We occasionally have questions that tend to accrue partial answers over time. A common motif is a question about an ongoing series, which gets more and more answers as the series progresses. The example that triggered my meta question here is What plot differences are there between the Game of Thrones TV series and the books?, but we've had a few about Doctor Who with similar issues.

On the flip side, these questions are perfectly legitimate. Furthermore, they're good at drawing traffic to the site, and we get valuable contributions from new users that way.

On the dark side, not all of the answers are good. It's easy to deal with one-liners that don't really add information (flag them as “not an answer”, and a moderator will delete them). That still often leaves a large number of answers that partially answer the question. A post that gathers them all into a coherent whole would be much more awesome.

Keeping in mind that our goals are (in this order)

  1. having great answers,
  2. welcoming new users,

how should we (as a community) deal with these questions?


3 Answers 3


In theory, this could be answered. In theory, folks could keep returning to that question as the season and series progresses, editing in details until at the end of the series we are left with a comprehensive answer.

But... In order for this to happen, folks are going to have to really care about having a comprehensive answer to that question. Is that the case?

I have spotted many more, subtle and blatant, in the ongoing series, but have decided not to update the list here, primarily as it just sounds bitchy.

(from the accepted answer)

Doesn't really seem like it, eh? I rather suspect Mark sussed out the actual goal of the question in his edit, which added:

Are they substantial, or are they particularly minor?

Now, there's a question that could be answered, and an answer that could be updated, without requiring the sort of obsessive long-term focus that the current question seems to demand. Heck, even if you got a new answer posted for every new episode, it would still be possible - with a reasonable amount of effort - for someone to summarize them in the accepted answer.

So, what you really need to decide here is, what question do your readers need an answer to:

  • What are all the differences, large and small, between the TV series and the books?
  • What are the fundamental differences in plot between the series and books?
  • Is the TV series reasonably true to the source material?

Remember, the FAQ states:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face.

This isn't because we hate idle curiosity. It's because content that isn't needed tends to be of poor quality. So if your goal is to decide, as a fan of the books, if you should check out the series... Then getting hit in the face with a vast list of minutiae probably won't give you what you need (and you certainly won't be motivated to expand it). OTOH, if the gritty details are what matter to you for some reason, then an answer which glosses over them won't do you any good either...

If you can't tell from the question whether or not a given answer answers it, then the question itself is failing.


Can moderators merge multiple answers into a community wiki? If so, that's what I'd suggest we do with these. Although that doesn't address how we as a community highlight which questions should have their answers merged.

  • Anyone with 1000 rep can do the editing. Mods can convert a post to CW and delete an answer that's become irrelevant. (Use a flag to request a mod to do one of these; you can make your own answer CW without assistance.) For an existing question like the one I link to, the problem is finding someone to do the editing (for example, I can't do it, because I haven't seen or watched GoT). Then there's the issue of deciding when we want to do this, if at all.
    – user56
    Jul 16, 2011 at 15:52

To prevent 1 line answers, questions like this should be protected. Also, if it becomes apparent that they are going to have differences over time, and that the questions are going to accumulate 1 liners over time, the CW option should be considered.

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