Once this question was considered on-topic here: If I have the Comixology app, do I need the publisher ones?

Today, I asked a similar question: How does unlimited subscription of Marvel Comics work? which is closed as off-topic. Why?


4 Answers 4


Those questions don't have anything to do with Science Fiction or Fantasy. It has to do with the distribution of (potentially) SciFi/Fantasy works.

Similarily a question like "How do I buy a comic book from a grocery store" would be closed as off topic. Just because you mentioned a comic book doesn't mean it is on topic. The question is about the logistics of purchasing a magazine. It has nothing to do with this genre.

  • 1
    Yes, but then why was the first question also not off-topic? Apr 20, 2012 at 18:42
  • 4
    @MarkBeadles Because no one noticed? I agree both should be closed.
    – Beofett
    Apr 20, 2012 at 19:13
  • @Beofett Ha, fair enough. Apr 20, 2012 at 21:16
  • See also boat programming for a related precedent from another stack. As a side note, in my experience it's often considered "OK" to put this sort of information into suggested-order answers (in addition to answering the main question), especially when the work is otherwise difficult to find.
    – Kevin
    Sep 2, 2018 at 21:55

To me these questions are no different than asking "How do I buy a ticket to see Prometheus at my local cinema?", or "How do I stream Battlestar Galactica on Netflix"?

Are they about science fiction? Only peripherally. They're not about the content, or the creation, or the fandom culture, or speculation. They're about buying and downloading -- the content happens to be Sci-Fi in this case. But the same answers would apply if I asked about downloading Archie comics or Downton Abbey episodes. Those are fine things - but they're not Sci-Fi/Fantasy.


It's clearly on-topic (although it doesn't seem like a good question; as a comment says, it seems very likely that the terms of use would answer it).

The FAQ states that questions about:

Behind-the-scenes and fandom information

are on-topic. These questions are those. However, these questions are rare, and so can easily get closed as off-topic simply because they don't fit the dull trivia-contest or wild-speculation question format questions that users are expecting.

The best way to figure out whether something is off-topic (other than referring to the FAQ and meta questions) is to ask "is this something that requires the expertise likely to be found on this site?" - i.e. does it require expertise in science fiction/fantasy. Here, given that the vast majority of the material sold through these applications consists of on-topic material here (i.e. it's scifi/fantasy), it seems clear that the users here are likely to have the expertise to answer the question.

Related to this is another question: would the users of this site be expected to find this question interesting and useful: the answer is again clearly "yes" - the users are likely to be consuming science-fiction/fantasy with these applications, and knowing more about how to best do that would be both useful and interesting.

These questions aren't any different in nature than a question asking what you need to know to try and find a rare translation of a scifi/fantasy book (shopping questions in general are off-topic, of course). WRT to shopping questions, the general guideline is:

Thus, when it comes to shopping questions, don’t ask us what you should buy — ask us what you need to learn to tell what you should buy.

That's exactly this question: asking what needs to be learnt (how the different models work for purchasing this scifi/fantasy content), not asking what needs to be bought.

  • 5
    I disagree that it's "clearly" on topic, unless you are just using "clearly" for rhetorical effect. This is a grey area, as evidenced by this very discussion. I don't think that "what you need to learn to tell what you should buy" really should extend to software and licensing questions -- I mean, where would that end? Apr 21, 2012 at 14:38
  • 4
    I see this as no different than "I use my television to watch sci-fi, therefore it is on-topic to ask what episodes and seasons of each show I will gain access to by subscribing to various cable television packages." The question isn't about sci-fi topics. It is about tools used that happen to be associated with scifi material. That's not "behind-the-scenes and fandom information". "Behind-the-scenes" is more "how much more did Bret Spiner get paid for First Contact than Marina Sirtris?"
    – Beofett
    Apr 22, 2012 at 19:42
  • When we wrote the FAQ, the intent of the line you quote as clearly making this question on-topic was for "lifestyle" SFF questions: how do I prepare for a convention, why are people bullying me for liking Star Wars, etc. And even then it's still controversial as to whether it's on-topic here. Not sure how you came to construe that to mean questions about app recommendations were on-topic.
    – user366
    Apr 24, 2012 at 5:48

I agree that it's on topic. I think, due to the factors that are asked, extant users of the license in question are far better able to answer - such behaviors as mentioned are seldom covered in the Terms of Use for many such services, and when they are, often not in plain English.

  • 4
    I think it's a good question, and answerable, perhaps even by some people who use this site. But in my opinion it's really not a Sci-Fi/Fantasy question. Apr 21, 2012 at 14:39

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