This question about closed time loops is, I think, at least the third time the author has posted on SF&F (this deleted question being noted as the second one, and an attempt on the Literature SE, also closed). The author makes reference to someone previously pointing him to a very similar analysis of themes in Romance, which seems like it's actually this question about Tragedy:

I'm still trying to find a way of wording this question that won't get deleted. I almost word for word copied a question that I was told was an example of an excellent question, and just substituted science fiction for romance, and the STILL deleted it. I'm beginning to think that this is just plain old gatekeeping. I've made every change that I've been asked to make and still they delete it.

As the question currently stands, it feels very much like it's asking a very general question over a large corpus of literature, which makes it either of massive scope, or inviting a lot of little answers regarding closed time loops in a particular piece of media. Overall, it just feels like it's inviting discussion rather than seeking an answer, even if the querent feels there's a distinct answer.

Maybe, since they state that there is a distinct change that can be analyzed, we could suggest that they post a self-answer that shows their own research?

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    This feels like a literature assignment not a "proper" question.
    – Paulie_D
    Nov 17, 2021 at 19:39
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    I've tried suggesting that the question show its work; part of the problem I have with the question is that it's suggesting that the way a stable time loop is depicted (and how is that?) has changed over time, and I'm not convinced that's the case at all. It might help even for the question to just hold up 2 examples and say "here's how a time loop is shown in (a), and here's how it's shown differently in (b)."
    – DavidW
    Nov 17, 2021 at 20:08
  • Note, I'm not at all convinced by the example Literature question; the question asks "why," but the only information in the answer is "when."
    – DavidW
    Nov 17, 2021 at 20:12
  • I’m with @DavidW there is some manner of reasonable question there, the key being showing their work. With validated assumptions which don’t currently exist within the question, or reference to their validations, the question more reasonably becomes provably answerable in an acceptable form. Nov 17, 2021 at 23:31

1 Answer 1


You can't. OP is trying to ask a question that is fundamentally antithetical to our policy against questions that require opinion-based answers, hence why they keep getting closed as opinion-based, both here and when asked on Lit:SE, even despite their more generous view on these sorts of open-ended essay style questions.

FAQ: [...] This [questions being closed] generally happens when a question [...] needs to be more focused, as the existing question is too broad [or] is an opinion-based question that doesn’t have an objectively correct answer.

So what's going wrong here?

  1. They wish us to explore every property ever constructed that contains time loops (noting in passing that they've also failed to explain what counts as a time loop). When they've been persuaded that their question is too broad, they've tried to limit it to 'only the opinion of professional critics' or 'only books written in the 20th century' or 'only major films and TV series' which isn't much of an improvement.

  2. They wish us to compare and contrast this trope in a thematic and conceptual manner. This is going to be problematic, because my opinion about these trends is going to be different from your opinion.

  3. They would like us to draw a summative conclusion about these themes that are common and dissimilar in modern fiction and screenwriting. Again, this is going to be wholly subjective (and not the good kind).

Any one of the above is good reason to close. OP would clearly like us to write competing essays that pick examples of this trope and analyse them, but that's just not what we do here. Good questions lead to pithy and (hopefully definitive) answers, not counterpointed and argumentative essays.

FAQ: Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.

OP can continue to refine their question with slightly different wording, but you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, nor can you 'outhink' the fact that this simply isn't answerable in a SE format.

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    It's totally answerable in an SE format; it just requires some actual knowledge/expertise, rather than plain old Google-fu, to distil a bunch of information into the appropriate length and format for an SE answer. There's nothing remotely "opinion-based" about an essay summarising the portrayal and reception of closed time loops in sci-fi literature.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Nov 17, 2021 at 21:43
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    @Randal'Thor any answer to the questions posed would be garbage. It might be very well written garbage that analyses lots of films or books, but it will still only be glossing over a tiny fraction of all of the films or books that contain this trope, noting that we're still not even sure what OP defines as a 'time loop'
    – Valorum
    Nov 17, 2021 at 21:46
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    Where you're going wrong is the assumption that, because the answers you're most familiar with are based on analysing one-by-one a small set of films/books (usually from a single universe), every good answer must rely on analysing one-by-one some set of films/books. It's quite possible to draw broad-ranging conclusions backed up by citations to a few influential works in the genre (e.g. trope codifiers), if one has the necessary genre expertise or is willing to do some in-depth research.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Nov 17, 2021 at 21:49

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