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A question was asked today about Sirius Black and whether or not he was a "dogfather" as well as a godfather. While initially not perfectly worded and receiving a couple of votes for "unclear what you're asking", the OP refined their question and it would likely have remained open had it gone through the review queue.

While the question may have been poorly received and begun off being confusing, the edits make it a perfectly on-topic question. It was certainly not opinion based in the state it was in when closed by a moderator considering that it was asking for "any evidence that Sirius Black mated with other dogs".

Given that we have an established policy that questions without an explicit canon answer are not to be closed. Although now a duplicate, this answer also suggests that "We don't know" answers are acceptable (both of the above coming from a moderator).

Is there anything I'm not seeing that makes this Primarily Opinion Based. If not, is it okay for mods to use a Close Vote as a super down-vote? Especially given they have binding votes?


I'm aware I'm one of the close voters listed, but I had voted to close it as "unclear" before it had been edited to be a coherent question. I have since voted to re-open it as it is an on-topic question even if I disagree with the content.

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    Closing as Primarily opinion based, is different to closing it as unclear. Because it is clearly no opinion based. The question shouldn't be closed because people don't like it, it should be downvoted. These meta posts will keep appearing until people stop abusing their privileges. – Edlothiad Feb 12 '18 at 14:30
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    "is it okay for mods to use a Close Vote as a super down-vote?" Of course not, and you know it. So why are you asking that question? – Null Feb 12 '18 at 15:07
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    @Mr.Riddle Users are allowed to review and vote to close/re-open based on reputation, not expertise in particular tags. Users are advised to skip reviews on posts if they're not sure what to do and avoid voting to close/re-open posts unless they are certain, but the system does not restrict them. We have tools to undo mistakes made by users, whether it's because they lack expertise in a particular tag or otherwise. – Null Feb 12 '18 at 15:13
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    @Edlothiad It's an unfounded assumption. All you know is that the mod closed it as primarily opinion based. Maybe he thought it was an interesting question but unfortunately opinion based and therefore off-topic. – Null Feb 12 '18 at 15:16
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    I am not sure why this is an issue.. The "correct" (post is now reopened) actions have been taken and were done so within a short period of time. Nothing seems to be wrong here and you just trying to call out a moderator for unknown reasons. – Skooba Feb 12 '18 at 15:17
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    @Edlothiad Then perhaps give the system a bit more time to work through non-R/A situations before trying to start a controversy. </shrug> – Skooba Feb 12 '18 at 15:22
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    @Skooba I’m curious as to why deciding action was taken that’s clearly against policy when action was being taken by community moderators to fix the question – Edlothiad Feb 12 '18 at 15:26
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    "I want to know what part of the question was deemed opinion-based." You already asked that in the preceding sentence, so I don't see how your "point of clarification" actually clarifies anything. It's an unfounded assumption because there are other possibilities for why the question was closed as POB, including that the moderator simply made a mistake. You are assuming malice before you've given the mod a chance to explain his reasoning. – Null Feb 12 '18 at 15:35
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    I've voted to close. Prurient questions about bestiality are not suitable for a site aimed at a 13+ fanbase. – Valorum Feb 12 '18 at 17:10
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    @Valorum - It's also with noting that this isn't our first question about bestiality in Harry Potter. – ibid Feb 12 '18 at 17:34
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    @Phantom - We allow questions with sexual content if that content is notable. Otherwise it's just "did character x perform sex act y on character z" filth – Valorum Feb 12 '18 at 18:46
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    Fair, but that's not what you vocally objected to, stating that you were closing because it was about bestiality not being suitable. – phantom42 Feb 12 '18 at 18:48
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    @phantom42 - Prurient is the operative word here – Valorum Feb 12 '18 at 19:43
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    @TheDarkLord - I'm pretty sure that "distasteful and objectionable" is a perfectly adequate close reason. Not every close has to fit into a neat little box. There's an 'other' button for precisely that reason. – Valorum Feb 13 '18 at 0:35
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    Related discussions: What's our tolerance for adult content? and Should questions about sex and other adult activities be off-topic?. By these measures, I don't see how it's off-topic. Low quality? Sure. But on-topic. – phantom42 Feb 13 '18 at 5:11
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The question should stay closed, and be deleted.

Setting aside the original question, which was too broad (3 separate questions) and primarily opinion based (speculation on a theory of conspiracy seemingly unsupported by any evidence), the edited question is still seemingly both primarily opinion based due to the part about the status of any offspring, and too broad due to asking two distinct questions. As was pointed out in comments, just because the two questions seem related does not mean that they actually are; you can't know that without knowing the answer, and given Rowling's stance on sexuality in her books, its pretty unlikely that no canon answer would address this in a way to let us know how related or unrelated the two questions are.

