I want(ed) to post an answer to this recent question.

The question was closed as "opinion-based", but the "opinion-based" close reason begins Many good questions generate some degree of opinion, so whether to close or not is a matter of degree. I'm not convinced that opinions would have been so varied or divergent to rate closing the question.

There is of course no difference between the terms except for the writers' expectations for their audiences, and maybe what they think editors will publish.

But there is an important point to be made because of the term "space opera"'s origin as a dismissive pejorative (coined by a fan) of poorly-written, formulaic space adventures as well as SF's long languishment in the literary ghetto.

"Space opera" has come to mean a specific subgenre in the last couple of decades but it used to mean crap that should be disregarded, and there are still people who remember those days. Some people are just gun-shy with these terms. Just look at Margaret Atwood's own struggle to come to terms with her work being classed as "science fiction".

Update: Well I wanted to post answer like this, but it's moot now because the OP deleted it.

  • Well it's moot now.
    – Spencer
    Dec 28, 2019 at 23:43
  • This question is decent, but this specific Stack Exchange is not really receptive to semantic discussions like this. I would suggest reposting that question in the Movies and TV Stack Exchange; they regularly have discussions about semantics regarding genres and industry-speak like that. Dec 29, 2019 at 4:56
  • 1
    I never heard the term "space drama" before. The answer you want to post about the term "space opera" sounds like an answer to this old question.
    – user14111
    Dec 29, 2019 at 5:26
  • I believe these sorts of questions are usually meant to be asked on meta. That was the advice last time I saw one if I remember correctly.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Dec 29, 2019 at 9:29
  • @user14111 That answer is a strightforward history of the term, mine was more about the lingering effects of SF's ghettoization.
    – Spencer
    Dec 29, 2019 at 12:24
  • I guess my wording was poor. What I meant was that the answer you wanted to post to that currently closed and deleted recent question sounds like it might be a good answer for you to post to that existing old question.
    – user14111
    Dec 29, 2019 at 13:00
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    Is there stupid nonsense going on with the close votes? Seeing a lot of back and forth and questionable things in the queue.
    – Radhil
    Dec 29, 2019 at 15:05
  • @Radhil I would recommend you post this observation — with additional specifics — as a new meta question here. Dec 29, 2019 at 19:02
  • The question has been undeleted (against the OPs wishes?!) but is currently still closed with three reopen votes. Dec 29, 2019 at 22:11
  • Atwood's struggle seems to be between her and her pretentions of literature.
    – Valorum
    Dec 30, 2019 at 9:37

1 Answer 1


I voted to close it because the question was

  • Poorly scoped.

    What is the difference according to whom? Does OP just mean according to random internet people who write articles on wikipedia?

  • Opinion-based

    Is OP anticipating that there's some sort of authority on these matters that we can consult? Are they unaware that anyone can use these terms however they choose and that I could, if I so chose, go and change the wiki articles myself?

Since any answer would be the answerer's own opinions or a copy/paste of someone else's opinions, this question should have been closed (and was) and should stay closed.

  • 1
    From the "opinion-based" close reason: Many good questions generate some degree of opinion so it's a matter of degree. I'm not convinced that opinions would have been so varied or divergent to rate closing the question. This question was going to get at two answers: "there is no difference" (e.g. what I posted above) and some minute definition between the two, and the votes would have sorted it out.
    – Spencer
    Dec 29, 2019 at 12:22
  • @Spencer - I'm genuinely at a loss to imagine any answer to this could fail to be opinion-based. There's no higher power that we can appeal to to define these terms as they're simply critical terms that have been invented by people and applied by others
    – Valorum
    Dec 29, 2019 at 17:54
  • Not all opinions are off-topic, especially when the number of opinions is limited and they are backed up.
    – Spencer
    Dec 29, 2019 at 18:12
  • 1
    Besides, the asymmetry of this particular case is striking. "Space opera" as a term has a long history, and there are sources aplenty to document its evolution in meaning. On the other hand, "space drama" has no such backing. To put it bluntly, it's a weasel term someone invented so they wouldn't have to use the word "opera". If I'm wrong, someone can point out a specific difference in a separate answer. They would have to cite some source to back it up. And then we would all have learned something.
    – Spencer
    Dec 29, 2019 at 18:14
  • @Spencer - allowing poor opinion based questions on the site is a very short slippery slope. Better to get rid asap than to allow them to take root. They'll undoubtedly get plenty of votes but are those the sorts of questions we want to have to rummage through every day?
    – Valorum
    Dec 29, 2019 at 18:26
  • We'll have to agree to disagree. This is not by any means a "poor opinion-based question" - it has a definite (and meaningful) answer.
    – Spencer
    Dec 29, 2019 at 18:27
  • @Valorum “allowing poor opinion based questions on the site is a very short slippery slope.” Is there any way to salvage the question? Or do you simply believe it’s a lost cause? Dec 29, 2019 at 19:12
  • 2
    @JakeGould - I see no way to salvage it. Both terms are used in an entirely subjectively way. It's not like asking the difference between a novel and a novella where there are specific guidelines (almost) universally agreed, quantified and used.
    – Valorum
    Dec 29, 2019 at 19:33
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    @Spencer nice trick in cutting out the important second half of the description of opinion-based: "but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than on facts, references, or specific expertise." It has nothing whatsoever to do with how varied or divergent those opinion are -- it has to do with the fact that they are opinions and not facts.
    – KutuluMike
    Dec 30, 2019 at 0:25
  • 1
    @Kutulu exactly. The system of voting on multiple answers and letting the best one flow up is for questions where there is real scope for a "best" answer (supported by the best sources, most logically reasoned, etc.), even if we don't now know what that answer would be. Popularity contest-type answer battles where everyone votes for their favorite headcanon or pet theory are strongly discouraged everywhere on the Stack Exchange network. Jan 1, 2020 at 18:31

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