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There seems to be two conflicting opinions about the purpose and scope of the site that I trace in Meta (and Area51) discussions and comments.

  • Is this site focused on Literature Analysis as its primary purpose and scope?

  • Or is it focused on any questions about literature, but Literature Analysis is a helpful addition to the mix?

I'm OK with (and see pros and cons of) either one, but reading Meta and A51, I am quite confused which one am I supposed to be OK with.

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    Another way to think about this which may be useful to answerers is, "What does literature expert mean for this site?" – BESW Jan 24 '17 at 1:55
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    I believe that to focus on literature is to include literary analysis, but to focus on literary analysis is to exclude much of literature. – Benjamin Jan 24 '17 at 1:57
  • @BESW - if you can figure out a neat way to edit that into the question, please feel free to. Totally agree with that angle. – DVK Jan 24 '17 at 2:01
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    @Benjamin Flesh that comment out a bit and it could make a good answer. – Rand al'Thor Jan 24 '17 at 2:04
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    I hope a well-reasoned contrary answer is posted as well, so people can choose. – DVK Jan 24 '17 at 2:26
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    It's also worth noting that the definition that starts in Area 51 does not necessary continue through, or stay consistent during, private beta. We're under no obligation to remain loyal to the Area 51 vision. – Aza Jan 24 '17 at 2:45
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    I'm a little bit confused by what the difference is between Literature and Literature Analysis. Literature Analysis just means studying literature to find out what it means. – user111 Jan 24 '17 at 4:14
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This is an issue of whether to be inclusive or to be exclusive, because in my view to focus on literature is to include literary analysis, but to focus on literary analysis is to exclude much of literature. I believe that based off of the questions we have. and it is my belief that is what should define us: not the stated will of the people, but rather their actions. It makes the most sense that we include all literature as our scope with literary analysis as the kernel at the center.

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Be as inclusive as possible

I think that we need to be as inclusive as possible, if only to attract a good number of visitors to the site. If we made it exclusively about literary analysis, the site might quickly fold.

However, being inclusive inevitably raises the question "what constitutes literature?" Everyone will have their own answer to this. If the site becomes flooded with low-value questions, we may decide as a community to exclude certain genres and types of questions. For example, basic questions about science fiction and fantasy works can be migrated to SFF.SE.

One big problem with having too much inclusivity is that it may deter real experts in literary analysis from contributing to the site, especially if they see a lot of questions about graphic novels and manga comics. We may be able to counter this with intelligent (and consistent) tagging. For example, analysis questions about Dickens should be tagged with literary-analysis, classics and charles-dickens. Experts can then zoom in on their own fields. Another draw may be to set plenty of bounties on high-value questions.

  • Not sure if I agree on your tagging suggestion. I'm generally rather against using general tags on questions about specific works, especially since there's a maximum of 5 tags per question. If you have a literary analysis question about comparisons between War and Peace and The Idiot, you can't tag it with leo-tolstoy AND fyodor-dostoevsky AND war-and-peace AND the-idiot AND comparison AND classics AND russian-literature AND literary-analysis. – Rand al'Thor Jan 24 '17 at 14:34
  • That's a pity, but specialists will need some way of finding questions that interest them -- sort the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. – Mick Jan 24 '17 at 15:38

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