This question was placed on hold. As you can see from the comments, I fiercely defended it and made the suggested changes, and yet certain users still claimed it was unsuitable. Please could someone explain why, and attempt to salvage what I feel would be an interesting discussion. It seems to have been prematurely halted by just the worst type of bureaucracy.

It has been consistently claimed that this will incite a 'list answer', which in this context seems to be unfairly attributed with negative connotations. I understand the need to discourage mindless lists, but examples posited in a well presented format like the one included in the question (hence its inclusion!) would seem more than appropriate for the answer.

I'd like to request that it be reopened, and people readdress the conditions in which it is appropriate to close down an answer.

  • I am not in favor but not against this question. So i have skipped the close and re-open both reviews. Lets see what other thinks. +1 for bringing it to meta.
    – Ankit Sharma Mod
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 13:33
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    @johnsmithoptional ... I think you argued against yourself more than you realized. In you original writ, you suggest inviting "discussion" ... As a Q&A site, it isn't about discussion. It's about explanation and answers. Discussion is about conjecture. The questions, IMHO, should be about finding truth and not about speculation. I am not saying it doesn't sometimes devolve into discussion, but this is not the purpose of the site. Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 14:09
  • Not having cast any votes (mine are final) however I will point you to this meta.SO post about list questions, effectively saying they are not a fit for the SE way of doing things
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 14:17
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    @TylerShads Please also see this. Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 14:53
  • @Paulster2, I agree with you entirely, but feel as though this question DOES HAVE, to some extent at least, an 'Answer'. However, whilst we can both agree that questions often 'devolve into discussion', the main criticism of my question seems to be my open and frank acceptance that this is the destination the topic will arrive at... and rightly so, perhaps. I DON'T see this question (eventually) moving beyond its remit and into a forum to be a negative...some people seem to. Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 0:51
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    The problem I see with this question is that it solely asks for examples, i.e. name scene and episode, it does not ask about an analysis, e.g. what does it's use mean/symbolise?. - Allowing finite list questions can be problematic, because where do we draw the line? How finite does a list have to be? Less than 10 examples are o.k., 15 are too many?
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 10:47
  • If someone was to produce a list of 15+ examples, all researched and presented appropriately, I would be ecstatic. As it stands, no one has been permitted to provide a single answer yet, so it seems we'll never know how exhaustive the list could be. As for lack of analysis, I'd love to see some conjecture included, but everyones gripe with this question is that it already invites too subjective an answer.. Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 11:35
  • We allowed this question which asked pretty much the same thing about a different movie... It required a list to prove a point. It increased the viewer's appreciation of the film. I think we have to consider that there is more than one kind of list, and some kinds of lists are actually a great fit here, and MUCH more interesting than the identify questions and minutia that we do welcome!
    – MJ6
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 23:35
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    @coleopterist Just because SFF adopted their own policy does it mean we have to follow it. M.SO overrides all other SE's as it is (currently) the de facto Meta.SE. That doesn't mean we can't change either but that is for a separate meta discussion.
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 14:15
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    @MaryJoFinch That Q&A combo in particular are of a different nature. The question did not require a list but the answer provided a list of examples and answered the question that was present. Much different than what this question is asking for.
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 14:15
  • @TylerShads shrug You cited an MSO post as if it was the rule of law around here and I'm citing an SFF policy which demonstrates that it isn't. We have more in common with SFF (and possibly AnimeSE) than any other stack. Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 14:31
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    I cite MSO because its where we derive rules that we ourselves don't have policy. That SFF post signifies that each SE can have different rules, which is why I said if we want a different policy than what is on MSO, we can make our own meta and decide there.
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 14:32
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    I have started a meta discussion for this...
    – MJ6
    Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 15:49

3 Answers 3


@John Smith Optional is asking for examples of classic Western influences in Breaking Bad in support of the creator's statement that such influences exist. This is a far more interesting question than most that are asked on this site. It references a series that is highly popular and might bring fans to the site. It may not have one perfect right answer, but many of our questions don't. It CAN yield a best answer. It can also yield a researched answer - quite possibly Vince Gilligan or others involved in the show have said more on the topic.

The goal of stackexchange, as I am wont to remind folks, is to create a library of questions and answers. When you go to a library, you don't expect a one-to-one correspondence between questions and answers. You expect to find multiple sources from which you can choose the answer you think best. There is an unwarranted fear here that lists and discussions could get out of hand and therefore must be avoided at all costs. If this question elicits even 5 answers I will be surprised! And one of those answers just might increase viewers' enjoyment of the show, which is the goal of movies.stackexchange.

In the interest of growing the site, I think we need to be less pedantic about the rules. In the interest of making the site more interesting, I think we need to reopen this question! (smile)

Now I am going to start looking for answers to this very interesting question in the hopes that it is reopened!

  • @ Mary Jo Finch, you have actually made my day! I was beginning to give up hope that there were people on this site that were actually here to find interesting points of debate/discussion/!ANSWERS TO CLEARLY POSITED QUESTIONS!, rather than people who were just the seemingly pedantic custodians of arbitrary rules! Thank you, and the others who have contributed their support, for submitting your voice! I'M NOT INSANE!! HALLELUJAH! Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 0:41
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    An exception to a rule will set an example, and future askers of list question could point at this one and say "Hey, if this list question is o.k., why was mine closed?" And saying this list question was o.k because it's about a popular show does beg the question: how popular does a show have to be to merit an exception?
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 10:32
  • @Oliver_C, but as we've already established, there is NO rule against 'Lists', just a lot of posts discouraging them because they are so often done badly. If someone posts a poorly presented/researched list, just vote it down! Otherwise, lets see how good of an answer someone can produce.. Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 11:41
  • Also, I think by 'popular' Mary Jo is hinting at how relevant the question is. If you'd read the OP links, you'd see that only a few days ago the shows creator effectively challenged viewers to play 'spot the references': ive brought that to this forum because I thought posters would relish the opportunity, but so far its been derailed entirely due to some overzelous formatting rules! Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 11:52
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    @Oliver_C It IS possible that future askers of list questions MIGHT happen upon this amongst the 3000+ questions and cite it, at which point we might have to explain how their question is different than this one. We should not be eliminating a good question based on the fear of some possible future request. A question like "What is the best Western of all time?" is the type of list question we are trying to avoid. It has no answer. This question is as answerable as any other on this site. And while I was not suggesting popularity as a measure of a question's importance, we ARE trying to
    – MJ6
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 14:19
  • 1
    create a popular site, and the whole basis of this site is the popularity of movies and TV. Topical questions like this should be especially encouraged because it helps establish us a a relevant source of information.
    – MJ6
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 14:21
  • 3
    @JohnSmithOptional You keep using that word...'forum' its like the devil around here. SE is what it is today because it is NOT a forum. To head down that path is the primary reason why I personally don't like this question or your views on it. You're trying to make the site something it is not.
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 14:18
  • I think you might be interpreting my use of the word forum a little pedantically, I meant it in its more general application. I'm not trying to do anything other than find the answer to the question I posited..no more, no less. Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 15:05
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    @JohnSmithOptional Hang in there! We are still fleshing out rules on this site, as each S/E operates a little differently due to its different contest. Sometimes it takes a bit of work to change or create new rules. Many people here are active on other S/E sites, and naturally default to rules that work there. Folks are working to help edit your question to make it fit the existing way things work and I have started a new meta to see if we can make an actual rule to allow this type of question. The goal is an ever-improving site, but the process can get a bit frustrating at times!
    – MJ6
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 22:02
  • Question reopened!
    – Mistu4u
    Commented Oct 6, 2013 at 3:26

I am one of those who closed the question and therefore I feel I can't deny the responsibility to speak for why I closed the question. Maybe I haven't seen Breaking Bad, but your question is definitely asking for a LIST here.

I think you already had a look upon the meta post Tyler suggested you to see. Please read these two paragraphs once more.

What's special about Stack Exchange?

Stack Exchange is well-suited to asking very specific questions that represent real problems you encounter in your day-to-day work. A big part of that process is asking very long-tailed questions; the kind where folks with specific expertise in the subject can propose the best possible answer, which is then voted on so the best possible answers rise to the top.

What's wrong with a list?

Asking everyone to contribute to a large bucket of answers means that it stops being a question of specific expertise and becomes a "poll" of the community. For right or for wrong, answer start accumulating and people start voting on what they recognize as familiar, rather than vetting the relative merits of each answer. Often there are too many entries to even know what anyone is contributing anymore. It doesn't even matter; There's usually no expectation that any one answer will be better than any other.

Problem with this specific example:

Breaking Bad might be a good TV serial and even it might be effecting you a lot. But think about your question twice. Being a fan of the serial, you searched the internet and found someone has indicated that it might have similarities with other Classical Western cinema. If he had pointed clearly X,Y,Z have influenced Breaking Bad, it would have been a objective answer eligible for a knowledge-base like M&TV. But at this point, the answers are likely to be subjective with everyone going to make a list and putting their thoughts into it which inevitably strikes the basic concepts of SE.

At the very end, your request seems to be asking to consider only for this question; but a rule is rule and it can't be bent down. Who can say, there might be another production with much popularity than this one and people come here posting similar questions even with better arguments than this one and request to consider for that question, giving the example of exception for this question. In a democratic site like SE, this can't happen.

PS- This is no bureaucracy, just a democratic process to keep the order and peace of the site.

  • I'm not sure if you've read my question thoroughly enough (including the links), but this response doesn't strike me as such. 'you searched the internet and found someone has indicated that it might have similarities with other Classical Western cinema': this isn't just 'SOMEONE', it's the shows creator!! Vince Gilligan has gone on the record to state that the show is riddled with references, all I'm asking is if anyone knows or can find any? for all we know, there could be a concise list somewhere, but no one has been given the opportunity to answer yet! Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 20:42
  • 'a rule is rule and it can't be bent down', even if A: a majority of people want an exception to be made, and B: some people think this rule doesn't neccesary apply?.. That, my friend, is almost the definition of a Bureaucracy. What I'm doing is making an appeal, which is a fundamental process of democracy. Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 20:46
  • 'If he had pointed clearly X,Y,Z' ... "“A lot of astute viewers who know their film history are going to say, ‘It’s the ending to The Searchers.’ And indeed it is." : VINCE GILLIGAN...look, its not an open ended question here, I'm answering it myself now just purely through frustration but the point in asking in the first place is that people far more experienced and talented than me would be able to bring information to the table.... Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 21:12
  • Well @JohnSmithOptional I never said the rules can't be changed. The existing rules can be changed if the users here want to. But I don't know, if the question gets opened, it will not be considered as an exception to the existing rule, rather an 180 degree change of the rule. So to me at least until I raise another meta, List-Questions will be allowed.
    – Mistu4u
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 4:38
  • @JohnSmithOptional, Well I haven't seen the show myself. So I really don't know who the creator is and I forgot his name reading just once.
    – Mistu4u
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 4:40
  • 'Well @JohnSmithOptional I never said the rules can't be changed.', and yet...'a rule is rule and it can't be bent down'. I think you've realized things might not be as straight forward as you thought when you decided to weigh in on this, and are now trying to save face. There is a huge disparity between a question that asks for 'a list', and one that requests researched examples; people who have seen the show are the first to recognize the value of this.. I think you should perhaps consider dismissing yourself from this debate at this point. Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 9:17
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    Please @JohnSmithOptional don't make this too personal. Your provocative comment you are trying to save your face is not a good poster for this community and I could have flagged it as offensive, but I didn't considering you are very new here as well as to SE. What I meant to say is when the rule is not to smoke, you can't smoke and the rule can't be bent down; however if democratically the rule is changed to you can smoke, the rule is changed and then you can smoke, yet you are not bending the rule. I hope you got my point.
    – Mistu4u
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 9:38
  • I'm not making anything personal...*you're trying to save face* is an expression that means retroactively changing your argument to appear as though you were right to begin with, similar to back-pedalling; instead of accepting you could be wrong. I don't see anything offensive about stating that. I think perhaps some of what you are trying to say is being lost in translation, and vice-versa.. Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 9:51
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    @JohnSmithOptional, Listen buddy, I don't know if you know or not, rules here are flexible, users set them, but until it changes, everyone must follow it. Currently, it stands as not to allow any kind of list question. It's not like you are the first one who had asked good-researched question which can elicit a list; but the other OPs did not raise a meta, that's why the rule was not taken for re-consideration. Now that you raised a meta (which is a good thing), the rule is being revised. So I meant to say I wanna see if this question is made as an exception or the rule is totally changed.
    – Mistu4u
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 10:03
  • Where is this rule codified? All I can see is posts saying they are actively discouraged because they often produce the wrong sort of answer, I can't find an outright ban on them, and I think thst is telling in itself. This is a question that has more or less a definitive answer, its just that said answer will contain a series of examples that will more likely than not be constructed into a list. Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 11:46
  • @JohnSmithOptional, Perhaps I have become too tired to continue this discussion. As it currently stands, it seems highly unlikely that we would switch our position anyway. So I am gonna put an end to this and see what the majority of people think here. Good day.
    – Mistu4u
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 12:14
  • If you are retiring from reason/debate, would you be gracious enough to revoke your negative vote so that there is one less impediment to the growing majority on this thread who would like to see this question re-opened? Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 12:30
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    @JohnSmithOptional, I haven't said my faith has shaken on my current position; only that I have become fatigued to make you understand my position. So how much impediment my vote seems to you, until the community (except me) stand aside you, I can, no way help you.
    – Mistu4u
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 12:35
  • Perhaps it is I who should be fatigued. I understand your point entirely, but i believe the hypothetical rule you are refferring to is there to be enforced if neccesary, not as standard. Like you say, these things are flexible. I think a number of posters and I have quite elegantly circumvented your objections, but instead of adressing these points you have chosen simply to dismiss them, which is a great shame. Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 12:48
  • @JohnSmithOptional, Just so that you know, Coleopterist's latest edit to your question IMO has improved a lot. Now I am reconsidering my position here.
    – Mistu4u
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 8:07


Allow me to point something out real quick at this stage. The question has since been altered and re-opened. Not by any one moderator, nor did any one moderator close the question. But these decisions were handled by the community

This is the beauty of the SE network at work here. Everything boils down to community opinion and work. The moderators are only really here to enforce the policies laid out by the community and keep everything as clean as possible.


My overall opinion on this stands as follows:

Make it work.

There are a lot of exceptions on this site when it comes to overall SE rules. Just take a look at anything tagged if you don't believe me.

And that's where, I think, this site truly shines. When we have an exception, we make it work and make it work rather well. Analysis pieces specifically don't exactly have one correct answer but rather a bunch of ideas that people have and flesh out. Some make more sense than others, and some are just...odd. But nevertheless, with proper writing, evidence, and a bit of thought, these questions and answers work for our site.

Now, back to this example.

The simple answer to the question is Yes, because the creator said so [link to article stating so]

My problems begin right with how the question is worded because you answer it yourself in the text of the question.

Following this up with an example, again answering it yourself, followed by a repeat of the question "Are there any more seemingly deliberate homages anyone can find an example of?" A statement that implies the nature of the question I payed the most attention to:

*A list which denotes that there is no accepted answer*.

And therein lies the difference between a list and an analysis. An analysis, while may not have one correct answer, has at least one ACCEPTED answer. An answer that is known as the one decided by community vote and asker approval that answers the question despite multiple theories being present, this accepted answer is the answer.

This cannot be true of a list question because each answer is equally correct to signify one as the accepted marks all the others as essentially not as good when this is not as true.

Specifically one last thing about your question that turns me off about it is the use of the word Discussion.

This. Is. Not. A. Forum.

This is also not an IMDB clone which is what most list questions seek to be, a direct copy of the trivia section of IMDB.

This is a place:

  • To get answers
  • To provide information on what you have found in your own time (in the form of a "Blog Overflow")
  • To answer QUESTIONS that other users have.

If you want a discussion, we have a chat room for that purpose or this Meta.

Your question can be valid and interesting with some work, and that is what it requires IMO. I will leave it to you to best re-work your question (it wouldn't be the first with a major overhaul and it certainly won't be the last) in order to get it re-opened for a proper setting.

  • I've edited the question to counter your pedantry on its wording :) Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 14:42
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    @coleopterist, I saw your edit. A great transformation of the question. Thinking again if I should cast my reopen vote or not! :-)
    – Mistu4u
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 8:06
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    The OP's question was put on hold for being "off-topic" and the link provided defines on-topic as a question that "generally covers analysis of content or theme of all forms of Movies/TV," which this question certainly does, though not perfectly worded. No where is there mention in any of our rules on this page or any other I can find that lists are not allowed. I think a list CAN provide a best answer. I also think that a question like this, if it provides 4 good answers and no best answer, is an asset to our collection of questions and answers. How frustrating for a new user.
    – MJ6
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 22:21
  • Maybe the "on hold" note should read "Your question is on hold because it is not perfectly worded. Please try again." OR we could allow imperfectly worded questions and see what answers they get, because this is a site for people who don't always ask questions just right and other people seem to be able to figure out what they meant. OR we could help people with their wording instead of voting to close. That would be friendlier.
    – MJ6
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 22:27
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    Sorry if I sound annoyed, but I am just a bit. I run a library for a living. I spend 50 hours a week in the Q&A business. The OP is our customer, and we need to try to see things from his side and to understand why he is so frustrated. We are trying to build a membership base, to get repeat business, to grow our database of Qs&As, and this whole thread is counter to that. This particular post was uncharacteristically undiplomatic, Tyler.
    – MJ6
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 22:38
  • @MaryJoFinch I think that, at the very least, all closed questions should let the user know that they can ask why in meta. While I suppose that new users with no rep will not be able to do so, the current close messages are, IMO, too cryptic and unfriendly. Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 16:50
  • @MaryJoFinch I did not close this question (mod votes are final) nor am I reopening it alone. I stated my case. Mine is just one opinion vs the user base.
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 17:04

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