Note the part of the answer relevant to the offspring (emphasis mine):

I'd guess the offspring would be dogs (if any offspring could/does exist).

if the answer includes a guess, that's opinion based.

If the question were just about whether Sirius had any children while in Animagus form, I suppose it could be on topic... just a terrible question (as demonstrated by the number of downvotes, and the absence of upvotes).

Given that it is currently both highly downvoted, and off topic, I think it is perfectly appropriate to delete it. Leaving it as-is is a broken window.

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    There are a few flaws in your reasoning. Your argument that it is Primarily opinion based either because it's a speculative theory or because the answer uses the word guess is wrong. Firstly, an answer using the word guess doesn't make a question primarily opinion based, it makes the answer and opinion based answer. Secondly, questions where the only answer is "We don't know" are on-topic on SFF. It is therefore not off-topic, except maybe that it addresses issues we don't accept because they're "too mature". – Edlothiad Feb 19 '18 at 7:12
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    A big +1 from me. The community clearly hates the damn thing and I've no idea why people are getting so worked up keeping it. – Valorum Feb 19 '18 at 7:13
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    While I couldn't care less if this question was now deleted, the excuse that it is opinion based simply to close a question one dislikes is inappropriate. – Edlothiad Feb 19 '18 at 7:13
  • @Edlothiad There are a few flaws in your reasoning. The first is your strawman that I'm claiming that the answer determines whether it is opinion based. I said that the question is opinion based, and cited the answer as confirming that. The second is that the meta you linked indicates "not known to canon" is not sufficient reason to close, but this more of an issue that this is something that is implicitly off topic to canon, as mentioned in the answer regarding J.K. Rowlings' consistent approach of keeping this stuff out of the books. – Beofett Feb 19 '18 at 13:38
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    And saying that closing it as opinion based is "an excuse" simply to close a question "one dislikes" is highly disingenuous. 9 people voted to close it. 5 to delete it. 18 people downvoted it. And not a single person has upvoted it. If the question is garbage (and no one seems to be contesting that), then there is no reason to keep it around. – Beofett Feb 19 '18 at 13:42
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    It doesn't matter how many people voted to close or delete it. They're are not super-downvotes. Given your only reasoning for closing the question is that it's "POB" because the answer makes a guess, and is "off-topic" because Rowling "tried" to keep sexuality out of the books (even though she didn't do it well), you're also unable to find a proper reason to close it besides "people want it closed". Unfortunately, not a close reason. As is documented under the answer, I downvoted the question, and have no issue with it being deleted. However, CVs and delete votes aren't super down-votes. – Edlothiad Feb 19 '18 at 14:16
  • <comments deleted> Let's all remember to be nice here. No need to get personal. (I've tried to delete comments which were unnecessarily argumentative or personal, while leaving any others which criticise this answer or refute such criticism.) – Rand al'Thor Feb 20 '18 at 0:26
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    Closing something that is off topic is not a "super-downvote" no matter how many times you say it is. Given that your interpretation of my "only reason" for closing this is wrong, you may want to consider trying to reread the answer, since there are obviously parts you missed. Or better yet, write your own answer. – Beofett Feb 20 '18 at 16:28
  • Downvoting because it is a bad question is quite reasonable. It doesn't work either in or out of universe. Deleting it smacks of censorship though. The only legitimate reason to delete question is that it is abusive and/or illegal (e.g. defamation). – Stumbler Feb 22 '18 at 15:10
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    @Stumbler "abusive and/or illegal" being the only reason to delete questions is objectively incorrect. The argument I'm presenting is that the question is primarily opinion based, in which case closure is appropriate (and the end result of non-dupe closure is typically deletion). – Beofett Feb 22 '18 at 15:23
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Null Feb 22 '18 at 17:26
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The question should be reopened

I'll leave to one side the point about moderators, which is discussed in the comments.

Should the question have been closed as primarily opinion-based?

Ultimately, no. I can understand why the question was closed originally, as in its original form it was unclear. I can also sympathise with those who wanted to close it as opinion-based, since the events it describes don't occur in canon, nor are they hinted at in any way. Nevertheless, the question once edited was clear and objective: did Sirius procreate whilst an Animagi? The question was reopened, and rightly so.

Should the question have been closed as being off-topic?

Absolutely not. The question currently has the following close notice:

This question does not appear to be about science fiction or fantasy within the scope defined in the help center.

This isn't true, and we all know it. The question clearly is about sci-fi and fantasy, given that it's about Sirius Black and his activities as an Animagi. The question was not closed because anybody thinks that it is not a question about sci-fi and fantasy. Let's at least be honest about that point.

