In my long time here, I have witnessed time and time again people attacking questions (as in, downvoting, VTCing, and/or posting hostile comments or meta content) on the basis of:

  • "Why are you asking this?"

  • "Why do you want to know?"

  • "This is trivia, nobody needs to know this".

The usual justification for such attacks is the standard StackExchange standard FAQ wording (present on this site) of

"You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face" (discussed previously).

As such,

  1. Is "I am curious about XYZ" considered sufficient as far as being "an actual problem that I face" on Science Fiction and Fantasy site?

  2. Is it reasonable to attack questions based on lack of "why do you need to know this?" information in them (because 100% of questions on the site have an implied "because I'm curious" answer to that query).

    I'm making a distinction here between merely attacking a question and labeling it as "bad" due to lack of "why did you ask"; and a legitimate "if you can provide context for why you're asking this, it would help answering the question" constructive criticism. I'm perfectly fine with the latter.

  • Somewhat related early discussion that doesn't actually answer this: here – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 3 '13 at 7:13
  • @Keen - while the question seems like a dupe, the only upvoted answer to it does NOT answer this question at all, and merely deals with specific issue of "how many of X" question scoping. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 4 '13 at 3:29
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    Re-asking the same question multiple times just because you don't get an up voted answer you like isn't acceptable. User366's answer goes into excruciating detail on how beneficial it is to have context or justification in a question, while also showing its not required. Gilles' answer explicitly states "As far as I'm concerned, it is a valid reason for any question on any Stack Exchange to ask something because you want to know. Saying why you want to know is likely to give you more useful answers, but that is your problem as an asker." – user1027 Apr 4 '13 at 3:42
  • @Keen - my problem with Gilles' answer is that people will insist that at 0 votes it's not a rule, and they will keep spouting off that "these questions aren't allowed to be asked". I'll bump that Q with an edit to give it more views, now that you found it (I didn't realize I already asked) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 4 '13 at 13:01
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    I'm re-opening because it seems the older question is more about "do we have to give a reason" and the newer is "is 'just wondering' a valid reason", but you should try and edit one or both of the two questions to make the distinction more clear. – Kevin Apr 4 '13 at 16:12
  • Here is the other related discussion since it appears the link was lost when the question was reopened. – Beofett Apr 4 '13 at 18:24
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    “This is trivia, nobody needs to know this” — if that’s a reason to close questions, we’re not going to have a lot left here on scifi. Trivia is the point! – Paul D. Waite Apr 10 '13 at 11:27
up vote 21 down vote accepted

I have always felt that the "actual problems that you face" clause is generally a poor fit for SciFi and a few other SE sites.

I understand the reason for it, but I just feel that we're far enough from the topics of the sites where it originated that its value is diluted for us.

So I'd say that yes, "I'm curious" is sufficient justification for asking a question, as far as that specific clause goes.

I don't think that should grant you immunity from down-votes (even if such a thing were possible), simply because you think its an interesting question. People can vote however they like, and sometimes we just have to grimace and accept that some people downvote for reasons we disagree with.

I'm not sure what you're asking regarding "Why are you asking this?" and "why do you want to know?" comments. If they're stated as sincere questions, then you don't seem to have a problem with them. If they're stated as "this question is bad, because I don't know why you're asking it", then it simply becomes subjective, and you may just have to agree to disagree. They can downvote if they want; anyone (with sufficient rep) can downvote for whatever reason they want.

However, I disagree that it is sufficient reason to vote to close... with one major caveat: If the question is based off of erroneous assumptions, or asking about a cross-title connection that is solely based upon idle speculation, then it is a candidate for closure as too localized. By way of example, I'd say "I'm curious if Princess Leia from Star Wars and Princess Buttercup from The Princess Bride are related because they're both named Princess" is something that should be closed, both because "Princess" is neither characters' name, and because there's no real reason to suspect a connection between the two titles.

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    My problem isn't so much in some random person downvoting. It's someone posting a comment or a meta post using "you didn't explain why you are asking, that's why I'm downvoting" - and THEN a bunch of other people blindly follow the example thinking that this person somehow articulated site policy, because we DON'T have a clearly articulated policy around "yes it's fine to ask if you are merely curious and it doesn't make it a bad question" – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 8 '13 at 14:24
  • And yes, I was referring to questions that aren't otherwise contentious or outright bad (and now i'm off to dig George Lucas interview where he says that Star Wars happens in Princess Bride universe). – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 8 '13 at 14:27
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    Then point them to this meta discussion. So far, it seems no one here is disagreeing with the idea that you don't need to provide a justification beyond "I'm curious". If people do disagree, then they should be explaining why here on meta, not in comments. – Beofett Apr 8 '13 at 14:29
  • Please don't do that... I've lost enough respect for Star Wars... don't ruin The Princess Bride for me, too! – Beofett Apr 8 '13 at 14:30
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    My name is Jar Jar Binks. You Killed My Childhood Love of Star Wars. Prepare to die. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 8 '13 at 14:31
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    ^^ Flagged as offensive! – Beofett Apr 8 '13 at 14:31

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