We've already had a couple of questions asking if something can be considered science fiction, and questions of this kind seem very unlikely to produce interesting or informative answers. I think they should be explicitly considered to be off-topic

  • This question has been superseded by the more recent general discussion on what is and isn't on topic.
    – user1027
    Feb 18, 2012 at 16:37

5 Answers 5


I can't see how questions like that can have answers that are anything other than subjective opinions.

There isn't one generally agreed-upon definition of the term "science fiction," which makes "Is this SF?" questions functionally equivalent to asking "Which is a better dessert: chocolate or ice cream?"

There are already debates in progress here on whether topics as well-known as Star Wars, The Matrix, and Transformers are/are not SF. I highly doubt this community will ever come to one unanimous interpretation of the phrase—which makes all the "Is this SF?" questions purely subjective and completely unanswerable.

  • 1
    "Should questions about ... be off-topic?" You say "No" but your explanation seems to say they should be off topic (unless I am parsing your sentence wrong). Can you clarify? Jan 13, 2011 at 3:23

Aren't questions like that pretty good meta questions? (i.e. to clarify whether a question is on-topic for the site)

(Note that that's what's happened to them so far - they have been moved here).

  • 1
    Yes they should be meta questions - if they are SCI-FI "X" is on topic for the site, if they arn't X is off topic - taking into consideration any previous ontopic/off topic discussions like the sci-fi / fantasy discussion
    – Zypher
    Jan 20, 2011 at 23:14

I disagree.

This is a Q&A site about SF, and it is perfectly reasonable to expect questions which define what SF is and what it isn't.

Of course, it would be much better to create a FAQ stating what are the criteria that must be met so that we would consider something a work of science fiction. That way we can kill all the flies at once.

  • +1 create a FAQ, its something we should think about. scifi.stackexchange should provide Information about SciFi and not what IS SciFi..
    – Iceag
    Jan 12, 2011 at 15:01
  • @Iceag: We could even link to it from the main FAQ. Jan 12, 2011 at 15:03
  • sounds good to me, with a proper definition of "What is Science Fiction" we really could see instantly what fits the criteria and what not. I think a new Meta-Discussion, where we define Science Fiction would be good
    – Iceag
    Jan 12, 2011 at 15:10
  • @Iceag: Done! meta.scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/37/… Jan 12, 2011 at 15:12

“Is X science-fiction” is very often hotly debated, so such questions are prime candidates for being closed as “subjective and argumentative”.

They should not be moved to Meta unless the purpose of the question is to ask whether a work or subgenre is appropriate for this site.


OK, suppose, just for the sake of example, I ask if Bill & Ted excellent adventure can be considered as science-fiction.

Will someone will learn something from this question ? Obviously, me and maybe you (this movie is full of time travels and somewhat copes with temporal paradox, although just for the fun of it ... like the whole movie, in fact).

Will we both talk about science-fiction ? Yes, of course, to justify the fact that, like To say nothing of the dog, by Connie Willis, this movie does not uses the time travel to talk about its physical complexity (contrary to, say, Timescape), but rather as a comedy element, however using it far beyond "simple" "I get back to tomorrow to avoid my today-self to loose his keys", or at least that's what I think.

To build upon this example, science-fiction has very fuzzy borders, and this site, like any other communcation medium about science-fiction, will have to cope with these borders, are they visible (like frontier between science-fiction and fantasy) or not.

As a consequence, yes, to my mind, questions asking if X is science-fiction will always be considered as full parts of this site.

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