NOTE: Got linked here but don't really care about all the meta discussion? Just want quick help with identifying your movie? Take a look at this question and its answers.

Since its very inception this site has struggled with the problem of identification questions and their controversial nature. Over the years these questions have become more and more of a quality and moderation issue and the community grew more and more weary of them and the work they generate as well as the bad light they throw on the site.

A recent call for input from the community on this problem has shown a rather unanimous dissatisfaction with the current situation as well as broad agreement that they are not worth the trouble anymore. The site needs to finally make a stand and come to terms with the fact that these questions, while once ago thought to be worth a try, have failed to prove their worth and manageability. The community has thus come to the decision to move forward and finally make official what has ultimately been its unofficial stance for quite some time:

We will stop supporting identification questions on this site.

But how is the site going to proceed with this newly found confidence? We very much know, that this is quite a big step in the site's development, given how prominent these questions have become over time. It will thus be approached with a gradual process in order to ease the site into this development. First and foremost, and quite obviously:

  • All identification questions will from now on be off-topic on this site and the existing close-reason will be adapted accordingly (inspired by a similar close-reason on Anime & Manga):

    Identification questions are off-topic, because they tend to attract low-quality and low-effort posts. The community has decided to no longer support these questions. Please refer to this meta post for additional details.

  • All users are encouraged to make use of their flagging and close-voting privileges accordingly on any new identification questions. Practically this means nothing else than extending what the community already does on the majority of identification questions to all of them.

    You may go and close-vote any older ID questions from before this announcement if you feel thus when stumbling across them. However, we will take care of our existing baggage of ID questions in a more automated and systematic fashion later on during this cleanup process. It might thus not be the best use of your or the rest of the community's time to flood the review queues with 50 old questions to close manually each and every day.

  • The help center, the tour page, as well as the respective tag wikis will be adapted accordingly.

As to the future outlook of the overall cleanup process, the next steps will involve:

  • Closing all existing questions (starting 15 days from now):

    We will ask SE for help in automatically closing all existing identification questions and, for the time being, applying a historical lock to them (which makes them unvotable and uneditable by non-moderator users, as well as removing them from normal question lists).

    Together with that, we will blacklist the identification tags (again with help from SE), which makes them unusable on any new or existing questions (generating an appropriate error message when trying). The tag will remain on existing questions that have it (which will be locked for editing, though), making it useful for finding those questions for any further cleanup.

  • Cleaning up the existing questions (another 15 days later):

    We of course also need to come up with a reasonable cleanup approach for the existing baggage of identification questions, keeping in mind various factors, like having examples for the site's development and the questions' off-topicness vs. hampering their search engine indexing that attracts new ones.

These issues will, however, be addressed in future meta posts respectively. For now the community has made the first step in finally deciding to deprecate identification questions. But feel free to share any suggestions and feedback about the overall cleanup process.

