Per the tour on the main stack, querents should not ask "Questions with too many possible answers or that would require an extremely long answer". Also, per the help center, querents should not ask questions where "there is no actual problem to be solved" or that are "open-ended or hypothetical". These rules do not seem to apply to some of the top-scoring posts on the main stack, for example:

  • What's the smallest change to physics required to allow magic? (incredibly open-ended and hypothetical; accepted (and highly-upvoted) answer is, subjectively, very long relative to answers I commonly obsersve, ~20 paragraphs)
  • What's the most reasonable way to fit Monsters in your Pocket? (asking about a procedure that requires magic without delimiting rules, so, open-ended and hypothetical)
  • How could dragons be explained without magic? (without further details about the querent's world, there are infinitely many answers to this question. The querent's description in the body of the question do not significantly narrow the universe of possibilities, so, open-ended and hypothetical. Also, such a question could merit volumes of text in response, depending on the level of detail that is expected about this species. There are libraries full of text on just human anatomy, other libraries full of text on only human psychology, others on only human sexuality, etc, there is no end to how long an answer to this question could be.)
  • The whole Anatomically Correct Series (innately hypothetical, series has no authorial entity and setting and therefor no details or actual problem to solve beyond trying to justify a fictional species's existence, which is open-ended. Also, see above about expected response length: Lifetimes worth of material could be written on one species. According to the meta post on the series, it is "a popular tradition on Worldbuilding.SE", and some entries of the series are among the top-scoring posts on the site)

Full disclosure: I am asking this question because another question (link is to edit showing original and edited text, main link here) of mine, in the main stack, was recently closed for reasons listed below. I have edited the question in question to suit suggestions given to me in the comments, but I want to better understand why my question was not acceptable for the reasons given to me, when some of the top-scoring questions on the site seem to eschew those guidelines.

Reasons given for close:

  1. (1) You are allowed one and only one question per post (past posts don't set precedents, SE changes the rules a year or two ago).
  2. "(2) Demon is referring to SE's "Book Rule" (see help center). But to be reasonable, the average answer is 4-6 paragraphs long. Some will write longer, others shorter, but that's your target."
  3. "(3) Providing your own answers (e.g. example answers) and asking for more is prohibited by the help center."
  4. "(4) SE's model (and it takes reading several Help pages to get this) can be simplified as "one-specific-question/one-best-answer." Idea generation questions aren't a good fit for Stack Exchange, which is designed to help you find a specific answer to a specific problem. (Open-ended questions, aka idea generation questions, are prohibited by the help center.)"
  5. "(5) This is why questions like this tend to fit into the help center rule, we will help you build your world, but not tell your story. We will help you build one creature at a time. We will not build the creature for you. Anything more is helping you write your story."

My confusions:

  1. I can appreciate that multiple questions do not belong in multiple posts. But, by nature of ... complexity ... some questions are more complex and others more simple. Some questions require multi-faceted responses, we can see an example of this in the described "popular tradition" of anatomically correct series questions, which is relatively active and current (most recent entry posted 4 months before this question). As to the second sentence, "past posts don't set precedents, SE changed the rules a year or two ago" (though posts more recent than a year, see before, seem to get by breaking this rule), I am unsure, given the structure of the comment, if that statement applies to only point #1 or the whole comment. If the latter, I suppose all of my confusions are moot and I should just move on, but please see my conclusions at the end for my thoughts on that.
  2. I find the "book rule" to be an unhelpful model. Perhaps I am just being dense, I like to think that I am not, but "book" is not a definite length, and one could write a "book" on anything, given the determination. One could write a book about the history of the character 'A'. Or they could write a paragraph in response. "Book" also has little comparison to the potential universe of lengths of internet forum responses. A "book" could be 20 paragraphs long, but most wont be, however, 20 paragraphs is (I believe, and believe most would agree) a long internet forum response. The intended length of responses is not clear to new users, it was only described to me in a plainly accessible manner in a comment describing why my post was closed. Also, I am unsure how I, as the querent, can modulate how responders choose to write. The same idea could be expressed in a sentence or a page, and I the querent cannot control how expansively responders choose to write. Before my question was closed, one responder did provide an answer of a few short paragraphs in length, which provoked engagement in the comments (with someone who commented on my post indicating that it was unacceptable, no less). If 4–6 paragraphs is my target length according to the site's veterans, I can appreciate that, but I must say, as a layperson, I have no idea how to control that. That seems like the role of a character limit on the response box. I fail to see how my question, either presented lengthily or briefly, innately requires a lengthy response (and therefor breaks the rules). We can see that the question has already provoked a brief response, so, the requirement of a lengthy response in my framing of the query is plainly absent. It is the responsibility of the response author to answer concisely, is it not?
  3. Per the help center, querents should "thoroughly search for an answer before asking a question ... Tell us what you found and why it didn’t meet your needs ...". I feel as though I did this in my question, presented my research, and explained how it did not fit my needs (I am a non-expert in the topic and do not have the qualifications or confidence to fact check my own research). Yet, a given reason for closing was that I had done too much work "providing my own answers". These are conflicting instructions, plainly liable to inconsistent enforcement based on the opinions of whoever happen to be moderating a post. I presented my research in an effort to fulfill the research requirement, but a particular user or group of users believes that it is too much and that I have answered my own question, even though I don't believe that to be so (my reasons why being plainly explained).
  4. "SE's model is "one-specific-question/one-best-answer." Idea generation questions aren't a good fit for Stack Exchange". I can appreciate that, if that's the truth, but I feel confused. I refer again to the "popular tradition" of anatomically correct series posts, which are purely idea-based and frequently high scoring. What is the threshold that determines a question is "idea-generation"-based? It is not clear to a layperson or new user what the limit of "encouraging idea generation" is, when the anatomically correct series, and other high-scoring, purely hypothetical questions, are featured elements on the site.
  5. I don't understand this point. The limit between sides is not clear, and seems unhelpfully subjective. According to the comment, Worldbuilding.SE will "help you build one creature at a time. We will not build the creature for you.". I am unsure where the line between those two actions lay, it seems nebulous and subjective, but I get it, I'm not contracting SE contributors to do my work, I don't feel as though I was (again the subjectivity of the rule is a gripe) as I included a significant amount of research, and asked primarily for a fact-checking.


I feel deeply confused. It seems as though certain types of posts are encouraged to eschew the guidelines which have been presented to me in the tour, help center, and advice of site veterans, and others are punished for modeling very popular posts that do just that. When I joined the site (relatively recently), I read the tour and several help center posts, doing my best to internalize the lessons, but, frankly, the top-scoring posts on this site have been more influential in how I write questions here, and I don't know how to break that habit, I believe it is human nature. Its difficult to contribute here when I feel encouraged to model, by my instinctual nature, to popular posts, but get punished for doing so.

The tour and help center materials are all very abstract. One can read them, and try hard to intuit them, but will still lack the experience necessary to understand what the community deems acceptable. The new user materials don't make that clear. So, naturally, I look to the posts that have received the best, most detailed, most positive responses on the site, and model my questions after them. As exhibited above, many of the top-scoring posts on the main stack are very open-ended, hypothetical, discussion-based, and encourage lengthy responses (one could say book-length, at least in the case of the "popular tradition" of anatomically correct series questions). If this is unacceptable, I can appreciate that, but the limits of acceptability remain arcane. As I write this post, my proposed edits to my closed question have been denied, though I feel they significantly restrained the scope of the question. The only note I have been given in association with this reopen-request denial is "The previous edit(s) were unsuccessful in reopening the question. You can submit another edit.". I am unsure how, for all the reasons listed above. I am trying hard to be a good contributor, but it feels like an uphill battle.

I am not trying to be contentious, I just want to better understand what is expected of me and why I seem to be misunderstanding of what the site is for, given the response to my posts. Returning to My confusions #1, if past posts are not to be precedents for future posts, I can appreciate that, but that fact is not clear. I, and I believe other new users, am driven by nature to model popular questions on this site. I brought up several such posts in this question, doing so in a manner that makes it seem as though they break the rules. But, in truth, I am very fond of every single question I linked in this post. I believe they belong on this site, and cannot think of another place to find such discussion. Others plainly agree, given their top-scoring status and general popularity.

I would appreciate a personal response to my situation, so I can better understand what is expected of my posts and alter the question in question to better reflect the site's values. As explained above, the instructions given to new users through the registration process and advice of veterans is obscure and conflicting. I also call for an improvement to on-boarding materials to prevent cases like my own, which seem too likely to occur.


5 Answers 5


First of all... Thank you for participating!

