How to ask for help identifying people / places / pictures / etc

Submitted by David on Sat, 12/11/2010 - 18:23

Some tips to help you get the best answer to your question:

1. Ask here on the website, not by email

So instead of sending me an email with your question, please post it up on the website.

Why? A couple of reasons:

  • Then the question & answer are publicly available. Next time someone asks the question, there's a good chance they'll search the web and find the answer straight away. The goal of is to share information about Hong Kong's history, not build up my private collection.
  • You'll get a better answer. Instead of just me reading the question, several people will see it. You'll have a better chance to get an answer, and hear different opinions on what's the right answer.

2 Ask your question the best way

And you'll increase your chances that the right person will find it. (You'll need to be logged in to for the following links to work. Click here to create an account and log in.)

3. Tell us why you're interested in the answer

It helps us get interested too!

Because you're writing an article about the subject? Trying to clear up an argument about family history? Let us know.

4. Tell us what you already know

Again, is about sharing what we all know. The more detail you can give us, more likely you are to get a good answer in return.

So if "Guys, need help identifying this photo" is the first and only thing I hear from you, don't expect a rush to reply!

5. Tell us where you've already looked for answers

And tell us which of these resources you've tried.


  • Show you've already done your homework. If you ask a question, and the answer turns up with one google search, it seems like you're too lazy to look yourself.
  • Save us from duplicate work. It's frustrating to spend time searching for information, then be told "Yeah, I've already looked there too".

6. Check back for answers

You might get a reply the next day, or it might take a week or two.

And the way the internet works the person with the answer might not find your question 'til months later when they are searching for something similar.

So check in from time to time to see what's new.

7. Leave comments to keep the conversation going

If you find part or all of the answer to your question, please come back and leave a comment to let us know. That will often trigger off another round of comments, and give you a better answer.

Even a thankyou for any answers will help encourage more people to join in the conversation.

8. Give back

Increase your internet karma!

If you find the resources here are helpful, please spare 30 minutes of your time to help us put the old Hong Kong Jurors Lists online. It only takes 30 minutes to finish a page, and the work is all done by volunteers.

Regards, David