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I always assumed it was a goal of all SE sites to attract both experts and enthusiasts of the given field.

While we have managed to build a base of great and avid users that live and breath movies and TV, I am not under the impression that many professionals working in the business are around here yet. This includes persons working in the actual TV and movie production as well as professional critics.

I certainly don't see this as a critical problem per se. We still get a lot of deep and analytical answers to some great questions, but it would certainly be useful to have some experts with inside knowledge, e.g. to answer some production questions that we outsiders can only speculate about.

So the following questions arise:

  • Are we really failing to attract experts so far, or is my impression simply wrong?
  • If we don't have many experts yet - is this a problem?
  • If it is a problem, what can we do to improve the situation?

Personally I think to attract experts we have to provide a level of quality that other sites in the same field are lacking. However to keep the site active and useful to a broader audience we have to balance this with the need for quantity and a broader scope.

I think this balancing act will be one of the main challenges this site will have to face in the upcoming future.

EDIT

To emphasize what kind of experts I am talking about:

  • People working in the TV or movie business and have insider knowledge about production questions. This could be screenwriters, directors, producers, show runners or people working in technical areas like post production.
  • Professional movie critics with a special education in that area, giving them knowledge about movie history or analysis that goes beyond the normal knowledge an avid movie enthusiast would obtain.

This question on SciFi is a great example of what I would love to see one day on our site, a question about "Groundhog Day" being answered by the actual screenwriter of the movie:
How long was Bill Murray's character supposed to be in a time loop in the film “Groundhog Day”?

  • 3
    While we do have some film-techniques questions, I think actual film-making experts are more at home on Video Production anyway, since Movies & TV seems more of a consumer site by nature. I'm not saying I wouldn't like any "experts" around here, but to be honest the experts of this site are not expert movie-makers, but expert movie watchers (however they're defined, though). – Napoleon Wilson Jun 2 '14 at 18:51
  • @NapoleonWilson more suited as answer, +1. – Ankit Sharma Jun 2 '14 at 18:53
  • @AnkitSharma I'm not sure it suffices already (and am not too much in the mood to flesh it out for now), since I don't want to say that this question is completely without a valid premise. – Napoleon Wilson Jun 2 '14 at 18:54
  • Already mentioned, but if this was a "film-making" SE then we'd probably get more experts, but movies & tv seems to be more about analysis of story-line & characters. I don't think we have any place for experts. – DustinDavis Jun 5 '14 at 22:27
  • I'd also add that most days of production are 10 or more hours and after the trek back to home-base, and having an early call for the next day, most filmmakers probably don't go to a Q & A site about movies to unwind. (Just a guess.) – Meat Trademark Jun 5 '14 at 23:06
  • I don't know. If someone really has a passion, its not uncommon to keep in touch with it after-hours as well. I don't know any filmmakers, so I can't really say if that's true for them as well, but I don't see why not. – magnattic Jun 5 '14 at 23:35
  • What I mean is it's not unheard of for workdays to be 14 or more hours, sometimes 7 days a week, and sometimes their bed is over an hour away. Plus, they have to eat and sleep in that small window away from set. It's not so much an issue of passion, but of time. – Meat Trademark Jun 8 '14 at 14:20
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I am firmly of the belief that as long as a large percentage of questions are identify-this-X it will remain so. We need good technical questions, plot explanations, how does the production work, etc. As long as there are more trivia questions I don't believe there will really ever be 'experts' in movie making (or tv show).

I happen to view identify-this questions as the same as trivia, by the way. I have answered a couple here and there, and even asked one, but I still inherently dislike them.

