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I'm aware from this previous question: Are questions about specific plot details on topic? that discussions on specific plot details in a movie are acceptable.

I also know from this highly useful post: Yes, that was a plot hole, and? that pointing out obvious plot holes is not acceptable (Although there is a highly upvoted dissenting opinion).

I've also read this post: Let's nuke [plot-inconsistency]! which suggested getting rid of all plot inconsistency tags (and it cited the second post I've included). The suggestions was that the tag was in fact useful.

As a fairly new user to the site, I do enjoy plot inconsistency questions. However, I do have to wonder how long they should be open for. For example, take this question: Where does the barrel come from in which Bombur jumps in The Hobbit: DoS?. It has 19 upvotes and has largely been agreed by everyone in the comments section to simply be indicative of a movie mistake, as opposed to something happened off screen that needed to be explained to the OP.

Part of me at this point wants to jump in and answer the question. But by saying what? I could claim it's a movie mistake, but I can't cite anything to demonstrate that (except other websites where people have reached same conclusion, but without evidence). So short of Peter Jackson himself coming here and accepting it's a mistake, the answer will simply be an statement that it is a plot hole without any citable evidence. But if that's all there is, should anyone be gaining reputation for it? Or should it instead be closed by a moderator after a certain period of time (or flagged up by other users on the site, similar to closing a post) if it becomes obvious that it is a movie mistake and nothing more - because otherwise, that particular question will stay open indefinitely.

Other posts which I feel are in similar vein are posts like these:

Where did they get all of the gum from?
Complaints about "Pati Sudharo Sansthan"?

I'm aware that the Unanswered count of the site will also raise if questions like these remain.

So my post can be summarised as follows:

  1. Should there be an automatic time limit on all questions which are plot inconsistency, which users of the site, if they feel its appropriate, can vote to overturn?

  2. Should there be an option for users to close these questions before the time limit and confirm there is simply a plot hole by voting, similar to how we currently vote to close a question?

  3. If the above two are both rejected, should there be any reward in reputation for someone (like myself) who answers a question by simply saying "This appears to a plot hole".

  • Good question (even if meta voting rules require me to downvote it for not agreeing with your suggestion). – Napoleon Wilson Mar 7 '14 at 2:01
  • With the disappearance of plot-inconsistency as an explicit tag and plot-explanation's expansion onto those questions, does this question lose its premise or is it still relevant for those kinds of plot explanation questions that are conceptually about inconsistencies? (Though, in the latter case, the base for a purely technical solution would be lost with the explicit tag anyway.) – Napoleon Wilson Mar 14 '16 at 14:01
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I don't have time to answer this as fully as I would like, and this is definitely MHO.

When I looked back at the "Yes that was a plot hole, and?" question, I noted that (rarely) I'd down-voted Robert Cartaino and up-voted the alternative, so at least I'm being consistent here.

Honestly, I think we should be voting on the quality and the interest of the individual question. Yes a plot hole can be a terribly boring question, like the chewing gum question and should be downvoted as such. Some may uncover interesting directorial or writing decisions or mistakes. A movie is a very complex creation and mistakes are made in the art-form. Sometimes however, someone will step forward with perfectly reasonable explanations for what appears to be a mistake.

My conclusion is thar I don't think we need to worry too much about these questions. They are less potentially damaging to the site then 'identify this'.

Yes, a few of these questions are unanswered and clearly refer to 'mistakes' in the movie in question - but I don't feel that we need to put special measures on them like this. Yes our question-to-answer ratio is not great on this site, but I don't feel its enough of a problem to close some unanswered questions.

I'd be interested in hearing an opposing point of view though...

  • Apologies for late response, but thanks for the clarification. – Andrew Martin Mar 13 '14 at 18:51
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In addition to iandotkelly's answer (and I'm not going to reiterate all the stuff he already said and which I absolutely agree with), to answer your specific questions:

Should there be an automatic time limit on all questions which are plot inconsistency, which users of the site, if they feel its appropriate, can vote to overturn?

No, since first of all, the plot-inconsistency tag is not used consistently (no pun intended). Many users use it for what should actually be plot-explanation when they are constructively searching for an explanation of the plot. There is thus no automatic way to differentiate "good" from "bad" questions by merely judging -explanation vs -inconsistency (though it may give a hint about the user's intentions). Furthermore it is not really necessary (nor feasible) to introduce special site mechanics for each and every question type that might cause problems. If the question is bad, it will hopefully be handled by the community anyway. It's just a question by question decision.

Should there be an option for users to close these questions before the time limit and confirm there is simply a plot hole by voting, similar to how we currently vote to close a question?

If the question is valid and on-topic, there is no need to close it. If the answer is just "well, there is no explanation, that's just stupid writing", then be it so. And like said above, introducing an additional "not-untrivially-answerable"-voting mechanism is not feasible, nor neccessary. And even more than that, there might still be a valuable answer, be it just the trivial "that was a mistake"-answer but maybe providing some evidence from the movie (be it only some images from a bunch of stapled barrels or a picture of a barrel-hopping dwarf, no matter if that needs half a year until the DVD-release). Or maybe even some reasons why the writers maybe even conciously settled for the mistake in constrast to a more consistent plot development. I've seen amazing answers that actually increased the value of a seemingly weird question to a large degree.

If the above two are both rejected, should there be any reward in reputation for someone (like myself) who answers a question by simply saying "This appears to a plot hole".

If you are the one to take the courage in answering this and maybe even provide some kind of evidence (even if not 100% definite evidence) or reasonable arguments, then why not? It's a question and you gave a valid answer (given it really consists of more than just saying "This appears to a plot hole").

And last but not least, disregarding plot-inconsistency questions in particular, while it is not good if a question stays unanswered, answerability is not a valid criterium for determining question quality. Sometimes a valid (or maybe even good) question just stays unanswered, but this doesn't mean it's bad or can never be answered in a proper way (and better a good unanswered question than 10 stupid questions with 10 equally crappy answers each. ;-)).

  • And of course I have to add that I would be the first one to abandon this awfully non-constructive plot-inconsistency tag in favour of plot-explanation. Either you know it's an inconsistency, then it's a blog-post and not a question, or you don't know, then you are obviously looking for an explanation. But ok, that's an entirely different question (and one that is already linked to in this question). – Napoleon Wilson Mar 7 '14 at 1:52
  • Apologies for late response, but thanks for this expanded answer. – Andrew Martin Mar 13 '14 at 18:51

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