We have had a long-standing policy of closing "future works" questions as POB.

What is unclear, and seemingly disagreed upon is exactly what constitutes a "future work".

Is it works that we know for sure will exist/be released? Things we assume will exist/be released? Things that just maybe will exist/be released?

Where do we draw the line? Even a work that we know is coming may not answer a question as we assume it will. Do we close those questions as future works?

  • Does the “future work problem” even apply to real world projects in development, or is it meant to primarily address canon elements? For example, I would not consider a question like “I read on B5 message board that a reboot series is in the works. What is its status?” to be a “future work” question that even falls in context of the close/no-close issue; the answer may be: “yes, see this statement by JMS,” or it may be “No, see this statement y JMS…” but the nature of the question is about a current information, not future information. Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 18:05

3 Answers 3


To formalize my comments above:

  1. Any works that aren't available to pull canon from are FWP. Every single variant listed in the question (Is it works that we know for sure will exist/be released? Things we assume will exist/be released? Things that just maybe will exist/be released?) are FWP.

    The only relevant criteria for FWP is "The answer cannot be given to the question until and unless a specific future work is released and its contents would offer the answer". The timing or likelyhood of such future work is irelevant.

  1. However, there's one notable exclusion: canon in progress.

    More specifically -

    • If a specific canon has some published works already

    • And it also has some future works (planned, maybe, or unknown)

    • And, the question is phrased specifically so that it can be answered in the context of already published works

    • Then, such question is not FWP, even though in theory there are future works that may alter answers to such a question.

    • Just to be clear, any questions very specific to not-yet-published canon are still FWP, as per the first rule.

    To clarify, specific examples. Assume the time frame to be 2018, after release of Star Wars episode 7 and 8, but before release of Episode 9. And we don't yet know if they will do 10-12 aside from vague rumours.

    • "In Episode 8, did Spoiler spoiler the Spoiler?"

      On-topic, since Episode 8 is released.

    • "In Episode 9, did Spoiler spoiler the Spoiler?"

      VTC as future works, since Episode 9 is not released yet; and the question cannot be answered well from episode 8.

    • "In Star Wars, did Spoiler spoiler the Spoiler?"

      On-topic, since the answer isn't bound to unreleased works. We can answer it based on Episodes 1-8.

      "No answer known yet but may be revealed in future works" is an excellent answer but NOT a valid reason to VTC

      This is a bit difficult to do with precision in all cases, as some questions may be borderline (in a sense of, it may ask about something technically about Episode 8, but to any canon expert, it's clear that the answer will be unknown till Episode 9 - personally I'd be OK with FWPing such a question but wouldn't be heartbroken if it stays open).

      To try to illustrate by example again:

      • "Did *Character who was seen dying in Episode 8" really die?"

        FWP, since the answer is impossible until Episode 9 is released.

      • "Who are Rey's parents?"

        VALID. NOT FWP. Because even though we may have a better answer from Episode 9, we already have enough canon info from Episodes 7-8 to be able to answer this.

To illustrate why this is the right policy, Let's look at Star Wars franchise.

If we scope this policy any differently (e.g, we close as FW any general franchise question not explicitly localized to unreleased item), it means that 100% of new questions about Star Wars should be closed until entire franchise completes including all future books and comics - even questions about Episode VII specifically are likely to have an answer "don't know yet; but may be answered in Episode IX" (and, we have a firm policy that a question should not be treated differently based on whether it has an answer or not; which means we can't distinguish differently between E7 questions that have an answer and E7 questions that don't YET have an answer but may get one in E9).

P.S. @phantom42 just posted another answer to this Meta question. As per our comment discussion, there seems to be little to no difference between the policy proposed in their answer and in this answer here - the answer differ in wording and explanation, but the policy is pretty much the same.

