13

I'm starting to think that we need to revisit whether questions should be on-topic here. Looking at the list of recent autograph identification questions, we can see that basically all of them are either being downvoted, closed or both. This implies to me that they're not working very well as a category of questions here.

I see two major problems with these questions:

  1. The questions often don't have enough detail to let us answer them: they're often just "I've got this baseball, who signed it?". Given the number of baseball players there have been, the community is closing these as "too broad".
  2. This sort of question generally doesn't give any value to future readers: even if we do manage to identify one signature, reading that question doesn't really help the next person who wants to identify a signature.

On the other hand, these questions are relatively popular here in terms of number of questions asked, and we're not exactly overwhelmed with questions.

So: should autograph identification questions be on-topic here?

CONCLUSION: As the Sports Stack Exchange moderation team, we feel there is sufficient consensus here, both among the community and the moderation team themselves, to declare autograph identification questions off-topic. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the discussion, and to those people who have put effort into answering these questions in the past.

12

I totally agree. The questions about autograph identification bear too many problems and only 1/3 of them are actually getting answered (and like you already stated those answers are only helpful for the OP and useless for future reference).

If my query is correct we have...

  • 91 autograph questions total (including 24 deleted questions) of which
    • 32 have answers
    • 35 questions are closed or deleted

Right now we have 4018 questions total, of which 67 are autograph questions (without counting deleted ones this time). That's roughly 1.6% of our questions. I can happily live without these in exchange for a rise in quality and value of the remaining questions and answers.


I vote for Off-Topic

  • 1
    Possibly worth noting that not all the autograph identification questions will have the autograph-identification tag - that was created last year and I wasn't going to bump questions just to add it. – Philip Kendall Feb 13 '18 at 12:06
  • A query without looking for the tags, but searching for "autograph" or "signed" in the text returns 96 results, or 110 including "identify". – dly Feb 13 '18 at 12:18
8

I would be in favor of keeping them despite their questionable topicality if any benefit to Sports.SE could be demonstrated.

But out of 70 non-deleted questions tagged :

  • 39 have an upvoted answer
  • 2 of those upvoted answers have been accepted
  • Only 1 asker that I could find has ever made another post on the site, and that was in 2012 (!!)

It only gets worse if you include deleted questions.

These questions do not drive engagement. They are overwhelmingly asked by people who will never come back, even to answer follow-up questions (exhibit A is the highest-voted question in the tag). They are not searchable. They're barely related to sports.

I realize they can be fun puzzles if asked well, and I've been very impressed by Bryan Turriff's prowess in answering. But I vote for disallowing them in the future.

7

I was initially critical but prepared to accept these as a valid topic of interest to sports-centred Q&A. I was then pleasantly surprised when the majority of such questions were reasonably informed and could probably be answered by knowledgeable enthusiasts - I even had a go at researching for a couple of them, and was close to answering one except that someone was quicker.

But I have voted to close five in the last five, possibly something like ten of the last twelve. New users do not take the time to look at tags and check that they've asked with sufficient detail to get an answer. Maybe they could get away with this on a dedicated baseball/basketball/football forum. But we don't have the expertise here, and it is definitely leading to problems with the quality on our front page and the quality in this tag.

They had a chance and they've not borne out to the expected standard. Unless we have a sudden influx of signature experts who can tackle the majority of these questions from just looking at the item, they're unlikely to be answered and unlikely be improved.

I vote to

  • shut down

  • apply historical lock to answered questions

  • close-delete unanswered questions, and

  • edit the tag wiki to provide notice that we no longer accept new questions of this type.

4

As a frequent answerer of autograph identification questions I disagree that as a category we should get rid of it completely. As with any other question, we should require that enough information be given to make it possible to answer the question.

The most important things to help identify an autograph:

  1. Clear picture
  2. Sport identified
  3. Uniform # if known
  4. Team name if known
  5. Year the autograph is from or more importantly year the player would have been active.
  6. Where the autograph was acquired (i.e. at a Heisman Awards Ceremony or During the NBA All-Star weekend 2002, etc.)
  7. Any other information - what the player looked like, were they a member of the Hall of Fame for their sport, etc.

