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12:00 AM
Still struggling to understand why it was closed (and disliking the "this should be on SFF" type comments).
@Emrakul "I'm not necessarily the final say" - yes you are :-) A modhammer is literally the final say in any round of close/reopen votes.
Anyway, what I actually came in here to say was that I've just written up a meta answer here and would welcome any thoughts:
0
A: When dealing with stories set in a shared universe, how much weight should be placed on information found in the other stories?

Rand al'ThorStandback's answer is excellent on the general principle, but I thought it was worth paying some more specific attention to the issue you raise, and perhaps even looking at some examples. What do we do if works in a shared universe contradict each other? If a question is asked to which such...

 
@Hamlet I would not support such a blanket rule. There are actually good questions of that form, when there's a good in-universe explanation for why something didn't happen, but the explanation isn't obvious.
Some such questions have to be closed because they ask for really stupid things, but banning all such questions would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
But most of the time they should remain open, I think.
(But feel free to downvote them, even mine. I do sometimes ask bad questions like that.)
 
12:16 AM
@b_jonas I agree, but we should come up with some good concrete examples for the impending meta discussion: questions of the form being discussed which have answers that everyone will agree are interesting and add to one's appreciation of the work.
 
@Mithrandir How did you get them only now? You should have had the association bonus for ages, because you've had way more than 200 XP on at least one site.
 
@b_jonas By joining 75 new sites, I assume.
 
I see.
I've already joined like a third of the (public) SE sites, and have specifically made sure to get the two or three free badges on most of them (but I often didn't bother with the free meta badges). For most of the other sites, I decided I wasn't interested them, though very rarely I change my mind about them.
(And of course I will sometimes create account on new sites, like Literature or Devops SE.)
Just to make it clear, I count Supporter, Autobiographer, and Informed as free badges, and there are a few sites where Informed is completely impossible to get. Some people count more badges as free.
 
@Randal'Thor See my comment on the question?
 
@Catija -1 for using a film-based example on a literature site ;-) Other than that, agreed.
 
12:27 AM
@Randal'Thor I couldn't come up with a book example... Middle earth based only on The Hobbit?
 
@Catija Well, an easy example would be a question about a Star Wars novel wanting answers based only on info from Disney canon and not the EU (most of which is in written form and therefore on-topic).
Or a question about HP wanting only book-based answers and none of this Pottermore/interviews/Twitter stuff.
Oh look, Ukrainian Language reached public beta.
 
oh cool
 
@Randal'Thor Do I remember incorrectly that the non-English sites shouldn't show in the HNQ?
Maybe one of the CMs forgot to turn it off?
 
shrug
There is a CM lurking in here; you could ask him.
 
@Catija AFAIR it isn't based on the site but on the number of English words in the title
 
12:41 AM
12
Q: es.SO questions aren't excluded from the Hot Questions list

ZaibisAs figured out in this post localized SE sites must not be displayed in the HNQ's. But es.SO actually is. Has to be fixed I guess?

@Gilles That question from MSE looks like it's a site setting.
Isn't JNat one of the ones in Europe or Japan? I can never remember where any of them are.
 
@Catija oh, yes, there's that too for the non-English sites. But the language sites aren't non-English sites.
23
A: Hot Questions, inability to filter sites... and now German questions? Too much "noise"!

EmmettQuestions without a sufficient amount of English are now not only excluded from the stackexchange.com homepage (that's what you see in the “hot questions” tab of the multicollider), but also from Stack Exchange tweets and SE 2.0 ads. Currently, the basic criteria for the *English threshold** are...

 
@Catija Yep, that looks decisive. It's a site setting, unless it changed recently.
 
@Gilles Either way though, that title very clearly has no English words.
 
Questions from French Language, German Language, Japanese Language etc. do sometimes appear in the HNQ, but they should only appear if the title looks English enough
 
@Randal'Thor Which title? I didn't see any from Ukranian Language SE in HNQ.
 
12:43 AM
@Gilles Also, how would that be coded for languages like French or German which share an alphabet and even some words with English?
8 mins ago, by Rand al'Thor
user image
 
@b_jonas He posted the image up a bit. Right where he mentioned it.
 
@Randal'Thor based on words, says the meta post. I haven't seen the actual code.
 
@Catija Ah... that was an image that didn't load for me. It is loading now though.
Thank you.
 
@b_jonas Imgur is as buggy as a lice-infested blanket today.
 
@Randal'Thor Andy's mom was in a couple weeks back and her hotel room had bed bugs...
 
1:16 AM
@Catija JNat is the Portuguese guy. Japanese would be jmac.
@Randal'Thor Shouldn't be too difficult when employing a reasonable dictionary.
Afterall there's leagues of languages who employ the Latin alphabet. Going by letters would be really infeasible.
 
@NapoleonWilson : all CMs should have easily distinguishable names.
 
