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My question ( Are E.T. and Star Wars in the same universe? ) has generated over 12k views in less than 2 days since I asked it, and is the only question to have earned the Famous Question badge, and all in less than 48 hours.

Is there any way to know where these views are coming from?

It seems obvious that someone published the question somewhere, bringing in a lot of fresh faces (as further evidenced by the new answers it has received from people with no reputation).

I guess I find it a bit odd that this question (that some think is general reference) would become the most viewed question on this site so quickly, especially in light of what I think are may far more interesting questions that already exist.

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    Possible duplicate of Why do some questions get 4k views, and some only 80? – Möoz Jun 5 '18 at 21:21
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    This question has a specific answer unique to this question (a high profile tweet published it) while the potential duplicate is more focused on general reasons (in particular, the hot network questions). – Brythan Jun 7 '18 at 5:43
  • The other (general) question does not answer this (specific) question. I do not believe they are duplicates. – Flimzy Jun 7 '18 at 6:52
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We had a discussion about this on chat

In short, some influential person on twitter posted it and then I got some kind of buzz.

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It got posted to Reddit. I don't use Reddit, so I'm not even sure how it got there (did one of our users post it there?). But it was posted to Reddit and then tweeted by a TON of people. It's also an interesting question that requires only surface knowledge of two of the most popular movies of all time. It'd be hard to find someone that had never heard of both E.T. or Star Wars, and most of those people probably also have fond childhood nostalgia-soaked memories of the two. Essentially, this is the kind of question that crosses most social groupings and has universal appeal (whereas questions about the technical capabilities of the Enterprise appeal to only hardcore sci-fi fans).

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    I posted it on Reddit. I forgot to use my referral link, so I didn't get the badge. – Jeremy Banks Nov 7 '11 at 3:31
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Popular culture is popular.

These are absolutely science fiction (or fantasy or whatever label you want to apply), but they are popular culture movies, which are considered must-watch films for anyone, not just a science fiction (or fantasy) fan. The majority of people watching these films (or who watched them many years ago when they were new) would not be considering them in terms of science-fiction.

The number of people that have seen these two films (even the intersection) is phenomenally large - I'm sure considerably larger than the number of people that watch/read the majority of other work that the site focuses on.

This is why Harry Potter gets so many views - the series may be the only fantasy books that many of its readers have read or will read. Likewise Doctor Who (this may be less true in the US than in Commonwealth counties?) - the series may be the only science fiction show that many of its viewers watch/have watched/will watch.

(I think the element of mystery in Harry Potter and Doctor Who help here too, since that naturally lends itself to questions. If Harry Potter hadn't been finished by the time the site started, I imagine we would have vastly more questions about it. Likewise if Lost was still airing when we started, that would (a popular culture TV show mystery) be a significant source of views).

This material isn't seen as "science fiction" or "fantasy", it's seen as "films" ("TV", "books"). That means that the potential audience is vastly larger.

IMO this also calls for an element of caution. Although these questions pull in large views, the value of our site is in the deep specialist knowledge about all science fiction and fantasy, not just the mainstream stuff. If the people viewing these questions end up taking a look at other questions on the site, or asking their own (good) questions, or answering other ones, then that's great. If they are just looking at that single question, then that's great for the metrics, but is it really adding value to the site?

IOW, I think it's great that we have these very popular questions, and I hope we continue to have them. However, I don't think we should do anything to go out of our way to have more questions about mainstream content than on lesser-known sci-fi/fantasy.

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