In many cases the picture gives more clues than the poster might offer in their initial question - for example in a recent question, The Basketball signed by James Worthy had the Lakers logo on it. Between the Lakers and a pretty clear signature it was fairly easy to answer (which it was before being closed for not being specific enough). In another example a baseball was signed by two players both who signed with "HOF 2001" - signifying hall of fame inductee in 2001. There are only a few members inducted in to major sports halls of fame each year so it is pretty easy to decipher. In these cases we should help the OP edit their question to clarify what we can discern from the picture alone.

I strongly favor closing questions that only have a picture with no background information, but if you can guess at a year and a team it really makes it worth spending time trying to solve. Some of the other factors make it easy to solve. I'd favior being strict about closing these but allowing people who submit quality questions in this category to continue doing so.

  • 3
    We already require this information, look at the usage guidance. It hasn't made the quality improve, and coincidentally the quality has got worse since it was added. – Nij Feb 11 '18 at 3:04
4

Not a regular user of Sports.SE or the autograph tag, but have an opinion I wish to share; feel free to criticize ^_^

I wish to comment on one aspect that no one else has mentioned - searchability. In general, SE questions should be searchable by users looking for a specific query. For example, if I have a maths problem I can google it and hope to find it Math.SE easily. Similar rules apply to Stackoverflow or any other SE site.

However, I am not sure if these autograph-identification questions are searchable. Suppose I have a baseball that has been signed by xyz player, then how exactly do I search the Sports.SE site to get at which player xyz was?

I am not sure an Image Search would yield the perfect results, and I am not sure if it's been tried before.

Looking for veteran's comments

  • 3
    Most of those questions are just "who signed my <item name>". Google will probably find those questions when someone else tries to get their question answered, but most of them still remain unanswered (1/3 of them get answered, compared to >90% of all questions on Sports.SE getting answered). The user seeks help, doesn't find any, maybe posts a new question - unanswered +1. While any new question would certainly be good for us it doesn't help answering the others. And if someone stumbles upon an answered question chances are very high that the question was about a different autograph. – dly Feb 12 '18 at 10:04
1

Everyone is saying the same thing but disagreements arise based on answerability rather than quality.

https://sports.meta.stackexchange.com/a/788

Without any clues to go on, it seems highly unlikely that anyone will ever be able to help identify the autograph and we might as well close or delete the question

https://sports.meta.stackexchange.com/a/791

Perhaps if no context is given, there are no easily legible names, and after a certain period of time there are no answers, a question could be removed.

https://sports.meta.stackexchange.com/a/848

I strongly favor closing questions that only have a picture with no background information

Revisiting autograph identification questions

The questions often don't have enough detail to let us answer them

Measures to promote quality seems to have done very little. https://sports.meta.stackexchange.com/a/831

My opinion is that these questions should be evaluated based on value and quality rather than answerability.

https://sports.meta.stackexchange.com/a/788

we might as well close or delete the question as it provides very little value to the site

https://sports.meta.stackexchange.com/a/847

answers are only helpful for the OP and useless for future reference

Revisiting autograph identification questions

This sort of question generally doesn't give any value to future readers

Edit: The general point of this post was that almost each user who has commented on this type of question has said the same thing, but the argument had been "since it can be answered, it should remain on topic."

This is best demonstrated in user studro's two comments on a similar thread:

However, it appears everyone agrees that this type of question is off topic for reasons not directed to answerability, but rather quality, value, and engagement. This reflects exactly the observation I was trying to share, even more so.

https://sports.meta.stackexchange.com/a/847

I can happily live without these in exchange for a rise in quality and value of the remaining questions and answers.

https://sports.meta.stackexchange.com/a/850

it is definitely leading to problems with the quality on our front page and the quality in this tag. They had a chance and they've not borne out to the expected standard.

https://sports.meta.stackexchange.com/a/852/

These questions do not drive engagement. They are overwhelmingly asked by people who will never come back, even to answer follow-up questions

  • 1
    Answerability is a fundamental part of quality. A question that cannot be answered, is too broad, seeks personal (as opposed to qualified or expert) opinion, helps only one person ever, or is unclear as to the actual query is by definition a bad question for Stack Exchange. – Nij Feb 10 '18 at 10:46
  • 1
    Agreed, but answerability itself shouldn't be the lone basis for being on-topic. – user14817 Feb 11 '18 at 2:33
  • 1
    If a class of question is overwhelmingly low quality, we disallow them, topical or not. This universally means POB, TB, UC, RA and spam are disallowed, and we're free to add other classes as we deem appropriate to this set. – Nij Feb 11 '18 at 3:02

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