1:45 AM
@Randal'Thor Just watch, this year for April fools they'll all switch back to "user####"
 
 
2 hours later…
3:37 AM
@BESW Both parts were very interesting. You probably posted that for the discussion about the intentional fallacy, right? ....I always kinda wondered about Susan (did I see a discussion about her, here?)
Ah, here it is
 
4:36 AM
@Randal'Thor I tried three times to change my avatar today, didn't work
Never mind, just got it to work
 
5:32 AM
1
Q: Identify novel/travelogue (18th cent?) ft. anecdote about haunted painting

LizApologies for posting an identify-this. I would very much appreciate your help - this has been an unsolved mystery for years. I'm trying to identify a novel or travelogue, possibly 18th century, possibly translated from French, which features as a significant tangent the story of a haunted paint...

 
 
2 hours later…
7:38 AM
'The Best of @etangata' edited by Tapu Misa & Gary Wilson http://bwb.co.nz/books/best-e-tangata #BWBTexts
That's a collection of essays and articles by Māori, Pasifika and Pākehā writers discussing and analysing New Zealand and Pasifika issues.
 
 
5 hours later…
12:27 PM
They simply went to the article that was linked and copy pasted.
And demanded a bounty.
 
@Hamlet You may be taking the "fallacy" part of the intentional fallacy a little too literally.
It's, in my opinion, a misuse of logical jargon outside of its appropriate context to lend a critical lens a patina of objectivity.
 
1:34 PM
@Mithrandir Urghhhh. I'm tempted to protect that question, but protected and bountied may not be a good mix.
 
@Randal'Thor I was considering that too.
But why wouldn't protected/bountied be a good mix?
 
@Mithrandir It gives kind of a mixed message. "Hey, come and answer this question - we're willing to give away rep for a really good answer! ... oh, wait, actually, we're not letting you answer it at all."
But if it keeps getting really bad answers like that, we'll have to protect it anyway :-/
 
It'll get autoprotected...
@Randal'Thor well, the message sorta helps against that - it's to reward an existing answer...
 
@Mithrandir Oh right, I hadn't noticed that.
Protected.
 
2:11 PM
@Mithrandir I'm guessing that's the same guy who asked Hamlet for that other bounty, but with a different account.
 
@HDE226868 I'm also guessing it's the "help a postgraduate student write a book" person.
 
@Randal'Thor Yeah, possibly.
 
Even though we're all blue, this isn't TL. Can't tell you :P
 
 
1 hour later…
3:30 PM
@Mithrandir nice puzzle lol
 
@Riker ...was that sarcastic?
 
nope
just thought it was funny
 
;)
I'm considering making a sequel, since this one wasn't that good.
 
lol
 
4:29 PM
What the hell happened to the room tags?
 
 
3 hours later…
7:12 PM
0
Q: A pair of children decide that their neighbor is a witch and convince her to try flying

Sean DugganI believe I checked this out from our library in Kentucky somewhere between 1986 and 1995. I remember it as a short book, less than a hundred pages, maybe less than thirty. A pair of children (at least. There could have been more. And I don't remember if they were related to each other) decide th...

 
You know, we should probably come up with a way of properly asking a story-ID. And I think there's no shame in copying it from SFF
 
7:33 PM
@Gallifreyan Agreed.
:) The question is going over like a lead balloon right now, but that's alright by me. I know that ID questions are always a little bit considered with suspicion even in sites where it flourishes like the SF&F SE.
 
0
Q: Is Deeper Magic something more than God (Emperor beyond the Sea) in Narnia?

foggyWhen Aslan is asked why he has to die in the The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, he answers something in the sense that there is a "deeper magic" that he has to obey. Has Lewis stated there that there is some kind of logic above God?

 
I think we should just ban story-id questions. The agreement we made is that we would allow them if they didn't flood the site, and right now they're flooding the site. There's no good way to ask a story-id question, they're all bad questions and should be banned
 
@FuzzyBoots Well, maybe because it flourishes. ;-)
 
@Hamlet: I'll respectfully disagree. I've seen where it can work.
@NapoleonWilson: Ha. True that. The difference between grass and weeds is that some people like having grass grow on their lawn while others consider it a nuisance.
 
@Hamlet I violently disagree. There are 16 Story-ID questions out of total 500-odd questions; so far they've all been good, not to mention some exemplary ones
 
7:42 PM
I "violently" agree. Kill them before they destroy the site.
 
Name one good story-id question on this site that is useful to anyone other than the OP
 
@Hamlet It's too early on this site, but on Science Fiction & Fantasy a lot of story id questions got “me too” answers
 
@Hamlet further story ID askers?
 
I was willing to give them a chance, but story-id questions are about half of the new questions being asked recently.
 
Which could be argued as an indication that they're useful, if people are asking.
 
7:48 PM
@Hamlet I see story-IDs as a sort of legalised recommendation. People see the descritpion of a story - they go read it. WE popularise works here, folks! I say that is beneficial
 
Eh, but as stated, perhaps time will tell. I do think that there might be virtue in doing the same sort of pruning as on the Movies SE where older queries where the user is not participating are removed. Although, SF&F providing counter-examples again, we've had long dormant questions answered years later and the OP coming back to accept it.
 
