Recently, I asked What are the manufacturer codes for rebranded lenses?

My intent when writing the question is that people with knowledge of different distributors and brands could write new answers, similar to What do all those cryptic number and letter codes in a lens name mean?. However, it's been suggested that the question is too broad and should focus on just one distributor or brand (Vivitar).

Should there be a single question for this topic or multiple, near-duplicate questions for each distributor/brand?

  • Another option is to fold it into What do all those cryptic number and letter codes in a lens name mean? since the serial number in which manufacturer identity is encoded is a "cryptic number".
    – xiota
    Dec 18, 2018 at 2:39
  • Someone voted to close this question as "primarily opinion-based". :-/ This is meta — the point of which is to help settle the site's collective opinions.
    – mattdm
    Dec 25, 2018 at 18:57
  • All of meta can be closed now.
    – xiota
    Dec 25, 2018 at 19:48

1 Answer 1


Neither of the other options are really right. Instead, ask a single question about the actual problem you are having. This site is not a good place for exhaustive lists.

The question What do all those cryptic number and letter codes in a lens name mean? is proof that this is a problem — it was a horrible mess until scottbb took a significant amount of time and broke it into per-brand answers, and even then it's still not pretty.

  • The "actual" problem is there are a whole bunch of lenses for which I want to identify the manufacturer. They are branded by distributors who are known to have encoded the actual manufacturer in the serial number, such as Vivitar, Sears, K-Mart, JCPenney, and others. If I ask "How do I identify the manufacturer?" I technically already know the answer – it is encoded in the serial number, and I need to find a manufacturer list somewhere.
    – xiota
    Dec 18, 2018 at 6:31
  • 1
    But do you literally actually have those lenses (not "actually" in quotes), or do you just want there to exist a list?
    – mattdm
    Dec 18, 2018 at 12:22
  • The issue is if I ask how to identify a lens without specifying that I know the manufacturer is encoded on the product, someone will write that as the answer, which is useless info (that I already know) b/c the manufacturer can't be identified without the list. I could write Qs for specific lenses, but that significantly limits the usefulness of the answers to anyone else b/c the distributors used multiple manufacturers.
    – xiota
    Dec 18, 2018 at 17:07
  • 1
    @xiota I'm with Matt on this one. There's nothing inherently wrong about the questions you're asking. It's just that they're several copy/paste questions that are essentially a string replacement template of each other (i.e., s/Vivitar/Sears/, etc.). That's a code smell that perhaps you're applying the wrong tool (Stack Exchange) to the problem of cataloging what you want. It has all the hallmarks of asking for list-style information or answers, much like a wiki. In fact, the primary resource for the Vivitar answer is a MediaWiki-powered wiki.
    – scottbb Mod
    Dec 18, 2018 at 17:51
  • The point of the "lens number and letter codes" question is that it was in response to frequent questions (and ancillary questions during discussions) here, so that the site wouldn't get cluttered answering the same trivial information over and over. As a list-type question, it certainly doesn't fit the normal Stack Exchange pattern well. However, it is the exception that proves the rule.
    – scottbb Mod
    Dec 18, 2018 at 17:57
  • @scottbb What you describe is the aftermath. There was originally a single Q that got flagged as "too broad" and mattdm's suggestion was to limit to just Vivitar, which necessitated the creation of the other Qs to cover the lenses I want to identify the manufacturer of.
    – xiota
    Dec 18, 2018 at 17:58
  • @xiota And my point is that, on the whole, it has all the appearances of applying the wrong tool to solve the problem. I don't see a need to examine each step along the way or subdivide or atomize the issues. From 40,000 feet, it just has a code smell, is all.
    – scottbb Mod
    Dec 18, 2018 at 18:00

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