The idea of the general reference close reason is that we don't need to duplicate well-known databases of facts such as Wikipedia or IMDB. In an earlier meta thread, we determined that three standard Internet reference sites are Wikipedia, IMDB and ISFDB, and that we consider these sites to be well-known and reliable enough that we don't need to duplicate their content.

Wikipedia and IMDB are certainly well-known, but ISFDB less so. Still, this doesn't preclude closing ISFDB lookup questions as GR, as long as we indicate where to find the information in a comment. After all, the point of GR is not to duplicate easily accessible information (such as “Which collection contains this short story?”), and ISFDB is easily accessible once you've heard of it.

Now what about this question? It was slightly more that “which collection contains this short story”, since there are 4 short stories with the same title. A simple Google search finds which one it is, though, so I don't see that much point in having the question on the site. If the asker had known about ISFDB, he would probably have been able to determine which story he was remembering — maybe the author name alone would have rung a bell. (Roger, what do you think?)

I closed the question as GR and gave the easily-found answer in a comment, but I don't necessarily think this should be a policy in such cases. Thoughts?

1 Answer 1


In general, ISFDB-answerable questions shouldn't be closed, I think. ISFDB is a couple of steps down from IMDB in the hierarchy of common knowledge: first, ISFDB is for print storytelling rather than film; second, it's about a specialized type of print storytelling. Here are some numbers to back it up: Wikipedia has a Google Pagerank of 9; IMDB's is 8; ISFDB's is only 5. So, it's a little sad when a user doesn't know about ISFBD, but it shouldn't be surprising.

In particular, I think the question in question should have stayed open. The story-identification part is general reference, as your comment showed. But the question as a whole isn't GR, for two reasons. First, ISFDB isn't general reference (as I argued above). Second, the question is more complex than those the FAQ dislikes (which can be "answered by a single link"), since the answer requires two searches.

  • 7
    I tend to agree that ISFDB shouldn't be general reference; I didn't even know it existed until I had already been on this site for several months.
    – Izkata
    Aug 25, 2012 at 20:31
  • @Izkata, sjl: On the other hand, what's the point of having dozens of questions asking “What collection contains this story”?
    – user56
    Aug 25, 2012 at 21:21
  • 4
    @Gilles: I don't think it's a big problem. Questions that lame will get down-voted. Besides, I'd rather see that type of lame question than "Who's more awesome, Batman or Popeye?"
    – sjl
    Aug 26, 2012 at 4:58
  • 8
    <shame>I didn't know of ISFDB until about 30 seconds ago. </shame> :(
    – dlanod
    Aug 26, 2012 at 22:45
  • 1
    @sjl Batman.... Aug 27, 2012 at 1:34
  • 1
    @OghmaOsiris: Batman -- only if there's no spinach.
    – sjl
    Aug 27, 2012 at 5:42

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