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I just picked up a fair amount of reputation from what was a fairly simple question that was about identifying a cable. On one hand, its not a great question, though one that needed some experience to answer. On the other, its a real problem someone unfamilar with the cable types in use would get stuck with.

I'm wondering if a community wiki would work better here. Have a answer per class of cable for easy reference (for example, one answer covering video cables, one covering audiocables, one covering common data cables) with images of the various ends. Its not quite a standard kind of answer, and very specifically ends up being listy, but might be useful, and act as a single source of cable identification, much like the canonical anti malware questions.

Input, views, and thrown vegetables anyone?

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    I closed the question as too localized – it's in the same vein as questions asking to identify a font, or some software, etc. A proper community wiki question on how to identify a cable might make more sense indeed, but as ever so often, Wikipedia does a better job at this already. – slhck May 23 '13 at 15:10
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    I just want to leave this here blog.stackoverflow.com/2012/02/lets-play-the-guessing-game – Der Hochstapler May 23 '13 at 15:10
  • I personally like the idea of having a single source of cable identification - but also at the same time if you are going to make a wiki for this, there are hundreds of other topics that are just as deserving and you could have your hands full pretty quick. – Richie086 May 30 '13 at 4:36
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You can technically, but you should not practically.

This is like building a compilation of Linux distros or a gallery of fonts. Good if you know what you're already looking at and for, but then you're already there. Not to mention what kind of terms you'd expect to pull in with images.

Better have a blog post or wiki that helps you work out how to work out the cable you have in your hand.

Tips like

  • dropping a photo of the cable into Google Image search and clicking "Visually similar images".
  • sticking it into various holes on the computer to see what fits and take note of the winning slot
  • checking the cable for any identifying marks or symbols
  • The methods you cite would not have produced a correct answer in 3 minutes, unlike asking the question. – jwg May 28 '13 at 12:24
  • You weigh up helping the one person in that single instance or helping many for months to come – random May 28 '13 at 14:15
  • This is a false dichotomy. Why can't you do both? – jwg May 28 '13 at 15:06
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    We don't have "identify this font" and "what program made this?" questions for the same reason – random May 28 '13 at 16:10
  • The same reason as what? – jwg May 28 '13 at 16:41
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I think it's a good idea. While Wikipedia does a great job at this, we can't close a question as a duplicate of a Wikipedia article.

These questions do tend to get out of hand.

There is no good reason for someone to get 100 upvotes for saying "it's a short extension cord." There's also no good reason for you to net 90 rep for recognizing a display port cable. :P I think a CW for these silly rep magnets would take care of the problem nicely.

  • I did rather like that image - but thats an identify this image thing question as well. – Journeyman Geek May 24 '13 at 0:12
  • Oh wow, the voting on that SF question/answer is just plain ridiculous. – Karan May 24 '13 at 4:25
  • I agree. Questions like this are upvoted simply because they are found to be interesting. They do not show any research effort on the part of the asker and the responders really aren't displaying much knowledge worthy of reputation when they are upvoted. – Will.Beninger May 24 '13 at 14:47
  • This is just one instance of a common problem. Questions which attract high numbers of upvotes for the answers are not those which are hardest to answer or most useful for future users. Someone aimlessly browsing is going to upvote much more often than someone who is working and trying to get help when needed. Short of restricting upvotes by time/activity/etc this is going to remain the case. – jwg May 28 '13 at 15:10
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Journeyman Geek mentioned in a comment:

I did rather like that image - but thats an identify this image thing question as well.

Honestly, I think such questions must be very common, while they are not a good fit for SU, it is conceivable that a stack exchange site dedicated to such questions could be very useful - post a picture, get people to identify it.

As random points out a CW fails because the person asking the question will not know where to look. And actually asking the question on SU is problematic since lots of rep is given simply because a person was first to see the question.

While this may be a poor fit for SU, is it a poor fit for the Stack exchange format?

  • I meant the whole fact that its hand drawn - which is why its so highly upvoted ;p. I'm thinking the blog's the best place for it now – Journeyman Geek May 30 '13 at 6:37
  • Never the less, your comment got me thinking. Hand drawn, or photographic, identifying the content of a picture is often an interesting challenge. – zeel May 30 '13 at 6:45
  • Interesting isn't always a good fit tho. A dozen "what is this" questions based off an image arn't very search engine friendly. We arn't just answering questions for now - we're also building something searchable – Journeyman Geek May 30 '13 at 9:00

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