This question was asked and closed today as off-topic due to being a "lists of works or recommendations" question. In the comments, the author asks why his question was labeled off-topic while this very similar question was on-topic. I'll go further and ask why today's question was mostly down-voted while the older question was pretty well-received vote-wise.

I can't really tell a difference between the spirit of the two questions. So did the standard for what constitutes a "lists of works or recommendations" question change? Or is it a case of "people were feeling more forgiving that day"?

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    Comparing questions never works well, different people see them, especially years apart, policies change etc.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented Mar 10, 2020 at 20:55

2 Answers 2


This may be a bit pedantic but the problem with new question to me is the wording of it: the word some. See whilst any questions are on topic (grumble grumble, still think we should revisit that) this is a some question. That slight different wording choice moves this, to me, more into the realms of looking for a list of works rather than “any”. I.e. whilst the answer to the old post is yes, here’s one example, this one is yes, here’s lots of examples.

The wording of the new one also leads itself to several correct answers, more so than “any” questions, which are off topic for SFF. It just lends itself to move more into the off topic list realm than I think is healthy.

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    Or to put it another way. In an any question an answer with one example is sufficient. Another answer should only really be added if they are adding a new example and arguing against the example in the existing answer. On a some question, an answer is perfectly fine to be added no matter what which leads to a list question.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented Mar 10, 2020 at 21:09
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    Honestly I don't understand this. The underlying meaning is exactly the same, but using a single word instead of another single word (is "some" unacceptable while "any" is? Or the other way around?). I participate on this site, both with Qs and As, because it is a fun pastime, and talking about nerd things is always fun, but if I should spend hours evaluating every single word or punctuation that i might or might not use, al the fun is going away. I honestly think that some of the rules that are in place here are unnecessarily strict and that the real value is more on the content itself.
    – Sekhemty
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 11:38
  • @Sekhemty "Any" questions are fine (ruled on topic on meta, grumble grumble), "some" questions have not been "voted on" but to me they lean slightly further away from any to more into list territory. The slight wording difference opens the question up for multiple answers to list works and be fine. Whilst the same is true in "any" questions we have more grounds to downvote and even vote to delete if we want to (not that it happens in practice though).
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 11:41
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    @Sekhemty Addressing your comment edit: "Any" questions are already a loophole in list questions (a bad one we need to address at some point in my opinion), if we loosen that loop hole too much we may as well just allow list/recommendation questions which we don't want as that goes against the entire format.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 11:43
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    This seems trivial to me. My main language is italian, and even if I consider myself sufficiently skilled with english, these seems to be very subtle linguistic nuances. I'm on this site and network for some years now, and I don't really care if a Q on a sci-fi site gets closed, but the wild downvoting and closing without even a little comment or explaination would probaly result in new (not-english? ) members be scared away. Again, all of this seems unnecessarily strict and possibly blunt for a site devoted to, basically, having fun.
    – Sekhemty
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 11:48
  • @Sekhemty The reason this site is fun is because we have some rules, if we let anything go then you wouldn't be able to find the fun within the mess. "the wild downvoting and closing without even a little comment or explaination" - You have at least one comment on your question from me and if I'm closing I will usually comment if a) someone else already hasn't and b) the close message isn't self explanatory. "these seems to be very subtle linguistic nuances" - they are, I say as such in the answer, but the subtleties of this is what can cause problems.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 11:53
  • I voted to close with 'needs focus' because a) as my comment indicates, there are potentially a lot of episodes like that, which makes it a mere list question imo b) as other comments I made on an answer state, there are several episodes that could be considered, but maybe not - so that pushes it into opinion based for me. Also - as regards the other question - I don't remember seeing it at the time so I can't speak as to whether or not I did / would have vtc it, but again, it seems a little more focused than this one (to me)
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 16:02

The SE network used to be much more organically community-driven, whereas now, the site descriptions are interpreted much more strictly. Old questions like the one you cite were upvoted because community members recognized their value. Similar new questions are rapidly closed, and the kinds of users who upvoted these questions in the past have been driven off by rule bullying.

It's best not to draw attention to it. I've seen site moderators go on rampages of question closing when you draw attention to old, highly upvoted questions that do not conform to current interpretations of site descriptions. If these closed questions are eventually purged or hidden from searches (I'm not sure if they are), tremendous value is lost.

  • What's inorganic or non-community driven about community driven enforcement of community created rules? I don't find it too surprising or bad when moderators/users close questions that should be closed after attention is drawn to them. That's typically how it works.
    – JMac
    Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 19:01
  • @JMac Because those rules weren't community-created. They were created by the subset of the community that wasn't bullied off the site by the minority who thinks those rules are a good idea. The huge number of upvotes on these closed questions is evidence enough that they are valuable and should be left open. If you talk to developers who don't use SO/SE, the main reasons they don't are 1) salvageable or even perfectly good questions being closed, and 2) cyclic graphs of questions closed as duplicates. Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 19:05
  • They were created by the portion of the community who actively participated in making the rules. Then again you seem to have a pretty extreme bias in this regard, such as assuming that it's a minority of the users who think the rules are a good idea. That is basically a spit in the face to all the people who came up with those rules, and the reasons why they felt they were necessary for the health of the site. People are perfectly free to not use this site if they don't want to; but plenty of people appreciate a site that has well reasoned community driven rules.
    – JMac
    Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 19:10
  • @JMac It's not a minority of the users who are here now, but a minority of the users who were here, say, five years ago. Within that time, that minority took it upon themselves to narrowly reinterpret the site's rules and purpose, and drove off the majority of the site's most valuable contributors. The silver lining of the site's new profit-driven philosophy might be recognition of what was lost. Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 19:19
  • That's a weird claim to assert. What evidence is there that the minority reinterpreted the sites purpose and rules? Typically this is all done through the meta and looking for consensus through votes and responses. Do you have any specific examples of policies you're saying didn't follow this pattern? Also, it does seem a bit strange to me that you are citing all these historical changes in attitude; but your account you used to post this is less than 2 years old.
    – JMac
    Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 19:55
  • @JMac - The two question are also relatively recent and relatively contemporaneous; one from late 2018, one from early 2020. Which means that this answer is nonsense
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 20:15
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    @Valorum correct, this “answer” is merely a rant about SE and nothing really to do with this meta. This specific account is less than 2 years old on SFF so they weren’t even around on this site when the so called minority were forcing their opinions.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 20:40
  • @Valorum Okay, so it has been less than two years since the rage closing of old upvoted questions began to affect this SE. It has affected others for longer. That doesn't substantially change my answer. Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 20:44
  • @StackOverthrow - Meh. You seem to be trying to use this question as an opportunity to rant about how things used to be better in ye olde days of yore, when all this was fields and people could leave their doors open.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 20:51
  • @StackOverthrow I’ve been on SFF for over four years, the site has been pretty much the same since I joined.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 21:05
  • @Valorum It would just be a rant if it didn't suggest a practical solution to a problem that concerns even those who like the rules, namely the hemorrhaging of the user base. And that solution is to relax the rules and stop closing valuable, highly upvoted Q&As. I know I'm not alone in this view because scraper sites that retain all this valuable old information are starting to top SO/SE in Google searches. Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 21:15
  • @TheLethalCarrot Cool. I've been on SO since before there was any SE. Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 21:18
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    @StackOverthrow - If you relax the rules, you end up with Quora or Yahoo Answers.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 21:21
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    Congrats, however, in case you hadn’t noticed we’re talking specifically about SFF here. If you want to rant about the whole network as a whole take it to main meta.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 21:22
  • @Valorum If it didn't before, why would it now? Old SE > those other sites > new SE. Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 22:02

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