Sometimes a question is asked to which the answer is posted stating "There is no in-universe answer" (aka "it's a plot hole").

Such answers in and of themselves are OK in general, but as discussed in the following meta post: Usefulness of "Plot hole" answers/comments - they should conform to certain most minimal standards to be good answers:

  1. Most importantly, the answer should be backed up by evidence, in the form of explanation of how the poster arrived at the conclusion "There is no in-universe answer".

    It does not need to be anything elaborate, but this site frequently deals with large universes with multitude of works - and frequently author provided extra info; so if one simply states "No answer in universe", there is no way to tell if they just opine without any basis, or if they are an expert familiar with every single work of canon as well as author commentaries.

  2. If the answer does not have incontrovertible proof that there's no in-universe evidence (e.g., an author admitting that; or showing what sources you exaustively searched to confirm), it should not be posted in haste, within a couple of days of the question being posted.

    This will allow people who are experts in the canon to research the question properly and hopefully come up with an in-universe answer.

Please note that many/most people on the site are mostly interested in canon/in-universe answers. The "it's a plot hole" one is simply too obvious to be of any interest to anyone, unless elaborated with good cites.

What is some good boilerplate for a comment on a post that violates the rules above? Namely, is posted in haste before in-universe answers can be researched and posted; and/or lacks citations or references or any work shown that would provide evidence that in-universe answer isn't in existence? Ideally, the comment would make reference to above meta post and provide concise reasoning.

I'm looking for a good example of a standard comment to use in this instance.

NOTE: This is different from generic "please provide citations" comments on generic answers; because we do NOT have a general policy requiring citations on SFF, whereas we have a well accepted policy outlined in the answers in the linked meta questions for the "It's a plot hole" answers.

P.S. Obviously the above does NOT apply to rare questions where the poster clearly stated that they do NOT seek in-universe answers - but such questions are not a rule here.

  • What is the goal of the comment, particularly in the case of not waiting a few days for in-universe answers to be posted? A comment is really only useful for educating new users on how to provide better answers. In the issue of posting too soon, it doesn't seem like a comment would be terribly constructive, as they won't be able to fix "posting in haste", aside from possibly avoiding doing it in the future (assuming they aren't a drive-by).
    – Beofett
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 19:57
  • @Beofett - the usual problem is #1 (posting a bare answer without any effort to explain or back it up) rather than posting "too soon". I mostly included the latter as it WAS discussed and mentioned as part of the policy on that meta Q, so I would not be accused of mis-representing the consensus Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 20:10
  • Nit-picking, but a lack of an-universe answer is not necessarily the same as a plot hole. Plot holes are inconsistencies when looking at the whole of the work. A lack of an-universe answer could be anything just not covered in the work. e.g., "why is Luke's hat white?" would not refer to a plot hole.
    – phantom42
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 21:17
  • @phantom42 - correct. "Plot hole" is a subset of "lack of answer" issues with the work. Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 22:12
  • I am very interested in the answers you receive for this question! (Just want to say that because there might be bona fide plot holes in a series, that doesn't make it a bad series or poorly constructed by default. IMO.) Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 22:40
  • Is there an opening for a function where 'plot-hole' as a tag is only applicable when a question is closed/answered with that context? As such, removable when canon advances to repair it? Gold badge created for such a feat.
    – Solemnity
    Commented Feb 23, 2013 at 6:22
  • 2
    When I post an answer that says "there's no answer", I like people to realise that I've put a great deal of research time into finding nothing :-)
    – Valorum
    Commented May 27, 2014 at 17:56

2 Answers 2


In the vein of answering the question instead of debating its merits, I would write a comment like this:

[Hi, and welcome to scifi.SE. -- new users only] Could you please confirm that you've [seen/read] every [book/film/episode/work] in the [series/universe/whatever-it's-called]? If you didn't personally examine them all, can you provide a citation for your claim?

If the user replies with "yes, I did read/see them all" or words to that effect, edit it into the answer. Comments are ephemeral, and showing one's work is a required component of these answers.


Firstly not everyone reads every meta question and answer. You cannot expect or enforce guidelines in answers to meta questions unless they have been transferred to the FAQ, etc.

Secondly, Stack Exchange FAQs seem to be loosely worded in order to allow for a range of expression in questions and answers and it is the voting process that determines the actual 'quality' of an individual question or answer.

Thirdly, posting a rude 'you know nothing/you can't prove this' comment does not help in any way. There is no requirement to list your sources/knowledge/expertise (although it does help) and we should be acting on good faith in such situations not attacking.

Fourthly a rapid negative response to an answer, that can only be edited or deleted, not delayed or postponed also doesn't help, especially when most users don't go back and remove their comments after an edit to what their commenting on.

Lastly, high reputation users should be held to a higher standard, serial downvoting, harassing, and being continually rude, just because someone questioned the usefulness of a question is bad behaviour that should have been gotten over with the long experience of a high rep user.

In short, be patient and kind, and don't comment until an answer has had a chance to be thought on by the poster.

  • 7
    I have some quibbles. I agree that we should be kind. This should apply to all members of our community, not just high rep users, who are just users and aren't special snowflakes. The behaviors you cite aren't okay for any user to engage in. As well, what constitutes "problematic behavior" can be completely subjective. Sometimes it's clearly inappropriate, but users can be sensitive or not amenable to other opinions. Your answer, except for the last line, which is fairly generic, addresses what not to do; the question has asked what to do. Would you expound on what should be done? Commented Feb 24, 2013 at 4:18
  • The last line was my point - don't comment
    – user11295
    Commented Feb 24, 2013 at 8:22
  • 8
    Okay, well, you don't want to discuss it. Your prerogative. Since your point is only the last sentence, perhaps removing the five extraneous paragraphs of what not to do, and leaving what you would like to see done, would better answer the question. Commented Feb 24, 2013 at 15:47
  • @Slytherincess - Hey. I'm a special snowflake.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 8:10
  • 1
    Are you aware that no-one reads the FAQ either?
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 8:10

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