I see a lot of 'spoiler' questions on this site.

"Who kills this guy in this film?"

"How many times does this happen in this film? etc etc."

The reason I joined this public beta is because, like many of you, I have a love for movies.

Here is an example question that I would love to ask:

"Who are the cinematographers that you would regard as seminal, and why? and regarding this, what are some classic films that I should watch to see their work?"

Now this question would not be allowed, because it is subjective. However it seems like this would be a GREAT place to ask it. Where else is there such a well structured site with such a great and knowledgeable fan base?

So my question is, will these kinds of questions be allowed? Or is this just going to be a site dedicated to movie trivia?

I'd love to be able to look at questions like this and see a big list of films to watch that people have talked about and decided on. A bit like this question:


EDIT - I propose we allow kind of list question on the site. I for one would love to be able to look up a question which tells me what the best anime films to watch if I've never seen any before, or for music, or some quintessential noir films, zombie films, romantic films etc.

I would also add that disallowing subjective answers on a site dedicated to an artform - which is inherently subjective, does not make sense.

The rule for non-subjective questions came from these sites being initially set up for technical topics (like stack overflow) where it is essential to provide factual, canonical answers.

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    as a side note, the gaming QandA site is suffering because of this limitation. There someone asked - what are all the known bugs in this game? The question was disallowed because without being a developer of the game, it is theoretically impossible to be aware of all the bugs. Commented Dec 1, 2011 at 11:10
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    AND bug listings outdate real quick, AND probably isn't that much of an interesting question anyway. why anyone besides the developer himself (who doesn't know as well) would like a complete assessment of all bugs? Commented Dec 1, 2011 at 12:09
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    bugs is my mistake, it was a question about all easter eggs. Commented Dec 1, 2011 at 13:16
  • should be interesting to see what happens: movies.stackexchange.com/questions/70/… Commented Dec 1, 2011 at 13:17
  • Relevant chat going on right now chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/1888
    – phwd
    Commented Dec 1, 2011 at 21:55
  • Please stop downvoting this question. It's a relevant question whether you agree or disagree. Commented Dec 2, 2011 at 10:20
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    @SirYakalot votes on meta are historically used differently than votes on the main site. On meta, a downvote means that someone disagrees with you, not that it's a "bad question" or "shows no research". Just fyi.
    – Laura
    Commented Dec 5, 2011 at 21:42
  • I take back what I previously said about subjective questions in general seeing that a lot of film study questions out there will attract subjective questions and I don't think these questions should be off-topic. List questions on the other hand are just difficult to handle. I suggest giving a try to what tex.se did meta.tex.stackexchange.com/questions/1564/tex-community-polls I think I am open to the idea as long as it is manageable
    – phwd
    Commented Dec 6, 2011 at 2:44
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    "Or is this just going to be a site dedicated to movie trivia?" - This sounds a bit like the only alternative to such overly broad recommendation list questions would be downright trivial questions. Not sure if I agree with such an overgeneralizing differentiation.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Oct 21, 2013 at 18:12
  • As a new member, I have already been shot down because a question that was considered 'too broad' was judged exclusively on its potential detractions, as opposed to the good answers it was eligible for. I was initally confused, as I assumed that the purpose of the voting system was to downvote bad questions: bizzarely, everyone agreed it was a good question, but was put on hold anyway because it didn't fit the rigid criteria this site enforces. It was incredibly off-putting for a new user... Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 12:46
  • @Christian Rau; dont confuse trivia with trivial, thats not the OP's intent.. trivial insinuates of little value or importance. Trivia is to limit answers to digestible, concise factoids. There are no negative connotations associated to trivia in this context.. Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 14:31
  • @JohnSmithOptional Even in this case I'd still regard most of the analysis and plot-explanation questions (or most of all the questions on this site) anything else but trivia. For me "trivia" does have a slightly negative connotation (even if different from "trivial") and is not what this site is about, and I dare to say in the OP's context it does come with a negative connotation, too. Trivia is "what was <actor> payed for this role" and not "what is the meaning of <thing> in <movie>".
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 14:46
  • @JohnSmithOptional "It was incredibly off-putting for a new user" - Yeah, it was hard not to notice how off-putting that was to you. ;-)
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 14:57
  • Agreed, but your example of a non-trivia question would likely be down voted or put on hold for being too broad; this is the point the OP is making. Certain users are obsessed with 'objective analysis', two words that are mutually incompatible in most cases. This site is looking for personal knowledge which comes with its bias: better to accept this and let the voting system fulfil its function instead of sanitizing the site with cumbersome rules... Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 14:59
  • @JohnSmithOptional No, it wouldn't. We have a multitude of such analysis questions. They aren't in any way overly broad. It is true that they can be quite subjective, but if backed by thorough elaborations in questions and answers, this isn't a problem and is an example of "good subjectivity" (as SE calls it)...
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 16:27

