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I was reading what type of questions are allowed and it said clearly:

you are asking an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ______ happened?”

are not really allowed/encouraged. However, I wasn't quite sure if that meant every "hypothetical question" is disallowed. What if there is an answer to the question that has very high probability of being correct? What if even though it never happened in the anime, the question probably has an answered that could be backed up with detail events that happened from the anime?

The question I was thinking was:

If Pain got in a battle with Hashirama Senju, who would end victorious?

It is true that the question is (unfortunately) hypothetical since these two never had the please to fight. However, one could infer which one would win from different events in the show. For example, pain already fought two users of sage mode (jiraya and naruto), so there are things we could infer about who would be successful. Furthermore, Hashirama did battle madara with the rinnengan and we know the result of the battle, so we can infer further things. Etc, so it could lead to very interesting answer leading to better understanding of both characters fighting style.

Anyway, is that question allowed? Are all hypothetical questions plainly banned? What if they have potential to having very well backup reasoning from the show?

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    If I were to give example of hypothetical questions, a lot of hypothetical questions are made for the Death Note series, but they are kinda answerable since there is a clear list of rules from the series itself. For stuffs like what if we change the plot at certain point, or how strong the characters are against each other, they are kind of opinion-based and prone to attract low quality answer, especially when the characters are more or less as powerful but never got a chance to fight with each other. – nhahtdh Mar 1 '15 at 16:06
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    I think something like this could be okay if the question is structured properly. You have to set out a defined list of criteria that would classify a victory. Something like "Is Pain's chakra stronger than Hashirama Senju's?" would be more acceptable because that distinctly ties it to facts in the canon. The reason for this being that we cannot predict how the outcome of a battle would go; that's what the plot dictates. – Killua Mar 1 '15 at 20:34
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    Concur with nhahtdh - hypothetical questions about a show are fine if the show has a coherent framework of rules from which we can make deductions. That said, shows like this are few and far between, and I can't really think of any other than Death Note off the top of my head. – senshin Mar 1 '15 at 20:39
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    Oh, here's another example - for the most part, the way Geasses work in Code Geass is fairly well-defined (though not to the same extent as Death Note), so we can often ask questions like "what would happen if Lelouch ordered X to do Y but then Z happened". I think we do have a few questions like this on the site. On the other hand, "battle anime" are generally not well-suited to this, because the whole point of those shows is often that when A beats B, it's because A revealed a hitherto-hidden technique, or used the power of friendship, or went through a training montage. – senshin Mar 2 '15 at 16:41
  • I mostly agree with Senshin's answer below. I just think I should add that IMO questions like your example (Pain vs Hashirama) are not ok. Unless the hypothesis one delivers can be based solely on power or something similar - "A is evidently stronger than B, so A would win" - (which doesn't seem to be the case, as you cannot define in clear terms "stronger"), you cannot base your answer on previous fights and still have an answer that is not completely open-ended and hypothetical. "A beat B, and B beat C, so obviously A beats C" does not always (or in most cases it doesn't, probably) check. – JNat Mar 6 '15 at 13:47
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    In general I dislike "Who could beat who?" questions on this site. As Logan M. mentions below, it's too "Gorilla vs Shark". I dislike them even if you're confining it to a single universe. – Torisuda Mar 7 '15 at 22:43
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Okay, hold up.

As I commented on the question, I think that hypotheticals within a single universe are fine in some cases - namely, when the universe has its own internal logic that is reasonably coherent. Death Note is a stellar example of this, and there are surely other franchises that work reasonably well.

Similarly, questions that ask about real-world justifications for some anime thing are generally okay (a la How is Misaka's railgun so destructive?), since even if the anime's rules are wishy-washy, the real world obeys very clearly-defined laws, so we only have one source of uncertainty here. Granted, sometimes the answer is "this thing that happens in anime X is completely incompatible with the way the real world works because Y", but that's fine.

However, I don't think that hypotheticals that involve multiple universes - like Mindwin's question https://anime.stackexchange.com/questions/19778/ - are ever okay. Both Mahouka and Code Geass have fairly coherent internal logic (for magic and geasses, respectively), and so I think that hypotheticals within either universe would generally be okay.

But when you mix them? Oh my god that's a horrible can of worms. Here's why:

  1. We now have two sources of uncertainty, whereas in the within-one-universe and universe-vs-real-world cases, we only have one. This makes it drastically more difficult to consider how the rules of the two universes should interact. What exactly does it even mean for Geass to use psions to work? What is a Code in the context of the Mahouka universe's magic framework? Does the concept of "immunity" to passive Geass powers like C.C.'s even make sense?

    Any universe-mixing question is going to have any number of points of uncertainty like this, and there's no obvious way to resolve them. After all, there's no a priori reason to expect the fictional laws underlying the two universes to be compatible.

  2. This opens the door to "Can Flash beat Accelerator?" and "Can Goku beat Superman?" questions, which we absolutely do not want. (Right? This isn't a controversial point of view, is it?)

  3. Tangentially, what value do these questions give? I'm not of the opinion that this site should be entirely about "problems you want to solve" like SO/etc are - amusing diversions are fine - but even so, this type of question still seems too far removed from the realm of useful questions.

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    Agreed, Gorilla vs. Shark is one of the major types of questions SE is intended to avoid. Somewhat hypothetical in-universe questions should be okay if they're still focused on better understanding some aspect of the story or setting, but if it gets to the point of out-of-universe comparisons or crossovers we're pretty solidly in the realm of useless speculation. – Logan M Mar 3 '15 at 22:42
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I don't think they should be disallowed. If you can base the answer with solid arguments, drawn from canon or from logic and sound application of scientific knowledge, it is ok.

If we were to disallow these kinds of questions, several great questions and answers would just vanish. This SE site is an entertainment site, so we can affort to be a little more lax on the subjective side than other sister sites, like SO.

So without any attempt of laying ground rules, I will list some examples of when I think its ok:

  • If the canon can support the argumentation for the answer, it is valid (like a Death Note rules what-if)
  • If it can be answered using real-world physics or other scientific knowledge, but outside canon, it is valid. Ex: How is Misaka's railgun so destructive?

The question need to set the ground for an answer that is verifiable; i.e. in the case of an hipothetical battle, even the fans of the defeated party would agree that he would be defeated in those conditions.

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    I'm not sure about your second point. As mentioned in a comment by the OP of your referred question, mixing anime and physics might not be the best thing to do. While the answers seem to be very satisfiable, such questions might be better of on the physics SE. – Peter Raeves Mar 9 '15 at 21:00

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