I just finished putting up an answer to this question about a resurrection effect and then went to check the queues to find that it's on the close list as too broad. I've read Dutch's comment about why he thinks it's too broad and while it has merit and actually makes sense, I have a dissenting opinion insofar as while the scope of the question appears broad, the change being implemented is not.

I saw this question as being akin to the introduction of anti-biotics in society. It's a very specific change but it has had broad impacts on our society as a whole as we no longer fear scratches and infections the way we used to. It has seen sweeping changes in the way we treat medical conditions and has had a net benefit to our society and life expectancy, but the actual change was very specific.

I understand and respect Dutch's opinion on the matter and I also accept that this may well be one of those margin calls where subjective assessment applies. That said, my question is Is a question about a specific change that could have broad impacts on a world too broad? I accept that these questions invite long answers that cover a range of different fields, but I think the key difference is that each field should only be impacted in a narrow way. This means that your long answer is really a series of short (but related) answers, each relating to a different field.

My chief concern here is that we end up with a list of questions relating to this change that talk about impacts on economies, culture, religion, etc. and we start to talk about duplicates instead.

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    $\begingroup$ I haven't looked at the question, and might not be able to for some hours, but in general, it's fine to have different opinions about whether a question is "too broad" or not, and act on that opinion. It has however been known to irk me when the same user both answers and votes to close. $\endgroup$
    – user
    May 1, 2018 at 8:17
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling does that happen very often? I would have thought that the two were more or less mutually exclusive. If anything, I'd prefer that questions you've answered be removed from your queues, like questions you've asked, and for the same reason; vested self interest. Surely you're going to vote to keep open (or reopen) any question you've supplied an answer to, right? Right? $\endgroup$
    – Tim B II
    May 1, 2018 at 12:50
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    $\begingroup$ "does that happen very often?" It happens often enough that I have come across it from time to time in regular browsing of the site, though I haven't performed a more in-depth analysis of it. It might be possible to use SEDE to get hard data at least for questions that remain closed. "Surely you're going to vote to keep open (or reopen) any question you've supplied an answer to, right? Right?" And allow others to add competing answers? Why would you do that? $\endgroup$
    – user
    May 1, 2018 at 14:51

1 Answer 1


Yes, the broad impact is the deciding factor, not the broad cause

The premise of the question can be as elaborate as the author is willing to spend time on the question. It doesn't matter. The problem is when answers are expected to write whole books to completely answer the question. The goal of StackExchange is to have one answer as the best answer. That doesn't mean that we can't have multiple valid answers, but if you are only able to answer one aspect of a question then your answer can't be expected to be valid.

To cite the help center:

Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.

Having lists of questions that are very closely related, for example by splitting it up into economics, culture, religion, ..., is perfectly fine and reasonable. We have a lot of series on the site and that's okay. Each question has to stand on its own, every answer has to answer the complete question and answers should be comparable to one another so that you could theoretically find out somewhat objectively which the best answer is, even if there are lots of valid answers. That's the price we pay for having this site on the StackExchange network.

If you are afraid of duplicates you can simply change the title of your series. Take a look at the Anatomically Correct Series where each title has a simple template and includes the specific difference compared with other questions in this series. Or look at Creating a scientifically semi-valid super-soldier, where each question states what the specific topic is about and the older questions are linked at the top for reference and to make it easier to see what is different about this one. A perfect example of how you should go about asking a very broad question.

The change that a question is about is irrelevant to judging whether the question is "Too Broad" - the implications of the change are what makes a question "Too Broad" as we can't expect everyone to write a whole book for the querent and we don't want lots of low-quality half-a-sentence answers that "just want to add a point to what has already been said by others". That's the extreme, but it's what would happen if we allowed people to post answers that only answer half the question. The goal of StackExchange is to have a repository of questions and an answer (or multiple approaches with one somewhat objectively best one) to that question. Not a long thread of partial answers.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm finding this a compelling argument. It always seems to come down to that one passage you've quoted, and that's the position Dutch was taking as well. Good points, thanks for sharing them. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B II
    May 1, 2018 at 22:59

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