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1:40 AM
Thanks @Randal'Thor for hiding that NSFW text exchange in my Ivlivs CæΕΏar answer behind a spoiler tag. I'm so habitually foul-mouthed that it often doesn't occur to me to consider appropriateness. 😬
Now I'm wondering whether I should do the same for the word b@$&c. in the Odyssey answer. It is a direct quote from the translation....if a foul word occurs in the primary (well, translated) text that the question is about, is it okay to leave it sub divo, or should it be demurely curtained off?
@verbose I personally think you should leave it. If they're asking a question about the Odyssey, then that means they should be comfortable reading it.
Good point.
As a general rule, avoid rude language except where it's central to the subject of the Q/A, in which case try to avoid putting it in the title or the first several lines so it doesn't get on the front page.
But if it's crucial to the subject then we can Be Nice about it without sidestepping the issue.
1:55 AM
Fagles's translation minces it: *Hard-hearted you are! you gods"
Mmm, that's the other thing: translations seriously muddy the water.
Ah well Imma leave it I think. The answer's been accepted so the question will sink out of sight soon enough, and casual browsers won't find it. Those searching specifically for Oddity questions will, but as @Hamlet said, they should be comfortable reading the text in that case.
Odyssey, not oddity. Drat autocorrect
I mean, if I were well-versed enough in Attic Greek to be able to judge the fidelity of the translations, I'd make an informed choice.
But I ain't.
@BESW how is your handle prononunced? Bess-dub? Beez-dub? Bes-wuh? .... Inquiring minds wanna know.
bee ee ess double u
@verbose how else
@verbose in general, I am very opposed to censorship (e.g. putting quotes or images behind spoiler tags)
But I also don't think we should be using quotes or images unless they are nessessary to answer the question
How do we answer a question about a given text without using quotes? What counts as evidence for the argument we're making?
2:07 AM
so with your julius caesar answer, I probably would have chosen a different autocorrect image, without the swear, as the swear isn't nessessary to communicate the point your trying to make
*"inappropriate" quotes or images
True. Actually I had the hardest time finding the image because I misremembered it as being something like Your mother is an evil witch, which'd've made the point well enough. When I found it, it didn't even occur to me that the language would be an issue.
2:28 AM
I don't mind it, but I guess I understand why some people might take issue.
My priority is that if a question or answer discusses uncomfortable topics, then people should censor themselves of (through edits) other people. I just think that spoiler tags actually draw more attention to uncomfortable topics (as it's a break in the reading flow), and they make talking about these topics more uncomfortable and less natural.
In other words, I think Robert's answer hits the nail on the head.
A: Do we need/want any sorts of content warnings?

Robert CartainoNo, please don't. If this is going to be a serious site on literature, subjects might might deal with the occasional adult theme and sometimes uncomfortable situations on occasion. While we don't allow posts to get overly gratuitous simply for the shock value, I wouldn't want to oversee a site ...

The reason why @verbose autocorrect image could be objectionable was that the answer wasn't about sexuality, so there wasn't any need to include those curse words. It would be a completely different situation if you were writing an answer about sexuality, or if you were quoting from the book the question asked about, etc.
Sorry my writing is so unclear tonight.
@verbose It's just initials, so verbalise it however you please. "Beez-yoo" is one way I've heard.
3:28 AM
@BESW I pronounce it as [hair-raising insectoid clicking noises] but that's just me
@BESW I don't think I'm going to be able to prevent myself from saying "Borth" in my head, now.
@Randal'Thor Thank you :)
One of the more entertaining things about buying used books online is that you never know what papers you're going to find inside that people have left.
....I wrote most of a question earlier, touched it up just now, and am now trying to post. Having trouble with the Captcha, tho ...someone please tell them I'm not a robot. I, robot? πŸ€–πŸ€–πŸ€–
I've gotten a postcard written in Japanese in the 1960s, theater tickets, and recently, "Two Wheels: Bicyclist's Safety Rules" by the Colorado State Patrol.
3:39 AM
@Emrakul pics?
@Shokhet Is that a question you'd know the answer to?
They asked me to verify three different things. I mean really.
Q: Reading order for Ayn Rand's stories

ShokhetAyn Rand wrote a number of stories including We the Living, Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged. Most of these revolve around heroes who subscribe to Rand's philosophy. As far as I could tell, none of these books are linked to each other "in-universe." I read The Fountainhead first, the...

