It seems to me that the arguments against music identification questions are as follows:

  • low effort
  • not that useful to future readers
  • encourages an influx of users unlikely to contribute anything to the community
  • would threaten to derail the front page with a bunch of poor effort questions from non-musicians

And that seems valid enough to me. However, should we modify this such that music identification from a transcription is on topic, I think there could be some benefits to the community:

Arguments for:

  • Encourages participation, it could help to bring in new users who would be valuable members of the community
  • Specifically skewed to users with both an interest in music and a good musical foundation: it requires a certain level of competency and a certain level of effort to transcribe a song (inversely proportional I suppose). And "High ability" and "High effort" users are beneficial to the site's ecosystem.
  • Very low-effort to answer the questions, very little work is required from our user base for a potentially large reward (as outlined above), and there is little cost to allowing these questions.

Arguments against:

  • Low searchability for future users trying to identify the same song.

The last criticism is still valid, but I wonder if the benefits may outweigh the drawbacks, considering it takes a second to answer the question if you know the song.

Curious to hear the community's thoughts on this. Peace

  • Regarding attracting new users, allowing these questions would likely attract many users who are not musicians. IMHO people who want to discuss the enjoyment and appreciation of music as listeners should be encouraged to use musicfans.stackexchange.com, not this site. Oct 29, 2017 at 17:28
  • @ToddWilcox I absolutely agree that we don't want to attract non-musician users, but I think specifically allowing transcription based song identification would eliminate this problem. A user able to call a melody from memory and transcribe it is by definition a musician, and exactly the kind of user we do want here.
    – Some_Guy
    Oct 30, 2017 at 12:37

2 Answers 2


Always good to have topic/scope discussions, so this is a good question. However, my personal opinion is that this would not be a good idea.

From your arguments, I think 1 and 3 actually would be a detriment. If the questions are low effort to answer, the types of folks who come asking them here are, in my opinion, unlikely to be valuable members of the community.

And your final point is kind of a clincher - the point of Stack Exchange is to have searchable answers for future visitors.

  • My point is that they are low effort to answer for someone who knows the song, but high effort to ask, and almost impossible for the questioner to answer themselves. If I see a sheet music transcription in the question, it takes me no time at all to answer that question if I know the melody, but the original questioner would have had to make a certain amount of effort to make the transcription.
    – Some_Guy
    Oct 19, 2017 at 17:18
  • as for your last point, you may well be right, and I can't see much of a way around this. The question is whether making ourselves a welcoming place for those with a high level of music theory knowledge might overall benefit the quality of answers on other music theory questions, and whether that benefit might be enough to also allow these questions.
    – Some_Guy
    Oct 19, 2017 at 17:20
  • I suppose that if the transcription is done in that native sheet music plugin thingy we have, then there is some potential for searchability, but even I'll admit that that's a bit of a stretch. Thanks for your comment anyhow :)
    – Some_Guy
    Oct 19, 2017 at 17:20
  • @Some_Guy It does seem to be a balancing act between the quality of the users and the quality of the content. And perhaps I'm interpreting your argument as saying sacrificing the quality of the content a little might increase the quality (and quantity) of the users in a way that more than makes up for it. Perhaps you have a point. It's hard to predict. Oct 29, 2017 at 17:31
  • @ToddWilcox I think it depends on your definition of quality. To my mind, questions that have a good transcription of a melody are high-quality in the sense that they require both effort and musical literacy. They are also high quality in the sense that they are specific and answerable (not overly broad), but not just a google away (not basic lookup questions). The only aspect in which they could be considered lower quality is that they have a lower searchability than more general questions.
    – Some_Guy
    Oct 30, 2017 at 12:46
  • @ToddWilcox Whether that that qualifies as sacrificing the quality of the content or not I'm not sure. But if it does, then the question is is it an acceptable dilution of the overall standard of the site if it also attracts the kind of users who will be beneficial to the site's ecosystem (including answer and question quality), i.e. users who have a good enough musical literacy to transcribe a melody themselves, and are conscientious enough to bother doing so.
    – Some_Guy
    Oct 30, 2017 at 12:52

If someone posts a score or chart and wants to know what it is, that's fine IMO. We're probably dealing with a musically literate person who can engage and contribute in a positive manner, and the information may be important and have enduring value.

Otherwise, it's bad idea, for the reasons stated.

As for low searchability, that can be rectified with thoughtful editing of the question's title, particularly after a good answer has been posted.

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