Do questions on EL&U need to contain the text that forms the topic of the question, or can they essentially be just a link to a video?

Consider this question:

It asks, "What does the woman say in the movie?", and gives a link to the movie, or perhaps to the relevant section. The question is impossible to answer without going into the link. Relying on links, of course, leaves the post at the mercy of link rot and the like. Link-only questions tend to get short shrift at EL&U, and even across other SE sites for this very reason. This could be considered sufficient reason to close the question.

However, audio-to-text transcription is by nature difficult to reduce to text in the asking. Aside from that (and from the research requirement), it fits the FAQ guidelines of being reasonably scoped, answerable definitively, and so on.

Some research on this meta question:

The TV program question relates to subtitles, but that doesn't help here because subtitles are reducible to text.

In the other case, gestures were ruled out because they weren't English, but with the transcription question, we're dealing with English all the way through.

So ... is the transcription question on-topic at EL&U?


2 Answers 2


Related to this are

All of those indicate that transcription requests are off-topic, principally because there is no general point which can be drawn: in the old-style close reasons, such questions are "too localised". These days we'd need to use the write-in vote.

It may be time to formalise the guidance and update the help text to include transcription requests as off-topic, as that was the runaway winner in 2017.


Taking off my moderator hat for a moment, i.e. chipping in as a regular member of the site:

No. Video or audio only questions must be off topic.

The problem with link rot is a big one. However SE does not host videos, so an external link is the best we can hope for. On the other hand, I would never trust a link to a document on Google drive. Seems like a security nightmare.

The main issue, as J.R. explains well in the meta question you have linked to, is the lack of context.

At a minimum the post should have a best guess transcript, with questionable words left as blanks to be filled in, title of the work, and time stamp would be enough to keep the question relevant even if the link rots.

If it's a personal recording, then I doubt the answers would be helpful to anyone but the OP, so I would suggest we limit questions to works that might be called "noteable". I don't think we want to answer questions about your voicemail, but maybe local TV news is OK?

I don't know where the limits should lie, exactly.


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