The question, https://literature.stackexchange.com/questions/734/did-the-events-of-the-last-of-the-light-brigade-actually-occur was voted to be closed. It was specifically asking about the experiences of the authors as it may relate to an event, though in this case it was specifically asking if an event occurred, as reported by the authors.

It seems like following the reasoning that this is off-topic, does that also mean all similar discussions are off-topic? Hemingway's personal experience reporting on the Spanish Civil War and how that impacted For Whom the Bell tolls? Were certain real events changed for the book? How were they changed? Why were they changed?

Should these discussions be off-topic?

1 Answer 1


This meta question seems confused and/or misleading, because of the example it offers: the mainsite question as stated was not about the author's personal experience, but about historical accuracy. The only reason it's related to the author's personal experience is that the question artificially limited the support it would accept for answers.

I suspect the site will come down on welcoming questions about an author's experience, and perhaps this particular mainsite question can be modified to be more clear why it considers only authorial sources to be valid. (eg, what if the old soldier's diary can be cited? The question would apparently discount that evidence.)

  • The main site question stated "Do we have any evidence from Kipling or Alfred Tennyson about whether the events actually occurred?" What is "artificial" about that?
    – Paul
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 5:25
  • Because it's unclear why the querent is focused on authorial testimony; wouldn't evidence from other sources about the accuracy of events be just as useful? It seems like the focus on authorial statements is just an attempt to keep it on topic here, while actually crippling an answerer's ability to give a full response on the topic.
    – BESW
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 5:28
  • That is not the reason that was stated in the comments, and no, it would not necessarily be just as useful. Seems more like something for a comment discussion in the main site question before closing the question, no?
    – Paul
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 5:30
  • I'm not the person who made the comments, and now we're getting into confusion over why it's important to close questions quickly. You may want to be more clear on whether you're challenging a single question's closing, or proposing a topicality discussion. Doing both at once is messy, at best, and usually winds up with neither being addressed usefully.
    – BESW
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 5:32
  • I stated nothing about the time to close the question. I stated that some things can be hashed out in comments.
    – Paul
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 5:35
  • I was also trying to point out that your answer suggests information not present in the question or its comments. That is why I asked my question, because from my apparently totally ignoramus position, it looks like questions on an author's relation to events are off-topic.
    – Paul
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 5:38
  • Since you did vote to close the main site question, any feedback as to why you didn't address the assumptions with the user asking the question? Or even my comment that I left on the question?
    – Paul
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 5:45
  • I hope that the querent's edits or comments in response to doppelgreener's suggestions will clarify the issue; if they don't, I'll add my two cents, but I don't see any point in dogpiling the querent at the start. Greener's comments are very cogent and may well help clear things up without my stepping in.
    – BESW
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 6:17
  • I'm sorry my statements here offended you, that was not my intention. Meta questions do need to be pretty closely honed, though, or discussions get very fragmented. I'll do what I can to clarify my answer when I have some time.
    – BESW
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 6:20

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