Over the past few years we've had several "In Memoriam" posts regarding figures that are of iconic importance to the SFF:SE community.

Given that these posts seem to be generally well received by the community, should we consider them to be explictly on-topic on Meta:SFF:SE?


As well as a respected user

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    How about: writers yes, actors no? – user14111 Dec 29 '16 at 9:56
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    Why is there no meta post about the Queen of Outer Space who passed away recently? – user14111 Dec 29 '16 at 9:57
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    @user14111 - Zsa Zsa was in a wide variety of both sci-fi and fantasy but it's hard to categorise her as an iconically SFF figure. – Valorum Dec 29 '16 at 10:01
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    @user14111 - sounds sensible, but in our celebrity addicted culture, would never fly, unfortunately :( – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 29 '16 at 13:12
  • Maybe poke around and see if other sites have these types of posts? Example: A post when Steve Jobs passed away. – Skooba Dec 29 '16 at 18:05
  • I think you forgot to mention these two. – ibid Dec 30 '16 at 7:53
  • @ibid Yes, let us launch a crusade against people posting memorials for themselves as well, despite popular consensus. – user40790 Jan 4 '17 at 23:50
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    If the site considers them "On-topic" on meta, Perhaps a way of codifying this would be to group them with a tag dedicated to this purpose? Something like [in-memoriam] or even simply [memorial]? – Robotnik Jan 12 '17 at 23:15
  • @Robotnik - I'm way ahead of you. After a couple of weeks as a "featured" question, I think we've attracted all the votes we're going to. There seems to be a modest majority for keeping them and for them being on-topic. A new tag seems sensible. – Valorum Jan 12 '17 at 23:17
  • @randal'thor - interesting. It's still showing up as featured on my sidebar... – Valorum Jan 27 '17 at 14:44


The community has already voiced its opinion on these questions. The Christopher Lee post has +33 upvotes, Terry Pratchett +34, Leonard Nimoy +29, Carrie Fisher +41 and Affable Geek +10. Although there are a small number of downvotes, they're outweighed by an average of ten to one.

Additionally, they've each successfully faced down close votes (Affable Geek, Christopher Lee, Terry Pratchett, Leonard Nimoy).

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    Much as I would prefer not to quote Gilles, "popularity!=quality". Votes should never be a guide to whether something is in or out of scope - the most voted and popular questions on SO are offtopic (boat programming, programming jokes etc...) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 28 '16 at 21:33
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    @DVK-in-Florida - No, but popularity + repeatedly fending off close votes = community acceptance. – Valorum Dec 28 '16 at 22:04
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    Nope. Those boat programming poll-fests got repeated reopen votes as well, because they were insanely popular. It took an iron fist from SE to whack them, eventually. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 28 '16 at 22:35
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    @DVK Popularity on the main site can be meaningless, but popularity on meta is how policies are formed. – Rand al'Thor Mod Dec 28 '16 at 22:42
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    @Randal'Thor - That's only true of policy questions. Like this one. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 28 '16 at 22:44
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    I find it intriguing that each of these questions has received dozens of upvotes within a day or two, yet this answer has received approx half a dozen up- and down-votes in much the same timescale. – Valorum Dec 29 '16 at 13:37
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    @Valorum The last thing you should ever claim Meta users to be is internally consistent. – user40790 Dec 29 '16 at 18:14
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    @Terriblefan - Oh, I'm under no illusions. I've also noticed a tendency for the userbase to downvote stuff I've posted, to the point that I'm tempted to create a sockpuppet for the purposes of posting meta questions. – Valorum Dec 29 '16 at 18:24
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    @Valorum - because this answer is about policy. You don't get an intrinsic moral boost in your head by discussing policy, the way you do when you praise popular celebrity. Also, I suspect some people find that downvoting a post about someone who died tacky and refrain from doing so even if they disagree with it being ontopic. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 30 '16 at 20:54
  • If "In Memoriam" meta posts for important sci-fi/fantasy figures are on topic, then we'll need to determine criteria for whether or not someone is important enough to get one. – Thunderforge Jan 8 '17 at 6:26
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    @Thunderforge Will we? Why? I think everyone is seriously overthinking this. Why can't we just carry on as before, doing our stuff on meta, with someone occasionally posting an obituary, rather than writing up pages and pages of rules to govern those (rare) obituaries? – Rand al'Thor Mod Jan 8 '17 at 15:45
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    @Randal'Thor - I posted this because I'm sick of seeing these posts have to fend off close votes. – Valorum Jan 8 '17 at 16:09
  • @Randal'Thor They have been rare so far, but I think that if this post wins out, they will become more common. I don't want someone to make a post mourning the loss for X and people downvoting it to oblivion because they don't think that person should get a post. That seems insensitive to their death. – Thunderforge Jan 8 '17 at 18:45

