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I understand and appreciate a well sourced, relevant answer, but it seems lately that answers are going far beyond what is needed. Sometimes it seems the provided answers are longer than the story they are supposed to be identifying. If a questioner provides thirty details of a forgotten novel, it should not be necessary to address each and every one, is it? Plus, there is so much detail provided in some answers that going on to read the story is superfluous.

Yes, I know. I'm free to stop reading whenever. And I do, generally less then a quarter way through a wall-of-text answer. I'm just wondering if others feel they are worth it?

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    Better too much info than not enough. – Kevin Mar 3 '14 at 16:47
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    Is your problem with the abundance of detail, or with the wall-of-text? Because even the longest and most detailed answer can probably be readable if given a tl;dr abstract and good formatting. – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Mar 3 '14 at 18:06
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    Can you link an example? – Valorum Mar 4 '14 at 0:43
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Providing extra detail isn't necessarily a bad thing. It can be helpful in identifying duplicate story ID questions where detail is provided in the answer that may not be referenced in the first quesion but may be referenced in the second. On balance that makes the answer more useful in the longer term.

It's also the case that there's a balance to be struck between simply providing the name and author of a work versus going too far, and in this case going too far seems to be the correct side to err on.

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As a minimum, I think that a good (helpful) response to an ident questions should have;

  • Name of the property (plus some kind of "learn more" hyperlink)
  • Name of the Author
  • A blurb or broad overview of the property
  • Why you think it's what the OP is referring to.
  • A picture, image or book cover (if relevant)

Ideally there will also be a link to a copyright-friendly version of the story, tv show or film (if one exists).

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If a questioner provides thirty details of a forgotten novel, it should not be necessary to address each and every one, is it?

Nobody said that it was necessary. When no matching details are offered, I (and some others) tend to encourage the addition - but only in order to make the answer more useful. I, at least (I can't speak for anyone else) never flag an answer without matching details listed for deletion because they're not invalid answers, just less than optimally helpful.

Plus, there is so much detail provided in some answers that going on to read the story is superfluous.

Well, that largely depends on the purpose of the identification question. You assume the person is looking to reread/rewatch it themselves. While that's probably the most frequent reason, they could just as well be wanting to find it for someone else.

But this is why I (again, can't speak for anyone else) find it best only to describe matched details. If it's something that the OP already vaguely remembered, it's not a spoiler. But if you are concerned about giving away too much, or about paraphrasing too much of the story, go ahead and throw some of the answer behind a spoiler tag. They may not always be necessary, but the courtesy is never a bad thing.

The problem with just offering blurbs or rough synopsis of works is that when it comes to sci-fi, there are so many stories that have similar premises. Go too vague, and you don't necessarily offer enough to confirm the match. Go too specific, and you risk spoiling the story. Find your middle ground.

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