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Interested to see what other suggestions people have, I asked What aviation-related TV shows are there?

A number of people have since asked for a movie question: What aviation-related movies are there?


This discussion was simultaneously started, to try to determine whether they're on-topic, as a Community Wiki resource.

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  • $\begingroup$ Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/144359/… $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Jan 27 '14 at 23:50
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    $\begingroup$ Besides, you can have one epic thread or you can keep deleting the new ones the pop up every time a newbie comes in to ask. I think their great IMO. I'm with voretaq7 on making them a bit more than a list though. $\endgroup$
    – p1l0t
    Jan 28 '14 at 0:58
  • $\begingroup$ Based on the votes here and the close votes already on the questions themselves, I went ahead and closed both questions. If you edit the questions so that they aren't as broad or are more on-topic, then we can discuss whether or not to reopen them. $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Feb 3 '14 at 0:41
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This is the kind of thing that the SE Engine doesn't really work well for.

Typically, a question has multiple answers, and users vote to decide which answers are the best. But when you ask "what's a list of X", that stops working. People add new answers with a single item, or a few items (instead of editing the existing answer). May take a lot of moderator attention clean all these up.

Listing a few aviation TV shows (in a new answer) winds up getting a few upvotes = reputation, even though of course that requires no expertise in the actual topic. Or real participation in the site.

The amount of activity on list questions often pushes them to the front page. Or to the popular questions (network-wide) feed. Or to Twitter. Various blogs & discussion sites love these types of questions, and will drive a lot of traffic to them. That sounds good, but ultimately makes the rep-gain & many answers problems much worse.

Get enough of them on the front page, and the site ceases to look like somewhere that aviation experts answer questions.

edit: A lot of this is covered in the blog post The Future of Community Wiki.

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  • $\begingroup$ I've responded to your concerns in an answer! Also: as I've mentioned in a comment on @LNafziger's answer (which pertains to the blog post you linked to), I disagree that this is a "joke/fun" question, which is what the blog post talks about. $\endgroup$ Jan 28 '14 at 7:42
  • $\begingroup$ @DannyBeckett I saw it on Area 51, its an interesting subject. I'm not a pilot or anything, so I don't really have the expertise to answer questions here, but I do have a fair bit of experience with the SE network (I was quite active on SO during those formative years, for example, and I've been active on several other SE sites too). So I'm offering to help where I do have expertise—in this case, how well SE sites seem to work with a certain type of question. $\endgroup$
    – derobert
    Jan 28 '14 at 21:19
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My opinion is that they are off-topic and should be deleted.

As derobert pointed out, read The Future of Community Wiki.

Have you read it? Really? Don't go any further until you do.


One of the key parts of that blog post which I think applies here is:

Community Wiki is not for Fun

With suggested edits now in place, you could argue that the removal of reputation from voting is now the only function of community wiki. Unfortunately, this means it is often seen as a magic switch to allow questionable content.

One of the first feature requests I saw on Meta Stack Overflow was Moderator Filtering of Highest Voted Questions, which was deemed necessary because questions like Coolest Server Names show the wrong side of the site. The actual problem-solving nature of sites is too easily buried under the weight of all these “fun” community wiki questions. At one point, “Our top voted post is an actual question!” was a point of pride. That’s … not a positive sign for a Q&A network.

Even when divorced from reputation, votes are hugely important. Something with a lot of votes means “this is what we deem quality content”, and votes are how we differentiate between answers when there is no single definitive answer. Community wiki should never be used as a get out of jail free pass for joke and fun questions. It may succeed in preventing any single individual from gaining reputation for posting a cartoon or joke, but the question will remain on the site. And it will now and forever be one of the top questions by votes, advertised to the world as one of the top rated things on your site.

These particular questions don't solve a problem, and that is what this site is about. Having them here will give people the wrong idea, and will attract the types of questions that are clearly off-topic, and then our budding new users will be hurt and confused and probably won't come back.

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  • $\begingroup$ I've read that blog post fully, but I respectfully disagree that these are "joke/fun" questions. I disagree that they don't solve a problem either; my problem is that although I'm a keen enthusiast, I've never even set foot in a small aircraft, so almost all the TV I watch is aviation-related, and I'm quickly running out of things to watch ("problem"). Coolest Server Names, on the other hand, is a "fun" topic. It's a grey area, but I draw a distinction. $\endgroup$ Jan 28 '14 at 0:54
  • $\begingroup$ Well, if you were to limit the list to "realistic" aviation movies or "aviation documentaries" or something, then perhaps. Unfortunately, most movies and tv shows are entertainment/fun. $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Jan 28 '14 at 0:58
  • $\begingroup$ That was actually exactly what I was hoping to see when I posted the TV show question (and is what I started the list off with). I agree that movies might be more irrelevant than TV shows. $\endgroup$ Jan 28 '14 at 0:59
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I can almost guarantee that with the way that the question is currently worded, that it won't stay that way. It's only a matter of time before "Soul Plane" and "Snakes on a Plane" makes it onto the list. If that is your intent, then make that clear and we can start the conversation over. :) $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Jan 28 '14 at 1:01
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These questions are technically off-topic, but they're good traffic-drivers and I don't really object to their existence - with three provisos:

  1. They should be more than just a list-of-things
    Let's let a few days go by and then fill in some reasons why you might want to watch a particular movie/TV show from an aviation perspective (e.g. I added Airport (1970) and Ground Control to the movies list because they give at least a slightly realistic, albeit heavily dramatized, window into Airport Ops & ATC).

  2. There should be a banner (blockquote) placed at the top of the question indicating that these are not the sort of question we're actively soliciting and referring folks to our (yet-to-be-written) About page & on-topic help page.

