The Last Question

Jeff Atwood, one of the founders of the StackExchange network, chose to mark his last (day-to-day) day at the company with a post disparaging identification questions.  As Jeff pointed out in his post, the [tag]story-identification[/tag] tag is the second most common on our site right now, so I’d like to point out why our community feels that these are a valuable part of the site, where we disagree with Jeff’s viewpoint, and hopefully give you a bit better understanding of how decisions about what’s on-topic are made (and then re-made, and re-made, and …).

The community consensus gets hashed out on “meta” – there have been quite a few discussions about story identification questions (starting way back at the launch of the site, up to and including during the recent moderation elections), so you should head over there if you’d like to make your opinion heard, or read in more depth (good places to start are here and here) – what’s below is heavily based on the content from there (I’ve borrowed some sentences verbatim).

This is my personal opinion as a user of the site, not an official statement.

Read more

Launch!

After almost a year in beta, we now have over 3000 users and an active community of science fiction fans (as well as a few users that are actively working in this area) providing input, answers, moderation, blog posts and their own time to make the site a global success.

Congratulations to all the members – your effort has paid off, and today scifi.stackexchange.com has graduated from a beta Stack Exchange website to a full-fledged member of the Stack Exchange family.

What does this mean?

New design.


Be sure to check out the errorCAPTCHA (human verification), about, and 404 (page not found) pages, and check out the different look of meta (and, while you’re there, take a look at some of the hot meta questions).

Privileges have changed.

Now that we’re not a beta site, the privileges required to do certain things have increased. That means there are fewer people to do them, and you might not be able to do everything that you could yesterday.

If you see something problematic, please comment and flag. Your moderators will be happy to close, reopen, migrate, protect or delete questions or answers that need it, especially if there’s comments and/or flags from multiple users saying that’s what needs to happen.

Remember that anyone can edit.  Even if you lost the edit privilege, you can still edit any answer or question – it’ll just go into a moderation queue to be verified first.  Again, there are fewer people to work through these suggested edits now, too, so it might take a little longer for the suggestions to be processed, but generally our moderators are super fast, so you probably won’t wait long.  If your edit is approved, you get reputation, so it’s another way to build up to the privilege level that you used to enjoy.

Vote Early, Vote Often, and Vote Some More. Voting builds reputation, which will help more users earn the privileges that let the site be more user-run than moderator-run.  When you’ve run out of votes, find an unanswered or poorly answered question and answer it, to gather more reputation for yourself.

We’re linked in the footer of regular Stack Exchange sites

Hopefully we’ll get some new visitors as a result.  Please take care to be even more friendly and helpful than you already are to help out our new members.  In particular, if you down-vote or vote to close, please make sure that you leave a comment (or upvote an existing comment) explaining what’s wrong with the question/answer, so that we encourage better participation by these new users, rather than scare them away.

Let your friends and fellow fans know about the site (and the blog!) – we get around 1500 visits a day, but the more people who come, the wider the pool of expertise we can bring in.  This is just one giant leap towards becoming the authoritative site for science fiction and fantasy questions – we still need to work hard to get the rest of the way.

SciFi.StackExchange in Practical Use – In what order should the Star Wars movies be watched?

This question was posted on Feb 1st, 2011 inquiring about what the is the best order to watch all six of the the [tag]Star-Wars[/tag] saga movies.

After receiving my own copy of the newly released Blu-ray version of the epic tale, I brought it upon myself to actually do what the most popular, and accepted answer to this question was as a test to see if the answer to the question has merit, or just looked good on paper.

The sugested reading order given by user Mike Scott with graphic by neilfein

56 of the users of SciFi.SE voted the answer “Watch the movie in this order: Episode IV -> Episode V -> Episode I -> Episode II -> Episode III -> and finally Episode VI.” I even upvoted this question. But alas, I haven’t actually watched this series in order (any relative order, in fact) ever. The last time I watched a Star Wars movie was when Episode III came to theatres in 2005. And before that I watched Episode II and I. I never actually watched all 3 of the original trilogy in order either. I only ever watched it when it was on the TV in passing. I did see the re-release in theatres in 1997 but before that, I don’t think I ever actually saw the whole trilogy.

I always considered myself a fan of the series, but when I look back on what I have actually exposed myself to, my main viewing of Star Wars has been mostly the New Trilogy.

This got me thinking about more than just how I voted on that one question, but how I vote on a lot of questions. I fully support ever answer I upvote, but in all honesty, most of the answers that I have given the “big up arrow” to were ones I just believed were right.

But I wanted to change that. I wanted to actually use the information given to me on this wonderful site and put it to practical use.

So, lets get started…

Read more

Literature Sister Site Launches

The Literature StackExchange site is now available to the public.  If you’ve got questions that need answering by a literature expert, then this is a good place to ask – note that their current definition of “literature” is quite wide (it includes popular fiction, not just “those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit”).

The site actually has quite a large proportion of questions that are about science fiction and fantasy literature, so if you’ve got some expertise there, you might be interested in answering some questions for them (if you’ve got an account on our site with at least 200 reputation, then if you associate the two accounts – you’ll be prompted to do this if you use the same OpenID – then you’ll start off there with 101 reputation).

If you’ve got a question about science fiction or fantasy literature, where do you ask that question, now that there’s both sites?  Consider who you would like an answer from: an expert in science fiction / fantasy, or an expert in literature in general; different types of questions will suit each site.  Some questions will be perfectly acceptable on both sites, and in those cases it’s up to the asker to decide where they’d like to ask (in general questions won’t be migrated between the sites, and duplicates may exist on both sites, as long as they are not exact duplicates). You should definitely not post the same question on both sites, however.

If you’ve got questions about writing science fiction or fantasy, then you’re still probably best off asking over at Writers rather than Literature or our site.  Note that the Literature site currently accepts recommendation questions, which are off-topic at our site, so if you’re after a science fiction or fantasy recommendation, then you can ask there (we continue to welcome these questions in chat, as well).

%d bloggers like this: