Our top tag is , with nearly 6000 questions and nearly 7000 answers, many of which are new users' first contributions to the site. Many of these new users need some guidance on how to answer a story-ID question well (include as many details as possible), and established users often need to leave comments along the lines of:

Please add a summary or some details about this story so that we can tell how closely it matches the one described in the question.

The purpose of this meta post is to give us a single page to link these users to, for guidance on how to write a good story-ID answer and what to think of and include. It acts as a sequel to this previous post on how to write a good story-ID question.

What advice would you offer on writing a good answer?


As one of the site's top answerers of questions (by volume), I tend to follow a very simple process when answering.

Movie ID

  • Indicate the name of the film
  • Indicate the year of the film (if needed)
  • Link the name of the film to IMDB (or another reliable source of information such as Rotten Tomatoes)
  • Include a brief synopsis of the film, preferably one that mentions the points raised by the OP.
  • Include a youtube link to the film's trailer (or the full film if one exists)
  • If the OP has mentioned a specific scene and you can find a link to that scene (either a pic or a vid), add that as well.

Story ID

  • Indicate the name of the story
  • Indicate the year of the story (if needed)
  • Indicate the author of the story
  • Link the story to an appropriate source. For short-stories, I tend to use ISFDB, for books I tend to use goodreads.
  • Add a synopsis of the story, preferably one that mentions the points raised by the OP (or the full story if one exists in a copyright free format).
  • Mention any plot elements that don't match the description given.
  • Include the book's cover.
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    I can't think of much to add here (although I did fix a typo). I sometimes also explain how I found an item, particularly if it required some esoteric searching. Also if some aspects of the question don't match, but do match to a similar work, I'll mention the other possible source in case the querent mixed them up. – FuzzyBoots Apr 13 '16 at 16:47
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    Besides showing how the story matches the OP's description, it is important to note in detail every point in the description that fails to match because the OP has remembered incorrectly. We do this to make the Q & A more helpful to future users who are looking for the same story. – user14111 Apr 14 '16 at 5:58
  • @user14111 - Hmm. I tend not to always bother with that, but I'll accept it as something we'd hope to see in an exemplary answer. – Valorum Apr 14 '16 at 6:37
  • @Richard can you make this a community wiki? – user32390 Apr 15 '16 at 6:11
  • @PeterPeter - I could, but since it's written from a personal perspective, I'd be loathe to do so without a solid justification. What changes do you feel it needs? – Valorum Apr 15 '16 at 7:02
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    Adding quotes from the story to match key plot points that the OP has mentioned, For example see scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/122613/… or any other answers by user14111 – user32390 Apr 15 '16 at 9:48
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    @PeterPeter - I'd have to disagree there. I find his answers to be massive overkill in a lot of cases. That one is an especially good example of that. – Valorum Apr 15 '16 at 10:05
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    @Valorum these quotes are very helpful for users trying to find their story. For example, see the bounty reason on the last story-id question I answered: "Nice long answer, lots of details to show what matched, and link to the story I really wanted to find... I think it deserves a bounty." – user32390 Jun 9 '16 at 4:18
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    @peterpeter - Which is fine, but I don't see it as an example of best practice to write then like that. – Valorum Jun 9 '16 at 6:15
  • I don't see any reason to include the book's cover, except in those instances where the cover is described in the question. How do yoiu decide which cover to show, when the book has appeared in several editions with different covers, and the question does not point to any particular edition? – user14111 May 4 '17 at 6:41
  • @user14111 - Because the imagery might help them to recall additional details about the story and thus confirm the rightness of the answer. If the book has had multiple covers, adding the one that's most likely to be the right one will likely assist them. – Valorum May 4 '17 at 6:45
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    @user14111 - This is a good example. Many differing cover styles but almost all around a common theme, with a similar pictures, a similar font and a large, prominently displayed author name. Even if you get the wrong edition, it's still liable to help. – Valorum May 4 '17 at 6:50

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