May I suggest that the closure of this question be reconsidered?

In short, it asked whether German SF character Perry Rhodan is known out of German speaking countries. It seems to me a legitimate question and, if anything, it could be rephrased so to be more objective (along the lines of, say, in which countries have been novels about PR translated, are they still in print, are there fan clubs or sites about them, and so on).

In general, why should a question about the renown of a character or series not be admissible?

  • 3
    If people could remember to comment (or up vote an existing comment) when closing, as we've agreed should be standard, that would also be great (especially for new users, but really in all cases).
    – Tony Meyer
    Jun 15, 2011 at 10:58
  • 1
    A short look at Wikipedia would have answered your question. Nov 26, 2011 at 23:21
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    Thanks, @MartinSchröder, but it was not my question. As for me, I just wanted to understand better the limits of questions about a writer (its reputation, home or abroad, his works' translations etc.).
    – DaG
    Nov 27, 2011 at 13:02

3 Answers 3

  1. This question doesn't have a definitive answer. Definitive answers are supposed to “solve the problem”. (They don't have to be unique, there can be more than one solution.)
  2. This isn't damning in and of itself, but does call for more scrutiny on the question. Please read What kind of questions should I not ask here?. The question asks if the series is “known”. This is an imprecise qualification, and furthermore a potentially argumentative one (is X number of copies sold “known” or not? and the question isn't even calling towards a precise answer like sales data).

The answers so far are symptomatic of a “bad subjective” question: they are short answers (guideline #2 fails), which are anecdotes with no insight (guideline #1 fails); the other guidelines aren't particularly addressed, making it 2 against, 0 for.

You could ask for sales figures of translations in various languages, even for the existence of translations (though at least for English, there's no need to ask, just look it up on ISFDB). You can also get some idea by looking at the Wikipedia pages in various languages.


In general, it's hard to establish popularity of published works. The reason is that sales figures are the best indicators of popularity (in my opinion), and they are not public. (Unlike say, TV series or films whose ratings/sales are generally available).

To be fair, you make a good point about fan clubs and sites. But will an internet site's opinion actually represent general opinion? Most websites would actually have some niche audience, so their data may not always be reliable. Even if you took data to be reliable, what data would you consider a sign of popularity? I went on to goodreads, and tried to compare the popularity of two series, (The Farseer trilogy vs. The Wheel of Time). They had pretty similar rating values(about 4.1), and the wheel of time had about 2-3 times the number of ratings of the other series. (~20000 vs. 7000-10000). From sales figures, Wheel of Time is estimated to have sold about 40 million copies, with the Farseer trilogy estimated at below a million. So, though they show some correlation with number of ratings, it's hard to say what. John Ringo's books, which have together sold about 3 million, have about 250-750 ratings on average. So, even the number of ratings is meaningless.

What about fan sites? John Ringo does not seem to have a fan page on facebook, Robin Hobb has around 30000 likes, Robert Jordan about 65000, Brandon Sanderson about 20000. So even that does not a good indication of popularity.

  • I see your point, but fan sites were only a part of my argument. Even so, especially for a not-so-famous series, the very fact that a German character has a fan club in, say, Portugal (I'm making this up) would be interesting. And, again especially for series that are not internationally popular, simple data about whether they are published abroad or not could be both significant and hard to find. I, for one, have provided in a comment to that question a pointer to publishing history in my country, Italy. I can see other people doing the same, contributing useful, objective data.
    – DaG
    Jun 15, 2011 at 11:34
  • @DaG, just because data is objective doesn't mean it in relevant. The real issue here is that there is no universally accepted measure of how popular works are, or even what counts as 'known' to an outside culture. Had @Thomas asked about something specific, like what languages these works have been translated into, that would be answerable. We close questions that can't be answered, if someone would like to improve the question, we'll gladly reopen it.
    – DampeS8N
    Jun 15, 2011 at 11:50

If it can be reworded to be more objective, and maybe a deeper question that doesn't result in a flurry of 'yes/no' answers, then edit it. After it's edited, that'll bump it to the top of the 'active' questions page. People can then vote to reopen it if the improved quality makes it a better fit on this site.

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