Just wondering how a question like the following could be on-topic?

What brand and model is the briefcase used by the Observers?

It seems to me this is a very trivial question which does not advance the SF&F.SE site ... how can the identification of a briefcase on a television show, albeit a science fiction based show, advancing the general knowledge base of SciFi and/or Fantasy?


3 Answers 3


It's on topic because it's not off-topic. Feel free to downvote it if you think it's a bad question, but "bad" and "off-topic" are very different things on stack exchange sites.

The list of things that are on-topic for this site, as described in the Help page, includes:

  • Plot, character, or setting explanations
  • Behind-the-scenes and fandom information

The question you specified easily falls into one or both of those categories.

Of course, not all such questions are automatically on topic. The kind of questions that are about sci-fi, but still off-topic for this site, include questions that do not have a single, objectively correct answer, such as:

  • Personalized recommentations
  • Recommendation/Categorization Questions
  • List Questions

The question you linked to is not any of those things.

Thus, it falls into one of the on-topic categories, and doesn't meet any of off-topic exceptions, so it's on-topic.

  • 1
    You are saying, with the proper discussion, if the community decided it is off-topic, it would become so. Since it falls into the grey area which "It's on topic because it's not off-topic", this reasoning as well would seem feasible. I'm not saying it's a bad question ... it is very trivial as it's written. Feb 14, 2015 at 23:17

As the one who asked it, let me clarify. I'm toying with the idea of dressing up as an observer. Getting the right briefcase would be important.

And I think cosplay would be on topic.

I didn't add this information to the question as I thought it too specific and irrelevant.

  • 2
    As the community, we have to go with how the question is written ... had you put the question into context, this thread might never have been started. It would be MHO you should expand your question to include this. And I would agree that cosplay would most likely be on-topic. Feb 14, 2015 at 23:21
  • 1
    This completely changes the nature of the question AND the asking. Costume and cosplay should fall squarely in the province of SF/F and would have likely changed the very relationship with the question, in general. Is there a cosplay or costume design tag? Feb 15, 2015 at 21:33

We have a custom close reason for people seeking scientific explanations, or solutions. Both of which are very common in Sci-Fi but still off-topic for this site.

Questions seeking scientific solutions or explanations are off-topic unless they relate directly to a cited work of fiction. There are a number of other Stack Exchange sites dedicated to answering questions on non-fictional sciences.

I feel this is very close to that - the briefcase used in the show has no real impact (as far as I know) on the show's sci-fi nature. I haven't voted to close, as I would like to see the community's opinion on this.

As a clarification: I'm not bothered by the 'trivial' nature of the item in question. But if it had been a magical briefcase or a sci-fi briefcase then it would be a different story for me.


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