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This is an inconsistency that I'm seeing pop up fairly often. We get a lot of questions dealing with "Who is this character?" with a piece of artwork supplied, with the question having a fairly unambiguous answer. Sometimes the artwork is custom or fan-made, and sometimes the artwork is official.

Here is the latest one that ran across the HNQ, currently up-voted and answered sufficiently.

Here is another one which was closed as off-topic, and I got a very firm stance that it was off-topic from one high-ranking user and was told on no uncertain terms that other questions of the same ilk were mistakenly left open and should have been closed. The comments from that discussion are in the question.

The game-identification tag gives several straightforward examples of up-voted questions of the same type (Identification of a character in fan-made artwork, Official artwork in a fan-made environment, Fan-modified game asset).

The way I see it, these fall under the help topic's criteria of "Plot and characters in games." 2B is a character from a game, as is Yennefer. But, as brought up in the off-topic question, this could be interpreted as assets from a game only, not including artwork. The artwork on the cover is not from a game, it's from a book. Likewise, the artwork on this desktop background is from a fan, not a game.

If these questions are allowed, the On-Topic page should be modified to make this clearer and the non-closed questions I linked should be explicitly labeled off-topic to prevent additional confusion. If they are allowed, then the off-topic example provided should be re-opened and possibly the On-Topic page should be made more explicit. If there's some sort of line between the examples, that should probably be codified somewhere.

  • We had some discussion here, which didn't really resolve anything. There seems to be multiple stances, and we're not consistent on any of them at all. The only way we could be is to outright ban anything not from a game; beyond that, this problem is going to continue to exist. – Frank Sep 2 '17 at 18:07
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    @Frank You just used the words "not from a game." That needs that quantified. Is that an asset? A screenshot? Artwork? Cosplay? Or is it on-topic if the answer is immediately obvious and off-topic if the answer is difficult to come by? – user149305 Sep 2 '17 at 18:10
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    Answerability makes an incredibly poor metric to base topicality off of. If I had my way, we'd ban the lot, exception and all; it's being used well beyond what it was originally intended for. If we have to keep it, then burn absolutely everything that doesn't meet the strictest interpretation of the exception; a game you saw in a TV show or movie. Done. No artwork, no videos, nothing. – Frank Sep 2 '17 at 18:12
  • @Frank I agree, answerability is a terrible metric. But that's what's often used in game-identification questions when you require knowledge that the thing being ID'ed came from a game. I got in an argument with somebody over this in a game ID question where a symbol from a game was provided, but nobody could prove it was an asset from a game until somebody proved it was with a correct answer that... showed it was an asset from a game. The fact that it was answered made it on-topic. – user149305 Sep 2 '17 at 18:15
  • No, it did not. The asker got lucky. An answer has absolutely zero bearing on whether or not a question is on topic. The community was just being it's usual inconsistent self; some thought it met the requirement, some did not. Those that did won that day. Sometimes the opposite happens. Like I said, we're of multiple minds about the whole thing, and it shows. – Frank Sep 2 '17 at 18:21
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    @Frank Oh, this question was you too! My mistake, thought this was somebody else. This question was decided on or off-topic because nobody could prove it was from a game. "How do you know it was from a game?" "I dunno if this really hits our exception for gaming identification; you think you saw it in a game, but we have nothing but your memory to go off of." This isn't inconsistency or luck: it was expressly questioned because the symbol might not be from a game, then re-opened after we found out it was. – user149305 Sep 2 '17 at 18:27
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    Yeah, that's still inconsistency; the answer is being used to justify the existence of the question. But, again, it goes well beyond what the game id exception was for in the first place. That's not from a movie or TV show. We were supposed to take the asker's word that it was from a game. Which is one of the reasons we banned ITG in the first place. – Frank Sep 2 '17 at 18:29
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    @Frank It is from a TV show. History Channel. Written in the question. I could give you a list of screenshots from more popular games in more popular questions that have easy answers, but my understanding is precedence doesn't work with you. – user149305 Sep 2 '17 at 18:31
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    The shirt is from a TV show. Nowhere does it show the game actually played. That was the whole point of the exception. Not random junk you see everywhere. – Frank Sep 2 '17 at 18:32
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    I hope everybody is seeing the Catch-22 here. You're allowed to post an ITG question if you include some tangible media from the game. How do we know it's from a game? Because we know the game it's from. If we don't know the game it's from, it's up to the asker to prove it's from a game a-priori, Which they can't do because they're asking what game it's from. – user149305 Sep 2 '17 at 18:39
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    And if we're limiting ITG to screenshots from a movie or TV show, that's an overly narrow reading of the requirement that "Game-identification questions are okay only if you include screenshots, audio, or other tangible media from the game." Again, "from the game" could mean a source screenshot, or it could mean a picture of a T-shirt with an element from the game, and has been meant both ways for a while. – user149305 Sep 2 '17 at 18:41
  • And then further down, we have, "If you include a screenshot, audio file, or other tangible media from the game itself". A t-shirt is not from the game. Yeah, it's definitely a much narrower reading, but I think that's the way we've been moving for a while; the questions are problematic, not just from an inconsistency standpoint, but for this exact argument; nobody is sure where to really draw the line. – Frank Sep 2 '17 at 19:08
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    @Frank That's cutting out the questions you brought up of games from movies or TV. A screenshot of Jesse Pinkman playing Sonic '06 on last night's Breaking Bad wouldn't count as tangible media from the game itself any more than a picture on a T-shirt. That's way too narrow for what we're trying to accomplish here, where my reading is, by your estimation, too broad. If the takeaway here is just that the community doesn't have clear standards, fine, but it could be either of us are just not understanding the guidelines because you're the only person that seems to get in on this conversation. – user149305 Sep 2 '17 at 19:15
  • TLDR: There's a lot of disagreement here from three passionate users and no real input from anybody else. I'd love to get some more feedback on this. – user149305 Sep 2 '17 at 21:01
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    in your example for breaking bad, you can clearly see that he's playing a game which means we already know it's from a video game. With the ingress icon question, the op was pretty sure it was from a game, but I'm sure there will be instances of this eventually where it is not actually. I guess what we need to decide is if we are okay with allowing enough wiggle room for questions where the answer might be "that's not from a game" or not. – GnomeSlice Sep 7 '17 at 17:41
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There is no inconsistency between the two questions you linked to. The first is about a character which is assumed, through context, to appear in a video game, and in fact does. The second is half of an image for a book cover that is part of the Witcher Saga series of novels, which a quick look at the Wikipedia page does show that they are the source material for the video game series. However, this does not make the books on topic here, and in particular, requests for identification of a character from a book doesn't belong here. There is no guarantee that the character on the cover of said book ever appears in any of The Witcher video games, and that's the problem. We have found that running this in reverse is often fine, such as asking a lore question about a character, where they may have been introduced on novels or comics, and then used in a game.

