was a Bad Tag. It was applied to Bad Questions. It is gone forever, and I could not be happier.

But it appears, that we have been throwing some babies out with our admittedly filthy bathwater.

So, before I move on, I want to talk for a second about why is bad. Essentially, with ITG, you're dealing with little more than a game of charades. You are at the mercy of the askers inherently incomplete or inaccurate memories of a game, as well as their own limited capacity to express the content of their memories. And that's before we even get into the issues of being able to properly identify whether an answer is even correct. Essentially, the key problem with ITG questions, is that the whole core of the question is that the asker has no clue what she's asking about.

The questions I've linked asking for identification of a font in a screenshot, or a song in a soundtrack on the other hand, suffer from none of the solvability or lack-of-information problems that ITG questions do. People asking these questions are saying "Here is a Thing. Do you see the Thing? I've posted a picture of The Thing. Do you have any idea what this thing is called?"

These questions are finite. They are answerable in a way that not just the asker, but the entire community can evaluate and vote on effectively. They present none of the fundamental issues that requests for game identification based merely on a description do.

So then, if these questions don't present any of the problems of ITG, why are we closing them?

Addendum: Mark Trapp has raised a number of seperate, and somewhat orthogonal concerns regarding the specific examples that I've cited. While that's fair, it somewhat sidesteps the real question here, which is what do we do about requests for identification of various art and design elements in games that are not strictly in-game objects, such as fonts or music.

Addendum Number 2: Okay, here's a more concrete example of a pure gaming expertise question that meets the standards I've mentioned. It's also very purely and nakedly a request for game identification, but it's one which has none of the problems associated with that we've encountered in the past. What game is Jesse playing in Breaking Bad?

I'm of the opinion that this is a different class of question, and one which we can handle, and would appreciate some additional thoughts/discussion on the subject.

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I thought @spugsley wanted to throw the babies out. –  user9983 Jul 14 '12 at 3:25
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If @spugsley jumped off a bridge, would you do that too? –  LessPop_MoreFizz Jul 14 '12 at 3:29
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She would have already pushed me so, yes. –  user9983 Jul 14 '12 at 3:30
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I made a similar argument to this in chat, once upon a time. Mark's got my argument pretty well summarized. If the question is asking for something that is otherwise on topic, and can be researched and verified by third parties, then I tend to not have problems with it. –  agent86 Jul 14 '12 at 12:30
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I'm sorry LessPop, but those are just bad questions. If those are the cutest babies in the ITG bathwater, I don't mind kicking them to the curb. –  MBraedley Jul 15 '12 at 2:17
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I would say ITG questions are more on topic than the questions you linked - at least ITG questions related to gaming knowledge (and were probably much more helpful to more people), whereas those font/music questions don't... –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Jul 16 '12 at 22:24
    
With regards to addendum #2, there was a comment I made a while ago which basically said we have to have a hard and fast rule against all ITGs, which is what that question is. As far as ITGs go, it's a really good question, but it's still an ITG. I realize that you chose that question because it was one of the better ITGs, but I still stand by my previous comment. As far as game element identification, if you happen to find a good example, please link it so that we can have a meaningful discussion. –  MBraedley Jul 20 '12 at 14:50
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@mbraedley if you're really interested in having a meaningful discussion, I'd urge you to 1) post an answer instead of a comment, so that it can be properly voted on and 2) engage with the argument I've made in a more concrete and thoughtful way than simply repeating "We made a rule and this is the rule and we have to stick to the rule." Make the case why these questions are inherently problematic in any of the ways that the sort of ITG that was under discussion were. I'm open to hearing it, but to date, no one has done so. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Jul 20 '12 at 15:21
    
I'm trying to codify this here: meta.gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/5128/… –  badp Jul 20 '12 at 19:10
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5 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

In general, I'm in agreement that a question which:

  • Asks about a game thing
  • Points to the thing in a concrete manner
  • Asks what that thing is

is not off-topic simpliciter, but I want to point out that they do not automatically make a question on-topic either.

You've linked to four questions that have been closed:

  1. What is the Font Used in Pokemon Conquest?
  2. What is the font used in Heroes of Might and Magic 3?
  3. http://gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/39631/christmas-song-in-the-polynomial-steamworks
  4. What game is Jesse playing in the Breaking Bad episode, "Problem Dog"?

The first three you listed were, in my estimation, correctly closed even if they had only a passing resemblance to questions.1

I agree with you on the fourth, especially after the screenshot was added. In general, I think the thing that people point to must be objectively ostensive: if they can't concretely point to the thing and ask "What is this thing called?"—whether it's through visual media or through a concrete reference—it's still just as bad as ITG.

