First thing's first, an example: https://gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/261156/identify-these-video-game-characters-and-items-from-the-crash-course-games-backd

I've noticed a few of these questions being posted recently. Is there any reason to take action against them?

  • I think these questions/answers could be allowed, but should be required to have a community wiki answer if they are allowed.
    – Bob2Chiv
    Apr 4, 2016 at 15:52
  • 2
    I don't think a question that requires a CW answer is a good one. The CW is a tool (that is often misused) in our toolbox, it shouldn't be the only one we allow for specific questions. To me, saying that it has to have a CW answer is saying "it's not a good QA question, but let's support it anyway".
    – two bugs
    Apr 4, 2016 at 23:25
  • 1
    Many people see CW as a, "Get out of jail free" card. It somehow makes problematic questions acceptable, which is misleading. If a question is misleading, CW cannot save it. It doesn't make it acceptable.
    – Frank
    Apr 4, 2016 at 23:34
  • Here are some examples of these questions on SciFi Se that worked out pretty well: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/117496/…, scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/122940/…. Note that they both have community wiki answers.
    – DCShannon
    Apr 4, 2016 at 23:53
  • 2
    The first question really makes me mad because it mixes robots, living creatures, and powered armor in the same image! That's just nerd rage, though. Note that the first one also has a highly voted answer which is pretty much the same as the CW, and the second has several partial answers that are not particularly helpful. My point would be these questions just turn into a forum-like exercise, and that's not something the Stack Exchange network is.
    – two bugs
    Apr 5, 2016 at 0:05
  • @twobugs I don't really understand your objection. There are good upvoted answers and bad downvoted answers. That's what we want.
    – DCShannon
    Apr 5, 2016 at 18:36
  • There are bad upvoted answers that each answer maybe 1/5th of the question. These kind of questions are essentially just game identification lists, and they basically encourage incomplete answers.
    – two bugs
    Apr 5, 2016 at 21:41
  • @twobugs Are you referring to the one with four votes on the swords question? That's much much less than the highest voted one. A handful of people voting in a less than ideal manner on a single answer is no reason to ban an entire class of questions. The better answer has clearly risen to the top. This seems like a superfluous complaint. Not everything has to be perfect for there to be some benefit.
    – DCShannon
    Apr 6, 2016 at 20:10
  • 1
    I'm referring to the fact that the first answer has two identical answers, and the second one has multiple answers that are literally just forum posts because that is the format better suited to this kind of question.
    – two bugs
    Apr 6, 2016 at 23:30

5 Answers 5


Just playing devil's advocate here

These questions should be allowed. As per the help center (emphasis mine):

  • Gameplay strategies and tactics
  • Puzzle solving or obstacle clearing
  • Game mechanics and terminology
  • Plot and characters in games
  • Game-specific hardware and utilities

And does not appear in the prohibited types of question list (this isn't to say that it could be updated).

These questions do appear on other sites (well, one other site) (again, not to say we should accept them just because another site does though).

The OP did put in effort, and it appeared to be a genuine question (i.e. it wasn't just "here's an image identify everything for me thx"). The OP was curious about identifying some others. As usual, if the OP has not put in any effort the question should just be downvoted.

A potential downside is that it may not be answerable. In the particular question, there is something hidden mostly behind something, and we may never be able to determine what it is.

Would the question be more on-topic if it were about the cover / poster of a particular game (e.g. who are these 3 characters on the front of Super Mario Kart)?

  • 1
    Fair points. My counter argument is that these questions are basically on the line between on and off topic for game identification. I'd argue we should rule them as off topic, since they're not providing an artifact from one game, but rather multiple disconnected (and possibly intentionally obscured) artifacts from several different games. Also, your Doduo-Ponyta hybrid is terrifying.
    – two bugs
    Apr 3, 2016 at 23:51
  • @twobugs Haha it's dota!
    – Tas
    Apr 4, 2016 at 0:15

Making these questions off-topic seems counter-productive.

If someone wants this information, then asking about any one thing in the image would clearly be on-topic. So, if you can't ask about the eight things all in the same picture, then you would need to ask eight separate questions about the same picture.

Surely we don't want that.

  • Seeing as how that's exactly what we allow, yes, that is exactly what we want.
    – Frank
    Apr 4, 2016 at 21:27
  • So, @Frank, just to be clear, you would prefer that that user post eight separate questions?
    – DCShannon
    Apr 4, 2016 at 23:02
  • 1
    That's what I said, isn't it? These questions are rather problematic in the fact we get incomplete answers all across the board. Just look at one of them; it identifies one of the characters. That's not even close to a complete answer, and yet, it's heavily upvoted. That's a big problem.
    – Frank
    Apr 4, 2016 at 23:04
  • @Frank I just saw your answer, which makes it clear. Was about to delete that question. Thanks for answering quickly.
    – DCShannon
    Apr 4, 2016 at 23:05

(This is my personal opinion on these questions)

Yes, we should develop a clear policy to close them. These questions are NOT a good fit for a Q&A format. The nature of them is "answer all of these questions on my list", which invariably leads to multiple only partially correct answers (which just get filled out by people commenting and those comments being edited in) and usually a community wiki (or two). They really just become a competition, rather than an actual question. It's arguable that they have little to no bearing on gaming skill or knowledge, as you're just recognizing a particular artist's rendition of a gaming character.

