I've noticed a few list questions recently. I think it was started last year by the super popular:

More recently I've seen:

We've discussed list questions before on meta:

Generally speaking the consensus seems to be that small finite lists are OK, long lists or those that will change over time are not.

I think the BTTF2 and Dumbledore question are "long lists" and the Star Trek question will change over time (potentially with every rebooted film). Is this a fair assessment?

Has our policy on lists (consciously) changed?

  • 2
    The lists may be long, but are still definable. I think the general discussion still hold true in those older meta posts. There can be "good" list questions. Don't forget we also have also "Identify the characters" which multiple characters (I think the biggest was the Deadpool wedding one at 200+)
    – Skooba
    Dec 9, 2016 at 15:42
  • @Skooba - that's a good point about those "identify all these things in this image" questions. I think those are good because the list is clearly defined (and therefore definitely finite). Dec 9, 2016 at 15:45
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    We seem to have allowed some list questions in the back door; small lists, finite lists plus my personal least favourites "What is the first x?" and "Are there any examples of x?"
    – Valorum
    Dec 9, 2016 at 15:47
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    @Valorum - "what is the first x?" is by definition not a list question. BTW, I might have the dubious claim of starting that trend. Dec 9, 2016 at 15:50
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    @Wikis - Yes it is, albeit it asks for a list of one. I think we should explicitly bar any obvious list question that morphs into an "what is the first" question since the OP is clearly just gaming the system.
    – Valorum
    Dec 9, 2016 at 16:15
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    @Valorum - (1) unless you can read minds, you don't know if someone's "gaming" the system. (2) List questions were barred for a specific reason, and it's not the word "list" in them, but specific incompatibilities with SE Q&A format. The only thing that matters is whether the question will result in endless, ever-growing list of answers for which it's impossible to pick "correct" one. "First" questions are absolutely NOT of that kind, since only one answer can be objectively first and no new works are added in the past, and don't have any of the same downsides, and therefore fully ontopic. Dec 9, 2016 at 19:40
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    My opinion is that a list of one (while technically still a list), is what I call 'an answer'. Plus every question posted is a list of one by that definition. As long as the list isn't infinite I don't see a problem to list questions
    – Matt
    Dec 10, 2016 at 0:29
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    Possible duplicate of Are *all* list questions off-topic?
    – user31178
    Dec 10, 2016 at 6:19
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    What's different about this and these cases than the linked FAQ? However, finite and well-scoped list questions are allowed here. The answer is there. We have already allowed list questions, and the examples you linked fit that finite, scoped guideline.
    – user31178
    Dec 10, 2016 at 6:22
  • @CreationEdge: my penultimate paragraph answers this: I think all three examples violate this rule. Dec 10, 2016 at 7:00
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    @Wikis - "not finite" doesn't mean "can not change with time". It means "there is literally almost infinite amount of different answers that can be added". As such, your examples don't violate the rule. Dec 10, 2016 at 14:08
  • SE is well suited to deal with "which was first" questions through votes, although they may garner a list of answers, dealing with that is fundamental to the design of SE. - Voted to close as a dupe. TL;DR (keyword): FINITE lists are on topic. Infinite are not; nothing's changed here.
    – Mazura
    Dec 12, 2016 at 2:06
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Null Mod
    Dec 12, 2016 at 15:42

1 Answer 1


List questions were barred for a specific reason, and it's not the word "list" in them, but specific incompatibilities with SE Q&A format (specifically, that the question will result in endless, ever-growing list of competing answers for which it's impossible to pick "correct" one).

As such, specific forms of list questions are OK because they do NOT, despite being "lists", present the same incompatibilities and downsides - either due to their nature, or due to the way the site culture and community handles them routinely.

  1. By themselves, "long" list questions from a specific small domain aren't necessarily a problem; unless a specific question attracts 1-item answers instead of a comprehensive list.

    If the latter happens, that specific question can and should be closed.

    However, in my experience, most such questions do NOT devolve into "i will add 1 answer per 1 list item", and instead generate a comprehensive, canonical lists (example 1, example 2, example 3, example 4, example 5).

    Note that this even applies to situations where >1 person makes a list, as everyone involved tries to make the list comprehensive (example 1)

  2. Questions that change over time due to new works being released (especially as slowly as Star Trek reboot films) are perfectly fine on SFF.SE

    Let's point out the obvious oeliphant in the cantina - majority of Star Wars questions's answers changed after the Darth Mickey event as a result of Disney "canon" being introduced.

    Even barring that, before the dark times, before the the Empire Disney, a large proportion of Star Wars questions could have easily had their answer change over time as new canon (these days Legends) works were added at a brisk clip by LucasFilm license holders.

    If the fact that new works are added to the franchise is a problem which prevents questions from being on-topic, we shouldn't just bar list questions. We should bar any questions from un-finished franchises (pop quiz - what happens to site question count if you exclude Star Wars, Harry Potter, Star Trek, Marvel, and DC just for starters?)

  • 3
    A canon is only unfinished for as long as it takes for the rights-holder to realise that they'd like to have more money than they have now.
    – Valorum
    Dec 9, 2016 at 20:04
  • @Valorum - precisely. I was gonna add Conan as example, but didn't want to come out as too cynical. Dec 9, 2016 at 20:04

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