We already have two questions with an obvious SciFi/Movies overlap (that have already been asked on SciFi.SE):

How do we want to handle this overlapping area?

  • My two cents: The "ending of Inception" question is actually more suited to Movies, and should be migrated. Same goes for the Star Wars question, albeit to a lesser extent. (It also seems rather non-constructive/subjective, but that's a different topic.)
    – user35
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 20:48
  • @Unsigned: If the two questions didn't already exist on SciFi I would probably agree with you. IOW, the two questions may well be more on-topic here (although the SciFi community believes they're on topic there, so who are we to argue?). But since the questions already exist elsewhere, it's a disservice to everyone to have identical questions in two places.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 20:54
  • We need to involve SciFi.SE in this discussion, but until the public beta, I don't believe anyone without an account here can view this meta discussion. (Maybe it's still worth asking in a SciFi meta question now anyway?)
    – Flimzy
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 20:55
  • What happens when the movie is based on a book? Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 22:47
  • @VicSzpilman: Can you elaborate on your question? That sounds to me like it's probably worthy of a separate question.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 22:48
  • I think of it as a rather related topic--movies based on a book could potentially fit into Movies and then Literature and/or SciFi or others depending on it's genre. I don't actually know that much about meta-decisions and how the different SE's are handled so I'm just guessing really. Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 23:08

8 Answers 8


Recent advice to moderators from StackExchange is that there is inevitably going to be some overlap between the scope of sites - and that there was a growing tendency to try to gerrymander the scopes to remove overlap with an implication that some people were doing this to (naturally) benefit their favorite sites.

We should therefore not close cross site duplicates just because someone points out the duplication. If someone wants an opinion from movie rather than sci-fi fanatics then this is their right (using the example of the questions on Star Wars and Inception here). By all means point out the other answers in a link via a comment.

This would also apply to migrating questions. If it is clearly on-topic then there is no reason to migrate it if there is a feeling that it is slightly more on topic elsewhere. Since we are a beta site we cannot do this anyway.

  • 1
    Note: Cross site duplicates here means different users raising the same or similar questions on each site. It's not referring to purposeful cross posting by a single user.
    – user209
    Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 22:10
  • @Keen, yes good clarification.
    – iandotkelly Mod
    Commented Jul 7, 2012 at 15:13

It's going to happen... They are still valid questions for the domain of this site, not something that would be migrated, and thus should be allowed to have their own life.

  • 1
    The problem with having duplicate questions across sites is that it dilutes the expertise. One of the core goals of the SO model is to have a single authoritative place to find expert-quality answers. By having duplicate questions across sites, that core goal is undermined.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 20:41
  • 3
    If the SE model wanted a 'single authoritative place' there wouldn't be so many SE sites. I find it hard to believe this type of overlap hasn't already been dealt with before. It sets a bad precedent that even if you searched the site, your question might have been asked on another SE site and will still get closed. It also means you will spend all day and night linking to existing questions, when I'm sure you have better things to do.
    – Fosco
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 20:48
  • The reason for so many SE sites is for different areas of expertise; not to create duplicate content. And yes, this issue has been dealt with, and to my understanding, the "official" stand is basically covered in my answer to this question.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 20:56
  • 2
    I agree that this is an unavoidable phenomenon...I think it will really come down to doing our best to make sure the Movies community is educated about the distinction between Scifi SE & Movies SE. It comes down to who the OP wants to answer their question...if it's primarily a filmic question, here is probably the best place. If it's something particular to scifi/fantasy as a genre, it belongs over there. For interpretation questions, it's probably just up to the OP.
    – Laura
    Commented Dec 5, 2011 at 16:38

My opinion:

  1. When the question is indeed an exact duplicate (as in the two examples provided above), defer to the one that was asked first (in these cases, SciFi), and close the duplicate (in these cases, Movies). This seems to be the rule across other SO sites. Closing in this case is the same as closing a duplicate, and is in no way saying the question is off-topic.