@Emrakul Maybe?
@Shokhet As a Civil Intelligence Protection Authority, I am authorized to administer Turing Tests. Please take a seat, Subject 3928.
3:42 AM
(This includes such amusing rules as "Never frolic or play when riding in the streets," bringing to mind the question, how does one frolic on a bicycle?)
@Emrakul Um, okay.
@Hamlet "Objectivity" does not really describe the philosophy. The word you're looking for is Objectivism
...although I just saw en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectivity_(philosophy) while searching for the above on Wikipedia
I'm pretty sure they're not the same thing, but lemme check
@Shokhet oh sorry, that was a typo. But I still stand by what I said; I wouldn't consider Ayn Rand a philosopher worth studying (not for political reasons, but because there's a lot of flaws in her reasoning)
@Hamlet Okay.
3:51 AM
@Shokhet I can send you some links if that would be helpful
@Shokhet Welcome to the Turing Exam, subject 3928. Thank you for your time and patience. If you are human, please do not panic. You have nothing to fear. This process will complete soon. Audiovisual aids are available upon request. Your account has been charged for the privilege of participation in keeping our society safe. The exam will begin soon.
I don't buy everything she says; it's more thought provoking (do I agree with this? Why/why not), which is basically how I approach most philosophy
...not that I've made a serious study of philosophy
@Hamlet Sure, sounds interesting
@Emrakul Okay, I'm not panicking
@Shokhet pretty much any of these reddit threads is a good start
@Shokhet but this is thread that's the most interesting, reddit.com/r/askphilosophy/comments/212z0w/…
@Hamlet Okay. I'll take a look. Thanks
I never considered looking at reddit for philosophy :P
@Shokhet it feels weird to say this, but reddit is actually a better place for expert discussions about the humanities than Stack Exchange is.
3:59 AM
@Hamlet Oh?
Certain subreddits have very strict sourcing requirements, which Stack Exchange seems reluctant to do.
I've never really made use of the place besides for when it comes up in a Google search
@Hamlet Some SE sites do have sourcing requirements. It's pretty much up to the site
And the reddit communities are targeted towards academics, as opposed to Stack Exchange, which treats sites like literature as a place for programmers to goof off.
@Shokhet not very many, and those that do usually don't do a good job of enforcing it.
Part of the advantage reddit has is that it doesn't have to behave like Q&A, but it easily can.
Of course, it's very hit or miss, there are a lot of subreddits that are no where near expert level content. Compare /r/books to /r/literature to /r/askliterature to /r/askliterarystudies
@Emrakul I guess. I don't like using reddit because their platform isn't as good, and I'm very uncomfortable with certain moderation decisions that they make.
4:03 AM
The other part of the advantage is that what we're seeing is basically a selection for exactly the group of people you want to find, which stems from the fact that subreddits are easy to create.
@Emrakul yeah, it's very hard to convince someone to go through area51 if they aren't familiar with stack exchange
and that's a problem because the sites that aren't about programming don't tend to attract a lot of experts
Yeah, I agree.
I think the economics stack exchange is reasonably academic, although I don't really know since I know nothing about economics
I guess the upshot is that reddit gets unlimited tries to make an academic community. Stack only gets one.
@Emrakul with this site I've been imagining it as a high school literature class. Sometimes you get gold, sometimes you get garbage. But it's still interesting to see every one's opinion, and the different approaches to literature.
@Emrakul hit the nail on the head
4:09 AM
@Hamlet That makes sense. I've been gradually adopting something similar, I think.
And I enjoy this site's chat room; there's usually a good discussion to read and interesting links to follow up on.
@Hamlet Yep. This chat is certainly fun :)
@Emrakul Sorta. This is the second time that a Literature site has launched (and I don't know how many times suggested on A51)
But yeah, I see your point
@Hamlet This is definitely a problem. Whatever happened to Area 52?
@Hamlet I was hoping for something more on the college level (I've taken Comp in college; I haven't yet had the time for a lit class), but yeah.
@Shokhet this site is definitely not on the college level, although there are a few questions/answers that reach that point.
None of the content on this site is PHD level.
@Hamlet I know. I know :'(
...and I'm not done studying yet. I came in here to complain about Captcha, and found myself discussing philosophy, site policy, and academic reddit with a lot of smart people...but I really need to finish that up. We'll have to finish this (these?) some other time
We really should have scheduled topics about literature, and all get on chat at the same time.
4:25 AM
[snort] Good luck.
Writers has a hard enough time getting more than one person to show up at the same time for a weekly ten-minute writing prompt.
@Emrakul were you able to use the theater tickets? I'm imagining front row seats to the Broadway production of Hamilton
@verbose They'd been used a decade ago, if I recall. I don't have them anymore, I wish I'd saved them.
@Hamlet I don't think this is high school level. Folks in high school don't debate the intentional fallacy. I doubt most high school English teachers know what that is.
[raises hand]
@verbose speaking of the intentional falacy, am I simplifying it when I say that it means falsely assuming intentions = meaning
4:34 AM
@Hamlet Kiiinda.
@BESW what does it actually mean?
It's more like, confusing "what the author intended" with "what's actually in the text the author produced."
For example, Hubbard says he intended "Battlefield Earth" to be the longest hard sci-fi novel ever written.
@BESW I did say 'most'
"Longest" is debatable (it certainly feels like it is), but I don't think any reasonable definition of "hard sci-fi" would be willing to take "Battlefield Earth" under its wing based on the book itself.
@BESW what do you mean by "what's actually in the text the author produced"? looking at the original essay, it seems that it's talking about critical reception (e.g. "We argued that the design or intention of the author is neither available nor desirable as a standard for judging the success of a work of literary art")
Also, if "intentional fallacy" doesn't mean intentions !=meanings, then is there a fallacy that describes this?
4:39 AM
Intentional fallacy fallacy.
The fallacy of applying the intentional fallacy fallaciously.
Bah, the intentional fallacy is weird and poorly named.
@BESW on second thought, please direct your response to my questions into an answer to this new question
Q: What is "The Intentional Fallacy"

