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Recently we received this question:

Kids christian music from the 80's

which asks us to help him identify some music he remembers listening to when he was a child in the 1980's (though I can't imagine why).

I first thought that this was close to the culture/fiction topics that the community generally does not want, but I do not think that fits.

Straight up, this is simply "Identify this" questioning.

It's not necessarily a bad thing. Other SE sites have had success allowing them. English.SE has word and phrase requests. SciFi.SE has story identification requests. Gardening has plant-identification requests. They do make for interesting questions sometimes.

On the negative side, it is far from academic, which we strive to be. Allowing this would be taking the site in a direction that is less academic than it is now, but that does not mean that we have to disallow the truly academic questions.

It is currently +5/-1, indicating that the community thinks it's alright, and has no close votes. It actually has my close vote now with a comment linking to this because that will put it in the review queue and get more eyes on it.

If not, we will simply link to this for close reasons.

If yes, then we have some work ahead of us. We will need to make a few new tags and change a few of the commonly linked meta posts explaining the site to accommodate this. We will also need to lay down some rules for it, the first being that they must have a detailed, textual description, which this one currently does.

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The question is..

  • Definitively answerable
  • Not contentious (Truthy)
  • Within the realm of Christianity
  • A type of question allowed on other StackExchange sites
  • Useful to someone

I say let them stand. They may not be academic, but even the most esteemed universities have their trivia buffs. There's no harm, and it opens up the site to interesting questions not likely to push the site into an argumentative direction.

We could use more safe classes of questions. It's been too long since I've seen a truly interesting question that's acceptable. This seems like a type of question that's both safe AND fun.

As far as guidelines, I'm not sure we need to worry about it just yet. On the sci fi and movies sites, people tend to handle unclear questions with down-votes and comments explaining the down-votes. If it becomes a problem, we can address it then.

  • 6
    "This seems like a type of question that's both safe AND fun." So why disallow it? I like the logic. – 3961 Jun 28 '14 at 0:27
  • 1
    It's not allowed on all SE sites... In fact, it's disallowed on all the big ones. – Flimzy Aug 18 '14 at 20:54
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I'm going to take the other position and say that we should not allow these questions. David makes some valid points in his answer, but I think most of them don't actually apply. I will address them individually, then provide my own arguments in conclusion

  • Definitively answerable

Yes, it is answerable. But so are the vast majority of questions on StackOverflow and SuperUser. That doesn't make them on topic here.

  • Not contentious (Truthy)

"Identify this" questions are generally not contentious, but that doesn't make them good questions, or on-topic. The majority of SE sites prohibit them.

  • Within the realm of Christianity

Barely. But even so, that doesn't make it on-topic.

  • A type of question allowed on other StackExchange sites

On a minority of sites. Movies.SE allows a very specific subset of "Identify this" questions.

"Identify this" questions don't really apply to the majority of sites, so to say they are allowed is a bit of an over-statement. "Identify this code fragment" isn't really a thing.

  • Useful to someone

Again not a valid test for on-topicness. If someone is asking, it's because it is useful to someone.

I see this collection of reasons boiling down basically to two meaningful things:

  1. The question is good-subjective (although the minority of shopping questions are).
  2. The question kinda sorta tangentially relates to this web site.

If that's all there were to the story, I would agree with letting such questions just "slip by." But there's also the stated purpose of this web site:

Christianity - Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more.

Does a question about where to find 80's children music (even if it is Christian in nature) help to advance this cause? Does any shopping question (even if it is good-subjective) help advance this cause?

I think it probably doesn't, except in the slightest, most tangential way imaginable.

What Christian experts are going to know about 80's children music? Perhaps those with children. But they're just as likely to know about Sesame Street or Power Rangers.

Does the answer to this question help advance the cause of creating experts in Christianity? Again, I think not. Me knowing about some 80's kids music no more makes me an expert on Christianity than knowing about Punky Brewster.

I believe this question is really a pop-culture shopping question posing as a Christianity question, only because it happens to overlap with Christian pop culture of the 80's. But that's not enough to make it within scope for the purpose of our site (nor the majority of other SE sites).

  • Well, I think you make some very big points, but how many questions do you think we will actually get like this. So far, we have two since this meta post. I'm look for some old Christian music from when I was a kid and I'm look for a red word Bible api or xml or something. I'm with you, I think, but I don't think there is any real danger to the site if we do allow them. Also, hard to undo 12 ups on meta in only 2 months. – 3961 Aug 19 '14 at 16:15

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