3 Answers 3


Why are questions like these not normally allowed?

Because it's a pain to clean up when everyone had their fun with it. It's that simple really.

In that C++ question you linked, users are aggressively editing that question. You just don't notice it. Those 41 answers you see might actually be 41 visible answers and 50 deleted ones for all intents and purposes.

Currently there is someone still cleaning up the https://stackoverflow.com/questions/194812/list-of-freely-available-programming-books question.

Also that list is not all C++ books, it is the definite C++ list. One in which the community agrees on.

Now another user somewhere else already complained about trivia. Since trivia is about basic foundation of movies here then maybe some too basic barrier should be employed to step up the non-trivial nature of questions.

Think about it for a second. It's a Q&A site. You give a question. I give you an objective answer. This is not a discussion forum.

Who are the cinematographers that you would regard as seminal, and why? and regarding this, what are some classic films that I should watch to see their work?"

With this we can impart Programmers Six principles of subjective

  • inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”.
  • tend to have long, not short, answers.
  • have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone.
  • invite sharing experiences over opinions.
  • insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references.
  • are more than just mindless social fun.

For one your question is way too broad.

Who are the cinematographers that you would regard as seminal

A. We have moved in one direction here. With n different answers

and why?

We now have n different variations of each A. type answers

and regarding this, what are some classic films that I should watch to see their work?

Now we are up another layer to the type of answers that come in.

Is there anything wrong with this? Not really sure, you may need to be checking Literature and Science Fiction sites instead of comparing it to StackOverflow.

You see, this is why we are in private beta so that we can experiment and broaden/tighten the scope to something we can all agree on.

Convince the community that these type of questions bring across constructive answers and then you got my vote at least.

How do you do that? Ask questions on the main site

See http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective/ for more info.

  • We all know why there is a rule about subjective questions not being asked. This is a question about whether that rule will limit this site too much. Commented Dec 1, 2011 at 14:35
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    Refer to Lit and Science Fiction sites to see how it was dealt with there. Seeing that these sites are non-technical it would be best to see what happened there. Don't assume every person knows why subjective questions are frowned upon also. @sir
    – phwd
    Commented Dec 1, 2011 at 14:42
  • @SirYakalot see also this previous discussion meta.movies.stackexchange.com/questions/1/…
    – phwd
    Commented Dec 1, 2011 at 15:11

The question, as currently stated, is way too broad, it's the same equivalent of asking who the most influential book authors are and what should I read to get a good sample of their work? I could see this working, maybe, on literature if it was written “Who are the most influential sci-fi authors and what works highlight this influence?”


I think those question are very interesting and get some great discussions. I would also like to ask people for recommendations, but at the end of the day this is a question and answer site and those answers are too subjective and are better suited to chat or a movie forum.

Also, you can't really accept an answer that is always true. Maybe you accept Fred's answer of 3 movies but then the next month I come back with a list that totally blows Fred's out of the water.

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    sure but if we disallow these kinds of questions, I for one will not be interested in being a member of this site. It's the collective knowledge of people that interests me - people's ability to turn me on to things that I haven't seen or heard about. Commented Dec 1, 2011 at 13:15

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