To wit, there are other questions that roughly fit the category of questions you're talking about that I feel pass that test:

So, after discussing it with you and others over the past day or so, this is more a problem of people leaving comments that mischaracterize the nature of a close (i.e., pinning the blame on a passing resemblance to an ITG question), and it's something we should fix in general.

Notes

Note 1: Because there's some that say this answer is only highly-upvoted because I railed against the closed questions you mentioned in your question, I've completely removed the inside baseball and sausage making regarding why I think the questions you linked to should be closed anyway. My rationale—which I still stand by and will continue to use to defend the closure of the questions—is still available in the revisions.

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Right, and I'm entirely open to the argument that questions about fonts are off topic because they're about fonts. But that isn't the close reason that's been cited in the comments on those questions. So I think it's an important distinction to draw. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Jul 14 '12 at 4:08
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As for the song question, he notes that he'd be happy simply identifying the song - and does cite a specific reference that can be looked up, even if it can't be linked to because it's in game. And gets an answer that appears to be a link to the artists soundcloud page. I fail to see how this in any way falls afoul of our concerns with piracy. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Jul 14 '12 at 4:14
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@LessPop_MoreFizz Before writing this answer, I checked to see if the answer was verifiable in any way given the information the asker supplied: I couldn't find the trailer the asker referenced (though agent86 did in his answer), nor could I confirm that the artist who wrote "jingle final" was, in fact, inwerp. Instead, when I searched for "the polynomial jingle final", the second hit I found was for the same song but with a different username. –  user3389 Jul 14 '12 at 4:26
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@LessPop_MoreFizz So given the information provided, it's not clear who actually owns the song or whether those SoundCloud accounts are actually just uploads of MP3s the users don't actually own. Since we have no information about the license of the song nor verification from the rightsholder it's okay to share their songs, one must assume the rightsholder reserves all rights regarding the distribution of their work (games do tend to sell soundtracks). There's also the other problematic answer, which was just a "guess" that it was a remix. It's not ITG, but it's got the same unpleasant aroma. –  user3389 Jul 14 '12 at 4:29
    
That's a reading of "Piracy, and support with pirated games." I wasn't previously aware of; you make me want to rephrase it to "Questions about pirated games and how to acquire them". –  badp Jul 15 '12 at 13:18
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@QAdp Piracy of anything is off-topic whether you remove it from the FAQ or not, but after discussing it the other day, that issue clouds why I think the song-identify question was correctly closed and I've removed it. –  user3389 Jul 15 '12 at 19:52
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We shouldn't be. Simple rule of thumb for identification questions: You must be asking for the identification of a real actual thing that somebody else can look at. Examples of acceptable formulations:

"What is the font in this screenshot?"

"What game is being played in this Youtube video?"

"What song plays during the 4th level of that Awesome Game?"

"Who is the voice actor that portrays The Bad Guy?"

The memories of the asker are not valid source material for identification questions. If somebody else can't click a link or load up the game and go to the point in question and see the element in need of identification, proceed to Kill It With Fire as per usual.

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My issue is with the screenshot and youtube video things. People with similar problems can't find them easily. –  user9983 Jul 14 '12 at 3:35
    
@OrigamiRobot It shouldn't be an issue if the question is well written and includes a description of what is being linked in addition to linking to the source material in question. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Jul 14 '12 at 3:40
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This seems to be an argument that ITGs featuring screenshots would be OK. –  Matthew Read Jul 16 '12 at 18:14
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@MatthewRead To be honest with you, I would be 100% okay with that. Seeing as throughout the year and a half of our long running ITG Fiasco, we didn't have even one of those, I doubt it's a real problem anyway. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Jul 16 '12 at 23:42
    
I actually have to agree that I think ITG with a screenshot should almost certainly be answerable. (Whether or not it makes a good question is a bit more nebulous.) –  Shinrai Jul 20 '12 at 16:39
    
As I understand it, this and the previous 14 votes accepted andswer, mark my (now closed) question as ON TOPIC. please explain if I'm wrong. gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/79991/… –  Ender Jan 12 '13 at 10:03
    
@Ender I agree. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Jan 12 '13 at 14:01
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This is getting a bit ridiculous.

My problem right now is that we (and I mean all of us) are dancing around a set of bad questions and an ITG, and not the actual concern of game element identification (GEI). Mark actually linked to 3 questions, but they're all open (and don't look to have been closed), which leads me to believe this isn't really a problem after all.

I will not re-hash Mark's arguments about the questions LessPop initially linked to, as those arguments (as valid as they are outside this discussion) is partly what got us into this mess. Nor will I address the Breaking Bad question as I feel it's an entirely separate beast from the initial question. It is an ITG. Full stop. It should not be included in this discussion. I am open to discussion on it, but not here.

So, what do I actually think about GEI questions? The category itself is fine by me. Leave the good questions open, close the bad questions, which, as far as I can tell, is what's been happening. What I really want to see, and what I think would move this discussion forward, is if someone can point to a good GEI that was closed, especially if it was closed for ITG reasons. I haven't seen any evidence that that has happened. This all leads me to believe that the status-quo (as far as actually closing questions is concerned) is fine.

And because I know someone is going to bring up the Pokemon Font question in the comments, let me restate: I will not re-hash Mark's arguments, and it's a bad GEI question.

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I agree that discussing whether we should allow identification of games from screenshots, but not other ITGs, should be a separate topic. –  Matthew Read Jul 20 '12 at 16:52
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[I'm answering Should we allow questions asking to identify non-game elements in games? since murgatroid mentioned me in a chat post, I don't consider it same as this discussion on ITG posts but has been closed as a duplicate]

I don't consider answerable questions relating to games as off-topic, even if some of their actual expertise may overlap with other fields (font typography, statistics, graph theory etc.) I strongly disagree that inside knowledge of the game is not gaming enthusiast related, or that answers should be interesting to the majority to be relevant.

An example to show the notions of on/off topic in my opinion:

  • Who was the VA for the baby bear in Goldilocks: On-topic, regardless if the actual answer happens to be a famous actor or the production company's janitor.
  • What other performance is Goldilocks' VA famous far? : Off-topic, we don't care about non-game activities
  • What other game voices has Goldilocks' VA contributed to? : On-topic, domain restricted to gaming (but may be ruled off-topic as its a list question)

Identify this font (or similar graphic doubts) must be accompanied by a screenshot, else it becomes a very subjective question that cannot be answered authoritatively. Re. why I consider it on-topic to ask about fonts; I remember playing Diablo and then going online to find out that it uses Exocet out of curiosity, this was completely unrelated to any interests in typography.

Even if the asker's intention is to take that info and apply it in non-game related contexts elsewhere (say they want to use it in a presentation) - that is not our call to make, so long as the question itself is gaming-related.

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-1 for "even if some of their actual expertise may overlap with other fields". The problem generally isn't overlap. It's that gaming knowledge doesn't help at all, and the question is entirely about another field and was just triggered by a game initially. –  StrixVaria Jul 16 '12 at 14:51
    
@StrixVaria: So you'd consider questions such as who voiced the Diablo characters etc. to be off-topic since its related to VA work and not games per se? –  Alok Jul 17 '12 at 19:36
    
+1 As I think this is a great example of where the site should lighten up and answer gaming related questions even when they are fringe. Early on I got heat for asking about a console app for YouTube, which I think is an even more "in bounds" case yet some folks seem to just hate that it isn't a game. Let's be honest, there are plenty of fringe games that the collective knowledge of the site community can not answer questions about. So it is for fonts, or songs, or VAs. If someone knows the answer, why not answer it? Close questions that are unanswerable. –  EBongo Jul 20 '12 at 12:38
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What game is Jesse playing in Breaking Bad?

If you take away the stuff about the television show from this question, what you're left with is:

It looks to me like a first person shooter. The enemy are bald guys with a sickle. Some of them also wear scarfs that cover the lowest half of their head. I believe the setting is rather new, since I can see graffiti on the walls. The part of game shown is in wet underground rooms.

I would like to know the name of the game. Does anybody have a clue what I'm talking about? I hope my explanation isn't too broad.

Which is a textbook question.

That said, I agree with Lesspop about the fact that this doesn't have any (or at least most) of the problems which plagued ITG questions of old, and I'm actually supporting it on the site. This is just food for thought.

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Except that he explicitly points directly to a timecode in a widely available video that can be used to find a screenshot. The stuff about the television show is the whole reason this question works, and is what separates it from identify-this-game. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Jul 19 '12 at 0:09
    
@LessPop_MoreFizz As I said, I agree. I feel like this is sort of like that font question, which I supported, so I'm going to support this one as well. –  GnomeSlice Jul 19 '12 at 0:10
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You can't just drop the source reference from the question; that totally changes the question. –  Nick T Jul 19 '12 at 0:10
    
+1 for truth. I think the consensus is to allow these types of questions, and I'm with that majority. Call it what it is though - it's ITG. –  EBongo Jul 20 '12 at 12:30
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If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck. This is an ITG. Now if we want to re-open the ITG discussion to allow ITGs iff they include screenshots (or better, video) of the game in question, great. Could we do it in another question though? I know, @LessPop_MoreFizz you added the Breaking Bad question because it's a relatively good question, but it's getting us away from the initial problem. –  MBraedley Jul 20 '12 at 15:23
    
Agreed 100% with MBraedley and GSE, it's still an ITG even if it has a screenshot. If we want to allow that subset that's something to discuss, but as of right now it's off-topic. –  Matthew Read Jul 20 '12 at 16:48
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