Do we have any idea or way to track the worst age estimate for Story ID questions?

Movie about Space Pirates that have bodies tied to their ships

80s or 90s is pretty wild for the 2005 film Serenity, but I am pretty sure I have seen worse.

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    BRB, asking to ID a 2023 novel about a king whose friend is executed after they kill a bull together (with spoilertags, obviously) :-)
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Apr 10, 2023 at 17:42
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    Recently we had a question about a 1994 book/series that was read 40-50 years ago.
    – Laurel
    Commented Apr 12, 2023 at 15:31
  • I wonder what the best way to define "worst" is. Would it be just the number of years off, or should it take into account how close they are to the present (which could be quantified by an expression such as abs(log((current year - estimated year)/(current year - actual year))))? E.g. if a story actually came out in 1986, would "I think it came out around 1960" or "I think it came out around 2010" be a worse guess? Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 3:51
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    Or to put it more simply, whether guessing "10 years ago" for a story from last year, or guessing "60 years ago" for a story from 50 years ago, is a worse estimate. Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 4:00
  • To generalize this, age estimates are tricky. I watched a Drunken History which had Hamilton using a cellphone and I guessed people born after 2000 might miss this. I asked people when the thought the non-cell phone was invented and people were off by half a century.
    – releseabe
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 3:41

1 Answer 1


To be honest I think this is the sort of question that is best answered from remembering a rather extreme case. However, I did decide to knock up a monster of a SEDE query to investigate this a bit further.

This query will most likely return false positives and will miss a lot of examples out but it is a decent starting point if you have the time to sift through the results or parse them further. At the moment it is returning 2870 rows!

The query is here if anyone wants to take a look.

For a couple of decent examples we have that I spotted before losing the will to live:

  • There does seem to be some refinement possible, but this is a fantastic starting point. And a good catch of 26 estimation gap.
    – Jontia
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 15:04
  • @Jontia I'm aware the query is a bit naff and very hit and miss. I mainly just knocked it together for a starting point.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 15:14
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    I wouldn't call it naff. It is a great demonstration of what's possible. I didn't think the SE query engine was so adaptable. Great work.
    – Jontia
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 16:29

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