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    @phantom42 - No, because it CAN be answered ("Luke liked milk X in EU book Y", or, in the unlikely case that is not stated anywhere, "Luke is not described as liking ANY milk in any of the works in SW canon/EUnon published till 2018" based on textual search evidence Z). In either case, the question CAN generate a good, authoritative, provably correct answer, so it should not be VTCed. The mere fact that some hypothetical future work might provide a better answer is not grounds for considering one of the answers I listed "good", and therefore not grounds to VTC. Commented May 2, 2018 at 16:54
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    @phantom42 - contrast that with a true FWP situation: "what abilities would Luke have as a Force Ghost different from Yoda or OB1" - as worded you can't conceivably give any good answer to that until future post-Episode 8 works are released. Commented May 2, 2018 at 16:58
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    This will mean that answers may be dynamic or become outdated as the body of canon grows. I'm not saying that's a bad thing - just a statement of fact. Doctor Who is a great example of a franchise with such questions: see e.g. this one where the accepted answer has been updated over time, this one where the accepted answer is no longer "most correct", and this one where acceptance was changed due to new canon and a new answer.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 17:18
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    @Randal'Thor - that's normal in both Star Wars and Harry Potter. Commented May 2, 2018 at 17:36
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    @phantom42 - i'm not sure i'm expressing myself clear. "sure, but what if they answer that later" is NEVER a valid reason for a question to be VTCed vs. not. It either already has a valid non-opinion answer (even if that answer is "no answer in current canon"), then it stays open; or it can't have a valid non-opinion answer (because it explicitly requires future material), in which case it's FW VTC. In other words, the rules work in OPPOSITE direction: it's only FWP if it provably requires future canon to answer at all. Commented May 2, 2018 at 17:57
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    And how do we draw the line between "we don't know" being a reasonable answer (because, well, we don't know) and closing as FW?
    – Möoz
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 1:17
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    @Möoz: I think DVK's answer does that quite well, actually. "We don't know" is a reasonable answer unless it's really obvious that the question can only be answered using unreleased material. "Maybe it's in Legends somewhere, but actually I can't find it" -> "We don't know." "It's impossible to answer that question because the story hasn't gotten there yet (but will)" -> VTC.
    – Kevin
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 2:36
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    100% of new questions about Star Wars should be closed until entire franchise completes including all future books and comics This is an incredibly naive viewpoint to have. One could very easily ask a question that is clearly answered in a released work without needing a future work to outline the details. If you're convinced this isn't the case I question what site you've been looking at.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 7:46
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    @Möoz - (1) Interviews may be part of FWP, but as stated above, FWP is at its best when dealing with specific future works. I really don't think anyone will ever ask "will JKR say XYZ in next month's interview", but if they do, it's FWP question. However, a question is NOT FWP merely because its current answer is "no to-date interviews covered it, but some future interview might". Commented May 3, 2018 at 12:11
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    @Edlothiad - Considering that later Star Wars canon supersedes and overturns such "clearly answered" answers, nope. Either your policy makes nice with the fact of evolving canon, or it doesn't work as a policy. Commented May 3, 2018 at 12:17
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    @Edlothiad - "we don't know" (with proof) isn't a poor, low quality answer, assuming it shows the work done to prove that we don't actually know. And there can only be one of those (with any next ones flagged to be deleted as saying same thing as earlier answer). And yes, I'm pretty emphathic on this point: The mere fact that a question's answer is "we don't know" is not grounds to close the question. Ever. The FWP isn't about "we don't know", it's about "we can't know until ...". Commented May 3, 2018 at 12:19
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    I definitely disagree with this idea from @Edlothiad: While those questions are on-topic, the likelihood for these questions to be answered in the next/later instalment of the series is incredibly high. because we've consistently seen where sequels refuse to answer questions that previous films elicited. There's no "incredibly high likelihood", there's just "incredibly high hope". We should not be closing questions on speculation, especially considering the wealth of outside material available these days (tie-ins, comics, books, cast/crew interviews, directly contacting creators).
    – user31178
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 15:55
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    @Edlothiad - "I am randomly guessing this may be speculation" isn't a sufficiently evidence/reason to declare a question worthy of closing. Commented May 4, 2018 at 12:42
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    @Edlothiad - there's a difference between "has no sourced answer" and "I have proof that it cannot have sourced answer". Think of it as VTC version of presumption of innocense. The question is presumed answerable until theres a (up till the standard of proof) proof that it isn't. Commented May 4, 2018 at 12:59
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    The issue here, as it appears to me, is that edlo seems to feel that "we don't know" or answers that are not 100% citable are low quality and should thus be banned. The problem is that we have multiple historical metas that say both of those things are perfectly fine (as in they are allowed). If you want to change those policies, open new metas.
    – phantom42
    Commented May 4, 2018 at 14:29

Hogwarts Future Works: A History

Let's first look at the questions that inspired the original Future Works discussion.

With the exception of the Magneto question, all of the questions are ones with blatantly obvious answers if the OP would just wait until the work was released. Until that time, the best we could do is speculate - sometimes good, logical, informed speculation - but speculation, nonetheless.

Some of these questions were generating a lot of back and forth discussion for absolutely no reason, other than the fact that we were discussing things based off of intentionally incomplete information. OPs were asking about things in trailers, and about movies which hadn't even been written yet.

