The following is a "digest" version of the 2012 Moderator Election Town Hall Chat. The format, as described on Meta Stack Overflow, is one answer to this question for every question asked in the Town Hall, containing all the candidate's answers to that question.

To view the digest chronologically, please sort the answers by "oldest".

If you have questions or comments about this, please do not answer this question as the answers are designed to be used for the questions from the Town hall itself. Instead, please ask on the parent question or in the Town Hall Discussion Room.

If you see any corrections which need to be made to this digest, or if you were a candidate who was unable to attend the town hall and would like your answers included, please @Rebecca or @TimStone in the chat room and let us know!

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    General comment: lots of great questions and answers here, making it difficult for us to vote. Compliments to those involved. Shame there is only space for three moderators! Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 20:06

27 Answers 27


Tony Meyer Tony Meyer asked: What do you admire most about the way the pro-tem mods have done their job over the last 11 months?

HNL HNL answered: Clearly, how they've done their job so well that I didn't even notice they were there until quite recently.

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: I very much admire how they went through the great purge, removing the massive numbers of bad questions in the site early on, and allowing it to become the site that it is today. The first two months must have taken a huge amount of effort, and we are all thankful for it.

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: Almost aren't aware they are even there. They stick to the background and just silently clean things up rather than being overbearing on the process of moderating.

  • HNL HNL agreed: Exaclty, they're transparent but effective.

Beofett Beofett answered: Aside from bringing a site to graduation from beta? Because that's a pretty major accomplishment... I think they've done a great job not only of defining policy with the community, but applying critical evaluations to those policies, and helping to identify when those policies were or were not working.

Keen Keen answered: I think helping to guide the site to its current state, where we have thoroughly-defined rules for what is and is not on-topic. Having the history in meta of so many discussions of what works here and what doesn't is invaluable. Their following it up with tireless enforcement has focused the community so there is less enforcement necessary. We don't have a steady stream of serial question issues, mostly one-off issues from new users who aren't yet familiar with the rules.

Keen Keen continued: This is an amazing feat.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: I admire the way they were always open to criticism and user responses. No question in Meta was never not considered. I also liked that they were available to help those who were new to the site.

Gilles Gilles answered: This question makes me rather uncomfortable. What can I say that won't be seen as empty praise? (<logician>Apart from saying bad things about them.</logician>) Well, they're both level-headed. I don't remember either of them saying that a question should be taken out and shot.


DampeS8N DampeS8N asked: Let's get serious. Two highly respected members of the community get in a comment war on a question. They both flag each other's comments and are cussing and it is clear that this is beyond a heated argument. What do you do, what don't you do?

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: If they are constantly flagging each other's comments, then I might consider a short ban, after consulting with other moderators in the Teacher's Lounge. But only after trying to talk with them first, including email and other means. But I would try and talk to them first via comments, then email, perhaps through chat rooms. I would also seek to understand the situation from other clues as well, such as past history in the site.

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: You have to explain to them that that kind of behavior isn't acceptable, and you remove the offendind comments. If they don't settle down you may need to temporarily ban them from adding comments or participating on the site.

HNL HNL answered: Such things are best handled offline, preferably in private chat or email with the two antagonists and a moderator.

Beofett Beofett answered: I delete all comments that do not directly apply in a positive, polite, and constructive way to the question, leave a comment indicating that the comments are not for debating, and that their behavior is unacceptable. If active cussing and personal attacks were involved, I would message both participants, and let them know that that is unacceptable, and that it will not happen again.

Keen Keen answered: This is a one off thing? Assuming I'm a diamond mod, I delete the comment thread, and post a comment that requests they both calm down and respect each other before making any more comments. If that doesn't suffice, then I'd pursue warnings or bans. I'm not fully familiar with all the tools diamond mods have available.

  • Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto added: The tools are basically what you have now, plus knowing personal information such as email addresses, banning users, deleting comments, etc.

Kevin Kevin answered: I would have to give both a stern warning. If it seems reasonable (which would depend on the disagreement in question), I would bring them both into a chatroom and mediate the dispute. If it could not be resolved and they continued to be disruptive to the community, I would have to give them a final ultimatum to be civil or face suspension, and of course follow through if they do not cease.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: I would delete comments that contained offensive wording as well as have a chat with both the users in a Discussion thread in the chat rooms. I would ask that they settle their differences there and then cool off and inform them that I would need to take down any comments that appear to be flaming the other user as well as comments that do not add to the natural discussion of the answer/question.

Gilles Gilles answered: If the war is localized, comment to tell the users to cool down, and lock the post. If they're being more generally disruptive (e.g. vandalizing the other guy's posts), suspend.


TangoOversway TangoOversway asked: Now simple questions that get simple answers get lots of reaction (reaction = upvotes, answers, comments, views, and maybe discussion on chat). This is leading to more and more questions that are answered quickly, which implies answers are easily found. What can be done to encourage more in-depth questions and encourage more reaction to such questions?

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: Not all simple answers get votes. I try to upvote the answer that best describes the question's intent. Sometimes it's a two sentence answer, and sometimes it's a 3 page answer. The best that can be done is to lead by example, and encourage others to follow. I try to go into popular questions a few days after the answers have been cast, and pick new favorites.

  • TangoOversway TangoOversway remarked: Yes, but when simply answered questions get lots of votes and ones that require thought and research don't, then it's a problem with what kind of questions are being encouraged.

Keen Keen answered: Lead by example. The more of us who ask more in-depth questions, the more the community at large will do so. There's a great Venn diagram that shows what SE sites ought to be. It's something like an overlap of Wiki, forums, and something else that escapes me presently. I've been keeping the Forums portion of that in mind lately, trying to ask questions that urge analysis.

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: When simple (or easily Googled) questions come along the community should encourage the asker to do a little research before jumping into a question.

Beofett Beofett answered: Simple answers that receive votes are indicative that they are interesting to a number of users. However, ones that aren't interesting should not be getting votes. However, if more complex questions are getting ignored, I would provide in depth answers myself if I could, and provide bounties on those I could not.

HNL HNL answered: We should reward answer quality, not promptness. Perhaps voters should wait until several answers appear before voting. That way, the more considered questions will arrive before people lock in their votes to hasty questions.

