Recently, I have seen a couple of questions asking if their specific scenario (such as a character or item) is cliche.

I doubt anyone else will have those exact problems so the answers would only benefit the OP which is frowned upon - we want an archive of knowledge beneficial to everyone.

Are these types of questions off or on topic?

This question is not specifically only about questions like "is ___ cliche" but also any questions similar in that they are only helpful to one, such as "is my story a copy of ___", etc.

Note: I do know that questions with a broader look are OK. Like questions "how to avoid cliches" or questions like this one I asked, where it was less specific to one event or item.

1 Answer 1



I would like to take from Jaydles' great answer over on Meta Stack Exchange on this:

...helping 100 people is pretty good, too, and helping 1 is better than 0

It makes me a tiny bit crazy when I hear someone say, "you can't ask that, because it'll only help you".

Most people - even nice people - who ask a question are extremely focused on the help they need, not the approximate estimate of others in a similar jam.

So, if a question can help one person, someone is willing to answer it, and it has no other impact on a site, it should be encouraged.

The complexity comes in when one-offs interfere with the ability to help more broadly.

  • If the front page is full of "find my typo" questions, it could reduce the visibility of the more beneficial methodology questions, and reduce the net people helped.

  • If the front page is full of increasingly tangential questions, eventually experts won't recognize it as a site about their subject, and you'll have fewer people who can help.

Questions should NOT be closed simply because they only help one, or too few people, but patterns of questions that threaten the greater good should eventually be made off-limits.

So, as long as the question is not otherwise off-topic, the question is fine.

If we get too many of these questions, we can come up with another approach. Not right now though, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

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