Previously we've discussed whether or not we should allow species-identification questions on this site. (Species identification and the Help Center was raised when we had this question: What is this reptile/lizard?. Originally it was: Should we discourage pet breed / species identification questions?)
How it works on other sites, is a person describes a book they've read, or a game they've played, or occasionally they post a picture of something to be identified.
Why this doesn't work:
- If the person asking doesn't give enough information we're stuck turning it into a discussion while we try to get more information.
- If the person leaves without giving us enough information, we have a question that can't be answered.
- There's a risk of answers that use a lot of guesswork.
- It's not easily indexed by google, making it hard for people to find later.
- They're not really useful to anyone but the person asking the question because they're so specific to that person.
Today I asked this question: My bearded dragon has stopped growing, is it possible I got a Rankin's dragon?
I believe this is different (and on-topic) because it's not a question asking "What animal do I have", rather "how do I tell if the difference between these two breeds". Another example is: How can I describe my cat (color/breed/type)?
Why I think these types of questions will work:
- They don't require a whole lot of information from the user, meaning it won't devolve into a discussion, and the person asking can leave the site without leaving us wanting for more.
- They can be indexed by google, making them useful to people in the future.
- There's no real guesswork involved with answering the questions.
I think we should keep "What animal do I have?" questions as off-topic but we should allow "How can I tell the difference?" questions as on-topic
What do you think? Do we want those kinds of identification questions? Or should we ban-hammer them all? Maybe send them all to Biology.se? Yes/No/I dunno?