This is a subject that we've touched upon slightly in the past, but either the questions are based on old close reasons such as "General Reference" and "Too Localized", which are now gone - or they're a little more specific.

It feels like lately, we've been getting more of these types of questions, and some of them are closed as "primarily opinion based" citing that they are speculation based. Is this the correct way to handle these?

Let's look at the actual close reason.

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.

Now, let's look at a recent closed question: Is anyone in the Hulkbuster armor in the Age of Ultron Trailer?

In the trailer, it shows the Hulk battling what appear to be Iron man in his Hulkbuster armor. Is he actually in the armor (his own armor inside of the Hulkbuster) or is Ultron controlling the armor to battle the Hulk?

This question was closed as "primarily opinion based".

It's (probably) not. There are two possible answers. Yes, or No. In all likelihood, The identity of the person/entity inside, or controlling the Hulkbuster Armor will be revealed in the actual movie. Currently, all we can do is speculate - and offer our opinions on the matter. We can't provide a reliable answer right now, but that doesn't mean we can't ever provide a definitive answer.

Over the years, we've had a number of questions that received answers based on the information we had at the time, and which were updated long after with more recent - and more correct information.

A great example of this was Who was the first Avatar?. Gabe Willard provided an answer based on the information at the time, but was ultimately incorrect. Eventually, The Legend of Korra definitively answered this question, and Keen provided a new, more correct answer. (Side note: Pureferret, change your accepted answer!)

We can also look towards What is that alien in Marvel's Agents of SHIELD?. At time of posting, we had no definitive answer. We had some clues, so I wrote an answer explaining what we knew, and which might be more or less likely. It took almost 9 months, but we were finally able to provide a definitive answer to this.

The more recent Who is Peter Quill/Star-Lord's Father? is a similar question. The best answer we have right now is, "We don't know, but the director has said that it's not the same person as in the comics." This question has not been closed.

Now, let's look at another question: Why are Superman and Batman against each other? This one has been closed. (Note: Yes, I was one of the close-voters. I've changed my mind since then.)

I've heard lots about the upcoming Superman vs. Batman movie. But I don't understand why they're fighting against each other. They're both superheroes, trying to fight for the good of humankind, fighting to protect the civilian population. So why are they being pitted against each other? What reasons do they have to fight each other?

Here we have a question about a movie that was 2 years away, when it was asked. I'm not sure the script was even finalized at the time. There was no realistic way for anyone outside of the writing/production team to have a definitive answer. Even now, we can't reliably answer it. But eventually, we will be able to. Sure, it'll languish away, largely forgotten until then. But then the day will come, and we can definitively answer it. Then, the question may become a less-than-great question, since it's basically just asking for a recap of the maguffin, but we don't require users to have read/watched a work to be allowed to ask a question.

Some other questions to consider:

Should we really be closing questions about future works just because we don't have the answer now?

See also:

up vote 27 down vote accepted

I'll go against my philosophical inclination and say "close them".

Why?

  1. Closing doesn't mean the question is bad. It just means that it can not be answered as-is. (where as is usually applies to question text, but COULD also apply to the question's ecosystem).

  2. Closing is NOT PERMANENT. So, we could - and likely will - have a lifecycle of:

    BAD workflow - today:

    1. Question asked

    2. Question generates (likely) several bad opinion based answers. Some are upvoted

    3. Months/years later, correct canon answer is published

    4. Someone answers with correct answer

    GOOD workflow:

    1. Question asked

    2. Question is closed as "not ready yet" (frankly this deserves a special offtopic choice IMHO).

      This prevents any bad answers from being posted

    3. Months/years later, correct canon answer is published

    4. Whoever finds the answer, requests the question to be reopened, via a mod flag, an edit placing the question in re-open queue, or a Meta post.

    5. Question gets reopened.

    6. Someone answers with correct answer. Hopefully nobody will be an rude person and post "correct" answer that the requestor-to-open cited before said requestor can answer (happened to me last week and was very annoying).

