Currently, the close reason (which is standard for all SE sites) has a description of:

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.

There have been a couple of recent discussions on the topic, some of which are fairly specific (Creature questions, questions not relating to a specific work, etc.), but perhaps a more general discussion of how we determine "too many possible answers" or good answers being "too long for this format" would help create a more consistent and understandable basis for our closing policies.

  • 5
    VTC: too broad!
    – Politank-Z
    Jun 8, 2016 at 19:45
  • @Politank-Z Well played, sir! Well played!
    – Beofett
    Jun 8, 2016 at 19:46
  • 2
    "Broad questions waste people's time and are costly in attention. If it's one that also sparks of debate and back and forth, that's not ideal for the Stack Exchange software, designed to deliver definitive and authoritative answers to well thought out and concrete questions. Being broad is ill-defined and unsuitable, much like one lacking any value information is not a real question as people would just be guessing." - meta.scifi.stackexchange.com/a/222/20774
    – Valorum
    Jun 8, 2016 at 22:11
  • 1
    @Valorum And how many people reference that 5-year-old, 2 upvote meta post when deciding to close for "too broad", versus using whatever fits the definition in their own mind?
    – user31178
    Jun 10, 2016 at 1:39
  • 1
    @creationedge - None. I just thought it was a nicely worded statement.
    – Valorum
    Jun 10, 2016 at 6:04
  • 1
    @CreationEdge So turn it into a new, more-than-two-upvote meta post, which will put those ideas into more people's minds. Jun 10, 2016 at 9:48

2 Answers 2


I think the two scenarios identified in the close reason text are a good starting place.

There are too many possible answers

The most obvious examples of this are "list" questions. In fact, the accepted answer from that linked discussion contains a very helpful definition for "too broad":

It's not reasonable to ask a question on a Q&A site that requires knowledge of all works that ever existed

"How do you kill a vampire?" (in the absence of clarifying details) is essentially an open-ended list question.

Note that something like "are there any examples of vampires being killed by explosion" would be considered on topic (although this is a policy I don't agree with).

However, with slight rewording, open ended list questions can be reworded to asking for common tropes, which I think would be acceptable. "What are the most common ways in which vampires can be killed?" becomes rather more narrowly scoped. It is still a list, but I think it is a list that someone expert in the genre can provide a reasonably thorough explanation for. If an answer citing half a dozen examples would satisfy the wording of the question, then it is reasonably scoped.

Good answers would be too long for this format

This one is trickier for our site. We have a couple of users here who sometimes post very long, detailed, in-depth answers that would be nearly unheard of on most other SE sites. Those answers also tend to be my favorites on this site.

For example, this detailed exposition on the workings, history and variations of vibranium.

I'd hate to see any policy that discourages questions soliciting answers like that.

So for our purposes, I think "good answers would be too long for this format" should largely overlap with "unclear what you're asking", when we're not specifically dealing with list questions.

For example, "Why are vampires so powerful?" could theoretically be answered by in-depth descriptions of all the various ways that vampires are portrayed as having power (or even half a dozen examples), but is the OP looking at vampires as being powerful because of physical strength? Or their ability to decimate entire populations? Or are they referring to magic-using vampires from specific settings (such as Strahd)?

The question needs clarification. What type of power is the OP interested in?

An example listed in another post of a "terrible" answer that is justification for why questions on scifi tropes in general (in this case, creature tropes) should be closed is actually what I consider an example of exactly the opposite: it is, at the time of this writing, sitting at 41 upvotes, and 0 downvotes. Clearly the community has an appreciation for this type of content, and the opponents, while vocal and active members of the community, are a minority.


I believe that "too broad" for our site should cover list questions, and questions that are asking for too much detail about too many diverse topics.

Outside of list questions, "too broad" should be used very sparingly, and the OP of any question marked as "too broad" should be encouraged to be more specific with the information they're seeking.


My general rule: If an answer would have to consider every single work covering whatever the topic of the question is in order to be considered truly correct then the question is "too broad".

Take, for example, the question "How do you kill a vampire?"

You can start by listing the common methods, but even then you have to start mentioning exceptions to them (Twilight vampires aren't killed by direct exposure to sunlight, for example). However, who on this site knows every single work involving vampires? Is there even a list we could trust to be correct that includes all works involving vampires? Do we also consider works where they have things that are essentially vampires (with general vampire traits [whatever you consider those to be...]) but aren't referred to as such?

That's bad enough with a single answer that attempts to cover everything. However, in most cases what will actually happen (which is far worse) is we'll end up with multiple answers, each covering some of the various ways in which vampires can be killed. We might get an answer that just lists a single, unique way in which they can be killed from some obscure work that nobody else has read.

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