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    Agreed that good questions will encourage good answers. I think good answers are a matter of good research, though, and identify-this-X questions can be answered in a way that not only deal with the "trivia" part of it but can be filled with researched, interesting, supporting information. Treating answers not just as answers but as instructive (if brief) articles for a wider audience might not result in better questions but it would probably stoke the community's reciprocity. More voting, more feedback, more discussion. Which is what a lot of us want, coming back again and again! – rbsite Jun 3 '14 at 2:22
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    @rbsite The problem comes when 40% of your home page is filled with these questions. It becomes the design of your site. That's who you are and that's what this site is about. If I were someone interested in deeper, intriguing discussions in this subject space, the front page tells me this is more of a game show and frankly, and not an interesting site to me. – Robert Cartaino Jun 4 '14 at 17:04
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My answer might seem like it's no answer but here it goes. Does it matter? To be an expert at anything practice and study are needed. Anybody on here could be an expert in a range of knowledge. Would professionals in the industry may the answers to questions more valid? Plus we have for the most part adopted a prove it attitude (which is good) where links are needed to back up statements. A professional with first hand experience may have the correct answer but with no links to back up their statements it could end up less of an answer than someone who researches and provides links to back it up. Then we might run into a need to separate experts and commentators. Is it good to have experts yes but is it needed no.

2

I think we definitely fail to attract experts. I'm not sure if that's a bad thing though, or what could be done about it.

There are a large amount of and other such questions, and I do worry that they are increasing in size.

Having said that though, a lot of the other questions regarding things like plot explanation aren't detailed enough in my opinion to warrant experts coming looking for us yet.

That's not to say I don't love the questions asked here. But as many people who've read my answers know, all it usually takes is a couple of Google searches and you've got an answer. Whilst some users, such as @Napoleon Wilson, are great at posting in-depth questions asking for rigorous analysis of things, the majority are answerable by simply searching existing material on the Internet (one of the reasons I don't ask that many questions here).

I think we need to expand the base of the site even more and certainly more in-depth questions on plot explanations and movie meanings are useful. But a massive problem with that is that we like to deal in verifiable answers here. If a questions is posted that there can never be a "real" answer to, it tends to be left unanswered, only get simple answers, or attract downvotes for being subjective.

A different idea I'd actually be quite keen on is trying to target more users by allowing some trivia questions. I don't mean questions like "who starred in this movie". But personally, despite closing several questions like this myself, I see nothing wrong with: "Who had the most lines in such and such a show" or "Which film had the highest body count".

The reason why is because currently nowhere on the Internet (at least as far as I can see) is actually catering for these kinds of questions. We could be the first and attract a ton of new users as a result. The negative? A lot of them would be hard to answer and thus the unanswered percentage of questions would like go up.

Finally, it might even be worth posting some "community" trivia questions, such as "what movie had the highest ever budget" or "what movie was the highest ever grossing"? Ultimately, people do search for these and it would be another way to attract users to the site.

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    I find it very interesting that you see the solution/future of the site in expanding towards trivia, while CGCampbell takes the exact opposite position and claims trivia is the problem. I really don't know what the correct way to go is, but it certainly shows that the community is rather divided on some fundamental topics right now. – magnattic Jun 3 '14 at 22:13
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    Definitely. This is a great comment. I just think it seems logical to expand. We want more users and more questions. We can argue we want better quality questions only, and whilst that is admirable, it seems hard to enforce. Allowing at least some more trivia would, in my view, open the site up to a whole new bunch of possible questions and users. – Andrew Martin Jun 3 '14 at 22:28
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TL;DR

If we don't have many experts [professionals] yet - is this a problem?

I don't know whether we do or do not have many film industry professionals but I think we have plenty of experts of a different sort and I don't think it's a problem that we lack the professionals you mention.


Intro

Because Napoleon Wilson, one of our mods, mentioned this topic in relation to a question I answered, I thought I might address it, tardy though it may be.

As some of you may be aware (if you've read my profile) I actually work in the film industry. I have a degree in film and do contract work for a casting director in Austin, Texas. We do casting for commercials and feature films and a couple of TV shows. I've also produced a few short films but nothing you'd recognize. I don't consider myself a professional in the sense of the Groundhog Day screenwriter mentioned in the question but I do have limited inside knowledge...

