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Today a general question about vampires* was put on hold as 'too broad'. as no fictional universe was specified.

But we also have this question which is pretty recent, with 15 UV's and 2 favs about the specs of fangs in 'typical vampire lore'. It is a fascinating one really, but if 'vampire lore' is too board then it follows that a question about 'typical vampire lore' should be also characterized as such. And there is another one that looks like a market research of IKEA trying to find new clients among the undead with no discrimination whatsoever whether they are from D&D, True Blood or Dresden Files. I mean, there is no unambiguous answer to it, Spike from BTVS for example can fall asleep in any position and place, in a bathtub or on Buffy's bosom, and Undead Cedric from the Twilight saga apperenty never sleeps, but we can still learn a lot answering these questions and there are many users who are interested having them, some of these closed questions have 40+ upvotes.

So all this is a bit confusing. Say a new user drops in, (maybe he's even here as he found one of SFF 'general' vampire questions and decides it's the place to ask another one or even users who are familiar with SFF) how they are supposed to know why it is ok to ask a general question about fangs and sleeping patterns but not about the 'aging process' or 'bodily functions' of a vampire? There is no consensus in all these subjects in various vampire lores, so how should one guess which questions are allowed here?

Maybe I am being too naive, but shouldn't be there consistency in flagging questions to avoid confusion?


  • The same applies to tags 'werewolf', 'dragon','basilisk', 'zombie', and all the other creature tags. Except barlogs. They're fine.
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    Possible duplicate of What's our policy on questions about fantasy/sci-fi creatures that aren't directly related to a specific on-topic work? The highest-voted answer there (admittedly by a narrow margin) says that such questions should not automatically be closed as too broad. – Rand al'Thor Oct 30 '16 at 19:43
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    The site only went live in 2011, so yes, a question from 2012 is very old for us. – phantom42 Oct 30 '16 at 20:44
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    @phantom42 There's no "should have been closed" about it. There is no consensus in favour of closing these questions. Therefore any close votes reflect single users' opinions and not community consensus - that's what downvotes are for, not close votes. – Rand al'Thor Oct 30 '16 at 20:51
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    There's also no clear consensus that they should be left open. I'll continue voting as I see fit until such time. – phantom42 Oct 30 '16 at 21:01
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    @phantom42 maybe i am mistaken but it seems many users favour the simple trivia questions that can be answered by a single wiki quote. Many of those show little or zero research effort, give no challenge and a few seconds of googling can supply an acceptable answer. Yet these seem to be popular here. On the other hand, when faced with a bit more complex question about analysing an archetype etc. questions that ahould be within a SFF site's scope we got DVs and flags. It's sad :-( – user68762 Oct 30 '16 at 21:34
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    "The main problem here is with people keeping them open on the basis of personal preference, despite the lack of consensus." See how that works? – phantom42 Oct 31 '16 at 1:53
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    Apparently we all suck - "wow you all really suck. This forum went DOWNHILL since the past couple years!! A question like this would have 20 answers by now a couple years ago!!" – user73470 7 hours ago – Valorum Oct 31 '16 at 12:20
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    @Randal'Thor The accumulated personal preference of the close-voters is the community consensus in this case. A lack of consensus to close is also a lack of consensus to leave open. If there is no clear meta consensus about it, then people are free to close- (and reopen-) vote how they deem fit, because that is how they shape such a consensus then. – TARS says Reinstate Monica Oct 31 '16 at 12:43
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    @Valorum Yep, I saw that too. I wonder how many more users will leave the site because of all the most interesting questions being closed, until all that's left is trivia which you can answer using Google-fu and novelisations? – Rand al'Thor Oct 31 '16 at 22:39
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    @Randal'Thor - Hmm. The kind of person who goes off on an abusive rant because their poorly scoped question gets closed is hardly likely to be a great loss to the site. I guess we'll survive. – Valorum Oct 31 '16 at 22:41
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    Closing any question requires taking action, while leaving them open doesn't. Should we just leave everything open? For someone who advocates leaving things lie because it doesn't hurt anyone and requires action, you sure do a lot of cleanup of things - including things you shouldn't be cleaning up. – phantom42 Nov 1 '16 at 2:35
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    @phantom42 - no, we should leave questions open that haven't been agreed by community as violating the rules of what should be open. And if you don't like people cleaning things up, bring it up on Meta instead of rudely sniping ad-hominems in comments – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 1 '16 at 22:58
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    @CahirMawrDyffrynæpCeallach - NO. VTRO is much much much harder to obrtain, because the pool of people who is interested in extra work to VTRO is far smaller, due to VTRO not being available till the question is already closed and therefore off the active list. And not everyone actively hounds VTRO and close vote review queues. So a specific question being VTCed but not reopened is NOT an accurate reflection of entire community's consensus, due to VTC-friendly time/exposure bias. (I would also be unsurprised if some people actively skip already-closed questions, trusting others' judgement) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 1 '16 at 23:01
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    If you think the question should be left open, you're more than welcome to vote to leave it open, or vote to reopen it. Until policy by consensus is reached, the system is working exactly as intended - moderation by the community. – phantom42 Nov 2 '16 at 4:16
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    And not everyone actively hounds VTRO and close vote review queues. All of the queues usually sit at 0 pending reviews... enough people hound the close and re-open queues that anything that gets a single vote from one person is quickly reviewed by a few other people. – Ward - Reinstate Monica Nov 2 '16 at 8:28
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The vote on whether or not these questions are globally on topic or off topic is essentially a tie. (At this time, if I remove my votes on the two answers, for instance, it becomes a tie.)