Oh, goody... Now you get to read the epic tale, Why did Literature fail? (spoiler: we tried this whole thing once before...) — Shog9 ♦ Jan 18 at 18:05
 
@Hamlet I don't see an abundance of story-IDs as bad. As long as they're good, they're useful
 
33
A: What do we think about story identification?

Shog9Identification questions are like... The cabbage, radishes and shredded carrots that some sushi shops put on the platter before stacking up the meat & rice. They make the plate look nice and full, and they're something to chew on once you've eaten all the meat... ...But no one goes to a sushi r...

@Gallifreyan the story-id questions on this site aren't very good. And I would also argue that the story-id questions on Science Fiction and Fantasy are also not very good
I can accept story-id questions if they're for a clear research purpose or if they're to contribute to our understanding of literature (e.g. what's the first book to do [x]). I'm not OK with "I can't remember this story, I want to read it again, please find it for me", because they don't help very many people compared to the attention they get.
 
@Hamlet maybe. I think it is too early to tell. 16 identification questions is, in my opinion, to small a sample size
 
7:58 PM
{nods} And I respect that opinion. But out of the two Meta posts you've put up, the consensus seems to be "the site can't survive if this is all that there is", which is probably true. To stretch the metaphor, instead of banning the cabbage and radishes, we need to add more meat to the site.
 
I've noticed that most of the top questions consistently have 2 +/- 1 downvotes, which is odd. I hope people aren't downvoting because they feel they shouldn't be on the site. That's counterproductive and makes it harder to evaluate quality.
Most of the time though, I just find them boring. I see them, think "Eh, maybe I'd read something like that someday", then move on. And I'd bet others do the same. Perhaps that speaks to how useless - or useful - they can be.
 
@Gallifreyan That's because you don't consider the other questions and what this abundance does with a site's community and how it distorts the brand of what the site is about. Basically you can bed all your awesome "literary analysis" discussions about site scope good night once the site has become a quiz show.
 
:) Or, to take the metaphor a slightly different direction, complaining that there's lettuce in your lamb salad doesn't mean that the restaurant is a bad place to eat because their salads don't have what you want in them.
{glances over at the side where there's a message stating to only star interesting comments... followed by two link-only comments} :)
 
@NapoleonWilson I'd be interested to wait a month and see a graph of the fraction of questions over 31 days or so. If it's steadily increasing, we have a problem, and I would support banning them - because I think you're going to be absolutely right.
 
That being said, I agree it might be too early to see them as a problem yet. My fear is, though, that once the problem becomes apparent it might already be too late.
 
8:04 PM
@NapoleonWilson as it was pointed out in comments somewhere, books and films are different. It's different to have read a book than to have seen a film. I would like to believe that book-ID questions are fundamentally different because they require more memory stretching
@NapoleonWilson if I may ask, why haven't you banned story-IDs completely on M&TV yet?
 
@Gallifreyan That just means the individual questions might be better, which doesn't change their general impact on site scope and brand. It might also mean they are just rarer, which would indeed be a good thing.
 
@HDE226868 My impression has been that story-id questions have steadily increasing and drawing attention away from other, more important questions. I think we should probably wait a few weeks to see if that's a lasting trend, but I don't think this trend is good for a site.
 
@Gallifreyan Because it's motherfriggin' difficult when they have become as much of a factor.
Also, we approached the latest attempt to get rid of them in a wrong way and not as progressively as SE told us afterwards we should have.
 
@NapoleonWilson burninate all questions with less than 5 upvotes
 
@Hamlet I agree. One quarter of story-id questions have been asked in the past two days . . . but that's only four data points out of sixteen total. We have two options: Start dealing with them quickly, avoiding the problem Napoleon brought up of killing them when they grow, or waiting to see if it's more than a statistical blip - appealing, but only if we think waiting won't cause any problems.
Having no data for the current site is frustrating.
 
8:09 PM
@Gallifreyan Although, that faces the same problem HDE was indicating, that even a good question sometimes attracts downvotes because people don't like that sort of question. Or are you suggesting just the upvotes and not the aggregate score? Although, then one does run into the problem of users habitually upvoting anything they click into... :) Don't you hate it when every question raises more questions?
@HDE226868 Ah. No one with sufficient privileges to do data queries yet?
 
@FuzzyBoots Well, no, just that 16 data points over more than a month isn't very significant. :P So, we do have data, but it's not very useful, and not necessarily indicative of the future.
 
^_^ Ah.
On the plus side, it looks like we already sport a 50% acceptance rate, which is good.
Anyhow, I think we've all spoken our piece on it. No consensus yet, but that's not unusual for weighty (non-trivial) questions.
 
I agree with Hamlet. I find identification questions boring. And if the site is supposed to appeal to experts, well, an identification question doesn't qualify. Either I've read the book and so can identify it readily, or I need to do the same sort of research the OP should have done before posting the question.
In neither case is any expertise required. The fact that SFF has tons of them that get Me too! comments tells me only that identification questions belong on a forum, not a Q&A site.
How does a Me too! comment add to the discussion on a Stack site? They are specifically considered poor quality comments on most.
 
