Currently, the 447 correctly tagged font-id questions make up ~4.2% of our total question base. The recent influx, plus the ones that slipped by without the correct tag, probably brings that figure closer to 4.5% - 5%, but for the sake of argument, we'll use the figures provided by the data (4.2%).
A Lot Of Work
Those 447 questions have required 772 edits from users that didn't post the questions. That's ~1.9 edits per post. That does not include edits by the original asker. Of 14044 voluntary question edits (not including OP edits) on the site, 748 or 5.5% have been on font-id questions.
- So, ~4.2% of our questions, have required ~5.5% of our voluntary edits.
- The average number of edits per font-id question is 1.9 - compared to a site wide average of 1.3 per question.
- It's worth noting that the number of questions edited by the OPs is less than 40%. (So we're editing way more of their questions than they are.) (Not in query but can be proven if necessary).
- It's also worth noting that most of the people editing the questions, are not the ones gaining the most reputation from those posts.(Not proven by query, merely an observation).
- Final note on this: each edit can potentially require up to 3 users to push through, if the user suggesting the edit is below the rep required to make unmoderated edits. (1 edit suggester + 2 edit suggestion reviewers).
Run query: Total Edits Per Tag
Not Much Return
24,679,295 total page views across all of GDSE's tags,
414,104 have come from questions tagged with font-id. That equates to ~1.68% of total page views.
- So, this 4.2% of our total questions, and 5.5% of the edits we voluntarily make, brings in almost 1.7% of our total page views.
Run query: Page Views Per Tag
The tag is growing fast, and with it, so will the amount of work required.
Run query: Growth of a Tag in the Last 2 - 4 Years
My Opinion & Counter Arguments:
Draws traffic to the site
Yes, it makes up almost 1.7% of our overall page views since it was created ~4 years ago.
What type of traffic does it bring in though? The way I see it there are three general types:
1) People looking for that specific font in that specific context - Because they saw the same thing as the asker, and they want to know the font. On the downside, people looking for that font, but not because they saw it in the same context as the asker, will probably not find the post. There's even a chance that they may post a duplicate with the font in a different context. Also, probably quite rare overall anyway.
2) People looking for irrelevant identifying characteristics described in the post - Someone looking for say, 'What type of identification should I use for Western Union?' may somehow find their way to the post about the Western Union font. This would be completely irrelevant to them. An edge case maybe, but as the volume of font-id posts increases, the possible issues increase with them.
3) People looking for font-identification services - Do we really need more of these? From 2013 to 2014, the number of font-id questions increased by 174%. From 2014 to 2015, the number of font-id questions increased a further ~88%. In numbers, it went from 43 in 2012, to 119 in 2013, to 223 in 2014. The growth shows no signs of stopping. Will we see 450 in 2015? That'd be more than we've had since the tag was created.
Obviously, we need to curb the enthusiasm.
Great for typography nuts
So that just leads to the potential for a group of users to post font-identity questions and answer them themselves while upvoting each others posts. That would be perfectly fine on a site like Stack Overflow, as they want to build communities around tags, and there are so many users and so many posts. This site is much smaller, there are no communities around other tags, so why should there be for font-id?
Rep is a currency, where the richer the person, the higher their knowledge for the subjects they answer should be. It wasn't wholly successful on many SE sites as they grew immensely and so-called repwhores devalued the currency with large volumes of poor answers. Well, that is what font-id has the potential to do to GDSE. Rep will become less and less of an indicator of users knowledge, and more of an uncertainty, with the possibility that they could've gained most of it from a large volume of font-id answers.
Supports many great font sites
Do they support us? I'm pretty sure we pay in kind for the products we receive. It's also been noted that many, many free fonts are of a poor quality. Do we really want to be seen somewhat endorsing lots of poorly constructed fonts, or even unwittingly recommending copyright-violating fonts.
Users come and never return
They do don't they. A lot. I don't even want to query those figures. Easily over 50% IMO.
Don't really benefit anyone other than the questioner
The questioner, and the answerer. So 2 people.
