During the town hall I asked a few questions about types of questions. Part of that is because I feel like a strict and literal adherence to the rules means good questions would get closed before we can see where they will end up. Some of the best questions that led to the most interesting answers in the early days of SF&F would likely be closed now because of the current rules.

But we also discussed in chat how the best way, sometimes, to figure out how to handle different types of questions or avoid question formats that we have ruled out (like list formats or speculation) that it may take test questions that will have to be edited or altered or experimented with to figure out what works and what doesn't.

I've posted an example question that touches on something I'm interested in. My hope, while the title seems more like just an eye-catcher, is that people will read the question and think about it and not just grab a quick answer and post a link to something online.

I feel like answers are becoming, more and more, just wiki spam, so one intent was to force people to think before just posting a quick bit of speculation or grabbing one source, or in this case, one mythos (the subject is werewolves) and say, "Here's the answer!" I'm also hoping that by asking for more thought, it prevents list answers where each person lists one or two franchises or mythos instead of analyzing the situation and trying to synthesize the answer. (Or maybe I'm just being too pedantic, pretentious, and expecting too much.)

So please, if you have ideas, help me with what would turn this question into a good one that will work well here on SE:SF&F.


Here's the question.

6 Answers 6


The problem with the question you asked is that any writer could write a story to have any number of permutaions that would result in any number of outcomes to the event.

Because theres no "rule" for were-creatures, there can't really be a defiinitive answer.

And as far as I know, no author has written a werewolf space opera consisting of a werewolf on the moon (or any moon).

Since the scenario doesn't exist yet, any writer could then just write a story were this happens and that could be an answer to your question, until the next writer writes a new story with a different outcome...

I dont really know how someone could answer your current question.


The question as you asked it is, quite frankly, scattered all over the place. In fact, I count over a dozen discrete questions in there. That is an instant and obvious sign that the question is inappropriate to this site.

However, I think that some of the questions asked could be reworded to be on-topic and constructive. In fact, when I saw the title, I immediately thought of an example of a work that dealt with that very topic, and was hoping I could incorporate that into an answer. However, there was no way my reference, even supported by several other references, could possibly hope to address the scope of what you were asking.

I think this falls into the category of "if you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you're asking too much".

If you want to turn it into a good question, simply pick a focus. Pick one aspect of the question that is of particular interest to you, and then clearly indicate what, exactly, you are looking for in the way of answers.

  • Thanks -- those are good, concrete criticisms and suggestions that I can work with. I will be looking at what I can do in terms of not just tightening the focus but also in picking what to focus on and posting other versions.
    – Tango
    Jan 31, 2012 at 17:24

In its current form, the question seems like it's just asking for pure speculation/discussion, which is definitely off-topic (except in chat...).

However, I think what you would like to see in an answer is well-reasoned speculation, based on examples from existing works. Something along the lines of (but sans the made up facts and with much more detail):

In the original lycanthropy myths, transformation required direct light from the moon (e.g. 1921's Light of the Moon by O Proudfoots, and as discussed in Where's the Wolf? An analysis of werewolf mythology throughout the 20th Century). This means that a transformation into wolf state requires both the lycanthropy infection and moonlight. Moonlight could mean light reflected from the moon (F Underhill's NASA Wolf short stories are a carefully considered set of stories dealing with light reflected off man-made satellites); in this case this would presumably result in a reversed wolf state on the moon, where the transformation occurred during the day, not night. Moonlight could alternatively mean any (reflected sun) light in the dark (consider R.J.J. Tolkien's Eclipse of the Wolf, where transformations occur during eclipses of the sun, as well as at night); in this case, transformations would likely be weak, because there is much less reflected light in the moon's night.

If that's the case, then I think the question needs to make it clearer: you want speculation based on existing works (but it doesn't matter which they are), not just any random suggestion.

That form of the question isn't substantially different from one that asks for speculation within an existing fiction universe (where, again, answers require basis on canon, not wild speculation).

In addition, the scope of the question is pretty large, partly because there's no restriction on the type of werewolf. For example, the second-to-last paragraph - 'what are the core elements of the werewolf mythos' - could be a question all on its own.

  • FWIW, I really like questions that aren't specific to a single work, and I wish we had more of them. Even I'm tempted to vote for closing with the current form (although I admit there's also a temptation to do many hours of research and post a really kick-ass answer).
    – Tony Meyer
    Jan 31, 2012 at 12:10

Mixing things which aren't meant to be mixed is something I think we should be very careful about. There is a thin line, sometimes it actually works (The E.T. and Star Wars question), but most of the time it won't work at all. I'd be opposed to a site wide ban, but I would encourage people to be very careful about which questions to allow, and in general, discourage mixing universes that aren't meant to be mixed.

