I think we should not allow identification-request any more. Here's why:
- People do not use the guide. Even when referring to the guide, people ignore it. I stopped bothering referring to the guide on new questions because the chance of people actually doing this is zero. I think I can count on one hand the times an id question was good to begin with, and about the same amount the times questions were modified according to the guide.
- This causes the overall quality of questions on ESSE to go down. The amount of these questions is increasing. On the tag page, sorted by "newest" with 50 q per page, the entire period of 2014–2017 is in the last 3 pages. 2018 alone takes 5 pages of questions.
- Could this be a positive feedback thing? The more questions we have, the higher we're ranked in Google or something, and more questions? If yes, the future is rather bleak.
- New users who want to ask questions about actual science, are discouraged because they get the impression that this website is a board for mineral identification requests (which isn't that far from truth to be honest).
- There are other and better resources for mineral identification out there. The SE platform isn't the best for it.
- Old users (such as myself) may find this tiring. These days I go on SE just to see yet another "I found this on the road, here's a shit photo, what this is". I just go and do something else instead. I miss the good questions that are hiding in between the rock-id questions. I often find a good question that was sitting there for a few weeks, and I wonder how did I not see it. Well, because I saw 10 "what is this" on the front page and I gave up. That's why.
Banning those questions would reduce the overall traffic to the site, and that's ok. We were never about quantity here. I'd hate to say "good old days" but my feeling is that the overall quality was higher in the 2014–2016 time period. Could be nostalgia, could be that all the good questions were asked. But based on my anecdotal and not-supported-by-evidence opinion, the deluge of rock/mineral-id is destroying this place. I have better things to do in my life than to tell people that their agate is agate.
Apologies for the negativity, but I was wondering if other old timers and higher rep users share my sentiments.
Ok, so following up on the answers and comments, I think we have an overall agreement in the community to change the policy. So our policy will be:
- If it's a bad question (we all know what those are, no need for explanation), we immediately vote to close for "unclear". We add a link to the guide, asking for clarification. If it is made better (so that others can learn from it, because personal id questions are offtopic imo), we can reopen. If it's an obvious rock (selenite, agate, chert, etc) we might ID it in the comments. Just to be nice and useful.
- If it's a good question, we don't close it, and we answer it. Are we happy with this?
Can the mods add a preset comment to the vote to close menu to make it easier for us to do this?