Kevin Kevin answered: I believe it is largely up to the community to provide and upvote interesting answers. If it gets to be an issue, a mod can raise it on meta, but if the questions are on topic it is not a mod's place to close them because they are not "interesting" enough.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: I say to encourage more in depth questions/answers, using the vote to close option for questions that are truely easy to find and to have a meta discussion about whether or not we would need to update the FAQ on what is considered general reference.

Gilles Gilles answered: Downvote questions that show a lack of research, write competing answers that go beyond the minimum to be a treatise on the topic (I won't name anyone from this site, but search on SE for posts by Eric Lippert, Thomas Pornin, and a few others)


DampeS8N DampeS8N asked: You try your best, you think you've been fair. Yet never-the-less someone complains in meta that you've acted unfairly and claim your aren't impartial. What do you do?

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: Moderators need to moderate. That will offend someone at some point in time. I would try and be as nice to them as possible, but explain my reasoning behind everything. I didn't get to it quickly enough to answer, but I was much in support of what happened on GD, when I was accused of this very thing: Is moderation different on this site?

HNL HNL answered: Then its time for the others to weigh in, because in the mind of the complainant, my judgement is already compromised. I'll just bring the issue to the attention of the others. But that can't stop a moderator from continuing to perform his job.

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: Discuss the situation with the person who has lodged a complaint. Try to work it out, seek the advice of another mod who may act as an impartial arbiter.

Kevin Kevin answered: I address their concerns in meta and let the community decide. I will also consult with my fellow mods on the issue in private, as leadership has to put up a unified front; it's not good for the community to have one mod second-guessing another in public.

Beofett Beofett answered: That's why there are multiple moderators. The moderators are a team, and in situations like this my first response would be to get their opinions of my actions. If they disagreed with me, I would re-evaluate my position, and apologize. If they agree with me, I'd ask them to respond, as further responses from myself would likely only inflame the situation.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: I would reassure them that I am indeed acting only with the best intentions of the site and following the current rules and regulations that the site has in place. If the user still thinks they are treated unfairly, I would advise them to open a meta discussion asking if the policy in question can be changed or ask for guidance on why actions were taken as they were.

Keen Keen answered: I read over the complaint. Take a few minutes and re-read the question/answer/comments in question. I then post a response that explains the issue as I see it, and why I took the steps I did. If possible, I recommend a few ways to avoid similar issues in the future. I end with a request for follow-up questions if they still disagree with my actions.

Gilles Gilles answered: <Shrug> happens all the time. Listen to the complaint. I might have made a mistake. Reply on meta, explaining my point of view (or apologizing for the mistake and explaining how I'd fix it). If the asker isn't satisfied, have a colleague intervene as mediator.


Tony Meyer Tony Meyer asked: Someone prominent in the online scifi/fantasy community starts regularly making pejorative comments about the site, and this is drawn to your attention through meta/chat. Do you do anything about it? If so, what?

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: I guess I would try to figure out what happened that this prominent community member suddenly turned to the Dark Side. Was a result of other members of the community, was it the moderators? Attempting to reconcile the change in behavior would be a good approach, because we wouldn't want to lose a quality member to misunderstanding.

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: I would try to see what their criticisms are, and see if they are legitimate. If they are, I would try to help improve the site. If they are not, then I would try to enter into contact with the person to see if I could correct some of that misinformation.

HNL HNL answered: If you mean this community, and if the person is still a member, we're going to have to figure out what ticked him off and hopefully reconcile. If he's part of the general online science fiction & fantasy community, there's nothing much we can do, unless he's spreading blatant misinformation.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: I believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and have every right to say whatever they want outside of the SE network. As soon as a user would then start saying these things on the SE network (Or our site specifically) I would then delete any offensive posts and warn the user that flaming the site is not allowed per the FAQs

Beofett Beofett answered: It depends upon the nature of the comments. I actually work in public relations, and have researched quite a bit into negative publicity in social media. The U.S. Air Force actually has a fantastic flow-chart to determine if and how to respond to such negative comments, and I would follow those general guidelines.

Kevin Kevin answered: There is not a whole lot anyone can do about disparaging remarks on another site; this is the internet, after all. That said, I would do what I can to stop such attacks on us. I would contact him in some way, explain how his remarks are disparaging, and ask him to stop. If he didn't, I would consult with the other mods here and elsewhere on the network to see if anything else can be done about such a person.

Keen Keen answered: I would mainly encourage people on this site to not sling mud or troll the disparager's (perfectly cromulent!) site. We can't control what others say of us on the internet. If there's something on this site that instigated the issue, then I'd handle that, as we shouldn't be using this site to troll.

Gilles Gilles answered: If there's any valid criticism, try to address it. See if this person reacted badly to something that happened on the site. Otherwise, unless it's a community where I participate, do nothing. Barging in onto another community to defend yourself cannot possibly end well.


DavRob60 DavRob60 asked: What is your prerequisite to close a question as "General Reference"?

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: It must be very easily found, and in general be a not very interesting question. The topic would probably be closed for other reasons besides being a general references, such as being too broad of a topic.

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: If it is something even a jock would know. Such as who was Luke Skywalker's father.

Keen Keen answered: This can vary based on the specifics of the question, but usually it would be if it's something I'm familiar with as being almost general knowledge. I then confirm that the information is easy to come by via Google and/or Wikipedia searching. Then I vote to close and post the relevant Google/Wiki link.

Beofett Beofett answered: Searching for the title of the question brings up the answer on the first page of search results, or returns a link that specifically addresses that specific question as a primary topic, and the answer does not expand upon that response in any significant way. However, if the answer is particularly interesting or unexpected, I would wait and see what community consensus is.

Kevin Kevin answered: I was initially quite in favor of a general reference closing option, however, the several posts on meta a few weeks ago regarding it changed my mind on the subject. I would only close the most flagrantly ignorant questions as general reference, something that was explicitly and clearly stated in the source material.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: As I've mentioned in several meta questions, if I can type in the question exactly as it was asked into google (or with 2-3 key words from the question) and the answer is on the first page, or if I can go to wikipedia and find the answer on the franchise/character/etc page, then I would consider it general reference. A good example on a question I would close would be the Darth Tyranus question that was recently asked.

