The question "Why are we so behind the predictions of science fiction?" was closed since it's off-topic. However, it is a question that's on-topic for scifi.SE. I put in a comment and flagged it for moderator information regarding both points(being off-topic and migration). However, though it was closed it was not migrated. So, what is the procedure for migrating a question? Or was the question rejected for migration?

  • moderators try to always go check the the target site to see if they consider it an acceptable question before they migrate. You might feel it was a good fit, but either they have not gotten a response or they were told that scifi.SE did not want it.
    – Kortuk
    May 13, 2011 at 6:34
  • @Kortuk:Actually that's one of the reasons I asked the question. I wanted to know whether the moderators at scifi were involved in the process.
    – apoorv020
    May 13, 2011 at 11:49
  • We moderators generally ask mods on the site we want to migrate to if we're not familiar with the site. But in this case I decided that the question wouldn't fit on SciFi and just closed without asking a SciFi mod. So no Scifi mod was directly involved, but Gilles answered what he would have done if we asked them.
    – Mad Scientist Mod
    May 14, 2011 at 11:50

4 Answers 4


This question is a bad question on any site. In fact, it's pretty impressive in the way it concentrates badness in a single short sentence: “Why are we so behind the predictions of science fiction?”

  • Which predictions? Obviously some predictions have been realized (e.g. heavier-than-air flight), some haven't (e.g. immortality).
  • There's a flawed premise, that we are behind the predictions (whatever they are). Are we? Since that's a completely subjective, unquantifiable judgement, there's no way to discuss that constructively, let alone answer questions about it.

Please “What kind of questions should I not ask here?” (this section is in the FAQ of every Stack Exchange site). In particular:

avoid asking subjective questions where …

  • there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”
  • it is a rant disguised as a question: “______ sucks, am I right?”

The FAQ also links to Robert Cartaino's blog post on the six guidelines for great subjective questions: great subjective questions…

  • inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”: ok.
  • tend to have long, not short, answers: no. Such a short question, clearly having cost no effort whatsoever from the asker, does not inspire answerers to write long, thoughtful answers.
  • have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone: no. The question is almost flame bait.
  • invite sharing experiences over opinions: no. No one has experience of realized and unrealized science fiction predictions.
  • insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references: no. Same as above.
  • are more than just mindless social fun: no.

Goodness ratio 1/6, definite close.

Such a question only deserves a speedy close (off-topic, not a real question, subjective and argumentative… they all apply, so just pick one) on any Stack Exchange site.

Now I'll speak specifically as a current pro-tempore moderator on Science Fiction and Fantasy Stack Exchange. We have had similar questions before. They're closed (and the ones that aren't deleted as I write soon will be). The response to such questions were generally picking on some particular example of prediction and arguing whether the prediction was realized. Nothing remotely useful came out of them. If this question had been migrated to SFF, it would have been closed there very quickly.

  • And the whole point of science fiction is that it's, you know, fictional. If people wrote about people using cool technologies that actually exist, it would just be fiction.
    – John Lyon
    May 17, 2011 at 5:40

You followed the right procedure by flagging and putting a comment asking for migration. However you should wait 24 hours before prompting the moderators for an answer (or possibly try to catch them in chat) as they might just not gotten to it yet. Assuming it's valid for migration.


The reason I didn't migrate it is because it is a low-quality question and likely off-topic on SciFi. The question is extremely broad and invites speculation, it's just not a good fit for a Q&A site.

  • Actually it would probably not be closed on sci-fi. Though it's somewhat broad, speculative questions are not unwelcome at scifi.
    – apoorv020
    May 12, 2011 at 10:07
  • @apoorv I'm not a SciFi user, I would have asked a SciFi mod whether it would be on-topic before migrating. My primary reason not to migrate was that the question is just one sentence with a link, it is just not formulated well.
    – Mad Scientist Mod
    May 12, 2011 at 10:17
  • I understand. I was wondering whether a mod from scifi would be required to shift the question, but sklivvz put a rest to that speculation.
    – apoorv020
    May 12, 2011 at 10:24
  • @apoorv020: It would take a Skeptics mod to migrate it. But if the question wasn't so obviously bad, what a Skeptics mod would typically do is ask an SFF mod whether the question was acceptable. May 13, 2011 at 18:50

In addition to what Fabian writes, there's a moderator guideline against moving questions to beta sites.

The migration dialog says "Please avoid migrating questions to beta sites unless the circumstances are exceptional."

  • Hmmm... pity. I will just add a comment asking the user to repost the question.
    – apoorv020
    May 12, 2011 at 9:51
  • 1
    That rule is more meant for migrations from launched sites to beta sites, and mostly for overlapping topics. Migrations between beta sites and for blatantly off-topic posts are acceptable, as far as I understand the guidelines.
    – Mad Scientist Mod
    May 12, 2011 at 11:00
  • @Fabian, exactly! That's why I used the term guideline and not rule :-)
    – Sklivvz
    May 12, 2011 at 11:05
  • The migration dialog says "Please avoid migrating questions to beta sites unless the circumstances are exceptional.". The funny thing is that the list of possible target sites does not mark the beta sites any special. Ok, the icons of the beta sites seem to have all the same style. (I'm a moderator myself on a different SX site) May 12, 2011 at 11:42
  • If a question is going to be closed no matter what, it's ok to move it to a beta site, assuming the question is suitable for the proposed target site (which it obviously isn't in this case). May 13, 2011 at 18:49

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