As we all know that there are many poorly detailed ID questions coming on site every day and we have introduced a restricter policy and a deletion policy to get rid of such bad questions. This is a nice step.

However, possibly we all have witnessed that some of those bad questions are being answered. There are only a few details in those questions. Some users crack them and provide answers. Though some details may be unique for a movie/TV show, this doesn't make it a good question. Answering those questions Only conveys a bad message and allows new users to assume that such questions are acceptable and answerable, which they are not.

There have been many comments left on answers to such questions and even got DVed too, but no result. See this recent example and this one too

There is also the worse scenario where some users also upvote these questions, and that also conveys a bad message.

Do such bad ID questions really deserve to be answered or not?

My message would be

These questions are going to be deleted in the cleaning process, and having an answer wouldn't stop them from getting deleted. So why spend effort to answer those questions?

As a community, we should not answer those questions if we want to keep this site clean.

  • 3
    The question you have linked contains quite enough information to be answerable and someone has answered it. I see no problem - assuming of course that we allow "Identify this" questions at all. – Chenmunka Feb 9 '17 at 11:54
  • Seriously? How about the other one? – A J Mod Feb 9 '17 at 11:56
  • I'm still not clear on the deletion process. Is this automatic / mod envoked and at what frequency? I occasionally "star" some questions like this and VTD but I can save the Delete Votes if this is automatic. – Paulie_D Feb 9 '17 at 12:06
  • @Paulie_D I'm not aware about the deletion process. Better ask a moderator. – A J Mod Feb 9 '17 at 12:09
  • 1
    Unfortunately, there are no distinct rules as to how much information is "not enough". Some ID questions are answerable but poor even with the limited information provided. Hopefully not quoting out of context... "But as with many close-reasons and guidelines, this doesn't present any real hard rules to judge what a lack of details actually is, which is to a large degree up to well-reasoned personal judgement based on the guidelines from the help center and possible further communication with the asker. " – Paulie_D Feb 9 '17 at 12:18
  • @AJ: Yes, the other one could be any one of a dozen productions. Therein lies the problem - how much information is enough? – Chenmunka Feb 9 '17 at 12:18
  • movies.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic – A J Mod Feb 9 '17 at 12:23
  • 1
    @Paulie_D It is automatic for closed questions that are negatively voted and don't have upvoted or accepted answers. All the others require manual cleanup by the site's community. (At the moment I tend to do that about once a week or so, which doesn't mean help from the community in that process isn't appreciated.) – Napoleon Wilson Mod Feb 9 '17 at 18:36

The solution to a poor ID question is to respond with a comment -- if at all. Let's not answer it, but let's try to give the asker a possible solution that they may value like gold. Then the question can be closed using our normal procedures.

There is good reason to close poor ID questions. And @AJ makes a great point regarding why answering such a question is bad practice.

But what exactly is a poor ID question? @Paulie_D has a point here. This has driven me to err here a couple of times (as well as not erring by going the comment route).

