There are some really great examples of ID questions that have been posted already, even in our short time here... and there are a couple that I don't really think work.
The two existing questions here are both great examples:
What makes them great?
- images of the actual tool.
- descriptions of where the OP found the tools.
- knowing or guessing what type of craft the tool is used for.
Without an image, there's little chance we could ID this item. Even in the case of the item that the OP didn't own, they did research to find an image of exactly what they were talking about so that it could be identified.
This question doesn't have an ID tag... though it probably should... maybe technique-identification?
But, again, this fits the basic needs to make this an answerable question...
The question has an image of the exact technique they are talking about. It specifies the type of craft it's used for, and it's obvious that the question is art/craft-related.
Now, a question I think is problematic for our ID requirements:
What are these balls of wool bound together with a rubber band?
This question does have an image but the OP makes it clear that this image is not of the actual item being described, it's only an approximation:
Note: this was the closest thing I could find
So we have no way of knowing what the actual item looks like. Many items look similar but have vastly different uses.
The OP also gives no indication that this item is related to arts or crafts in the first place. It wasn't part of an art kit, it wasn't sold in a crafts store... it's a generic "what is this thing" question.
So, now that we've looked at some examples, what guidelines should we use:
Include an exact image.
- If you own the item you are trying to identify (particularly in the case of tools), upload an image of the item you've taken yourself. Try to make the item the only thing in the image so that it's clear what you're talking about.
- If you've seen the item in a store, take a photo of it (if you can) and post it.
- Otherwise, find an exact image on the web - particularly if you know the use but not the name, as in the case of the offset nibs question.
There may be some cases where images are unnecessary but I think that we should consider requiring them initially and make exceptions if it becomes clear that good-quality questions can be asked without them.
Connect the item to a possible art or craft.
- Particularly in the case where you don't know what it is at all, explain why you think it's related to A&C. Is it:
- found in a collection of "craft stuff" but seems to be an odd-man-out?
- sold in a store that specializes in A&C?
- you were told that it's possibly related to ____ art or craft.
- In some cases, like the embroidery one above, it will be obvious what the craft is. In that case, this is less important.
Provide a good non-image description of the thing being identified.
- Makes people who can not see the image able to help.
- Adds additional information that may not be apparent like scale, what it's made of, what specifically you're asking about.
ID questions can be very fun for the site but they can also get to be extremely problematic if not properly managed, so I want to encourage us to limit what ID questions we accept to reduce the chances of an influx of "guessing game" style questions.