Meta is the right place to ask questions like this! Your willingness to come here and seek advice, question policy, and help build our community is very much appreciated. Meta has seen a sharp decline in participation over the years. It's wonderful to have you step into the ring and work with the team.

On to your question, which begins with a regrettable truth: things change

Both the Worldbuilding stack and Stack Exchange itself have changed over the years. My favorite proof is this Help Center page that is a hold-over from the last change in the voting procedure (about 2 years ago, I think) and has never been updated. It discusses close reasons that no longer exist and fails to discuss close reasons that now do exist.

What that page underscores, however, is that the rules have changed. Even the policies of this Stack have changed. An example is the Real World Question policy, which I once supported and now absolutely detest. At one time the Stack didn't permit real-world questions, meaning questions that can be legitimately asked and would often be better answered on another Stack. But that limited our growth, and sometimes it made sense to ask a Real World question. So now they're permitted, basically without the need to justify asking them here.1 But, to keep to the point. Once you couldn't, now you can.

Things change.

Consequently, pointing to a seven-year-old question and asking why it doesn't seem to fit today's rules doesn't make sense. No past question may set a precedent for how questions are closed today.

Theoretically, we're supposed to be farming though those old questions and closing them to stop this very issue from happening — but it's an enormous amount of work. So it rarely happens. Besides, it's possible (e.g., with the Real World Question policy) that old closed questions could/should be reopened. That's even more work.

Worse, voting was never intended to mean "popular"

One of the greatest failures of Stack Exchange is that it could never convince people to vote the way they expected them to. On Stack Exchange, up and down voting has a specific purpose, to reflect the quality of the question or answer. Unfortunately, 99.9% of the time people use it only to reflect popularity, which isn't the same thing at all. This is why questions that should have been (and sometimes are) closed can have high scores. People liked the question, even if the question was inappropriate here.

Unfortunately, there's no practical way to police the process of voting, so we all get to live with the fact that voting has no appreciable meaning. The existence of a high score does not mean the question was acceptable. It only means that the question was enjoyed. If that doesn't quite make sense, think of the difference between a well-cooked meal (acceptable) vs. crack cocaine (enjoyed). Keep this in mind when I mention storybuilding later.

And it doesn't help when Stack Exchange's purpose is in conflict with the querents' purpose and the respondents' desires

I'm going to quote from an old Meta answer of my own. I've tried to filter out the original footnote numbers, there are some missing links, etc. You can go look at the original if you're interested, but this part is relevant.

Accepted answers are like car dealership stickers

Personally, I hate leaving one of my questions without an accepted answer. But that's me. Neither I nor you owe anybody anything. In fact, if you think about it, what's the point of telling people which answer suited your needs? At best, it makes everyone else feel bad. At worst, it might suggest that you don't understand your own problem.

Which leads one to the idea that an "accepted answer" is contrary to what Stack Exchange is all about. At best an "accepted answer" reflects the unique need of the OP and nothing more — until you realize it's the proverbial gold star on Stack Exchange's forehead, demonstrating its worth (not yours, not the respondents') to everyone else. "See? We facilitated the discovery of the solution to their problem! We're valuable!" Seen from this perspective, what you're being asked to do is provide free advertising for SE (the "car dealership") proving why people should "buy their cars" here and no where else.

To be fair, accepted answers do serve a purpose

There are a lot of people on our happy little world. And every one of them has a unique point of view. Each will have a different take on your question, a different perspective of what would be a good answer. Some will take the moment too seriously. Others will refuse to take it seriously at all. Still others are trying to be funny, or are sociopathic trolls. A few are compassionately trying to help you. Others are just trying to brag. And a small handful are desperately trying to be heard. And because of all these perspectives and intents, an open forum would result in a bazillion answers, most of which are usleless.

The folks at SE both knew this up front and have learned this in spades over time.

What you have today is a site that's designed to bring useful answers to your attention. Very bad answers are deleted by vote. Simply bad answers are downvoted. Good answers are upvoted. And (theoretically) the best of the best is accepted. Which means that being the "best answer" is a goal.

Goals are important, they direct people and help them conform to the rules, guidelines, and expectations of society. In this regard, the idea of a best answer is no different. It helps SE achieve one of its highest aspirations: to be specifically useful and not just another discussion forum that's a 90's tech version of Dr. Phil.

On the one hand is the reality that accepted answers are free advertising for SE, on the other is their usefulness to help guide people to providing useful answers and not snarky one-sentence pot-shots questioning the OP's genealogy. To make matters worse, this isn't a site like Stack Overflow where there usually is one best answer, ours is a creative and imaginative site where the soup of societal gestalt might inspire a completely irrelevant dessert that proved to be exactly what the OP was looking for!

Except nobody actually provided that dessert as an answer.

Part of the problem is that you used this site (Worldbuilding.SE) the way most people do and not the way Stack Exchange intended. Per your question, you came to be inspired. That is not what SE is all about. Remember, they want to be known as the place for useful answers. We acknowledge this in our own Help Center when we explain that your question should be "specific and answerable." You're not supposed to come here to be inspired (looking for an infinite list of things to draw from) but to find a solution to a specific problem (looking for a finite list of things of which one is the solution).

Is this your fault? Certainly not! We know perfectly well that most people come here to be inspired, to solve writer's block, to develop a story more complex than they're prepared to deal with, etc. But we must also work within the framework SE has created, and SE's framework doesn't support seeking for inspiration, which we also call raw idea-generation or "fishing for ideas."

Which was a long way of saying, like everybody else on Earth, you're unique, and you invited a bunch of other unique people to be unique with you, which resulted in a unique solution to your problem. It simply doesn't fit SE's basic mold.

What Stack Exchange wants today is the following:

  • One-specific-question leads intentionally to one-best-answer.
  • As objective as humanly possible.
  • Asks for help solving a problem, not for advice.
  • Answers should be long enough for the page to represent a complete and thorough answer, leading to Stack Exchange being the go-to source for answers on the Internet. (This is why link-only answers are a no-no here. Thou shalt not lead the public away from Stack Exchange.)
  • Answers (and therefore the questions they depend on) should be short enough to solve the problem for a person who is "practiced in the art." (You won't find that said anywhere, but Stack Exchange is not meant to replace an education. Thus the "Book Rule" found in the Help Center was born.)

That makes perfect sense on stacks like Stack Overflow where there's a high likelihood that a request for help solving a programming problem can lead, at the least, to an answer the community agrees is a best-practice solution. In other words, there may be a hundred ways to solve the programming problem, but the nature of the question (almost) always leads to the community agreeing there's just one best solution.

That's a bit problematic here. Who can legitimately claim to be an expert in "magic?" We've tried (frequently unsuccessfully) to focus this Stack on the process of worldbuilding. Meaning that our goal is to help people learn how to build worlds and not simply to help them overcome writer's block.

Unfortunately, there's human nature...

However, what far too many people want to use the Stack for is story building, or helping someone to overcome writer's block. This isn't as unreasonable as it may sound. Many young authors aren't specifically building a world outside the context of a story. Some do, most don't. Most are writing a story and it's whomping hard to ask a question about the world without removing it from the context of the story — especially when you're not in the habit of doing that. For many young authors, it's hard to even see that there is a storybuilding context that must/should be removed.

(I pitched the idea of creating an actual Storybuilding Stack and the bare handful of respondents (Meta used to be much more frequented) didn't want it. Funny, that, since we specifically say we don't answer questions about writing a story — but we can't leave them alone, either.)

Which brings me to human nature. It's fun to help people overcome writer's block! It's fun to help people solve problems! It's fun to... except that "mindless social fun" is expressly prohibited by the Help Center. Party poopers.... But remember from my quote, above, Stack Exchange is trying to become specifically useful as a means of promoting its value. Fun storybuilding questions don't help them achieve that goal because, 99.9% of the time, they're only useful to the one person who asked the question.

And it doesn't help that many of our founding users are gone

Many of our founding users — the people who built the character of this Stack and worked hardest to keep that character focused — are gone. Over the last seven years I've seen a large influx of new users (good!) who aren't taking the time to read the Help Center (bad!) or to participate in Meta (bad!). The consequence is that you're seeing users ask and answer questions that shouldn't be asked or answered.

What we really need (not to put too fine a point on it) is for about thirty people, just like yourself, to learn the proverbial ropes so you can join in moderating the site. I don't want to scare you off! And the choice is entirely yours, but the fact that you're brave enough to ask this question here suggests you're willing to walk the proverbial path. Cheers, friend, if that's something you're willing to do.

