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The question asks about To what extent were the actors in Wedding Crashers improvising?, to which a user replied with answer sourced from movie trivia.

Even the OP asks for other scenes, it is clear this is a case of it's in the trivia that's all there is to it. The only other over riding answer would be straight from the actor's mouth (or one of their interviews)

But to focus, by the votes, users have basically said this answer is useful. The fact that the answer comes from the trivia section is no fault of the user who answered though.

So should these trivia style (extra features, little known facts from the DVD) questions be allowed?

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Discussing the acting or writing elements that made the movie work isn't necessarily "trivia." It's directly related to the appreciation of the film.

Don't pick apart the dictionary definition of "trivia" for your acid test (sorry @Flimzy). Trivia is those little bits of completely expendable knowledge you keep in your head that nobody needs to know. "Did Marilyn Monroe have six toes?" Who cares; It has absolutely nothing to do with the appreciation of the actress or her movies. It's idle curiosity; That's all.

When trying to measure triviality, asking yourself how many of the following words apply: minutiae, trite, dispensable, superfluous, vacuous — or just ask yourself: "Does this question help my understanding or appreciation for the film (beyond idle curiosity)?"

This site is for "film aficionados" — or at least it should be — and I'm hoping this site is interested in the deeper aspects of film appreciation. Perhaps the word I am looking for is "fervent"; A deeper appreciation for the finer points of a subject rather than the banal chit-chat you might entertain friends with around the water cooler. But it's been done thousands of time on every other site on the subject. I think you can do better.

  • I think this is good step toward defining "trivia" in a way that can be useful for this site. – Flimzy Dec 3 '11 at 7:46
  • You can also target "trivia" as that which would not likely be seriously discussed by an avid enthusiast in the subject. A site is defined by its audience. Everyone's welcome but you have to stay keenly focused on "expert-level" questions. To attract experts, you need people asking interesting and challenging questions. A site where experts are answering our questions will attract a broader audience. But experts will NOT use a site that starts out top-heavy with trite, chatty questions -- Always ask yourself: Would my ideal, target audience be intrigued by this question? – Robert Cartaino Dec 4 '11 at 17:46
  • @RobertCartaino Though I accepted this answer I disagree with everything that comes after the first sentence. Sorry about that. The fact that the user found the answer in a trivia section of IMDB should set off alarms. Because how else would we know when they are in improv? I don't know improv that well but I can be pretty sure that if I see a scene on the screen not many people would be able to tell the difference between a scripted line and an improv. Rendering the question unanswerable in my opinion. – phwd Dec 4 '11 at 20:41
  • @Alonzo: That's fine. It is the more general case that I was commenting on. But to answer your question about how one might know this is improv is that people who study and follow this stuff might turn up interviews or commentary on the subject. That's what an avid enthusiast does; Research and informed opinion. Maybe just not in this case. – Robert Cartaino Dec 4 '11 at 22:10
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Why do you ask this question? I'm guessing the reason is know if it ought to be closed as off-topic according to this answer. But I don't think asking "Is X trivia?" is sufficient to decide if something is on or off-topic.

I also don't think that making trivia automatically off-topic is useful. And here's why...

What is trivia?

From dictionary.com:

triv·i·a   [triv-ee-uh]

plural noun
matters or things that are very unimportant, inconsequential, or nonessential; trifles; trivialities.

The very definition of "trivia" shows how completely subjective the term is. What is unimportant to you may be very important to me.

Is this question trivia?

To me, it is. I've never seen the film, and have no interest in seeing it, so everything about that film is, to me, very unimportant, inconsequential, or nonessential. However, to a person who enjoys that film, knowing how improvised it was may have great importance, and may enhance their enjoyment of the film. There are many films I do like that have improvised portions, and knowing that makes it more enjoyable to me.

Should this question be off-topic?

I do not think this question should be closed as off-topic. But if we do choose to close it as off-topic, it needs to be for a better reason than "because it's trivia." The vast majority of questions on this site are trivia to someone. In fact, one could say the entire topic of this site is trivia.

And before our FAQ says "trivia is off topic," I think we need a far more precise and objective definition of "trivia" than is provided by a standard dictionary. (In other words, I think we shouldn't make trivia, per se, off topic, but instead use some other objective standard to define which questions are "too simple".)

  • I agree trivia shouldn't be automatically off-topic but if we end up looking at the back of DVD covers or at the end of DVD extras then some red flags need to go up. The question isn't bad but I needed some example to start setting the soft limit on what trivia is allowed and what is not. Otherwise the critics (other users I have talked with) are right, this site will be over-run with Trivia questions. – phwd Dec 3 '11 at 1:07
  • If this entire site is trivia we have a scope problem. Most trivia should be off-topic as it has been discussed to lengths in other forums. – phwd Dec 4 '11 at 20:33

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