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What are our thoughts on "What is my vocal type?" questions? Should these be considered on topic or off?

I ask because, invariably, the answers tend to be something along the lines of:

Well, we can't really say. You should get a teacher!

And thus our answers aren't real answers per se. At what point should something like this be moved to the "questions not to ask" list?

Edit: The most detailed answers along this track that I've found are:

In light of Dan's very helpful suggestion, I'll let the moderator team decide if we need a new question/answer that incorporates information from all of these three threads.

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    We have a ton of these questions. Some are better worded then others. We really need to figure out a policy and enact it on both past and future questions of this type. – Dom Feb 20 '17 at 20:42
  • Glad to know I'm not the only one that feels this way! – Richard Feb 21 '17 at 16:09
  • Would it also be possible/desirable to have a policy or generic answer for the broader class of questions to which the answer is also Well, we can't really say. You should get a teacher! – Bob Feb 21 '17 at 18:14
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    If the asker doesn't upload a recording of his/her singing, how can people know what type he/she is...? That is kind of hard to describe in words. – Aminopterin Feb 26 '17 at 8:31
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I can think of three reasons why these questions aren't a good fit here:

  • The answer only benefits the asker or is not a beneficial answer.
  • Having a certain range is not the same as being assigned to or being able to sing a certain part in SATB or any other categorization.
  • We couldn't even effectively tell someone what their range is. Askers really need trained advice and evaluation to help them understand their effective range and how to not hurt their voices at the edges of it.

We should have a question like, "what's the best way to determine my vocal range?" (which is appropriate here, IMHO, even if one or more of the answers is "get a teacher") asked and answered and link people to that in comments when we VTC "what's my range?" questions.

  • Fortunately, we already have a well-answered "how to determine vocal range" question to use in the future. – Richard Feb 21 '17 at 16:09
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    @Richard I thought/hoped we might. Should we put a link in my answer? And by that I mean, if you know where this question/answer is, maybe you could comment with the link or edit my answer? – Todd Wilcox Feb 21 '17 at 16:35
  • A fourth reason to my mind is that any assignment of a label to someone's voice is going to be somewhat opinion-based (in my opinion). Real singers often don't fit into neat boxes and different singing teachers or choir leaders don't always agree on what those boxes should be. – Bob Feb 21 '17 at 18:10
  • @Bob Agreed. Actually that's what I was trying to capture in points 2 and 3. I think it's a concept that's easier for us to understand than it is to put into words here. – Todd Wilcox Feb 21 '17 at 19:30
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When I've been faced with similar kinds of questions on other SE sites, I've found that a good solution to this problem is not to ban the questions entirely, but to write a canonical question that's useful for any asker.

The question might be of the form "How do I tell what my vocal type is?" and the answer would explain all the points above: that we can't tell remotely and that you need to get a singing teacher to tell you. When someone posts a "What is my vocal type?" question, we close their question as a duplicate of the canonical one.

This approach has certain advantages over adding the question topic to the "don't ask" page. First, the canonical question will be suggested in the list of similar questions while the user is writing a question. It avoids them asking a new question without them having to go read the help centre. Second, saying the question is already covered by this existing information is much nicer for new users than slapping a close notice on it with, "too bad, you didn't read the rules". Finally, the question is actually well within our field of interest, even though it's a bad fit for the format, and the canonical question allows the site to give useful information that's widely applicable.

  • This should work well. +1 – Tim Feb 25 '17 at 15:00
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Until a better canonical question is asked and answered, we should close other questions that ask for voice type as duplicates of both How do I determine my vocal range? and What is the process by which singers identify their voice type/fach?. We can now close a question as a duplicate and later add or switch duplicates which will help this a lot if we feel there is a stronger or more canonical questions that are important.

The one canonical question that should be asked that will be included in this is "What are the typical ranges of voice types?" which while not being exact, will at least give an idea of typical ranges.

  • This is probably one of very few 'vocal range' questions that should be posed. Why not ask it? – Tim Jan 20 '18 at 11:16
  • I don't mind asking it, however I've been quite busy lately. I do have time to ask it today, but I'll leave it to our other capable users to leave a good answer. – Dom Jan 21 '18 at 20:27

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