So, having been on here for about two weeks, I want to point out some things that I am frustrated with, particular with this Movies and TV community. As a newcomer, I feel that my opinion should be taken seriously, since this is going to be a place for more and more new users to join and contribute to, and because as a new user I can already see these flaws (which I believe may actually be detrimental, explained below).

The main issue I have with this community is the bending of the rules, especially the "What makes a good question?" rule. I recently came upon this question. As one of the answers said, Tarantino hasn't given a definite answer, so most of the interpretations will be based off of strong judgement, if not just opinion-based. Given that, I searched on Google and came upon many answers, especially from Quora. Given this, I felt that the need for this question was unnecessary. Yet the question kept gaining upvotes. I was confused. Was this really a good question?

Then, looking upon other questions, I came upon a realization. And note that many of you will not like the sound of this, but:

This community is already a niche where movie geeks like to recollect on the "amazing" movies of a particular kind. Like we have the Superheroes niche, and the Old-classics niche. And these niches upvote questions related to their niche, and it creates a problem where the interests of such a site as Stack Exchange come into conflict with the interests of the members to keep "worthy questions" at the top of the list. Do you see the issue? The sole idea of SE is to keep powerful, concise, useful questions at the top of the list, but now they're filled by just those that relate to niches.

I still see very good questions that are at the top of the upvotes list, but some of these other questions don't deserve to be up there. For people who may just come on here to find good questions, they'll come upon "less useful" questions. This defeats the whole purpose of SE.

Thank you for reading this.

  • 3
    Can you add some backing to your "realization" of people voting for questions just because they like the movie (other than the fact that they just don't downvote the questions you don't like)?
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Jul 1, 2016 at 14:14
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    Could you perhaps come up with a title that's a bit less... asking for trouble? Something that's more open to understanding rather than complaining that this community is broken.
    – Catija
    Jul 1, 2016 at 14:15
  • I understand the community is broken, but if we can take steps to fix it, then newcomers (like me; I'm simply here to address the problem, and see if we can take steps to fix it) will definitely see it, am I not correct in assuming that? Jul 1, 2016 at 14:16
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    What was really bad about the question? Seems fine to me. Good question doesn't means it should always be unique and unanswerable on Google search. If you have good googling skill then you can almost always found the answer by searching.
    – Ankit Sharma Mod
    Jul 1, 2016 at 14:17
  • The reason I found it to be bad was that: 1) As far as we know, Tarantino has not answered the question. Therefore, only opinions (or at best very educated guesses) will be answers. 2) Sites like Quora are more dedicated towards these kinds of questions, which I believe was the different between SE and them. Jul 1, 2016 at 14:19
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    No. You think the community is broken. I did not say that the community is broken... You're doing everything you can to get a rise out of the people here by telling us that we don't know what we're doing but you're not trying to understand why the community is the way it is.
    – Catija
    Jul 1, 2016 at 14:19
  • And how is the community? Like Quora? Because there's a site for that. It's called, oh wait, it's called Quora. Did I mention that this is why I thought this question (and others like it) don't belong on this site? Jul 1, 2016 at 14:20
  • P.S. I'm only getting agitated because this is exactly what SE was NOT supposed to be, as far as when they created SO Jul 1, 2016 at 14:21
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    The sites like M&TV are not expected to follow the same rules as SO. That's simply not how the network works. We are a "soft" site... we're allowed to have questions that are more subjective and answers don't have to be based on data. It's fine to have answers that make educated guesses based on what information we do have.
    – Catija
    Jul 1, 2016 at 14:22
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    @ragingasiancoder "Tarantino has not answered the question", maybe or maybe not but that doesn't make the question wrong. Quroa shouldn't bother us, and everyone from here not active on Quara either, so whatever they are dedicated towards have no effect on us.
    – Ankit Sharma Mod
    Jul 1, 2016 at 14:23
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    So what is your actual question here? Do you want to know why people upvoted a question you don't think deserves it? Do you want to know what to do against this "broken" community? Do you want to know why it's "broken"?
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Jul 1, 2016 at 14:30
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    I think you have discovered why there are (at least) two separate Q&A networks (Quora and SO/SE) instead of one big one: They both exist because there are subtle differences and some people like one more and other people like the other one more. If you prefer Quora, then use Quora! I don't see SE/SO as fundamentally better than Quora, nor do I see it as tryng to be very different either. They are two different communities with different flavors. Use the one you like best, or use both if you like them both in different ways. Jul 1, 2016 at 14:44
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    I have a question about your question: You posted in the M&TV meta, and the question seems to be specifically about M&TV and the "niches" (similar to cliques, right?) on M&TV. And then your comments seem to be partly about SE/SO in general. I feel like it's wise to understand what criticisms people might have about this community and about SE/SO in general. So my question is, do you feel like your issue is mostly with the M&TV community specifically, or the SE/SO model as a whole, or equally about both? Jul 1, 2016 at 14:48
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    I've never used Quora until just now (to better understand your question/concern). Not being able to browse and read to my heart's content without signing in is a total deal breaker for me. When you say this site has been "dedicated for its purpose", I wonder if the purpose you are thinking of is the same one that most other users here are thinking of. Note that the users of SE sites create and continually update the purpose of each Stack! So if you're feeling like the tone and purpose of a Stack has changed, you're probably right. That's how it's supposed to be. Jul 1, 2016 at 16:14
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    "should not be part of the "good" question category" - I think that's the crux right there. You have a valid opinion that is not shared by the majority of SE users - particularly on M&TV. The way SE sites are run is decided by a majority of that site's users (SE sites are community run). So if you have an opinion that is in the minority about how a site is run, you are likely to be dissatisfied with the site. Personally, I try to cope with the things that I dislike and seek out the elements that I like and overall find some good in SE. You'll have to make your own decision on it. Jul 1, 2016 at 16:41

1 Answer 1


It seems like this is the central thrust of your question (emphasis mine):

I still see very good questions that are at the top of the upvotes list, but some of these other questions don't deserve to be up there. For people who may just come on here to find good questions, they'll come upon "less useful" questions. This defeats the whole purpose of SE.

If I understand you correctly, you feel like the top-voted questions on M&TV are just not very good questions. That's a valid viewpoint. I think what is happening is that your viewpoint doesn't match up with the majority of M&TV users. Further, I think there's a disagreement about interpreting the purpose of SE in general, and M&TV specifically.

For discussion purposes, we can refer to the list of M&TV questions, sorted by number of votes, highest-voted listed first, available here: https://movies.stackexchange.com/questions?sort=votes

On the first page of highest voted questions, we see a few specific movies represented: Groundhog Day, The Sixth Sense, Back to the Future (twice), Jurassic Park, Shutter Island, Fight Club, Pulp Fiction, and 2010.

Comparing that with the questions with the lowest vote score/most downvotes, it seems like you might have a point about favored movie "niches". None of the movies represented in the highest-voted questions appear on the page of lowest-voted questions. Also, Titanic appears more than once in the lowest-voted questions, and if there were movie snobbery going on at M&TV, a bias against Titanic questions seems at least plausible.

So on its face, your concern seems to hold water. Let's look more closely at the highest and lowest voted questions and see if the differences seem to be primarily about the movies in question, or whether other factors might be at play. First, let's review what the community has decided are the goals of SE and M&TV:

From the Stack Exchange Tour (emphasis mine):

We build libraries of high-quality questions and answers, focused on each community's area of expertise.

From the M&TV Help Center (emphasis mine):

If your question generally covers...

  • Analysis of content or theme of all forms of Movies and TV series
  • Identifying a Movie or TV series (see below for details)
  • Questions about a Movie or TV show's production.
  • The works of a director / an actor / a writer related to Movies & TV

The topics of the lowest voted questions include the following:

What is interesting about the lowest voted questions is that two of them are very similar to the question that started your chain of thought leading to this meta question. How long did Rose and Jack know each other for? and What “promise” does Coop make to Murph? seem to have been heavily downvoted because finding the answers was considered trivially simple to the downvoters (e.g., a simple Google search). That brings up the question: Are questions that can be easily answered not the best questions for Stack Exchange and/or Movies & TV?

According to this, there is no policy against "Google questions", and in fact, this states that "easy questions" are encouraged. Based on that, I feel a few of the lowest-voted questions on M&TV actually should not have been downvoted for the apparent or stated reason. Aside from that, the lowest-voted questions mainly seem to have problems not related to what movie the questions refers to. They do not seem to be about the preferred topics for M&TV, and some even fit into the category of questions that specifically should not be asked on M&TV.

Going back to the highest-voted questions, we see the following themes:

Referring to the Help Center notes quoted above, we can see that by-and-large, the highest voted questions on M&TV are right in line with the stated goals of the community.

So it seems hard to support the idea that certain movies are favored by "niches" on M&TV which is causing "bad" questions to be upvoted.

Moreover, it seems that the source of your dissatisfaction is most likely that you simply have a different opinion of what is a "good" question and what is a "bad" question than what has been agreed upon by the members of the M&TV and larger Stack Exchange communities. Most specifically: You seem to dislike "easy" or "Google" questions, while Stack Exchange policy favors such questions.

