We currently have a feature in place that creates an automatic tag-popup whenever someone uses the tag. This tag popup shows a message asking for providing as much details as possible in order to encourage askers to write good identification questions.

enter image description here

Don't forget to include:

  • language
  • country of origin
  • approximate year of release

For more suggestions on writing a successful identification request, see: The identify-this-movie Tag Wiki

Though, this tag-popup still has quite some limitations (as also expressed previously already) and part of the ideas for improving the issues with identification questions was to improve this tag popup. Unfortunately this is only achievable with the help of an SE employee and for this we ought to make a proper feature request in the form of this meta post.

So this is a proposal for improving some parts of this tag-popup. Of course that's not going to be end-all of identification problems, but it's an improvement that doesn't hurt anyone either and is worth going for. I also know some of those improvements might not be doable that easily (the first 3 (4?) should be no problem, though), but I'll still try to gather them all here and let the SE team implement them as far as possible. In particular those improvements should be made (in order of decreasing severity and predicted ease of implementation):

  1. Enable it for too, since this tag is of the exact same use as and requires the same aspects for being considered well-fleshed out. It might use a different message linking to the other tag wiki, but that's not even necessary, since the tag wikis say pretty much the same and the requirements are exactly equal.
  2. The text might use some more elaboration, though, I've been told it should not be too long. But it could use more details and maybe some clarifications as to questions not sufficing the quality requirements being liable for closure. Based on suggestions from the MattD's answer and a look into the respective help center pages I tried to be as concise as possible while still being more elaborate than the current popup. I also tried to incorporate the ideas from the answer as well the suggestion to mention the possibility of closing a bit more. I also included advice on the question titles that are often rather sub-par:

    Please provide everything you remember in your question and try to be as detailed as possible:

    • Approximate year/decade of release
    • Language and country of origin
    • Plot details and specific scenes
    • Descriptions of characters and locations
    • Genre

    Also try to use a descriptive question title. You can always edit your question if you remember more later. Identification questions that don't meet our quality standards might get closed.

    For more suggestions on writing a successful identification request, see: The identify-this-movie Tag Wiki.

  3. According to Mike's answer we should also install a similar popup for the tag, which often leads to very sub-par questions, too. Based on his answer a sensible wording for that tag popup could be:

    Please provide enough detail about the film or TV-show that this actor appeared on, in addition to any other details that may help identification. Questions that only present an image found on the internet without enough detail about the film it is from or even without being sure that it is an actor at all are likely to get closed.

    For more suggestions on writing a successful identification request, see: The identify-this-actor Tag Wiki.

  4. Make it a slightly more noticeable/alarming color, maybe red as in the original proposal.

  5. Position it a bit closer to the actual tag, as proposed here already, so it's not at the far right but more clearly visible.
  6. At the moment it only shows when the tag edit box loses focus. But since in a normal asking workflow this happens right before clicking the "Post Your Question" button, it might not actually be shown at all. Either let it show up sooner (i.e. once the tag has been entered completely or was clicked in the selection box) or make a click on the "Post" button first show the popup (if it isn't already there) and only then post the question on a second click.

(Though, the last 2 (3?) might actually be dependent on the larger framework and thus require bigger feature requests on the main meta.)

Just give your votes on this feature-request depending if you agree with it or not and let us know in the answers if there's anything to add or change. Once this request has gathered sufficient traction, I'll ask the SE übermods to take a look at it (unless it has been downvoted to hell, of course).

