There are many questions with near identical names about 'recognizing a distribution', for example:

What kind of distribution is figure 2 in this study?
What kind of distribution is this via t-distribution
What kind of distribution is this? Many trials and guess the distributions for different settings
What kind of distribution is this?
What kind of distribution is this?
What kind of distribution is it?
What is this distribution?
What is this distribution?
What distribution is this?

These seemingly identical questions clutter the related questions while they are often unrelated searches:

  • About recognizing a formula;
  • Recognizing a potential distribution from a plot;
  • Recognizing a potential distribution from just a text description of a process;

Hence the 'related questions' may not help future visitors searching for either of these three, nor does using the search bar. Should we perhaps adopt a distinct way to name these kinds of questions, or flag them duplicate with some reference to canonical answer(s)?

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    +1 I believe this ambiguity and lack of good possibilities to classify/order/simplify questions/problems from a rather broad type is part of the difficulty with efficiently finding/answering questions on CV. – Martijn Weterings Aug 17 at 10:30
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    Perhaps a tag like distribution-identification might be useful? – Stephan Kolassa Aug 17 at 16:38
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    @MartijnWeterings, thanks for fixing some already. I have tagged all of these under distribution-identification and will think of a decent description of the tag. – Frans Rodenburg Aug 20 at 6:55
up vote 11 down vote accepted

I don't think a canonical answer is possible here.

That's just a case when more specific & descriptive titles are needed. If it's about a formula, it can be put into the title, e.g.:

What distribution has density proportional to $(x-1) \theta^2 (1-\theta)^{x-2}$?

If it's about a plot, then I'd try to provide some description of the plot in the title:

What is this right-skewed distribution over non-negative values?

What is this weird-looking bimodal distribution (sea-level measurements)?

etc.

BTW, the last question I asked falls exactly into this category of questions:

How is the family of distributions with PDF proportional to $(1+ax^2)^{-1/a}$ called?

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    (+1) What about if there were a question+answer that described the properties of the most commonly encountered distributions? Wouldn't that allow us to close many of these as duplicates? – mkt Aug 17 at 12:13
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    @mkt I don't know. Perhaps. But it would require a lot of work to do it well. – amoeba Aug 17 at 14:42
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    @mkt: I wonder whether that kind of encompassing answer would be a good fit to CV. Perhaps a list of potential resources might be helpful, like the NIST/SEMATECH Gallery of Distributions, or Wikipedia's list of common distributions, or a few standard textbooks. – Stephan Kolassa Aug 17 at 16:37
  • @amoeba Agreed, it would be. – mkt Aug 17 at 17:01
  • @StephanKolassa I'm not sure either. It's a kludgy workaround that lets us close a bunch of unhelpful questions, and is perhaps not worth it. I do like your tag suggestion. – mkt Aug 17 at 17:02
  • Thanks @amoeba, I think changing the titles to include the category would already be a big improvement. So is it okay if I edit the example questions' titles, or should I leave that to a moderator so I don't bump all of these questions? – Frans Rodenburg Aug 20 at 4:44
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    @FransRodenburg Mods cannot edit anything without bumping either. So I'd say you can go ahead. Thanks. – amoeba Aug 20 at 6:28

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