From the result of a majority vote between the moderators, it has been decided that:

Television will be on topic for this site.

I think with this, it is time to shape the FAQ from more than just the general beta description.

If the title:

  • Has had a major theatrical release (recent examples: Sherlock Holmes 2, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo)
  • Is a television release and stand alone (not related to a TV series, a la Hallmark channel or original HBO movie)
  • Is direct-to-DVD release (Butterfly Effect 3, any Asylum movie)
  • Is a major fictional Television Series (House, Dexter, etc)
  • Is a tie-in movie for a series (Rescue from Gilligan's Island, Stargate: Continuum)

It should be On-Topic.


  • Works of Non-Fiction (News shows, need some more examples here too)
  • "Reality" Shows of any kind (Teen Mom, American Idol, Bachelor)

Are Off-Topic for this site.

Please see this discussion on TV scope for why this is removed

Edit: Tie-in movie clarification.

My intention is that if a film has a Theatrical Release, then it is automatically on-topic. Examples being Serenity (Ending of Firefly); this is on-topic because the movie got a theatrical release and questions about the production of the movie are perfectly fine to ask. Also, asking questions about episodes of Firefly will be On-Topic.

A similar case can be made for Star Trek. There are at least 9 or so Star Trek movies and each question about one of them will be On-topic. Also, questions about specific episodes of Star Trek are On-Topic for the scope of this site.

Edit 2: Serial TV series clarification.

With some more thought, I think the intention of this point was to show that TV series that have longer than normal episodes (50-90 min without commercials) are still On-topic, as well as Mini-Series (The Pacific, Band of Brothers, Tin Man etc) are all On-Topic.

  • 3
    There are the additional overlapping areas of films based on television programs and television programs based on films – Flimzy Nov 30 '11 at 23:29
  • 2
    There are also non-movie non-TV video productions that we might want to consider. Documentaries, shorts, etc. – Flimzy Nov 30 '11 at 23:42
  • They're not considered movies? Is there difference between 'movie' and 'film'? I'd definitely consider them film--for me it's anything for which the more natural medium is the big screen. – Vic Goldfeld Nov 30 '11 at 23:50
  • Are Mein Kampf, Peluca, or La jetée movies? I don't think most people would consider them to be movies; nor TV programs. "Films" probably... – Flimzy Nov 30 '11 at 23:54
  • 1
    I don't know the first two mentioned, but Chris Marker's La Jetée for sure is a movie. To the original question: another grey zone are tv-movies in multiple parts (mini-series), I think for example about "Wild Palms". – Mnementh Dec 1 '11 at 0:08
  • @Mnementh: It's 28 minutes long... that's not a very long movie :) I think most people call that a "short film" – Flimzy Dec 2 '11 at 5:06
  • 1
    Same length as most Charlie Chaplin movies. And they are usually called movies. – Mnementh Dec 2 '11 at 12:32
  • 3
    They're all just "moving pictures", right? At least, so long as you use a projector to watch them. Because a TV is actually millions and millions of little screens all lying to you while you passively take it in. </PoetLies> – Shog9 Dec 15 '11 at 2:20
  • I already added a sentence for this in the FAQ-template-question: meta.movies.stackexchange.com/q/40/66 – Mnementh Dec 15 '11 at 11:39
  • Wait, what consensus? The most upvoted answer on the relevant question is that TV series should be on-topic here. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Dec 17 '11 at 22:02
  • 2
    WE have a bunch of questions already on the site, answered even. Its not a matter of them being good questions or being answerable, it's a matter of them being on-topic for a movies site. – Tablemaker Jan 12 '12 at 2:03
  • 1
    Do not plan to leave questions closed (except as duplicates) but not deleted. Either the questions belong here and should be open, or do not belong here and should be deleted. Closed questions frustrate would-be answerers and give a wrong impression of the site. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jan 12 '12 at 2:25
  • 1
    Also, if we want to ask TV questions, I think everyone interested in TV questions should be committed (if you're already on this site, helping answering these, or commenting) or be pointed to the A51 topic on TV Buffs. – Tablemaker Jan 12 '12 at 2:28
  • 2
    What @Laura said is incorrect. It's right there in the FAQ: movies.stackexchange.com/faq#close. Closed questions are the transition period for users to edit their questions for a chance to reopen or migrate and if not queue for deletion. The SE scripts come along after a while and delete closed questions They are not left on the site for new users to see that's what your FAQ and your extended meta FAQ-tagged questions are for. – phwd Jan 12 '12 at 22:48
  • 1
    In general, I agree with you, @phwd. However, if there is a question that is a great example of something that is off-topic but the community expects to be a recurring problem, it makes sense to leave it as closed. As you said, they will be auto-deleted eventually anyway, but before that happens, they can discourage people from posting similar bad or off-topic questions. – Laura Jan 13 '12 at 1:16

18 Answers 18


Well, here's the information I just got. If we were to allow TV series as on-topic and the tv proposal makes it through, then any tv questions here would become off-topic and closed or migrated. If the tv proposal falls through then no issues whatsoever.

Since we have that ability, I'm switching my vote to allow for tv series.


There was a discussion on Area 51 regarding this: Why not merge movies and television and give both a chance? The question received 32 upvotes and the answer suggesting they should merge received 26 upvotes.

However, the question has now been tagged status-declined so it appears the powers that be disagree. It would be nice to get an explanation from the mods on the reasons for this!

So this leaves the question of where we draw the line between TV and Movies. There are many categories; here I'll list whether I think they should be here:

  • Films that were originally given a cinema release - obviously fine here.
  • TV series that never branched into cinema - definitely not here. (This would include series like Game of Thrones.)
  • Films that have been released on DVD/video only - probably fine here, but there may be exceptions like Futurama, where the films came from a TV series and were later shown as TV episodes.
  • TV series that later had a movie - the movie itself is fine here, but there can be overlap again (e.g. "in the Simpsons movie Homer did X, is that a reference to the TV series?" would be acceptable here and a TV.SE site)
  • TV movies or feature-length TV dramas - I don't know, but probably restricted to TV.SE.

After writing all this I really think the two proposals should be merged. There is a lot of overlap, and many of the basic concepts like plot, characters and storytelling apply to both. Heck, there are plenty of one-off TV dramas that are longer than some cinema-released moves (e.g. Phone Booth is barely over an hour long IIRC).

  • Right now, next to the powers that be, we're probably the second biggest force that could influence the merge--that is, if we don't frown upon the overlaps, and moreso if we decide to encourage TV high-production series (think HBO). – Vic Goldfeld Dec 1 '11 at 12:29
  • 6
    So it seems from the comments on the A51 post that the powers that be only closed the merge request because this site launched without including TV. So... if we want to include TV, we could probably still make it happen. – Flimzy Dec 1 '11 at 23:03

Yes, absolutely. Trying to draw a line between movies and TV is hopeless. There is too much overlap in both topic and audience. DisgruntledGoat's answer illustrates the slippery slope: if it's released in theaters, it's a movie. What if it flopped in theaters and got a second life on TV? What if it was intended for theaters but some deal fell through and it was never actually shown except on TV? What about direct-to-DVD releases? If these are all movies, then does it mean any made-for-TV movie is a movie? Is it just that made-for-TV movies are on-topic but not series? When do series start: do miniseries count? What distinguishes a series from those undending franchises with theatre releases (Terminator #42 kind of stuff?)

<deep breath>

All forms of motion pictures should be on-topic here.

There's a precedent for expanding a site early in the beta: Science Fiction and Fantasy initially launched as the “science fiction” site. Fortunately, that mistake was corrected after a few weeks. I urge the Movies community to ask and answer TV questions, so as to make this effectively a movie site encompassing TV.

  • 3
    I strongly disagree. All forms of motion picture are not created equally; comparing Buffy: The Vampire Slayer to When Harry Met Sally is patently ridiculous. Neither work is watched, absorbed, analyzed, or beloved in the same way at all. While both may have character development, plot, and clever writing, almost everything else about them is radically different! – Aarthi Dec 9 '11 at 5:41
  • 1
    @Aarthi: I don't buy it. If you compare Buffy to Bonanza or Harry&Sally to Evil Dead, you also can say they radically different. The main point here are not the differences, but what are the things movies have in common and separate them from other things? Can you draw the line between TV-shows and movies, can you define movies? I don't say here TV-shows should be on-topic, but I think that it's not that easy. – Mnementh Dec 9 '11 at 12:22
  • 3
    If you read what I wrote earlier, it's not the content that's different -- it's how they're watched. In my opinion, that's where the line should be drawn, or at least where the line should start to be drawn. How you converse with others about movies is very different from you you converse with others about TV shows. Yes, there are going to be fringe cases where the line is blurry and the area is gray, but 95% of the time it's going to be pretty clear to people who avidly (and actively) consume both. I agree that the distinction has nuances, but for the most part the two are discrete. – Aarthi Dec 9 '11 at 13:56
  • To reiterate what I wrote in my answer: what is a television show and what is a film is completely, totally crystal clear 90-95% of the time. How often are people going to come here to ask questions about Lifetime Movies? Honestly? We shouldn't burden an already ridiculously stretched-thin site with the ENTIRETY of television as well. I honestly do not think the fandoms overlap any more than Literature and Gaming's or any other type of media, and those are two separate sites. – Brett White Dec 9 '11 at 14:47
  • I don't think that's right. Here in germany the both mediums are very interchangeable. Actors, Directors and Writers work both for TV and Cinema. The differences are low: Both are about acting, plot-development and so on. And they are watched very much in the same way. Most of the people even see movies for the cinema the first time in the TV. – Mnementh Dec 14 '11 at 22:44

I asked this question, because I want to draw no artificial lines between movies, regardless of the medium they were produced for. Because I think they should be on-topic I had no problem to ask about TV-movies and mini-series. Nobody objected, not in a close-vote (we have 7 more users, who could cast a close-vote), a down-vote or a comment. So I think the community agrees, that they are on-topic.

  • I missed the "mini series" one (and would have assumed it was about Das Boot the movie), but if any TV show is off-topic then any "mini series" is clearly off-topic, as there is no difference. What would make your question on-topic but a question about Lost off-topic? – DisgruntledGoat Dec 13 '11 at 23:35
  • Though the mini-series example was rather badly chosen, as it is and has always been a movie, even produced for cinema, no matter how they post-produce it for television years later. – Napoleon Wilson Dec 13 '11 at 23:43
  • 1
    @DisgruntledGoat: The difference is what Christian Rau says: if you cut together the parts of a mini-series, you have a (long) movie with an ongoing plot. If you cut together Lost, you have episodes, that are cutted together. You cannot see a part of a mini-series without the others, they work only together. Different to TV-shows. – Mnementh Dec 14 '11 at 7:48
  • @Christian Rau: Yes, I know. I had problems to come up with a good question about Wild Palms. – Mnementh Dec 14 '11 at 7:54
  • 1
    Parts of Lost are episodic but most of it is one continuous storyline. The Wire would be a better example - miss one episode and it's just as hard to catch up as any "mini series". – DisgruntledGoat Dec 14 '11 at 10:14
  • I don't know that, that's why I cannot decide about that. But as I wrote earlier, I'm open to multi-part movies: meta.movies.stackexchange.com/a/61/66 – Mnementh Dec 14 '11 at 10:36

I agree with @RobertCartaino 's dispelling of those two weak reasons, and I feel my own opinions on this matter are strong enough to warrant another answer and not a comment that could get lost in the shuffle.

I believe that movies and television are two fundamentally different things. Yes, they overlap in terms of storytelling technique at times (should we therefore allow any fiction in here?) and also personnel at times (in that case, should the discography of Will Smith, Jennifer Lopez or Lil' Bow Wow be on topic here?), and they both boil down to Moving Images With Sound Attached For Pleasure Effect (so by that logic, video games and music videos would also be covered as well). But honestly, movies and television are incredibly easy to differentiate 90% of the time. We should not bend this site's content just to make up for the 10% of content where there is debate. And also, the audiences for both are not the same. It's only recently, as cable television has started to up the quality of the artform, that television has even been acknowledged as an artistic equal to movies. Do we think that real movie professionals, the ones we want to use this site, would take us seriously if we have a "Glee" question next to one about "There Will Be Blood"? I realize there's that big of a genre disparity within movies as well, but I think we run the risk of coming across as foolish by lumping television and movies together.

I don't want this to sound like I don't want a TV stack exchange. My college major was television production. I have a degree in television. I love television. I love television way more than movies. I would love to ask a million questions about "Friday Night Lights" right now, but I don't want to do that on a site that also has movies. Because they are different things. It astounds me that it's taken movies this long to launch, but I feel that's indicative of the Stack Overflow audience, as that's who makes up the core group of users who get sites to private beta. A movies site is something we can pitch to the general public and get them to use. Then that audience can push a TV site through as well. The TV proposal isn't working because the audience isn't here yet, and I think this Movies site is going to help us get that audience.

Lastly, the scope of this site is already insanely broad. Movies. All movies. All movies ever. That covers...a LOT. Why are we so anxious to just add potentially more noise to this site? Going back to my "Glee"/"There Will Be Blood" example, do any of you really want to slog through questions about both movies AND TV shows you don't like/watch?

Keep this site focused on movies and make it awesome. The TV crowd will come.

