This question (not mine) asks, essentially, what witches and wizards thought about how Harry had survived Voldemort in the years between Voldemort's first defeat and Harry's reappearance. It was marked as needs focus, but I'm not sure why. Is it just that the title sounds like it's referring to out of universe theories, and it needs to be clarified and cleaned up? Is it that is sounds a bit like it's asking for a (short) list?

These questions seem pretty similar in spirit to me, and they were highly voted:

Why Didn't People Think That Voldemort Died After His Attack on Baby Harry?

Where did the Wizarding World think Harry was?

Both are asking about in-universe theorizing over the same time period.

2 Answers 2


I do not think the question should be closed, and indeed I have voted to reopen it.

Granted, it could be rephrased somewhat to make the following more obvious, but it seems to be essentially asking what the people in the story thought the explanation of a certain event was. It asks how many such explanations there were and what they were.

This is certainly an answerable question. The answer must of necessity be one of the following:

  • Unknown as no such explanations are mentioned in the books or supplementary materials.
  • There are X number of theories recorded in Chapters A, B, and C.
  • No theories are explicitly mentioned, but analysis of Clues 1, 2, and 3 lends support to Theories 8,9, and 10.

I think this is pretty well focused, even if it allows for the possibility that there might be multiple theories that need to be accounted for. Long answers are no strangers to this site, and in a finitely defined series spanning a few thousand pages it is unlikely that there are more theories than can fit in a 30,000 character answer box.

I think the question is also not Opinion-Based, as there is an objective answer to the question. Again, perhaps it should be edited slightly to make it absolutely clear that it's not asking for you to post your own pet theories, but rather the theories of the characters in the story.

  • 2
    Right. And answers which attempt to post real-life pet theories, rather than in-universe characters' theories, should be flagged as Not An Answer and deleted, thus keeping the whole thread on-topic.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 18:31

Even if it's intended to be posed strictly in-universe, it's still not a great question. The way it's written, it can't have a definitive answer, and the question seems to be making some major assumptions ("I'm sure other Witches and Wizards would have speculated something.") which makes it smell a bit of opinion-based.

If I had reviewed it I'm not sure I would have picked "needs focus" as the close reason; it's pretty clear that the question is "list all competing theories about how Harry survived" even though it's stated slightly differently a few times. But it really is asking for a list, which is reason to close, and it's asking for what characters might have thought, which is opinion-based and also reason to close.

Perhaps if the question were "Does any character explain why they believe Harry was never attacked by Voldemort before coming to Hogwarts?" it might be answerable.

  • How is it fundamentally (at its core; I agree there's phrasing issues) different from the other two I linked though? They're both asking for what characters might have thought (I don't believe asking for in universe opinions is the same, otherwise we'd never have any questions about character motivation), and there's no reason to think those wouldn't be a list.
    – Kitkat
    Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 21:03
  • 1
    And in-universe list questions seem to be perfectly allowed, here's an example (there are plenty; this is just one I recall).
    – Kitkat
    Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 21:07
  • @Kitkat The largest difference with those is that they don't ask for all the theories, and the way they're worded seems to lend themselves more to answers from the text, as opposed to speculative answers. As to lists, they're okay if there's a definite number of things to list and the answer is correct when it includes them all. "How many different ways was X's name spelled in Y?" This, however is a list that could conceivably have an entry for every named character in the HP universe, and maybe even a few of the spear carriers besides.
    – DavidW
    Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 21:18
  • 1
    That seems semantic though--it seems pretty clear to me the intent of this question is "what are the theories expressed in the text" which is certainly a finite number. I agree that question could be phrased better, but I'm mostly trying to determine if it's salvageable (even just as "How did the Wizarding World think Harry had survived Voldemort?")
    – Kitkat
    Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 21:24
  • in-universe lists (even if they're very large) are usually ok in terms of scope. I, for example, created a list of every animal in every Matrix property and every reason why a character said that they joined Starfleet. Both are of a significant length but they're scoped.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 23:21
  • @Kitkat - The way that you've phrased it would be a significant improvement.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 23:22

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