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One of the off-topic close reasons is:

Recommendation questions asking for movies/TV-shows or resources to locate or watch movie/TV content are off topic. Feel free to ask for people's opinion in chat or take a look at this related question for general guidance on finding what you're looking for.

What kind of questions count as "questions asking for movies/TV-shows"?

Personally I would interpret this as covering any question seeking all movies/TV-shows satisfying certain criteria, or asking whether any such exist. Questions of this form invite multiple answers none of which is more correct than any other, which is a hallmark for being a bad fit on Stack Exchange. (Not coming under this category would be ID questions, in which the OP is seeking a particular movie or TV show and will know it when they see it, since such questions do have a single objectively correct answer which should receive the checkmark.)

However, I found this question, winner of the recent topic challenge:

Are there any ice hockey movies where the team loses the big game?

... which has not been closed, despite being a question of the form "are there any movies satisfying X?" So am I misinterpreting this site's policy on recommendation questions, or was this question simply missed when it should in fact have been closed?

  • I did missed it but want to see what other thinks about it, It have 5UV and became ToW winner too – Ankit Sharma Aug 22 '16 at 18:26
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    There's usually some leeway with questions of the form "has there ever been?" that aren't phrased like entirely subjective "what's some cool martial arts movies with a woman?" questions. We had many of those in the past now and then and they often tended to work reasonably well. As with everything, there's some room for interpretation and human judgement. – Napoleon Wilson Aug 22 '16 at 20:25
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    Related: Policy for list questions – Napoleon Wilson Aug 22 '16 at 20:26
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    Things start to get more into the gray area as the question becomes more specific and/or unique and interesting. Imagine someone asks the question "Has Harrison Ford ever played a villain?" This meets the criteria of "are there any movies satisfying X?" yet I wouldn't flag that type of question as a recommendation one and is clearly a much higher quality than a question like "What are some other shows like Lost?" There is clearly a difference in the quality and even the author's intent in these questions and to simply apply a blanket rule to both is a disservice to the site imho. – sanpaco Aug 22 '16 at 21:15
  • @sanpaco The difference between "Has Harrison Ford ever played a villain?" and "Are there any movies satisfying X?" is that Harrison Ford is a single actor and his filmography is a short enough list to go through in one sitting. Whereas I doubt there's a single definitive list of all movies about ice hockey ever made, so it's always possible that someone will come along with another answer which will be just as valid as whatever's already there. – Rand al'Thor Aug 22 '16 at 21:39
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    @randal'thor I agree, yet they still fit the formula of "Are there any films that fit X?" In this case X = Films where Harrison Ford plays the villain. The point I'm making is that there is a very broad spectrum of questions that can fit into such a generic question formula so you can't say that just because a question fits it means it is off topic. I'm not defending or condemning any single question example I'm simply saying there is more to consider than whether or not that particular form applies. – sanpaco Aug 22 '16 at 21:45
  • Exactly, there's a huge leeway and as always, it highly depends on how the question is phrased and motivated. Just because there can be many different answers doesn't make a question invalid. In any case, favour the why over the what! Of course such questions run the risk of encouraging useless list answers, but that's a problem to be tackled adequately, not necessarily by closing the question, though. – Napoleon Wilson Aug 23 '16 at 1:33
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    Asking for a list is not the same as asking for recommendation. The approach I've once seen on RPG SE and I really liked is taking into account the amount of possible matches. If the criteria in a question are so specific that you can easily tell that there are just a few movies matching it I don't see it as a recommendation, even though technically there can be many correct answers. Examples are the hockey question or sanpaco's question about direct adaptations of Batman comics. There was also a question about movies that show cryonics in a scientifically realistic way, also a good example. – Chanandler Bong Aug 24 '16 at 9:46
  • @ChanandlerBong A similar approach is taken on SFF.SE, where list questions are considered to be acceptable if and only if the requested list is sufficiently short and clearly scoped, so that answers wouldn't have to be unfeasibly long in order to contain it. – Rand al'Thor Aug 24 '16 at 10:56
  • We have a pretty easy time with this on Anime and Manga: recommendation questions are the ones titled "Recommend me some anime" that have a big list of extremely popular and well-known anime the questioner liked, usually all from different genres and having nothing in common. It's as if someone showed up here saying "Recommend me some movies; I like Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, Fast 5, The Breakfast Club, and Sleepless in Seattle". – Torisuda Aug 26 '16 at 4:19
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[edit] oops, I just realised my answer here is almost identical to Napoleon Wilson♦'s answer to Policy for list questions, except their version is better written with better examples! I guess that's a good thing?


I'd suggest removing this part of your proposed definition:

asking whether any [movies/TV-shows satisfying certain criteria] exist

That's a very broad definition and would hit all sorts of good, neat, answerable questions that are absolutely not what people had in mind when banning "Can I has an good action films?".

To give another example like the ice hockey one, it'd arguably hit this question, which is essentially "Does any TV show exist meeting the criteria 'adapted from an ongoing book series and overtook that series'", which is clearly not the sort of question we want to ban since you commented:

Damn you, I was planning to ask this question!! +1 :-D – rand al'thor Aug 27 at 1:23

It's also the sort of thing that would lead to unproductive hoop-jumping and textual gymnastics. For example, you could dodge the rule by changing a question from "Does anything meeting X criteria exist?" to "What's the first thing that met X criteria?" (to which "Actually, nothing has ever met X criteria" would be a valid answer). That hoop-jumping wouldn't improve the quality of the question or the site.

"Does X exist?" is a yes-or-no question and isn't too broad. If people do jump in with bad answers ("Here's another example I saw!"), deal with these bad answers the usual way. Don't block good questions that can get great answers out of fear that people might also add bad ones. We've got tools to deal with bad answers, like question protection, downvotes, deletion.


Thinking about it a bit more, I'm not sure why the kind of recommendation questions people don't want wouldn't already be covered by "opinion-based" or "too broad". If someone has objective, factual, reasonably narrow criteria, I'm not sure if it matters whether they're asking because they want to watch the thing that meets the criteria or because they're (for example) writing an essay, doing research or just curious.

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