  • 3
    I think if we had a TV site I would just ask "WHY ARE HUSH AND THE BODY SO AMAZING AND HOW CAN I GET JOSS WHEDON TO MARRY ME" over and over and over and over and watch them get closed each time. – hairboat Dec 2 '11 at 15:09
  • 1
    Isn't there already a Glee movie? In which case, the situation you describe can happen right now ;) – DisgruntledGoat Dec 2 '11 at 18:15
  • You sir, have a fine point. – Vic Goldfeld Dec 6 '11 at 18:14
  • 1
    This is already a site where you can have a Rocky question next to a Maltese Falcon question. Why not Rome as well? – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Dec 8 '11 at 23:35
  • 3
    Because movie consumption and TV consumption are two very different things. Look at the fandoms for both alone; how fans of each medium interact (prosume, if you will) the media is totally different. Yes, there's fanfiction and fanart, whatever. But the larger questions of analysis and mis en scene are totally different. To use a Literature metaphor: you don't look at a serialized novel the same way as a single one, and neither is analyzed the same way as a short story collection. These are different platforms for visual storytelling; that prepositional phrase is the sole-ish commonality. – Aarthi Dec 9 '11 at 5:39
  • "It's only recently, as cable television has started to up the quality of the artform, that television has even been acknowledged as an artistic equal to movies." - That's wrong. There existed all along great TV-shows or TV-movies that were high in quality. – Mnementh Dec 9 '11 at 19:05
  • I agree about that, yes. There have been great TV shows from day one. But regarding academic study and popular opinion, it's only in recent years that it's been universally accepted that television is equal to film. – Brett White Dec 9 '11 at 19:07

TV specials like Rudolph that are non-serialized, to me, fall into a category similar or equal to short films. I vote that they are on-topic.

  • So if it is serialized, in the case of Sherlock,it is off-topic? – phwd Dec 14 '11 at 22:53
  • I would say if the series is only a few episodes that carry a continuous plot line, they're acceptable. We can probably just decide these on a case-by-case basis if/when they come up. – Laura Dec 15 '11 at 18:36

I think the main reason for the whole discussion about "TV-movies or not?" or "TV-series or not" is just because many people don't realize the fact that the concepts TV and movies are pretty much orthogonal, with the TV-movies and mini-series belonging to both. This makes TV-movies on-topic both in movies.se and tv.se (or whatever it will be called).

But neither does this magically make Dexter on-topic on movies.se, no matter how similar it is to a movie or how well you can analyze and compare it to movies, it stays a TV-series. Nor does it make Ghosts of Mars on-topic on tv.se because it once aired on your local tv-channel. And in contrast to another answer, quality doesn't have anything to do with it (and I'm aware of the quality difference between those two examples, even as a Carpenter-fan).

Maybe one day movies.se is merged with tv.se. Then everything is on-topic of course. But for now it's movies.se, where only movies are on-topic (no matter for which medium they were produced). Sure this definition may seem like nit-picking or relying on hard facts instead of artistic facts, but you just have to draw a line somewhere and then I'd like to have this based on something objective rather than something highly subjective, like quality.

  • @Alonzo Well, I think questions about cooking are off-topic on StackOverflow, the same as questions about TV-shows are off-topic on Movies.se. This has nothing to do with snobbism (at least from my point of view), I definitely watch more TV-shows than movies, many of which are of really high quality. It is just simple reasoning and common sense about what a movie is (see this answer for a good definition of a movie, which is just intuitive). Like said you just have to draw a line somewhere and c'mon I'm sure you know what a movie is... – Napoleon Wilson Dec 14 '11 at 21:51
  • @Alonzo ...Those topic-borders are not just there for their own sake, but for separating different topics. This site has been designed and commited as movies.se. period. If you want to ask about TV-shows, why not just commit for TV.se and wait for it to go online. And to your second comment. That may be a wrong statement from me as I'm not that acquainted with the mechanisms of Area51. It was rather meant as a general statement than something to be expected to happen in reality. – Napoleon Wilson Dec 14 '11 at 21:58
  • @Alonzo Well, I'm not one of the people that declined this merge, but it just happened. Rather than trying to turn movies.se into TV-and-movies (or whatever), and making the tv.se proposal obsolete, you should rather do some advertising work for tv.se, so that it goes online as soon as possible. And well, yes, I take the title of a site seriously and I have a clear understanding of what a movie is, even if I cannot give you an exact definition. Considering that the original proposal surely didn't contain TV-shows. A declined merge is not a reason to go on some crusade for merging it anyhow. – Napoleon Wilson Dec 14 '11 at 22:06
  • @Alonzo Now, everybody who wants to ask and answer about TV-shows can commit for TV.se. I finally commited, because I guess I also would enjoy such a site (but yes, I want them to be different sites). If the site doesn't launch due to not enough commiters, what does this tell us? Maybe we might even do some advertising for it here on movies.se, considering that they're indeed very related? This could lure in some people than aren't aware of its existence or the workings of Area51. But I don't know to which extent this is possible in the StackExchange architecture. – Napoleon Wilson Dec 15 '11 at 19:05
  • If Movies and TV are to be merged, the quicker the better, before rejecting TV on this site becomes established policy. The Area 51 merge was declined solely because the SE team didn't want to make a decision and left it up to the burgeoning community here. Look on Science Fiction & Fantasy for a precedent: initially it was only about science fiction, and fortunately it the scope was extended to speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, alternative history, …) and the Fantasy site proposal was merged in. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Dec 17 '11 at 21:47
  • @Gilles Well, whatever the community decides, I still hope we get two separate sites and cannot see the problem with this, except maybe for the fact that TV wouldn't launch otherwise, which is just no reason. I am commited for TV and hope the best. – Napoleon Wilson Dec 17 '11 at 22:09

The proposal is marked [status-declined] simply because the site launched and the merge didn't happen. Now, as to whether it should (or shouldn't) happen… I'll leave that to the experts here to chime in.

Closing that Area 51 discussion brings that discussion out of the theoretical (a proposal) and into this forum, where the actual users charged with the responsibility of building this site can discuss it.

But I would like to dispel two weak reasons to consider a merger:

  1. Merge TV or it will never launch. That's never a good reason in and of itself. Either they're a complementary audience, or they're not. Combining sites only to prop up the numbers is never done. The audiences have to complement each others' interests or you'll never get the network effects you need to reach critical mass in the subject.
  2. Where will TV Theatrical Releases Go? I'm not buying that one either. TV is just one source of story lines for movies. I'm sure you can discuss one in the context of the other without worrying too much about crossover. If they are that inseparable, this site will have to include comic books, plays, short stories, books, news events, history, poetry, and stand-up comedians, too.
  • 1
    Well I think the cross over on actors and production techniques alone is a good reason. Much TV material is made as movies are, and vice-versa. – Vic Goldfeld Dec 2 '11 at 1:07
  • @VicSzpilman: I do not believe this site is (or will be) about production techniques. As I understand it, this "Movies Stack Exchange" is about the appreciation of the end product. That's what a "film aficionado" is. – Robert Cartaino Dec 2 '11 at 3:45

To put it simply, movies are named such because they are "Moving Pictures". TV does fall into this category. Also, I know it is still early in the beta, but our numbers aren't showing much promise, and merging the 2 would not be a terrible idea and by merging the two, it would give them both the combined user-base to move this past beta.

  • 3
    In that case, the title of this site should be changed to "Film" or "Film Appreciation" to truly narrow down the scope of it so that it DOES have a chance to survive. And movies are a billion dollar industry; it shouldn't have to be lumped together with television in order to survive. The vast movie-going audience just needs to be made aware of the Stack Exchange model and existence and then presented with this site, which should be clearly about movies/film. – Brett White Dec 9 '11 at 14:50
  • Is there such a bad thing about lumping them together and then splitting TV off when the site itself has enough ground? Isn't that how ServerFault and SuperUser got started anyway as a branch of StackOverflow? – Tablemaker Dec 9 '11 at 14:54
  • 2
    I think that's a valid point. I am mainly worried about how cluttered and useless this site could become if its scope grew. It encompasses all movies right now, which is huge, and I find maybe 1 question a day pertaining to something I've seen. The large scope makes it almost useless to me. Opening it up to television opens the floodgates. And also, I believe the way professionals who analyze television and films are, for the most part, separate, and I worry about our site being taken seriously by those professionals who we want to participate in the site. – Brett White Dec 9 '11 at 14:58
  • The unfortunate of the matter is that it will happen no matter how much we try to moderate/flag/separate. I'm a fairly avid user on SF and there are literally metric F*** tons of questions asked there everyday that are OT about home setups or "PLZ HALP MEH" questions. The community there is strong enough, however, to moderate and migrate it appropriately. If the decision was made to merge this with TV and then later notice that TV is getting a much higher volume and worthy of separation, I don't think it would be too daunting a task to separate them out by Mod/high rep powers. – Tablemaker Dec 9 '11 at 15:03
  • 3
    But I also don't think anyone is going to come to a site labeled "movies" or "Film" and ask a television questions. The entirety of the pop-culture consuming population can tell the difference between a movie and a TV show, and if someone is misguided enough to ask a question about "Friends" on a site clearly labeled "Movies" then...they are a lost cause. – Brett White Dec 9 '11 at 15:37
  • You'd be surprised at the amount of lost causes then ;). That being said, I wish we got an explanation as to why that question on the area51 was declined by a mod without explanation and would love their thoughts on the matter. – Tablemaker Dec 9 '11 at 16:10

Thinking back, I think we should apply a very simple rule to determine the scope of the site. When you think “movie” and “website”, there is one site on the Internet that comes immediately to mind, so we should follow its scope. Thus:

A movie is whatever IMDB considers a movie.

Now I couldn't find a definition of what IMDB considers a movie, but it does include TV series. Therefore, TV series are on-topic here.

  • I think it is not the baddest idea to learn from the experience of another community. – Mnementh Dec 31 '11 at 17:19
  • It is a good suggestion, clean and easy to apply. I am not entirely sure that I agree with it, for example wildlife documentary series (like Planet Earth) and 'reality' TV shows (like Big Brother or Sister Wives) are included in IMDB. I don't want to exclude documentaries intended for theatrical release, but neither do I think wildlife documentary series is what this group is about either. – iandotkelly Jan 2 '12 at 16:48
  • 1
    Basically if we go down that route, we become a Movie and TV site - not saying that is a bad thing per se, but it is a bigger question when you consider a TV-Buffs site is in commitment phase. – iandotkelly Jan 2 '12 at 16:51
  • @iandotkelly My point here is to follow IMDB. If IMDB had not included TV series, I might have rescinded my pro-TV statement. Following IMDB both provides a coherent scope and gives a simple description of that scope. We can write in the FAQ “If IMDB says it's a movie, it's on-topic here”, that's a lot better than 3 paragraphs of rules and buts. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jan 2 '12 at 18:32
  • 1
    @Gilles - well I do like the idea of having a definitive guide and the idea is attractive. One thing however, IMDB does distinguish between movies and tv-series. We could go with 'only things that IMDB states are movies' or 'anything in IMDB' - which are you proposing? – iandotkelly Jan 2 '12 at 19:36
  • @iandotkelly “Anything in IMDB”. Otherwise it gets complicated, especially if we include movies made to be released on TV (which, after all, are written and directed exactly like movies released in cinemas, and produced very similarly). – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jan 2 '12 at 19:50
  • @Gilles - after some thought I will downvote this proposal. It has some strong points (it is easy and definitive and I don't mind the idea of TV drama being included), but I am personally not eager to include Reality TV, News and Current Affairs TV here, all of which can be found on IMDB. If the will of the community is for these (and in effect a full merger with TV-buffs) then fair enough, but this is my personal opinion. – iandotkelly Jan 2 '12 at 19:55
  • @Gilles - the question is how and when do we need to resolve this. The options appear to be a) Theatrical Release only, b) All Movies (perhaps using IMDB movies only), c) Including TV drama, d) All TV. I am moving more towards c) than I was (mainly to increase traffic) – iandotkelly Jan 3 '12 at 14:11

The problem I see is if the site becomes popular (which is the goal), then you might be into the same situation as stackoverflow was and you end up needing to split it into multiple sites anyway.


TV movies should be on-topic, because the only difference between a theatrically released movie and a TV movie is its distribution channel. The production is the same, the audience is the same, the artistic nature is the same.


I personally think that it is making it quite hard if you start saying that TV tie-in movies are off topic. What would Star Trek movies be? Unless you are saying that a major theatrical release supersedes the tie in - which could become confusing.

Even so, with TV releases only, a stand-alone science fiction tv movie would be on-topic, but a one-off Dr. Who full length movie would be off-topic? I'm not sure that is a makes a very clear dividing line.

Then there is the question of the TV-Buffs proposal. Some people here have suggested to increase the number of questions and create a critical mass that we should combine with them and throw the doors open to all TV. Personally if we can create a critical mass without including TV series, then that would be my preferred option but it would be disappointing for the beta to fail because the group is too narrow.

It strikes me that we have broadly 4 options:

  1. Theatrical Releases Only
  2. Including TV movies (of which Shads0's suggestion is a slight amendment)
  3. Including fictional TV series
  4. Including all TV

I waver between option 2 and 3 - mostly because of the critical mass issue.

  • 2
    I continue to support #4. I won't repeat my arguments here since we've already covered this debate in other threads. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jan 12 '12 at 2:11
  • What I was going for is the tie-ins that are TV only, like an extension of the show, a la the Dr. Who movie, released only on TV was a part of the long running series. Serenity, the movie ending Firefly would be On-Topic because it had a major theatrical release, same with any Star Trek movies released in theaters. – Tablemaker Jan 12 '12 at 2:14

Why are we still having this discussion as Gilles said this is a duplicate of Should we cover TV Series here?