In the end, there's nothing confusing about the rules, they're just not consistently applied

The biggest problem on any Stack is convincing people to care about Stack Exchange's rules, the stack's policies, and moderating — because your confusion really isn't about the rules, it's about how inconsistently they're applied. It's a bit like wondering why a policeman has the right to pull you over for speeding when you didn't see the sign and saw thirty people speed past you. It's a never-ending and frequently thankless job, but it helps the Stack remain valuable to Stack Exchange and to remain valuable for it's original intent.

To help people build worlds by helping them learn how to build worlds.

But there is something that might help

I do recognize that the Tour and Help Center weren't written by literary masters. Worse, they're honking hard to change. To help with that, I created a summary of the rules. Hopefully, that clears up some of the confusion. However, and this is pretty important, the odds are good that it's a bit out of date. Hopefully not too much....

1I admit it, I'm soap boxing a bit. I believe the Real World Question policy is very much responsible for this Stack becoming Physics-Lite.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your thorough response. You mention that improvement might result from thirty well-inclined people "learning the ropes" and becoming moderators. Could you edit your post to include more specific details about how one does that, or links to the relevant info portals? $\endgroup$
    – Fictotum
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Fictotum Stack Exchange does not provide community moderator training (it does for elected Moderators, but not for the community at large). The link to my summary of rules is as close as real training gets. Other than that, the tour, the Help Center, the flag/close reasons, and the up/down vote mouse roll-overs, and Meta are what we have to work with. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 16:59
  • $\begingroup$ "What's the point of telling people which answer suited your needs? At best, it makes everyone else feel bad." Ah, this infamous contradiction 🐻! Why people play Fortnite and other battle royales or just lotto? Everyone but one or two loses, after all. Yet they are very popular. As blunt as it sounds, winners don't care really much about the losers, that's their top #1 moment they spent so many time on. Losers sure are disappointed, but they just hope to be better/have more luck next game in a elaborated Skinner Box conditionning.[...] $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 22:16
  • $\begingroup$ [...] Game developpers (and here querent accepting an answer) don't care about them either (unless they're depressed, but that's another topic), as much as a soccer referee don't take pity on any team when they validate a goal which is dubious or hand over a red card. That's why that kind of system doesn't really contradict with players having fun with it... As long as you understand when you're not having a good time anymore. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 22:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena :-) You're not wrong at all. Whether the check mark has any actual value or not, it provides the basis for an emotional response that keeps people participating. Like getting that occasional hole-on-one on a par-3 golf hole. Every time you do it, you invest another grand in golf equipment you hardly ever use. But, dang... it feels good! $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 22:33
  • $\begingroup$ here's an example of an appropriate catch that serves to shape the framing of the question in terms of dimensionality worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/250774/… $\endgroup$
    – Nolo
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 18:28

The general idea behind SE is not to answer a question, but to build a knowledge base out of the answers given to questions.

To make it possible and allow answers to be reusable by others, the question has to be narrowly scoped, enough that the problem is well specified.


  • how do I cook lunch?
  • how do I cook Peking duck?

The first one has so many possible answers that any reuse is highly unlikely, while the second one is way more defined in scope.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I can appreciate that, and the distinction certainly seems clear in the relatively simple example you listed. However, given this is Worldbuilding.SE and most questions are going to have more complexity than a lunch recipe, as is plainly evident in the top-scoring posts of this site, I mentioned the anatomically correct series several time in my question, indicating that it does not seem to match the model that you are exhibiting here. Your answer does not really address any of my confusions. $\endgroup$
    – Fictotum
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 4:50
  • $\begingroup$ and the problem is how do we develop the moderation process further in order to more easily get from cooking lunch to cooking peking duck, while retaining new arrivals, while retaining new mods, while improving existing mods... $\endgroup$
    – Nolo
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 18:38
  • $\begingroup$ maybe the question is how do we undevelop the moderation process :D lets assume that humans are in fact useful... $\endgroup$
    – Nolo
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 18:42

There is no rigid set of rules. This is probably as it should be. The person asking a question feels that something 'ought to be possible' but does not have the knowledge to answer the question themselves, and maybe they have trouble posing the question as people might like. Their hope is that someone in the community knows an obscure fact, or sees a connection to some well-known fact that answers the question.

The aim (as I understand things, and I have no influence on policy) is to answer questions, and at the same time create a searchable database of questions and answers that may help others.

A simple exchange (which I paraphrase) was...

Q: How should I make the features on my inhabited planet seem realistic and plausible?

A: Look at a geology book. Planets are different but the basic forces in Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars can all be likened to each other. They have heavy centres and molten cores. They have or had tectonic plates. Even if you look at the ice-planets of the outer solar system, you still have cry-volcanoes, and shifting plates on a liquid base.

The person asking had been dazzled by the different planets that had been discovered lately - lighter than water, 5000C at the surface, rains diamonds. They were happy with the dull answer.

There are a number of bad behaviours in questions and answers which can be discouraged...

Long, wandering arguments which tell you the name of the creatures and that they are second level users of elemental magic, but no explanation of what any of that means.

Long lists of special cases and sub-cases with detail. We no not need proof of research. Often how the question is posed is enough to tell whether someone has had a fair go at it themselves before submitting.

Lengthy expositions on philosophy, politics, or other soapbox matters.

If there were a rigid set of rules, the troublemakers would game them and use them against ourselves. However, we can often recognise the bad behaviour and throttle them back. The 'opinion-based' query is hard to define but we recognise it in the replies it gets, if not in the question itself.

The One Rule, fit to be writ in letters of gold, is "Try not to be a jerk; be chill here and all will be fine." But people are people, and we need the other rules as guidelines at least.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure it's necessarily true that the objective defines the space of rules, and that since there are so many different kinds of rules that allow us to reach the objective, that we can for the most part ignore the rules. But I'll grant that the observation is relevant. I just can't upvote the answer because I had to reframe what the answer implies. :D In this case it looks loosely like a case in point. This is one of the answers along the leaves of the tree which results from the dimensionality problem that we struggle with. You simply can't have turtles all the way down. $\endgroup$
    – Nolo
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 19:12
  • $\begingroup$ All the interesting stuff happens precisely because of the rules, not in spite of them. ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Nolo
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 19:12
  • $\begingroup$ For example, the questions I'd like to ask are about how to shorten the feedback loop and move it closer to the question asking process and remove more need for moderator interjection there. Better questions results in better answers results in a deeper process results in better world builders, or so the line of reasoning suggests. The deeper the process leads to more questions and answers leads to survival of the knowledge base, generally is the assumption. But indeed, we should be asking about the assumptions. $\endgroup$
    – Nolo
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 19:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I have a favourite quote of Douglas Bader:"Rules were made for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools." $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 10:52
  • $\begingroup$ I understand that SE's purpose is to create a database of questions and answers, lengthily rephrasing that with examples doesn't address my confusions above. You claim there are no rigid rules, but I was opining above about several conflicting, rigid rules structures with inconsistent enforcement being a frustrating barrier to entry on this site. Your "one rule" is irrelevant and unhelpful in untangling the confusions I listed above. I'm not sure what point you are trying to make. $\endgroup$
    – Fictotum
    Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 20:35

This has long been a problem with this Stack in particular: the most subjective things on this site can be found in the help pages themselves, and the list of rules. If we look at the rules as a set of "customer requirements", there would be a whole lot of examples of "how to not write requirements".

e.g. "Primarily opinion based". How is this measured? Ask any 10 people here, you'll get 10 different answers, and they will each enforce it according to their own standards, each insist their way is the correct way, which is how you sometimes get a question that closes, gets reopened, and closes again, with no changes made (I wonder actually what the record is for a single question closing and reopening based purely on voters having very different interpretations of the rules).

I find it especially amusing when we close a question for being "too opinion based", but then close a similar one for "lack of research". Sometimes I feel the thinking is users must research until they have an answer, in which case they don't need to ask a question, and if research can't answer it for them, then it's too opinion based, and therefore they don't need to ask a question. I think secretly some people come here just to try and close everything.

Hm, looking through the recently closed questions, here's an interesting one: ...how old are 13 year olds vs Earth calendar?

I mean.... clearly the asker was building out a world and had a problem they could not wrap their head around. It is a question that they should be able to answer "with their own research" but again, they clearly could not get their head around it. Now they did get their answer so there's no point in reopening it but why slap them in the face with a close vote? What good did that do? Their worldbuilding had a problem, albeit a fairly straightforward one, and it feels like it got closed for "not being opinion based enough". That is, there was nothing to debate about, ergo closed. (Had it been less straight forward, it would have been too opinion based, ergo also closed...)

Interesting data point: If I look at Worldbuilding right now, I see 11 questions within the last 24 hours. After that it's a long tail, with the bottom question having been asked 6 days ago. We are not an overly busy Stack. Randomly looking at other stacks, I see Aviation gets more posts than we do. Home Improvement is way busier (where we fit 6 days of questions, they fit 23 hours of questions). It has long seemed to me that we are being overly strict on rule interpretation for no apparent reason. There is no flood to stem here. If anything, we need to loosen up the rules (or at least their interpretation) before this site runs out of people wanting to ask questions.


I think the rules are clear, but what the community wants (and does) is ignore rules that they don't like (which they should since this is a community-driven website), and the GODS of SE see only money, and FUN doesn't bring money like free advertisement does.

IMO theres 2 paths to take.

  • Foolishly try and appeal for the rules to be changed (not happening)
  • Try not to stray too much from the rules, and don't let the rules decide what you post. Post it, in a couple of minutes your post will be closed due to X, or you will be upvotes so much that they won't close it.
  • $\begingroup$ It's really hard to link elements together, and that's mainly why I'm downvoting your answer : What has FUN (why capital letters?) to do with free advertisement? What "free" advertisement are you talking about, anyway? What does it all have to do with SE company loving money, if the community drives the website? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ Fun is brainstorming, community events, pointless questions that are fun to answer or just read the answers, no one is going to pay to read wacky ideas and funny ways to make them happen. SE gains free advertisement everytime anyone answers something correctly $\endgroup$
    – Or4ng3h4t
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 15:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ To create a new SO site requires community participation. The implicit goal of the community that created this site was to be a worldbuilding site that fits the SO model. On meta you can find posts where every site policy has been created, modified, clarified, or removed. Meta exists to discuss site policies and propose improvements to it. Why should we ignore policies we created, when we were the ones who created them, and anyone on this site has the ability to propose a policy change and seek community buy-in for it? $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings simple, as stated in JBH answer, most of the creators of this community have left, meaning the community right now is different from the beginning, and since rules aren't enforced most of the time, or changed why not ignore them for good content ? $\endgroup$
    – Or4ng3h4t
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 15:19
  • $\begingroup$ Keep in mind that what differentiates SO from other sites is SO's model of Q&A. When you first joined this site it prompted you to take the tour. The entire point of that page was to lay out how "We're a little bit different from other sites. Ask questions, get answers, no distractions This site is all about getting answers. It's not a discussion forum. There's no chit-chat." If someone wants a less structured Q&A experience they're under no obligation to participate. If they do choose to join we do expect them to learn and follow our rules. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ I know that, but most of the rules are subjective to everyone's interpretation, I have had some clashes in the past about it, and stopped trying to make people see how that is a problem. Something being "too broad" or "story based" are opinions, which can't be translated into rules IMO. The sheer amount of "Too broad"/"Story based" closed question that to me isn't broad/story based, but some moderators clearly think so, and I'm not going to argue over opinions, so i just ignore. $\endgroup$
    – Or4ng3h4t
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 15:26
  • $\begingroup$ JBH isn't advocating for ignoring the rules. JBH is advocating for consistent application of them. "In the end, there's nothing confusing about the rules, they're just not consistently applied" This is best done by participating in community moderation, understanding and abiding by existing rules, seeking to inform others of the rules, and using meta to propose changes and clarifications to the rules. The only way for the rules to be consistently enforced by the community is if we seek to build a common understanding of them. Leaving a rule on the books but ignoring only creates confusion. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 15:26
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings tell me exactly where I said JBH advocated for ignoring the rules. He pointed out the founders are gone, I only used that to make a point. $\endgroup$
    – Or4ng3h4t
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 15:28
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings I know exactly what you are saying, but a small (idk if its small or not) part of the community wants things to change (a little) away from the SE format, and be able to have say, Open-Ended question which become a pit of ideas and inspiration for different topics related to it. Questions never have a single answer, otherwise there wouldn't be multiple answers per question. $\endgroup$
    – Or4ng3h4t
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ Every rule is open to interpretation. SO's code of conduct is subjective and open to interpretation but we still expect everyone to follow it. Every SO site has a prohibition on questions that are too broad, it's a fundamental part of the model. The policy exists because we don't want certain types of questions on this site. If you're constantly finding your questions closed as too broad then you should stop asking those types of questions. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 15:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 15:34

You must log in to answer this question.

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