  • 180
    A rather unanimous dissatisfaction? I liked the identification questions.
    – userLTK
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 11:21
  • 61
    @NapoleonWilson I didn't see it. Wasn't aware. I understand popular vote, I just wanted to speak (or write) my piece.
    – userLTK
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 12:31
  • 100
    @NapoleonWilson Like userTLK, this also came as news to me today. Do you seriously imagine that every member of SE is also regularly engaging with Meta? Or is it that you only consider the opinions of those who participate in Meta when you claim unanimity? This process is seriously flawed and the decision to ban ID-This questions is a poor policy choice.
    – MmmHmm
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 15:39
  • 14
    Then how else do you expect any kind of decision to be made or solution to be found for a problem, if not by an open discussion on meta about it, one that has been advertized even on the main site for over a month? If people don't care enough about the problem to be even remotely interested in checking that discussion, that's for them to hash out with themselves. It's not like the signs on the main site weren't pointing to at least something being wrong. This whole thing didn't come out of nothing, not the slightest. Again, I'm sorry you weren't heard, many others were, though.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 15:46
  • 5
    @madmada Again: Yes, and we got exactly that open discussion about the community's opinion. And based on its very clear outcome together with the current situation on the site and its past history, it became obvious what stand the community was making there, which we have put into form with this very announcement here. Nothing is stopping any conclusions from an open discussion. What else would the discussion be for instead?
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 17:51
  • 10
    And again ,an expanded discussion with obvious and clear intents not this "check in" which is a very vague term, or you know an actual voting. Also, I see hatt this discussion only mentioned new questions.
    – madmada
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 17:58
  • 13
    I too missed the meta discussion that we were proposing to ban identification questions. I'm ok with the decision to rule them out if the volume of poor ones is large, but not every historic identification question was crap and many of the old ones should be preserved rather than deleted. Erasing good historic ones won't help the current situation and I'd plead for them to be preserved even if we don't allow new ones.
    – matt_black
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 12:05
  • 91
    Identification questions were all that kept me coming back.
    – aryxus
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 20:11
  • 7
    I'm not in agreement with this, especially when there are more pressing - to my mind - issues. That said, decisions are made by those who show up and I didn't show up. That's mainly due to the other, pressing issue, wherein massive spoilers to shows I hadn't seen yet made me decide to keep clear of this SE to avoid ruining good fun.
    – Longspeak
    Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 3:40
  • 64
    I love identification questions. I think taking them away may draw people away from this site. When someone wants to find a movie and stumbles across SE via google or whatnot, and posts a question.. then the site is in their radar and they may stay around and contribute. Just my two cents. I’m not sure I’ll be sticking around since ID questions were my favorite. Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 19:16
  • 30
    I tend to agree with followthemeow and others who enjoy ID questions, as well as those who expressed frustration over the sheer un-obviousness that ID questions were being put to (another) debate/vote. e.g. I remember one such debate ages ago (which @madmada mentioned). The matter seemed to get settled on the pro-ID-question side then, and as such I wouldn't have thought to continually re-check in to see whether the subject had been brought up again. Plus, ID'ing movies is often what brings me back to the site on occasion, even during stretches when real life pulls me away from it otherwise.
    – ghostdog
    Commented Jan 7, 2018 at 3:00
  • 47
    Well, you removed the main reason I had to come here. What a shame. I don't understand your rationale. This was a very interesting feature. "We can't have nice things", I guess... Adieu.
    – Eric Aya
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 16:23
  • 10
    Finally! I know some people like ID questions; I don't understand that. +1 I 100% agree with this post/decision. Commented Jan 14, 2018 at 10:34
  • 9
    I too regret and disagree with this solution. I hadn't heard about the proposed ban so couldn't weigh in on it -- I like this site but I don't live here, I have other things vying for my time. Had you emailed me with a request for my vote, I would have voted. But given the apparent small number of responses necessary to seal their fate, it appears that no one cared for hearing dissenting votes. At least I know now what sort of community I have joined. Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 2:53
  • 7
    Apparently I am not the only interested party who learns of the discussion weeks or months after it happened, and who would have expressed his opinion otherwise. So, at the very least, the discussion seems biased toward the more frequent visitors' opinion. I don't deny that, pragmatically, this is how it is bound to happen, but nonetheless it seems to dissatisfy several people who could have given a contribution towards discussing, and possibly solving in some other way, this perceived problem.
    – DaG
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 0:31

9 Answers 9


Just an observation; Walt was recently lauded for hitting the 100K mark here in terms of rep. Take note that 67% of his posts are in and another I'm-not-really-sure-how-many are in . Our biggest contributor just lost his biggest tags.

Actually, we voted on this in 2016 and we decided to keep them. I don't know why we needed a re-vote, but 15% of my own questions are in this tag and I'm currently #6 on the rep list. So, 2 of the top 6 users rely on this tag. Is it really that much of a bother to keep these questions? is it worth losing that much participation?


On the right side of the screen, you should see a link for Favorite Tags. Click the Edit button and you'll see a box for Ignore tags. Add to your Ignore Tags box. Problem solved.

