We get a lot of id-this-bike questions of varying quality, those without pictures need to be improved. Sometimes they get voted to close because there isn't enough information in the question for an i.d.

None of the current close reasons really work for me in this situation which comes up often. Can we have a close reason which says something like closed because there is no way to id by serial numbers, please add good pictures and it can be reopened... ?

Good point about why do we need it, maybe we don't and comments then OP edits with more detail would be best, I'm open to suggestions, I'm basically in favour of these questions being on topic. However I have seen a number of low-quality questions recently in the review close-vote queue with either the "unclear what you're asking", or duplicate of "why shouldn't I care..." given as a reason. I would rather the question asker had a clearer and helpful description of it being impossible to answer without more to go on, and advice on how to improve it. Maybe a link to How do I ask a good "ID My Bike" question?.

That said, someone voting to close as a duplicate of "why shouldn't I care..." might want to use that anyway and there's also the unintended consequence that we start closing questions which could be answered with a little effort, take Criggie's recent Shiner Bock triumph for example (which I think should be upvoted to give Criggie another lifejacket badge btw ;) )

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    I'd probably prefer to expand the close reason to a more general "insufficient detail for identifying a bike" and mention How do I ask a good “ID My Bike” question? in the close banner.
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Jul 20, 2019 at 18:45
  • @AndrewT. sure that's a good idea, it makes a general use case and gives good guidance for improvement. The "How do I ask" question was well received so expect there'd be support for including that so look forward to seeing if more people are in support
    – Swifty
    Commented Jul 20, 2019 at 18:52
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    Why do we actually need to close ID-my-bike questions? Sure, some of them are awful (poorly lit pictures of odd bits of frame, half a serial number and no picture), but we have a mechanism to deal with those - downvotes. Commented Jul 21, 2019 at 23:16
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    A well worded comment asking the OP to improve the question and explaining why Identification is hard is probably optimum. Commented Jul 21, 2019 at 23:19

1 Answer 1


The current consensus seems to be that "ID My Bike" questions are on-topic for this site, if they are well written. As the comments on this meta post indicate, there are two ways we can go if the question is poorly written, does not include sufficient details and pictures, etc.

  1. Do what we are doing now which is primarily comment and downvote.
  2. Have moderators create a Custom Off-Topic Close Reason to use for these questions (implying that it is off-topic because it is poorly written).

As moderators we are allowed to have up to 3 active Custom Off-Topic Close Reason messages. We are currently using 2 - "General health and medical advice..." and "Questions seeking product/service/learning material recommendations..."

If other moderators and the community agree, we could use the third slot for a message like:

It is generally impossible to identify a bicycle from the serial number. At a bare minimum you need the brand or manufacturer. Please edit more information into your post. A clean and clear, well-lit photo of the whole bike from the right hand side, and other photos of any identifying marks like decals or a head badge are helpful.

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