Proposal: Arts and Crafts

Would questions asking to identify an artist by a given work be considered on-topic?

A follow-up question would be:

Are questions asking to identify a type of material or technique used in a given work be on topic?

SciFi & Fantasy has Story-ID questions, but Woodworking Beta disallows wood identification questions.

A somewhat related example of a question was recently asked an SciFi: https://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/96879/who-wrote-ode-to-spot-and-datas-other-poem

But it is related to writing, and not, for instance, costume design, prop making, or background art.

4 Answers 4


I would say no. If you look the composition and example questions of this site, the term "arts and crafts" refers primarily to homemade items that folks make themselves. The identify-this-piece questions you are suggesting might be a better fit for some type of art history or art appreciation site… but I don't think that is the primary audience here.

  • And there's always the guessing game.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 21:22
  • But if I want to know who a certain artist is, so that I can study their style, where else would I ask (on SE)? I don't think the Art History proposals ever take off, unfortunately. As for productivity, when I look at SciFi's tags I see that Story-Identification is their most-used tag (more than the next 2 tags combined).
    – user139692
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 21:24
  • 1
    @CreationEdge We cannot guarantee there's a site (or an audience) for every question, but in my opinion (and many others), identify-this-* questions are not generally a very useful part of most sites. Unfortunately, showing me how it has all-but overtaken SciFi (and our Movie site) does not enamor me to it any moreso. Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 22:44
  • It's unfortunate that you feel that way, as it's an incredibly useful part of some stacks, such as SciFi and Bricks. These types of questions often rely on the experts those stacks draw, not just Google or common knowledge, and the quality of answers is often better than that of other Q&A sites.
    – user139692
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 23:00
  • 1
    @RobertCartaino We (at M&TV) are still considering getting rid of them. We don't like how they've taken over, either.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 7:55

I agree with Robert and would add:

If you see a random image on Google and want to know who made that piece of art, your best bet for identifying it is to use the Google Image Search.

There are big differences between Sci-Fi & Fantasy's "Identify this" questions and this one:

  • On Sci-Fi (or Movies & TV) the people asking for help identifying a book or film generally already know the title they're looking for, they just can't remember it and they need some help jogging their memory.

  • On the other sites, they're not using an image for identification - in fact, many sites that allow ID questions still do not allow image-only ID questions.

If you've never known the name of the person, how can we ever definitively know that the answer is correct? We really can't. Perhaps we can find someone with a similar art style but unless we can identify that exact piece of art, there's no way to know for sure that the two artists are the same.

  • 2
    If you get their name you'll be able to then look for galleries, collections, websites, references, credits, etc. that could confirm the piece is by them. Or, if they're living, you could try contacting tte artist. Anyway, I'm not pushing for them to be on topic, I'm just curious.
    – user139692
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 21:41

I'm largely in agreement with Robert as well. Variations on the 2nd question from the OP though could be on-topic. As a creator, I might be looking for ideas on how some result was achieved so I could see asking a question like:

How can I create an effect like I see in [some example work]?

I see Artist and Material Identification as off topic.

  • 1
    I see material identification as on topic. Have added my answer. Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 6:37
  • I suppose asking a question like "Is this sample cross stitch or embroidery" or "Are the stitches in this crochet sample double crochet, half-treble crochet, or treble crochet"... could be appropriate. But I don't see them as "ID questions" since they're so extremely specific.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 20:38
  • @Catija Those are the more specific kind's of Qs I'm thinking of, rather than "What type of paint was this painted with?", which is rather basic and can usually be found with Google. I probably should have made this 2 separate questions. Although, now that I think about example question, I agree that they can mostly be framed as not-ID questions.
    – user139692
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 20:49

Are questions asking to identify a type of material or technique used in a given work be on topic?

In my opinion these questions should be on topic!

Regarding type of material:

I found a doll made of X in my house. Its hands are broken. Now, if I don't know what is the material X with which the doll is made, how the hell would I know whether to stitch the arms or to stick the arms? Will attempting to stitch break the doll? etc.

I have to ask what is X before I can decide how to proceed.

Regarding technique:

What is the way to achieve the effect Y which has been used in this painting to draw realistic clouds?

I don't see any use of an art site where you are NOT allowed to ask questions to learn and identify the techniques used by other painters/artists.

  • I agree with the technique example, but I wonder about the material example. If the question were instead, "How can I repair the hands on my [type of doll]?", wouldn't that attract the kinds of users that could answer the question, likely taking material-types into account w/o the goal of the question being the material?
    – user139692
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 20:52
  • @CreationEdge the question you sited in the above comment is already on topic. My answer here got downvoted which means that material identification would be off topic according to the community here which is very sad. Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 6:37
  • What I'm saying though, is that would material identification ever be really necessary if a change to the question makes in on topic and more useful? I'm trying to think of a reason you'd just want to know what something is made from.
    – user139692
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 6:43
  • @CreationEdge reason can be that that you have found some old material in your old house and you want to know what is that material before you can decide whether you should make a purse out of it or not. Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 7:47

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