Font identification is kind of a unique animal here; I don't feel like it exactly fits the mold of the typical Stack Exchange question. And that's okay, but I feel like a shortcoming of it was revealed by this thread.

We had two new users refer to other places. And that's okay; we do that frequently here for font identification. But this opens the door for anyone to come in, post a link to WhatTheFont or whatever, and then every post is potentially littered with a smattering of redundant answers. I felt somewhat badly for responding to Chris as I did, because it is helpful to those who don't know but it's really repetitive to those who have been here.

On the one hand, I'd be okay with discouraging such posts since we have those links in the tag wiki. But on the other hand, the tag wiki is a pretty obscure thing to get to and newcomers probably don't find it easily.

So, would it be possible to trigger an auto-response every time a post gets tagged with ? Perhaps a short Community Wiki answer or maybe even a comment that points the OP to the most common external resources? Maybe do a threshold where it only triggers under a certain amount of rep? Or maybe doesn't trigger if the OP mentions they they tried WhatTheFont?

There are some deficiencies in this idea, but that's why it's tagged for discussion :)

+1 I've been meaning to (and forgetting to) post almost exactly this for weeks... Something that looks for text like "What font" and pops up a noticeable but unobtrusive text box, maybe form style, "Are you asking to identify a font? What result did you get from [---]? What from [---]?" fields that populate parts of the question, and a "No, I'm not trying to identify a font" button to get rid of it. We need to be very careful though that it's a) noticable and b) not like the notorious MS Office paperclip of legend. –  user568458 Feb 20 '13 at 17:33
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4 Answers

I am strongly against idea of some answer being posted just based on a tag presented. It may lead to very confusing situations when an answer is posted, but may not even address the question, for example because the question has the tag , but is not a typical case of font identification, or because the tag was used wrongly.

I suggest creating a universal "How to identify a font" question with one long or many short community-wiki answers. This question can be then used mark the re-appearing questions as duplicates.

I don't think that font-identification questions should all be closed as duplicates, though...though the methods for finding answers are the same, the answers themselves are different. –  Brendan Mar 1 '13 at 18:36
@Brendan Answers for "How do I write pure (red|blue) colour in HTML" are different, too, still, one is a duplicate of the other one. I don't say that there are not cases needing special attention, but those are rare. Anyways, if automated answer makes sense, then duplicating makes sense as well. –  tohecz Mar 1 '13 at 19:26
Hmm. Interesting analogy...I understand your point a lot better now. I disagree with it, though, because the automated services don't always give a guaranteed answer like converting RGB to hex does. WhatTheFont and other services fail quite often. Plus, see the comments under Scott's answer. It would appear that some of these questions are being found via searching, so perhaps this kind of question is more suited to the Q&A format. –  Brendan Mar 1 '13 at 20:44
@Brendan Remember that closing is not deleting, i.e., they do not disappear from search. –  tohecz Mar 1 '13 at 20:53
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Completely agree with the auto-response or similar. This would of course mean adding a feature, which I imagine is something quite complicated to do.

The way I would do it is probably by using something similar to the "related question" box on the top: when it detects keywords or tags, it shows a dialog with the recommended services / usual paths to identification.

On the other hand, perhaps a user comes to the site for the first time to ask for a font identification, and then sees the way the site works and stays. A (very) quick glance at the statistics shows that some of the new users asking for font identification keep participating in the site, although most of them don't come back. Still, if a small percentage of them become active users, then it might be beneficial.

EDIT: There is a short description in the tag excerpt. We should probably edit it to include more sites and somehow express that "you should do everything you possibly can before asking it". But as the tags are in the bottom, they are probably the last thing you fill in and/or notice.

I like your idea for implementation. Will the Stack overlords see a feature request posted here, or do you think I should also post up on Meta Stack Overflow and see what happens? I could see a feature like this being applied elsewhere. –  Brendan Feb 19 '13 at 22:08
To be seen by overlords it doesn't need to be in SO meta, being here is enough. But it might be good to also add it to SO in order to see other opinions, and specially to think in what other ways can this be applied and be beneficial for the community. Perhaps a different site has a similar requirement. In any case, it would be useful to think of alternative implementations of such a feature :) –  Yisela Feb 19 '13 at 22:18
Hmm. Until the feature goes into effect (should this request come to fruition) there's nothing stopping this community from pasting a "boilerplate" comment onto those questions manually. Agreeing on the wording is doable in meta. If I recall correctly, Mi Yodeya did something similar. –  Aarthi Feb 19 '13 at 22:42
@Aarthi Thanks! Do you remember where they added it in Mi Yodeya? –  Yisela Feb 19 '13 at 22:57
Mi Yodeya has a standard set of comments that they sometimes leave on newbie posts. Let me try to dig up the meta post. [EDITED] AH HA… –  Aarthi Feb 19 '13 at 23:05
That's a great discussion, maybe we should agree on something like that here. –  Yisela Feb 20 '13 at 0:13
@Aarthi Mi Yodeya is not the only one. Such comments exist on other sites as well: As to the question, I suggest making a "How to identify a font" comprehensive question with one long (or many short) CW answers listing the methods how to do it; we struggle a similar problem on TeX.SX with TeX symbols, which is solved by having a universal duplicate to them: –  tohecz Mar 1 '13 at 15:57
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I, personally, have always felt "what font is this" questions are the same as idea gathering or brain storming. There are other resources for those questions and they server almost no purpose to anyone other than the original questioner. It's exceptionally unlikely anyone will ever stumble upon any of the questions via a Search Engine search. To me, these questions are simply database fillers with no benefit.

But I've been known to be wrong :)

It's a good community builder, I think...I know I like to look at every one and see if I can pick out the fonts. And, I think that if it improved here it could be a great way to draw new people to the site. WhatTheFont only serves to try to drive sales to MyFonts; Typophile has a more narrowly focused community. I agree that it doesn't serve anyone from a search engine perspective, but that's a common problem to any similar service. –  Brendan Feb 19 '13 at 16:44
@Brendan re. "it doesn't serve anyone from a search engine perspective" - not always true, for example this one has over 1,000 views, this one over 2,000 views, this one has over 4,000. When they contain known names people will search for, they bring people to the site. –  user568458 Feb 20 '13 at 17:51
I stand corrected :) –  Scott Feb 21 '13 at 17:45
In that case, perhaps it would be good practice to edit the titles of such questions so that they're more search friendly? Obviously this wouldn't be effective for arbitrary text, but if it's a logo (or anything else applicable) then "What is the font used in _____'s Logo?" is better than "What is this font?" For example, this post would be less of a "database filler" if the title of the question was "What font does safehost use for their logo"? instead of "Help identifying a font" –  JohnB Feb 21 '13 at 18:53
@John Yes, definitely. I already do exactly that, but only when I see them and have a bit of free time to do so, so I'd be all for more people doing it :) –  user568458 Feb 27 '13 at 15:51
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Had a thought for a feature request, but I generalized it and posted it over at Meta SO. Check it out there! Maybe suggesting resources before the OP presses "Post" would be the best answer.

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