I don't have a strong opinion on this one. I just noticed that the status of these questions is very unclear and confusing, and it's time to take a specific direction.

We are starting to get more visits and more questions. It's becoming clear that we'll get an important amount of id questions, so we need to be very clear about what will be allowed and what will not.

For now in the close reasons, in the off-topic section, we have:

Questions about the identification of songs, tracks, and artist are off-topic (...)

And in the topics page, in the "don't ask about" section we have:

Identification of bands, artist, songs, etc.

It's clear that id of bands, artists, and songs is off-topic, but the status of other id questions is addressed only by the "etc" in the "don't ask about" section of the topics page.

We have (and will get) other kinds of id questions, like sample id, instrument id, and genre id (to name a few). What's the status of those? Are they off-topic too?

By seeing the examples above it seems that they are on-topic (no close votes, positive vote count, and so on). But from the "etc" in the topics page, it's implied that they are not, the "etc" implies that id questions in general, no matter the subject or context, are off-topic. (perhaps that "etc" needs to go, and put something more explicit in its place)

Also, according to this meta discussion, instrument and sample id questions are on-topic. The status of these questions in general is kind of a mess.

So, regarding identification questions, what are we allowing? What are we not allowing? Will all identification questions be off-topic? Will some identification questions be on-topic?

  • 2
    To cut out the middle man on this discussion, I'm going to post the possible types of ID questions that are possible and people can vote directly on what they want to be on-topic and what they want to be off-topic.
    – Dom Mod
    May 27, 2015 at 18:06
  • I'm debating that right now. I want the active community to participate not just whoever stops by from any SE.
    – Dom Mod
    May 27, 2015 at 18:19
  • Highly Related: musicfans.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/528/…
    – user7708
    Oct 8, 2019 at 22:51

8 Answers 8


We should allow instrument identification questions.


We should allow genre identification questions.


First of all, I think questions asking for the genre of a specific work are inherently different to all other identification questions, as they don’t necessarily have one correct answer (genres are subjective, and may evolve). I think this topic should get its own discussion.

Having said that, I think there are two kinds of identification questions, which should be handled differently:

  • What am I thinking about? (i.e., guessing)

    I remember a music video in which someone did … - which was it?
    I heard a song with lyrics like "…" - what is its name?
    In the 80s, I saw a musician in a TV interview that looked like … - who was she?

  • What is this? (i.e., pointing to a specific work)

    On the album … there is an unnamed bonus track. How’s the track called?
    The song … has no performer listed. Who sings it?
    The track … contains a line that goes … - where’s this sample from?
    In this recording of the festival … 2011, what is the track that starts at minute …?

I don’t feel strongly about the first kind, but as questions of this kind often are of low quality, I think making them off-topic for the time being would be a good choice.

However, the second kind should be on-topic, no matter if it’s about tracks/albums/musicians/samples/lyrics/instruments or whatnot.

So identification question should follow these rules (quoting from my answer to the older discussion):

  • No guessing. No questions of the kind "I heard a song but can’t remember its name" or "Which song has these lyrics?". The question must point to the work in question (like a CD release, a movie, a game etc.). So the question is not "Which work/artist do I mean?" but "What is the title or artist of this work?".

  • Research required. If, for example, someone wants to know which song played in the credits of a movie, the author must show previous research, e.g. pointing to the IMDb, Wikipedia, fan sites etc., pointing out that they don’t list/know it.

(Edit: The "Research required" part could be omitted, as it seems we decided in Answering simple questions that simple questions showing no research are welcome (but might be down-voted).)

My example questions for this second kind of identification questions:

  • @JCPedroza: Yeah, you’re right. According to the Meta discussion Answering simple questions, it seems that the community decided that simple questions (that don’t show any research) are welcome.
    – unor
    May 28, 2015 at 10:01
  • 2
    As a relatively new user, but one with lots of experience with "id this for me" questions elsewhere, this is the most logical division of such questions I've seen. The primary reason id questions are so frustrating on other sites is because they're almost universally "guess what I'm remembering" questions; if you eliminate those, what remains seem to be perfectly reasonable things to ask/answer.
    – KutuluMike
    Nov 17, 2015 at 14:15

We should allow song identification questions.

  • Of course, especially on Music Fan Stack Exchange. Else it looses a part of its use. Jul 4, 2023 at 10:26

We should allow band/artist identification questions.

  • I tend to agree, while seeing a potential misuse for promoting type of questions and quiz-like type of questions. BTW: What about "compilation identification" (where do these tracks originally come from)? Some CD booklets are really "thin".
    – U. Windl
    Feb 19, 2021 at 6:47

We should allow sample identification questions.


We should allow track identification questions.


Personally I love identification questions, and they were one of the main reasons I signed up for Music Fans on Area 51 in the first place --and I suspect I'm not alone. Although they are often frowned upon in SE, they seem like a great fit for the SE engine. I fear if we uphold the blanket ban, we'll turn away or turn off a lot of users who might also have other non-ID questions and answers to share.

I think the big issue about whether they will take over the site or not is more about whether there are enough other healthy topics of interest to compete. For example, the https://scifi.stackexchange.com/ welcomes ID questions, but they are far from dominant on the site --because of a healthy community with other SF interests.

Please see this discussion + my answer on Area 51 for more: https://area51.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/20672/lets-play-the-guessing-game

  • 2
    Yes, some people cite SciFi & movies SE as 'plauged' by identification questions but, being signed up for both of these, I love these questions. Yes, some could easily be answered by a brief google search but those that are obscure and when the question is vague are a great use of this site. IMHO.
    – Pat Dobson
    Jun 18, 2015 at 9:42

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