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What is our position on picture identification with no research?

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Yesterday a user posted two picture identification questions with no apparent prior research. The same user did this a couple of months ago too. At that time, I spent a few minutes with Google Earth and was easily able to find where a couple of the pictures were taken, so I conclude that even the basic research wasn't done.

The site guidelines have this to say about researching questions before posting:

In addition to just making sure your question hasn't been asked already here, take a few moments to search beyond the site. If you put your question title into a search engine, can you find the answer to your question in the first three results? If so, perhaps consider alternative ways of sharing that information here on Codidact, or writing a self-answered question to share that knowledge.

Since I was able to find the location in a few minutes in Google Earth, it was clear that no research had been done. When the two new questions appeared yesterday, it looked like the same thing. If any research was done, it was certainly not mentioned in the questions. They appeared to be just pictures, like two months ago.

I've left comments asking what the poster had already tried, but these comments were deleted.

This question is about how we want to handle picture-identification questions with no research. What should we expect of people posting questions, and what should we expect of people commenting on these posts? Does our response differ if there is a pattern of behavior?

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4 answers

You are accessing this answer with a direct link, so it's being shown above all other answers regardless of its score. You can return to the normal view.

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Apology if you're referring to me. I did Reverse Search those pictures from Oil in Norway video on Google, and Google showed results. But I saw no specific location. I speak NO Norwegian.

I just Reverse Searched them on another search engine - http://imgops.com/upload. Now I see what you mean. I shall always search before I post. Thank you Olin Lathrop.

Edit dated Jan 15 2022

I am posting these pictures WITH GOOD INTENTIONS, because they constitute worthy, worthwhile travel destinations! When I am planning travel, I usually find, and note down, locations of r/mostbeautiful pictures that others have taken.

I yen to assist people and travellers with my pictures that highlight the focal points, and serve as a travel road map!

Honestly, I don't fathom why my scenic pictures have rankled? Nobody appears roiled, when people post scenic pictures on r/EarthPorn or any of the SFWPorn subreddits. In fact, many people yen to know their locations so they can travel there!

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2 comment threads

Non sequitur (1 comment)
But now you're doing it again. (2 comments)
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I don't think "where was this picture taken?" questions are generally helpful to the community.[1] There are places out there that do "view from my window" type contests where players use information in the photo to try to nail down where it is, but those are challenges posted by someone who knows the answer. They're games, not conventional Q&A. If Outdoors wanted to have a "challenges" or "games" category, it could host those kinds of puzzles if people are interested.

A couple of the questions are instead "is this picture from such-and-such location?". Those seem like they could be a better fit, though it's unfortunate when lots of these show up at once and push down other questions.

It seems, from voting on these questions and here on meta, that the small community here isn't too interested in "location-identification" questions. The problem is compounded by the volume; visitors to the community see a front page full of downvoted photo-ID questions and probably don't realize the scope here is much broader.

Most of these questions are unanswered, but a couple have answers. Maybe that means most people don't find them interesting but a few people do.

I propose that we do one of three things with at least the first type I described ("where is this picture taken?"):

  1. Decide they are off-topic and close the ones we have.
  2. Decide that they are interesting challenges to some people here and give them their own space (a different category).
  3. Decide they are ok in limited numbers and have a rule that any given person can have one such unanswered question at a time. This might encourage askers to either improve the existing question in hopes of getting an answer or delete it to make room for another. (We don't have any tooling for this, but on a community Somewhere Else we had voluntary rules about posting frequency for one category of questions, and the community largely followed it and enforced it when necessary.)

  1. A possible exception, noted in a comment, is a picture that you have a connection to and at least some context for. Example: a picture you (or someone you know) took from a tour bus but you don't remember details (but you know where you were touring in general and maybe even know locations of pictures before and after this one on your camera, so you can narrow it down). Questions about pictures you have some personal connection to, and have shared information about, feel different from "I found this picture; where is it?". ↩︎

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3 comment threads

Another possible exception might be widely known pictures. For example the default background image o... (5 comments)
The questions were being received just fine until this meta post got started and then everybody start... (5 comments)
Some ID questions are OK (3 comments)
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I'll borrow one of the points from the existing answer, for voting purposes.

  1. Decide they are off-topic and close the ones we have.

However, I'm also willing to carve out an exception for pictures that the poster has a clear personal connection to and provides meaningful context for and relevant details about and clearly shows that they have tried and failed to answer the question before asking of others to do it.

The problem, as I see it, isn't the occasional question along the lines of "a deceased relative of mine was on a tour through AnArea, SomeCountry in the early 1980s, and took the three pictures below, and now I'm trying to figure out where they were at the time; here's what I know, here's what I have already tried and how that didn't help me (or: how that helped narrow down the possibilities), please help me pinpoint the location as accurately as possible"; but rather the barrage of "pinpoint the location from where the picture below was taken" questions where the user posting them obviously has no personal connection to the scene (it might, for example, be something taken from a book or a movie), shows no evidence of having tried to find the answer before asking of others to do that work and provides very little to no context for the picture.

The latter type of post is highly problematic from a copyright perspective (personal photos are generally also covered by copyright, of course, but in a case such as the example above the copyright holder is probably less likely to sue for copyright infringement); shows a blatant lack of respect for the time of others; and seems to me to be unlikely to provide much, if any, value to others. (It also raises the question of what the person posting the question will even do with the answer, assuming that one is given.)

Dumping half a dozen such questions on the community in a very short amount of time just adds insult to injury. Also, as has unfortunately been the case with a number of such questions, when the person posting them can't even be bothered to restrict each post to what's actually relevant to the specific question, that only serves to reinforce the impression of a lack of respect for others. Continuing to post the same type of question even when many previous, similar ones (by the same user, even) sit fairly heavily downvoted doesn't help either.

Outdoors Codidact should not be a dumping ground for every outdoors photo ever taken or even just published even if one prefixes it with "where was this photo taken?".

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1 comment thread

Totally agree, this is what are policy should be. (2 comments)
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I'm separating this for voting purposes (since the other answer already has votes).

In another answer I proposed some options for dealing with picture-identification questions. The "mildest" of these options, in terms of disruption to the community, is:

  1. Decide they are ok in limited numbers and have a rule that any given person can have one such unanswered question at a time. This might encourage askers to either improve the existing question in hopes of getting an answer or delete it to make room for another. (We don't have any tooling for this, but on a community Somewhere Else we had voluntary rules about posting frequency for one category of questions, and the community largely followed it and enforced it when necessary.)

Some time has passed since this question was asked. Should we try this -- ID questions are ok (as they seem to be, by default, now), but you can only have one active one at a time?

I'm concerned that a site named "Outdoors" looks, to the casual visitor, more and more like a photo-ID site and less like a site where you can get answers about mountain biking, kayaking, camping, and so on.

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1 comment thread

I don't mind a single user asking more than one <i>legitimate</i> picture identification question at ... (4 comments)

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