Have we looked at any examples except SFF? Like rpg.se's content-id tag? SFF isn't exactly a paragon of community behaviour and well-implemented policy, I wouldn't take it seriously as the only data point for much of anything.
I'm late to the party and haven't read the whole log, so maybe we have.
But I've seen a broader trend around here to give SFF more weight than I think it really deserves.
 
8:24 PM
Between all the ID questions, the Narnia questions, the LoTF questions, the children's book questions, and the 1984 questions, this site does seem to have rather a problem generating questions about, y'know, literature. (he said dismissively)
@BESW good point.
 
I think we're also running acropper of what it means to be an expert.
There was a time when we were defining "expert" for this site as people who really like to read.
2
For the purposes of this argument, that seems to have changed and I'm not sure why.
 
@BESW How do you mean?
 
I don't know how much I agreed with that definition, but it was certainly more... welcoming.
@HDE226868 Immediately above, for example: "if the site is supposed to appeal to experts, well, an identification question doesn't qualify"
 
@BESW Ah, yes. I don't think that definition was bouncing around before that message, but I could be wrong.
 
Wouldn't someone with experience browsing and searching collections of books be better at finding a book based on a description?
 
8:29 PM
@BESW I've no idea what definition of expert the site was using; perhaps my comment was OT.
 
@HDE226868 I've seen a slow move toward "people with analytical experience" over "people with reading experience" as the site's expected experts based on comments, voting, etc.
I don't know how I feel about that, but it seems deeply relephant to this conversation.
 
{really wants to find some sort of a "relephant in the room" joke to crack... but is failing}
 
@verbose wtf? How does story identification not appeal to experts?
 
@BESW I think that that view is going to propagate if people try to defend analysis questions over story ID questions. I'm not sure which comes first, though - the definition or the justification for it.
 
As I said, either it's trivial or it shows a lack of research effort, or both.
 
8:32 PM
Are well-read people and librarians not considered experts here? Not to the same level as literature professors, sure, but they do have some level of expertise.
@verbose You said that, yes. But it's wrong.
Story identification questions are very hard to research.
 
2 days ago, by BESW
Googling is a skill like any other, and it's even possible to be good at Googling one kind of thing but bad at Googling another. So being able to Google up an answer is one of the things our experts can do.
 
@Gilles In my mind, it depends on the specific story-id question. The questions along the lines of "I read a book but I can't remember what it is" aren't questions I want to encourage. This isn't because I think they're easy to answer (I actually think they're hard). But because they aren't helpful to very many people relative to the time we put into them.
 
@Hamlet [citation-needed]
 
"Too localised" is not a close reason.
 
In contrast, here's an example of a story-id question that's relevant to people other than the OP. mythology.stackexchange.com/questions/972/…. An answer (or a lack of an answer) would prove or disprove a theory about interpreting the bible.
 
8:36 PM
244
Q: Closing changes: on hold, unclear, too broad, opinion-based, off-topic reasons, bye-bye to Too Localized

JaydlesAfter a ton of discussion, work and input from the community, we're rolling out the remainder of major closing changes that you've helped us design, as discussed in these prior posts. They're live, network-wide RIGHT NOW!!! See also: http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2013/06/the-war-of-the-closes/ ...

 
@BESW I think the concept of “too localized” is a valid reason to close, but when it was an official close reason, it got massively overused. People were using it to mean “I have no use for this question” instead of “nobody but the asker has any use for this question”.
 
do questions need to be helpful for the community as a whole? some obscure russian piece of lit has a question asked, and someone finds the answer, but since 99% of the users arnt Russian nor read Russian lit that question is ~ not helpful to the community as a whole. we still encourage this question, i see ID being in the same boat, just because YOU dont find it helpful doesnt mean the author, nor potentially someone else down the road finds it helpful.
 
Leading to such ridiculous interpretations as “this question is only relevant to people in one country, it's too localized!”
 
@Gilles They're hard to research only if the OP doesn't provide relevant information. And with that info, it's trivial.
 
@verbose Not sure I agree with that.
 
8:39 PM
@verbose 1. The amount of information in the question is part of the question. 2. Why do you keep repeating that? It isn't true.
 
@BESW I'm not quite talking about story's being "too localised". I'm talking about story-id questions not really contributing our site's knowledge base about literature or teaching people about literature.
> The last time we tried this, we ended up with mostly bland vegetables: ID questions, reading lists, etc. Folks enthusiastically defended them, until they realized that they were bored and so was everyone else; the site was shut down because pretty much everyone left. There was no traffic, no new thought-provoking questions or meaty topics... Just an increasingly dusty pile of limp trivia that had been chewed on and spat out.
2
 
2 days ago, by BESW
Personally I think quote/story ID questions are an important and valid part of this site's set of services, and would only become a problem if they somehow drowned out all other topics. Which I don't see happening.
 
The only type of story identification questions that are easy to research are when the question got the title mostly right. That happens on Science Fiction & Fantasy sometimes — people ask for a short story where they've more or less remembered the title, and you can look it up on ISFDB. But it's a rare case.
 
2 days ago, by BESW
In fact, ID questions are probably most Stack-like kind of questions we're liable to get, in the 'actionable solutions to actual problems' sense.
 
