Can I ask question about comparison? For example, if I wanted to ask a question about comparison of Star Wars, Star Trek, Halo and Mass Effect technology tier levels.

  • 7
    Ehhhh... you can (you always can), but unless it's worded carefully it's likely to fall into "gorilla vs shark" problems... in addition, comparing tech usually means trying to relate different settings through real world physics, which is also off topic... and that's aside from something like "tier levels" being completely arbitrary and likely to be opinion based. So there's three potential close reasons right off the bat. It going to depend on the specific aim of your question, and there's definitely a minefield out that way.
    – Radhil
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 14:58

2 Answers 2


Yes (but probably no).

The very short answer is that trying to compare two different fictional universes is always going to be tricky. Over the years SE has tried to grapple with the subject of "Gorilla Vs. Shark" type questions, where you're basically comparing two dissimilar worlds. If you want to know...

"Which is the most advanced technologically, Star Wars or Star Trek?"

... for example, you're going to be on very shaky ground. Not only is this definitely a G vs. S question but it also borders very heavily on being 'unclear what you're asking' and 'opinion-based', all of which are considered valid close reasons.

That being said

If you're wanting to compare items that have a defined feature, it's possible to ask them. For example ...

"Which ship can go faster, the Millennium Falcon or the USS Enterprise?"

... would be perfectly acceptable. We know the top speed of both and can compare their movement directly with objects (galaxies, in this case) that have known dimensions.

So what should I do to avoid getting my question closed?

You've got a couple of choices. My personal suggestion would be to write the question out in notepad, precis it and post it into chat. There are usually people around (including higher-rep users with a strong knowledge of the site's policies) who'll be happy to offer advice on how to post without falling foul. You might also try posting a Meta question on the subject ("If I asked "X" would it be closed?"). You'll also get good advice but probably less interactivity.

  • Precis is a verb? Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 19:29
  • 3
    @MissMonicaE - It was the last time I checked; i.sstatic.net/OYD1w.png
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 19:36
  • 4
    This answer isn't complete without mentioning the SFF-specific Gorilla vs Shark policy. I could write up my own answer based on that, but since this answer is pretty good already, I'll just suggest that you edit to base it more on the SFF blog post than the SO one.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 23:40
  • @Randal'Thor - I'd forgotten about that. Cheerfully added.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 23:44
  • @amaranth - "Not Constructive" is no longer a valid close reason. I've voted to reopen.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 0:45
  • @amaranth - I don't see why. Even a small shuttle in the Star Wars universe is capable of outstripping the pride of the Federation. If I could be bothered, I'd work out a speed calculation but the path of the Tyderium equates to something like Warp 9.9999 on the Star Trek scale, traversing half the galaxy in less than 3 days.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 1:05
  • @amaranth Actually...
    – mbomb007
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 21:29

As an addendum to the well-received "Yes (but probably no)", and in light of the back-and-forth on this question:

Which ship can go faster, the Millennium Falcon or the USS Enterprise?

And its related meta:

Why does the community continue re-opening this particular question?

I think we should make it clear that if we are doing direct comparisons of quantifiable properties, such as speed, weight, force, etc., and the question would thus be on-topic, then it should be done under the assumption that if the universes are using the same units of measurement as one another (or, rather, as we use in reality), that they can be considered equal.

That is to say, we don't need to question whether or not the fictional universes are somehow fundamentally different on some quantum level, or using weird amounts despite being portrayed to us, the readers and viewers, using our language.

Absent any contrary information explicitly given in the works, we should assume that 1 second, 1 newton, 1 gram, 1 lightyear, etc. etc. are equal between the universes being compared and our own.

  • Pssh. Parsecs are clearly measurements of time in the SW universe.
    – phantom42
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 1:57
  • @phantom42 Maybe not
    – user31178
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 2:03
  • I think the Millennium Falcon question was closed largely because it smells like Gorilla vs. Shark.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 7:50
  • @Valorum Right, and having the implicit assumption be "all else being equal" kind of thing, as I suggest, helps cover that smell.
    – user31178
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 7:52
  • @creationedge - My thought is that the fact that they might be different is, in itself, quite interesting.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 8:29
  • @Valorum From what I saw, there were pages of arguments about that question in the comments, plus an answer that was just a continuation of that argument about the possibility of different measurements, a full set of close votes, and a reopening that involved a moderator, all because no edit was made to the question to make the implicit be explicit. That's a lot of drama to subject an asker to, for no good reason that I can tell.
    – user31178
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 8:37
  • @CreationEdge - and while that's true, it's not always obvious that units are the same. In Star Wars, for example, a week is only 5 days long.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 10:59
  • "Absent any contrary information explicitly given in the works"
    – user31178
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 13:30

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