Inspired by this meta question earlier today and this older, extended discussion, I'm curious as to what list questions, if any, could be on topic here.

In the discussion that I linked to above, two of the answers suggested allowing some list questions (with one answer against them). However, in the positive answers there weren't any suggestions as to what these list questions could actually be.

Given this, can we get some suggestions as to what sort of list questions could actually be acceptable on this site. Perhaps by judging the response to this and looking at the upvotes the suggestions get we'd have a good idea how welcome some good list questions would be.

I'd suggest the following initial criteria (change as you see fit):

  • List should be useful/interesting to a wide range of users.
  • List should be informative both now and for some time to come - it shouldn't be out of date in a matter of months.
  • List should have community-wiki answers (and possible be protected to allow only users with >10 rep to answer).
  • "in the positive answers there weren't any suggestions as to what these list questions could actually be" - Because that's quite hard to assess out of the blue and rather seems a question by question decision guided by admittedly very blurry quality assessments. I'm not entirely sure what examples can just be produced out of the blue here. – Napoleon Wilson Feb 10 '15 at 14:08
  • But no, please no CW stuff. We (I, so to say) don't want rep-less community wiki posts here. Questions that encourage simple bullet point lists and thus CW answers are exactly the wrong kinds of list questions anyway. If an answer is well-fleshed out and explanatory, then that is a good list answer and in turn doesn't require any CW sticker, since it is already timeless without much need for extending it by multiple users/events. – Napoleon Wilson Feb 10 '15 at 14:09
  • @NapoleonWilson: That's why I'd suggest producing some answers out of the blue. Let's get the ball rolling. – Andrew Martin Feb 10 '15 at 14:20
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    @NapoleonWilson: And definitely CW stuff from me. If someone creates a good answer and someone else can add to it, they should be able to. It's a list question. You can flesh it out as much as you want, but there's always more that could be added. I'm a big fan of CW answers for these types of questions. – Andrew Martin Feb 10 '15 at 14:20
  • Then we are talking about entirely different kinds of list questions, it seems. The ones whose answer can't stand on their own and which need to have a single large CW list as answer are to me exactly the ones that shouldn't be allowed. I'd rather like the ones that encourage answers that are self-contained on their own with reasonable explanations, even if they're not the only answer. And those answers are not a good fit for CW. – Napoleon Wilson Feb 10 '15 at 14:23
  • I have voted this as duplicate for now even though you referenced the other question, because I feel that you're posing essentially the same question and the answers here are likely not to be more conclusive than those already posted to the older question, examples or not (though, even the other question already got some examples). But I'll still try to word my concerns into a proper answer in due time. – Napoleon Wilson Feb 10 '15 at 14:25
  • See also a recent example: movies.stackexchange.com/q/30968/49. – Napoleon Wilson Feb 11 '15 at 11:53
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    @NapoleonWilson: Was going to add that myself. Definitely a good example – Andrew Martin Feb 11 '15 at 12:08

The only type of list question I wouldn't have a problem with would have to match the following criteria:

  • It's not open-ended, there is a finite list of points in the list and the list is not likely to just go on and on as time goes by. (Occasional additions are fine)
  • It's unique in the sense that you can't just produce another similar list question by exchanging a word. (e.g. "Movies about war" -> "Movies about love" ...)
  • It has to be timeless in the sense that the information doesn't become obsolete in the near future.
  • Community wiki only, with 1 question and 1 answer.

Note that this excludes any kind of list in which movies are collected by genre, topic, etc.

This criteria will pretty much rule out any of the list questions we got so far, so I am not sure it's much different from just banning list questions altogether.

It would allow certain exceptions, like "List of criteria that is used in the determination of movie ratings". But then again, you could argue this is not really a list question, just because the answer is a list.