  • What is your reasoning about these things not being meant to be mixed? Is it an SF-Horror (or SF-Fantasy) crossover? Is it that, as we settle space and colonies on the Moon and in space become common place, we should not be taking our myths with us as well as using them as a setting for them? I'm not clear on where the "aren't meant to be mixed" issue comes in.
    – Tango
    Jan 31, 2012 at 17:22
  • 1
    One of the unique things to Science Fiction and Fantasy is that each novel has their own universe, their own set of rules, etc. Mixing them usually isn't a good idea, as one doesn't know which universe one is talking about. Small mixes might work, but mixing pure Science Fiction with pure fantasy really doesn't work very well... Jan 31, 2012 at 17:55

I have an issue with your questions that have a similar folklore-based scope, and it's something I've brought up once or twice in chat (that type of question). If you don't specify a canon, you're effectively hoping that folklore is establishing enough of a canon by itself. The issue with that is that we haven't established folklore as being on-topic for the site. This is likely for a number of reasons:

  • Folklore by definition is localized - your idea of a vampire may radically differ from, say, a Japanese vampire
  • It is difficult to draw the line between what one person might consider folklore and another fact (e.g. are questions about Roswell, cryptozoological animals, angels, or the devil on topic?)
  • By definition, there cannot be an authoritative answer to most questions dedicated to folklore (as if there was supporting facts and proof, it wouldn't be folklore), so most questions become a discussion of the ideas behind the folklore itself (and the particulars of the question)

I understand that speculation by itself does not make for a bad question or answer. I'm just trying to figure out what value these questions have for users, when a site dedicated to expertise in speculative fiction is trying to answer questions like this.

I also understand that what you've done, you've done in the interests of getting people to dive more deeply into something (as opposed to copying and pasting from a wiki somewhere). I just don't think your choice of source material is going to bring about the desirable results.

  • One point you make that I think is important (still parsing this and other answers, so I'm not addressing or focusing on everything yet) is that speculation does not make for a bad question or answer. I've seen many questions where the answer cannot come directly from canon, so speculation is required. Quite often, in those questions, a speculative answer not only gets a large number of upvotes (often if the reasoning sounds logical), but gets picked as the answer.
    – Tango
    Jan 31, 2012 at 17:19
  • @TangoOversway - the problem isn't speculation - especially one that CAN be based on logic. It's that in some cases there are no FACTS to base speculation upon, or to check them against. Jan 31, 2012 at 19:10
  • @DVK: That's a good distinction.
    – Tango
    Jan 31, 2012 at 19:15
  • 1
    @TangoOversway - My scientific upbringing shows through a thick rust of software development, occasionally Jan 31, 2012 at 19:29

In the first 100 days of the site, during its beta period, questions like these were routinely thrown up against the wall to see what would stick and what would form the kind of content we wanted.

Through closes and deletions, it was decided that such speculation, of positing theories and extrapolation, questions asking about archetypes, tropes and generalities without a tied franchise were not constructive. Those that were leaning too much into real world application were just plain off topic.

To see the community roll through that cycle again suggests that graduation was perhaps premature if we need to rehash the same trials and spaghetti content testing.

Different franchises have different rules. You either couch the question in one or a couple or you end up with a literal writers' workshop, spitballing all sorts of ideas in order to nugget out some kind of manuscript. For help on writing, we have Writers Stack Exchange.

  • I know you don't like it, but on the other hand, several candidates in the town hall agreed that talking about the sources of material can be constructive. Whenever there are limits, they have to be tested, or they not only grow static, but become tighter and tighter as more and more is ruled out and technicalities exclude more and more.
    – Tango
    Jan 31, 2012 at 17:29
  • Yes, we disagree on this and am not going to stop you from continuing to post six roll over questions in one post. But when the question is so generic as to allow any franchise as the interpreted valid canon, you end up rehashing TV Tropes. Better would be to have pointed questions with a franchise pivot meta.scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/221/… @tan Feb 1, 2012 at 13:56
  • It's an experiment. If you don't like it, I'd suggest you consider what kind of questions you think should be posted and post a few of them. That would certainly be quite helpful to the site.
    – Tango
    Feb 1, 2012 at 16:18
  • 1
    Have already been over this and posted such spaghetti questions on either side. To think it's brand new ground is being blind. Feb 1, 2012 at 16:56

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