This question is not a good fit to our Q&A format. We expect answers to generally involve facts, references, or specific expertise; this question will likely solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion

What specifically was "not constructive" about the following question based on the definition above? I think this was a completely baseless closure.

Was Eric Flint's 1632 the only SF&F work/universe where fan fiction is considered canon?

The question did NOT generate "opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion". It did, however, generate a very precise solitary answer, which completely answered it and provided useful information.

The only discussion it generated - in comments - was definition of "fanfic," which I think most reasonable SciFi&F people don't consider controversial and was very precisely defined in the question itself to avoid any ambiguity; and, moreover, fanfic questions were explicitly agreed on meta to be on topic previously.


2 Answers 2


My main beef against this question is that I have no idea what is meant precisely by “considered canon”, yet the question hinges on a very precise definition since it's asking for a yes or no answer. Even with the given definition of “fan fiction”, there's room for interpretation. I don't see how an answer could not depend on its author's interpretation of the definitions, meaning that the correctness of the answer would be decided on a whim — does the author's interpretation look sufficiently close to what the asker had in mind? If yes, upvote; if not, downvote.

This is exactly the kind of pointless bickering that the “not constructive” close reason (formerly “subjective and argumentative”) seeks to avoid. Case, and question, closed.

Additionally, asking for a single example is not a way to save a bad question; more on that in When voting to close list questions, which VTC reason should I choose?

Furthermore, I take exception to this:

I'm looking for just one example of (…), NOT a list. If there's already an accepted answer, please be kind enough not to post extra examples - I will flag them for moderator deletions.

As a moderator, I would not agree to such deletions. If a first answer cites an example, and a second answer cites another example, then either both answers are valid or none are. Your restriction seems to constrain the answers not to be interesting, and we certainly don't want that.

  • 2
    "Your restriction seems to constrain the answers not to be interesting, and we certainly don't want that" - my restriction is designed to obtain the information needed while avoiding generating a list of answers. I agree that the MOST interesting answer would be a compilation of several examples, but when i asked for THAT, the question was also closed as a list. Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 5:43
  • 2
    I have a VERY VERY simple solution to this, which for some reason you seem to be deeply opposed to. Stop closing questions on a theoretical and subjective "MAY generate a list" basis and closed them on a practical "HAS generated a list" basis. Problems solved 100%. ... Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 5:54
  • Poor question worded in a way which invited endless examples? You can't complain when it gets closed (note that the ONLY one of mine that did generate a list, not only did I not complain, but I tried to cast a close vote realizing that questions was a mistake). Produce a good useful question carefully crafted to provide the info you need that does NOT result in avalanche of answers? You don't get punished. Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 5:55
  • 2
    Please note that before you went all Hulk on that question, it had more upvotes than downvotes and only 1 close vote in >2 weeks, AND more importantly, only 1 answer. IN PRACTICE, it didn't harm the site at all, and for at least some people, seemed helpful/useful. Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 5:55
  • Please note that my solution is 100% objective, measurable, and not subject to ANY abuse or controversy, from either askers or closers. There is a fully justified, well reasoned and fully unquestionable criteria for closing, instead of "this smells like a list question to me" guessing of right now. Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 5:57
  • 3
    Even with the given definition of “fan fiction”, there's room for interpretation. - I would appreciate an elaboration of that. THAT SPECIFIC criticism seems the only valid one of the question if its correct (since absent the definition, as you noted, you can NOT get an objective correct/incorrect judgement), but I don't see how my definition was anything but unambiguous. Never mind that if THAT was your problem, you could have downvoted, pointed out that "fan fiction" needs to be defined better, and ideally what the specific flaw was Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 6:02
  • 2
    @DVK Comment overflow! No, closing questions based on accummulated answers is not a good solution. No, random selections of items are not interesting. No, upvotes are not a sign that a question is good (rather the opposite beyond a certain threshold).
    – user56
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 11:19
  • @DVK THAT SPECIFIC criticism seems the only valid one - When you disagree with a criticism, that doesn't mean it's invalid.
    – user1027
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 15:42
  • 1
    @Keen - no, but the rest of it was either pure subjective opinion (answer is not useful/interesting - guess what, there are people on record who think it WAS useful/interesting, so what makes your or Gilles' opinion more valid?); or that it will lead to a non-Q/Aable list of answers (which is demonstrated to be patently false as a worry by the fact of only 1 answer in >2 weeks) Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 15:59
  • 1
    @DVK Regarding the lack of correlation between upvotes and question quality, read Jeff's latest blog post or many, many threads on Meta Stack Exchange and other metas.
    – user56
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 22:03
  • @Gilles - clarification: I was NOT talking about quality (and neither were some of the people disliking the question) but "interestingness" to others. And upvotes ARE correllated to being interested/useful, as either you or someone else clearly pointed out when I was puzzled re: upvotes of ID questions. Commented Feb 4, 2012 at 0:40