  • I agree with you on this, they are essentially multiple questions in one question, and should either be separated or not posted on stack.
    – ave
    Apr 2, 2016 at 12:21
  • 6
    As a sidenote, people need to downvote these types of questions more often. If you don't think they're useful, downvoting is exactly what you should be doing.
    – Frank
    Apr 2, 2016 at 13:14
  • 5
    What's wrong with a CW that slowly fills up with the correct answers? Isn't that what CW is for - allowing everyone to edit and refine an answer? I wrote the example question and it doesn't seem to me like any sort of "competition" is going on. Can you add another example to better prove your point? Apr 3, 2016 at 23:39
  • I think you're asking a good question @HelkaHomba. I admittedly have not seen many of these questions on Arqade, but they're somewhat popular on SFF. I've spoken with a few SFF regulars who admit that these questions readily become competitions. That's admittedly not the greatest argument against them, but these questions are kind of blurring the distinction we have between "on topic" and "off topic" for game identification - they're not identifying a specific game, they're identifying artifacts from multiple games. I want to stress that this is nothing personal and you did nothing wrong.
    – two bugs
    Apr 3, 2016 at 23:48
  • 1
    @ardaozkal Should I have asked 8 separate questions? For the record, like two bugs mentioned, identification questions are not unheard of on SE in general. Apr 3, 2016 at 23:51
  • @HelkaHomba no imo 1 > 8, but I believe that asking on the chatroom would be the best.
    – ave
    Apr 4, 2016 at 3:44
  • I think its a fair call to accept this as the answer. Especially given the question in mind was closed using said argument
    – user106385
    Apr 6, 2016 at 2:56
  • @HelkaHomba, 1 is always better than 8. The idea is that users seeking out a single question can find it easier, where piling them together due to relation serves to lessen the organisation. We are effectively treating this as a "whats this.. and this.. and this" question, and yes, in these cases each question should be posted, separately. It is not difficult to split up the question; perhaps we should do so?
    – user106385
    Apr 6, 2016 at 2:58

I think there's a simple policy we can enact when it comes to questions asking us to identify multiple items has to come from one single game artifact. Not a wall covered in characters, not someone's idea of a test, not a game "competition", only an artifact from the game itself. As an example, take a game's manual cover or boxart. While definitely the epitome of no research, here's a pretty reasonable expection there that all of them are related, and come from the same source, and therefore is a much more focused area of expertise. Depth of expertise comes to the fore.

The few times we've had people ask about multiple items, they've been heavily downvoted, as they're presented with no context, no explanation, and they're generally just competitions or brain teasers, often providing tiny, hard to source snippets to confuse participants.

These questions generally lead to incomplete answers, invariably where someone can recognize some of the artifacts, but not all of them. Not to put too fine a point on it, but answers are supposed to answer the question. Not identifying all the artifacts means you're not answering the question. Answers are supposed to be standalone; each one should fully answer and solve the problem presented.

We have a tendency to gather incomplete answers in drips and drabs, and then someone comes along and posts a fully complete answer, pulling from all the other answers. That's not expertise. That's amalgamating list answers into a bigger list.

Back to a consistent policy: Multiple item identification should be held to a stricter standard, one that brings our expertise to the fore. I propose that standard is an actual artifact from the game in question, such as boxart or a manual cover. No related artifacts, such as this T-shirt question, or brain teasers, or competitions. They can then be easily answered by a single person, without need of interpreting an artist's redention of a character, community wiki, or risking incomplete answers.

I think there's an argument to be made for multi-game series, such as Zelda, Mass Effect, Final Fantasy, what have you, but for the sake of simplicity, I say we limit it to a single game.

Unless the artifact is from the game, at most the question can ask is to identify a single item.

Broading of quantity leads to a narrower list of acceptable artifacts, while lessening the requirements for identification expands the artifacts to non-game items. No lists, no competition, and best of all, no incomplete answers.

  • I can't support this as the best policy, but it's not unreasonable. I would think it would be better if it wasn't limited to something from the game, but to any single artifact, which would include the picture in the question that prompted this discussion. That would cover the T-Shirt, but not the first example with the apparently arbitrary collection of pictures.
    – DCShannon
    Apr 4, 2016 at 23:06
  • @DCShannon I'm curious how you'd define single artifact, then; being pedantic, the picture is only a single artifact. It's only one picture, after all. So far, I haven't had any luck trying to define any other way to limit the scope.
    – Frank
    Apr 4, 2016 at 23:13
  • I agree it's a tricky definition, which I expect is why you went with a single game. This is one of those situations where we'd have to exercise some judgement in specific cases. Perhaps something along the lines of "A single commercial product or piece of art, including but not limited to a single game, a single T-Shirt, a single Painting, etc." It's a little dicey, but in line with my generally permissive policy of erring on the side of leaving things open in general, and closing specific cases.
    – DCShannon
    Apr 4, 2016 at 23:16

These kind of questions are ok

As long as everything in the "list of things" has the same context or source (asking about completely random things would get messy), and as long as the as the user asking has done some basic research (like a google image search) and not found answers elsewhere.

Someone determined who has done the research and not found anything will likely turn to some sort of gaming forum or subreddit. Why not let gaming.se be an option as well - where the answers will likely be better structured and more accurate than a forum?

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