclear to me. We have actually had people ask duplicate identify questions in the past, so deleting questions with accepted answers seems unwarranted. – Catija Mar 1 '15 at 19:55
  • Judging from your examples you also seem to implicitly support the "no accepted or upvoted answers" part? – Napoleon Wilson Mar 1 '15 at 19:55
  • Yes, I'm not suggesting we delete any content that meets the quality requirements to be "on topic". However, by nature, any closed posts would fall into this category regardless of votes. – user5603 Mar 1 '15 at 20:00
  • @Flyk Not necessarily. Unfortunately, more often than not a closed question can very well have upvoted answers. – Napoleon Wilson Mar 1 '15 at 20:02
  • Not that it happens often, but in the effort to make a policy that will stand for a good amount of time, what would be the recommended action for a question generally considered to have too little info (has a negative question rating) but that someone still manages to find a good (accepted) answer for? – Catija Mar 1 '15 at 20:03
  • If the question is so bad that it's not useful to others, why would keeping it be a good idea? – user5603 Mar 1 '15 at 20:04
  • I'm not arguing that it should... but it begs the question, if someone was actually able to figure out what the movie was, is it actually a bad question? – Catija Mar 1 '15 at 20:06
  • Also, if an identify question has an upvoted answer but the OP hasn't accepted the answer, is there really a way to know that the upvoted answer is correct? It may fit all (or most) of the parameters of the question but, until it's accepted, we can't actually know if we've managed to... as they say name that tune. This is why I actually tend to avoid upvoting answers on ID questions unless it's clearly obviously the correct answer. – Catija Mar 1 '15 at 20:08
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    @Catija "generally considered to have too little info (has a negative question rating) but that someone still manages to find a good (accepted) answer for?" - Well, close as "not enough detail", as always. To me that close reason was never about finding some kind of answer, but always about question quality and asker effort. – Napoleon Wilson Mar 1 '15 at 20:09
  • Shouldn't everything that is voted closed (with exceptions of Duplicates as these serve as pointers to valid questions) eventually be deleted? There was even a discussion on automating it at one point. – user5603 Mar 1 '15 at 20:10
  • @Catija If the answer fits to the description (and tries to point that out), then it's a good answer, no matter if it's the correct one. The upvote button is not the accept button. – Napoleon Wilson Mar 1 '15 at 20:11
  • movies.stackexchange.com/questions/31310/… Here's an example. What would be the action? – Catija Mar 1 '15 at 20:11
  • @Catija I still have that one on my radar and am not entirely sure if to single-handedly close it yet. But yeah, that's a borderline bad and closable question. But on the other hand, it doesn't seem to fall into the discussion about deletion for inactivity, as it has an accepted answer. – Napoleon Wilson Mar 1 '15 at 20:13
  • @Catija that's only 9 days old, it wouldn't be eligible for immediate deletion. You could vote to close it, as "not enough info", and if nothing had happened with it by the end of the four weeks it would be eligible for deletion. – user5603 Mar 1 '15 at 20:13
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    @Catija Sure, as elaborated in the question. Afterall acceptance shows activity from the asker and it makes the question effectively solved and "closed" (in the non-SE sense of the word), in contrast to open, unsolved and inactive questions. And in addition to that, it's kind of a special kind of upvote, too. – Napoleon Wilson Mar 1 '15 at 20:36

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