I just don't quite understand why we consider a question about minimum viewing/reading guides as being off topic. Consider the following:

Point 1

In our Tour we say that one of the categories that is acceptable is 'Franchise/series reading or viewing order'. Now, granted, that is a difference between a minimum reading/viewing guide, but not too different I don't think. The reason often given in questions of this nature is that there is 'no definitive answer', which I think can be also applied to questions about reading/viewing order.

Point 2

One could consider a question about minimum viewing guides as being a semi-reading/viewing order question when you think about it. Both are asking for a certain order (in a sense), and more often than not I would expect the 'minimum viewing/reading' questions would be for people to get a taste of the storylines.

Point 3

This questions about minimum viewing order of TNG, despite being closed, has received 8 up-votes (at this point in time). Now I know that's not many when put into perspective of some of the other questions on the site, but still 8 is a fairly respectable number; 8 people thought this worthy enough to be up-voted.

Should we therefore reconsider closing these sort of questions, as where else are other people to ask them?

3 Answers 3


I don't believe minimum viewing order lists should be automatically considered off-topic.

Rather, they should be treated like any other list question: finite, well-scoped list questions are allowed.

The example Star Trek: TNG question posted above is, imho, well-scoped, and clearly finite. A maximum of 50 episodes was set, and a variety of criteria were listed. Some of these criteria were a bit subjective (e.g. "other outstanding individual episodes"), but still it is a finite, well-scoped list.

The existence of our tag with 154 questions, and the lack of dissention in meta seems pretty clear that suggestions about viewing order are perfectly fine, so I find the answers here saying "it's too subjective" or citing "opinion based" as reasons for declaring minimum suggested viewing orders off-topic hard to agree with.

Viewing order questions are currently accepted as on-topic, and lists of minimum viewing order suggestions should not be treated any differently, so long as the criteria of what the asker defines as "minimum" is relatively well defined.

I've voted to reopen the example Star Trek: TNG question as it has good answers, and I don't see why it was closed in the first place.

  • 3
    Something to note is that minimum viewing order is basically necessary for comic books. Virtually no one will read 50+ years of comics, they want the essentials.
    – user1027
    Jul 25, 2014 at 14:40
  • And Star Trek in general is over 400 hours, not including the movies, so IMO it's approaching unapproachability.
    – Izkata
    Jul 25, 2014 at 23:20
  • sorry @phantom42, but I've changed my mind again to agree with this answer. Jul 26, 2014 at 1:46
  • @N.Soong S'all good. It was fun while it lasted.
    – phantom42
    Jul 26, 2014 at 4:27

To me, the differentiation between off-topic "viewing/reading order" questions and on-topic ones (which I still don't personally like) is a matter of who the suggestions are by.

Good On-Topic: Is there an official word from Card about reading order of the “Formic Wars” prequel series? - This question asks if an official order for specific works exists, as prescribed by a specific person. An objective answer can be definitively found.

Less-Good On-Topic: Is there an official Marvel films viewing order? - This is a pretty good question. It's asking for an official, Marvel approved order. Since some directors or people at Marvel might suggest something slightly different, I don't love this question, but it is asking for an official list from Marvel. Unfortunately, none of the existing answers really address whether or not there is an official order, and simply suggest an order themselves. An objective answer may be definitively found.

Off-Topic: What's the recommend reading order of the Ender Wiggin books? - this is asking for the opinions of SE users. What I think is the recommended order may be different from what you think is the recommended order. Neither of us are necessarily any more correct than each other. No objective answer can be definitively found - the best we can do is hope that some sort of consensus can be agreed upon via upvotes and/or comments.

In my opinion, any recommendation question not looking for an order as prescribed by a specific person/entity should be closed as primarily opinion based.

  • 3
    I disagree with your "off-topic". Your example question (which is still open) has 62 upvotes, and only one downvote. More importantly, many of our questions are answered by multiple speculative answers which are essentially "opinions of SE users". The key is that opinions can still be backed by fact and logic, and therefore may still be the basis of a good answer.
    – Beofett
    Jul 25, 2014 at 12:43
  • @Beofett, I could have chosen a better example, but it was late and I was about to go to bed. Still, I personally don't like that question as it's too subjective, IMO. That isn't to say that good answers can't come from it.
    – phantom42
    Jul 25, 2014 at 12:44
  • 2
    @phantom42 See my answer here. There's lots of subjective questions on our site, and suggested viewing order, which is by definition subjective, was defined as on-topic for this site long ago. If that's going to change, I think it merits a broader meta discussion.
    – Beofett
    Jul 25, 2014 at 12:57
  • @Beofett I know that I'm in the minority with my opinion. That's OK with me. The community has deemed them on-topic, and I can respect it even though I don't agree with it. That's a big part of the reason I specifically couched my answer as being "in my opinion". To me, the fact that everyone else thinks they're OK shouldn't make any viewpoint easier or harder to agree with. It's OK to disagree for whatever reason, you (or in this case, I) just need to be prepared to be overruled.
    – phantom42
    Jul 25, 2014 at 13:02
  • 2
    @phantom42 Yep, that's the fun of meta :) Everyone's entitled to their opinion, and what was once an unopposed majority opinion may become an unpopular minority opinion. Which is why I suggested that there might be reason for a broader meta discussion, if your answer receives a significant amount of support.
    – Beofett
    Jul 25, 2014 at 13:06
  • So, just to summarize, before I post a question about a minimum viewing guide can I be assured that it should not be closed or downvoted, and if it is does this post provide sufficient grounds for people to see they should revoke their negative feedback? Jul 26, 2014 at 1:56
  • @N.Soong no meta discussion will ever give you grounds for getting people to revoke down votes. Votes are always at the individual's discretion. Close votes, however, should follow guidelines like this set forth in meta.
    – Beofett
    Jul 26, 2014 at 2:17
  • @Beofett rightio, cheers! Jul 26, 2014 at 2:22

Note that the question was closed long enough ago that it has the old "not constructive," which is mostly the same as the current "primarily opinion based."

I hadn't seen that question, but I think it's a perfect example of the POB close reason: each of the 3 points listed in the question are matters of opinion:

  1. "major multi-episode arcs" - I'm ok with his list of Q, Borg, Klingons, but others might add a couple more they consider major
  2. "important for individual characters" - which characters? how important? Picard, Riker, Data, Wrof, Laforge, Crusher, Troi... what about Guinan? Brocolli? Wesley? Pulaski? Tasha? and what's important? birth/marriage/death? career advancement?
  3. "other outstanding ..." - it seems obvious to me that this is totally a matter of opinion.

Anyway, I'd have voted to close, and now it has one more downvote...

  • Brocolli? Did autocorrect get the better of you?
    – user1027
    Jul 25, 2014 at 14:41
  • 1
    Maybe you meant Barclay? The fellow who kept having odd things happen around him.
    – user1027
    Jul 25, 2014 at 18:09

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