HamletThe intentional fallacy is described in Wimsatt and Beardsley's essay "The Intentional Fallacy". What exactly is the intentional fallacy, and is it still relevant today?

@Hamlet Chronically misused, that's what it is.
@BESW it's annoying because I feel like there should be a name for the fallacy of confusing intentions with meaning, and it's annoying that the name "intentional fallacy" is already taken.
4:47 AM
I call that the fallacy of undeserved formal convention.
@Shokhet "a lot of smart people" -- I hope you're not referring to me.
Q: What is "The Intentional Fallacy"

HamletThe intentional fallacy is described in Wimsatt and Beardsley's essay "The Intentional Fallacy". What exactly is the intentional fallacy, and is it still relevant today?

5:19 AM
@Hamlet are there grounds for thinking you are a lot of people?
@Emrakul if I didn't mean to use it fallaciously, does that make it the unintentional fallacy?
5:37 AM
@verbose There's certainly precedent for thinking that chat members might be multiple people.
That explains a lot.
2 hours later…
7:37 AM
Quiet in here innit
'tis pretty indeed. Thanks @BESW
We're coming toward the upswing of the chat room's slack period.
This will tell you something about where our active chatters live.
Most Stack users are active during their working hours. By looking at room activity we can figure out what time zones our active chatters are in.
Compare RPG General Chat, where our chatters are spread out a little more evenly across the world:
Time is UTC I take it
About 11 hours behind me.
Everybody lives in New York City.
Except you, who live on Kiuai.
Or somewhere else in the middle of the ocean anyway.
8:02 AM
[grin] Right ocean, wrong side of the dateline. Kauai is UTC-10; Guam is UTC+10.
I'm roughly in line with Eastern Australia, but just north of the equator.
Ah. I'ven't ever been to Guam.
Or Saipan.
Or any of the northern Marianas.
I think it's safe to say most folks haven't.
Or Australia.
I know a guy from Guam and like you, he has a quadruple-barreled name.
Four names is kinda the minimum to fit in around here.
If I were indigenous instead of just local, I'd have at least two more.
Oh you said "About 11 hours behind me". For some reason my brain translated that the wrong way 'round
Prolly a signal I should get me off to bed or something. It's tomorrow already!
It has been tomorrow for eleven minutes now.
8:11 AM
Sleep is good.
I shall go after this piece I'm listening to is done, I guess
@Hamlet I'm intrigued to hear that. I've dabbled in Reddit, but never really sunk deep. Most places I went, content was slow, mediocre, or both.
But it also makes sense to me that Reddit enables strong, engaged communities to gather.
What does "slow" mean in this context?
I do wonder what size those communities may be, and how they compare to SE.
@verbose Very infrequent posts, and/or not much response to postings.
Which reminds me, I was gonna say that rather than characterize the level of discussion around here as high school, I'd think of it more like the original SO site. Far and away the most posts are fairly elementary/introductory but there are some really tough and good ones.
8:20 AM
...although right now I'm looking at a subreddit I remember as being essentially dead, and it is flowering and full of life! That's kinda nice.
...but robs me of my handy example :P
The few times I find myself looking at a subreddit that's relephant to my interests, I'm not very impressed. The signal/noise ratio is too noisy for my tastes, and I tend to see a lot of unchallenged misinformation.
I also have some philosophical issues with how Reddit-the-company treats its users, but that's a tangential conversation.
So what's the verdict from the 'rents @Mithrandir?
@verbose none yet
Inquiring minds want to know
We didn't get a chance to talk
8:25 AM
Inquiring minds will have to wait.
We got home at midnight last night
You party animal, you
We made the party.
I had to help clean it up.
There's something very satisfying in that, I find.
I don't like carrying tables :/
8:28 AM
M, yeah, me neither, that's my least fave part. But I don't mind wiping them down, sweeping floors, mopping, and doing dishes.
And now my rep is bugging me o_o
@verbose ...(no comment)
A substantial portion of my income for some years of my life was derived from those activities.
Why is your rep bugging you? What's wrong with it?
Heh. Around here, cleaning up from big social events is practically in the blood. Collectivist culture and all.
@verbose 3332.
(writing a Meta answer ATM)
Okay, this opinion might be unpopular, but whatever.
A: When are reading-order questions on topic?

MithrandirAll of them should be on topic. Look. Most reading-order questions are by people who don't know anything about the books. They want to know how to read them. Let's take a few examples. If someone wants to know what order to read rick-riordan's books1 then great - they're all in the same univ...

Yeah, that would bug me too. I'd be tempted to downvote something and edit something else. :-)
Speaking of midnight, it's been tomorrow for nearly three quarters of an hour and I promised @BESW I'd go to bed half an hour ago. G'night y'all. Be good.
8:43 AM
@verbose adios!
1 hour later…
10:11 AM
Q: When are reading-order questions on topic?

HamletThe purpose of this question is to get a clear policy about reading-order questions. There have been instances where reading order questions have been closed because "there doesn't seem to be any connection between the different... novels", such as the question What order should I read Thomas P...

Q: Does our site scope include literary awards, events, and news?

StandbackThese are topics that are very much linked to the field of literature - but they're ancillary, not directly about the books and the actual body of work. For example, questions about literary awards: Is Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize for Literature in keeping with the history and nature of the awa...

Q: Does our site scope include libraries?

StandbackLibraries are treasuries for literary works. But are they on-topic at Lit.SE? I think good questions about libraries can be asked: What is the largest library in Europe? How do libraries store rare or valuable books? Where did [Collection X] from [Library Y] go when the library was ...

10:29 AM
@MartinEnder :
A: When are reading-order questions on topic?

StandbackI would propose: Only requests for orderings that are well-defined and objective are on-topic. These would primarily be: Publication order. Order by the internal chronology within the fiction. Writing order (when this differs from publication order; e.g. Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey is the ...

