I haven't seen a lot of this type of questions yet, only three to be exact, but I think it might be a good idea to make a decision before we get more of them.

If you didn't fully understand what kind of questions I am referring to from the title, then the following examples should give you an idea:

Now, should we allow this kind of questions?

All three questions listed above have to do with phobias, so the OPs have valid reasons for asking them, but if we do allow them it opens the door for asking all kinds of questions regarding whether or not people with different types of phobias can watch a specific film.

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    Meh, not a fan of those questions. It's downright plain trivia anyone can answer by watching the movie. While the problem here is that the askers need to know it in order to decide if to watch it or not, it's still pretty much trivia (like "what is the plot summary of ..."). But I guess it's a grey area and deemed on-topic for now (or at least I'm undecided enough to make this a comment instead of an answer for now). Had a bad feeling when the second Hobbit-question came and an even worse one with this Paranormal Activity one, but let's see what happens. And thanks for this question. – Napoleon Wilson Dec 29 '13 at 19:24
  • @Tom you stole my words ; p...... – Ankit Sharma Dec 29 '13 at 19:33
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    Haha, relevant for cat pain phobists: movies.stackexchange.com/q/16569/49. – Napoleon Wilson Jan 10 '14 at 15:02
  • @ChristianRau omg... we really need to decide on where to draw the line. Posted a proposal (see below). This is ridiculous... and even worse questions are probably on the way – Tom Jan 10 '14 at 17:01
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    @Tom Yet your reaction to that question sounds a bit harsh. It isn't really so much worse than the other ones we have and I wouldn't blame the asker for being encouraged to aks it by those other questions. – Napoleon Wilson Jan 10 '14 at 18:07

Phobias are real and can be debilitating to some people. The purpose of this site is offer a venue for people to ask good, legitimate questions. Now questions that can be easily Googled (like people asking about general plot lines) should be demolished on sight. Ditto for questions that have no real value to them. But questions such as these do have value. Not only for the OP, but to others who suffer from the same phobia. For that alone these types of questions should be left open since they: a. Have an audience, and b. Are not easily Googlable.

Now I realize that this can easily be exploited by vandals, my answer is to let the community handle it. If the community sees that a question asking about a certain phobia is just someone playing around, then they can down vote it to Hades. Just don't close it.

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    I would suggest a phobia tag, specifically to identify these questions. – Bobson Jan 10 '14 at 13:01
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    @Bobson I wouldn't. – Napoleon Wilson Jan 4 '15 at 3:34

Always the contrarian:

  • Out of 3800+ questions, we can only find three examples. Lessons from Management 101: "It's not a problem until it's a problem" (and this is a long way from being a problem) and "Don't make rules to treat exceptions. Treat exceptions as exceptions." Also, "The more rules you make, the more fragile you become and the more rules you need."
  • They are not great questions, but in any library there are crap books next to classics. The point of a library is that there is something for everyone.
  • Closing questions from new users is not friendly.
  • Everything on this site is trivia, it's just a matter of degree.
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    "Closing questions from new users is not friendly." - Of course it isn't. So what, leave question open out of politeness? - "Everything on this site is trivia, it's just a matter of degree." - Well yeah, everything in the world is trivia by that degree. - "They are not great questions, but in any library there are crap books next to classics." - And we're currently not short of crap either. But anyways good answer, the first point really weights out the other ones, so +1. – Napoleon Wilson Jan 5 '14 at 14:01
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    @ChristianRau Good morning! "So what, leave questions open out of politeness?" Yep! What does it hurt? Our space is unlimited. If it doesn't get answered over time, it gets deleted like the identity questions that aren't answered. If it does get answered, maybe it helps someone. – MJ6 Jan 5 '14 at 14:11
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    "If it doesn't get answered over time, it gets deleted like the identity questions that aren't answered." - No, it doesn't, that's a property specific to ID questions only. And who says a crappy question isn't answerable easily (as answerability is of course not a measure of question quality). I appreciate your librarian viewpoint of keeping every piece of sh--uestion alive, but I don't think it really applies here. But that just as a general remark, as in this particular case I tend to agree with Meat Trademark's viewpoint (or yours to some degree). – Napoleon Wilson Jan 5 '14 at 16:25
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    @ChristinRau I don't actually advocate for every piece of sh-- question alive - I even used a close vote once! <smile> I just don't find these questions particularly abhorrent, and I think there are downsides to closing that have to be considered. – MJ6 Jan 5 '14 at 18:25

That's a great question without an easy answer.

I'm not a fan of seeing those questions, but completely understand why they are asked. This site, even in Beta, is one of the few places these people can ask such questions and hope to receive a civil answer. I vote let them remain unless we get too many and then need to propose a Phobia SE. I've only seen a few questions of this type, nothing clogging the main page. I don't think it's a bad idea. Plus, we need more questions that are not "off-topic" according to the rules to get OUT of Beta.


Personally, I don't like such questions. I guess they are a form of trivia as @ChristianRau says, and don't add a great deal to the community. Seriously one could ask "do spiders/snakes/vomit/(name phobia here) appear" for almost every movie.

For the purposes of the discussion, I would propose we make this sort of question off topic.

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    Totally agree. Imagine if someone with botanophobia found out that you could ask this type of questions... (shrugs) – Tom Dec 29 '13 at 22:55
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    Downvoter - its normal in meta to downvote to signal that you disagree - but it would be useful if you posted a comment or an alternative answer to indicate your proposal. – iandotkelly Dec 30 '13 at 2:20
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    Closing them on the basis of trivia looks appropriate to me. – Ankit Sharma Dec 30 '13 at 10:30

Since the majority of the people here (well, of the ones having voted) thinks that these questions should be allowed, at least for now, I have a proposal for where we should draw the line.

For "Does this film include..." questions, these criteria must be met:

The phobia must be common and the likelihood that this thing (may it be spiders, vomit, or whatever) appears in the movie must be high, but not given.

And yes, the reason for asking must be a phobia.

This would allow questions like the two Hobbit questions listed above, but not questions about whether a movie includes, for example, cars, plants, or water. Even if the reason for asking is a phobia.

Now, ridiculous questions about whether a movie includes plants would certainly be closed anyway, but for more borderline questions, and specifically questions where phobia has been given as the reason for asking it (as we've agreed that it's a valid reason, at least for now), it would be good to be able to refer to a meta post when closing it.

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