I suspect that the real reason the question was closed was because its tone and content were determined to be distasteful, overly graphic or obscene. This is reflected in Valorum's comment, which garnered six upvotes.

I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because questions about bestiality are not suitable for a family-orientated website.

Yet this isn't the close reason that was given (not sci-fi or fantasy). Closing questions under by artificially pretending that they're something that they're not is not helpful or constructive. The priority for some appears to have been to close the question by any means necessary, regardless of whether the close option selected was applicable or not. The question is about sci-fi and fantasy and so should be reopened, regardless of whether it's flavour of the month or not.

Of course, finding something in poor taste is a perfectly valid reason to downvote a question. It is not a reason to close a question which is otherwise on-topic. By the way, I'm not seeking to defend the question, which is bad and deserves the downvotes it's getting.

What should happen next?

As I see it, two things need to happen.

Firstly, the question should be reopened. The close reason is inappropriate and should be reversed.

However, the community has clearly made its view clear that these sorts of questions are not welcome on the site. The problem seems not to be with questions about mature themes, sexuality or bestiality, all of which have precedent on the site. The problem is with sexual questions which are unnecessarily gratuitous and salacious - and which are nowhere suggested in the source material. Since this isn't the first time this topic has come up it would seem to be an ongoing problem. The community wants a way to close these questions but there isn't one in the current set-up. I'd suggest a new close reason, probably to be decided upon in a new meta question, along the lines of 'This question concerns sexual acts which don't appear in the source material'. We should edit the description of on-topic topics to specifically debar these questions. This would allow all users (including new users) to have a means of knowing that these questions aren't welcome and the users who don't want them a means of validly closing them.

Should the question be deleted?

Since it has two delete votes I thought I'd add my two cents on this as well. No, it shouldn't - partly because it would involve losing ibid's strong answer.

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    I mean, I disagree, but I'm afraid to say so, because... You know.... You might Avada Kedavra me. – Möoz Feb 13 '18 at 3:17
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    Why should this "too broad" question be reopened? Even in it's current incarnation it's two distinct questions. So people can VTC with a new close reason? Seems like pointless housekeeping. – user31178 Feb 13 '18 at 3:17
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    @CreationEdge these are two very related questions. It certainly isn't "too broad" in the sense of it being two entirely unrelated questions which don't follow on from each other. – Edlothiad Feb 13 '18 at 6:57
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    Seemingly “pointless housekeeping” is sometimes needed because people go back to old questions to use as justification for actions/policies. “Look, THIS question was left open. That question was closed as POB.” If a proper action or close-reason can be agreed upon, better to take the 30 seconds to fix things so it causes less issue later. – phantom42 Feb 13 '18 at 12:38
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    @Edlothiad Two related questions doesn't mean they aren't still 2 distinct questions with answers completely independent of one another. "Can animagi produce offspring in animal form" and "Did Sirius do X while in animal form". – user31178 Feb 13 '18 at 16:11
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    @phantom42 We shouldn't be looking just at the close reason when deciding policy, because, as we know, the close reason displayed doesn't necessarily reflect the votes, and to implicate that we'd have to reopen re-close all questions where the system decides to display the close reason as "wrong" because some people weren't sure what to close as is a little absurd. – user31178 Feb 13 '18 at 16:13
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    @CreationEdge No but two very related questions, especially in this case, are not distinct and follow on from each other quite logically. If you’re going to claim this question is too broad you’ve got a lot of questions to be closing my friend – Edlothiad Feb 13 '18 at 16:33
  • @CreationEdge I never said we should, just that it does happen. And when we got rid of General Reference, we went through and re-closed a bunch of things. It's not totally unheard of. – phantom42 Feb 13 '18 at 16:53
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    @CreationEdge I hear you. I guess my point would be 'in an ideal world it should be reopened and then reclosed, if people think it needs to be closed at all (although I obviously don't think it should be closed at all). Whether it's worth the effort or not is debatable. For what it's worth, I agree with Edlothiad that it's not too broad. It's two related questions which can be answered together, especially since answering whether Sirius did anything (he didn't) also deals with the question of what his offspring would be. – The Dark Lord Feb 13 '18 at 20:58
  • Whether or not two characters/species have had sex does not necessarily answer the question of what their offspring would be. A thorough answer might cover both, but they are two related but separate questions. – phantom42 Feb 13 '18 at 21:11
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    reminds me of a time an intern friend was sharing with me the results of an autopsy concerning cancer cell research, and at as the subject interested both of us, we only looked around at the end seeing green faces around us. What i mean is that some topics makes people uneasy and uncomfortable, and they rather won't discuss it or hear about it. Not sure if that means we should create an 'ewww, gross' close reason... – user68762 Feb 14 '18 at 16:38

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