I'm afraid I don't see how they can be on topic

I assume this will not be a popular answer considering the positive votes gained by the posts listed in the question. I realise that there is a desire to mourn the deaths of beloved members of the SFF community, and I sympathise with it. However, there are many places to do that.

This site has rules that include adherence to a Q&A format. We downvote and close "questions" from new visitors that take the form of forum posts rather than true questions that can have concrete answers.

I don't see how we can justify closing those questions if we decide to make exceptions just because we would like to.

In response to comments

I realise that Meta is also used to make announcements about the website, such as moderator elections and changes to the Terms of Service, but those are announcements that must be made available to all participants. I don't think they are in the same category as blog or forum posts that happen to be of interest to a large number of people.

I don't dispute that the community can decide its own rules, or claim that it needs higher authority to do so. I suggest that selectively creating exceptions to the rules will weaken them and invite more off topic posts.

Again; I mean no disrespect to Carrie Fisher, and I include myself among those who mourn her. I just think there are more appropriate places to express these thoughts.

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    We can make exceptions because the site is community led. If we decide (vote) to make something on-topic, then it's on-topic. – Valorum Dec 28 '16 at 22:00
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    @Valorum I understand that we can decide to make an exception. I'm just suggesting that doing so undermines the rules that we generally try to enforce. – Blackwood Dec 28 '16 at 22:03
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    We can justify it because we want to. No additional poll needs to be taken with the "powers that be". Also, meta is different from the main site precisely to keep this sort of thing separate. – Valorum Dec 28 '16 at 22:05
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    "This site has rules that include adherence to a Q&A format" - on the main site, yes; on meta, no. PSA-style meta posts are a well-established thing across the entirety of SE. Random examples: 'questions' like this every election, or this ridiculously-highly-scored main meta 'question' by a CM. – Rand al'Thor Mod Dec 28 '16 at 22:48
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    Regarding your edit in response to comments, no, the announcements on meta are not necessarily ones that must be made available to all participants. Developer survey announcements aren't necessary for all users (or even about the site itself). Nor are Documentation announcements. If you still claim that there is a platform-wide rule declaring that the only announcements allowed on meta are ones that must be made available for all participants, please cite it or provide a reference. – Beofett Dec 29 '16 at 14:34
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    None of the questions listed has ever been closed; if there's a history of problematic "memorial" posts here, you should list some examples and describe the problems they caused. Generally-speaking, the meta site exists for discussion of anything directly relevant to the community on SF&F. – Shog9 Dec 29 '16 at 18:28
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    @Shog9 If that's the case, then as NKCampbell suggests elsewhere we should update the description of Meta. Which I don't necessarily agree with, I just like description and actuality to be in sync. – Matt Gutting Dec 29 '16 at 21:15
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    @Shog9 -The Carrie Fisher question was closed, then unilaterally mod-reopened by Thaddeus. I would consider that problematic on a variety of levels. – Valorum Dec 29 '16 at 23:19
  • Ah, thanks, I'd missed that @Valorum (for reference, here's the revision history - while it wasn't unilaterally reopened, it was at one time closed). – Shog9 Dec 30 '16 at 2:43
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    This is the generic "What is meta" description, @Matt. Purpose #1 covers pretty much anything where y'all are talking to each other. What that means in practice is mostly up to you: if there are things you don't want to talk about, then they're off-topic. My point was simply that this was rather less controversial before the question was asked than it has become afterwards - hence encouragement to cite an actual problem rather than hand-waving at non-existent rules. – Shog9 Dec 30 '16 at 2:47
  • @Beofett Exactly. Even elections aren't available to all site members (you need 150 rep to be able to vote). – Rand al'Thor Mod Dec 30 '16 at 13:50
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    @Shog9 - Given that every single example I could locate has faced close votes and downvoting, I'd hardly class this type of question as "uncontroversial". As far as the problem faced, having to babysit these questions to stop users from closing them is an annoyance. – Valorum Dec 30 '16 at 14:27
  • Everything that gets enough attention gets down/close votes, @valorum. I announce the results of an election and sooner or later someone will vote to close it; question ends up on the hot list, same result. If you want less of that, then start slapping down the boogie man - ask folks to identify a real problem. – Shog9 Dec 30 '16 at 15:09
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    @Shog9 - that (HNQ) is not just because of "enough attention" but because some HNQ questions are atrocious and would have been closed without HNQ (yesterday's Music one was clear cut "Too Broad"). The very qualities that ensure hotness (controversy, broad enough to attract many answers, often trivial enough to be easily liked) are the ones that often make them poor SE questions. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 30 '16 at 21:05
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    @Shog9 - Totally agree, my main point is simply that you shouldn't attribute VTCs to popularity only (which is how your comment read). Some are truly meaningful. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 30 '16 at 21:19

By the book: "No" (see link and block quote)

However: If the answer shall be agreed upon to be 'Yes' - then the description of what Meta is and what it is for should be modified:

Meta Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange is the part of the site where users discuss the workings and policies of Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange rather than discussing science fiction or fantasy itself. It is separated from the main Q&A to reduce noise there while providing a legitimate space for people to ask how and why this site works the way it does. Meta is for...

...Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange users to communicate with each other about Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange (asking questions about how the websites work, or about policies and community decisions)

...Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange users to communicate with Stack Overflow the company (posting bugs, suggesting improvements, or proposing new features), and

...Stack Overflow the company to communicate with the community (soliciting feedback on new ideas or features, or discussing policies that affect the whole network)

Please look around to see if your question has been asked before, and avoid asking questions that have nothing to do with Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange or the Stack Exchange network.

This is not a random discussion area; rather, it's a place for improving our community and website, together.

[emphasis mine]

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    Those are not random discussions. By the same logic we should nuke movie nights. – Gallifreyan Dec 29 '16 at 19:55
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    they are 'random' in that they do not meet the stated purpose of the site which is to facilitate administrative discussion about the site itself - not general discussion. Movie night discussion on meta falls under the scope of the site because of this answer: meta.scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/7431/… - ie - an event or something specifically associated with the running of or administration of the site is discussed. And the actual movie discussion ostensibly takes place in chat room – NKCampbell Dec 29 '16 at 19:57
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    lol - the entire site is run via rules. Else why even have any semblance of moderators or standards? Go to reddit or 4chan if you want anarchy. The question was asked - the site definition itself already has an answer. Like I said, if you don't like the rule - get it changed - I don't care really, but as written, the only answer to the stated question that isn't based on arbitrary preference or precedent is 'no' – NKCampbell Dec 29 '16 at 20:06
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    I'm not disputing the rules - they're quite clear, and I agree with your reasoning. I'm just saying that the posts we're talking about aren't random. Random would be How was Rogue One?. We're not doing anything outright against the rules, it's just a way of making the site a bit more personalized. As I said before, if we stick to those rules you quoted, we'd have to nuke movie nights, the post about memes, the post about nicks and the post about avatars. – Gallifreyan Dec 29 '16 at 20:12
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    (shrug) - I disagree. I think the items you talk about needing to nuke via strict adherence wouldn't need to go as they can more easily fall under the intended scope than the 'in memorial' items. 'In Memorium' does nothing to further or enhance the use of core functionality of, understanding of, or intention of the site. The other items do. Basically, "In Memorium" only lands here because it can't go on the main site. It should really be in chat or thesffblog.com if anything. No worries :D - happy new year – NKCampbell Dec 29 '16 at 20:21
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    I can see how memes are helpful, but avatars or nicknames are only for lulz - or am I missing something? I forgot about the blog though, it may be a nice idea. Happy New Year to you too, sir! – Gallifreyan Dec 29 '16 at 20:38
  • tracking of nicknames and avatars - iirc (haven't looked at them in a while) were handy in cases of people changing their identifiers and letting people keep track that NewNickname is really OldNickname still, or giving background information on well-known users – NKCampbell Dec 29 '16 at 20:42
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    @Gallifreian Excuse me? Did you mention 'the rules'? – Rand al'Thor Mod Dec 31 '16 at 14:48
  • @Randal'Thor - exactly! – Gallifreyan Dec 31 '16 at 16:07

Yes. These people are important to the community, and as you said -- they're popular. This is all that's necessary to make a Meta post on topic.


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