Disclaimer: Just an up-front acknowledgement that as I write I'm a fairly new user (~3mo.), so I don't yet have the history or connection that other more experienced users of this site have. Please accept these as the comments of a relative outsider.

Full dislosure: It was an identify question of my own that initially turned me onto this site.


  • Music Fans SE should eliminate or significantly restrict "identify" questions.

There are three sections to this post: (1) Two proposals; (2) Justification; (3) Stats

Two proposals regarding "[identify*]" questions

Proposal #1:

Treat "identify" questions as off-topic for a trial period of 1 year to see what effect it has on overall participation.


Proposal #2

Significantly restrict the "identify" questions that are on-topic. For example:

  1. Require that any posted video be on a publicly accessible site (e.g., not a personal cloud-share site; not a site requiring fees). (Also in the interest of security. I have no interest in downloading unknown files from random sites.)
  2. Require that the above site track views, and that the submitted video have a minimum such number (e.g., 10,000). This will at least suggest some future usefulness.


"Identify" questions have been a point of discussion, contention, and, for some, irritation since the inception of Music Fans. For example:

At a practical level, one concern has been that limiting or removing "identify" questions will reduce site growth, which in terms of number of questions is stagnant even with them (see Stats, below). The evidence suggests they may even be suppressing growth.

Speaking only for myself as a newish user, I find "identify"-type questions to be a drag most of the time. They often take a substantial amount of research to answer and are generally of limited long-term or popular value. After three months of looking to "bond" with the site, the "identify" questions are becoming a significant disincentive and have reduced my participation.

I suggest a trial run of either restricting or removing them.


  1. In Music Fans's first year (Feb - Dec 2015) the ratio of "other" questions to "identify" questions was better than 4:1. However, since 2016, the number of "identify" questions has been holding steady at roughly double, while the number of "other" questions has dropped by more than 50%.
TABLE 1: Questions by year
Year   Is    Not   Total
2020   189   203   392
2019   236   165   401
2018   206   183   389
2017   235   231   466
2016   231   294   525
2015*  108   472   580
*first site question asked 2/2015
  1. "Identify" questions are, to a significant degree, both less impactful and less engaging than other questions.
TABLE 2: Question impact/popularity*
Q-type    Score  Views  Favorite  >1 answers/total Q 
identify  1       637   0         222/1198 = 18.5%
other     4      2064   1         506/1549 = 32.7%
*Based on data from SEDE
SELECT AVG(ViewCount) FROM Posts WHERE Tags LIKE '%identify%'  
SELECT AVG(ViewCount) FROM Posts WHERE Tags NOT LIKE '%identify%'  

SELECT AVG(Score) FROM Posts WHERE Tags LIKE '%identify%'
SELECT AVG(Score) FROM Posts WHERE Tags NOT LIKE '%identify%'

SELECT AVG(FavoriteCount) FROM Posts WHERE Tags LIKE '%identify%'
SELECT AVG(FavoriteCount) FROM Posts WHERE Tags NOT LIKE '%identify%'

SELECT COUNT(AnswerCount) FROM Posts WHERE Tags LIKE '%identify%' AND AnswerCount > 1
SELECT COUNT(AnswerCount) FROM Posts WHERE Tags NOT LIKE '%identify%' AND AnswerCount > 1
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  • 2
    I'll see if I can link other questions important to the track of identification questions on this site over the next few days. They were supposed to be trial only and it never really seemed successful in my opinion, but was near impossible to roll back once it started. I'll also point out another problem with identification questions on this site in your question which is the one answer you got is incorrect, but still upvoted. The questions are set up so only the OP can validate the question, but anyone can upvote the answer making it have issues on a Q&A site. – Dom Oct 24 at 5:41
  • 1
    This question is tangentially related: musicfans.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/421/… . This question was very important for getting ID questions from off topic to on topic: musicfans.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/203/… . – Dom Oct 25 at 19:10
  • 1
    About hosting services: musicfans.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/328/… – Bebs Oct 26 at 7:56
  • 2
    Much of your argument for making such questions off-topic here is based on the premise that even the mere presence of such questions on this site harms it. Any user who feels this could just use SE's "Ignore tag" feature on this or any other tag. – Rosie F Nov 17 at 12:49
  • @RosieF That's a fair read, but I'm also saying that they aren't helping -- usage is going down even with them, both in terms of total user engagement and per-question engagement. So I propose a time-limited trial run without them to see if that has a positive effect on overall site usage. – Aaron Nov 17 at 16:23

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