  • 10
    Yes, we decided to give them another chance...and they failed that chance, the situation only got worse. So this time the community asked for a more open discussion, asking people about their opinion on the matter and why these questions are worth the damage they have on the site. But... noone could actually tell us why, not a single person and not a single reason. So the community realized they couldn't just continue sitting around and looking at the misery.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Jan 13, 2018 at 0:57
  • 64
    @NapoleonWilson you keep saying "the community" but Johnny Bones' point is that what you consider "the community having spoken" amounts to such a low percentage of registered and even regular users that it raises the question of how the policy decisions get made and specifically, by whom. Yes, lots of people don't like the ID questions. Thing is, those people can just ignore them. Banning them altogether is a bad policy decision.
    – MmmHmm
    Commented Jan 13, 2018 at 5:40
  • 9
    Then I have to ask you yet again how we are ever to arive at a reasonable decision if we can't discuss it at the place where such things are supposed to be discussed and drawing a conclusion from that discussion.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Jan 13, 2018 at 11:49
  • 38
    @NapoleonWilson No one is saying it can't be discussed. But if that is your take on this discussion, the problem is your lack of engagement with the community. Please note the difference between engaging a community and pushing your agenda
    – MmmHmm
    Commented Jan 13, 2018 at 16:34
  • 41
    You should have expected that the majority of users wouldn't find out about the change of policy until after the option was gone. Again, if you really think users are hanging on your every post in Meta, then you are simply out of touch with how this site (and the internet in general) gets used.
    – MmmHmm
    Commented Jan 13, 2018 at 16:36
  • 7
    Then what do you propose, a main site question? We have to discuss it somehow and meta is that venue. It is how SE gets used. It was expected that there might sure be some people dissatisfied with the outcome or maybe even simply not noticing the discussion. But that always happens to some degree. It was also expected that the loudest complaints would arrive once something would actually be done about the problem rather than sitting around. But that's natural, too. It's much easier to ignore complaints about the status quo than complaints about some major progress.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Jan 13, 2018 at 16:37
  • 33
    It's not my responsibility to figure out how to do your job as moderator. There are lots of ways to engage with a community and you are relying on one which is merely symbolic such that you can say, "if you don't like what was changed it is your fault for not seeing the tiny little sign I posted about it". Again, the solution to the problem of a small group of people being annoyed by ID ?s is for them to ignore what they dislike, not to remove the function of the site altogether. Simple.
    – MmmHmm
    Commented Jan 13, 2018 at 17:20
  • 7
    It has been explained how this problem goes beyond a select few people not liking some questions and how this affects the entire site and its community. It's just not as "simple" as that. You don't have to agree with the arguments presented (provided you read them at least). But stop saying that is all this is about, since that's just wrong and actually disingenuous. And stop playing down the legitimate venues this has been discussed on time and time again just because you didn't contribute, that's belittling the significant part of the community that did.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Jan 13, 2018 at 17:46
  • 7
    What I wonder now is that people who should come out and say their opinions when the discussion was going on are now raising their opinions. Ignorance is not always bliss. And ignoring the tag is not a solution to the long-term problems they cause. This suggestion is like ignoring the fire in the house next to you and not thinking the damage it might cause to your house.
    – A J Mod
    Commented Jan 13, 2018 at 17:46
  • 26
    My only point was that two of the biggest rep users here rely on this tag. That can't be disputed. Pulling this tag would be a huge disservice to those who have put plenty of time and energy reflected by reputation. You guys are mods. You make the laws. I don't like this one. You know that users can add filters to ignore tags, right? If users don't like the tag, they add it to their "Ignore" list. No sweat. I did that for GoT questions, because I don't watch the show and they were clogging my feed. Commented Jan 13, 2018 at 19:59
  • 1
    "Click the Edit button and you'll see a box for Ignore tags. Add identify-this-movie to your Ignore Tags box. Problem solved." actually it doesn't. it's like saying to side the exposed live wiring of a building with a sheet. remember that some people who are active on the site edit id requests to improve their quality, almost every repose supporting id requests after the fact come from people who want to ask their own or get rep from answering them, are these people prepared to edit all these questions as they appear while those who don't like editing but do it for the site them hide them?
    – Memor-X
    Commented Jan 14, 2018 at 3:54
  • 9
    @Memor-X your metaphor doesn't make ID questions the problem. I for one enjoy answering them. I enjoy seeing them answered. If they are really poorly written, I'm happy to edit them but that is an aesthetic concern and basing policy on aesthetics as compared to pragmatics (i.e. the ID questions are useful to the community) is a poor policy choice.
    – MmmHmm
    Commented Jan 14, 2018 at 6:40
  • 5
    @Mr.Kennedy Please don't suggest the ideas that have been suggested before and never worked. This problem has been around since years ago when site was in public beta and you just have been here for less than a year. The problems they cause have been discussed before and the suggestions to cope with these have been made before, but those problems still are as they were. Please don't repeat those suggestions...
    – A J Mod
    Commented Jan 14, 2018 at 9:06
  • 5
    ... If we hadn't taken the step to start banning them, this site that focuses upon most aspects of movies and TV shows would only have been remained as ID-this-movie-TV-show site. Here are words of a community manager, which you should really take a look at.
    – A J Mod
    Commented Jan 14, 2018 at 9:08
  • 15
    No offense, Johnny, but I think you're going about this the wrong way. I'm pretty sure no one stands to lose more than a couple hundred points other than me, and I couldn't care less about my rep. (That said, I am against banning ID, and would've explained why if I felt it mattered at all.)
    – Walt
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 2:15

