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Recently, we've had two questions on Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra which garnered close votes: Is avatar Korra bisexual? and How can fans be used to augment earthbending?. The first question has yet to receive the fifth vote necessary to close it. The second was closed, but later reopened. Looking at the edit history, the intersection of the group that voted to close and the group that voted to reopen is empty—so we had five users who thought the question was off-topic, and another five who thought it was on-topic. All ten of the users who voted on this are respected, high-rep users with lots of good contributions to the site, which suggests there is a pretty deep gulf over this issue in the community.

A previous meta post established that peripheral topics like Last Airbender, Korra, and RWBY are on-topic here, as well as allowing manhwa, manhua, original English language manga, and certain video games. This ruling was reinforced in another meta post on RWBY specifically, and in this duplicate of the first post. However, some users evidently were either not aware of these posts, or disagreed with them, and have been voting to close Last Airbender and Korra questions.

Do we still want to accept questions on these shows?

I do not want to start another argument about whether these two shows are anime or not. To me, they are not anime under the commonly understood definition in the non-Japanese fandom. To me, any work in which the vast majority of the creative direction comes from non-Japanese sources is not anime. However, Final Fantasy is also not anime, and we allow Final Fantasy questions, so not being anime is not an automatic disqualification. We can argue in circles about whether the shows qualify as anime under someone's definition, but it never goes anywhere. Let's try to focus on practical policy instead of arguing over definitions and gut feelings.

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    somewhat related – Hakase Aug 13 '15 at 20:28
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    What I feel gets missed in most of the answers on the discussions that @Hakase linked to is creative control. People argue about whether something is Japanese if it's animated by a Japanese studio, or if some anime are actually Korean because they're animated by Korean studios, but in most cases it's not hard to decide who was actually exercising creative volition in the making of a specific work. For Last Airbender, those people were American; for My Neighbor Totoro, those people were Japanese. To me, it's only anime in the latter case. – Torisuda Aug 13 '15 at 21:03
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    I'm seeing lots of downvoting on the answers here. Downvoters: please add comments or new answers explaining what you disagree with and what your preferred solution would be. This is a very controversial issue, so we need as much community input as possible, otherwise we'll continue to have a divided community. – Torisuda Aug 14 '15 at 8:30
  • I've posted a community wiki answer which details what I perceive as the consensus on this issue. Please edit to make it more clear as you find necessary, and upvote it if the policy and philosophy it lays out seems reasonable. – Torisuda Aug 16 '15 at 18:50
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Personally I think they should be allowed.

These are as tangentally related to our userbase as other non-strictly-anime items that we allow are - like manwha. Clearly the userbase is interested in Avatar questions based on how many votes it got.

As for overlapping content, we have many questions about the plots of games - and there's an entire stack site for that.

I think it is fair enough that questions on works that are commonly associated with anime (even though they may not be) are of value to the community because of this status.

Whilst we shouldn't explicitly encourage these questions, I don't think that they shouldn't belong here.

  • I've community-wikid this cuz i'm going to bed now – Toshinou Kyouko Aug 13 '15 at 20:39
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    Re: "there's an entire stack site for that" - Arqade tends to frown on questions about the "plots of games" (what they term "lore questions"). Plot questions will generally be better-received here or at SF&F than at Arqade. The same is not necessarily true of AtLA (as the closure of some of these questions evidences). – senshin Aug 13 '15 at 20:45
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    @senshin makes a good point: not only do we have a much smaller amount of Last Airbender expertise than SF&F, there's an element of our community which is actively hostile to it. It seems that, no matter how you slice it, these questions are more at home on SF&F, so the question becomes how proactive and forceful we want to be about encouraging people to take their Last Airbender questions to SF&F. – Torisuda Aug 13 '15 at 21:00
  • @Torisuda there are lots of people opposed to id-requests and other types of questions too. I think they're equally relevant on both sites – Toshinou Kyouko Aug 13 '15 at 21:21
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    @ToshinouKyouko Personally, I was fine with leaving the policy as it was. I don't have a problem with the overlap. I raised this issue for two reasons: I genuinely think that these questions will get more interest on SF&F, and I don't think it's fair to people who ask these questions that we have an official policy which allows them, but an unofficial cadre of users going around closing them. – Torisuda Aug 13 '15 at 21:27
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    Unlike id requests, which make up a massive fraction of our content, we hardly get any Last Airbender/Korra/RWBY questions, so it seems like we could save everyone a headache by encouraging askers to go to SF&F. It wouldn't be hard to implement and it wouldn't affect that many users. – Torisuda Aug 13 '15 at 21:28
  • if we have a better-known policy, which is why this meta post exists, we won't have that cadre of users, so I feel that point is moot – Toshinou Kyouko Aug 14 '15 at 4:28
  • I forsee that banning the questions could also lead to more subsequent meta posts trying to define if shows are 'anime' or not – Toshinou Kyouko Aug 14 '15 at 4:30
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    Perhaps that's really the problem here: a lot of the time when Last Airbender and Korra get discussed, people spend a bunch of time arguing over whether they're anime or not, and no one ever seems to understand what the other side is saying because the arguments are essentially religious. Thus, when policy decisions get made, certain people feel like they weren't heard, and they ignore the policy. This is the sort of thing that could lead to your fear of more meta posts on defining certain shows as "anime" or not. – Torisuda Aug 14 '15 at 8:33
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    I still believe we should encourage people to take their questions to SF&F, but we can do that without banning the questions. Maybe that will be enough to satisfy both sides. – Torisuda Aug 14 '15 at 8:38
  • @Torisuda, I think that would be a good approach – Toshinou Kyouko Aug 14 '15 at 9:27
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I'll present my own take on the issue, but I welcome other opinions.

As I said in the question, to me, Last Airbender and Korra are not anime, but this should not mean automatic disqualification. Toshinou-san's answer presents a good case for why they should be allowed despite not being anime.

Questions on Last Airbender and Legend of Korra are on-topic at Sci Fi and Fantasy Stack Exchange. From looking over their tag list, there are 110 questions tagged and 105 questions tagged . They're also on-topic on Movies and TV Stack Exchange, with one question each. We won't be leaving anyone out in the cold by refusing these questions.

I think we should encourage anyone who asks a question on these two series here to move their question to Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Although there is definitely crossover in expertise, the majority of Stack Exchange users who are interested in these shows seem to have settled on Sci Fi and Fantasy as their chosen site. As Esq points out in a comment here, it's more important to congregate all the questions in one place than it is to argue philosophy:

Anyways whatever the choice is I think avatar should not be split up into 2 places, all current Q&A should be moved to a single place. Consistency is more important than being right in this case

Having all the questions in one place means it's easier to find out if your question has already been asked, and it's easier for answerers to find your question since they don't have to check three different sites. Whether or not you think Avatar is anime, the fact is that most of the questions on the show are on SFF.SE, while most of the questions on Full Metal Alchemist and Dragon Ball Z (which are also on-topic on both sites) are over here.

I'm not sure I favor closing any questions on Last Airbender or Korra. I think if we had never decided to take them, it would have been viable to close them as they come in. But at this point, we've already had a policy of allowing them for a while. And it's probably confusing for people to figure out whether they're allowed or not. I'd rather strongly encourage people to move their questions to SFF, with migration as a possibility. Perhaps we could also migrate all currently open questions on these topics, and make it clear in our tag wiki that the tags should not be used for new questions.

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    FYI, questions older than 90 days aren't migratable. So "send them all to SF&F" isn't an option. "Send all the new ones" is, of course. – senshin Aug 13 '15 at 20:27
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    @senshin Ah, didn't know that. I agree with your answer that we can just leave the old ones alone, then. Possibly we could use the "historical significance" lock on the old questions to show people that we're not taking new questions on these topics. – Torisuda Aug 13 '15 at 20:29
  • Is migration possible by the user or only by mods? – Esqarrouth Aug 14 '15 at 9:59
  • @Esq: I remember being able to flag / vote to close questions for migration. However, migration choices via that route are limited to a specific set of sites. – Maroon Aug 14 '15 at 15:06
  • Anyhow, this sounds reasonable. Granted, in the case of some manhua like McDull, I'd be surprised if I'd get a better response elsewhere (and wouldn't encouage migration, even if I wouldn't encourage asking here because it would seem largely an exercise in disappointment), but at the very least, this sounds like a reasonable approach to Western media. – Maroon Aug 14 '15 at 15:47
  • @Esq For the time being, you will have to cast an "in need of moderator intervention" and type in where you want the post to be migrated. Eventually, we may have migration paths elsewhere, though I'd be surprised if we got them to anywhere besides maybe Japanese.SE and Movies.SE. – senshin Aug 14 '15 at 16:07
  • ScienceFiction F? – Esqarrouth Aug 14 '15 at 17:07
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    @Maroon I see now that the question title can be interpreted to include manhwa and manhua, but I was really just thinking of Last Airbender and Korra and possibly RWBY, since I think those have a better home on SF&F. We would be leaving people out in the cold if we banned manhwa and manhua, even if it's not very many people and mostly ID requesters, so I would be much more hesitant to support closure or migration on those questions. – Torisuda Aug 14 '15 at 19:48
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    @Torisuda: right, I figured that the question was mostly concerned with Western works, because of that problem. Manhua / related content might not be our core expertise anyway, but none of the obvious migration choices are that appealing (e.g. in my example, I could probably ask on Movies.SE, but I would not be surprised if I got no response), so I'd rather leave that issue as it stands for now. – Maroon Aug 14 '15 at 20:16
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This is a consensus answer which details a policy on Western anime-inspired works that seems to be agreeable to all who answered or commented here.

For Questioners

Questions on Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra are officially tolerated as on-topic on Anime and Manga Stack Exchange. You may ask questions on these series here. However, you are strongly encouraged to instead ask these questions on Sci-fi and Fantasy Stack Exchange, where there is a thriving community of experts on these series. You may also consider asking them on Movies & TV Stack Exchange.

Questions about the live action Last Airbender movie are off-topic here, but on-topic at Sci-fi and Fantasy, as well as Movies and TV.