I think my main issue with this suggestion is that "Order by the internal chronology within the fiction." isn't as simple as it sounds for larger works where multiple stories are being told in the same universe. In these cases, a reading order isn't necessarily a total ordering, meaning that there will be some books (or subseries) that do require a certain order, but which can be read independently of other books. You address this in your last point, but extracting individual subseries fails to give people the "big picture" and indicate where those subseries to overlap each other. [ctd.] — Martin Ender 7 mins ago
Two examples that come to mind are the Discworld which you've already mentioned (1, 2) and Brandon Sanderson's Cosmere (1). I think it's important to have a place for more elaborate reading guides like this that really show where the individual subseries merge, split and cross paths. Splitting the universe into multiple question along subseries doesn't really help people figure out where it makes sense to interleave reading of those subseries. — Martin Ender 7 mins ago
I think "What are the various distinct subseries of [series X]?" is fine, under this proposal. I think that kind of question, or the chronology question, both could elicit the kind of reading guide you're describing -- and can request it much more specifically and explicitly, than a generic "what reading order do you suggest?" question would. — Standback 30 secs ago
Basically, IMHO, reading guides based on well-defined/objective criteria, are fantastic -- in response to questions requesting them.
That could work. Although then you might want to reword your fourth bullet point into something like "Separating a larger body of works into individual subseries and their inter-relations" or something like that.
But I wouldn't want to say that, for the sake of those particular types of answers (and questions), we should be allowing vague "What order should I read this in" questions on any creator -- just on the off-chance that somebody is going to construct some reading guide for it.
@MartinEnder I like that! Will do.
@Standback I think one of my points is that you're not at all addressing the matter of which kinds of works we can ask reading-order questions about. The way I read your answer is "if there's a body of works where a reading-order question makes sense, it should be specifically about one of these things".
For example, just because writing order isn't the same as publication order doesn't really mean that a question about either order makes sense, if those books have absolutely nothing to do with each other.
That said, I think it's fine to let the answer stand as is, now that it's clearer that you're more concerned about the types of questions, not the types of works.
I might try to draft up another answer for types of works since the current answers on that matter are all unpopular so far.
@MartinEnder I'm not sure I understand you here. If I asked "In what order did Jane Austen originally write her books," does that not seem like a reasonable question?
I do think you're quite correct, that different people are clearly anchored around different types of works. That's a good observation.
If I'm thinking Jane Austen and you're thinking Lord of the Rings, we're really talking about very different kinds of questions.
Part of what I'm trying to do is not let fantasy-epic-type questions, set the tone for what questions are asked about Jane Austen :P
@Standback I'm not familiar enough with Jane Austen's work to be able to tell how relevant such a question would be, although from the little I know I have the impression that they're at least sufficiently about similar themes that this might make sense. But if an author writes fantasy novels and technical literature on programming, then their relative writing and even publication order seems very irrelevant.
10:42 AM
@MartinEnder Writing order would probably be more of interest from a historical/analytical point of view, than from a reading-order point of view. This is true.
I kind of imagine that in the example you give, people would ask "What order did $AUTHOR write their fantasy novels in," rather than including both types of work.
Although who knows. If somebody asks, I don't necessarily find it a valuable question, but I can't really argue for it being off-topic.
@MartinEnder : Really, what I'm proposing here is moving away from "reading-order," because I don't care what people do with the orderings in the answers.
Instead, I'm saying that requesting well-defined orderings should be on-topic -- while subjective, suggested, recommended, "it's most fun/interesting/thematic/[etc.]" orderings should be off-topic. Because those are just reading recommendations.
A: What is the "Intentional Fallacy"?

BenjaminThe intentional fallacy is a misnomer in that the fallacy is not committed intentionally, but rather it relates to intentions. The intentional fallacy is the fallacy of using authors' intentions in interpreting literary works as opposed to interpreting the texts itself. Yes, it is very much relev...