  • 1
    "let's try to give the asker a possible solution that they may value like gold" - And this is even worse. Answering in comments doesn't really make a difference to answering in the answer section with regards to showing the asker that he has to work on the question in order to improve it. This is especially bad for questions so bad to be closed. It shows users that they can just smash every kind of crap on the site and still get their answer... – Napoleon Wilson Mod Feb 9 '17 at 18:32
  • ...The asker doesn't care how elaborate or valuable the answer is or if it even is a proper site-answer. All they care is hearing that movie title from you and by giving it to them irrespective of how appropriate the question is you are perpetuating the bad quality of that question and inhibit any motivation for actually improving it ever. – Napoleon Wilson Mod Feb 9 '17 at 18:32
  • @NapoleonWilson Well, maybe I'm misinterpreting John, but I thought he just meant a comment asking for more info, not answering the Q in the comments. – Walt Feb 9 '17 at 18:51
  • @Walt Hmm, that's what I first thought, until reading the bit that I quoted in my comment. – Napoleon Wilson Mod Feb 9 '17 at 18:53
  • 7
    There was an asker who asked to ID a movie because it gave her supreme joy as a child. She desperately wanted to pass that pleasure on to her young daughter. Her question was doomed to be closed. I see no reason to not answer in a way that shows it's not about rep, but about trying to help another human being. The question is going to be closed but the mother and daughter get what they want. That's all I have to say, and I rest my case. – John Feb 9 '17 at 19:26
  • 1
    That's a nice sentimental story indeed. But the approach of answering closed questions in comments is still fundamentally flawed nevertheless. Of course we are helping the asker with it, but that's about the only thing we do, and at the cost of the site and its integrity. – Napoleon Wilson Mod Feb 9 '17 at 20:13
  • 1
    @NapoleonWilson It is definitely not my intention of compromising this great site's integrity, nor my own for that matter. Quite the opposite in fact. It is in my nature to always try to help. Please note that I was speaking in the future tense/sense, not the past. My opinion is to help the asker so she can read the comment while the question is in process of being closed as a poor ID question. Then it can be forgotten, deleted, etc. – John Feb 9 '17 at 21:14
  • Please also note that I have nothing but respect and awe for the present and past Mods. I have nearly finished reading the last of the Movie Meta posts, and I am thankful to have known the five of you. Additionallly, I have also noted that there appears to be the potential for a Win:Win:Win scenario (People who detest ID: People who tolerate them: New users). @AJ touched on part of that. – John Feb 9 '17 at 21:15
  • Don't worry. I know that's not your intention. I'm just commenting on the answer. ;-) – Napoleon Wilson Mod Feb 9 '17 at 21:17

To continue on from John's comment in the other answer.

The rules for ID questions are utterly insane.

Some people come to this site, looking to identify movies. Others (like me), like to browse and try and figure out the movies from the descriptions - even when there's an answer given.

It's all about helping people and enjoying the wide and varied views people have about movies they watch.

But that's not what's happening.

What happening is:

  • A question is asked.
  • That question is immediately shot down with the please give more info comment, followed quickly by Paulie_D and her cohort of downvoters, quick to annihilate anyone who cannot remember every miniscule detail about the film they are trying to identify.
  • Very quickly, the question is marked on hold, and then eventually closed.
  • The question is then answered by someone who recognises the description.

This happens far too often and makes the site seem irrelevent. What's the point in trying to identify a movie, if you already know all the details?!

I understand the need to close and remove unanswerable questions, but the rules here seem far too strict. Given some of the answers that are provided, I would propose the following:

If the question setter can describe at least one scene (involving a character and place) or one memorable quote/character/vehicle/visual effect/etc, then the question is OK.

Of course, the other info (year, country, etc) is useful and people should be encouraged to add as much as they can remember, but don't close the question.

A good example (just from today) is this question**. There is nothing wrong with the question. And it was upvoted. And it was Answered (and marked as an answer). And yet, it was still put on hold.

** in case it inevitably gets deleted, here's a screenshot of the Q: enter image description here

Maybe I'm wrong, but I just don't see the point of this site if people cannot use it to get help or information because of the behaviour of the moderators.

  • 2
    You might have mistaken movie identification as the primary purpose of this site, which it is not (though, this mistake is understandable, given the circumstances). It is a service offered in addition to the actual purpose of the site. And for keeping it under control and from detracting the site from its actual purpose, there has to be some quality control executed. ID question quality is not about answerability. You might also have noticed that no moderator was involved in closing that question you linked to. – Napoleon Wilson Mod Mar 20 '17 at 1:16
  • 2
    @NapoleonWilson "Identifying a Movie or TV series" is the second item listed in the tour regarding what kind of questions to ask. – MmmHmm Apr 4 '17 at 6:10
  • @Mr.Kennedy Thanks for the heads up. It seems we forgot to fix that when fixing the help center. – Napoleon Wilson Mod Apr 4 '17 at 13:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .