According to our meta and our new faq, list questions are off-topic.

However, a list question was recently posted to the site, and it was not closed: Are there any other gods that permanently had an eye removed, other than Odin?

(For the record, I was the only person who voted to close it.)

Have we changed our policy on list questions? Or is it just that this question fell through the moderation filter?

  • 3
    Is that really a list question? Technically, "yes" would be a valid (though unsatisfying) answer to the question as asked. Not to mention I've had surprisingly little luck finding any other examples.
    – femtoRgon
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 3:58
  • 4
    Agree with @femtoRgon - I think questions asking for any is not a list question, since it requires only one example to fully answer. That is a useful service for people looking for something obscure. List questions usually ask for all examples of something, and tend to be difficult to answer exhaustively/completely.
    – Semaphore
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 14:41
  • @Semaphore that seems like it's the community consensus. Could this question and this question be closed as duplicates of this question here, so that there is no confusion about the site's current policy.
    – user62
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 0:38
  • 1
    I don't see how the policy has changed, merely a slight change in the definition of a list question.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 21:04

2 Answers 2


I find the embargo on "list questions" a bit strange and arbitrary, the more I think about it. I don't think the expected, or assumed, format of the answer should be relevant to the decision to close. These will probably fairly frequently be too broad. If the question really isn't too broad, I find myself going back to that same old piece of advice:

If a question sucks, downvote it!

If it lacks research effort, isn't interesting, or just rubs you the wrong way, you can always downvote it. Your reasons are your own, and no one can tell you otherwise.

But why this special treatment of list questions? What makes them special? I see nothing that makes them intrinsically different from any other question.

  • If the list being requested requires an in depth survey of various cultures' mythologies (or is just way too long), then it's too broad. Close as such. (downvote optional)

  • If it's what has been referred to previously on SE sites as a "shopping list question", then vote to close as opinion based. (downvote optional)

  • If the question is readily and completely answered by a quick jaunt over to wikipedia, then downvote it. Lacks research effort is right there in the hover text.

Questions whose answer will be a list don't require special treatment. We should judge them on their own merits, using the same criteria as other questions. The tools used for every other question are quite adequate for list questions too.

Another point here: We need to stop conflating this with shopping list questions. They aren't the same thing.

The example here could be seen as too broad. It's asking for a broad survey across all myths. Doesn't matter that an answer could be a list. Whether answers take the form of a list, a single name, or a brief explanation doesn't change that one bit. Honestly, whether this is on topic or not seems to me to be more about whether we allow myth idenitification questions, rather than anything about list questions. Tentatively...myth identification questions seem to be going sort of all right-ish, so far, I think...

(Was my phrasing of that last sentence uncertain enough to avoid being quoted on it?)


I think list questions should remain off-topic. Not only are "list every god/religion with x features" unanswerable (there are near-infinite amounts of gods and religions), but I don't think they teach anyone anything useful about mythology. It is an established phenomenon that religions often have elements in common, but we shouldn't turn this site into a list of every single element shared between different religions.

That said, there are better ways to ask questions comparing religions:

Questions that compare two specific religions, instead of every religion in the world:

  1. Why do Mormons believe Quetzalcoatl (and other American deities) are actually Christ?
  2. What differences were there in Greek soldiers worship of Ares and Roman soldiers worship of Mars?

Questions asking about theories regarding why religions share similar elements:

  1. Why, according to Joseph Campbell, is the monomyth so common?

We should encourage those types of question, and discourage "name every religion with x features" questions.

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