  • does this also apply to any of the other identify-this-foo tags? I know there's at least "episode" and "actor" though the specific wording may not fit for all of those.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 16:07
  • 1
    @MikeEdenfield At the moment not. I think they might require a bit different banners. identify-this-episode is used rather rarely and doesn't seem to pose a big quality problem at all. And frankly identify-this-actor usually seems to be unsalvagable from the getgo, being primarily "found pic, what's that gal's name". But maybe a specific one for those could be of use, too. Might be an addition worht an answer.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 16:17
  • @NapoleonWilson i think we should provide sample warning message for actor too, episode never appeared much problem to be but actor is.
    – Ankit Sharma Mod
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 7:30
  • @AnkitSharma That's what MichaelEdenfield already said in his answer.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 10:29
  • @NapoleonWilson i means a text suggestion. Mike's answer says it should but not what.
    – Ankit Sharma Mod
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 10:39
  • @AnkitSharma Sure.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 10:41
  • given that space is at a premium... is there any benefit to putting the "remember you can edit..." verbiage in here? isn't this message appearing before they save their question in the first place?
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 19:50
  • @Mike Well, see MattD's answer for the reasoning behind it (and the possibility to argue/vote against it).
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 19:51
  • [status-completed] Suggestions 1, 2, 3 were easy and provided a lot of bang for the buck, but some of the interface suggestions required more dev time than would likely have gotten this done. Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 20:09
  • @RobertCartaino Thank you. But I noticed that you changed the wording of the popup quite a bit and removed some things, too. And you actually implemented 3 in a completely different way than specified. You might want to post an answer to this question to explain your reasonings behind those decisions a bit more then.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 20:26
  • @NapoleonWilson If you want different copy for [identify-this-actor], post it here or send it to me. But the full text was too long for that narrow interface. The points are all there (except the bit about editing it later) and omitting needless wordiness makes the point even stronger. In that regard, less is more. Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 20:33
  • @RobertCartaino I posted it here in this very feature request. I would have thought it was even shorter than the one for identify-this-movie, expecially since it had not so many newlines. But if you say it's too long, then we'll try to come up with something shorter. As it stands using the same text for identify-this-actor doesn't seem to make that many sense.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 20:50
  • @NapoleonWilson I don't know how I missed that. It might need a bit of trimming, but I'll send it along as-is. Thanks. Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 20:51

3 Answers 3


While we're at the task of cleaning up the identify tags (as much as possible) it might be worth also trying to improve . It's not nearly the crisis that is, but as you mentioned, there's no harm in improving the tag guidance.

In particular, bad actor-ID questions tend to be of the form "here's a screen cap, who is this?". It might be useful to call out that these questions will be summarily closed -- we need to have some information about the movie and/or actor that's being identified.

  • 3
    Great idea. Picture only is off-topic, so this should definitely happen. Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 17:22
  • I've added your concerns into the proposal.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 18:01

I think it should be enhanced a bit to something like:

Don't forget to include the following in your question:

  • The original language of the film (English, French, Spanish, etc.)
  • The country of origin
  • The approximate year or a concise range of years of release.

Remember: you can edit your own questions to add any additional details that could help in identifying the movie or TV show you're looking for.

For more suggestions on writing a successful identification request, see: The identify-this-movie Tag Wiki

I feel it's important to note that these should be added in the question, as a new user might thing they need to add these as tags given the popup is extending from the tag input box.

Further, most users tend to reply with comments to add these details rather than editing their original question with additional details whenever they're asked for more details, or simply remember them. Providing them with a simple reminder that they can always edit their own posts could go a long way in, "Please add these details to your post," comments.

The word concise could be swapped with "a short range" or something to make it a bit easier to understand for users who don't speak English as their native language. Emphasis on the "in your question" part could also be added, if possible.

I don't feel this makes the notification too long, and goes a bit further to helping new and inexperienced users to write appropriate questions when they're looking to ID a movie or TV show. Making it red cold work, but red is also associated with errors and bad things happening.