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    @Edlothiad - I've rolled back to the previous version. This is an excellent perspective on the question but should be posted as a separate answer rather than being appended to an existing answer that says something different, not least because that answer has stood without amendment for more than three years and forms the basis for the existing policy. – Valorum Dec 19 '17 at 8:17
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    @DVK-on-Ahch-To, there can be questions on a material that don't require the knowledge of future material to answer. However there also exist questions, that may be asked at the time a film in a series is produced, that (while asking about something from the film) are almost certain to be answered in a later film. While a we don't know answer works, it provides speculation, when a question could instead be put on hold until more information is provided. If that wasn't your original intention, you should write a new meta answer and see if people want to raise that one above this one. – Edlothiad Dec 19 '17 at 14:26
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    @Valorum How does the edit change the meaning of the answer? I read it as a clarification with examples of when to apply the policy and when not to, but no change to the actual policy. – Null Dec 19 '17 at 15:17
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    @Null - It fundamentally alters the answer; Version #1 - If a question is asked about a current work where the answer will (almost certainly) be part of a future work, it should be closed. Version #2 - Questions should only be closed as future works if they're questions that are directly about a work that hasn't been released yet. – Valorum Dec 19 '17 at 15:47
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    @Null - "Months/years later, correct canon answer is published". – Valorum Dec 19 '17 at 15:51
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    @DVK-on-Ahch-To - I was in broad agreement with the former workflow. If it turns out that there's actually an answer in some weird, obscure canon then post a comment and mark it to be reopened. – Valorum Dec 19 '17 at 15:53
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    As Valorum says, this is exactly the current working of the policy, especially in the last 12 months – Edlothiad Dec 19 '17 at 16:02
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    @Null seems people need to be educated because for the past couple of years scores of posts have been closed for violating the FWP most prominently in the recent Game if Thrones craze. While they were then opened a week later it was when they were answerable – Edlothiad Dec 19 '17 at 16:07
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    There appear to be two competing interpretations of this post. The appropriate place to discuss those interpretations are in another meta thread. Consequently, @DVK-on-Ahch-To I am rolling this back to the state of the post as it existed before today so that users can reference the original post in a new discussion. I personally don't think your clarifications have changed the policy, but apparently others do. – Null Dec 19 '17 at 16:07
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    @DVK one doesn't need to, that's the beauty of the re-open button. "The experts thought this wasn't answerable, here comes Billy bob with an answer" Billy bob flags for a mod to re-open, or edits to throw it in the queue, or uses one of their re-open votes. to get it in the queue and the community corrects their mistake. Rather than getting 10 "We don't know" answers and then the user going "oh actually we do know" – Edlothiad Dec 19 '17 at 22:23
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    @Edlothiad - we have an explicit policy that we don't close questions on the basis of "the answer isn't obvious and an expert didn't post one in 5 minutes". Your logic applies to 100% of the site questions, nothing to do with Future Works policy. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 19 '17 at 22:33
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    @DVK No it does not. There's a huge difference between those that seem like they may be answered by a future work and those that don't. If you're unwilling to accept that then this discussion is moot. – Edlothiad Dec 19 '17 at 22:49
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    I think the site has proven time and again that it is far less rare than users seem to think. The examples posted here were a very niche select group, which hardly reflect the 10s of Thousands of questions we have on site. It is possible I've simply been exposed to more with my extremely high activity in the review queue, but it is significant. – Edlothiad Dec 19 '17 at 22:56
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    The fundamental problem is that your edit makes this answer not what we've been doing since you posted it. It's cited so often, it even made it into FAQ. By editing your answer you're effectively changing meta policy without the rest of us getting a chance to vote on it. We have always interpreted this answer to mean "if the question is not answerable now but might be answerable when more stuff comes out, close it and come back to it". We've been consistently applying this policy for three years with no problems, but now you randomly decide you don't like it? – KutuluMike Dec 20 '17 at 3:58
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    @DVK-on-Ahch-To we see tons of questions, every time a new MCU or DCEU movie comes out, where the answer is "obviously, they're going to tell us in the sequel". The Force Awakens generated these as well. (e.g. "How did Maz Kanata get Luke's lightsaber?" Where do you get the impression that these are rare? – KutuluMike Dec 20 '17 at 4:44

The problem is that we don't always know if any future works are in the making, and if they are, if the question will be answered in them. If we take this to its extreme conclusion, we could only have questions about "dead and buried" canon, and we don't want that, do we?

Ignoring dead canons for now, we can discern different levels of liveliness in canons.
On the one hand, we have questions about movie trailers. We know that trailers are meant to pique people's interest, so they will often pose questions that are answered in the movie.
On the other hand, we have a canon like Harry Potter: mostly dead, but it's still added to in Pottermore — and then suddenly a whole new trilogy of movies get added.
Somewhere in between are TV series where a number of seasons have been broadcast, but new seasons are still in the making.

I think the close reason "opinion based" is the wrong reason to close these types of questions with. It is not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of speculation perhaps, but it's above all a matter of patience. Questions such as these should be closed with a custom reason that boils down to "have patience", if the work in question is in production or already produced, but not published yet. This should cover most movie trailer questions and questions about current seasons and story arcs of TV and other series.

With questions such as the Avatar question, where new information that wasn't necessarily expected, changes the correctness of a long-standing accepted answer, perhaps the best course of action is to re-ask and self-answer the question, then mark the original question as a duplicate.

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