Proposal: Literature

Since I believe it's still possible to change the name of a proposal during the commitment stage, but it becomes much harder during beta stage, this seems like the perfect time to ask ...

Do we want to be Literature.SE or Books.SE?

A few relevant points:

  • Books sounds more user-friendly, whereas Literature might make people think the site is only about classical works like Shakespeare and Tolstoy, and deter them from contributing even if they're great consumers of more recent works of literature.
  • Literature would give us a connection with the previous failed Literature proposal (whether this is a good thing, a bad thing, or totally irrelevant, I'm not sure).
  • Books would be more consistent with Movies, another (the other?) media-based site.
  • A previous Literature proposal was originally called Books, its name being changed after this.

Any more pros and cons? Discuss!

Note: this post is not intended as a proposal for changing the title from Literature to Books, but rather as a starting point for some interesting discussion and perhaps a clearer idea of what our scope is going to look like. I don't have strong feelings about either one of the two names, and will be interested to hear what other people think.

share
1  
I want to thank you for bringing this up. I already value your effort in getting people aboard and defining the sites scope. It's a good discussion to have and I would give you a lot of reputation for it if I could. Alas, my answer details why I down voted anyways ;) – Helmar Dec 2 '16 at 18:48
    
@Helmar I wonder if I should edit to clarify that I'm not proposing we change the title but just raising the topic for discussion without any particular bias one way or the other (I've upvoted both the pro-Literature answers so far). That way, people like you who appreciate my bringing it up but strongly disagree with "Books" as a title would upvote instead of downvoting :-) – rand al'thor Dec 2 '16 at 18:53
    
There you go. Now I voted the other way. :) – Helmar Dec 3 '16 at 13:44

The word books refers to every single type of book -- including things like technical manuals and scientific publications. Books also implies a physical book, which would rule out questions about stories published online, etc.

I think the word literature is a more accurate word to describe this sites scope. Although there is disagreement about how to define literature, I would define literature as stories written down1. That definition to me seems like the simplest explanation of what our site is about.

To respond to the points you raise:

Books sounds more user-friendly, whereas Literature might make people think the site is only about classical works like Shakespeare and Tolstoy, and deter them from contributing even if they're great consumers of more recent works of literature.

Let's take a look at the proposed questions for the Literature site. I'm seeing questions about The Da Vinci Code, I'm seeing questions about Shakespeare, and I'm seeing questions about the Epic of Gilgamesh, and I'm seeing questions about To Kill a Mockingbird. It looks to me like there's a pretty good mix in terms of the types of books being discussed -- we have popular and classic books, old and new, etc. So I don't think that the name "Literature" is discouraging people interested in asking about popular books from doing so in the Area51 site, and I don't think it will when the site goes into beta.

What I do like about the questions is that they are all sophisticated questions about literature. They aren't just basic plot point questions like "who killed Snape in Harry Potter" -- they're questions that get at really complex elements of the stories we're discussing. I don't know if the name literature is to blame for this, but if having a "sophisticated" name like literature helps keep the quality of question high -- which was a problem with the failed literature site -- then I'm all for it.

Literature would give us a connection with the previous failed Literature proposal (whether this is a good thing, a bad thing, or totally irrelevant, I'm not sure).

I really don't think this is relevant. The literature site was about five years ago; are that many people going to remember it and then think it's a waste of time to participate in the new one?

Books would be more consistent with Movies, another (the other?) media-based site.

I don't think that's something we should be concerned with. It's not our job to make sure the branding of Stack Exchange sites is consistent. We should focus on putting our site in the best possible position to succeed, and only that.


1 With perhaps a liberal definition of written down, to accommodate things like comic books.

share
    
I think the most important of the three points is the one which I put first and you last. First impressions are often the most important, and if people assume the site is only for 'high-brow' classical literature, they may not even visit it in order to find out about the actual community and the types of questions/answers that are posted. That said, your first couple of paragraphs make some good points. Maybe you could expand on this, and talk more about the differences in scope which might be implied by the two names? – rand al'thor Dec 2 '16 at 16:38
    
@randal'thor edited. And I rearranged my responses to your arguments in the order you listed them; I wasn't trying to imply anything with the order I put them in. – Hamlet Dec 2 '16 at 17:04

Total disagreement

TL;DR: Literature and books are two very different things. We should not use the most popular medium of literature as title.

All the example questions are about literature.

Books.SE could very conceivably contain questions about the binding that keeps a book together or the material of book covers or the efficiency of types of printing presses.

More importantly we would implicitly exclude some of our example questions before we even reach private beta. Our four highest voted questions are about the Brothers Grimm, Atticus Finch and the Epic of Gilgamesh. One book out of four. The Grimm questions are about their work and background, and fairy tales in general. The Epic of Gilgamesh simply predates the concept of a book altogether. That's three questions that have nothing to do with books but all to do with literature.

Looking at all the other questions there is almost no necessity for those works of literature to be in a book. They can be on sheets of paper, papyrii or stone tablets. The first book-precursor is the codex which the Romans came up with. Codices came into fashion starting in the first century, not becoming real popular until the fourth century.

About literature that's not in books

Homer's Odyssey was not written in a book. Aristotle, Socrates, Platon, well all the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, a lot of the not so ancient Romans and continuing throughout history they didn't write books. They produced tons of literature. Even after the printing press literature does not necessarily end up in a book. Even Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet only ended up in a book a few years after he wrote it and not published faithfully to the actual thing. "The text of the first quarto version was of poor quality, however, and later editions corrected the text to conform more closely with Shakespeare's original." (Wiki)

Oh and per UNESCO, for statistics, nothing below 49 pages is a book. ("A book is a non-periodical printed publication of at least 49 pages, exclusive of the cover pages, published in the country and made available to the public;") If one wanted to adhere to that all short stories would be off-topic.

Even today (e)books don't cover all literature. The Martian was actually a blog.

Calling it books.se would make laws and all other sorts of drudgery more on-topic by name than all those things I mentioned above.

Literature is a written work. No matter what medium carries it.

share
    
Hmm. My idea of "Books" was meant to convey a broader scope rather than a narrower one. I guess perhaps a better term would be something like Written Works, but that would clearly be worse than Literature as a title for an SE site. – rand al'thor Dec 2 '16 at 18:47
    
@randal'thor providing an appealing and not to restricting title to the site is a good idea. However, in my opinion, simply books is not the way to go. – Helmar Dec 2 '16 at 18:50

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .