Tim brings up a good point on:

Queen of Mars is in love with Duck Dodgers

That other's like it such as:

Why didn't Gandalf or Frodo Fly to Mount Doom?

Why don't muggle-born wizards use Muggle technology to fight Death Eaters?

Were successful and not closed. I looked around and while the default FAQ is clear that these kinds of questions should be closed, the second of the above links was very popular and even we mods didn't have a problem with it.

Should we amend the rules to allow these?

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    This has already come up several times before: see previous discussion for links and comments.
    – user366
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 14:57
  • @Mark Trapp: Correct, however those discussions predate many of the recent changes to this site, and I thought it was worth bringing up again specifically. Also, our current FAQ isn't clear on the topic. (And contradicts the results from your link)
    – DampeS8N
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 15:06
  • which part of the FAQ says that these should be closed?
    – Tony Meyer
    Commented Mar 24, 2011 at 4:16
  • @Tony Meyer Gilles thinks that the first bullet says they should stay open. I wasn't so much worried that is says they should be closed, but that it didn't say anything at all, which means that a people were hitting the close button on items like it.
    – DampeS8N
    Commented Mar 24, 2011 at 11:12
  • Given your average sci-fi nerd's fascination with such speculation, often with canon or guide-backed references, allowing such types of questions should be allowed so long as the conversational elements are minimal.
    – Chad Levy
    Commented Nov 3, 2011 at 9:51

4 Answers 4


This is my current opinion without much great reasoning, so feel free to lob your criticisms at my arguments (or lack there of):

I think the later two questions are on-topic, I think the Duck Dodger one is barely, if at all, on-topic.

To me, it depends on whether or not the question seems to point to a reasonable answer that can be drawn from available story content, or supplemental materials (official books, wikis, or interviews).

New Opinion on Duck Dodger:

I've learned that there was a later Duck Dodger TV show that I barely recall, so maybe it is a legitimate topic.

Old Opinion:

I don't have a great philosophical reasoning for whether to close or not close Duck Dodger. The question seems to be Sci-Fi related, but the answer is probably totally nonsensical, due to the fact that character story arcs were not very important to early cartoonists.

EDIT: I see DampeS8N's point about the mogul technology question. But I've wondered this very same question, so I'm unsure what to say about that one.

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    I - obviously - disagree. These questions have no answer, they are discussion points. Therefore they do not belon on a Stack Exchange.
    – Binary Worrier
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 14:27
  • I'm really not sure where the "WMD" idea came from - I certainly didn't mean WMDs when referring to "modern weapons", and I'm pretty certain I explicitly spelled that it was about guns. I certainly didn't mean to imply that 11-17 year olds should use nukes :) Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 14:59
  • @DVK: Sure, I was just joking around, I'll change it to weapons. I mean I would have pushed the red button on Hogwarts, for the sake of humanity's future, if it were up to me :p. Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 15:01
  • yeah, but the same idea occured to a commenter on one of the answers to my Q: "If you tried nuking them, they would just disapparate, while the humans wouldn't be able to run ;-) – Ivo Flipse 5 hours ago". So I feel like I wasn't sufficiently clear. Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 15:14
  • @DVK: Sure, my bad. Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 15:17

I think these are permissible, as long as there is an objective (i.e. real) answer.

I asked my own question of this type and got an objective in-universe explanation based on real sources (in this case, a Star Wars book).

  • And raised controversy too, if I remember correctly. :)
    – DampeS8N
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 14:39
  • 1
    @DampeS8N - no, not controversy. Five people voted to close because they thought I was making fun of the prequels. I've had my say on that. It was then re-opened and the therapy I've had to go through since is going fine, thanks. =:-D Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 15:18

It's very rare that such questions actually have an answer .e.g. something like

Why didn't Gandalf teleport Frodo and the ring to Mount Doom

Can be answered with "there is no evidence that any being in Middle Earth has the power to teleport", however that isn't the actual answer. The correct answer is because it was not written that way.

I do not see how these questions help the site, they have no actual answer and can generate endless suppositions posted as answers.

Also, for each of these questions, there are endless variants, so if "Why didn't Gandalf or Frodo Fly to Mount Doom?" is allowed do we also allow

  • Why didn't Legolas (who is very strong & can run quickly and silently) not run to Mordor with Frodo?
  • Why didn't Gandalf call Shadowfax and carry Frodo into Mordor?
  • Why didn't Saruman lock Gandalf in a Dungeon?
  • Why are Elves tall?
  • Why are Dwarves short?

These kinds of questions can - validly - be applied to Sci Fi topics e.g. (I'm making this one up) "Why didn't Caprica have a space elevator?" You can discuss reasons (perhaps they couldn't fabricate materials strong enough, perhaps they had cheaper out-of-orbit options etc.) These answers then prompt questions like OK, so how strong do space elevator cables need to be? which can be researched, calculated etc.
However this doesn't work for magical realms.

I was initially surprised the community didn't just close these questions, and have tried to enter into the fun of it and provide some answers, but really I find them annoying and honestly think they're absolutely pointless

Either every opinion is an answer, or there are NO answers.

If there is no answer, then the question does not belong an a Stack Exchange site.
If every opinion is an answer, then again, the question does not belong on a Stack Eachange site.

P.S My "favourite" of these questions is How can the time variations be explained in the first three books of the 'The chronicles of Narnia'-saga?

Really dude? You want an in universe explanation for that? Really?

  • I'm torn on the issue, myself. I realize they have no real value. But they ARE hell-a-fun and they help bring in new people. Maybe we can find a way to corral them? A tag perhaps?
    – DampeS8N
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 14:10
  • @DampeS8N: I find Sci-Fi based ones fun and fascinating. Ones based on Magic systems not so much, and perversely, I read far more Fantasy than Sci Fi, so it's not like I'm biased towards Sci Fi :)
    – Binary Worrier
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 14:19
  • @Binary Worrier: No, but others may find the opposite true. I think we'll ultimately have to let these in. It is a line like the one we tried to draw between fantasy and scifi.
    – DampeS8N
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 14:29
  • @DampeS8N: Yes, but there's a point to asking "Whats the energy yield of a photon torpedo" you work out the energy yield of a matter/anti-matter explosion. Like "How strong would Space Elevator cables need to be" you research the science behind these things. It's not that I like it because I'm interested in it or that I'm a big Star Trek fan (I'm really not). But you cannot apply research or rigor to questions like "Why couldn't Gandalf fly?". Either every opinion is an answer, or there are NO answers, no one is going do the math and provide any kind of explanation for those.
    – Binary Worrier
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 14:41
  • 2
    @Binary Worrier: It would come from the source material, just like the size of the Photon Torpedo did. From there, you make logical assumptions also based on the physics of the universe that device exists in. Just like the fantasy shields that protect the ships those torpedos explode next to.
    – DampeS8N
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 14:46
  • @DampeS8N: OK I get that there may be cannon material out there to answer some of these, but for the three you've linked in your question there really are no answers. So if I go and ask 20 dumb-ass questions on the site, on the lines of the I've include above & including "Why can't Gandalf fly", they should be left open for folks to find "In universe" explanations? So tell me, Why can't Gandalf fly?.
    – Binary Worrier
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 14:53
  • @DampeS8N - "It would come from the source material" - that was pretty much my back-of-the-brain basis for asking the HP and guns question. I'm not interested on someone's opinion or theory (I can make my own theories aplenty), but in some obscure fact from some book/interview/Rowling remark I wasn't aware of. Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 15:08
  • @DVK @Binary Worrier: All these things and more are why I bought it up here. :) I have no idea what the right answer is.
    – DampeS8N
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 15:13
  • Harrumph! I'm still waiting for someone to tell me why Gandalf can't fly! (that was humor, by the way)
    – Binary Worrier
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 15:15
  • @DVK: Sorry dude, but I still consider that question fairly pointless, and you can ask a thosand variations along those lines, that have exactly the same non answers. The question "Did JKR give any reason why Wizards don't use conventional weapons?" is an entirely different question.
    – Binary Worrier
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 15:19
  • 1
    @Binary Worrier - the point is that the questioner is NOT likely to know whether there IS a canon answer or not. Nor, for that matter, someone voting to close, unless you wait for a fairly substantial time before ensuring later visitors don't come up with the answer. Your line of thinking is correct for isolated (e.g. 1-2 books) sci-fi/fantasy stuff, but it becomes less likely to be true for well-developed universes with much canon and near-canon material, like ST/SW/HP (less likely to be true meaning that there IS a high probability that any seeming plot hole is actually explained/retconned) Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 15:25
  • @Binary Worrier - "Did JKR give any reason why Wizards don't use conventional weapons?" is precisely the question I intended to ask (and I edited the Q to make it more explicit). The rest of the question was just an explanation of WHY I consider this point to be worth wanting a reason from Rowling for. Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 15:29
  • 1
    If allowed - and it looks like I'm on the loosing side here - I think the noise to answer ratio for these will be detrimental. I honestly don't think these questions help the site. As it is I doubt the site will make it out of beta, which is a pity.
    – Binary Worrier
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 15:30
  • @DVK: You may be looking for an in universe explanation, but all you're getting are opinions. Lets say in two weeks someone comes along that knows an in universe answer. The question will have gone stale and they'd be very lucky to stumble across it, therefore you probably won't get their answer.
    – Binary Worrier
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 15:43

Uh? What's wrong with these questions? I don't even see what rule we're supposed to amend. This is literary¹ analysis, surely that should be a staple on a site about a literary genre.

The very first example of on-topic question in the FAQ is “Plot, character, or setting explanations”.

¹ Or whatever the word is for other media.

  • 2
    SE is not a discussion forum, but rather a Q&A forum, which works best if there are objective answers. Questions of the sort discussed here rarely have in-universe rational answers, so they are almost always going to be somewhat off-topic. Literary analysis, as you call it, would also be subjective.
    – apoorv020
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 20:17
  • 1
    @apoorv020: Please read the FAQ, particularly around ‘If your motivation is “I would like others to explain ______ to me”, then you are probably OK.’, as well as Good subjective, bad subjective and In-Universe Speculation and Extrapolation.
    – user56
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 20:25

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