We have, as a community, decided to consider commercials and music videos as "off topic" for the purpose of identify questions.

What identify-this questions should be kept/deleted?
ID-This-Commercial Will be Off-Topic
ID-This-Music-Video Will be Off-Topic
Scrap any identify-this-actor question which doesn't include a description/title of the movie/tv series the actor was in - regardless of whether the post includes a picture or not.

I'm completely OK with this.

Unfortunately, the close reason as written can be confusing to people because it makes no note of these decisions and the guidelines for Identify questions on the "What topics can I ask about here?" page do not mention them, either.

Identification questions must contain sufficient detail to be answerable. For help writing a good identification question, see: Identify-This-X-Questions.

And the link takes you to the information:

Identification questions are currently on-topic for this site. Please try to give as much detail as possible:

  • Where you watched the movie or TV show
  • When you watched the movie or TV show
  • Any idea of how old it was
  • Any idea of country of origin (if known)
  • Whether it was animated or not
  • Any distinctive detail

There is a single sentence at the end of a long paragraph that links to the question above but it is very easy to miss and should be made more obvious.

We should make these community decisions more apparent to people asking ID questions about these topics so that they understand why their question was closed.

I recommend we change the close reason text to something similar to the following:

Identification questions must contain sufficient detail to be answerable and should not be about a commercial or music video. For help writing a good identification question, see: Identify-This-X Questions.

And the "Identify-This-X-Questions" text, should be adjusted as well:

Identification questions are currently on-topic for this site with the exception of commercials and music videos. Please try to give as much detail as possible:

If we decide to not change the close reason text, at the very least the note needs to be made more obvious on the "Asking questions" page. These questions have been picking up recently, particularly about commercials, and it should be made more apparent why the questions are being closed.

  • "These questions have been picking up recently" - Wut? I didn't really notice them "picking up". Seems to come in at more or less the same frequency they always did.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Jun 18, 2015 at 22:40
  • @NapoleonWilson there were two in the last two days.
    – Catija
    Jun 18, 2015 at 22:41
  • In fact for a commercial or music video question I do actualy provide a custom reason instead of the ID-detail reason, since it does not have too few details but is simply completely out of scope.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Jun 18, 2015 at 22:45
  • This reason was not used for the most recent closure, just the generic one. movies.stackexchange.com/questions/35539/…
    – Catija
    Jun 18, 2015 at 22:46
  • If you mean the actor thing. I thought that was closed because it was a stupid ID-this-guy-from-an-image thing, i.e. "not enough detail", not because it was about a commerical (afterall it wasn't ID-this-commercial, but ID-this-actor).
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Jun 18, 2015 at 22:48

1 Answer 1


Well, there is currently a semantic difference between closing an identification question for lack of detail or closing it because it is simply downright off-topic, as would be the case for commercial and music video identification. This is the reason why the latter kind of questions are normally closed as merely off-topic, with a proper custom reason. They do not lack in detail, they're simply out of scope.

However, in light of the fact that both close reasons, even if semantically quite different, apply to identification questions it might not be such a bad idea to merge them in the way you propose, which eliminates the necessity to reinvent this custom close reason each time. I'd thus agree with your proposed extension of the ID close reason. We should however also keep in mind to leave the close reasons sufficiently general and concise and not overload them with too many details, specific examples and intricacies. For example when the close reason features commercials and music videos that prominently, people might just complain "but...but...my question wasn't about a commercial or music video", ignoring the less exactly-worded first part of the close reason. But it needs to be assessed in practice how big of a problem this'll really gonna be (afterall most of the ID aksers couldn't care less if their question is closed anyway, let alone notice that at all).

I also agree with your proposed rewording of the help center text, since it makes it more directly clear that those questions are off-topic. I had quite some difficulties to find a proper place for this note, but your idea seems not bad at all.

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