While there are many ways to classify questions, one common way seems to be whether it is looking for a real-world answer or an in-universe explanation. As a believer in the power of community-driven research, I think that the former category inspires more original content than the latter. For example, virtually any in-universe question can be answered by simply quoting a wiki, as fans have already gone to extraordinary lengths to provide explanations of their favorite universes, while in-universe questions that cannot be answered with a quote will frequently devolve into speculation. Indeed, absent any authoritative source this is the only possible outcome. (There are of course exceptions to this rule, as occasionally someone will volunteer previously-undisclosed production information).

Contrast this with a question such as In What Order Should the Star Wars Movies be Watched (or even one of the many story identification questions). Though sometimes subjective (as in the first example), original research may be performed and documented. This strikes me as some of the best possible content that the site has to offer, since it frequently cannot be found (easily) anywhere else.

As a nerd, I absolutely love free-wheeling discussion about in-universe topics. Of course, I know that in reality these topics are almost always the result of simple plot holes in the original material, but like many of you I find it a lot of fun to "explain" these things. I can't honestly say that doing so adds a lot of value to the site, however, since nearly all of these explanations merely copy or link to an existing wiki, or are so niche that very few people will ever find them useful.

All of this is really just a preamble to start a discussion on whether we should:

  • Encourage one type of question over another (nobody is talking about closing anything here!)
  • Establish some simple guidelines for in-universe vs. real-world questions

I think the second option is preferable, as both types of questions have value to me. The FAQ already touches on it, but I would propose as a guideline that speculation is acceptable for questions requesting an in-universe explanation, and discouraged as per usual in real-world type questions.

What do you think? Is this a reasonable distinction to make? Should the FAQ be changed to acknowledge that different types of answers are acceptable for in-universe questions?

  • 1
    Wiki may be (and often is) inacurate, so saying "the answer is on Wiki" is not a good argument for or against anything. As an example, look at Harry Potter Wiki. At best, hugely unattributed text, at worse, makes major mistakes between book and movie canons without any attempt to distinguish, at worst, completely wrong info. Mar 30, 2012 at 2:06


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