If you have to add this text to your question:

NOTE: I'm looking for just one example of such universe aside from 1632 (to see if Flint was unique), NOT a list. If there's already an accepted answer, please be kind enough not to post extra examples - I will flag them for moderator deletions.

...it's a sign that even you feel that there is a good chance that other people will be tempted to respond as if this were a polling/list question.

It's part of the nature of the platform that people want to post answers (which is, of course, a good thing!), especially if their answer is fundamentally different than any others there. While you may argue that in this case, examples of different works wouldn't really be significantly different to the basic question of "do any exist?", other users looking to answer would quite possibly disagree, especially if there's a personal favorite that might fit the bill "better" than existing answers.

At the most basic, no question should be asked that would require the OP to have to preemptively threaten to flag for moderator deletions. Answers should only be deleted when they don't attempt to address the question at all, contain dangerous advice (not likely on our site, given the nature of the topics), or when they contain spam, offensive, or otherwise inappropriate content that can't or shouldn't be edited to leave useful information. "I have too many answers" is not a sufficient reason to ask moderators to delete answers.

  • This is a good write up but does NOT address my question why it was closed as not constructive. Whether yes/no questions should be treated as "lists" or are on-topic (which is what you addressed) is a different story and i'm going to being it on META later when I have time, but has nothing to do with my question being constructive or not. Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 14:42
  • 1
    "Not Constructive" specifically indicates that it is "not a good fit for our format". That is precisely what I described here: if you have to add in special criteria, and threaten moderation flags for what would be legitimate responses on any other question, then you are attempting to make something fit into our format that doesn't.
    – Beofett
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 14:48
  • Just to be clear, I wasn't threatening - the comment like that is addressed at moderators to indicate that I'm willing to put in the effort to prevent the question from turning into a list. Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 14:50
  • 1
    "Warning" is probably the word I should have used. I understood your intent, and wasn't trying to imply that you were being argumentative or confrontational by including it. I'm just saying that the fact that you felt the need to take additional steps to demonstrate that you were trying to avoid a list indicates that the question, as phrased, was encouraging a list and was therefore not a good fit for our format (and therefore "not constructive" was the appropriate close reason).
    – Beofett
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 14:53
  • 2
    The question, as phrased, asked for a yes or no answer backed up by an example in case of yes. Everything else was a defensive measure against the people who want to close the question despite the fact that it is likely to NEVER generate a list of answers. I mean, should we close all yes/no questions about a specific work/universe where multiple examples for "yes" can - and are posted from within the work? Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 14:55
  • 1
    I'm not a fan of questions that ask for yes/no answers unless that yes/no provides useful and/or interesting information. Saying "I only want a single example, and I don't really care what that example is so long as it meets my basic criteria" limits the overall usefulness of the content for other users. In the case of your question, if the answer is "yes, Flint's was the only one", then it becomes too localized because someone else could add fan fiction to canon next year. If the answer is "no, there are others", then it isn't a terribly interesting question in the first place.
    – Beofett
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 22:58
  • 2
    I've started a discussion to flesh out the community feelings on this.
    – Beofett
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 23:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .