I just found that there's an attempt to revive Literature. As a follower and temp mod of the last attempt, I'm curious as to how this go around will be treated differently. The old one started off decently, but eventually slid into obscurity and fell silent. There are current sites that overlap, such as SciFi and Anime and Manga. How will Literature stand out from these?

Please see this thread discussing how the old site died.


2 Answers 2


A clearer and better site scope.

Judging from what I've read about the failure of the previous Literature site - e.g. Why did Literature fail? - it seems that many of the problems there were due to either an unclear understanding of site scope, or an overabundance of questions which were on-topic and really shouldn't have been (e.g. recommendation questions). This time, let's be more proactive both about deciding on a clear scope and about shutting out questions that will be bad for the site. I plan to start several different scope-related meta threads as soon as private beta starts.

More experience.

The previous incarnation of Literature was, what, 4, 5, years ago? In that time, sites such as Science Fiction and Fantasy, Movies & TV, and Anime & Manga have grown to maturity. We can now see what a successful site based on analysis of fictional works (rather than programming, mathematics, etc.) actually looks like. Many of the followers and committers of the Literature proposal are already active on those sites. I'm a mod at SFF; you're a former mod at M&TV; let's bring our experience to the table and help to make Literature great!

SE has new criteria.

As Hamlet mentions in his answer, Stack Exchange has changed its policies on closing beta sites since the previous incarnation of Literature. This time round, even if things don't go as well as I hope and the site isn't terribly active to begin with, we should be able to get the space and time we need to find our feet, fix our scope, and expand.

  • I agree with you that aspects of the old literature site's scope were problematic. I know that you said that you plan to poll the community once the beta launches -- something I also agree with doing. That said, is there any chance you could outline your personal opinion about what you think the scope of the new literature site should be, or at the very least provide a list of the scope questions you plan to ask on meta? I think most of us agree that we don't like the scope of the old literature site, but I think it would be helpful to also get a sense of what scope we want for the new site.
    – user36412
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 1:21
  • @Hamlet My personal opinions: we should ban recommendation questions and allow ID questions (since I believe the reason why ID is much higher-quality on Science Fiction & Fantasy than Movies & TV is more to do with books vs movies than SF/F vs other genres - the best ID questions on SFF tend to be about books and the worst about films). I could go either way on reading-order questions; perhaps the best idea would be to allow them but place heavy restrictions on them to ensure they're objectively answerable. Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 12:00
  • 1
    I think a trial period for id questions would be best. say, have 30 days where we allow id questions, and then at the end assess their quality and determine if they're worth keeping. on movies id questions are kinda meh, and they don't tend to lead to new users joining the site
    – DForck42
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 13:57
  • @DForck42 Good idea! A trial period would be a great way of finding out how good ID questions are likely to be without making any scope promises too early. (I'm aware of the issues with ID questions on M&TV, but I still hold that book-ID tends to be higher quality than film-ID, based on a site which has both. And the nice thing about ID questions in general is that we're actually solving people's real problems, helping them find a book they're looking for, rather than just assuaging their curiosity about some piece of literary trivia.) Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 21:43

Paraphrasing from my answer to the question How can we make this literature proposal succeed when other literature proposals have failed:

My goals for the new literature site is for it to focus more on literary analysis questions (i.e. questions about actual literature) and less on book recommendation questions. I think questions about literary analysis can work: the Mythology Stack Exchange has asked and answered several literary analysis questions successfully. For example:

  1. Symbolism of Ixion's Punishment
  2. What is the meaning of the half burning tree in the Mabinogion?
  3. Why did King Kilydd conceal his son from his wife?

From what I understand, the problem with the old literature site was that the questions asked weren't actually focused questions about specific works of literature, but questions about book recommendations. I think that's something that should be easy to avoid in the beta.

I don't want to imply that the only questions that should be allowed on the upcoming Literature Stack Exchange are literary analysis questions: I think there is also room for questions about basic plot points, questions about the biography of authors, etc. But I think that questions such as book recommendation questions (i.e. shopping list questions) should be firmly off topic.

It's worth remembering that the old literature site was closed when Stack Exchange policies about beta sites were drastically different than they are today. Even if we followed the same policies as the last literature site, I think it's unlikely that it would be closed today.

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