One of the fun parts of analyzing creative works (at least, for me) is to trace the influences prior works and especially ideas have on later creators and creations.

How does one write a good question about influences in a way that would be a good question, good fit for SE format, and unquestionably in scope (including, if it's subjective, on the "good subjective" side?

I'm well aware of the obvious, but the most boring approach ("Did creator B openly and explicitly acknowledge the influence?"). What other approaches would work and what should the question asker do to ensure quality?

  • Why not try posting one and see how it's received? If it gets downvoted, we can talk about how to improve it. The advantage of private beta is that people who downvote usually stick around the site afterwards, so if you edit the question they're likely to see it and change their vote.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Jan 22, 2017 at 23:42
  • 1
    @Randal'Thor - this question is intended more as a durable long term FAQ that can be leveraged for a lot of posts, as opposed to "how do I fix a specific question of mine".
    – DVK
    Jan 22, 2017 at 23:51
  • Fair enough, but it'd still be nice to have a specific example to work from.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Jan 23, 2017 at 0:09
  • 2
    @Yannis Because questions of influence usually go deeper than that, and the question of "did the author explicitly state this?" tends to only scratch the surface.
    – user80
    Jan 23, 2017 at 0:55
  • @Yannis - the likelyhood of someone going above and beyond exactly what the question asked is lower.
    – DVK
    Jan 23, 2017 at 1:21
  • @Yannis The truth is, "yes," "no," and "maybe," can concretely and completely answer the question, "did the author explicitly state this?" Additional theoretical discussion, or the application of a critical lens to questions like whether we should believe the author at all, fall well outside the scope of the question and into the realm of superfluous information, if it's phrased that way. A good question, however, gives rise to answers that offer a complete discussion of the topic, not a partial one.
    – user80
    Jan 23, 2017 at 2:23
  • @Yannis - and that is precisely why I asked this Meta question. To serve as a guide
    – DVK
    Jan 23, 2017 at 2:29

1 Answer 1


I would try to go beyond a simple "Did X influence Y?", but some of this may not be any different than what is expected when asking any question. To me this resonates with the "Cultivate for Pearls", ask good questions to receive good answers.

  • Stack Exchange is about solving problems, expand on what your problem is and why you are having it (please don't start a "real problems" debate here). Maybe to phrase it better for this particular site, why does the question interest you, and why are you seeking an answer.
  • As always include what research you have done. If you have found similar writing styles, word usage, or themes include these quotes in your question. The more the merrier.
  • Expand on what kind of answer you are looking for. Your example of a direct quote may be the "boring" way, but it is also objective. On the other hand, it may not be the answer you really want. These questions may overlap into analysis.

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