That being said, I'm here as a movie enthusiast, not as a professional. My best (or, at least, most extensive) answers may relate to casting/production questions but that's because I like facts more than deep, thought-requiring questions about why a film is the way it is... questions like this make me roll my eyes and wonder... why does it matter... that's just how the author/screenwriter/director decided it should be.


General Production Questions:

People working in the TV or movie business and have insider knowledge about production questions. This could be screenwriters, directors, producers, show runners or people working in technical areas like post production.

Firstly, as discussed here, I honestly don't believe that the casting questions and other production-related questions I've answered really belong here. They're not about a film or a TV show, they're general questions about filmmaking, which isn't the purpose of this site... they're also not about technical camera/equipment/editing questions appropriate for Video.SE, so they slide through because there's not a SE site for filmmakers. [insert shameless plug]

As Napoleon said in his comment:

While we do have some film-techniques questions, I think actual film-making experts are more at home on Video Production anyway, since Movies & TV seems more of a consumer site by nature. I'm not saying I wouldn't like any "experts" around here, but to be honest the experts of this site are not expert movie-makers, but expert movie watchers (however they're defined, though). [emphasis added]

I'll say that I don't have any of the technical knowledge to make visiting Video.SE anything other than a confusing cluster of random letters and numbers is well beyond me... I may be involved in production but I don't do that stuff.

If, as I believe, general production questions aren't on-topic here, there's no reason for a generic film professional (like myself) to be here to offer industry insight for non-existent production questions.


Subjective Questions

There's a great article on the Stack Exchange blog about the growth of SE and the appearance of sites that invite subjective questions but give guidelines for how to ask a quality subjective question and what makes a good answer... and they followed it up with a post on the types of questions not to ask. These two sets of information (without the explanations) are on every SE site in the help section under "What types of questions should I avoid asking?".

Movies & TV is definitely a site destined to attract a ton of these subjective questions and they're some of the most upvoted questions on the site.

These questions are different because there is an answer out there but there's a gateway between the question and the answer that doesn't exist on the more objective SE sites... the one or two (or handful of) creators of the media are the only ones who can legitimately answer many of these "why" questions.

It's amazing that Danny Rubin hopped onto SciFi.SE and answered that question about Groundhog Day but I don't think we can expect every famous writer/director/actor/producer to do that.

Some of them have done so in other places (eg: interviews/articles/blogs/Reddit) and we can quote those as evidence but unless the Wachowskis come here (prove they are who they claim) and give us some inside knowledge, even a renown critic's analysis of a film isn't of much factual use (unless they happened to also interview the Wachowskis and asked a similar question).

So, in that vein:


Film Critics

  • Professional movie critics with a special education in that area, giving them knowledge about movie history or analysis that goes beyond the normal knowledge an avid movie enthusiast would obtain.

While I certainly wouldn't kick them out the door, I don't know that having critics here would make a significant difference. Remember, many film critics don't have any particular education in film (most of them hold degrees in journalism or literature, not film)... many are simply film enthusiasts who get paid to state their opinion for major news outlets... and these opinions don't have to be supported with facts... per item 5 on the "Great Subjective Questions" list:

Great subjective questions insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references. Opinion isn’t all bad, so long as it’s backed up with something other than “because I’m an expert”, or “because I said so”, or “just because”. Use your specific experiences to back up your opinions, as above, or point to some research you’ve done on the web or elsewhere that provides evidence to support your claims. We like you. We want to believe you. But like Wikipedia itself, {{citation needed}}. And good subjective questions make this clear from the outset: back it up!

Non-professionals have the same access to the internet that professional critics have, which makes the sources that support their arguments available to everyone so I don't see a professional critic's opinion being worth more than any other person's opinion, provided they can both cite references and make good arguments.


Expert Movie Watchers

In my opinion, we are all expert movie watchers. You don't need a degree or a byline to have an opinion about film, you just have to be able to follow the guidelines for good subjective answers: be thorough, constructive, share personal experience (if applicable), and back your answers up with references. If someone is here who is a consumer of movies and TV shows and wants to actively discuss them within those guidelines, that's all you need to be here and be an "expert".

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