Okay, now that we're on the same page that we're talking about types of questions instead of types of works, I think your proposal still doesn't have room for Machete order. However, if we're really talking about asking answerable questions about specific orderings, then I think a question about something like Machete order could be great.
Since bookword doesn't post answers ^
@Hamlet How does that answer look?
"I've read about this ordering of the following works which neither follows publication, nor chronological order. What exactly are the advantages or disadvantages of this order in terms of presenting the plot?"
I think this can be answered quite objectively and would make a great question. However, it's none of the standard orders you propose. At the same time it's far from "can you recommend an enjoyable order for these works?"
@MartinEnder Yeah, I think Machete Order is a really helpful example. It's kind of specifically what I'm arguing against -- at least in the most intuitive form, of "Q: What's the best order to watch Star Wars in?" "A: Machete Order."
(And my justification for that argument is that IMO, most series won't have awesome, definitive answers like Machete Order, and both questions and answers will be pretty filler-ish.)
I have no objection to people asking questions about Machete Order. Machete Order is A Thing; people can ask questions about it. I don't think asking questions about a specific order, is what we're mostly talking about with reading-order questions -- those are usually questions whose answers are expected to be a list of books; a specific ordering.
So I think that's kind of an edge case.
10:57 AM
I think what I really like about the reading guides, like the ones I had linked to in my comments is that they don't give you a reading order. Instead, they give you all the necessary information to choose a reading order yourself without risking spoilers.
So maybe my own answer to the meta question would look something like "Don't ask about reading orders. Ask about chronological orders and inter-relations between individual works of a set of related works."
(or writing order etc... anything that could be relevant to your understanding of the entire set)
@MartinEnder I can definitely get behind that.
Yeah, in fact, I think that's pretty much exactly my position, too :)
I'm not even sure that questions about publication order are useful. The publication order is usually something that can be easily determined by a look at Wikipedia or other sources.
Although I probably wouldn't disallow them, because for older literature it might be harder to find out the publication order.
@MartinEnder It can. But they do seem popular answers to reading-order questions, so I figure there should be questions you can ask in order to get those answers. :)
I guess for publication order one could just hold people to the usual standard of "do some research before asking your question". If it's easy to determine the order by googling for it, then don't ask about it, but if it's something where the order isn't clear (e.g. because every source only lists years but there are multiple works per year; or because its about older works like Shakespeare's plays where the publication order isn't necessarily known) then the questions could have merit.
I'll try to write up another answer later.
@MartinEnder TBH, this has been a lot of what irks me about reading-order questions in general.
Publication order is practically always a decent default,
Especially to start out with,
And that's trivially googleable.
11:09 AM
Yeah exactly. If you're asking about a suggested reading order it seems that you have reason to assume that some other factor might make non-publication order better (which is likely writing order, internal chronology, cross-book spoilers etc.). Then why not ask about those things and then make up your own mind whether you'd prefer that over publication order.
Precisely. :)
Thanks for the constructive discussion. :) I'm heading out for a bit, but I'll try to get my thoughts on this into a coherent form for a meta answer.
11:25 AM
Please do remember that the Stack does not consider "you can Google this" to be a close reason, because we want to be what comes up when "you" Googles "this" in the future.
@BESW True. I don't consider "Is Googleable" to be a close reason; OTOH, an SE site with too many Googleable questions is not in good health.
Do we have "too many" yet?
No. And I aim to keep it that way. ::scowls, cocks shotgun::
Mmm. I adhere to the "don't fix things in anticipation of being broken" philosophy of Stack curation.
@BESW I wouldn't determine policy by sheer numbers. Policy sets trends.
11:33 AM
(Parents said yes)
I adhere to the "figure out what your site is about, and do that" philosophy. :)
@Mithrandir Yay! :D
So now we just have to see if SE actually decides that I'm a good fit.
@BESW : I don't feel like I've figured out what Lit.SE is about yet. But I hope it isn't "recommend me what order to read a series in" questions.
I kind of struggle to see a site definition where those are important, or valuable. Possible? Yeah, sure. They might be harmless. But I'm not seeing what value they add.
@Mithrandir Oh! I thought they'd already offered it to you. Are they interviewing in stages now?
Obviously I don't think anybody what's that to be "what lit.se is about" in an absolute sense. But experience-based advice on how best to use the thing we're about? Yes, please, why are we arguing about this?
@Standback They sent a 'would you be interested' note.
11:37 AM
@Mithrandir That sounds pretty good then :D
@Standback They are helpful; but they cannot be what the site focuses one. They're an okay type of question, but we need lots of meat.
@BESW Will you forgive a humorous hyperbole? I feel like series-order questions are about as useful as asking "What order should I read this book's chapters in."
The mere assumption that you shouldn't be starting from the beginning is bewildering to me.
What's the beginning?
First published, usually.
Should I read the Silmarillion before I read the Hobbit?
11:39 AM
On a re-read, yes.
Was it published before the Hobbit?
Personally I think it's a lot better to read Over Sea, Under Stone before reading The Dark Rising or any of the rest of the sequence.
Also, remember: First read and re-read can be different.
@BESW That's a fine recommendation.
But it's a recommendation.
But I know people who think The Greenwitch is best to start with if someone's unsure about getting into the series.
11:41 AM
That's also a recommendation!
@Standback It's practical advice for a real problem, based on supportable experience.
It's an absolute gem of a Good Subjective answer.
@BESW How does that differ from any other reading recommendation question, though?
Real problem. Supportable experience. Chokes the site.
Because reading order isn't a shopping question, while reading recommendation is.
Totally different thing.
@BESW Maybe that's the core of my issue, then. I feel like reading-order -- beyond well-defined things like pub date and chronology -- are totally shopping questions.
> These questions may seem tolerable at first glance. Isn't it our mandate to help our fellow ewoksusers? But consider the voluminous amount of information you need to even begin properly answering a shopping question:

What is your budget?