If, after posting your question, you decide you would rather have it on one of the other sites, please flag it for moderator attention. Choose the reason "Other (in need of moderator attention)" and mention in the message which site you would like the question migrated to.

This policy should not be taken to imply that Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra are, or are not, anime.

For Reviewers

Questions on Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra should be held to the same standards as any other question. They should be clear, reasonable in scope, and answerable with facts and informed speculation rather than pure opinion. Downvote, edit, and vote to close or reopen these questions according to the same standards you would apply to any other question.

Please don't vote to close solely because the question is about Avatar: The Last Airbender or Legend of Korra on the basis that these shows are not anime. By looking over the question statement, answers, and comments on this page, you can see that several of us who participated in this discussion do not believe Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra are anime. However, the community has historically decided to allow questions on certain topics which are not explicitly anime or unambiguously connected to anime. Please respect that choice, or argue for a change in policy in Meta before voting to close.

You can, per above, encourage questioners to migrate their question to Sci-fi and Fantasy SE. You can also flag it for migration on the questioner's behalf, especially in cases where the questioner is a new user and doesn't understand the system very well.

For the Community

This site was created to be a Q&A site on Japanese anime and manga, as commonly understood by non-Japanese fans of these media. The definition of these terms is somewhat nebulous, but in general, a work is only unambiguously anime or manga if it was made in Japan, under the direct and extensive creative control of Japanese people.

We've decided to allow questions on certain topics that fall outside of this definition because they are of interest to the community, and because they fall into a grey area in which one can argue that they are "close enough" to anime or "statistically anime" or fall inside the "anime-o-sphere". However, we are not going to become "East Asian-style Media Stack Exchange". If questions on these topics ever threaten to overwhelm questions on the core interests of the community, the policy will be reassessed and the topics may be banned.

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I personally see nothing wrong with prohibiting these questions here, since all three still have a home on SF&F (all three series in question are fantasy, and AtLA/Korra in particular have a much larger userbase over there) and AtLA/Korra also are certainly welcome on M&TV (dunno about RWBY).

I am well aware that SE sites need not have mutually exclusive domains, but since this particular set of topics is controversial over here and uncontroversial on SF&F/M&TV, I think it makes our lives easier and nobody's lives harder if we just opt to migrate all new non-terrible AtLA/Korra/RWBY questions to SF&F or M&TV, as appropriate. (We can let existing questions be, or maybe just close them if ever they get bumped back to the front page.)

  • I agree with this answer in principle, and upvoted it, but it seems like there's community support for allowing these questions here and banning them entirely will cause hard feelings, so we're pretty much damned if we do allow them, and damned if we don't allow them. – Torisuda Aug 16 '15 at 6:48
  • Would you be willing to support the solution that Toshinou Kyouko and I discussed above--officially tolerate these questions, but strongly encourage migration to SF&F, and ask our users who are willing to do review tasks to check SF&F for possible duplicates rather than vote to close? I also think someone (me, if no one else wants to) should make a master list on meta of non-anime topics which are allowed. I know this seems like a lot of trouble, but since we get so few of these questions, it shouldn't end up being too much work to maintain. – Torisuda Aug 16 '15 at 6:50
  • @Torisuda I think the solution you folks discussed is fine (though it does little to prevent the close-reopen wars that are likely to happen if sentiment for/against these questions remains polarized). I don't think it's productive for us over here on Anime.SE to bother checking for possible duplicates on SF&F, though. Either we should let the question stand here, or, migrate it to SF&F and let them check for duplicates on their end. – senshin Aug 16 '15 at 6:56
  • @Torisuda re: a list of non-anime topics - this would be a thing worth having, though I assume the list you're talking about is really more a list of "Western media topics" or "non-Japanese media topics" that we permit (since we obviously permit lots of things that aren't anime [manga, LNs, etc.]). – senshin Aug 16 '15 at 6:58
  • Yeah, I wanted to do more to end the close/reopen wars, but I suppose in the future we can at least point close-voters at this meta post and the list of allowed topics. My inclination was to lean pretty heavily on askers to accept migration, which might do a little to stop the closure wars. – Torisuda Aug 16 '15 at 7:02
  • As far as the list, I was thinking of putting everything that isn't anime or manga: light novels, visual novels, JRPGs, manhua, manhwa, Chinese and Korean animation, and Western anime-style productions. As it is the mandate that allows many of these topics is scattered across several meta posts and it's confusing to find the one you want. – Torisuda Aug 16 '15 at 7:04
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    @Torisuda Oh, that would be even more helpful. But also a lot more work if you want to cover all the corner cases ("anime internet culture", conventions, stuff like that). – senshin Aug 16 '15 at 7:11
  • Good point, I didn't think of the internet culture and convention corner cases. Our recent decision to take anime tourism questions would be another corner case. I'll work on a list that at least covers the clearly non-anime or manga stuff that we allow, and maybe community wiki it so other people can add dubious topics (with support from previous meta posts) as they encounter them. – Torisuda Aug 16 '15 at 7:22

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