I recently read this question about how the basilisk from Harry Potter could be so stealthy. It struck me in its similarity to a number of other questions about the basilisk, namely:

How did the basilisk get enough food?

How did the Basilisk survive for a thousand years?

Is there more than one Basilisk?

Most of which call for some sort of of speculation based on canon evidence. I was wondering what makes the first question non-constructive but the others not? Shouldn't they all be treated similarly or am I missing something about the first that lends itself to being non-constructive? Perhaps it could have been edited rather than closed.

  • 1
    My theory (no pun intended) is that the closing MAY have been triggered by "Theories please..." sentence appearing at the end of the question (I didn't VTC so can't be sure, of course). If you delete that sentence, the question very clearly and obviously should NOT have been closed. Jun 25, 2013 at 21:57

2 Answers 2


The question was closed by the community. It's not unlikely that those closing it just didn't see the other questions.

That being said I don't see why this question should have been closed as 'not constructive' because it requires 'speculation'. Here constructive interpretation is possible considering the body of text it's from.

It's not as though it will solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion as it stands, any more than other wholly constructive questions have. Furthermore a good answer could draw on facts, references, or specific expertise even if interpretation is required.


I would have VTC'd it as requiring too much speculation, and thus triggering debate. But it was already closed.

Speculation in general is bad, because it's not an answer - it's an opinion. And opinions lead to debate. The more speculation involved, the more debate.

SE is built upon the idea of high-quality, factual answers. In the case of several, the answers are not factual, but canonical. Where possible, canonical answers should be used; when canon is obviously silent, no answer should be forthcoming, as there is no basis.

In the case of the basilisk questions - there just isn't enough canon for an answer more meaningful than "it is a magical world in the Potterverse" to be canonically grounded. It's not even good for extrapolation from canon.

I'd VTC on the others if I'd been interested enough to look into them.

  • 4
    Why does that question require "too much speculation" over any other question with no definitive canon answer?
    – phantom42
    Jun 28, 2013 at 20:19
  • I VTC when I encounter such, Phantom, unless there are strong pointers in canon to speculate FROM. But I don't hang out on the sci-fi side near as much as on RPG or BG, and don't read most of the questions here.
    – aramis
    Jun 29, 2013 at 10:22
  • So what becomes the dividing line for you? At what point does it go from "this is an acceptable amount of speculation" to " this is too much speculation"?
    – phantom42
    Jun 29, 2013 at 18:51
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    And what if you're just not versed well enough in the canon? Have you read through all of the interviews and Pottermore and listened to all the commentaries, etc?
    – phantom42
    Jun 29, 2013 at 18:53
  • @phantom42 That point is generally "Have I read/watched most of the canon?" If I have, and don't see any evidence to support, and there's no 3rd party dialogue to support it being concealed in elements I've not read, then VTC.
    – aramis
    Jun 29, 2013 at 20:25
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    @aramis The problem is that having read/watched most of the canon isn't enough to know whether a question has a canon answer. I know all the HP books quite well and the movies fairly well, and I've still encountered questions here that had canon answers I didn't know about. Furthermore, we don't require users to know all the canon in an area to ask about it (which would be an absurd bar in the case of, e.g. Star Wars or Star Trek), so how can you justify voting to close something as unanswerable when the OP has no reason to suspect it is and you admit not knowing for certain that it is?
    – Kevin
    Jun 30, 2013 at 1:32
  • More likely than not. The same standard as used in civil law.
    – aramis
    Jun 30, 2013 at 8:32

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