Should I VTC on species ID questions that have really bad image quality? For example, this post (no offense to the user who posted the question).

I'm aware that I should first comment and suggest that they try to provide images with better quality, but if they fail to do so [since perhaps most of the time the OP can't so easily, or at all, revisit the organism] then should the question be considered unanswerable, at which point would govern a VTC?

If so, what would be a reasonable, but not excessive, amount of time to wait before VTC? And if not, can you please explain why, since I myself would tend to think a VTC is permissible in this case. Thanks for your thoughts. :)

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    $\begingroup$ Vote to close is fine - questions can be re-opened after editing. Better, though, imo, is commenting (ask for a better quality image) and downvote. Close-voting should be reserved for really bad posts. In general, people seem quite reluctant to downvote. I don't know why. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 19:56
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    $\begingroup$ It seems moderation has taken the place of downvoting on this site. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented Sep 30, 2017 at 14:19
  • $\begingroup$ @canadianer Why do you say that? Just because I didn't mention DVing in this post, doesn't mean I'm not exercising that ability. In fact, I did DV the question I reference. I would generally do this a bit after commenting to provide better quality images. Instead though, this post is assuming that due measurements have already been taken, and the OP still can't provide a dependable image. Your statement may still be valid, but please don't let it be motivated by this post. :) $\endgroup$
    – user22020
    Commented Sep 30, 2017 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Charles That was directed at AliceD's comment "...people seem quite reluctant to downvote." To answer your question, I would vote to close if you think an ID cannot be made. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented Sep 30, 2017 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ @canadianer Oh, hah.. my mistake. And thanks for your opinion on the matter. $\endgroup$
    – user22020
    Commented Sep 30, 2017 at 14:28
  • $\begingroup$ I think if the images are poor but a description and list of requested details (e.g., location, size, etc.) are included, then the post should be left open. More generally, a close vote would only be valid in this instance if you could select "unclear what you're asking." The OP can be clear in what they're asking without providing good pictures. Pictures are strongly preferred for species ID questions but not required. In instances with bad photos that otherwise are detailed, I think it's up to each user to downvote (and preferably comment why they did so) the question, not VTC. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 18:28

1 Answer 1


The SE guidelines say to vote early and vote often*.

If the important image for an identification question is "unclear", then the question is probably "unclear" as well, unless of course the OP acknowledges that there is not much they can do about the image and they instead give a detailed description of what they saw.

So, I'd expect an "unclear" question to be closed as "unclear" so as to prevent answers based on pure assumptions. We don't want it to become a guessing game, I suppose.

And naturally, if a question or answer, in it's current state, is "not useful", then as the tooltip for the downvote button suggests, do downvote it.

*For a beta site, there may be some exceptions, per-site, chosen by the community.


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