Proposal: Literature

In the 55 (or so) questions with a score greater than zero, I see only two that are about non-fiction: The Tower and Between the World and Me. Perhaps this is addressed somewhere already, but how do we get across that Literature includes non-fiction? I am re-reading The Ancestor's Tale by Richard Dawkins, and I can tell you that it is (a) literature and (b) non-fiction (although I suppose some might disagree with (b)).

  • 4
    I assume most people would know literature includes non-fiction but, I am not quite sure how to spread the word on the site aside from making a non-fiction tag and stop people from flagging non-fiction questions as off topic. – X_Wera Dec 31 '16 at 21:26
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    If nobody is that interested in using a literature site for nonfiction questions, they just won't come up, the majority will be about fiction. The exceptions would be people who don't care and will ask anyway (even if it wasn't okay) and people who either know or checked beforehand, because they've been users for a long time, which is impossible in a proposal stage. – Nij Dec 31 '16 at 21:39
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    Not everyone may agree that literature includes nonfiction. I think the best course is to hold off on this debate until the site reaches private beta. (Personally, I think the crucial factor is whether the written work is a story, not whether that story is non-fiction. I think it would be problematic if, for example, we allowed questions about textbooks.) – user36412 Jan 1 '17 at 18:16
  • @Hamlet "a story, yes///a textbook, no" is a big step in the right direction. – ab2 Jan 1 '17 at 20:58
up vote 8 down vote accepted

The proposal is advancing nicely, I would expect a Beta launch about February.

At Beta launch the proposal will take on new life, most of the things discussed in Area51 Meta will be forgotten. It will have its own dedicated Meta section and scope issues will be decided there.

You won't be limited in the number of questions you can ask, so start writing those questions about non-fiction literature now, and have them ready to go when the site launches. The private beta is when much of the mood and scope of the site is set, be ready for it.

In the first instance, meta.

Once the site enters the private beta stage, there will be an associated meta site where all scope issues can be discussed. Post a meta question asking "should non-fiction works be on-topic?" and, assuming you have some good arguments for why they should, self-answer with your reasoning. If that answer gets enough support, it becomes consensus - which means that if any question gets closed just for being about non-fiction, it will be reopened, by modhammer if necessary.

Also, lead by example.

Got some interesting questions about works of non-fiction literature? Post them! If they're well-received, they become a precedent, an example for future generations of Literature.SE users. The best reason for a given field to be on-topic is that it generates interesting questions which are relevant to the site. Meta consensuses are all very well for setting policies to be implemented, but for casual users, a lot of highly-voted questions about non-fiction literature speaks much louder. To quote a recent post by Community Manager Shog9 (emphasis mine):

you won't find an exhaustive list of allowed topics; just a few broad categories. If you want to know whether or not something is on-topic, you look at the actual questions: are My Little Pony questions generally closed and deleted, or upvoted and answered?

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