Point of agreement (edited):

This question: What has the greatest chance of being in Marcellus Wallace's briefcase? seems to me to be not a very good question on its own. It calls for complete speculation, the answer has been debated upwards and downwards across the whole internet, and it seems primed to create a meaningless argument. And yet it is one highest-voted questions on the site. Why is that? Is it because there are enough Tarantino or Pulp Fiction fans here who will just upvote any question about one or the other? Perhaps. It is true that there is no question on M&TV with the tag with a score lower than 1.

That said, I think the most likely explanation for a question that could be considered bad or at least borderline having such a good score is what we might call the "great answer halo effect". The top voted answer contains a very informative, relevant, edifying, and amusing quote straight from one of the writers. Notice that the top voted answer has a higher score than the question. That is a good sign that the answer is deemed more valuable than the question. When there are good answers to bad questions, many voters are tempted (and I'm guilty of this myself) to upvote the question as well, since without the question being asked in the first place, there could not have been such a great answer posted. Also, this question is from 2011, when the site rules and criteria were likely different.

Should it be that way? Maybe, maybe not. I could see an argument in favor of upvoting questions that seem bad but accidentally provide great content for the site. A counter argument might be that upvoting bad questions with good answers encourages others to ask bad questions. Regardless, the way SE works is that the votes decide the score of a question or answer, and the voters decide the votes, and that's the system. So you have to take the downsides of the voting system with the upsides.

  • 1
    We do discourage "tivia" questions to some degree. However, this is not about easy answerability, but about the fact if the question itself is of any relevance to begin with. Those are quite different aspects (even if they can be interrelated). To say it simply, "the answer is easy" is not a close-reason, while "noone cares about this" is. Otherwise interesting analysis.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Jul 1, 2016 at 16:31
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    What might also factor into the perceived voting issue of questions about famous/liked movies being upvoted more is probably also that simply more people are going to read and care about those questions in the first place. This doesn't mean they vote them up just because they like the movie, but that liking the movie made them consider the question at all. Unfortunately, people don't care much movies noone has seen. This does not mean that they consider them bad questions nor that they upvote question about movies they have seen without thinking, as the question postulates.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Jul 1, 2016 at 16:35
  • @NapoleonWilson Ok good point. How long Rose and Jack knew each other for does seem trivial, since we know it's not long. On the other hand, Coop's promise seems like an important plot point. Overall I might have not clarified that the voting system is not perfect and I don't think many people have the illusion that it is, and accepting the nature of voting seems to be necessary to enjoy SE. Jul 1, 2016 at 16:36
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    Well, it's not easy black and white either. The Coop's promise question does scratch the boundary of lacking research, since it's answered pretty much in the same dialogue. However, a question about the significance of a movie's story telling does not become tivial just because googling it lands you on a few Quora theories. Who says we can't do better than that here and who says Tarantino hasn't given insight on this? There is some leaway and reasonable consideration involved. (Neither should we draw conclusions from single questions.)
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Jul 1, 2016 at 16:39
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    Well, that Marcellus Wallace question is also one of the oldest questions around here. Which doesn't mean it's automatically good, but which factors into why it might be so highly voted even if it might not be the best question by modern standards. The problem stands that we're excluding a large variety of influential factors when just cherry-picking a few questions with strange voting-patterns. We all know voting on SE is less than perfect, but that's SE for ya.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Jul 1, 2016 at 17:03
  • @NapoleonWilson Good points. Using examples is a good way to explore the topic and I feel like not taking the asker's concerns at face value would be a disservice to the community. If we're going to run it ourselves, we have to be self-critical. I didn't think to look at the age of the question, and potentially the asker and other new users would ignore that as well and be similarly confused. I'm not interested in demonizing specific posts or users, and I also don't want to let M&TV off too easily without trying to see the other viewpoint. Jul 1, 2016 at 17:09
  • Sure, there might indeed be some valid points buried in this meta question. Yet they are largely diluted by an indignant attitude, an ungrounded claim and a bad example. But this doesn't mean we shouldn't talk about and neither is it the fault of your answer, which is much appreciated, of course.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Jul 1, 2016 at 17:12
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    As @NapoleonWilson states, that Pulp Fiction question was (I believe) from the closed Beta of the site - when every question, good or bad received a lot of attention. Its undeniable that older questions on SO will gain votes over time, you cannot use the total number of votes as a 'normalized' way of assessing the best questions or answers across the site.
    – iandotkelly Mod
    Jul 1, 2016 at 18:47

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