@verbose I don't agree with that either. They're quite difficult to answer.
 
8:41 PM
@verbose So there are cases where story-id is legitimately hard to answer AND isn't trivial, even by your standards.
 
@BESW I disagree, why isn't "how can I interpret this text" an "actionable solution to actual problem". Interpreting things is a real-world problem: we have to interpret what people say to us, what politicians/the media say to us, etc. etc. Regardless, we're a site about literature, why are we so hung up about questions having to be about the "real world"?
 
@Hamlet Because we're a Stack site, which is structured for exactly that. Whenever a Stack is about abstract or speculative topics, it struggles.
 
Well okay then. I must be wrong about that. I'm thinking, though, of a question like this one about the Canterbury Tales. The OP hadn't given us any clue about when the poem might have been written, the sort of language used in the poem, or even where it might originally have been found.
The only way to answer that question is if the answerer recognizes the poem on sight. A later addition said the poem might be by Christopher Morley. Well, in that case it is trivial to look through Morley's works and see if that poem exists.
 
And you're absolutely right that literature can be about real-world interpretation, but if you've seen half of what I say on this chat you'll know I'm at loggerheads with literary academia because it doesn't engage meaningfully with the rest of the world even when it tells itself it does.
So many of our questions, for example, are just asking us to sift through an author's extra-textual statements and wave our hands wildly at what they said instead of dealing with how the text interacts with anyone else beyond the author.
2
 
@BESW That's why I've been pushing very hard for us to abandon the intention = meaning approach to literature.
 
8:47 PM
That's not any more expert or less trivial than what @verbose is talking about.
@Hamlet Yeah, but you're taking a hard-line stance that authorial intent isn't legit, rather than a more reasonable attitude that it's one possible lens amongst many.
That's not gonna win over anybody.
 
@BESW I don't think I'm taking a hard-line stance. I'm fine with answers that discuss intent. I'm not fine with answers that say "author x said this, we're done."
Although maybe there's a better way for me to communicate that.
 
mmm.
That's a bit off topic for this conversation though.
The Stack Exchange structure isn't built for mature literary analysis, pure and simple. Our potential for success relates directly to our ability to (a) find elements of literary discussion which DO fit the Stack structure, and (b) hack the Stack structure to fit literary discussion.
(a) is much MUCH easier than (b) since we don't actually have access to the Stack's mechanical structures and can only hack our interaction with them.
 
@BESW I don't know if I agree with that. There's plenty of mature literary analysis over at the Mythology Stack Exchange. We even got some academics who participated.
Unfortunately, our activity is very depressed right now, but that's a different issue.
 
Then why aren't we talking more about what works at mythology.se and less about what works at sff.se and movies.se?
 
@BESW I wish we were.
Part of the problem is that mythology.se's meta is very confusing and there's no consensus about what worked for the site.
 
8:55 PM
You could lead the charge.
 
Is there a myth-identification tag? 😐
 
Also, the site is weird because "mythology" isn't really a field of study.
@verbose yeah. It's very hit or miss.
 
Yeah, like "literature" is a field of study. Much as people might want to believe otherwise.
 
@BESW if you define literature as "a field of study surrounding the use of literary criticism" I think it works
 
But that's not how we're defining literature.
 
8:57 PM
:(
 
How many users would know a close read if it bit them on the butt?
 
On the positive news for the site, we got a good question today
2
Q: Is Deeper Magic something more than God (the Emperor beyond the Sea) in Narnia?

foggyWhen Aslan is asked why he has to die in the The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, he answers something in the sense that there is a "deeper magic" that he has to obey. Has Lewis stated there that there is some kind of logic above God?

I guess one of the harmful things about these story-id questions is they take oxygen away from good questions like this.
 
If our experts are "people who like to read" then our field can't be "the use of literary criticism."
@Hamlet Numfar! Dance the Dance of Sifting Through the Author's Extra-Textual Statements!
It's an interesting question, but once again it's not analysis.
It's "Tell me what the author said."
 
@BESW I'm hoping that answers can ignore the "what has Lewis said" part
 
Then they won't be answering the question.
 
9:02 PM
@Hamlet But that's the actual question in the body, "Has Lewis stated there that there is some kind of logic above God?"
 
If you want answers like that, ask the querent if they're really interested exclusively in Lewis's statements or if they're open to other means of investigating the issue, and prompt them to edit accordingly.
 
Let's see how people react to this:
0
Q: What is C. S. Lewis' opinion about homosexuality?

HamletHas C. S. Lewis ever written about homosexuality? What is his opinion about it?

 
Otherwise I will personally flag every answer which doesn't cite Lewis's statements about the issue as Not An Answer.
@Hamlet Off topic.
 
@BESW will it be closed?
 
I'm VTCing it.
 
9:05 PM
If people close this, then maybe we can move forward on questions that confuse intentions with meaning
 
If it's on topic, then I get to ask what Baum thinks about genderqueer folk.
 
