14

I just noticed this question:

Has anyone heard any rumors about the third book in Scott Sigler's “Infected” series?

While I sympathize with users being curious about release dates, but especially writers are notorious from missing release dates. Furthermore, there are often no sources for verifying the information, so how could we ever accept an answer?

More problematic is that we can't know beforehand whether there are any sources, so in some cases the question could be answered, but in others the question ends up being a dead end.

So, what is the purpose of these questions other than feeding our curiosity?

10

I think they are two different types of questions, to be closed for different reasons:

In terms of release date questions, there's a knowable date after which the question becomes useless. Those types of questions are a great example of something that should be closed as too localized, especially on a site like SciFi.SE: it's self-obviated on release date and there's no clear and present need for knowing the release date ahead of time (unlike, perhaps, knowing when PHP 6 or Python 3 is coming out, which can dictate how to proceed with a development project).

In terms of rumor questions, I think your assessment is correct: they should be closed as not a real question, in line with Real Questions have Answers: rumor questions, by their nature, begin with the premise that the question answerers cannot speak with any authority about the subject matter; otherwise it wouldn't be a question about a rumor.

  • 1
    First point, I agree. Second point, yes SciFi.SE should stay far away from rumour mongering and is not a rumour police. Bus asking "is is true that such and such..." about verifiable facts (namely past events) and can pretty much be answered with True or False and have reliable sources. There is a lot of potential for these kinds of questions, and a great number of them would be beneficial. – MPelletier Jan 25 '11 at 2:07
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    Also, such questions will be out of date, often days after they're answered, and are of doubtful utility for the site. – neilfein Jan 25 '11 at 5:38
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    Just don't get too close happy. There is a thin line here, and sometimes it can be perfectly valid to ask what the status of particular project of interest is. There are some reliable sources that are not rumor mills, and some of them -- such as IMDB Pro -- are restricted access. I don't think its an issue that questions go out of date. There are any number of questions asked on SO that fall out of date with the next version of, whatever it is they were asked about. They simply sit in the question archives, relics of history. – Daniel Bingham Jan 26 '11 at 22:58
  • Agreed that anything asking for rumour should be closed. Asking for facts is dubious IMO, but I think I would rather see a down-vote than a close-vote. Asking (e.g.) "where can I keep track of the progress of the Ender's Game movie" would be a more useful question IMO, although perhaps too easy to answer via Google. – Tony Meyer Jan 27 '11 at 7:46
1

Another example of off-topic Q is: Future Malazan novels by Steven Erikson?

At first glance, I would argue that such questions should GENERALLY be off-topic for the following reasons:

  • Most likely, there IS no valid answer in the first place. Only rumors.

  • In rare cases when some actual info is present, it's usually in a trivial place (Amazon listing for the author, Wikipedia, author's or publisher's web site). Those "let me wiki that for you" questions are off topic.

  • In even rarer cases when there IS a non-trivial valid answer (e.g. a quote from an interview, a cite from something the author said at a convention), in most cases it will be 100% obsolete and useless very soon once the book is actually published.


I would note that there may be some exceptions to the above "off topic" rule, which IMHO would be very easy to discern using the following rules (the reverse of the 3 points above):

  • Only allow the ones that pertain to sure-to-have-an-answer situation (e.g. there's a known fact/statement about the (non)-existence of future work).

  • When the time-frame is significant enough to warrant not worrying about immediate obsolescence (e.g. known to be >=3 or 5 years to pick a random number).

  • Also, the answer must be exact (authoritative quote, NOT a rumor) and non-trivial.

A great example of future-works question that IS on-topic is Are there any plans for a new Babylon 5 series or movies?. Its answers contain links to creator's quotes, aren't in danger of being obsolete in 6 months, and aren't 100% on Wiki (e.g. Patches's answer)

  • I agree with your time frame criterion, but the other points are problematic: as long as no one has given a suitable answer, how are we to know whether no such answer exists (therefore close), or whether one exists but hasn't been posted yet (therefore don't close)? – user56 Mar 20 '11 at 0:59
  • I'd err on the side of "don't close initially until the picture becomes clearer from answers/comments/LACK of answers". – DVK-on-Ahch-To Mar 20 '11 at 14:45
-1

In general, I think that rumors aren't appropriate for this site.

In this particular case, though, the author has announced that the book is forthcoming, and Wikipedia says it's set to be released this summer. At some point, I think it's safe to say it's no longer a rumor, but an expected release.

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    But how do we transform this into a usable guideline? We can't let people posts questions and only close them when we can't answer them. – Ivo Flipse Jan 25 '11 at 0:10
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    @Ivo F - I think we just say: "no rumors." Products (films, books, etc.) that are officially announced are (imo) no longer rumors. "Whaddya think's it's going to be about?" should also not be asked here. – Dori Jan 25 '11 at 0:13
  • Great, but what would be the value in allowing questions regarding announced release dates? I simply think Stack Exchange isn't the place for such questions. – Ivo Flipse Jan 25 '11 at 0:22
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    This isn't a rumors site, but it's also not a news site. For example, who would see that these questions are kept updated? – neilfein Jan 25 '11 at 5:39
  • but once the book is released, the Q&A both become totally useless. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Mar 20 '11 at 0:47

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