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An example would be this question, which is asking if the cases in Sherlock Holmes stories were taken from any existing logic puzzles at the time, or if any puzzles have been derivative of them.

Are puzzle history/"etymology" questions on topic? I don't have an opinion on this yet, I just know that this question "feels" different than others in the beta so far, and I was wondering if we want them included in our scope.

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When in doubt:

  1. Will it likely be of interest to serious puzzle enthusiasts we want?
  2. Is is causing a problem now (overrunning the site, arguments, etc?

If you get a "yes" and a "no" (which I think is the case here?) the diagnosis should be to allow 'em, or at worst, "watchful waiting."

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  • $\begingroup$ I read that as "waitful watching" the first time around, haha. Great point though; I agree. Wait a little longer to see how things go and refine our scope. (We do need at least an initial "this is in scope and this isn't" proposal before we get into public beta though, right? How do we go about doing that? Just list the things that are completely OT or are causing problems/not of interest? /curious) $\endgroup$ – WendiKidd May 17 '14 at 3:01
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I think if a question is clearly off-topic for the scope of the site, then it should be closed as such, even if it's tangentially relevant to puzzling.

This question appears to be more of a curiosity than a question with significant basis, and is about the history of plagiarism of a story plotline, rather than the history of puzzling itself. If we take a look at historical precedent, Skeptics.SE (which is really where a question like this might belong - except not) requires at least some basis for asking a question there; one can't simply ask a historical question and muse over it.

However, I think this is moot, as I don't personally think it fits the scope of the site at all, for the reason stated above. As a result, I've voted to close it.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think I agree, though I'm going to hold off on the closevote until I see more response to this meta discussion. Also, a slight twist: had the question said instead "My favorite Sherlock Holmes story was Story X. Are there any puzzles out there that use similar devices or draw from the plotline of that story?" I would call that a legitimate identification question. You're looking for a specific puzzle category you think you'd enjoy. But I think I agree that the question as it stands doesn't fit; it's not about the puzzles, really, but the borrowing-of-material. The OP's intent is different. $\endgroup$ – WendiKidd May 17 '14 at 3:08
  • $\begingroup$ Moved my comment to an answer and expanded. $\endgroup$ – WendiKidd May 17 '14 at 3:13
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Having read existing answers, I think I agree with Emracool's. There's a variation here I'd like to discuss, though.

The fault of the question (IMO) is that it's asking for a complete history of all places Holmes storylines could have pulled inspiration from and anything based on it after the fact. This is very List of Things and not really about puzzles; it seems to be more about the history of what was done with a Sherlock Holmes plotline. (Maybe suitable for a books SE?)

If instead the question had been written like this:

My favorite Sherlock Holmes story was Story X. Are there any puzzles out there that use similar devices or draw from the plotline of that story?

I would call that a legitimate identification question. You're looking for a specific puzzle category you think you'd enjoy. You might get one puzzle or a few dozen or none, but you're focussed on the puzzle, which is what the site should be about.

But I think I agree that the question as it stands doesn't fit; it's not about the puzzles, really, but the borrowing-of-material. The OP's intent is different in each case, so I feel one is on topic and the other is not.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, it does indeed turn into a puzzle identification problem, which I think follows Jaydles' criterion for on-topic questions. Until/unless it becomes a problem, your example here would be passable. $\endgroup$ – user20 May 17 '14 at 3:26

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