  2. When the question is about the making of the movie, it probably belongs on Movies (although there are many SciFi questions about the making of movies, so refer to #1 above).

  3. When the question is about the story of the movie (Explain the end of Inception), either site is fair game; refer to #1 above.

  4. When the question is about some especially scientific-ish aspect, ask on SciFi (How do light sabers work?)

  • 1
    Good thoughts. Instead of deferring to the one that was asked first, would it make more sense to migrate some of the Sci Fi questions if they fit better on Movies (according to criteria 2-4)? Has that ever been done before? (Migrating questions after a new site is created and is a better fit for questions asked elsewhere)
    – Lauren
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 20:18
  • I don't know the answer to that. Someone probably does. I'm not sure how SciFi would feel about us sucking away some of their top questions, though (The star wars one above has 44 votes, and currently ranks as their 9th-highest voted question)
    – Flimzy
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 20:20
  • 2
    @Lauren, usually migrating questions is avoided if they're already on-topic for the site. There really isn't a major point in moving movie questions from sci-fi to here, that'd be a major hedache
    – DForck42
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 20:24
  • 1
    As regards the lightsaber point, I think any discussion of the in-universe "workings" of a lightsaber should be on SciFi, but a discussion of how they work in a film, i.e., on-sceen, would probably belong on Movies.
    – user35
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 20:47
  • @Flimzy good point. I'm not sure I'm even in favor of migrating those questions, just a thought really.
    – Lauren
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 20:50
  • @Lauren: such thoughts and brainstorms are what the beta process is all about :)
    – Flimzy
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 21:00
  • I know SciFi wouldn't want their questions migrated. In fact, I suggested migrating some book questions to Literature and was downvoted and nearly flamed to oblivion.
    – Kalamane
    Commented Dec 3, 2011 at 1:22
  • @Kalamane and that's part of why literature is suffering somewhat ;)
    – DForck42
    Commented Jan 4, 2012 at 22:02

I think although there will always be ambiguity now and again, the major distinction should be made as to the community of expert each SE caters to.

  • Movies.SE is more about the making of the movie: casting, effects, production, script, scenes.

  • SciFi.SE is more about the universes of Fantasy and Science Fiction: the lore, the reasons behind how or why things are how they are, i.e. the nerdy stuff.

Obviously, and especially when the movie comes from a book, the plot/storyline and characters will be the real major overlap, and then it's on-topic of both sites.

  • I might agree with this, except for the fact that the highest-voted example question during definition is all about plot. But that doesn't mean we can't re-address the issue during beta. See also this relevant meta discussion.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 23:26
  • Exactly. Though plot fits here as it fits in SciFi, I think, as opposed to what you report regarding the example question, that the real golden questions here (the ones fit for experts) are about directing and acting performances--I think movies are really about the people. And then scenario and effects and all else would be the bread-and-butter. Just my opinion though. Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 23:39

Doesn't this pretty much preclude questions about scifi movies being asked on Movies.SE because almost (if not every) question about a scifi movie is by its very nature Science Fiction?

Is Star Wars a movie? Yes - let me post it on Movies.SE.
Oh wait, it's also scifi related... maybe I should post it on SciFi.SE instead?

The average person isn't going to agonize over the decision; they're going to post it on the "wrong" site and have with a lousy user experience when they find out their question has been moved/closed or that there's a battle going on over whether or not they posted it in the right place.

Ditto for Literature.SE / SciFi.SE. Questions about SciFi books are appropriate for both places. What about Superuser + AskUbuntu/Apple.SE? Pretty much anything in AskUbuntu is appropriate for Superuser as well as any Mac questions under Apple.SE.

IT Security / ServerFault?
Statistical Analysis / Mathematics?
Theoretical Physics / Physics?

Major potential for overlap has been created as StackExchange has been expanding and it's only going to get worse. If questions are appropriate for multiple sites, then their asking needs to be facilitated.

