I had this question posted 30 days ago:

1980s movie with imagery of car on dry lake bed

It's all the details I can recall. It's a movie I've been trying to recall for a decade. It (the question text) was edited a few hours ago by someone and then it was marked as off-topic.

If there is an identify-this tag, and a whole FAQ about how to ask identifies, how is this off topic?

I see this: Policy: deleting "identify" questions after 30 days

If this is the case, could we add that reason (or that meta-question) to the reason for closure?

  • The close message seems to explain it pretty well already, though. "Identification questions must contain sufficient detail to meet the site's quality standards and should not be about a commercial or music video. For help writing a good identification question, see: Identify-This-X Questions." It was simply lacking in details to suffice the quality standards we epect identification questions to suffice. It's unfortunate that you don't remember anything more, but this doesn't automatically make the question's detail sufficient, I'm afraid.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Feb 11 '16 at 16:31
  • The mere presence of that tag doesn't magically make every possible identification question appropriate. That deduction is rather wrongly premised.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Feb 11 '16 at 16:33
  • It took 30 days for 4 people (3 regular + 1 mod) to Vote to close it. It's a bit sparse on details meaning it will likely never get answered, but IMHO it is a valid, on topic question. It falls more into the 30 day inactivity period.
    – cde
    Feb 11 '16 at 16:34
  • @cde I would have VTC if I'd ever seen it. It never came up in review queues.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Feb 11 '16 at 16:35
  • But adding this as a close reason would be a good idea, but there is a problem with limited custom close reasons. @NapoleonWilson maybe it should be added to the Identify FAQ, at the bottom.
    – cde
    Feb 11 '16 at 16:35
  • @cde Adding what? There already is a close reason for exactly that, detail-lacking ID questions. And it's also mentioned in the help center.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Feb 11 '16 at 16:38
  • Your question was not closed for inactivity, but for lacking in detail, as the close-reason states and the answer here explain. That is entirely orthogonal to deletion for inactivity. Take a look at this post for the distinction between those two things: meta.movies.stackexchange.com/q/1417/49
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Feb 11 '16 at 16:40
  • Reread the faq, found the 30 day thing linked in italics. Didn't see it the first time.
    – cde
    Feb 11 '16 at 16:44
  • 1
    @cde But as said, that wasn't at play here at all.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Feb 11 '16 at 16:47

There's absolutely nothing for us to go off... We can't answer that question. If you can't add more details, I'm sorry, you'll need to find another site to try.

In the mid 1980s (before 1990, after 1984), I saw a US film. I recall that it was fairly depressing and had a lot of imagery (particularly the VHS packaging) of a car (perhaps convertible) on a dry lake bed. It was one of those typical 1980s movies with a young (20s) cast.

I'd swear one of the Phoenix brothers was in it.

You have no plot at all, only a vague memory of some "imagery". If you think one of the Phoenix brothers was in it, go look at their IMDb pages... you don't need us to do that for you.

Here are the sorts of details from our "on topic" page that are required for ID questions:

  • 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
  • Plot details of any scenes you remember
  • Descriptions of any characters or locations
  • Any distinctive detail

The most important of these is plot details, despite how low down on the list it is. You have absolutely no plot at all.

You also, in a previous version said:

I could be wrong about the dry lake bed, but it's the best I can go on.

Which is the only detail you have... and you just negated it it, which leaves

A mid-80s, depressing film with a car (possibly a convertible) with a 20s cast.

That's half the movies in the 80s.

I'm sorry, without more details, we can't accept this question.

  • Op did say they looked through IMDB, that got edited out today before the last close vote.
    – cde
    Feb 11 '16 at 16:35
  • 3
    @cde I don't understand why people are removing important details... not that it matters. It's still nothing to go on.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Feb 11 '16 at 16:37
  • I removed the IMDB part, as I felt it was ultimately irrelevant. They might have looked on IMDB, but I didn't feel that proved or disproved their assertion of the Phoenix brothers. To me, that was like saying "I tried googling, but found nothing"... so what? Just give us details we can use. On a site like SO, "what have I tried" is vital. On a site like this, I don't think it is. I'll happily leave in in future if people think it's necessary, but it added nothing more identifiable to the question. Feb 11 '16 at 17:18
  • @AndrewMartin some people take a lack of details like that as "op didn't even try looking for this first". Research effort.
    – cde
    Feb 11 '16 at 22:04
  • @cde: That's a fair point. But half the time I find people state they looked on IMDB, then I go and check and it's there any way, so I don't read too much into it. It just seems like clutter at the end of the sentence: "Please help me I checked on IMDB and looked everywhere and can't find it please help thank so much". Typically I see it as white noise and remove it. Feb 11 '16 at 22:09

I was one of the people who downvoted and flagged it for closure.

Something really important to remember on the Stack Exchange is that every question that is asked has two purposes:

  1. It should help the original poster (in this case, you).
  2. It should be of interest to future users of the site.

Now, with all questions - including questions - there are a bunch of other rules around the types of good questions we expect (these are all listed in the Help Center).

For the questions, @catija has done a great job explaining some of the additional rules around this, including the fact identify questions need to have enough information to be identifiable.

However, I accept that that doesn't mean questions with very little information are unanswerable. Somebody out there might be able to answer it, eventually, after a lot of guesswork. But it fails the second point I mentioned above. How many other people are ever going to visit this question for help finding a movie with a car on the cover? It's far broad a category. There's no specific, memorable detail here, just a generic memory of a car on a cover (like so, so, so many other films).

So even if somebody on this site managed to somehow identify this, no future user to the site would ever gain benefit from it given how little information was provided to go on.

So when I vote to close, it's both because there's so little information provided and no future user will ever find any benefit from the question.

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