Where do you live?

What are your preferences?

Which alternatives will you consider?

When do you want to buy?
I don't think they're equivalent at all.
11:48 AM
That's exactly how I feel about reading order questions. If you want anything other than standard order, how do you know the interests and preferences and tastes of somebody on the other side of the internet?
They don't have the open-endedness of shopping questions, I'll grant you that.
They don't go out of date.
But they're the exact same "I have these options of what to read, which one should it be" dynamic.
Given the narrow span of a particular series, there are a limited number of possible reasonable solutions. The querent should say why they're asking for a reading order, and that's sufficient for good answers to explain how and why a particular order recommends itself.
And next week they'll want to read something else.
@BESW : I hear what you're saying here. The original blog post kind of addresses this:
> Let's say the question asker provided all that information. Fat chance, I know, but let's pretend for a moment they did -- and we were able to provide the perfect, ideal shopping recommendation to them. Even if that was the case, technology moves so rapidly that the best shopping recommendations will be utterly obsolete within a year!
> What's the point of a bunch of labor intensive questions that provide only temporary benefit to a limited (some might say Too Localized) audience? There isn't any.
--and you're right, that final conclusion is not relevant for reading recs.
So reading recs have some of the issues of shopping problems, and not all of them.
I'll admit to bias here: my feeling is that questions tend to devolve to the trivial ones. The ones that would be bad for the first shopping-q reason -- insufficient information, no specific motivation, no explanation of why a special order is even desired -- rather than the second, that the information will go stale.
How would you feel about, say, closing questions that don't provide a specific need/motivation?
(Not an actual proposal. Just curious, in the context of the conversation.)
@Mithrandir Congratulations!
@Mithrandir Why would they send you an invitation if you weren't?
> Moderators will eventually be elected by the community, but we have an immediate need to establish some leadership β€” so I would like to gauge your interest. Any thoughts you have about the community and promoting the site (or thoughts about the moderator position in general) would be very useful in helping me make this decision.
11:58 AM
@Mithrandir Okay.
@Mithrandir Another reason why we should strive for questions that collect the information necessary to come up with your own reading order, instead of questions that collect reading orders.
@Standback Broad/unclear are reasonable reasons to close such questions.
Modifying a form of comment I regularly use on RPG.SE... "Please [edit] your question to tell us why reading order is unclear to you, so answers can focus on the problem you're facing and their solutions will be actionably useful to you."
12:18 PM
> I'll be in touch and let you know when we are about to activate your moderator access. Let me know if you have any questions so far.
Looks like I've been accepted. :D
*heads to clean up some comments that maybe shouldn't have a diamond*
@BESW I can live with that. :)
I'm composing a meta answer.
With an example.
@Mithrandir I would recommend against that.
@Benjamin Why?
12:25 PM
@Mithrandir It could be misconstrued as you hiding what you have done.
Like, my waiting for Rand al'Thor to say something comment.
To which he replied
@Mithrandir Everyone is stupid. — Rand al'Thor 14 hours ago
[blink] Comments are supposed to be cleaned up.
I removed mine, and flagged @Rand's as not constructive.
So, just as an example, @BESW, this question...?
I was planning on doing that anyway, though, so... *shrug*
> but there's a number of novellas and short stories which jump around the chronology
That could make it confusing.
12:27 PM
Right. It's a series with two different kinds of publication, whose chronology is not the same as publication order.
Yes, but you don't say why you need a reading order.
That's a clear "Wait, how do I read this?" prompt.
You ask for a "best" order.
@Standback ...Like, first or re?
Hmm. I could probably edit it for improvement.
12:28 PM
I'm not complaining, mind you! It's just, this is what I'm familiar with as a "typical" reading-order question.
And, as I said, I feel like most of them don't really have anything of a justification.
Even something as trivial of "are you literally precommitting to read every book and story in the series" is... kind of glossed over.
@Benjamin would you like to edit the question to ask for either a first read or reread (or possibly both)?
(Also, that tag thing works.)
@Mithrandir !!!!
@Standback Yeah, I made an edit to bring that out a bit more.
