There have been a few ID questions lately that boil down to a youtube link or an image. To me, these aren't of high enough quality to keep on the site. Examples:

  • While they are limited in information, they are still valid questions (at least mine was, or so I thought). All I had was a screen shot. Other SE sites prohibit identification posts. I'd say either prohibit them or clearly define what is acceptable. Mar 21 '13 at 20:15
  • I have another one as well: movies.stackexchange.com/questions/10610/… Mar 21 '13 at 20:18
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    @dustindavis we don't have any hard and fast rules for a good id question vs a bad id question, other than good questions have as much detail as possible. i am asking specifically about id questions with almost no other info other than an image or youtube link.
    – DForck42
    Mar 21 '13 at 20:20
  • I think this is just an unfortunate issue. Users cannot google, "Hey, what's this movie". If they can't do it here, then they will move on to traditional forums where they can converse with other movie buffs. Such a lose lose situation. Mar 21 '13 at 21:05
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    @DustinDavis Well, then be it so. Movies & TV was never meant as the heal-all solution solving any movie-related problem of the world. It is a site with a particular scope and particular rules, every SE site is (and this is by-design and not a lose-lose failure). Of course those rules might scare away some people, but as said, you can't have everything, and SE doesn't strive to.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Mar 21 '13 at 21:16
  • I think now we can close image question by making it duplicate of movies.stackexchange.com/questions/10644/… Mar 23 '13 at 10:41

I find the dislike of image/video-only identify (ID) questions to be baffling. The accepted type of ID questions is way more prone to issues. A description-only ID question will have:

  • Incorrectly-remembered details
  • Lack of details (either vague or not-mentioned)
  • Can only be properly verified by the question asker

That last one is the most damning in my opinion, and is what I think makes image/video ID questions better. It is possible to take a screenshot of a film and show that it's an exact match for the image/video in the question. It is impossible to do this with a text-only ID question. This means answers are independently verifiable as a correct or incorrect, which removes a great deal of the issues that surround ID questions as a class.

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    I agree completely. I would gladly give it more thumbs up, if only I had more thumbs. Mar 22 '13 at 15:50
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    In retrospect, I really should have found a way to include 'a picture is worth a thousand words' in this. :3
    – user209
    Mar 22 '13 at 16:42
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    I agree completely too. If you allow ID questions in the first place, a picture should be good enough - ideally accompanied by whatever information is also known by the OP.
    – iandotkelly Mod
    Mar 22 '13 at 17:06
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    @iandotkelly "ideally accompanied by whatever information is also known by the OP"* - Nobody argues about a proper ID question supported by a picture. But "found this picture, what movie?" just isn't it. But it seems Keen's answer already got the people (well it provides some interresting arguments at least), but fortunately we'll always have the downvotes.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Mar 22 '13 at 23:50
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    If identify-this questions are going to stick around, then disallowing pictures on the grounds of "it's just a picture" is definitely the wrong attitude, as @Keen mentions you can get significantly more information out of a screengrab than you can get out of vague memories and having a screengrab on the question allows you to definitively conclude that you've got an answer, rather than just guessing until the asker agrees with you
    – user1887
    Apr 24 '13 at 17:03

Whereas there can be high-quality ID questions, those picture-only ones definitely aren't. When they don't provide any additional information and look like the OP just found some random picture on a website, they really don't help anyone.

ID questions are already a hot topic, but we settled that they are allowed and on-topic, when well-phrased and useful. Whereas this is probably a subjective decision to some degree to be decided on a question by question basis, it doesn't take too much subjectivity to realize the very poor quality of "found this picture, what movie from?" questions. So at least downvote them and probably close-vote.

  • What you're saying does make sense. However, a question is a question. What would you suggest the OP do to turn a low quality question into a higher quality question? If adding detail is the answer, but the OP doesn't have detail should they just not ask it? Isn't that what a Q&A site is for? Questions with lack of detail in other SE sites (especially SO) can be problematic. I agree that the OP should take time to carefully craft his question as more detail should be had upfront anyway. But I would see movies different from programming. Not being argumentive. Mar 21 '13 at 20:48
  • @DustinDavis It is true that Movies & TV is softer than say StackOverflow, especially regarding discussion and subjectivity to some degree. But still there are limits to what constitutes a proper question. Of course it is a Q&A site about movies, but this doesn't mean one can post any arbitrary question regarding movies. The argument "a Q&A site is there to ask questions" is a half-truth that just doesn't hold. I may have many questions about movies, but they are just off-topic, or too poor quality, or don't interrest anyone, so I can't ask them responsibly, unfortunately.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Mar 21 '13 at 20:54

I think for movies an ID question with a screenshot would be acceptable, since the new google image allows pasting an image in for a search, movies.SE could actually become the site where people come who are looking for the same answer.

TV Shows are actually a little tougher because if it's just a screenshot with no actors/actresses then it could be impossible to identify without any other information. The same could go for movies but since movies are generally limited, as opposed to a particular 'TV Show' and not limited to a season-episode specification. Example:

Good Question

Can anyone tell me the name of this computer movie that came out in the 90s?

Unknown Movie

Good Question

Hey what episode of Fringe is this from?

Fringe Screenshot

Bad Question

Hey what TV Show is this from?

Random Screencap

Of course this is my own opinion, but at least the first two could be tagged, while the 3rd is too vague because it contains either 1)No readily identifiable person with which to narrow down the question and/or tag or 2)Nothing specific at all, just a weird background or some generic object that the OP thought was kewl. Just my take on it.

  • I am half agree with the first example (it still need little more detail). The other two are a complete no from me. Mar 21 '13 at 20:54
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    @AnkitSharma you have to remember a site like this would attract moviephiles* and TVphiles alike. I personally have seen every episode of Fringe and could narrow that down quite easily.
    – MDMoore313
    Mar 21 '13 at 20:56
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    @MDMoore313 "I personally have seen every episode of Fringe and could narrow that down quite easily." - Being answerable easily is not an appropriate argument for deciding about question quality. Adding detail is not just about making the question answerable easily for now.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Mar 21 '13 at 20:58
  • @MDMoore313 i am not saying that they are not answerable. I am saying that their quality is not good in current state. Mar 21 '13 at 21:02
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    +1 from me but I'm starting to see the problem. I'd say that an ID question with a screen shot would be only as good as the screen shot. But the "quality" of the scree shot is going to be subjective. That throws the whole thing into a spiral. Mar 21 '13 at 21:02
  • @DustinDavis Nothing to do with the quality or detail of the screenshot at all.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Mar 21 '13 at 21:04
  • @ChristianRau I'd say it does. For example, #3 does not convey much detail. It shows a single actress and a bald guy in what may be a field. Not talking about resolution, but data contained within the screen shot. No idea what the movie is about. But again, it's going to be subjective as to if provides enough detail. Mar 21 '13 at 21:08
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    @DustinDavis Still the other two wouldn't make good questions for me neither, disregarding of the uniqueness of their content. But ok, that may be subjective, too (and is the matter of this meta discusion in the end).
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Mar 21 '13 at 21:10
  • @ChristianRau ditto :) Mar 21 '13 at 21:23
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    @dustindavis you kind of skirt the actual issue. most of these pictures tend to be in a vaccuum. the user doesn't have any other details of the movie or tv show to pull information from, so we're left at the whims of the quality of the photo, which to me isn't a quality enough a question.
    – DForck42
    Mar 21 '13 at 21:43
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    @DForck42 That's what I've been saying. I understand where the issue is if all there is, is a screen shot. Quality of the photo is subjective and as such, just won't work. While someone may be able to answer it, others will vote to close. It's the same thing as "What do you think of XYZ" over on SO. Mar 21 '13 at 22:43
  • @DForck42 it all boils down to what makes a good question. If it is an ID question sometimes the question doesn't even have to have a screenshot. Ex., What movie was that when Sly Stallone fought that big Russian guy? I think it came out in the 80s. The picture should serve to add to the detail of the question. I would vote down answers where there isn't enough detail, be it with or without a screencap. If more detail is needed that is what comments are for. I would definitely vote down ID questions that didn't have enough detail, pic or not.
    – MDMoore313
    Mar 22 '13 at 12:51
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    @AnkitSharma if the quality is not good in the current state then it should be downvoted and a comment left so the OP can improve on the question if possible, as is the SE way. The questions shouldn't be banned, because the quality of every question is suggestive.
    – MDMoore313
    Mar 22 '13 at 12:54

This type of question should be downvoted and closed. They all show a complete lack of research and effort on the part of the asker, and provide so little detail that they should be closed as Not Constructive. By allowing this type of question, we open the site up to all manner of vague trivia identify-this questions where the asker seeks to have a minimal amount of information linked to a correct answer.

We expect questions to show some expertise and/or effort on the part of the question asker, and because this type of question requires neither, they should be not allowed.

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    Whats the reason for this shifted opinion. May 17 '13 at 7:55

This discussion may be getting to a root solution: no ID questions.

Because there is so much subjectivity inherent in ID questions, it seems to me that they should not be here. They are questions allowing people to benefit from the knowledgable users who use Movies and TV-- but they're not specifically adding to the quality of the site.

We're supposed to be about experts answering expert questions. Being an expert in Google Fu doesn't make you an expert in Movies and TV.

Furthermore, these questions are definitively localized. They essentially boil down to: "I'm having this problem (I can't remember the name of this movie), here's what I know (it has this one line/I remember this one scene), can anyone help (what is this from?)?" Other Stack sites close questions like this all the time, and without hesitation.

My only weakness for these questions is that it introduces new users to the community, which-- if they get what they want-- may pique their interest enough to stay and become a part of what we're doing here.

But is that really enough? Is it really worth the noise, the debate, the distraction? We could be asking truly challenging questions that require research and explanation. Instead we're searching for ' "your shoelaces are untied"+movie+1980s'in Google.

To @DForck42's original question: the kind of ID questions wherein the OP provides little more than an image or YouTube clip should be given the now common first comment along the lines of "can you provide more detail?" then closed within a reasonable amount of time (say 1-2 weeks) if nothing more is provided.

  • agree with the last paragraph, neither agree nor disagree with the rest.
    – DForck42
    Mar 21 '13 at 21:37
  • Edit: I'm gonna go with a big ol' pile of opinion. It's a big ol' pile of opinion there, isn't it?
    – stevvve
    Mar 21 '13 at 21:38
  • Agreed with the last paragraph only. Disagree with most of the other points. Mar 22 '13 at 15:35
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    as a reasonably new user here, take my opinion for what it is - I'm in favour of ditching identify-this questions totally as it increases the signal to noise ratio of the site, which is a core goal of stackexchange in general. Sure, movies&tv is a pretty small site now and denying a whole group of questions will probably slow down the growth a bit, but it does mean that the overall average level of quality of everything that is left would go up
    – user1887
    Apr 24 '13 at 16:57

So to reiterate my comment into an answer. I believe that the ultimate problem with these sort of questions is that they exist in a vacuum. The only information that the asker has is the picture, which to me is worse than relying on their memory because they can come up with more details from their memory than if they only have a photo or video.


This question doesn't seems constructive to me. So i am not in a favor of them. Only a video or pic without any detail for ID question are too vague. I was even holding close vote on all of the three earlier.

I think they should be closed by making it duplicate of How to identify a movie from a screen shot.


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