Helps new users get rep
It's not a game where everybody should be able to achieve the same scores. Again, repscores should indicate a users level of knowledge, NOT how many font-id questions they've answered.
Yes, "Stack Exchange is a lot of different things to a lot of different people." But GD SE is not a game. Recently that's what it's looked like, and anyone new to the site sees these low quality examples of our Q&A structure, and follows them.
In fact, I think it's borderline contradictory to one of our close reasons.
This looks like brainstorming/idea gathering for a specific project or a request for free work. This site is suited for answers to general design problems, not ideas or work that is specific to one project. See this meta post for more info.
They are requesting a service that most designers would probably charge a fee for if asked by a client. So it is a request for free work.
Critique is also borderline contradictory, but after discussion there has been an exception made with supposedly strict guidelines. I personally think those guidelines, and the strict enforcement of them, has been largely successful in limiting low quality posts in that tag. It's also worth noting that critiques have exponentially more SEO potential, as the good quality questions kept open generally attract explanatory answers with good keywords.
Font-id's do not have that benefit, instead our best hope at a good font-id question is one that piggybacks off of a brand name or some other known characteristic, that actually has little relevance to the purpose of the question. Then the majority of answers contains little more than a link to a font. That is far from high quality content.
Growth of this tag has the potential to cause many problems. Users will not continue to edit this tag forever, then it becomes poor content that needs cleaning up, and then maybe the amount of cleaning becomes overwhelming. Then everybody slowly becomes demoralised and loses their fondness of this site.
Heck, if we lost our top ten users we might as well shut down now, to keep experts like them we actually need to keep the quality above a certain level. (Not that anyone has said anything about leaving). But it is well explained by Stack Exchange that in order to keep experts, we need good content.
Personally, I stopped editing posts months ago, after my attempts to keep an attractive and professional homepage were rendered futile by newly posted, horribly titled, generic and useless questions - like that one, you know 'What font is this?', you must've seen it. I had to make a choice, either edit them as well, or stop trying to keep the homepage nice. Most of them aren't worth the thought I put into titles, so I opted for the latter.
On the But you can just ignore the tag argument
I don't want to ignore any content, because I like learning almost everything of value here. Furthermore, I want the site to look professional and flourish, and someday be a well known resource for GDs everywhere and anywhere. So, because some people enjoy answering these low value questions, I have to put up with a messy, unprofessional site. It was OK when they were few and far between, but the rate is likely to reach 1 per day in 6 to 8 months.
I agree with Ryan's choice of words - "Terminate with extreme prejudice".
I had considered strict guidelines, but in the end all guidelines would then require manual actions to enforce the guidelines, and for the measly 1.7% (416,000) of our >24 million page views, it's not worth all of the hard work, when that work could achieve much better results if applied to a more worthy post. Noone has an unlimited amount of time to sit here and edit font-id. In fact, I urge you to spend that precious time elsewhere.
So to answer the question directly - Yes, I think it is time to discontinue our font-identification service
1.7% is still a lot of traffic
If we actively encourage more Font Manipulation, Font Styles, Font Categorisation & Font Pairing questions, we should easily offset and probably exceed the 1.7% shortfall caused by getting rid of font-identification.
Some final notes on this:
1) This query shows most of the link only answers on our site are on font-identification questions. It's adapted from an existing query used for other sites at some point, I just changed one parameter - The title didn't change and isn't quite accurate after the change I made.
2) Our top Adobe Illustrator expert (based on rep stats) earns an average score of 32 per answer in that tag. Our top Font Identification expert (based on rep stats) earns an average score of 28 per answer in that tag. The tags, and value in the answers for each tag, are very different. The rep awarded for each should reflect that and it doesn't.
On a more positive note:
The top 6 font-id questions alone account for 45% of the font-id tags pageviews and
Many of them aren't specific font-identifications, some of them are font-categorisations, and general font questions that we can definitely keep. So we'll probably keep over 50% of the existing traffic sources from posts. We can even re-edit a few great font-identifications to be kept if possible.
There is a possibility that the queries are incorrect, as it's my first time constructing them. It's unlikely though as the console would've thrown errors and not given back anything in most cases.