Gilles Gilles answered: http://www.google.com/search?q=%22gilles%22+%22general+reference%22+inurl%3Ameta :p

Gilles Gilles continued: Seriously: this meta post explains my position. I'm rather conservative on GR; the answer should be easy to find in a place where the asker can assess its reliability. Just because the top Google hit has what looks like an answer doesn't mean it's correct and complete. OTOH, Wikipedia is usually good for our subject; we gain nothing from duplicating its content.


Michael Mrozek Michael Mrozek asked: How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: I would encourage them to give better comments via first commenting on their posts, then emailing them, and meanwhile removing all inappropriate comments.

Beofett Beofett answered: Depending upon the types of arguments/flags, I would first engage the user with positive suggestions, explaining how they might better guide their answers to avoid the issues. If it persisted, I would invite them to chat for a further discussion. As a last resort, I would discuss this with the other moderators, and consider sending a more firm message advising them of our policies

Keen Keen answered: Even not being a mod, I would work to edit the contentiousness out of these answers, and encourage the user to moderate the content of their answers.

Kevin Kevin answered: I would talk to the individual in question and explain to him that he should be less argumentative. If he continues to cause a significant disturbance in the community, I would have to give him a final warning, and then suspend him for an appropriate amount of time. The civility of the site is more important than answers from one particular individual, even if they're generally good.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: I would advise the user to re-read the part about the flag feature on the FAQ as well as guide the user to what would be considered appropriate. That is, of course, if the user's flags are not valid. If the user is spamming others' questions, he would be a candidate for a temporary ban.

Gilles Gilles answered: Oh, you're referring to First step is to tell him he's doing something wrong. Possibly privately (private chat room, mod message, even off-site contact if you know the person socially although that's rather for non-mods). At some point it may result in a suspension.


TangoOversway TangoOversway asked: The issue of asking about archetypes has come up (although the word has been misused). Is there a problem with asking questions about a topic that comes from legends to gain general information if the question isn't about a particular franchise? (Example: Asking about vampires but not asking specifically about Buffy or Blade.) Considering this is one of the sources of the stories we spend so much time on, why would it be off-limits?

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: I think those questions should be very carefully monitored, but they can be allowed in some capacity. They often result in a hodge podge of answers, and it can be quite difficult to pick one good answer.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: I believe those types of questions are completely valid. but a good answer to those types of questions would include more than one source and have citations of varied works.

Beofett Beofett answered: As someone who has answered a few recent vampire questions, I am very open to these types. I think there is opportunity for interesting, useful answers.

Kevin Kevin answered: I think it can be quite important to understand the historical context of themes, including scif-fi archetypes. Regardless of whether it's explicitly about a specific franchise, I think those questions are not just acceptable but (if properly thought out and phrased) potentially the sorts of deep questions we should be encouraging here.

Keen Keen answered: I think it's important that we have people ask and answer questions about the source myths that are the original sources for so much of the modern fantasy. I'm uncertain that our current community has enough experts to properly answer such questions though. At present, we should closely monitor these questions so as to ensure they get quality answers that encourage more growth in this area.

Gilles Gilles answered: Yes, understanding the archetypes and tropes of SF should be within our mandates.


TangoOversway TangoOversway asked: If you have unreasonable users, then where, as mods, would you go for guidance if you weren't sure what the next step should be?

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: That's easy. The moderator chatroom, known as the Teacher's Lounge. There not only do other moderators hang out, but people like @RebeccaChernoff who are SE staff.

HNL HNL answered: I'd consult the other moderators.

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: Consult with each other.

Beofett Beofett answered: Discussion with the other site moderators is first, to ensure that the team is all on the same page. If needed, we can then go to the moderators of other sites and the Community Team in the shared chat for further advice. I've actually been through this situation on a couple of occasions, both as the moderator seeking advice, and offering advice to other moderators on their problem users, and it is never a fun exercise. However, the support available behind the scenes is amazing

Keen Keen answered: Chat. Either to discuss with other mods, or to go over the underlying issues with the offenders.

Kevin Kevin answered: If I hit a situation where I wasn't sure what to do, be it regarding an intractable user or otherwise, I would seek the advice of my fellow moderators here first, and if that did not sufficiently enlighten me, I would seek guidance from other mods on the site in the Teacher's Lounge.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: Meta.stackoverflow is always a good place for questions on how to work the stackexchange site as a whole. But before I would go there, I would as the Elders of SciFi.SE and see what their wisdom could give. No one can help more than the current moderators.

Gilles Gilles answered: That's not really a question for the mods: the answer is part of the induction package, there's a private chat room for all mods on the network (the Teacher's Lounge), there's almost always someone to turn to for advice there


DampeS8N DampeS8N asked: In our time as Moderators @Gilles and I have often been on opposite sides of most issues. Each offering a different and reasoned argument in favor of or against whatever topic. Is this kind of discordance good or bad for SF&F.SE?

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: I think it is good to have a difference of opinion, so long as the decision is not just being done, then removed, etc. If moderators have differences, they should figure them out between themselves, or perhaps talk to the community about the issue. There is a reason there are 3 moderators, and it just isn't so they get more work done ;-)

HNL HNL answered: I think it's great. The last place we want to see Groupthink is among the moderators. Moderators are chosen for their ability to be rational. I don't think discord will lead to anything more than better analysis of the issue at hand.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: I believe that as long as any debate or argument is not had in spite or resentment and each party truly consideres both sides of the equation, the logical decision will be made by both parties.

Kevin Kevin answered: As I mentioned in a previous statement, the leadership needs to put up a united front. Any disagreement must be dealt with behind-the-scenes. The disagreement itself is, I think, good for SFF. It allows both mods to see and consider a different point of view.

Keen Keen answered: If it's civil, I think it's good. Having two opposing viewpoints passionately argue their positions helps people to define their own opinions more thoroughly. When we all agree on something, we miss details that a debate would find.

Beofett Beofett answered: It is very good, as it encourages discussion that will involve the community.

Gilles Gilles answered: Funny, I didn't perceive it that way. There's no need for moderators to agree, as long as we're willing to discuss things in a civilized manner (by which I mean listening to the other guy's arguments, not inventing a more explody type of bomb)

  • DampeS8N DampeS8N remarked: Interesting. I thought for sure you had noticed me always being on the opposite side of things. :P Never any ill will behind it.

Gilles Gilles asked: What do you think of content quality on the site? Do we rock, do we suck, does it depend?

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: I think for the most part the content is very good. I see some questions that I disagree with, or don't feel are great questions. But the majority of content seems to be pretty decent, except the Timelord stuff....

HNL HNL answered: We totally rock. I'm not a fantasy expert, but the whole idea of science fiction is asking "what if", and there's a lot of high quality what-if questions and answers here that you can't find anywhere else on the net, sometimes not even on the franchise wikis.

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: The site right now is pretty good, and always getting better. There are in my mind a bit too much of the unanswerable questions (Like the famous, is Santa Claus a Time Lord), but there is still some great stuff here.

Beofett Beofett answered: I think there is a ton of fantastic content here. There's also a fair amount of content that is somewhat mediocre, but much of that is special interest topics that can draw new visitors. I think the community has done a good job of policing the topics that seem frivolous, or would give a negative impression to new visitors.

Keen Keen answered: I think overall, we're a little above-average. But we have a great deal of growth ahead of us. I know that in the coming months we'll have new ideas for questions that will push our existing boundaries, and I look forward to help define our boundaries as the site keeps maturing.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: I think the quality of the site is awesome. Any off topic material is quickly remedied and most closed questions get cleaned up pretty quickly. I hope, if I were to be voted into moderator-hood, to continue this effort and to always have our site as awesome as ever.

Gilles Gilles answered: We have some good stuff (especially around HP/SW/ST), I want to work on building up content outside a short list of highly popular works. And, always, push for even better answers (we are getting a bunch of answers to ok-but-not-that-great questions that, while technically correct, are brief rehashes of what's already available elsewhere and not very interesting).


TangoOversway TangoOversway asked: I've said this a few times in chat. Lately I've been going through a lot of old questions. I find that many of the really good old questions are ones that don't fit the format today, like list questions (just an example, don't fixate on lists only). Is there, perhaps, a need to not take rules literally, but allow flexibility for unique and interesting questions? Or wait and see if a question gets good answers before closing it in a hurry?

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: I don't plan on going through and closing all questions that don't meet new criteria, unless the community demands it. I might post a question about it on meta, mentioning several of them, but encouraging users not to vote to close unless a consensus has been reached.

HNL HNL answered: I agree. I think we should leave the old questions alone, for historical/nostalgic purposes :) But if an interesting list question comes up, perhaps we can let it stand and see if a non trivial answer comes up. But the problem wit that is, it'll look like selective application of policies to some people. So I'd say avoid exceptions unless it's a really great exception.

  • Michael Mrozek Michael Mrozek asked: ...how is it not a selective application of policies?

    HNL HNL responded: It is selective application. The problem is people might misunderstand the criteria -- it should be the nature of the question, not the person asking it.

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: Some "silly" or "fun" questions might not be great factual questions but may help promote the site. It might be better to say "will this question benefit the site in some way, or will it not?"

Kevin Kevin answered: Rules should never be absolute; when it comes to humans, they can never cover all possible cases. If a question is good, I think it should stay. If, however, the community chooses to close it, I may ask on Meta why the community has closed it and encourage them to re-open it, but I would not myself overrule the community because I thought a question should be an exception to the rules.

Beofett Beofett answered: The problem with leaving old questions that no longer fit the criteria for what is on-topic/appropriate, no matter how popular or how good the responses received, is that they create confusion for newer members who aren't aware of why or when the policies changed. These questions will repeatedly be cited as reasons to allow other questions that are currently considered poor fits.

  • TangoOversway TangoOversway asked: So will we do that in the future? Delete any older questions because they don't fit new rules that weren't in place when they were asked?

    Beofett Beofett responded: I would do my best to try and edit such questions to bring them in line with our current policies, without breaking the answers, but yes, if the question is clearly a poor fit for our site, I would keep it closed (and the system would, eventually, automatically delete it if the policies did not change and the question remained closed)

    Gilles Gilles remarked: Yes, it is the fate of closed questions to be deleted. We did a big cleanup after we'd sorted out the main issues, and we've continued to delete old closed questions since.

    TangoOversway TangoOversway asked Beofett: So you're in favor of ret-conning everything on the site as policies change and removing or changing everything that might not fit a new change in policy? (Isn't that a bit Lucasian?)

    Beofett Beofett responded: ret-conning is not what I had in mind. Rewording established questions is extremely difficult, and quite frankly I can't imagine it would be possible for many, if any. However, if the question is truly good, then it at least deserves the attention of checking to see if it is possible. As for removing things that no longer fit our policy, I don't think its a great end for what is fundamentally a good question, but this site is bigger than a few good questions.

    Beofett Beofett continued: The site, and its policies, evolve. When that happens, our choice is to loosen our hold on the remnants from before those changes, or have repeated problems moving forward with the decisions agreed upon by the community as new members keep dredging up old examples to argue against closing questions that are clearly off-topic. There are plenty of examples on other SE sites of how painful that can be.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: Truely interesting questions that do not fit the current format but were greatly met with many up votes, I would say to leave them on the site, but close them from future discussion. They were allowed at one time, so by grandfather clause, they shouldn't be deleted.

Keen Keen answered: If it's off-topic, I would vote to close it. For any question that I vote to close that I think can be redeemed easily, I post suggestions in a comment that cover some ideas on how the question can be improved to meet our standards. If our standards need to be changed, then the issue needs to be raised on meta. We can't simply pick a few questions to let slide, as this leads to encouraging similar questions. I know I sounds like a curmudgeon on this, but I think if there's something

Keen Keen continued: Redeeming in these questions, then we need to hash out the specifics on meta, so we have a template for them to survive on the site.

Gilles Gilles answered: Evidently bad questions should be closed early, no sense in having people waste their time on them. Borderline questions are a case-by-case basis. If I see a question heading for a trainwreck, I'll try to edit it as early as possible to attract better answers, and if I don't know how to fix it (e.g. because I'm too unfamiliar with the source material) close and leave a comment explaining how the question might be improved.


Tony Meyer Tony Meyer asked: Do you think the proportion of users participating in meta is generally good? Adequate? Insufficient? Great? If you feel there should be more, do you have any thoughts how to increase it?

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: More meta participation is always a good thing, but I think we have enough of a key group to be content for now. I do like that major decisions typically show up in Meta prior to them happening. That is a healthy sign for this community. Chat is also doing quite well, it is much more active than previously.

Kevin Kevin answered: For quite some time after we joined, I hardly saw any meta posts. In the last several weeks, however, I feel we have had a good resurgence of meta questions and responses. I would call it good at the moment. Without explicitly advertising it with a banner or through chat, I don't see a particularly good way to get users to participate except when something comes up on the main site that could be discussed on meta - then I would suggest it in a comment.

Beofett Beofett answered: I think meta always benefits from more participation, no matter how many users are there. What typically happens is that there is a solid core of regulars who participate, which is important, but meta needs to be accessible for new members who have questions. I try to encourage participation by either linking to existing meta questions relevant to discussion, creating new meta questions and linking them, or inviting people to create their own.

Keen Keen answered: I think it's insufficient, as I've said on meta. It feels like we have maybe a dozen users who regularly use the meta site. This is a bad thing for new users who don't empower themselves to help take charge and really interact with the community. I think we need to advertise meta more, and perhaps mention it to new users in comments to questions that are wildly off-topic.

Gilles Gilles answered: We certainly have an unusually high number of meta posts. It's almost always the same people, but we're doing ok here. I've often pointed people to meta, or posted the meta question myself, when I saw comments that were turning into debates about topicality or similar issues.

  • I didn't see this question. I think that the participation could always improve, but as it is now, we have enough active participation to settle minor disputes and have healthy dialogue with most that are interested. As for trying to increase traffic, I think the CHAOS team is doing a good job of having weekly/monthly promotions. We could also point new members to the meta site in anyy close comments that we would leave after a VTC. Other than that, we can't force users to be active if they don't want to be. Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 0:00

Mark Trapp Mark Trapp asked: Where do you see SciFi.SE's place in the Stack Exchange network? Is it important to be involved in the rest of the network, like on Meta Stack Overflow? Or is it better for the site to be an island unto itself?

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: I think it is good to be associated with some of the sister sites in the SE network. Which is why Movies and Literature questions that are tagged for scifi or fantasy are fed into the chat room. It gives us an opportunity to share our knowledge to the SE community at large.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: I think that all SE sites need to be included in the StackExchange network and participate in any site changing decisions.

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: No stack exchange site is an island unto itself, but none is completely beholden to the other sites. I like to think of it much as a States vs. Federal government in the US, each State has some rights, but the Federal Government has some rights as well. Leave each site to come up with their own ideas, some own rules, but listen to the advice from the larger community.

HNL HNL answered: I notice some interaction between us and writers.se, but not with the rest of the more technical sites. We're kind of different, because as I said before, the whole essence of science fiction & fantasy is about "what-if", so I believe our questions and answers have a certain what-if element that might not fly on other SE sites.

Kevin Kevin answered: Yes, it is important to be involved in the rest of the network. That is part of the definition of "network." Though the mods and community may be somewhat different, we are tied to the rest of Stack Exchange and should have, at the least, discourse with them.

Beofett Beofett answered: Meta.SO provides a valuable avenue for information about the platform itself. Some interaction with it is essential, if only to find out how things work, how they change, and to get help when you can't figure things out.

Keen Keen answered: It's important that we interact with the other SE sites. We're all one network on the same platform. Changes that are agreed to on other sites can and do affect us here. We need to make sure that the course our SE overlords set isn't damaging to our portion of the overall SE community.

Gilles Gilles answered: What is it with false dichotomies today? You can participate on Scifi.SE and not care about any other site. Or you can participate in a dozen sites daily. A moderator should at least have read the FAQ of sites that are close to us (mostly Literature, Movies and TV), and know to turn to Meta Stack Overflow for existing answers about site-wide features.


Michael Mrozek Michael Mrozek asked: A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: I would honor the fact that the community chose me to help lead them. At Graphic Design, I have tried to ask only the best question since becoming a moderator, to help make the site progress.

HNL HNL answered: A bit uneasy, honestly. But it comes with the territory and one just has to make sure one sets a good example for the rest of the community.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: I think that, were I to be elected, I would go back to my early days on the site and try to clean up anything that I would be ashamed of today. As a representative of StackExchange, it would be my duty to lead by example.

Kevin Kevin answered: I always endeavor to conduct myself in a manner I feel befits a leader. I feel perfectly fine with having a diamond retroactively attached to my name and avatar, I would almost always have done the same thing if it were there to begin with.

Beofett Beofett answered: It took some adjustment when it first happened to me on parenting.se, but I've become accustomed to taking a pause before I post, and double-checking to make sure that I am acting in a way that best represents the site.

Keen Keen answered: Honestly, it's going to be embarrassing for some of my posts on the site, especially the earlier ones or ones where I didn't take the time to thoroughly cite sources or fully hash out my position. But it will encourage me to consistently have a high quality to all my future postings. The lessons I've learned in the past will always be here to remind me what to avoid, unless they were low-quality and have been deleted. :3

Gilles Gilles answered: I knew you'd ask that. Well, no change there. I think in most cases it's obvious whether you're talking as a random user and when you're talking as a mod. If necessary phrases like “my personal feeling” or “official moderator notice” can make the role clear.


Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: Final thoughts from the candidates please!

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: A vote for me is a vote against Timelords. That's a promise.

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble continued: I have really enjoyed my participation on SCIFI.SE, moreso than any other SE site. I'd really like to continue to see this site grow and be a part of it.

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: This community is a great place. I really am honored to work with it, given my current powers, and would be more honored to be given moderator promises. I hope I can continue to help this community out, and help it grow. Please help me to have more power help you by voting for me to be your moderator.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: I want to thank everyone who has been involved with this election and I hope that I am a prime consideration for your vote. I promise that, if elected, I would be fair, logical and kind to everyone on the site and make this site one of the best SE sites on the network. Vote OghmaOsiris!

HNL HNL answered: This is currently my favorite online community. I'd love to pitch in more than I'm doing now. But I already see several candidates who can definitely do as good a job as I, and perhaps even better. Let the best man win.

