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Someone recently posted a picture of a piece of food preparation equipment and asked if anyone knew what it was. While I'm glad they found an answer, questions of this type are really only of use to the OP and do not serve the internet at large. If someone else wants to know what this thing is, what could possibly lead them to this question (and answer)? If they don't know what it is, they won't know what to search for.

How should one react to a question of this type? Vote it down? Ignore it and be glad at least one person got an answer? Questions like these don't seem to be a problem yet, and perhaps they never will be, but I'd like to hear people's thoughts.

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    This is an important question to answer. The Gaming SE community struggles with "Identify this Game" questions: gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/identify-this-game – KatieK Aug 24 '11 at 21:43
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    @KatieK: That's why I posted this question. Sure, plenty of individuals may get answers to their questions, but that defeats the spirit of SE (at least I hope it does). – raven Aug 24 '11 at 23:11
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Although it's technically a different type of question, my answer to it would be the same as the one I gave to Is asking to identify a food from a picture on-topic? Which was, essentially, yes, provided that:

  • A detailed verbal description is provided (so that it's searchable);
  • A coherent photo is included if possible;
  • The question shows some sign of effort, e.g. a guess at possibilities or similarities;
  • The member posting it has contributed or is likely to contribute on other, more constructive topics (c.f. Pee Wee Herman Rule)

See the first link for more details on the rationale. Bottom line is that we don't want to see a ton of questions, but occasionally they're OK, particularly if they're well-asked and/or come from members in good repute.

  • an excellent summary; strange how this question archetype rears its head on multiple sites. It can be a "fun game" for some sites but in general I feel these types of questions are detrimental and must be held to a fairly high standard. – Jeff Atwood Aug 26 '11 at 3:28
  • @Jeff - We've just run into this recently on the photo.se site as well. photo.stackexchange.com/questions/15048/… Since most of the sites draw from a fairly common crowd, I guess we're doomed to see this style of question come up all over. – rfusca Aug 27 '11 at 2:37

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