  • 1
    Or, what about "the approximate year or at least when it was that you watched it originally"?
    – Catija
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 17:53
  • I'm not so sure about that, as the last bit can be fairly ambiguous, especially for older movies. I personally don't find it terribly helpful to know someone watched a movie released in the 70s, but all they can tell me is that they watched it sometime in the mid-90s.
    – MattD
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 18:05
  • 2
    But if they have no clue at all when its from, knowing they saw it in the 90s at least excludes anything newer.
    – Catija
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 18:13
  • 1
    True, but the trick is to keep things as "low word count" as possible, at least that's what I'm getting.
    – MattD
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 18:15
  • 1
    Agreed on clarifying that it's the question that needs the info. Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 16:50
  • 1
    I've added your concerns into the proposal.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 18:02
  • @MattD the part about editing, I'm not sure is going to help. Users will only see this while they are editing their question, specifically while adding a tag; if they didn't know to edit their question they'll never see the tag guidance to know to edit their question...
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 19:54
  • @Mike The screen shot included in the question is from posting a new question for the first time, and the information pop-up comes into play whenever anyone, regardless of reputation level or age of account, sees when they use the identify-this-movie tag. Since a number of users first posts are for ID questions, I feel it's incredibly important to inform them they can and should edit their answers to include new information they may remember later, rather than adding it as a comment or posting the added information as an answer.
    – MattD
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 19:59
  • Further, to my knowledge, this shows up whenever they add the identify-this-movie tag as part of their initial answer, or as part of editing it later. Either way, I've handled several instances of new users asking an ID question that have requests for additional information, who either add it as a comment or as an answer, and any attempts to make them aware they can always edit their own question to provide new information is encouraged and proper use of this site.
    – MattD
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 20:00

If this change requires actual development effort by a Stack Exchange developer, can it go even further?

I don't know if this is possible, but can we automatically add text to the user's question box if they select either the or . For example, if either tag is selected, could we automatically add something like tthe following to the bottom of the user's question:

Please enter all the following if known:
Approx year:
Black & white or colour:

They don't have to be mandatory and they might even repeat some information the user has already included in their question. But it would be a very in-your-face way of highlighting the importance of including this information, particularly given the amount of questions that are posted without the information, the user is prompted for it, then they include it.

What do people think? Or is this too intrusive and/or too complex to add to the code?

Regardless of the answer, thanks to @Napoleon for asking this Meta question and trying to drive some sort of change to improve the quality of the questions asked.

  • 1
    This sort of plays into the "ultimate question form" that I think both Walt and I have mentioned at various times... essentially, when you go to the "ask" page, it would ask whether you're looking to ID a film... if so, it takes you to an alternate question page with fields for these sorts of data points. They wouldn't be required but they'd at least be enumerated.
    – Catija
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 17:41
  • @Catija: Thanks, I must have been away for those discussions. That would be good, and could seriously improve the quality of questions... but it could also be a pain to code. Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 17:42
  • Um, sorry, but this might be a good idea, but is entirely beyond the scope of this question. This is a mere "shall we do that" thing for confirming so we can show SE some votes and make them change the popup. This thing here should probably be assessed individually and not be hijacked as an answer where it won't really do anything and is entirely wasted. This will definitely require serious development effort beyond just adapting the tag popup. So it should be discussed individually.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 18:15
  • @NapoleonWilson: That's a fair point. I included it here in case it had any traction or desire, in which case you would probably do this instead of improving pop-out option, as it wouldn't be needed. I'm easy either way. I think the biggest question for me is a timeline around how to determine if pop-out option (if approved) is working. 3 months? 6 months? Do we do a review? And if so, what are our targets, i.e. 25% of less identify questions compared to total questions? Or no targets, but a certain % of ident questions with a score above a certain threshold? Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 19:55
  • Those sorts of questions, to try and work out a) does this work b) when do we definitively decide it is not working and c) when do we get together to move to next step, whatever that step may be Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 19:56
  • I don't even know how to measure if that thing works or not, especially sincw assessing the quality of ID question on an objective level is largely impossible. But those are really questions for an entzirely different discussion it seems. And if that asking form idea is good or not, seems independent of the tag popup functionality. This question here is really just about gathering votes to tell SE to update it and they'll do it with the click of a finger.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 21:18
  • I don't know when we will get together to decide more. I've just tried to update the popup to have done something to be honest. If the situation is as crap in a month, there's nothing wrong with still going for the big question. But as said, those discussions seem wasted in an answer to this question here.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 21:21

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