Sometimes people will ask us to identify multiple stories. In this case, the correct course of action would seem straightforward: leave a comment asking them to edit the question to focus on a single story, and ask about the other story separately. If they don’t do that (or perhaps before), vote to close as “too broad,” as is usual with multiple questions in one. If the OP leaves, then the question gets closed as “too broad.” No problem here.
As we know, though, sometimes elements of various works get mixed up in story-identification questions.
What should we do, then, in the case where the querent believes that they are recalling a single, story, but are actually mixing up details from multiple works? Presumably, we should encourage the OP to edit and ask the rest separately. But what if the question is abandoned?
- We can’t close as too broad, since the OP is not around to confirm that whatever partial match we might have discovered is really it, and that it’s not merely a single work that we hadn’t considered.
- It would seem like a bad idea to provide a partial answer, because of the definite possibility that the other plot details are from separate works that need to be identified.
- It would probably be a bad idea to try to identify the other works and write a single answer, since we don’t want multiple questions in one.
What is the best course of action?