In such a case, our only recourse as users is to use the privileges we've earned: upvote/downvote (or not), vote to close (or not), vote to reopen (or not).

This is a case where an actual exercise of community moderation, bottom-up policy, is going to prevail. That's opposed to a top-down policy of meta deciding how we're supposed to use our privileges.

So, voting will likely be inconsistent, as individual users with the combination of interest and privileges will vary. Just because someone votes a certain way on meta doesn't mean that they will ever actually take that review action. So, we should be guided instead by those who put their money where their mouth is.

Until/unless a global policy is truly decided, we need to make do with what we have. In this case, we also have the ability to raise a specific meta question about opening/closing a single question (as has always been the case) to draw community attention to something in need of moderation.

A similar question was recently brought up on Meta.SE, and the consensus there is largely the same as what I've stated here, albeit a little more succinctly eloquent:

Allow such questions to be voted on (including vote to close) as they present themselves to each user eligible to vote i.e. a case-by-case basis


Of note here, is that if we look at how the community is moderating itself, these questions should be closed. That's how we've done it in the past. That's why none of the closed questions listed here: What's our policy on questions about fantasy/sci-fi creatures that aren't directly related to a specific on-topic work? have been reopened.

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No, we aren't fully consistent with close-votes, especially on this kind of question.

Close-votes are always done manually rather than by the system, so there's always an element of human error. This is particularly true with questions of the type you're talking about - questions about general sci-fi/fantasy creatures or concepts which aren't specific to a single fictional universe - because these questions have been a point of contention for a while.

There was a meta post a few months back, What's our policy on questions about fantasy/sci-fi creatures that aren't directly related to a specific on-topic work?, which tried to nail down a clear community policy on questions of this kind. As you can see, the community is rather divided: 15 upvotes for "these questions should be on-topic" vs 14 for "these questions should be closed". With such a close race between two conflicting views and no clear consensus, we should of course abide by the status quo: leave these questions open unless they're blatantly opinion-based, unanswerable, or otherwise have no place on the site. The site's community-determined scope has never been defined so as to exclude questions which aren't universe-specific.

Unfortunately, not all of our close-voters are abiding by this. Questions such as What Bodily Functions Work in Vampires? and Aren't zombie outbreaks self defeating? and What Happens to Zombies that Don't Eat? and Why are vampires not rotten like other undead? which were posted back in 2011 or 2012, highly voted, and considered perfectly fine for this site for years have been closed in recent months for no apparent reason, despite there being no meta consensus supporting the closure of such questions. A glance at the list of close-voters on each question reveals many of the same names cropping up again and again: essentially there's a small clique of high-rep users voting to close these questions against community (non-)consensus.

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  • The status quo is not that we leave these questions open. The status quo is that we close poorly scoped questions. We even have an entire close reason specifically to deal with them. Now I'll admit that the policy isn't well supported (either way), but it is what it is. – Valorum Oct 31 '16 at 0:39
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    @Valorum What do you mean by "poorly scoped" and "an entire close reason specifically to deal with them"? The Too Broad close reason is not specifically to deal with non-franchise-specific questions, and the status quo is not that such questions should all be closed. If by "poorly scoped" you just mean "too broad" rather than non-franchise-specific, then yes, sure; the issue then becomes whether non-franchise-specific questions are necessarily too broad. – Rand al'Thor Oct 31 '16 at 0:47
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    Poorly scoped = "Are all vampires x"? They're the definition of too broad since they require an essay to answer them effectively. good answers would be too long for this format.". It's not that it's impossible to provide a good answer to "Are Vampires undead", it's that categorising all vampires in fiction by undeadness would take pages and pages, even if you just broke them down into broad categories. – Valorum Oct 31 '16 at 0:49

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