I'm honestly pretty bad at writing questions.
12:31 PM
@BESW Aren't we all :-)
Also, if we want to start getting authors to the site, someone can ask a TombQuest question and I can pop an email or twitter to the author - I've done that before and gotten an answer :)
So, honest question:
You're saying this is a practical question, solving a practical problem.
Why isn't your question "what book should I start with"?
This is probably a difference of approach. I'm just... not seeing how "what is a complete chronology; I haven't read anything" is a practical problem/answer situation.
@Standback Now, this is actually a good point.
@Mithrandir GREAT! That makes invalid something I said to Rand.
Sorry, my computer is being a tad wonky.
12:35 PM
@Benjamin WHat's that replying to?
@Mithrandir All the great things you've written! Your choice.
@Standback *facepalm*
@Mithrandir Oh, that was supposed to be two messages. It was in response to the + in tags and 35598781
Ooh, it's Choose Your Own Compliment.
(poofing away, shall return at some point)
12:37 PM
@Mithrandir Edited.
@Standback [fiddles with question] I don't just want to know what to start with. I want to know what kind of a commitment I'm getting into.
@Benjamin What did you say to him? </interested>
@Standback L'hitraot
@BESW That makes perfect sense. But... that sounds like a completely different question from what you asked...
It's an also not an instead of.
@Randal'Thor There may be no experts in that field, but it will make it easier for askers to see if a question has already been asked because I don't believe there is a way to see only the overlap between two tags. — Benjamin 44 mins ago
12:38 PM
@BESW Can you break your question into discrete components?
If it's two unrelated things (chronology + what kind of commitment is this), wouldn't it make more sense as two different questions?
(Again -- not criticizing you personally. My issue with reading-order is precisely that I feel like they obscure the OP's actual issue/difficulty/question.)
[fiddles with question more]
@BESW I am very surprised at how well received my recent answer was. I expected hordes of downvotes.literature.stackexchange.com/questions/1784/…
@Benjamin It's not bad, but it needs sources.
I really want to write a metapost right now about how verbosity is not the same thing as quality because I am seeing huge answers to simple questions.
@Benjamin Doooeeeet.
12:42 PM
@Mithrandir Well, I mainly used the essay The Intentional Fallacy
@Benjamin Can you please edit the sources into the post, like I had Darth do? :)
@Mithrandir I am working on it.
Great :)
@Benjamin And maybe also that being familiar with the forms of a kind of discourse doesn't replace a firm grasp on its subject matter.
(I see a lot of discussions of Stack philosophy which sound Stackian but don't actually contain Stack ideas.)
@BESW I might throw that in.
@BESW What are some examples? Not challenging you, just wondering.
12:45 PM
@BESW What the heck? O_O
@Mithrandir That TED Talk is popular in my circles.
I have no circles, unless you count these: O o 0 (:P)
@Benjamin For example, knowing that "bad subjective" is a phrase people use when talking about why a kind of question shouldn't be on the site, but only having an understanding of it from contextual use rather than having read what it's really about. So using it for subjects that have nothing to do with GS/BS.
(See also confusing "shopping questions" with "list questions.")
@BESW I know there are things like that in my work.
And using the presentation structures (## headers, bullet points) of commonly respected Stackizens in order to acquire associative respect for the ideas being presented even though the ideas don't fit that structure.
12:51 PM
Cool. Apparently I have 1638 helpful flags on the network.
@BESW Oh yeah, I definitely need to use headers and bullet points in my post.
@Mithrandir I added sources.
I know
I had already upvoted though, so :P
(I mean, headers are great. Using them makes a long post easier for visually impaired folks to parse with their screen readers, where approximating them visually with other markdown does not. But there's using headers because they're right for your content, and there's using headers because the cool kids are doing it. I'm reminded of a quote...)
> The director [...] has learned from better films that directors sometimes tilt their cameras, but he has not learned why.
- Roger Ebert, Battlefield Earth review May 2000
@BESW Part of my work is writing in a very formal style, which makes sense for what I do, but I will use that here as it mimics others on SE.
Sockpuppet dropped in...
12:59 PM
How's this for a title?:
On Verbosity and Quality of Stack Exchange Posts and their Effect on the Meta Discourse and Discourse of Literature
01:00 - 13:0013:00 - 23:00

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