Questions need to be about a video game, and your second example question clearly is not. It belongs over at the Science Fiction and Fantasy or Literature Stack Exchanges. What's more, it wasn't even asking if the character appears in any of the video games, just who she is (and again, the novels came first, making this question more off-topic here).

I, like @Frank, am not the biggest fan of these identify questions, but I'll allow them to exist and remain open if they follow the rules that were set out. The first example question does that, and while the second appears to do that on the face of it, it falls down flat because it's just plain off-topic.

  • Not quite. The original polish version predates the game, but the image is from the English translation that came out in 2013, five years after the release of the first Witcher game, so it can't be considered source material. By your standards, it's still fair game. The character on the front of the book has nothing to do with the lore, it's official art of a character expressly from a game. – user149305 Sep 2 '17 at 19:42
  • Then it becomes extra weird if you consider that, if I photoshopped the book's cover art onto a Youtube clickbait thumbnail, that would make the question expressly on-topic. Further, there's something wrong if a poorly made Flash animation frame is more grounds for a question than an officially sanctioned work of art from an animator hired by the game devs. That can't be right. – user149305 Sep 2 '17 at 19:49
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    What part of "it's just plain off-topic" do you not get? It's not asking about a game, it's asking about a novel! And yes, that novel, while not direct source material, is still indirect source material, since it's just a translation. The original Polish novels are the definitive source material. Also, the English translation was first published in 2013, not 2017, but that doesn't matter because it's a novel! – MBraedley Sep 2 '17 at 19:50
  • As for if someone used that cover art for a YouTube thumbnail on a video about the video games (and expressly about the video games and not the novels), then yes, the question would be on-topic, and the answer would be "that character isn't in the video games, sorry." I have a distinct feeling that wouldn't happen, though, as who would go looking outside the visuals of the game being discussed for a thumbnail like that? – MBraedley Sep 2 '17 at 19:53
  • So one of us needs to go to the asker and request that they find a shoddily edited clickbait title with a poorly cropped hentai representation of the official artwork, and then they'll get a well-received answer? Sorry, no, I strongly disagree with this stance unless there's some written documentation to back it up. – user149305 Sep 2 '17 at 19:57
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    You are testing my calm here. The issue is that the asker asked a question about a novel and not a video game, and knew from the outset that that's what they were doing. End of story. Off-topic, closed as such, nothing more to say. I've explained that, but instead you're building straw-man arguments to try and keep it open – MBraedley Sep 2 '17 at 20:00
  • Please stop representing this question as asking about the book on which the image is printed. Again, if there's any kind of guidance on why an image on a youtube thumbnail is more worthy of asking than an image on paper, regardless of the content of the video or book, I'd love to see it. – user149305 Sep 2 '17 at 20:05
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    Okay, here's that guidance: if the asker in good faith believes the image depicts a character from a video game, that question, in general would be on topic. As I said, that good faith belief does not exist for the second question (it does for the first), and more to the point, the question is about the novel, not one of the games. If you believe there's another question that was closed improperly, you're free try and find it and use it as an example. – MBraedley Sep 2 '17 at 20:07
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – user149305 Sep 2 '17 at 20:09

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