We knew for sure that just waiting until the movies were released, we'd learn the plot of Star Wars Episode 7, or why Batman and Superman were fighting, or how the X-Men would defeat Apocalypse. By waiting, we could also pretty safely bet that we'd learn more about the Hulkbuster's pilot (though, this was kind of moot since we already had leaked information that answered this), or get a better explanation as to how Magneto was pulling Mystique. All we had to do was wait.

So, we created the Future Works Policy, shunting these sort of questions until a later date.

"We might learn the answer later" vs "We will (almost) definitely learn the answer later"

In today's world of reboots, revivals, and sequels, the fact is that almost any question could theoretically get an answer at a later date. We shouldn't just close questions because they might get an answer later. We need some sort of likelihood of an answer. It's important to remember that not everything is a Chekhov's Gun, and may not be addressed later.

Franchises like Star Wars have sort of spoiled us. Every character has a backstory, and on a long enough timeline, just about every character will have their backstory written about, no matter how fleeting their part in the movie. But we don't know for sure that we'll ever learn what age Biggs and Luke met. Maybe we will, maybe we won't. To date, there has been nothing to indicate that we actually will. Conversely, as I understand it, we do have ample reason right now to believe we'll learn how Han Solo and Lando met (I haven't watched the trailers, myself).

Similarly, the Russo brothers have promised that we'll get a better explanation as to the whereabouts of Ant-Man and Hawkeye at a later date.

It's OK to admit that we just don't know

We established long ago that questions without canonical answers are just fine. Sometimes, we just don't know the answer, and it's perfectly ok to say that as an answer. Logical Speculation is ok. If it's not Future Works, answer to the best of your ability. That might mean saying, "based on these canon bodies of works, there's just no clear answer" or "nothing definitive is ever stated, but there's strong evidence pointing to [this]."

So what's the difference? Where is the line?

I'd say that anything based on trailers, specifically about announced works, or otherwise outright promised by someone authoritative that we'll get an answer later would be defined as Future Works.

Questions about elements merely set up for possible later attention or answer should not be defined as Future Works.

Future Works: How will the ending of Infinity War be dealt with in Avengers 4?

Not Future Works: Where did Groot get his video game?

Future Works: Why does Cable want to kill the kid in Deadpool 2?

Not Future Works: How did Wade Wilson become a mercenary assassin in the XCU?

  • What about the recent question of "What happened to the Nova Corps in IW?"
    – Edlothiad
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 11:20
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    First off, that wasn't the question. "what happened to them?" is straight up a question about a released work. The question was "do they still exist AFTER infinity war?" and it's still not a FW. Will we get a more concrete answer? Maybe. When will it be? Who knows. It's possible it might be in the next Avengers or Guardians movie - or it may be in the Nova movie which Marvel has said is a "possibility". It may also just not happen at all.
    – phantom42
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 11:51
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    In the meantime, "we don't know, but Thanos usually only kills half of a population, so it's entirely possible that only half of the Nova Corp were killed and that the rest are still operating in some capacity" is a perfectly valid answer based on available information.
    – phantom42
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 11:51
  • Well given that the Nova Corp isn't a race, but part of the people of Xandar there's every chance that the whole Nova Corp was wiped out, there's also the chance that none of them were wiped out. Do you not think the answer would be far more speculative than the "good" answers we try to ensure this site maintains?
    – Edlothiad
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 12:10
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    I do not. There is nothing wrong with informed speculation.
    – phantom42
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 12:13
  • And what would be the "informed" in this sense?
    – Edlothiad
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 12:15
  • Could you please elaborate what the difference is between your proposed policy and the policy proposed in my answer? I may be dense, but they seem to be either wholly identical or very similar (even if identical, this is still a great answer and I upvoted it if for now other reason than for laying out the reasoning very well) Commented May 3, 2018 at 12:27
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    @DVK-on-Ahch-To Very little to none. My goal here was to provide some more context and perhaps a little more clarity.
    – phantom42
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 12:29
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    @phantom42 - gotcha. One or both of our answers should probably clarify that, so people don't spent time trying to find the difference like I just did :) Commented May 3, 2018 at 12:31
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    Informed or logical speculation is writing a speculative answer based on facts that we know and can provide citations for, not just "i bet this happened". Where did Groot get his video game? We don't know for sure, but Peter had his walkman with him when he was taken. The game is from the same era, so it's possible and likely that he had his game with him at the time too.
    – phantom42
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 12:32

This is how I would state what a "future work" is:

"A work that has a reasonable expectation of being released at the time the question is asked that will likely to contain an answer to the question."

Now breaking that down we need to define a few more things:

  • A "reasonable expectation" is: Part of a planned series that has been announced by the content creator/controller (e.g. Star Wars, Fantastic Beasts films, MCU films, A Song of Ice and Fire novels). The timing should not impact this, if a film is set to be released in 1 month, 1 year, or 10 ten years the question remains a "future work" unless something changes (e.g. the sequels get scrapped or a supplementary work like novelization/comic/TV show is released).
  • At the time the question is asked is self explanatory, but to give an example, there were no absolute plans to create sequels to Avatar (the blue cat people film) so any questions asked (that did not have any other valid close reasons) would not be closed per the "future works policy". They could however be given a "we don't know" answer. In addition, questions that are asked and answered prior to future works being announced should remain open. A new answer can be provided if and when the canon changes.
  • Likely to contain an answer is perhaps the most ambiguous and I fear the end result becomes a "I know it when I see it". However, it also the least important part of the definition. If we know a sequel is going to be released we probably know there will be more answers there. The exception is could think of is if the content creator states that a sequel will not a be related to the previous work (which would be odd but not impossible).

As I was writing this I saw a comment that is relevant and I agree with... If a question can be answered with existing canon, the future work policy would not apply.

Also keep in mind, that as we strive to be good stewards of our community, that we need to explain this to new users, and help them along in posting good questions. I would make it a point to any OP that closure is not permanent, and that if someone comes along with an answer the question can be reopened in short order. I don't have any data offhand to back it up, but my personal experience has been that we as community have a good track record of doing just that.

  • Re: Avatar - now that Cameron announced 4 sequels, would you suggest we go back and close any "we don't knows" as FWP?
    – phantom42
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 15:11
  • @phantom42 Good point, but I would say that if at time the question was asked and answered it was not future works and should remain open. I will probably update my answer to cover this. As DVK said, we shouldn't close all our Star Wars questions just because a new sequel/prequel/spin off is announced.
    – Skooba
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 15:16
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    -1 for "likely to contain an answer". The key word I disagree with there is "likely". I only support closing as FW if the future work will contain an answer. For example, "What happens to so-and-so in this trailer?" will clearly be more answerable once the movie that the trailer is for is released. Since no one know what a future work will contain, it's pure speculation that a future work will "likely" answer the question. It's better to err on the side of keeping such questions open, IMO. In such cases it's perfectly acceptable to answer "I searched here and there, but we don't know."
    – Null Mod
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 15:44
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    @Null I disagree, likely is actually a good indicator. Besides, what happens in trailers often does not happen in the movie, so we can never be sure. So all we have to go by is how likely it is to be answered. Especially since most answers will undoubtedly include "we don't know, yet it will likely be revealed in X"
    – Möoz
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 1:24
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    And how many "we don't know" answers are we going to be ok with, if it tends to be somewhat evident that we will get an actual answer after a certain period of time?
    – Möoz
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 1:25
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    I'd agree that we probably have to accept some sort of degree of "likely", but I think we should stay closer to Null's idea. Mooz is correct in that just because it's in the trailer, doesn't mean we'll get an explanation, but a trailer literally showing Magneto pulling Mystique is a better indication of likelihood than "well, we met Snoke in ep 7, so we'll likely get his backstory in 8".
    – phantom42
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 2:29
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    Sometimes "we don't know" is a good answer. If a user can show that they were thorough in the material they looked through, or their expertise/familiarity with it, then that may be exactly the answer you need. It saves the asker the time of having to try and sift through all that material themselves, which they may be much less familiar with than our resident experts.
    – user31178
    Commented May 5, 2018 at 7:21
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    How many “we don’t know” answers are we going to be ok with? How many “correct” answers are we ok with? We don’t limit those. We do sometimes comment if the new answer doesn’t provide any new insight or information, and that’d be fair to do with “we don’t know” answers as well, but there’s no reason to limit them, per se.
    – phantom42
    Commented May 5, 2018 at 13:04
  • @Möoz - " if it tends to be somewhat evident that we will get an actual answer after a certain period of time?" - if you replace "somewhat evident" with "very likely", the question is FWP. That's almost verbatim definition from the answer I gave. If you don't have any evidence other than "somewhat evident", "we don't know" is a good answer and shouldn't be limited at all Commented May 7, 2018 at 15:36
  • @Möoz - see my reply to Mcavity on separate comment today. He had an example where it was a pretty clear FWP, as the topic clearly wasn't covered in prior canon Commented May 9, 2018 at 18:34

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