I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about an author's opinion, not related to his works. — Riker 10 secs ago
 
@Hamlet That feels like a question about Einstein's favorite eggs because it's not about the author's work.
 
best phrasing I could find but not optimal
 
@BESW saying The Stack Exchange structure isn't built for mature literary analysis, pure and simple is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Certainly we've had answers here that show mature literary analysis, for example this one.
3
But if we Stack the deck, as it were, toward the sorts of questions and answers that don't require such analysis, then yeah, that's what we're gonna get.
2
 
9:10 PM
A good answer rarely saves a bad question, and a good example doesn't make the structure any more sound. The Stack's not built for the kind of dialogue and debate which makes literary analysis more than just people shouting their opinions at each other.
 
7
Q: What to do about questions that confuse author's intentions with a text's meaning?

HamletWe've been getting a lot of questions that confuse authors' intentions with a text's meaning. For example, the question Did Shakespeare consider Julius Caesar a tyrant or a martyr? is actually two questions: (1) what meaning did Shakespeare intend for Julius Caesar to have, and (2) what meaning d...

 
Notice how there's only one answer there?
 
À propos of nothing, and just for the hell of it I'm thinking of asking a question about whether Ant-man is a myrmidon. But I can't decide whether it belongs on Literature, Mythology, Movies, or SFF.
Maybe I'll ask it on all four....
The fact that there's just one answer there != there's no room for debate. There are multiple good answers to other questions; for example, both your answer and mine to the Verne question were well received.
 
Yes, but we didn't disagree.
 
@verbose Any HNQ question should be removed from the dataset when making a decision.
It's not representative of the majority of site questions.
 
9:13 PM
the question wouldnt really fit movies well, since they can only draw from movie ant man
 
The test of the site as a medium for mature literary analysis lies in what happens when competing interpretations are posited.
 
That kind of has happened
6
Q: Why does Robert Frost contradict himself in "The Road Not Taken"

HamletIn Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" (which you can read online), the narrator gives two contradictory reasons for taking a particular fork in the road. At the beginning of the poem, the narrator emphasizes that both roads are essentially equal. The narrator specifically states that both...

 
I don't know about competing, but we have had complementary. How about the question about Julius Caesar?
 
3
Q: What is Jack's crown?

James JenkinsThe English nursing rhyme "Jack and Jill" has several verses. The first verse is: Jack and Jill went up the hill To fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown, And Jill came tumbling after What is Jack's crown?

 
Literary analysis is almost definitionally not a Stack-worthy concept because multiple divergent lenses can be applied to the same question and arrive at equally credible but completely contradictory conclusions.
 
9:14 PM
-1
Q: What is C. S. Lewis' opinion about homosexuality?

HamletHas C. S. Lewis ever written about homosexuality? What is his opinion about it?

 
And you know what the Stack says about questions where every answer can be equally good?
 
@Bookworm well, it got mod hammered, but at the consensus seems to be that the question is off topic, so there's that
 
The fact that they both seem credible doesn't mean that they are equally credible. I'd dispute the contention that there are no wrong answers as long as your lens is defensible.
 
@BESW That depends on where it falls in the Good Subjective, Bad Subjective spectrum.
 
hammer time!
cc @Mithrandir
 
9:16 PM
@BESW there are some good questions on the Myth stack that have divergent lenses.
 
was that the first question you hammered?
 
@verbose There's a big difference between "that doesn't ever happen" and "that doesn't always happen."
 
8
Q: Symbolism of Ixion's Punishment

HamletIxion is punished for loving Hera by being tied to a wheel that travels through the sky: Ixion fell in love with Hera and attempted to force her; and when Hera reported it, Zeus, wishing to know if the thing were so, made a cloud in the likeness of Hera and laid it beside him; and when Ixion ...

 
@Hamlet Well I voted to reopen....
 
@Bookworm Out of curiosity, was the question posted to make a point about what's a good interpretation question? :)
 
9:18 PM
@FuzzyBoots maybe
 
@Riker yep
 
congrats!
 
@verbose really?
 
@Mithrandir it's a ritual of becoming a true mod, the first question you mjolnir-ed to death
 
@Hamlet Yup.
 
9:19 PM
Oddly enough, it is a valid literature question, but one which I feel deserves the downvote because it shows little research.
 
user61230
@Riker The real rite of passage is being called a Nazi.
 
well that too
but there can be multiple
 
user61230
True. And you can't be called a Nazi until you close questions unilaterally ;)
 
@FuzzyBoots that's right, it does show little research, but that wasn't the cited reason for closing
 
*disappears to work on Station 4*
 
9:21 PM
Besides, it grew out of a question about Edmund where the answer did kinda lead directly to this question.
 
Hmm... part of the issue is that our tour states that the valid questions are about "literature", but we don't do a very good job of explaining what we mean by it. Here, we have a book where he explicitly stated his opinion, so I would argue that it is a literature question, and it is on topic.
 
A good answer rarely salvages a poor question.
 
user61230
What is meant by "literature" is an unclear and muddy part of the site. Very few questions are 100%, definitely about literature, and very few questions are blatantly off topic. In between, most questions are sitting in a sort of grey area.
 
user61230
That means that, in my opinion, trying to draw a line between "literature" and "not literature" is fundamentally the wrong way of going about it, and is one of the reasons we're facing so many problems with our definition.
 
eeyup.
RPG.SE has consciously chosen to not define RPGs, because any such definition will exclude some things that pass the smell test and include some things which don't.
 
