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Is it on-topic here to ask for the identification of any living organism? If not, on what site would this be accepted as a good question?

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See here and here - in short we don't seem to have a clear consensus. However, as long as the question includes enough detail and has a biological basis then I personally would say that it's worth posting.

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  • $\begingroup$ Species identification doesn't really work with the stackexchange format at all as all of the questions are the same title, with different images/descriptions. It is impossible to search for duplicates of your own question before asking, nor can anyone google into a QA to help future people with the same question... $\endgroup$ – Troyseph Jun 14 '16 at 13:30
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I'd be hesitant to disallow them entirely, since species identification is a rather central part of biology. That said, I do feel that, if we do allow them, we ought to write up some clear guidelines on what it takes to write a good, answerable species identification question, and to be proactive in closing questions that don't meet those guidelines. The last few question I've seen (e.g. this, this and this) have been simply awful (as in, all but impossible to answer based on the details given).

(Alas, as a biomathematician with very little field biology experience, I may not be the best person to write those guidelines. I'm willing to give it a try if no-one else steps up to the plate, though.)

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  • $\begingroup$ At gardening stack exchange, we have 91 identification questions, and they are generally welcomed, but hard. It is probably different in biology because it would have to do with the study of life. $\endgroup$ – J. Musser May 3 '12 at 1:13
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    $\begingroup$ @jmusser It seems like the problem is that Biology has not attracted enough taxonomists yet. They are in the decline, as phylogenetics has taken the forefront, but are a well established field of biology. $\endgroup$ – S. Albano Oct 11 '12 at 7:35
  • $\begingroup$ @jmusser, that's funny, exactly 91 here, too. I think in general they're fine - someone raised a good point that in addition to answering the questions, it's a good chance to educate people about how to ask a good ID question (location, photos, etc.) $\endgroup$ – Oreotrephes Jul 1 '14 at 18:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Oreotrephes We now have 367 questions tagged identification at GL. $\endgroup$ – J. Musser Jul 1 '14 at 23:48

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