Kevin Kevin answered: If I have not addressed a question you would like me to answer, I am frequently in chat; please come there and ask.

Beofett Beofett answered: I think we have a fantastic community here, that is not afraid to share their opinions, but also has a firm grasp on maintaining what is best for the site overall. I also think we have a bunch of fantastic candidates here. I would welcome the chance to contribute more as a moderator here, and I think what I have learned as a pro tem mod at parenting.se could be useful here, particularly in areas of policy clarification and site promotion.

Beofett Beofett continued: (BTW, to everyone participating in this chat: if you have kids, or are thinking of it, visit Parenting)!


Mark Trapp Mark Trapp asked: Where do you see moderators fitting in when determining the scope of the site? If you don't agree with what the community considers to be on (or off) topic, do you plan to override that?

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: It isn't the role of the moderator to dictate policy so much as enforce the will of the community. If the community is moving in a direction the moderator disagrees with they can make their case, but ultimately the power rests with the people.

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: I do not plan to override what the community thinks is a bad question. I might override if there is somewhat of an indecision if a topic is a bad one, but if everyone else is against me, I'll let that be the case. Moderators can make suggestions, but any major scope changes should go to meta first, as a proposal.

HNL HNL answered: No. Those decisions should belong to the community. Moderators should maintain the policies, not decide what they are.

Kevin Kevin answered: The moderators are here to enforce the rules the community has agreed on, not to set policy himself. If a mod has concerns with the community's views, he can bring it up on meta, but he ought to continue going with the community's will until he has convinced them otherwise.

Beofett Beofett answered: Whenever there is a disagreement between moderators and the community on scope, I want to ensure that the disagreement is covered in meta somewhere. If we don't address it in meta, it will simply become a problem again in the future. If I personally don't agree with it being on-topic, but the community shows a strong disagreement, whether through meta votes or voting to reopen, then I would accept that (I've changed my opinion on other sites through this very process).

Beofett Beofett continued: I do tend to be a bit firmer on questions that are generally agreed to be a poor fit for the platform, however. In those cases, there is generally quite a history of trial and error on other sites that supports those policies, and I'd want to see a much stronger community consensus before I'd consider alternative policies

Keen Keen answered: I hope I never end up thinking the community has to be overridden. Usually, we as a community have done an excellent job of defining the site's scope. On contentious issues, we as mods should step in and suggest compromises that will make everyone satisfied to some degree. Otherwise, as a mod, I plan to minimally influence the decisions on the scope of the site, as I think it's our duty as a group to define this, not an individual moderator.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: I would always consider the community and what they want. If a majority vote were made and the scope of the site were in question, I would try to handle it as democratically as possible. Make sure everyone who is interested plea their case and see what can and cannot be done. If people want to start including a topic that is clearly not scifi or fantasy, I would ask the other moderators what they would want to do and we would come to consensus.

Gilles Gilles answered: A moderator's job is to apply the community's policies, not to make them. If the community can't come to a decision, the moderators should strive to find a compromise, and only as a last resort make a decision themselves.

Gilles Gilles continued: For example, if I'm elected and at some point the community decides that story identification is off-topic, I'll argue against that, but I won't overrule the decision. (I'd probably quit since I couldn't moderate while being so completely out of phase from the community.)


Eight Days of Malaise Eight Days of Malaise asked: What is the underbelly dragging this site down? And does that conflict with making this site a glorified collection of trivia notes?

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: The biggest obstacle is there is a wiki for every topic under the sun. This site is basically just a centerpoint which spiders out to all the wikis for individual franchises. If it can be seen as the starting point to scifi/fantasy answers I think that is a good place for it. Here is the answer to your specific question, and here is the wiki associated with that content.

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: If there is anything dragging this site down, it is the lack of expanding to new topics. We really need to find ways to encourage new topics to come to this site. As far as this becoming just a trivia site, I feel like we are getting to a point of asking some really deep questions, beyond just a site for random trivia.

HNL HNL answered: That's a tough one. We have to discourage trivia and general reference as much as possible. New users tend to do this a lot. I think we should find some way to engage new users personally and clarify things for them as soon as they join. And welcome them too. Other than that, I think we're good.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: I think the only thing that could bring this site down is lack of media that will be discussed. I think that variety is the spice of life and if we become a cornicopea of useless science fiction trivia, then I know SOMEONE will end up learning something they didn't know by the time they read 2-3 questions.

Beofett Beofett answered: I'm not sure I agree that there isan underbelly dragging this site down. There are areas that could be improved (I'd love to see more participation in regular chat events, for example), but if something were dragging us down, I don't feel we would have had the expansion that led to us graduating.

Keen Keen answered: Our small size. We need a bigger community. This will provide us with more resources to build the quality and quantity of tag wikis, and edits to clean up questions and answers. It sounds like you're not a fan of the trivia nature of the site, I highly recommend you post ideas to expand the site's scope on meta!

Gilles Gilles answered: The underbelly dragging this site down is the tendency of this site to being a glorified collection of trivia notes. Being less opposed to non-trivia questions would help. Seriously, have you stopped beating your wife?


DampeS8N DampeS8N asked: After becoming very popular on reddit, Are E.T. and Star Wars in the same universe? became our single most explosive question to date in nearly every metric. Should we promote more questions like this? And if so, how would you do that as a Mod?

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: The great thing about that question is that it wasn't speculative, but there was actual precidence for the question to be asked. If we can try to promote more questions like that, where people see the question and have to do a double check, it will lead to increased traffic and participation on the site.

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: This very specific question worked because it already had some basis in reality. In general, combining two universes isn't a good idea for a question, unless there is some reason to believe they might exist. For this kind of question, I would simply sit back and watch what the community does, only stepping in if the question is exceptionally poor quality.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: I think the popularity of reddit-posted questions is amazing. As I've discussed with @BrettWhite and other CHAOS members, they have been researching that possibility in-office. I also think that all users who feel a question they or anyone else asks is awesome enough to post to reddit should, by all means, do so. And do so often.

HNL HNL answered: If the question was asked in good faith (and I believe that question was) I believe it is okay. But we should not be splitting hairs over Easter eggs and in jokes of script writers and producers. If that were the case, as someone mentioned before, we would have to debate whether R2D2 is present in the new Star Trek universe (there's a question about this, but I can't find the link right now).