My Solution

Why not create some kind of association between overlapping sites where the "Questions with similar titles" that appear when the title for a question is entered can be expanded to search other sites that will overlap? This way, if anyone tries to ask a question on SciFi.SE that may already exist on Movies.SE or Literature.SE, they'll appear in the results and hopefully prevent the duplicate from being asked.

Edit: They should appear in general search results too.

  • 3
    Definitely StackExchange needs in it's programming for a way for questions to have multiple SE 'parents'. Which is probably too much of a hassle to implement by this point, sadly. Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 22:46
  • Moving/closing a question does not cause a bad user experience. In fact, the opposite. Having multiple duplicate questions is what causes a bad user experience. Closing as duplicate and merging improve the user experience, by having multiple gateways to the same set of answers.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 23:15
  • @Flimzy, moving/closing a question is a bad experience for the user who was otherwise asking it correctly and had no reasonable way to know that he was doing it "wrong". I'm not suggesting we have multiple duplicate questions - I'm suggesting we reduce frequency duplicate questions by recognizing there are numerous overlapping sites on the StackExchange network and taking that into account in the workflow. Commented Dec 1, 2011 at 2:31
  • I don't think merging/closing a question is a bad experience. In fact, it's a good experience, because it means the one asking gets an answer immediately, instead of waiting. SE is about providing expert quality answers to questions. If a person asks a duplicate question, the fastest way to help them is to point them to already existing expert answers. If someone takes offense at this, they're using SE incorrectly. Remember: SE and the entire voting system is about questions and answers. Closing a question is in no way a reflection of the one asking.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Dec 1, 2011 at 3:15
  • 2
    It's a better experience to be told by the system that your question has already been posted on an overlapping site so you get your answer immediately. Isn't that the whole point of "Questions similar to this?" To avoid duplicate content and help people get answers faster? It makes sense for overlapping sites to be included in these searches. Commented Dec 1, 2011 at 3:54
  • SciFi is actually Science Fiction and Fantasy. Literature that's either of those is on topic there. That's pretty much everything except non-fiction and detective novels.
    – Kalamane
    Commented Dec 3, 2011 at 1:26

There are lots of topics that can be handled on more than one site. So the deciding factors are:

  1. Does the focus of the question fall within this site's area of expertise?
  2. Was it asked here?

If you want to get a good answer about the underpinnings of a piece of speculative fiction that manifests in a particular movie, you're probably better off asking on SciFi. If you want to understand the technical challenges involved in manifesting this unreality on film, ask here.

But once asked, if it can be reasonably considered on-topic, leave it where it lies. Do your best to interpret it as - and perhaps even edit it to emphasize - a question for those well-versed in the site's subject matter.

Early beta caveats

That being said, re-asking questions that've already been well-answered on another site is almost always a poor idea, especially during the early days of a site, where the scope is still somewhat nebulous, and the target audience small. You risk creating a waste of time and space where the answer is a verbatim copy of something on another site, adding nothing of value to The Internet, and adding ambiguity to the scope of the new site.


Short and Simple

If its about a Star Wars Movie; on topic and answerable here.

If its about a Star Wars Book/Game/Short Story/Expanded Universe/Not in a motion picture version of Star Wars; Off-topic, ask on SciFi

Replace Star Wars with a franchise name.

If it is answered and readily available, flag as dupe.

  • I don't think there's any question that these questions are on-topic here; it's a matter of what to do when they've already been asked somewhere else. Star Wars books questions could also be asked on the Literature site, but you'd run into the same question there if the question had already been asked on SciFi.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jan 4, 2012 at 18:19
  • Noted and included views in answer.
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Jan 4, 2012 at 18:21

If a question is on-topic on two sites, it's up to the asker to pick a site. Questions about SF movies can be asked here or on Science Fiction & Fantasy, and should generally not be migrated since they wouldn't be off-topic on the target site.

Do not post a question on both sites. If you have an SF movie question, you might want to drop a link in the SF&F chatroom.

See also How do we handle conflicts with the Literature and Movies sites? on the SF&F meta.

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