I keep seeing comments left on questions to the regard of:

I think this question would be more appropriate for the Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange


You should ask this on SFF instead

These comments are at best annoying and at worst undermine the potential for this site. Yes, we have a significant overlap with SFF, NO we don't need to promote that every five seconds.

If you see a comment like this, flag it as not constructive.

If the question has already been asked on another site (and it's not an exact duplicate), either provide a link to it stating as such, or provide an answer that references the other site.

  • 5
    As an SFF mod, I agree. SFF isn't going to suffer from not having these questions - it's already a large and thriving site. Literature, however, could suffer from having too much of its content shipped out to SFF. Personally, if I have a question which could fit equally well on either site, I'll probably lean towards posting it here unless there's a particular reason not to.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 0:23
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    This has been all but a policy statement on Stack Exchange for a very long time: See Respect the community - your own, and others’ Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 0:40
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  • @Randal'Thor - as one of the SFF's more (having-been-)active users, I second your assessment. If you exclude a small niche of "already asked there" questions, there's absolutely zero need to push any content to SFF if it is in scope here. Now, LINKING to related content is a good thing all-around.
    – DVK
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 1:54
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    @Randal'Thor : The one thing I might be worried about would be: We don't want Lit.SE overweighted to SF&F. A Lit.SE site that's 90-95% SF&F would be... not what we're aiming for here. But, I think we're fine for now.
    – Standback
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 5:52
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    @Standback Agreed. But I don't think we're in any danger of that. Not only do we have questions on a healthy mix of works, we also have users from a healthy mix of sites, not just book lovers from SFF.SE.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 13:48
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    @DVK Wow, that's unjust. You were raising a reasonable request and you were called out for it. Thanks for raising this question here though :)
    – fi12
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 1:08
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    Related: What do we do with science fiction and fantasy? Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 18:59

4 Answers 4


While there are issues concerning that these comments are promoting another site, and that these comments don't seem to realize that site scopes can overlap, there's a more serious issue going on. It has to do with how, exactly, Literature.SE is tending toward working, and why that's actually quite different than how SFF.SE works.

Asking a question on Literature Stack Exchange opens you up to a categorically different type of answer and perspective than Sci-Fi Stack Exchange does. Making these comments sort of assumes that the intent of the author was to get a specific kind of answer - i.e., the factual, "the author says X" or "text says X" answer that's usually a baseline requirement for posting on SFF.SE.

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with the kind of answer SFF provides, don't get me wrong - but answers on Literature have shown (with very good reason) that broader perspectives, and sometimes wholly subjective ones, are important to answers here, too. We have to start with the assumption that, if a question was asked here, it was asked here intentionally, because the OP was looking for a potentially different kind of answer than the kinds that SFF.SE can provide.

I'll grant that some questions make quite explicit that the sort of answer they're looking for here is the same as could be found on SFF.SE. When that happens, see the above. But, importantly, this isn't always true.

  • If this is the case, then the only comment about SFF that's OK is one that's explicitly asking whether the OP wanted an answer in Literature tradition or SFF tradition (perhaps, linking to this Meta answer)
    – DVK
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 1:32
  • It's probably rather the same thing as with the Movies & TV. I'd ask a question there if I expected the answer involve something more of the media — in that case, cinema — rather than of the generic SF&F — vis–à–vis the genre. E.g. compare the questions Why the greenish tint in the Matrix trilogy? and Is the basic premise of humans as a power source in The Matrix reasonable?. Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 9:51
  • However, as a point of contrast, consider that one example question which I cited from SF&F: had it been ‘Why was the premise of The Matrix what it was, and not something else?’, then I expect it would be better suited to the cinematic concerns of Movies & TV. Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 9:55

I did get a comment like that on my recent question, and I did find it a little annoying. I'm well aware of the scope of Science Fiction & Fantasy, and I've asked and answered a few questions there, so, like a lot of other folks here, I considered asking the question there but chose Literature instead, to give it a bit more activity. I've made the same choice on many other sites. Yes, they are not helping the site, and yes, I think people should stop making them.

