A question asking which actors have played Dr. Who was closed recently. The reason the page shows is:

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form.

I don't see how that applies to this question. It's not at all difficult to tell what is being asked (and there are two good answers that show others can tell too). It doesn't really seem ambiguous, vague, or overly broad (I guess if you think it means anyone playing the Doctor in any production of any type ever, but if you read it that way an edit would fix it).

It's not incomplete or rhetorical, and the existing answers show that it can be reasonably answered.

When I originally saw the question I didn't think it was great (because it's trivial to find the list of the BBC actors elsewhere). The second answer helps that - it could be better IMO by excluding "spoofs", but including ones outside of the main 12 Doctors (e.g. Cushing, Trevor Martin, the Morbius actors) is reasonable. If the question was open, that could be fixed by an edit to that answer, or a third answer.

Was this closed just because it doesn't seem like a good question? As suggested here, a comment would be useful.

  • 3
    This question is somewhat subsumed by meta.scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/137/… since as Final Draft points out, there are many other recent examples, unfortunately.
    – Tony Meyer
    Jan 20, 2011 at 5:00
  • 2
    I think this is a good question to pin the moderator on. It's a pretty good scifi question IMHO, so it's hard to understand why he closed it. New Users are going to be less interested in asking questions on a site that is overly close happy. Jan 21, 2011 at 18:15

4 Answers 4


The "general reference" close reason has been abolished, and this particular question seems to be a good and interesting one. It's asking for a finite and clearly scoped list rather than being an open-ended question, so it doesn't fall foul of our "lists or recommendations" close reason either.

The accepted answer to Are *all* list questions off-topic? describes what kind of list questions are allowed here, and in fact cites this very question as one that is acceptable:

However, finite and well-scoped list questions are allowed here. There's a question asking for a list of all of Doctor Who's Doctors, for example. A mere 12 Doctors exist, which can be reasonably included in one, canonical answer. Similarly, a question asks about all of Star Trek's Enterprises. There's a reasonable, limited number of those as well.

So I helped to undelete this post, and it has now been reopened.

  • I actually think this is quite a poor question. It turns out that there are literally hundreds of actors who've portrayed this character over the past 60+ years.
    – Valorum
    May 14, 2016 at 18:44
  • @Richard Well, we've had other 'list' questions which require longer (but still clear and finite) lists and haven't been closed.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    May 14, 2016 at 19:00
  • I don't disagree that it looks finite on the surface (e.g. you're expecting it to be 12, but it turns out to be a lot more).
    – Valorum
    May 14, 2016 at 19:09
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    @Richard if you watch the show, you're expecting it to be 13 ;) (I updated the answers). By the way, as I intimated (5 years ago!) I don't think it's a particularly good question, but that's a reason to down vote, not vtc.
    – Tony Meyer
    May 17, 2016 at 3:52

Yeah, I don't know what this guy was doing but it's just amazing he drove through and closed at least a dozen questions with reasons that don't seem to apply.


Because you can easily find the answer in Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_actors_who_have_played_the_Doctor


Please see my answer about the "Ashley Judd" question here this one was closed for the same reason.

  • 5
    So you're saying that going to imdb.com/character/ch0009587 and reading through the 81 entries and eliminating duplicates is your suggested alternative? What about the Morbius doctor ones? Those are not listed on IMDB, but could reasonably be considered in an answer.
    – Tony Meyer
    Jan 20, 2011 at 21:12
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    I think maybe Zypher was confused because he didn't realize that all of the actors were on the same show. He may have assumed we were referring to a broader group like if someone asked who were the different actors who have played Hamlet. Jan 21, 2011 at 18:19
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    @Tony no it doesn't have to be imdb, in this instance the answer IIRC was a copy of: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_actors_who_have_played_the_Doctor . It's the fact that the information is trivially easy to find and there is rarely if ever any added value.
    – Zypher
    Jan 21, 2011 at 19:25
  • @Mark no ... i know all about The Doctor and his regenerative abilities.
    – Zypher
    Jan 21, 2011 at 19:25
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    "trivially easy to find" is a subjective standard and shouldn't be used as a benchmark to moderate against. Something will always be trivially easy to find depending on who you are and your skill set.
    – Slick23
    Jan 22, 2011 at 17:13
  • @Final: You're half-right in the sense that "easy to Google" is not necessarily a justification for closing a question. However, being an exact replica of a Wikipedia page probably is. If you're at least asking people to do some research, consolidate information from multiple sources, explain or synthesize or dumb down existing information, then that's great, but in this case the question is just soliciting copypasta.
    – Aaronaught
    Jan 22, 2011 at 17:33
  • So, go post a question that's not inviting that, then.
    – Slick23
    Jan 22, 2011 at 17:38

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