Beofett Beofett answered: Absolutely we should promote questions like that. I've shared a number of questions on Google+ and Facebook, and encourage everyone to do so as well. Plus it is always a good idea to follow the SE accounts on social media sites like G+ and twitter.

Keen Keen answered: Yes, and it seems reddit has become one of our big drivers of views. At least that's what BrettWhite mentioned in chat a few weeks ago. I encourage reddit users and users of other social sites to spread our content wherever it's appropriate. We offer some unique resources to the internet, we need to get that word out. Personally, I would post interesting questions on my Google+ page, and Twitter.

Gilles Gilles answered: The most upvoted questions are usually the most bikeshed questions. I don't find this question particularly constructive, but DVK did find some good material on its official status as a nod. I'd rather our popular questions be more interesting.


Mark Trapp Mark Trapp asked: How do you get more people to take ownership of their community? What can be done to get people to participate more on meta and in community moderation activities?

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: One of the best things is to encourage them to find it. I think we are doing a better job of this now than we used to do.

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: When people DO have complaints, make sure to educate them on the how decisions are made through meta, and that they are welcome to voice their opinions.

HNL HNL answered: Well, on one hand, the best sort of moderation is when you don't even know it's taking place. On the other hand, more people will participate when they see others doing it. So we have to have some mechanism to let people know that a lot of people are participating in community moderation and meta. Linking to meta answers in relevant comments, I have seen, works.

Kevin Kevin answered: I don't think this is significantly different from Tony Meyer's question. I don't think a banner is appropriate until participation becomes critically low. I would remind those in chat that they should participate, though they tend to be the ones participating as it is. And when something comes up on the main site that should be discussed on meta, I would post a comment encouraging such discussion.

  • Mark Trapp Mark Trapp asked: To clarify, you don't think there's anything needed to be done to get the community involved in taking ownership of the site, except to place a banner on the site when the participation gets critically low?

    Kevin Kevin answered: As it is, the community does take good ownership of the community. If that were to drop, there is not much a mod can do to force people to enter the meta discussions. Banners would be a last resort, they should be used conservatively or people will just tune them out. As I said, I would encourage people through comments to discuss points that should be discussed on meta when they come up.

Beofett Beofett answered: Repetition repetition repetition :) People can't participate if they aren't aware of where they need to go, or why. Links in comments are our primary way to reach members who aren't terribly familiar with the platform, and it is a great way to introduce the individuals, if you are willing to take the time to extend the invitation.

Gilles Gilles referred to his answer to the previous question


Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto asked: What should a moderator do with the growing number of small purpose tags, such as voldemort, horcrux, etc?

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: Unless a sub-topic (sub-tag) grows to become its own entity, I believe the main franchise tags should be the only ones. It seems unlikely that someone will only be interested in voldemort related Harry Potter questions, and they would prefer to ignore all other HP questions.

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: What has been done in Gaming is a great start. They have gone through and found a list of "Meta Tags", tags which don't really seem to serve a purpose. The are working their way through them over the course of a month, coming to a community agreement, and then banning those tags. I would do something to this line to make sure tags don't get out of hand, and probably will even if not elected.

HNL HNL answered: It pollutes the tag space. Tags should represent main works of art or franchises. I believe we should get rid of the smaller ones.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: I think that a discussion should be had for each tag in question and a community agreement on what should be deleted/edited/combined.

Keen Keen answered: If the number of one-off tags is getting out of hand, they should be culled. Tags need to have a purpose to them. When we have too many tags that no one would subscribe to, it cheapens other, more useful tags. As they got too numerous, I'd enlist the help of the community by posting a call to arms on the meta site, seeking help in cleaning up extraneous tags.

Beofett Beofett answered: I generally don't change tags unless there is a new one created that conflicts with existing, agreed-upon tags, if there is meta discussion regarding tags, or if the tag is clearly not appropriate. There are a number of cleanup features built into the SE platform that can help handle these unpopular tags.

Gilles Gilles answered: Anyone can remove those tags, moderators don't get better tools or relevant privileges. Post on meta to raise awareness, but we already have that (from a non-mod IIRC). That happens everywhere, it's fortunately not a high-impact problem and easy to fix. Plus single-use tags expire after 6 months (that's as much a curse as a blessing, but that's another story).


Tim Stone Tim Stone asked: It can sometimes be hard to convince people (friends, family members, etc) who have never participated in the Stack Exchange network to give it a shot. Put on your marketing hat for a second - in a single chat message, how would you pitch this site to someone unfamiliar with it?

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: This is a site for people to ask/answer questions about Science Fiction and Fantasy targets, typically of the type that serious enthusiasts will ponder for some time before reaching an answer.

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: It is an opportunity to learn and talk about the things you love. And if you participate you may win a bunch of free stuff.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: SciFi.StackExchange.com is a place where any user can go to get any question that is related to science fiction, fantasy or any other speculative fiction answered with experts who give their all in research of thoughtful answers and prompt response.

Beofett Beofett answered: I've done this a number of times, particularly with the parenting site as part of the ongoing site promotions we've done. I really try to tailor my pitch to the individual, but what I've found works very well for those of my acquaintances who are also gamers is that this site is a Q&A site... where you can get a high score :) For non-gamers, I emphasize the quality of the community, and the quality of the answers, citing some of our better questions/answers as enticements

Keen Keen answered: I'd seek questions or answers they have particular expertise and passion for. Then I link them to it, and suggest they post a response.

Gilles Gilles answered: SF discussion sites, the “good parts” version. I.e. no spam, no off-topic digressions, answers that aren't unsearchably buried in 3000-message threads


Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble asked: Is there anyone who is opposed to story identification questions?

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto linked: Are book / movie / TV series identification questions allowed?

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto continued: Basically, the consensus is, if there is enough information, they are on topic.

Beofett Beofett answered: I am not opposed to them (obviously, based upon my response above), but I do see this policy as having potential for encouraging bad or uninteresting questions, and I would therefore suggest periodic review to ensure that it is still a policy the community wants to continue supporting

Gilles Gilles answered: There is, but the most vocal opponents aren't active on this site


DampeS8N DampeS8N asked: Most important question: Rings, Potter, Wars or Trek?

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: Potter, Trek, Rings, Wars

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: Trek, then Potter, then Wars, then Rings.

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: That's a tough one, but as I started the HP tag, I've got to go with Potter;-)

Kevin Kevin answered: LotR. It has the most consistent and extensive canon.

HNL HNL answered: Wars & Trek

Beofett Beofett answered: I'd have to say Rings, just because the style of writing, and level of innovation elevates the works to something I can't really categorize as anything other than "art". The other three have a tremendous amount of brilliance, and, well, magic for lack of a better word, but they don't have the "wow-factor" that LotR has for me.

Keen Keen answered: Modern day? Wars, Trek, Rings, Potter. In that order because The Clone Wars is an amazing continuation of the Star Wars saga that almost redeems the prequels. I eagerly await the next Star Trek film, but we're getting 2 hours every 3-4 years at present. Next is LotR for the upcoming film adaptation of The Hobbit, which I look forward to seeing Sherlock and Watson in.

Keen Keen continued: Lastly is Potter because I'm mainly a casual fan of the series, having only seen the movies, never read the books. It was fun seeing the tale end last year in the theater, but it was a pretty thorough ending, so I don't foresee myself heading back to that universe.

Gilles Gilles answered: That's the wrong question. Mu again. We don't care what SF you prefer. Follow a single tag or read everything, you're welcome either way.


Eight Days of Malaise Eight Days of Malaise asked: Should all questions be linked to a franchise where the rules have an in-universe baseline or do you think that basically going over TV Tropes and rewording everything is healthy and constructive for the site in terms of making it a writers' workshop?

  • Keen Keen asked for clarification: I'm not sure I understand the question. Are you asking if we should have per-franchise FAQs?

    Eight Days of Malaise Eight Days of Malaise clarified: Do you think questions asking about general archetypes and broad strokes are constructive, make this site a writers' workshop to hash out ideas they want to try for a store, or should they have a foundation to generate constructive answers?

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: There are definitely sites which contain worthwhile information. I agree very much with the answer from @DVK here: Primary sources vs wikis?

Beofett Beofett answered: I think there are a number of examples that do not specify a particular universe that are quality contributions, some of which even invite comparison between multiple universes. However, re-hashing TV Tropes is obviously not good content. I think voting on the answers should resolve this, so long as the community upvotes quality answers and downvotes lazy/rehashed answers. I don't see a need for moderation in these situations.

Kevin Kevin answered: Of course there are no rules that should be absolute; in particular I think there is a place for non-universe-specific questions, provided they are worded in such a way that there could reasonably be a single good answer, possibly a couple, but probably not a whole list. Simply rewording anything, including TVTropes is not healthy for us as a community or, really, the internet in general.

Keen Keen answered: I think these are usually off-topic, as they fall under the open-ended discussion end of things. We need questions like this to become focused on specific attributes of the archetypes, or they should be migrated to Writers.SE.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: I think that any answer given, unless expressed in the question, should be as close to an in-universe response as possible quoting outside resources and providing valid links where appropriate. I do like TVTropes as it is very informative, but it is not a source for an answer unless it is helping to prove a point where other valid resources are also given.

Gilles Gilles answered: Have I stopped beating my wife, you mean? Mu.


Mark Trapp Mark Trapp asked: A number of sites on the network are grappling with whether their versions of X-identification questions are on-topic. Do story identification questions still have a place on SciFi? Why or why not?

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: I believe that the help me find X story are on topic. They have helped many to find series from long ago they like. There aren't a ton of them, but the tag is among the more popular here.

Keen Keen answered: Yes, they have a place. This is one of the unique resources our site offers to users and Googlers. Our ability to identify all manner of sci-fi & fantasy works has been popular, and is a great feature that attracts users to the site.

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: I believe they provide an opportunity for users to do some real research, knowing there is definitively a right answer. I also think it gives people an opporunity to branch out and explore stories they might not have heard of but sound intriging.

Kevin Kevin answered: I also believe story ID questions are worth keeping here. At the least, they help the general sci-fi community, and they could well help bring traffic to us.

HNL HNL answered: I believe it has to have a place somewhere. This site was the first place on the Net that could reliably find for me all those stories that I couldn't remember the title of.

Beofett Beofett answered: I believe they do still have a place on the site. The current benefits of story identification questions are two-fold. The people asking these questions are frequently new users, and I think it is a great way of introducing people to a friendly, helpful community. They also are of interest to experienced members, as they frequently introduce interesting new works.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: Yes, I think that they do have a place on Sci-Fi & Fantasy. I think a key part of our site is opening up new books and media to everyone and by allowing story-ident questions, everyone gets a chance to relive someone's nostalgia.

Gilles Gilles answered: identification questions are actual problems faced by the asker, they're a perfect fit for the SE format, they attract new users (asking) and experts (answering, and yes, experts do like to show off how they identified an obscure story in 3 minutes). Plus I've yet to hear a valid argument against them.


Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble asked: What is your position on "Is X a Timelord?" type questions?

Pearsonartphoto Pearsonartphoto answered: Unless there is a very good reason to suspect X is a Timelord, then they should be removed from the site as quickly as possible. The prime example of a poor question is "Is Santa Clause a Time Lord". But, there might be a good one out there. I just wouldn't know. In general, as I am not a Dr. Who fan, I would read the question, see if there is a good amount of evidence that it was the case, then close it.

OghmaOsiris OghmaOsiris answered: Doc Brown should be left to his inventions in peace.

HNL HNL answered: Good Lord, no. :)

Beofett Beofett answered: Great topics for the chat room :) For the rest of the site... not so much.

Kevin Kevin answered: I'll let the community decide on those.

Keen Keen answered: As almost the entirety of the Timelord race was placed in a time lock, it seems the answer to most of these would be "no" unless they're asking if the 'X' is some disguised version of either the Doctor or the Master. (That's an in-universe answer for all you non-Doctor Who watchers!)

Gilles Gilles answered: Oh boy. Seriously, it's not all a giant crossover! If a character hasn't appeared in Dr Who or a work that nods to Dr Who, then he's obviously not the Timelord you're looking for, and you should move along.

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