9:26 PM
I guess I'm a bit curious now... I assume that the majority opinion was "off-topic" since that's what's displayed, but were there people who voted for it to be closed for other reasons such as "shows no research"?
@Hamlet: Do you feel you proved your point, whatsoever it was?
 
"Shows no research" is not a close reason.
 
user61230
I'm mulling over a proposal that instead makes the litmus test for topicality into, "would an answer to this question further the reader's understanding of a work (or works)?", which confers goal oriented benefits.
 
@FuzzyBoots I'm hoping that the reason it was closed because it's about an author's personal opinion, i.e. not about literature
@FuzzyBoots I'm not so much trying to prove a point as trying to test the community's opinion about something
 
@FuzzyBoots 3 for @Riker's other close reason, 1 for a generic off topic.
 
which was off-topic with a reason
 
9:29 PM
@Hamlet That's why I closed it...
 
o/ @ConorO'Brien shog's not in here atm
 
Although I am glad the question was closed, and I hope it stays closed
 
what is a ticker
 
@Emrakul Unfortunately this is where we get back to The Problem With Literature: its politicised, acculturated nature, the way interpretation is taught as a science rather than an art in lower-grade classes, the tendency of its professional adherents to become a self-fulfilling ouroboros of internal self-reference, all combine to give "literature" a false sense of definitive, objective reality.
 
@ConorO'Brien a type of feed
 
9:29 PM
{nods} Honestly, it seems to fit with the mild furforall on the SF&F SE where a question about sexual assault was closed not so much because they felt it was off-topic, but because people didn't like the subject content.
 
@BESW Well, analysis works well on movies.se, too, for that matter. But analysis wasn't the topic at hand to begin with.
 
this room doesn't have it because it's evil
 
oh ok
 
go find the hbar and wait a bit
 
Anyway, I'm trying to concentrate on creating a puzzle and it's 11:30 PM, so I'll by spottily in here.
 
9:30 PM
@FuzzyBoots Scifi does so many things badly that it would take too long to list them all
 
user61230
@BESW This seems like a side point to the litmus test. I would agree that that's an attitudinal problem, but it's not a flaw in the test.
 
user61230
brb, though, feel free to ping, will read & respond later
 
@ConorO'Brien The ticker option is a way to display an RSS feed in chat; instead of appearing as a post in the chat proper, a new RSS feed item can appear in a separate overlay box on the upper left-hand side of the chat which can be dismissed with a click.
 
{nods} I suppose I just feel that there'd be a less rapid response if it were, say, asking if Dickins expressed an opinion on socialism in his books.
 
@BESW ohhhh was that the controversy thing on meta a few (weeks?) ago?
 
9:32 PM
Anyhow, I've got to get going. Best of luck in resolving this. :)
 
@ConorO'Brien I dunno. There's always been some irrationally strong opinions about the ticker feed.
 
@Emrakul confused about why you would reopen that question. It's not about literature, it's about an author's personal opinion, so shouldn't it be off-topic?
 
(I like the ticker feed as an option that doesn't interrupt the flow of chat conversation. It's used to good effect in rpg.se general chat. I've yet to find anyone who can actually express in coherent language why they dislike the ticker, rather than simply insisting that its vile nature is obvious for all to see.)
 
@BESW I don't see how multiple disagreeing answers are in any way not fit for the Stack concept. Acceptance has never meant much on SE to begin with.
 
@Emrakul I like that.
 
9:34 PM
@Hamlet I vehemently disagree. 16 out of 533 is only 3% of questions on the site. Not only that, but almost all of them so far have been good, detailed and well-described, questions; I think I've only downvoted one or two of them.
 
But did you intend it to open the door to recommendation questions?
 
(I realise I'm late to this conversation.)
 
@Randal'Thor I'm SHOCKED! :)
 
@BESW “dismissed with a click”
 
The greatest questions are ones that lead to multiple contradictory but equally valid answers. That's why multiple answers are a good thing and why that number on the old Area51 stats only gets green when it reaches 2.
 
9:35 PM
I stopped hating ticker feeds the day I got a userscript to hide them
 
@BESW What does it say? I'd be interested to know.
 
8
Q: Symbolism of Ixion's Punishment

HamletIxion is punished for loving Hera by being tied to a wheel that travels through the sky: Ixion fell in love with Hera and attempted to force her; and when Hera reported it, Zeus, wishing to know if the thing were so, made a cloud in the likeness of Hera and laid it beside him; and when Ixion ...

 
@NapoleonWilson avoid asking
 
@BESW I have at least a few coherent reasons to dislike the ticker option: it's unsearchable and needs a click to get it off the screen, whereas oneboxes scroll naturally out of sight after a while and always remain in the chat transcript to be searched if necessary. Plus oneboxes can be ignored and ticker feeds can't (this isn't a reason for me personally, but it is for some people).
4
 
But that's for a narrow interpretation of “every answer can be equally good”. It's possible for a technical how-to question — the archetype that SO was created for — to have many equally-good answers.
 
