This might seem like a duplicate of this question but I think there's a difference.

Is it on-topic for a user to ask about whether an item exists in real life or not?

For example a question could be:

Does the Tumbler from Batman exist in real life or was it based off a real life concept or just completely made up?

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    I hate to say it but I do find it hard to find any substantial difference in the questions - certainly not to the point where I would provide a different answer. – iandotkelly Sep 4 '12 at 18:05
  • The other question, I think is on about the reality of films in relation to physics. Whereas I'm wondering about the existence of an item. Feel free to close if you see fit. – PriestVallon Sep 4 '12 at 18:11
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    I can see the difference, but my answer from the previous one stands - I see no reason why it cannot be on topic, particularly for items that it is not obviously clear. I am more of a proponent (than the other mods) of people downvoting boring or obvious questions rather than restricting the scope too much. – iandotkelly Sep 4 '12 at 18:17

Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn't be worthwhile to allow questions that are borderline or seem trivial to stay open for a couple of weeks to see what answers come up. A boring question can sometimes yield a really interesting answer that fits the goal of StackExchange, which is to build a library of information in a field. If after two weeks the answers aren't any more valuable than the question that was asked, we can close it. If the answer is better than the question, we might even edit the question to "match" the answer in quality.

I am a librarian by trade, and the people who come into a library with questions are often not very good at asking for what they want or explaining why they need or want particular information. Our job is to be the experts and to find the most useful information we can (we also usually ask them a few questions to help define the scope, much as we try to do here when questions are vague).

One time a visitor to Stack Exchange was looking for the name of a style of makeup worn by a character in a cartoon. My initial thought was that I had never heard of a makeup style having a name. And I couldn't see the use in knowing it if it did have one. And plus, this was a cartoon makeup style - it might not even have an equivalent in reality. But I searched (on three separate occasions no less), until I found that it did indeed have a name (corpsepaint) and a small body of literature describing it. This is precisely the kind of information that belongs in a Movie & TV library - information that is not easy to find, that allows a user to understand a film or TV show better or to speak more intelligently about it because they understand the artist's vocabulary or choices.

Sadly, I think questioners are often too quick to accept an answer which has been based only on a search of imdb or wikipedia - if it is easy to find on existing databases, it is not a terribly valuable addition to our library, and sometimes it is not even right. In some cases, answers are only another user's guess at an answer, with no research at all. Once accepted, they become part of our library even though they are misleading or even wrong. Ideally, the user would have to wait two weeks before accepting an answer as best, to allow time for research to actually happen - but now I am dreaming (smile).

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  • Yes, sweet dreams. But I like the idea. The FGITW contest is not as brutal here as at StackOverflow, but still, a built-in time for reflection, both for the OP, answerers, and close voters could really improve overall quality. – Gert Arnold Sep 5 '12 at 21:37

What if you edited your question to be more informative and to refer to the creative process of the film-makers? Like:

In Nolan's Batman Trilogy, Batman drives a tank-like vehicle called a Tumbler which breaks through concrete barriers, has a jet engine fueled by propane tanks, has two autocannons on the front, has a rocket launcher, has rear brake flaps and a landing hook, and can operate in stealth mode (powered silently by electricity without lights). The Tumbler was supposedly designed by Wayne Enterprises. In real life, what was the model for this design? Who designed it, and was it created from his/her imagination or does it have a military equivalent/inspiration?

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  • two answers to same question? – Ankit Sharma Sep 5 '12 at 10:05
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    Had 2 different points to make, one about the type of question in general and one about helping PriestVallon get this particular question answered. Didn't think the two went together. – MJ6 Sep 5 '12 at 15:00
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    Nothing wrong with two answers. Entirely reasonable to put even two opposing answers to gauge opinion. – iandotkelly Sep 6 '12 at 1:08

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