  • Great start! Can you give any examples of some suitable questions though? We don't want this to be the norm, so what could be suitable? Try to come up with, say, three questions. – Andrew Martin Feb 10 '15 at 14:21
  • As I said, they would be rare exceptions. If it was so easy to come up with great questions, I would've asked them on the site already. ;) But I added an example in the last paragraph to give an idea. – magnattic Feb 10 '15 at 14:28
  • The key thing indeed is whether its open ended or not. This is a good reference to have now. – iandotkelly Feb 10 '15 at 14:39
  • @iandotkelly "This is a good reference to have now" - Well, not yet, it's only got 1 vote yet (and maybe 1 less in due time). I'd hesitate with making that a "reference" for now. – Napoleon Wilson Feb 10 '15 at 14:47
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    @NapoleonWilson - wow - I'm not saying it couldn't be improved upon by editing or an alternative better answer, but its nice to have a 'local' M&TV answer to this question when someone posts a list question. – iandotkelly Feb 10 '15 at 14:49
  • I removed the CW requirement, because as long as the question is good, I don't think it doesn't matter too much if its one complete CW answer or a bunch of individual answers. – magnattic Feb 10 '15 at 15:02
  • In its current form this seems upvotable now. +1 – Napoleon Wilson Feb 10 '15 at 15:13

I can't really do so much more than listing Mary's excellent points from her earlier question as criteria for good list questions:

Constructive subjective questions are welcome on Movies & TV S/E. Constructive subjective questions:

  • inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”
  • have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone
  • elicit answers that can be backed up with facts and references
  • have the potential to add to someone's enjoyment of a movie or TV show
  • are not open-ended or hypothetical
  • are likely to result in a possible "best answer" though multiple answers may equally contribute to answering the question

Questions that are likely to elicit a list of opinions that are not backed up by facts or references will be placed on hold until they are edited to be more useful to the community.


Not a good match for this site: Who is the best actor of all time? (opinion)

A better match: The film 8 Mile about rapper Eminem is said to be semi-autobiographical. Which parts of the film are factually accurate?

Not a good match for this site: How is the color red used symbolically in films? (too open-ended)

A better match: Birds show up in a lot of Hitchcock films. What do they symbolize?

Though, they are rather about subjective questions in general and not so much about list question specifically. But in fact to me the more "blurry" kind of list questions are the ones we should prefer over rather trivial things like "list all underwater compound movies!" or "what movies feature a spyssassin on the run?". Those latter kinds of list questions can, as atticae already states, easily be extended ad absurdum and don't really provide any more useful information than IMDb or a similar encyclopedia already does. What I rather want to see are question that encourage explanation and reasoning over just listing, the why over the what.

And this is also the reason why I would strongly object to single community wiki answers to assemble such lists, since those answers are best placed on rather trivial list questions that just ask for a simple list of many bullet points that can be freely extended, which I would deem off-topic. A question that encourages more explanatory answer over mere statements, should generate answers that are timeless on their own and can stand on their own based on the reasoning of their argumentation, even if they might not be the only correct answers. Putting such answers into a single pile of CW robs them of any kind of individuality and the ability to asses them each individually based on their arguments (this is not about the posters' rep here, but about the posts' votes as a sign of quality). Once an answer cannot be judged as being "better" or "worse" than another answer, even if there might not be a single "correct" one, the question is a too trivial list to me.

But alas, this is all very blurry and I cannot provide any clear guidance to this matter. I tend to think that once we restrict that problem too hard and definitely, we will only result in the rather trivial kind of item lists as the allowed ones, which I would object to. But I also understand that some line has to be drawn. But you want examples, here you got some, even if I don't think they're too conclusive on the matter yet:

  • Have there been other cinematic crossovers like the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

    This is a less listy example and more of the "is there any..." kind, but I feel they are quite closely related and sometimes a list question can be improved or made more definite by transforming it into that kind.

  • What are the methods of including a character's thoughts in an audiovisual medium?

    This is inherently a list question, I think. It might not be perfect and the answers might not be perfect yet either. But I feel as long as the answers keep rather to explanation over just listing, it can very well work. And I don't think putting them all into a single post and slamming a CW sticker on that would really improve anything here, no matter if that would make it easier for the asker to accept a single answer.

  • Looking for a film about handling sadness to compare to the novel Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

    This is a difficult one, since it is in itself a recommendation question and I agree that opening that box comes with more than a handful of dangers. But I also think it shines by being well-worded and not too open-ended and also ecourages rather explanative answers. Of course assessing the quality of each and every question manually is way harder than having a clear-cut guideline, but such kinds of recommendation questions could possibly work.

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