I think one option we could do is create a meta post detailing the avenues/resources that our experts would follow in order to identify movies and tv shows. This way we can at least point users to a reference to help them find what they want, rather than just telling them 100% no. I think putting this in either the tag wiki or the closing reason would be beneficial.

  • 5
    I made a first start at something like this here.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 0:17

Identification questions is what introduced me to this site. It is also why I got addicted to it. It is really a shame to see it go away. Especially when there is no other site that provides such service and has such powerful community. And extra especially when the community never complained about such feature.

  • 9
    "when the community never complained about such feature" - Not sure if you've ever been to Movies & TV Meta during the last 5 years.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 8:05
  • 7
    Can we get some examples - some links? I learned about all this today, and I can't really understand why this topic would be complained about (besides from the usual "newbie doesn't know how to use a SE site" problem which is universal). Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 21:56
  • 1
    I just registered here for that very same reason. They could have warned me before hitting the JOIN button. Anyone else thinks this policy is just plain stupid?
    – andreszs
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 5:26

Not sure if this should be an "answer" or a comment, but I think that the tags should still show up in the selectable list when someone is asking a question with a warning of not to use the tags. If the tags are just not visible, people might try to create a new tag, or just use other unrelated tags and not notice that Identification is no longer a valid question. In other words, if I make a new question, and start typing "ident..." in the tag box, I should see the existing id tags with a "do not use" warning.

Of course having a context warning when a variation of "identify" is typed into the title box would also be nice, but I'm not sure if that is a supported feature.

  • 1
    For now the existing tag popups have been adapted to say that the questions are off-topic. Once the tag has been blacklisted, it will be selectable but cause an error with a similar popup message. So this is status-planned. (The tag wikis have been adapted accordingly already, too.)
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 19:19
  • 3
    By the time you select a tag you have already spent 20 minutes carefully writing your question. For a lot of people, rejecting this topic makes the website unusable, and not user friendly. Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 21:54
  • @MicroMachine I couldn't agree more. The warning should be right next to the JOIN button. Actually, replacing the JOIN button with a button to redirect users to Reddit would be even better in this case.
    – andreszs
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 5:37

It sounds like there is enough support for a Movie/TV Trivia SE.

Seems odd to create what will essentially be a competing group, but other areas of SE have branched apart, so it's not unprecedented.

  • what would trivia se be about aside from the identify?
    – BCLC
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 16:53

Very dissatisfied with the disappearance of these questions, which I loved and kept coming back for.

Would it have taken a coding wizard to send an actual email to everyone who ever interacted with an "identify this movie" question (posters, commenters, accepted answers, people who favorited or liked), and ask them to join a poll to chime in? This is how one could ideally gather significant data.

Is it present, past and future users' fault if less people come hang in the Meta than the main site to express their opinion? And since this decision is impoverishing the website, why complain about the frequentation of the Meta and then right away do something that will make the main site less visited as well?

Also, I'm sorry, but you can't just break something that works fine without giving a working alternative. Tell us where to post these questions (non-SE maybe?) and we will go ask them there. I'm happy to even migrate my questions and answers to another site, some of them were very popular and bringing value. They'll bring value someplace else.

  • 1
    I'm sorry, but it didn't "work fine". And alternatives that offer this service are manifold, some of them are listed here. And no, we're not going to auto-spam users with e-mails in order to force them to care, that would be actual moderator abuse. "Vote here if you want to keep asking ID questions". I'm afraid that's not how meta discussion works, as explained already.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 23:19

Came back to Movies & TV to ask another good quality identify this movie question. Sad to see it go.
Also disappointed to see that my previous identify this movie question seems to have vanished in thin air. Were these archived anywhere? I now have 173 ghost reputation :]

To throw some nickels at it, perhaps in the future if it's to be restored. It could be a special sub category of this site such that the ask question field requires the asker to provide, say, at least three scenes from the movie, the lesson the movie teaches or the genre.

While I was thinking about my identify question, I pondered: How could my question benefit someone other than myself? So I polished my question up with the lessons the movie teaches because with information like this it may help others looking for a good movie to watch.

As an example, here is my question:

I recalled a movie I used to watch 10-15 years ago.

I believe the lesson was that you can find a companion in the least expected places. 

It was about a group of friends who would play a sport (maybe baseball) and sometimes they would lose something over the wall. I believe the other side of the wall had a junkyard, perhaps scrap automobiles. Now, the other side of the wall had a SCARY VICIOUS dog that would chase anyone who set foot so the friends would dare each other to go over and recover their lost items.

I also remember at some point the wall had a hole in it near the bottom. Nevertheless, by the end of the movie the protagonist boy discovers the dog is actually friendly and just needed a friend this entire time. 

The makers of the movie were able to transition this fearfulness and and stress into a passionate and powerful friendship. A barrier of fear was surpassed. The most unexpected things can turn out well if you just put some passion and intention into them.

Maybe the wall was made out of tires.

I personally wouldn't be worried about the work these questions generate. Not every person has to answer every question. If you don't like it, don't answer it, and let someone who enjoys answering that question answer it. I think people prefer to hear crickets than an angry answer. I don't think a plethora of unanswered questions is a bad thing.

Think about it this way. You're a new member of this site. You look for questions that interest you to answer. They've all already been answered. You feel left out and/or unutilized.

  • 5
    Anecdotally, ID questions is one of the best features of the scifi stack, which still allows them. I've gotten loads of interesting books, short stories and movies to watch just from going through the ID Q&A. It's been very useful.
    – JamieB
    Commented Jan 23, 2023 at 16:54
  • @JamieB The Science Fiction & Fantasy SE is for science fiction and fantasy only, there a more than that many genres of movies. Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 22:40
  • I think part of the reason ID questions are mostly good quality on SciFi, but were a mix of very good and very bad on Movies & TV, was that at its peak the M&TV "ask a question" page was #1 on Google search for generic searches like "ask what movie". People googling that would land on a page with an inviting-looking input box and would just ask away (and kept doing so even after the ban, until the site's overall decline caused it to drop down Google rankings). The problem's cause was SE's UX design: the "ask" pages don't communicate SE's user expectations. Commented Dec 12, 2023 at 13:58

This was the only reason for coming to this site. I check in periodically to see if this has been reversed, sadly not. I guess in another year or so I will see if the site is worth visiting again.

The quality of the non-identify questions very much put me off this site, I like questions that have actual answers and value. From the title of the majority of the questions here you can see that they are all opinion about trying to read the mind of some writer or director or someone who did not put that kind of thought into the topic in the first place it is enough of a struggle to get the talent in front of the camera in the first place much less creating some form of perfection. Actor screwed up, director or editor messed up.

I like sites that have questions that have answers, not sites that speculate on reading the minds of folks that will never see the question and give any kind of real answer or speculate on reading the minds of a fictitious character. I guess this site is about discussion rather than answerable questions. And I guess that is fine, I could participate in the answerable questions part of the site.

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