A new user asked a question about what a mechanism in a picture was. I'm sure we have had such questions before, and I think we have generally allowed them, but a recent one attracted several "unclear what you are asking" down votes.

Many other sites have an tag , so I have created one for this kind of question, even though it would probably be considered a meta tag, which are now explicitly discouraged.

I think it would be useful to agree whether, as a community, we want identification questions, or whether we consider them off-topic.

† Feel free to tag (or suggest a tag on) any questions you find, to help us understand how common this kind of question is.


As of September '19 there were 3 votes for and no votes against allowing identification questions.

Identification questions are considered on-topic.

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Yes, we should allow identification questions

questions are notoriously difficult to answer via a simple google search.

Many other Stack Exchange sites allow these kinds of questions.

Points in support of this stance:

  1. Not knowing the name of a thing is a practical, answerable question based on a problem someone actually faces. The best way to handle these questions might be to add as much of a description of the thing as possible when asking or answering such that the question is returned when searching with a description of the device in the future. Any long-term users could flag new questions asking about the same device as duplicates. We could then try to use the description in the new question to supplement the existing description, again to try to get the question to come up when a user searches for the description.
  • $\begingroup$ Feel free to edit this post with additional points in favour. $\endgroup$ – Mark Booth Jun 13 '17 at 11:22

No, we should not allow identification questions

questions are noise which detract from the aim of encouraging practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face.

questions, by there very nature, have a very limited discoverability for future visitors to the site.

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  • $\begingroup$ Feel free to edit this post with additional points against. $\endgroup$ – Mark Booth Jun 13 '17 at 11:22

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