Now that we have moderators established, it is time once and for all to decide if TV shows are on topic or not for the scope of this site.

What does this mean? Now that you are moderators? Does that mean you are going to overrule all previous decisions? Then do it. Stop asking.

SE Staff have already closed Tv questions (e.g. Dexter) whether based on a flag on a user or not, the question has been closed single handedly by a SE comunity team moderator. You have answer right there. TV-topics are clearly off-topic.

In addition to this based on many previous discussions, there were 2-3 other SE staff members engaging in debate on the matter.

So we have 4 SE staff members against the TV inclusion

Then you have Gilles and me (Alonzo) for it.

So this question is not going to bring about any decision as users will just be rehashing old discussion.

You three moderators just make a decision and deal with it

Either say it is off-topic or say it is on-topic. You were elected, time to show your guns and make decisions you have all the points talk to your fellow mods and make a decision.

  • Then so be it, if my fellow mods agree (as they seem to, noting their answers), then TV will be declared Off-Topic for Movies.SE. – Tablemaker Jan 13 '12 at 2:43
  • I have reviewed the prior questions on Meta and Area 51 - and there seems to be a general consensus for trying TV out - therefore on this issue I will side with Giles and phwd/Alonzo - and say we should trial TV questions. – iandotkelly Jan 13 '12 at 3:36
  • @TylerShads - I think you have misread my answers - I definitely think we should be including all TV movies (including tie-ins), and would not be adverse to trialing all fictional TV. I do struggle with Giles's 'everything on imdb' approach, which would include TV news for example. – iandotkelly Jan 13 '12 at 3:38
  • @phwd - we were not elected, we volunteered and were appointed. The intention is that we represent the community as it develops from Beta to a fully fledged site. I think it is important that I represent the significant portion of people that want to include TV. – iandotkelly Jan 13 '12 at 3:53
  • @iandotkelly it seems I have. – Tablemaker Jan 13 '12 at 4:05
  • @iandotkelly yes you were appointed to steer the course of the community. You represent what you think is the intended course of the community and based on experience I can tell you sometimes you will not get feedback and have to take a call. Which is what I am saying make a call I know all users already in discussion and it doesn't seem like it is changing so make a call. – phwd Jan 13 '12 at 5:13

I would include all movies, even if they are split up in multiple parts. That would include mini-series like Wild Palms or shows like Game of Thrones, that have one story line. That would not include Star Trek, where every episode is independent of the others.

  • 3
    That's too much of a grey area. What about a series where most of the episodes are standalone, but there is a 2 or 3 part episode? Or series with plot strands running through multiple episodes (e.g. The X Files)? If something is originally shown on TV, it's a TV show. – DisgruntledGoat Dec 2 '11 at 18:08
  • That's why I worded it as movie in multiple parts. That does not include 2- or 3-part-episodes in shows and does not include the plot running through episodes as background (Farscape, Primeval, Andromeda). But if the coherent plot is not background for single episodes but instead the main theme of every episode, that's different. Game of Throne is really the only show I know, that would match that. Mini-series are much more common, these would also match the definition. – Mnementh Dec 2 '11 at 18:15
  • Game of Thrones has one story line? You cannot be serious. – user348 Dec 16 '11 at 19:44

The main reason I suggested only 'cinema movies' in another thread is to make it as clear cut and easy to understand the rules as possible.

The problem with the TV argument is that there are only tiny steps between each format: from cinema releases to DVD movies to TV movies to 'continuing' TV series to episodic TV series... all the way down to soap operas and game shows.

What about one-off TV drama or comedy features? They are rarely called TV movies but can be 60-90 minutes long and share almost everything with theatrical movies.

Similarly if TV movies are fine, and documentary movies are fine, that makes any singular (non-episodic) documentary ever broadcast on TV fine as well. I watched a BBC documentary yesterday about Facebook; of course it would never be broadcast in a cinema but in reality it's no different from, say, 'Senna'.

  • What you say has some points and pushes my opinion a step into the direction of including TV-series (not game shows) as well. Works of art in form of moving pictures. I have no clear opinion so far on inclusion of tv-series, but at the moment I lean towards inclusion. – Mnementh Dec 14 '11 at 10:41

Why are we repeating Should we cover TV Series here?

I propose that the site covers what IMDB covers.

This includes movies released in theaters, movies released on TV, and series released on TV. Fiction or documentary. Live action or not.

All of these have the same production methods, the same range of production values, and very similar audiences.

Furthermore, the limit is hard to define — witness your more and more abstruse “clarifications”.

