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I haven't been here in a while but I noticed one of my question, namely Steampunk energy sources: what are they and how are they obtained?, was closed as off topic with the following reason:

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

The first part stumbled me a bit since Steampunk is defined as a subtype of Sci-Fi and sometimes even Fantasy. With the second part I thought that maybe my question, while still actually being about Sci-Fi, was not exactly appropriate for this site because of the wording and/or because of the subject in particular.

However there are other questions about the mechanics of something in Sci-Fi which are currently open. So my question is again, why was exactly this question closed?

And should it be reopened again? I honestly can't see why it doesn't fit this site's scope.

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  • My guess is that it was closed as the question asks for a real world explanation, eg you ask "what are the energy sources and how they are gathered and converted in energy?" which is of course off-topic here. – Rebel-Scum Jun 16 '18 at 18:21
  • @Loki Not at all, the question was in the fiction sense, or at least "as described in the various works". – Alenanno Jun 16 '18 at 18:28
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    @Alenanno - Which various works? – Valorum Jun 16 '18 at 19:34
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    @Valorum what are you asking? – Alenanno Jun 16 '18 at 19:58
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    @Alenanno - You said "as described in the various works". I was asking which works (out of the thousands of possibilities) you're referring to – Valorum Jun 16 '18 at 20:41
  • @Valorum none in particular. I was telling Loki that I was looking for an in-universe answer, not real world explanations. – Alenanno Jun 16 '18 at 20:48
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    @Alenanno - Each story is its own self-contained universe. When you say "in-universe", you have to specific which universe. – Valorum Jun 16 '18 at 20:49
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    @Valorum Bad word choice, I was referring to the subgenre. Again, I'm not asking about the works. – Alenanno Jun 16 '18 at 20:56
  • It seems to me you’re really asking about the genre itself, which is on-topic. (I’m one of the close voters, I initially closed it for the reasons above, although I’m now less sure) Some users feel that these aren’t good questions, as they require broad subject knowledge and expertise to answer as well as analytical skills as opposed to being able to pluck a quote out of a source book the directly answers your question. However, the answers to your question seem to be limited, and certainly not a finite list although by the strict letter of the law, still too broad. – Edlothiad Jun 16 '18 at 22:12
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    @Edlothiad - The problem with asking for some examples is that we'll end up with twenty different answers all offering one or two examples each. – Valorum Jun 16 '18 at 22:14
  • However, one can bypass this “too-broad” banner by asking a yes/no question: “do other sources exist” I personally detest this loop-hole, but in this case it seems slightly reasonable. The question would now have a definite answer without changing much of its intent. Otherwise, Literature would likely welcome such a genre analysis and possibly give you better answers (this site tends to have people that are experts in specific universes as opposed to generic experts in SFF). – Edlothiad Jun 16 '18 at 22:14
  • @Edlothiad thanks for the input. Maybe my question can be improved, I'm open to suggestions on that. I just disagreed that it was off topic, because well, it wasn't. :P about the broadness, I honestly thought about it when posting it, but I remember dismissing it because I thought that since my question about something very specific, it wouldn't need a lot to be answered. For the record an answer highlighting the main types of energy world have been fine in my opinion, even if they meant me digging in my own for the rest of the information. – Alenanno Jun 16 '18 at 22:17
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    An “answer” highlighting many types of anything just isn’t a good fit for this site, the answer needs to be objective and complete with a single most correct. An incomplete list can spawn other incomplete lists, all of which are as correct as the next. – Edlothiad Jun 16 '18 at 22:34
  • @Edlothiad Well, the question is now 5 years old, and the total amount of energies listed in the answers is 1. It seems to me that it fails to be a list question. If you're worried that the wording of the question might potentially invite for list answers, even if it's highly unlikely for this subject, I have already stated that I'm open to suggestions to improve it. – Alenanno Jun 17 '18 at 23:50
  • I’ve suggested improvements, they are above. – Edlothiad Jun 18 '18 at 5:09
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To be frank, I think this was closed for the wrong reason. It's not asking for the real-world scientific basis for steampunk, it's asking for the in-universe basis for energy transfer in steampunk.

It should instead have been closed as too broad since there are literally tens of thousands of steampunk stories, films, plays, books and musicals all with mildly different worldbuilding.

Per the site's FAQ:

"too broad - if your question could be answered by an entire book, or has many valid answers (but no way to determine which - if any - are correct), then it is probably too broad for our format."

If you asked the same question about a specific work, the question would be worth re-opening but as it stands, it reads like you're expecting us to give you a list of the way this issue is dealt with in thousands or tens of thousands of works.

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    I didn't downvote your answer but I still disagree. The broadness could have been for example "there are too many energy types for us to list" and there I would have agreed, The number of works is irrelevant, since I'm not asking for such a list, I was inquiring only about the energy aspect in Steampunk (or -punk related works) and in any detail on how they function (in the respective universes). – Alenanno Jun 16 '18 at 19:24
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    @Alenanno - Are you seriously expecting us to provide you with a comprehensive list of the way in which every single author who's written a steampunk property has addressed the issue of power transfer? – Valorum Jun 16 '18 at 19:32
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    well, I was trying to gather if there were more "energy" types than steam or gear mechanisms in there. Maybe some of the most known (even if not to the casual fan), not literally each one of them. And this means a very short list, especially if we assume there are in fact more of these types, which makes it not broad at all. – Alenanno Jun 16 '18 at 19:58
  • @Alenanno - List questions are also off-topic – Valorum Jun 16 '18 at 20:42
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    It depends. Open ended lists are, not short ones especially if the question is not after the mere list, but an analysis on a common element in a fiction genre. – Alenanno Jun 16 '18 at 20:44
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    @Alenanno - Like I said, there are thousands of these stories and hundreds of films, anime, cartoons and musicals. Unless you can narrow it down, your question would need an essay to answer it. – Valorum Jun 16 '18 at 20:46
  • And as I responded to that, I'm not interested in the stories, or the books, or the movies, just in the energy aspect of this genre. You're trying to make this look like a list question when it really isn't. How many types of energy exist in this subgenre? After 5 years since I originally posted it, only one has been posted as an answer. I asked the question wondering if there were more, and maybe there aren't, after all, but it shows it's not a list question. – Alenanno Jun 16 '18 at 20:54
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    @Alenanno - If you're not interested in any of the stories or books or movies, then where is the universe that you're trying to puzzle out coming from? – Valorum Jun 16 '18 at 20:56
  • I think I've already addressed that point. – Alenanno Jun 16 '18 at 22:12
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    @Alenanno: If you are trying to figure out how the genre does it in general, you should ask that on Worldbuilding instead. We mostly only deal with questions about specific works, and occasionally take questions of the form "What was the first story to do X?", but we don't really take "How does genre X do Y?" questions here. – Kevin Jun 16 '18 at 22:34
  • @Kevin I see, but this doesn't appear in the FAQ and maybe it should be updated. And even then, the question could and should have been migrated, not closed. – Alenanno Jun 16 '18 at 22:52
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    @Alenanno: 1. There is a SE-wide policy against migrating things unless they would be squarely on-topic at the destination. Your question would likely need light editing at a minimum. 2. We can't edit the section of the FAQ which Valorum references because it's shared with the rest of SE. We can edit this part instead, and in fact we did. 3. If you dislike the FAQ or the migration policies, those need to be asked as new meta questions because comments are ill-suited to Q&A. – Kevin Jun 17 '18 at 0:05
  • @Kevin 1. Well, you said it would fit on that site, I was following you on that statement. 2. I know which parts are editable, I'm a moderator myself. But the question you quoted "How does genre X do Y?" is not present anywhere. It seems there might be a slight mention in the meta Q you linked to, but it's not in the help center. 3. It wasn't an official request, I was just commenting on it, that's why I wrote it in the comment. But I'll consider making an official meta request, now that you mention it, it might not be a bad idea. – Alenanno Jun 17 '18 at 0:21
  • @Alenanno: Re 2: You will notice that I actually proposed a more explicit version of this as the second answer to the linked meta question, so I'm really not the right person to complain to. – Kevin Jun 17 '18 at 0:24
  • @Kevin Not complaining, thank you for the link. :) – Alenanno Jun 17 '18 at 0:25

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