  3. The questions should probably be protected to keep 1-rep users from throwing up answers.


See also: The Stack Overflow C++ Book Guide & List and its related Meta question.

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  • $\begingroup$ It was my intention when starting this that each TV show or movie would have a brief description (not just a list). I've added more info like this to some of the TV shows; the community is welcome to help edit! :) $\endgroup$ Jan 28 '14 at 1:14
  • $\begingroup$ Of course, if you see the C++ Book Guide & list, you see This question has historical significance, but is not a good example of an appropriate question. Read and learn from this post, but please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions. So, um.... $\endgroup$
    – derobert
    Jan 28 '14 at 16:21
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    $\begingroup$ @derobert That little blurb was the result of a multi-year-long struggle between moderators enforcing the standard of "NO FREAKING BOOK LIST QUESTIONS" by locking that question (as historical, which prevents any changes and applies that blurb) and the C++ community on Stack Overflow screaming like people were feeding their newborn children to packs of dingoes because they couldn't keep updating the list. $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Jan 28 '14 at 16:23
  • $\begingroup$ @voretaq7 Indeed it was. But I don't think anyone wanted to allow new book list questions; it was only a debate over keeping the existing (and widely linked) question. And comparing the C++ book list question, with its extreme selectivity, paragraph-long recommendations, etc. to this list of TV shows, the list of TV shows is very lacking. $\endgroup$
    – derobert
    Jan 28 '14 at 16:28
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    $\begingroup$ @derobert Re-read my answer above stipulating the conditions under which I am willing to allow these questions to live. $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Jan 28 '14 at 16:30
  • $\begingroup$ @voretaq7 Ah, OK, So then if I'm understanding you correctly, as it stands now, you'd close the question. $\endgroup$
    – derobert
    Jan 28 '14 at 16:33
  • $\begingroup$ @derobert I wouldn't override the community if they closed the question (as it stands now, or even if it's improved to meet my criteria above). For the moment I'm willing to give it some time to get whipped into shape to be a resource like the C++ books question, but if it remains a "list of things" with no added value it's probably going to be closed as a duplicate of Wikipedia $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Jan 28 '14 at 16:38
  • $\begingroup$ @derobert the list of TV shows is very lacking - so contribute! $\endgroup$ Jan 28 '14 at 17:44
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    $\begingroup$ @DannyBeckett I don't think its possible to write a useful answer to that question—its far too open-ended. Its basically "hey, list your favorite TV shows that feature aviation!" The fact that I could contribute to that list is worrying, as I'm most assuredly not an aviation expert, or anything even approaching that. $\endgroup$
    – derobert
    Jan 28 '14 at 17:52
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It depends on what we're asking for

I'm of the opinion that aviation TV shows are alright, but not movies. Movies are primarily meant for entertainment/fun, while TV shows can be informative, even if slightly dramatised. Personally, the main reason for having these is to have a resource for people to learn more about aviation, especially if they have no real knowledge of how aviation works. Movies often make some sort of plot around an idea which detracts from the purpose of having these as informative resources.

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  • $\begingroup$ I completely agree with this! I've accepted this so it bumps it to the top and people can weigh in with their votes. $\endgroup$ Jan 30 '14 at 7:33
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I feel that many (if not most) tv shows are entertainment as well. Both movies and tv shows can be documentaries or in depth new reports, but they are the exception to the general case of what tv and movies usually are. $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Jan 30 '14 at 19:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger: sure, however the location of where a "movie" is traditionally situated is for a slightly different purpose than a television is. While televisions shows almost invariably have some element of dramatisation/entertainment, these aren't the full focus of it more often than movies. $\endgroup$ Jan 31 '14 at 4:04
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I believe these questions are on-topic. They are, after all, obviously aviation-related, and I think they'd be of interest to enthusiasts and professional pilots alike.

Of course, just because they're on the subject matter doesn't automatically make them "on-topic" per Stack Exchange standards; however I believe this is what Community Wiki is all about!

Related: What are "Community Wiki" posts?


I'd also agree with the others that limiting the scope (especially on the movies question) would be beneficial.


Addressing the points that @derobert raised:

People add new answers (instead of editing the existing answer). May take a lot of moderator attention clean all these up.

I think most people will be inclined to "add their input" to the main list, and I don't really think it'd take much moderating.

The amount of activity on list questions often pushes them to the front page.

Initially, perhaps, but there are only a finite number of TV shows and movies.

Or to the popular questions (network-wide) feed. Or to Twitter. Various blogs & discussion sites love these types of questions, and will drive a lot of traffic to them.

Fantastic! That's what we want!

That sounds good, but ultimately makes the rep-gain & many answers problems much worse.

There's no rep to be gained from Community Wiki posts.

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  • $\begingroup$ You still gain rep from the question, so you can't say "There's no rep to be gained from CW posts.". :-) $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Jan 28 '14 at 0:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger By all means CW the question! See this first: When to mark the 'community wiki' checkbox on a new question? (it is only possible for mods - not users - to CW a question). $\endgroup$ Jan 28 '14 at 0:46
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    $\begingroup$ Not until the community has spoken.... If we decide to allow questions like this, then you should get credit for it. I was just suggesting a small correction to your statement. :) $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Jan 28 '14 at 0:55
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As long as the Weather Modification question remains, this one should too.

In general, there are several far less topical/appropriate questions on the site than this list of Aviation related TV shows.

I'm in favor of keeping this question.

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    $\begingroup$ I wouldn't group those two questions together. The TV question is very much an open-ended list type question (but it is CW) where the weather question would have a very small list of agencies that would be included in a "right" answer. $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Jan 27 '14 at 20:39

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