Is it ok to ask a 'plot element' question? Something such as, "Are there any sci-fi books where a future Earth uses the gold standard'?

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    Technically speaking this is a duplicate of How should we handle "any" (list) questions?, but the votes on How about revisiting our policy about “is there any” questions being OK?, from two months ago, would indicate that SFF's users want a change. So... I'm not that sure where we are now, and have retracted my duplicate-close vote.
    – Jenayah
    Jul 7, 2020 at 21:31
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    Any is essentially a list and per the above comment it might end up closed. Asking for the first occurrence where this happened with the [history-of] tag though would be perfectly fine.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Jul 7, 2020 at 22:03
  • This question is a duplicate of scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/12998/…. I'd dupehammer it closed myself if circumstances were different.
    – Valorum
    Jul 7, 2020 at 22:54
  • Interestingly I wasn’t shooting for’any’ as in ‘list’ but as in ‘not zero’. Is there a good way to write that? Jul 7, 2020 at 23:03
  • @VaughnOhlman - No. You're looking for a list. We don't allow those even if it turns out to be a list of one.
    – Valorum
    Jul 7, 2020 at 23:12
  • @Valorum, so what you're saying is it is what I'm looking for that is the problem, not the way I posed my question? Jul 7, 2020 at 23:26
  • @VaughnOhlman - Open list questions are problematic because there's no definitive "right" answer. If I post a couple of examples of a trope and another user posts another couple of examples, which answer is the better one?
    – Valorum
    Jul 7, 2020 at 23:29
  • @Valorum, that's where I saw my rewording working. If I asked, "Is the list of sci-fi stories involving a future Earth where the economic system includes the gold standard a non-zero list?" Then there are two answers: No. Which would have to be silence, meaning no one can think of any or Yes. Here are a couple of examples to prove that they exist. Neither of those are lists, let alone lists that need to be competed with. A similar way of putting it might be, "Is it true that someone has done X before?" Yes: One or two examples No: silence Jul 7, 2020 at 23:35
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    @VaughnOhlman -You're still trying to weasel-word yourself out of the restriction on asking list questions.
    – Valorum
    Jul 7, 2020 at 23:37
  • @VaughnOhlman: You can ask for the "first" example of such a work.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jul 9, 2020 at 12:10
  • @FuzzyBoots - Ugh. That's even worse.
    – Valorum
    Jul 9, 2020 at 15:35
  • @Valorum I know, but it is within the rules, and given we've basically been accusing him of looking for a list, I figured it was only right to throw him a bone to a valid question.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jul 9, 2020 at 15:41

1 Answer 1


No, this is still a variant on the 'open-ended list question' that the site frowns upon. You're basically inviting people to post examples of a trope.

Not all questions have a home on Stack Exchange. Please note the following types of questions are off-topic here:

Questions calling for a list of works, authors, …: What are all the books that have X? Who wrote about topic Y?

Trying to turn it into a mock yes/no question by replacing "What are all the books that have X?" with "Are there any books that have X?" doesn't stop it being a list question, it just means that you're sneaky.

  • It's interesting that the focus is on my motivation. Obviously if the site doesn't like the question, it doesn't like the question. But as for my motivation: I really don't want a list, not even one sneakily arrived at. I like writing sci-fi; so in this case it would be more, "Wow, I would like to write a book where a future Earth uses the Gold standard. Oh, wait a minute, maybe its been done..." Jul 9, 2020 at 11:29

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