I do want to note that I have seen some comments that state that such questions are on-topic on SFF, and say nothing more. I wouldn't flag these comments as unconstructive. The comment was unhelpful to me, but it might be helpful to someone new who doesn't know about SFF. We'll likely get more of those users when we go public - if we go public - and so they might benefit from that knowledge.

I also - for the record - encourage people to post questions here that are on-topic that they might otherwise have posted on other sites. We need to test out various topics and niche parts of the scope, and more content will, I think, improve those endeavors and the site as a whole.

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    The issue with the way it's worded is that it strongly implies that questions on-topic for SFF are off-topic here, or shouldn't be asked here, even if it's not explicitly stated.
    – user80
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 22:54
  • @Emrakul Duly noted and edited to state that I should have referred to other comments I've seen. Thank you.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 23:03
  • Gotcha! That edit covers it pretty nicely.
    – user80
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 23:03

Here's the perspective of the offending party (or at least one of them).

I don't think questions about the "lore" of SF and fantasy worlds will set the right tone for this site. (If the site were titled "books" instead of "literature," I would feel differently.) I'm imagining what, a year from now, the site would look like to someone who "does" literature for a living. Would they, taking a quick glance at the questions on the front page, recommend it as a place his or her students might find research leads and/or exemplar analyses? Or would they conclude that it's a trivia site for fans of books?

I think we should be promoting questions that treat SF and fantasy (and mythology, the Bible, etc.) as literature, but not those that treat them as a pile of facts.

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    ...I actually think you may be right. These questions may be about literature, but are they literary questions? We're importing the idea that factual questions are good questions from SFF, and it's going very unhealthily unchallenged.
    – user80
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 23:47
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    @Emrakul "These questions may be about literature, but are they literary questions?" - As said, if this makes them unsuitable here, then someone made a bad job of naming the Area51 site proposal. Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 23:49
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    @Christian We seem to be bumping into disagreements about site purpose quite a bit. In a while, if you're up for it, I would genuinely love to hear and talk about your thoughts on what professionals in literature do, and what the value of their work really is. Plus, what sorts of questions and problems they'd have in their work.
    – user80
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 0:02
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    @Emrakul While surely an interesting discussion, I fail to see its relevance for that matter. Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 0:04
  • As I commented to Kevin on my question, I think this is a valid point of discussion, and I would fully support a separate meta discussion on the matter. We've had a number of questions like the ones he's talking about, and they're certainly worth addressing. cc @Emrakul.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 0:33
  • @ChristianRau - great minds... :): "+1 for the last paragraph - although, it sounds like the site proposal might benefit from a more focused name (literature analysis) if the community's goal is indeed to focus on literature analysis and attracting literature professors, as seems to be the idea from some of the other posts on the proposal. – DVK Dec 15 '16 at 19:58"
    – DVK
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 1:35
  • @DVK Then maybe people should also have asked a few more questions about analysing songs, films, pottery,... during the actual definition phase of the proposal it seems. Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 1:38
  • @ChristianRau - should someone create a Meta question about renaming the site while we are still not in Public Beta?
    – DVK
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 1:39
  • @DVK About entirely repurposing the site from what it was supposed to be? I don't really know. Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 1:41
  • @ChristianRau - based on discussion on this Meta and on A51, I'm not sure it's repurposing.
    – DVK
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 1:48
  • @ChristianRau - meta.literature.stackexchange.com/questions/283/…
    – DVK
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 1:53
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    @ChristianRau The reason why it matters is because we need to know two things: 1. Why would a literature expert be interested in Literature.SE? 2. Why are we (you and I and every other SE beta user) here? Neither of those has An Answer, but I know I'm not the only one who suspects we just wanted to be SFF.SE, but for all kinds of books. The problem is, that's not what talking about literature means, and that isn't going to draw experts.
    – user80
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 4:39
  • (cc @HDE226868 just in case you're interested)
    – user80
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 4:41

Questions about elven-lore and the history of fantasy worlds and sci-fi universes should be booted to SFF.SE instanter, even during beta. Start as you mean to go on. However, questions about the usage of tropes such as faster-than light travel and time travel may well make a very good fit here. It all depends on the question.

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