9:39 PM
@Gilles "how can I implement [x]?" Answer: "you can do it this way, this way, or this way."
 
@Randal'Thor Also (related to remaining in the chat transcript) oneboxes can start a conversation in the room (you can reply to them to keep the linkage), and they stay behind as part of the conversation. If you can't do that then why associate the feeds to the chatroom?
2
 
@Gilles That's quite a bit too borad a conclusion to gain from that help article.
 
@Gilles Another good point.
 
6 mins ago, by Gilles
But that's for a narrow interpretation of “every answer can be equally good”. It's possible for a technical how-to question — the archetype that SO was created for — to have many equally-good answers.
 
@Gilles Yeah, I read that afterwards. I use to reply to stuff when I read it.
 
user61230
9:56 PM
@Hamlet Because an answer to that question informs further questions about Lewis' writing.
 
user61230
In principle, it serves to elucidate something that's otherwise unclear, and pertains to our understanding of an author's text.
 
so... the question should stay because the answer is good?
 
user61230
I don't think the question as is is very good. But I think it's relevant to literature, and I don't think it should be closed.
 
36 mins ago, by BESW
A good answer rarely salvages a poor question.
 
yeah that's what I was thinking, just making sure I understood correctly
 
user61230
10:07 PM
(That being said, I think the question is an XY problem. It would lead me to ask whether maybe the querent read something somewhere that caused them to ask this, and if so, if they should just ask about what they read, instead. But being XY doesn't make it off topic.)
 
Do remember, closing is not deleting.
A good answer is still available to the public even when it's on a poor--and therefore closed--question.
I see "It's a good answer, so don't close the question!" on a lot of sites and it just baffles me.
 
10:42 PM
Yet, if it's a question genuinely supposed to be closed, then it shouldn't be on the site and neither should its answer. Closing but keeping it around for the good and insightful answer seems a little...strange. We don't answer closed questions in comments either, since your question simply shouldn't be here nor should it get an answer here.
 
That's... kinda putting the cart before the horse.
We close questions to head off poor answers.
We re-open questions when they're improved.
We delete posts when it's clear they're not any benefit to the site at all and probably can't be improved.
 
I have no issue with the question being closed and/or deleted. I do have an issue with it being closed as being "Off-Topic" because I haven't yet heard any indication of why "Did this well-known author write about this notable subject and what did he say?" doesn't fit in the scope of Literature.
 
Deleting a good answer, whether it's not a bad question or not, would effectively be vandalising the site by removing good content.
@FuzzyBoots Okay, so let's break that down. "Well-known" is a red herring. We shouldn't use notability as a measure of topicality.
So we'll throw out "notable" also.
 
That's fair. :) "Did this author write about this subject and what did he say?" still sounds like it's in the scope of Literature.
 
Sure, in the abstract sense.
But we need to make a distinction between literature and Literature.
 
10:52 PM
I was going to post a Meta question about it, but we already have questions in place (without answers) for "What is Literature" and "Is this site about Literature or Literature Analysis" and I'm not sure of the best way to bump them up for discussion.
 
And Literature says reading recommendation questions are off topic.
 
@BESW Indeed. And if you believe that question has chance for improvement ever, you don't delete it. But if it is by any means 100% off-topic, leaving it around for an insightful but equally off-topic answer is problematic.
 
It's effectively asking "Does [book] on [topic] with [parameter] exist?"
 
Right. But that's not what the question is. It's a straightforward one of "Did he write about this in his books?"
 
@FuzzyBoots ...so "summarise a book so I don't have to read it" is on topic?
 
10:54 PM
:) This wouldn't be so problematic, of course, if we actually stated in our Tour that we only want high-falutin (joking, mostly) questions about the meaning of books.
@BESW Isn't that what just about every question asking something factual about a book or an author is about?
 
@FuzzyBoots Now we're getting to the juicy bits.
 
Literature is a site about literature, not about the people who write literature. Questions about authors' should be off-topic
4
 
We're dealing with questions like, "Is there a useful difference between asking if a book exists which has a thing in it, and asking if a thing is in a book we know to exist?"
 
{nods} If we decide that discussing an author's overall span of work is not germane to the discussion, that's something we need to indicate in somewhere it's documented.
 
Early on RPG.SE it was agreed that asking ANY question about real-life history or society was on topic so long as the querent needed to know it for a campaign. Things like "How common were household telephones in 1920s New England?"
 
10:58 PM
As it is, the current implementation feels like the smell test being administered in the same manner as a voting literacy test. "I can't tell you what literature is, but I know it when I see it and I don't think your kind has any business here."
 
A few years later, after seeing that while the meta discussion agreed it was on topic, the community was consistently downvoting and voting to close such questions, we revisited the issue.
It was determined, with a couple years' worth of experience to draw on, that such questions could only be considered on topic if they actually needed some measure of RPG experience or understanding to answer. By and large, real-life research questions became off-topic.
 
I'm surprised nobody has mentioned boat programming yet.
 
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