We don't have many TV questions on the site as yet, but the only opposition they've had is based on the assumption that TV questions are off-topic (maybe, but that's not decided yet), not on quality (which seems to be the main argument of the anti-TV crowd).

  • 1
    The fact of it being decided is what this discussion is for. As it stands this is a community site and a majority of those people that have commented on those questions as well as SE employees have decided it best to not merge the two. So to me, we should discourage TV questions to be a movie only site. Should things change and SE sees that it is better to merge the two for the success of a site, then so be it. As @Iandotkelly pointed out in your earlier comment about IMDB, they cover any type of moving pictures and are an Internet Movie Database so it is in their best interest(cont) – Tablemaker Jan 12 '12 at 20:54
  • to cover everything they possibly can. Where as a SE site, I feel, should be about asking specific and perplexing questions about movies and production. Which also means limiting the scope. Don't get me wrong, I'm not entirely against merging the two down the line if it comes to that. But I think for the moment, we need a concrete rule. I do not see any difficulty technically, moderation wise, or community wise about letting them merge down the line if it should have to come to that. But at this current moment in time, there is an active A51 proposal for TV buffs and that should (cont) – Tablemaker Jan 12 '12 at 20:56
  • have all the TV traffic and have it off-topic here on this site. If that proposal gets killed due to inactivity, I see no problem with SE wanting to merge the two, again, should it come to that. – Tablemaker Jan 12 '12 at 20:57
  • @TylerShads The most upvoted answer is in favor of accepting TV questions. Asking interesting questions has nothing to do with having a very narrow scope. I do propose a concrete rule. As I said in chat yesterday, there is not going to be a merge later: either the site includes TV now, or it never will. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jan 12 '12 at 21:02
  • And how are you basing that statement? SE has not said that anywhere, nor confirmed or denied it. – Tablemaker Jan 12 '12 at 21:03
  • @TylerShads Which statement? That there won't be a merge later? Because that's how SE beta sites work: build up a set of questions, and bring in experts. If there's a whole subtopic that doesn't have questions and doesn't have experts for the first few months, it may never really take on, even when everyone agrees that the subtopic is perfectly on-topic (I've seen that happen on Information Security and Theoretical Computer Science) – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jan 12 '12 at 21:27
  • @TylerShads What might happen would be merging a movies site and a TV site, if both launch and both have quality content and one or both have very low traffic and the planets are aligned properly. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jan 12 '12 at 21:49
  • actually @gilles my answer against tv shows currently has the top vote... of two. Honestly until we can get a significant number of upvotes this question will never get decided. – DForck42 Jan 13 '12 at 4:49

Some time I was on the fence regarding the question if TV-series should be on-topic or not. I think I came now to the opinion, that I prefer the inclusion of TV-series (opposing the proposal given by this question).

The main influences for my opinion are the arguments by @Brett_White and @Gilles.

Yes, Brett White opposes the inclusion of TV-series. But his main argument is the difference in quality between movies and TV-series. That's an incredible weak argument. First of all it is wrong: There are extremely bad movies and great TV-series. Secondly the on- or off-topic-question should not be decided by the quality of the subject of the question. We don't have a SO for great programming languages and one for horrific languages. We have one SO, there all questions about all programming languages go. I didn't see, that anyone arguing against inclusion brought up a better argument.

Gilles on the other hand has made a much better point for the inclusion of TV-series. They are basically produced in a similar way, with similar skills and similar contents.

Joel Spolsky says the right size for a SE-site is the size of a university-department. But how big would be a university department about movies? Would it include TV-series? But Spolsky gives a hint:

So: the right size might be somewhere around the size of a university department. Somehow, the cultural anthropologists don’t mind sharing a building with the physical anthropologists, and when they both find themselves at the Yale-Harvard football game, you can bet that they’ll sit together and find something anthropological to talk about.

Would people arguing about movies find something to talk in common with people liking TV-series? Yes! They are both can talk about acting-skills, plot-development and the personal style of the directors. The persons making movies and tv-series are mostly the same. There is some artificial line in the USA, but here in Germany all well-known actors and directors also worked for TV-series. Yes they also might make music, but while making a movie and a tv-series involves basically the same skills and has similar artistical properties, making music is a different thing. But if someone asks here on movies.se about the acting-career of Julianna Margulies, should we exclude the Good wife and only talk about her movies? But if we ask the same question for Will Smith, we can exclude his music, as it does not interfere with his acting.

So I propose that we should include TV-series. The definition could be something like: 'motion pictures created as a work of art'. That excludes game-shows and news.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .