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As part of no longer supporting identification questions, we're starting the next phase of cleaning up the existing baggage, which is closing and locking all the existing questions. This process consist of the following steps, which will all be done by SE employees in an automated way.

  • Closing all existing questions under the identification tags (i.e. , , and ) with the corresponding close-reason.
  • Applying a historical lock to these posts. This will make the posts unvotable and uneditable by normal users, as well as disappear from normal question lists.
  • Blacklisting the above tags. This prevents the tag from getting added to any new or existing questions, which will generate a corresponding error message popup. It will, however, remain on any existing questions that already have it.

UPDATE: This process was completed on 2018-01-20.


As to the future outlook, the next phase in the overall cleanup process (again starting 15 days from now) will be concerned with reducing the volume of existing ID questions. For this we have to consider a few things:

  • The site's existing questions are a significant part of its image and pretty much define what the site is about. A big part of this whole recovery process is readjusting the site’s image. [closed]-sticker notwithstanding, the existing identification questions form an important part of how we currently present ourselves to the outside world and the visitors we draw in. Having about a quarter of all questions closed doesn't look good nor does it help reducing the number of new identification questions asked.
  • On the other hand we of course don't want to completely eradicate all signs of those questions ever existing. They are a major part of this site's history and development and having some good examples of those questions both honours that heritage as well as sends a sign (by them being closed and locked) that these are not appropriate anymore.
  • Neither do we want to ignore or belittle the effort that our users spent over that last 6 years in improving and answering these questions, let alone the few users who did put in the effort of asking their questions as best as possible in order to get good answers for them.

Therefore, we need some fair criteria that remove the majority of questions that are of no future use to anyone and keep the ones that the community fit into shape and answered satisfactorily. Therefore, we will delete all questions which don't have a score of more than 4 and an answer with a score more than 2. These criteria are similar to the ones employed by Anime & Manga when they went through their process of deprecating ID questions and would keep about 1,000 of them in existence.

(For those concerned about possible reputation loss, keep in mind that you don't lose reputation when deleting old (i.e. 60 days) posts that have a score of more than 2. So while there definitely is a chance of people losing some reputation, there shouldn't be a significant change. And this change applies to the entire community more or less equally, so it won't skew the reputation landscape significantly either.)

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    This seems optimum...if three people didn't upvote the answer (one of which would presumably be the OP) it would appear that it's not that appreciated. Same applies to questions. – Paulie_D Jan 18 '18 at 19:17
  • Just to check: the questions that M&TV doesn't want to keep (and which might therefore be eligible for migration) are those questions with either a score of <=4, or no answers scoring >2, or both? Is there by any chance a nice query which will give us a list of all such questions? (I've got this, but it'll miss some good unanswered questions. – Rand al'Thor Jan 21 '18 at 16:42
  • @Rand You're right that the search won't work, since it doesn't allow factoring in the answer score of a question. But it shouldn't be too hard to make a SEDE query for this, checking the question score and existence of an answer with given criteria. – Napoleon Wilson Jan 21 '18 at 16:47
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    Also: let's not just close new ID questions ASAP, but also downvote them so they'll disappear from the homepage (if they're -4 and below). – BCdotWEB Jan 22 '18 at 21:31
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As Napoleon mentioned on the main post, this was completed on 2018-01-20.

Due to the fact that the process involves employee intervention, the questions appear as closed by me, and locked by Shog9 (timezones got in the way, and that's why it had to involve two of us).

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