TLDR; Specifically this is about the last mile problem, not about opinion basis. Though I'll grant that opinion basis is related and perhaps implicit.

Note: I may be incorrect in my interpretation of what opinion based means. If so please correct me.

Example: Why would cyborgs, assuming they are rare, be found in the lower classes rather than the elite?

When the answers to a question are as varied as opinions, i.e. they represent various factors, then we fail to tune the question and answer process. So the process becomes about eliminating factors. Sometimes that may not be what we want to do.

The answers in this case seem to offer factors where as a specific reason is harder to pin down. Some kinds of questions seem to be simply like that and involve a lot of factors.

I understand we have resources on how to ask questions, that's not the point. The question is about human effort on both ends, moderation and for the OP.

So the specific question, demonstratively, is in two parts ( one that looks easier to answer, and one that looks harder ):

  1. how to detect when this happens
  2. how to approach resolving the number of factors more effectively

...in order to result in fewer answers, which may otherwise be useful, but less so when the list of them is longer on the same question?

  • $\begingroup$ I'll give another week maybe then kick off with a proposal if there are no takers. :D $\endgroup$
    – Nolo
    Oct 28, 2023 at 3:13

1 Answer 1


No Reason To...Unless There Is

I'm going to take the contra side and argue that, as a worldbuilding community, we really don't need to worry about this issue as much as we do at present. I've long argued against the narrow reading of the Stack Exchange rule against opinion based answers. I think we consider it axiomatic that questions of pure artistic taste are off topic here; while a question that underlies this artistic taste might be entirely on topic and highly valuable as a 100% Awesome Worldbuilding Query.

The reason I think this community shouldn't be policing the range of answers is that worldbuilding is an inherently complex art and as such requires a multiresponsorial approach. Basically, almost all of our questions are blatantly opinion based, which means that there really can't be one objectively correct and best answer. There could be several great answers, and one that kind of sucks, but addresses the querent's problem specifically tailored to her world, so that it gets the green checkmark.

Moreover, as a community, we exist for two related but extremely different goals. One, of course, is to answer the surface question that a querent brings us. More importantly, or more foundationally, our actual goal is to use the query as a "type" or "paradigm" with the aim of providing a broad range of excellent quality answers that are applicable to a very wide audience and over a long extent of time. In order to do this, given the nature of our subject matter, we really can't afford to restrict responses as a matter of policy.

On the contrary, an individual community member might have a highly valid reason for restricting the range of answers. Especially when they get into elevated levels of worldbuilding, where the OP is looking for a very niche, very world-specific answer a broad range will a) not be helpful to the querent because the answers don't address the question, and b) won't be useful to anyone else due to the high degree of world-specificity.

As a matter of policy, we allow and encourage querents to set parameters and guidelines for the kinds of answers they're looking for. Community policing keeps the system in balance. Are the querent's parameters sensible? Are they letting in too many wildly divergent answers? Are respondents even paying attention to the goals and parameters set out by the querent?

  • $\begingroup$ This question is all about questions which are de facto considered "non" opinion-based. Why are you answering about opinion-based ones? $\endgroup$ Oct 28, 2023 at 4:48
  • $\begingroup$ Moreover you're contradicting yourself : you first say that the community should not restrict the range of answers. But then you get a whole paragraph at the end saying that the current, accepted policy is to encourage querents to set parameters and guidelines to -for instance- not "let wildly divergent answers". Unless you personally disagree with what the community currently does, that doesn't really make sense to me 😐. $\endgroup$ Oct 28, 2023 at 4:54
  • $\begingroup$ Just to reiterate, and hopeful clarify if possible, of course we would ideally like for OPs to present the kinds of answers they need, but specifically the focus is on helping the OP. In that regard, I think it's appropriate to consider the validity of such questions. In other words, there are very easily questions which can lead to information that may not particularly help the OP regardless of whether any given answers are generally useful. Moreover, how we read and communicate strongly affects how we intuit the usefulness of both questions and responses... $\endgroup$
    – Nolo
    Oct 28, 2023 at 7:09
  • $\begingroup$ That said, I fully acknowledge the dimensionality of such questions and their varied and quite variable responses as valid pairings. But to hone in on how we think about world building, which is where I think that the more critical aspects of these kinds of questions and the framing of such multidimensional concepts is critical, I think that it serves the site and the process to consider how we address these kinds of questions fundamentally. As I said, shortening the last mile between specific Q and specific A. $\endgroup$
    – Nolo
    Oct 28, 2023 at 7:12
  • $\begingroup$ To give a basic example, rather than having a bunch of valid answers on a given question like, off the cuff, "how do we make people run when Barney appears in a movie theatre" and given some context, "Barney is reported to have knifed Ronald MacDonald, but we live in an open carry society", the question then becomes about the distractions and not about why people respond in certain ways as a result of fears associated with their beliefs, or about why people believe what they do, which may be more relevant than any of the details. $\endgroup$
    – Nolo
    Oct 28, 2023 at 7:22
  • $\begingroup$ To specifically address what you're feeling about the dimensionality of certain kinds of question, which I do agree we need to be able to ask about and try to provide answers for... What I'm pointing out is about how to effectively break such questions down into more steps so the appropriately higher dimensional aspects of reasoning have more theoretical answers and more topical areas, the leaves, are closer to the bottom of the tree of reasoning. Or to put it another way, to somewhat collapse the question and answer space to avoid larger walls of text and help maintain focus. $\endgroup$
    – Nolo
    Oct 28, 2023 at 8:02

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