When I made an account for the Earth Science Stack Exchange, I came across this meta post: I've had enough. Let's ban rock id questions.
In this post, the author addresses the issue that the website was getting flooded with questions like "What type of rock is this?". The post makes the case for deleting all determination/identification questions as the author argues that:
- These questions are only relevant to the OP and are unhelpful as a reference point for anyone seeking to identify a rock.
- Most determination questions did not meet the proper standards required for sound determination, despite deliberate guidance. This flooded the review queue to unmanageable levels.
- As rock ID questions were outnumbering normal earth science questions, experts/high-rep users were becoming less active.
The post sparked an elaborate debate that led to the decision in 2019 to ban all rock identification questions on the website.
Now, the reason I'm asking this question here, is that the story is relevant for the Stack Exchange network as a whole, as there are many instances of identification/determination questions across the network:
- SE Biology: What is this Spider? Or bug? Or rodent? Or snake? Or water bird?
- SE Aviation: What is this airplane? Or this WWII type? Or this biplane model? Or this Lego model?
- SE Astronomy: What is this constellation? Or this star in the East? Or which planet/star?
- SE Home Improvement: What pipe is this? Or this pipe? Or this skrew? Or this nail?
- SE Politics: What is this flag? Or this one? Or this badge Or this insigna? Or this other insigna?
- SE Photography: What is this camera? Or this white film? Or this artifact on the picture?
- SE The Great Outdoors What is this fish lure? Or this fish hook? Or this mushroom? Or what is this tool for?
- SE Pets: What is this parasite? Or this fish disease? Or what is on my dog's face?
Of course, the relevance of individual questions to individual websites is a matter for the local moderators, and points 2 and 3 (above) will not likely be prevalent across all websites. Yet I wonder, in light of point 1, whether "what is this type of ...?" questions contribute to the mission of Stack Exchange to develop a lexicon of questions and answers that can be a useful reference to anyone interested in that specific field.
Therefore I was wondering:
Do questions about the identification of objects/species have a place in the Stack Exchange Network? And if so, what characteristics make identification questions desirable for the Stack Exchange Network?