I'm extremely new here, 15 days in, and I've read that most new users ask a lot of story identification questions. I certainly have. A story ID question brought me here in the first place. I checked my own history and so far I've asked 27 questions, with 14 of them tagged as ID questions. That makes sense. An ID question is easier to conceptualize and frame than many other types.

I think it's reasonable to assume that, as time goes on, people ask fewer ID questions and branch off into broader areas of interest. My sense is that this broadening is not only expected, but also preferred.

Are there metrics that can track the ratios of new users' question types, and are there expectations about what a good ratio is for a beginner? Would it be useful to offer this type of information to new users?

Finally, this is my first meta question, so I hope I'm on-topic.

  • 2
    Good question. I hope someone with some SEDE experience can help.
    – AncientSwordRage Mod
    Mar 20, 2016 at 14:47
  • 1
    Very good question.
    – SQB
    Mar 20, 2016 at 15:06
  • 1
    Very related, possible duplicate: meta.scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/2789/…
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Mar 20, 2016 at 17:43
  • I came to scifi.SE for reasons unrelated to story-id, and I only made one story-id answer so far. All of my questions are story-id, however (because I couldn't think of anything else to ask so far). Is that a problem? Mar 20, 2016 at 19:24
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    @JanuaryFirst-of-May Of course it's not a problem! As long as your posts are good quality, it doesn't matter a damn what tags you post in! :-)
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Mar 20, 2016 at 19:32
  • Now I feel like an underachiever for never asking a story-identification question.
    – Molag Bal
    Mar 20, 2016 at 19:37
  • @randal'thor - Very similar. But I think the difference is that I'm asking, from the pov of a new user, is there a benefit to giving us insight into our question patterns. Would that guide us newbies forward and is that desirable? Or something similar. Even though many are old, there are a number of posts related to this subject. And I've seen a few troubling ID questions posted on the main site already myself. I'm just trying to take the pulse of the community, understand the best practices, etc. It can be confusing to be new. Mar 20, 2016 at 20:26
  • @amaretto - Never? Wow! What led you here? Mar 20, 2016 at 20:27
  • 1
    @rosesunhill vampires. Always vampires.
    – Molag Bal
    Mar 20, 2016 at 20:29
  • @JanuaryFirst-of-May - Maybe this is just a subset of what makes a good quality post. It's something I have worried about. Mar 20, 2016 at 20:30
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    It seems to be very hard to think up non-story-id questions that are worthwhile. I may have seen two or three of them in the three years I've been visiting this site. Story-id questions are the redeeming feature of this site; otherwise it would be worthless, except for keeping Trekkies and their ilk off the streets.
    – user14111
    Mar 21, 2016 at 5:35

1 Answer 1


Is this on-topic?

Yes. Welcome to Meta.

Well, that was easy.

Can I find out my ratio of ID questions?

Yes. Just plug your SFF.SE user ID into the box. Note that I have this query set up to search for all ID questions, not specifically story ID; so and questions will be included, as will our several other *-identification tags.

You can get your SFF user ID by going to your profile and looking at the URL in your browser; it should look like https://scifi.stackexchange.com/users/####/; the number that I've replaced with # signs is your ID.

For example, mine is 31051. Yours is 62927.

Here's what my graph looks like:

enter image description here

That spike was on March 25, 2015, when I asked Who are these characters at the end of Deathly Hallows, Part 2?

As a general tip, SEDE will let you play around with some data, and will let you get loads of metrics that haven't been included in the site user interface. The caveat is that you need to have some experience with PostgreSQL, or be willing to learn.

Also bear in mind that SEDE updates once a week, on Saturday or Sunday (depending on your timezone).

Should I care about this number?


Based on what you wrote in the question, and some of your comments, you seem to be concerned that asking a large proportion of ID questions reflects poorly on you as a user of the site. It doesn't. Seriously, we don't care what you ask about1, as long as you're asking good questions. Nobody will think less of you if all (or most) of your questions are in a single tag.

Consider FuzzyBoots, for example2:

enter image description here

70-80% of his questions are ID questions, and that's been pretty consistent for the past two years. Alternately, consider Slytherincess (I changed the tag pattern to %harry-potter% for this one):

enter image description here

There was a period of about two months where 100% of her questions were in , and that ratio has been hovering pretty consistently around 80% for three years now.

Or, consider user14111 (ID questions again):

enter image description here

0.00% of their questions were ID questions for two and a half years, until Whose definition of "science fiction" is this? (tagged ) was asked in September 2015

These are all high-rep, highly-respected users of the site. Nobody cares where you ask your questions, or even if you ask questions at all, as long as your posts are high-quality. Ask things that interest you.

1 As long as you ask about things that are on-topic, obviously

2 And if you're reading this, FuzzyBoots, I don't mean to pick on you; but you are the top asker

  • For some reason my fingers always want to type "ration" instead of "ratio." Stupid fingers. Mar 21, 2016 at 1:29
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    Nice! I was hoping you (or alexwlchan) would post an answer to this one; you've both shown great competence with Data.SE in the past.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Mar 21, 2016 at 1:36
  • The highest? Oops, ouch, or I guess not. I'd had hoped I would be in the middle of the curve. But if it doesn't matter, then I won't fret. Thanks! Mar 21, 2016 at 1:43
  • @rosesunhill Sorry to confuse; that footnote was directed at FuzzyBoots, who has the top question score in the story-identification tag. Interestingly, you have the top question score this month, and 15th all-time Mar 21, 2016 at 1:44
  • Ah. Whew, I think? Mar 21, 2016 at 1:46
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    @rosesunhill Like I said, it doesn't matter. Nobody will think less of you because you ask a lot of ID questions; we might think less of you if you asked lots of bad ID questions, but that has not been the case Mar 21, 2016 at 1:47
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    ^_^ I was wondering if I'd get a nod on that. I have always been a voracious reader, but my memory isn't always so great. Plus, like user14111 said above, what else is there to talk about?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Mar 21, 2016 at 15:54

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