I recently asked Who died in A Song of Ice And Fire? and Who died in Harry Potter?. These received mixed reception: The Harry Potter question received 2 upvotes, but has received 4 VtC as "too broad", while the ASOIAF question has received 3 downvotes.

Here's the timeline: I asked these questions last night originally. I saw that the HP one got a vote to close for too broad, and because I agreed with it, I deleted it myself. After that, ibid asked me on Why did Leia give the stolen version of the Death Star plans to R2-D2 instead of a copy? why I closed it and said that the Harry Potter Wiki page wasn't adequate. I then reopened them for wider community review.

These are both list questions, but IMHO, they're different from the kind of list question that we usually close:

  1. The question is well-scoped: Just the main book series and only named deaths, which are both things that can be objectively decided and have a limit.
  2. They're similar to the "Who got drunk in Harry Potter" question, which has been relatively well-received: 26 upvotes. All 3 of these are "do the research for me" questions.

I'm not sure whether it's healthy for the community to treat questions inconsistently like this. Are these kind of questions considered a poor fit for this format? Is there anything that can be done to salvage them?

  • The difference in how they've been received may be due to the fact that not that many named characters died in Harry Potter and a list would be relatively short and easy to put together, whereas aSoIaF is famous for killing off pretty much everyone. In general, list questions tend to be better received the shorter the list.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    May 24, 2016 at 10:10
  • Hi, I voted to close the HP question, because It can be answered by a single simple request on any search engine, and because it's a long list, as Rand said in his comment.
    – Kalissar
    May 24, 2016 at 10:17
  • @Randal'Thor Here's the timeline: I asked these questions last night originally. I saw that the HP one got a vote to close for too broad, and because I agreed with it, I deleted it myself. After that, ibid asked me on scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/102669/… why I closed it and said that the Harry Potter Wiki page wasn't adequate. I then reopened them for wider community review, assuming that Ibid wasn't the only one.
    – Nzall
    May 24, 2016 at 10:24
  • 1
    @Randal'Thor - I noticed that you've used your mod powers to reopen the HP question against community opinion. Care to weigh in with an answer?
    – Valorum
    May 24, 2016 at 15:05
  • @Valorum In the HP books, the list is not only finite but actually pretty short (in fact, that's the main point of the question). It's also much shorter than Who got drunk in Harry Potter?, which was well-received and left open. And the question had already received a couple of reopen votes, so the community was clearly divided; I made the decision based on existing precedent.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    May 24, 2016 at 15:12
  • @Randal'Thor - Looking over the linked wiki post, the number of named deaths in HP is at least 50, with the number of deaths confirmed by JKR into the tens and the number of unnamed deaths ranging into the low hundreds.
    – Valorum
    May 24, 2016 at 15:14

1 Answer 1


It is a long-held policy on SFF:SE that finite list questions are considered to be on-topic. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that the community as a whole will like them, or are likely to upvote them.

Harry Potter Question

In the case of the HP question, I cast the final vote to close on that question (which has since been mod-hammered open by a moderator against community opinion) because I felt that it fails to meet the criteria; "good answers would be too long for this format". Looking over the linked wiki post, the number of named characters who died in HP is at least 50, with unnamed character deaths (such as the Inferi and the casualties of the Battle of Hogwarts) ranging into the low hundreds. A good answer would require you to write and then justify pages and pages of names.

ASOIAF Question

I have also voted to close the ASOIAF question. The number of named character deaths in each book numbers into the dozens and makes this a poor fit for the site for much the same reasons as above.

  • Didn't you see the image in both questions? ASOIAF has over 50 deaths in the first book alone. That's more than any 2 books of Harry Potter put together. Harry Potter has 150 deaths, and if you exclude the nameless deaths like the unicorns, the 50 deaths at the end of DH, the 12 muggles killed by Wormtail and the movie-only deaths and other unnamed deaths, you will have a lot less than 100.
    – Nzall
    May 24, 2016 at 10:55
  • @Nzall - Good point. I thought we were only talking about the first book in the series.
    – Valorum
    May 24, 2016 at 10:58
  • I respect your decision. Is there something I can do to salvage either question? Like changing it to "how many named characters died in each book in the series"?
    – Nzall
    May 24, 2016 at 11:24
  • @Nzall - Hmm. That's a toughie. While "how many characters died in X book" would probably survive, it would probably receive downvotes. If you them posted it as a series of questions, each would be likely to receive a greater number of downvotes and attract more attention to the earlier questions (and this one), resulting in close votes.
    – Valorum
    May 24, 2016 at 11:27
  • No, just 1 question for Harry potter stating "How many named characters died in each of the 7 Harry Potter books" and the same for the currently released ASOIAF books. I wouldn't ask them for each separate book. All I'm interested in knowing is how many people died in the series, so I can compare the 2 figures.
    – Nzall
    May 24, 2016 at 11:31
  • 1
    @Nzall - Have you thought about reading each book series and buying one of these?
    – Valorum
    May 24, 2016 at 11:38
  • I've read Harry Potter, and I got ASOIAF on my backlog. One of the reason I'm asking these questions, though, is because other people might be interested in the answers as well. In addition, someone else might already have done the research that I'm not aware of.
    – Nzall
    May 24, 2016 at 11:44
  • 1
    "quite literally hundreds of deaths" - counting only human deaths that occurred in the series (rather than long-dead wizards and ancestors), I make the count less than 50 from your Wikia link, excluding many nameless faceless characters who died under Voldemort's reign. Surely this is considerably fewer (and easier to count, death being a more significant event than drunkenness) than the number of characters who got drunk in HP, which you not only didn't VTC but provided a good answer to.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    May 24, 2016 at 15:17
  • @Randal'Thor - Having been reopened, the question has now spawned a wholly unsourced list answer.
    – Valorum
    May 24, 2016 at 15:19
  • @Randal'Thor - Did the original question ask for only human deaths? Because quite a lot of the named characters aren't human; Dobby, for example, or Griphook.
    – Valorum
    May 24, 2016 at 16:00
  • @valorum I'll clarify the original answer to state what I'm talking about
    – Nzall
    May 24, 2016 at 16:33
  • @Valorum I have clarified the question to state what deaths I am talking about.
    – Nzall
    May 24, 2016 at 16:41
  • 1
    Can we please have a policy that lists from the wiki are assumed to be completely inaccurate and useless until proven otherwise?
    – ibid
    May 26, 2016 at 15:08
  • @ibid - I think that's generally assumed with the HP wiki. By comparison, Memory Alpha and Wookieepedia are usually pretty accurate.
    – Valorum
    May 26, 2016 at 15:13
  • 2
    I find your latest edit here rather unfair: two users had voted to leave open when the question was in the Close Votes review queue, and another two users voted to reopen before I did. That makes five users, including myself, who wanted the question open. Hardly a case of unilateral modhammer abuse.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Jun 5, 2016 at 18:42

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