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I recently asked a question about the viewing order of TNG, in regards to a few criteria, but primarily in regards to viewing order and avoiding low-quality episodes.

Given that it already has 3 close votes, and a high-rated comment suggesting it's too subjective, is such a question acceptable? Is there a way to make it less subjective, or is the criteria being used too innately subjective to salvage my question?

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    Off hand, I'd get rid of "low quality". That strikes me as the most "subjective" part. Story arc, or stuff that gets referenced later is pretty definitive. "Low quality" is not. – phantom42 Oct 28 '14 at 15:01
  • @phantom42 True...but that is something I'd genuinely like to avoid. Is there a better way to describe such episodes? Infamous? Unfavored by fans? Starring Wesley Crusher? I've tried to improve it by focusing on 'infamous' episodes, but I'm not sure if that entirley helps. – Zibbobz Oct 28 '14 at 15:06
  • I've decided to separate the episode-quality aspect into its own question here: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/71460/… If there is no agreement that such a question is acceptable on this site, I expect a quick close-voting, but since there is some contention that it can be answered objectively, I've asked it, and will see how the question is recieved first. – Zibbobz Oct 28 '14 at 18:54
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Let's go over the main thrust of the question:

However, I'm aware that the there are some episodes, in the first two seasons especially, that are...less than stellar.

Given the nature of the show, I'd like to skip or avoid these episodes whenever possible. Ideally with the following in mind:

  • Any episode that gets referenced later, in this series or in ones to come after, I do not want to miss.
  • Anything involving an ongoing plot, like the Borg invasion, I want to make sure I see.
  • Any Ferengi episode I do not want to miss, because I'm especially curious about their 'evolution' in Star Trek.

But as for the rest of the series, which episodes can be safely ignored, and are most infamous among Trek fans?

Most of this is pretty good. You're looking for S1 and S2 episodes that are later referenced. You want on-going arcs included. You want Ferengi episodes included. These are all clearly-stated criteria, some with reasons for why you want them.

However, the last clause (which you recently edited) is a bit problematic, as it gets into subjective territory. There are some truly heinous episodes, like Shades of Grey, as mentioned in an answer. But most episodes are going to have mixed reactions within fandom, and without some objective measure it's hard to nail down generally well-received vs generally derided. I think removing that last bit will improve things, you'll already be getting a relatively lean list from your bullet points. I recommend you build on that by looking for reviews or recaps of those episodes to see if some are awful.

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  • I've made some edits to my question to include a few more things I'd like not to miss, though I still get the feeling that I might be led astray by the general "Season 1 and 2 are awful" guidelines that blanket-skip some very good episodes mixed into the mire of growing pains. – Zibbobz Oct 28 '14 at 16:00
  • @Keen - aggregate rating seems objective enough measure. And TNG is big enough that aggregate per-episode ratings are quite plausible to find. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Oct 28 '14 at 18:20
  • @DVK I can see how it would get problematic though. There are some very obviously bad episodes, but asking for a list of them to avoid is very inviting for people to drag out their personal vendetta episodes, and that wouldn't be constructive at all. – Zibbobz Oct 28 '14 at 18:25
  • @Zibbobz - that'd be the problem with a specific answer, not with the question. Good subjective question is answerable - e.g. if there were no aggregate rating, episode quality would indeed be ONLY answerable subjectively. Since there are, it's not. The fact that a question MAY be answered subjectively doesn't make it bad subjective - only the fact that it can't be answered based on good information. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Oct 28 '14 at 18:27
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    @DVK Having had some time to think about it, I think that premise is flawed too. Yes, there are aggregate review sites that offer episode ratings, but which review site do you use? Which one is most valid? Does a single one with a bad rating justify including it on a 'do-not-watch' list? At some point, it simply becomes passing the buck on casting down your own opinion on each episode. I do think it's possible, but it would have to be carefully worded, and for this particular question it might be too late. – Zibbobz Oct 28 '14 at 18:31
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Despite the comment I left, I actually thought your question was ok and had some grounds under good subjective, but it's definitely subjective. Case in point: I wouldn't find any episodes in TNG worth skipping, despite their reception. Perhaps you need to tackle this with a slightly different approach.

The criteria of the episodes you don't want to miss is definitely answerable, although it will take someone with more intimate knowledge of TNG than myself to provide a complete list. I suggest that you edit your question to focus on just the criteria for the episodes you are especially interested in.

The episodes you should skip is subjective, but the overall fan reception of individual episodes has been measured and that information should be discoverable. With some specific criteria pertaining to fan reception (below average, bottom 20, whatever), that should be askable since sources can be found online. But, you could probably also compile this information yourself with some Google-fu. Once you have a compiled list of episodes, you could then determine if you should skip some/all of these episodes by cross-checking the list of episodes you definitely want to watch, reading the episode descriptions, and then determining for yourself if they are worth watching or not.

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I'm not going to vote to close, but I still don't think it's a good question. The problem I have with it is that it's just asking for a list of a bunch of stuff you happen to be interested in - there's no connection between the different parts.

What's the difference between your question and one that asks for TNG episodes that match:

  • Anything involving an ongoing plot, like the Borg invasion, I want to make sure I see.
  • Q episodes (Yes even Q-Pid)
  • Episodes with Wesley in them
  • Anything involving the Romulans

You can easily imagine a large number of similar questions, and they'd all be just compilations of episodes someone happens to be interested in.

The way it's been re-worded took out the highly subjective part, but it still seems to fall under Off-topic:

Requests for lists of works or recommendations are off-topic as they do not fit our questions and answers format. Feel free to ask about people's favorites in chat.

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  • -1. Requestrs for lists of works and recommendations aren't off-topic because they are magical. They are that way because there's no correct answer possible. Which is a situation completely different from either OP's question or your hypothetical ones. And if "All variations of the same question" was an issue on SE, StackOverflow would close up and die long time ago. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Oct 29 '14 at 23:58

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