I'll keep this brief: In a previous post on the official site, it was brought to my attention that the question, linked here (Which Law Enforcement/Government Agencies Would Be Called to Respond to the Crash-landing of a UFO?), lacked certain context and criteria so this edit is meant to get things straight.

Keep in mind the answers I received in response were satisfactory and helped a lot but I want to make sure I get this right in the future.

Simply put, in my story, a series of unmanned UFOs crash land around the world, one doing so in the United States near a town in the deep south. Some of these UFOs are witnessed while others are not. With the exception of the one mentioned above, they do not land in major cities or major populated areas. They are not noticed approaching except by one astronomer before the UFOs enter the atmosphere. There are plenty of questions in the story to how that happened but I digress. There are a number of locals worldwide and near this small town who see the trails of the UFOs as they enter the atmosphere but do not see where they land. Naturally many go in search for these flamming meteors.

For context, this is 2022 at the time of the setting picked. The world is largely a carbon copy of ours. Same politics, same leaders, same world structure, internet, social media, same type demographics, and world history. As another quick disclaimer, there are no known shadow organizations, task forces, departments that have men in suits meant to specifically dealing with these type incidents (i.e. Men in Black, Xenonauts, XCOM, The Illuminati, S.H.I.E.L.D., etc).

An issue before is that it was believed I was asking for a series of responses or events that would play out in response to an alien UFO crash-landing in the heart of the United States of America. This is not the case. It was also believed that I was asking for specific reactions to this event by the locals and how their local governments may respond. This is also not the case. The original post asked what government agencies would be called to respond to this crash/UFO. There seemed to be genuine confusion to what I wanted so this I hope clarifies my objective without the answers needing alterations.

In my writing and prior research, I have found that local law enforcement would be immediately removed and there would be a heavy federal response and a quick moves by the federal government to get control of the crash site as well as the information surrounding this incident. Several government agencies would jockie for rights to the investigation and it will likely fall to the US President to decide who does get the primary responsibility of handling this and which gets the responsibility of helping when necessary.

So here is what the President must consider: The object is boulder size. It hit with a lot less velocity than it was suppose to considering it's size and projected velocity. So they know it decelerated on its own before impact. They know it is highly radioactive and is radiating a lot of heat. They also detect strange electromagnetic activity, which does impact communications and local power infrastructure in the entire region implying it could be storing large, if not volatile, amounts of stored energy. The object does not appear to be a ship or a missile, however. Nonetheless, given these hazards, they do decide to evacuate the nearby town. This gives the federal government free reign to conduct whatever investigations they need to.

However, this is where my problem arises. I do not know which Federal Agency(s) would realistically be called here to take control of this investigation.

This falls out of the jurisdiction of the FBI, CIA and various other law enforcement federal agencies or departments. There are only a handful of other agencies that would be relevant including the National Reconnaissance Office, NASA, DARPA, and possibly the Department of Defense (the military basically). Homeland Security as well might be included given the UFO could be considered a threat to the homeland until it's origins and purpose are established.

Given this all, which agency or organization mentioned would be given the bulk responsibility in the handling of this UFO investigation?


4 Answers 4



I personally found your question acceptable. It is what I'd consider a low level or basic worldbuilding query. If I understand you correctly, you seem to have a simple knowledge deficit (you lack certain facts about the real world that are applicable to the fictional world). This sort of question is one that a quick, basic response will satisfy so you can take the information and apply it to your fictional world.

I don't think this kind of question needed to have a whole lot of in-world explanation or a whole lot of detail. It doesn't need all the in-world parameters and all of the suggestions for a best answer that we look for and encourage in higher level questions.

In reading through the wall of text here in your Meta question, I can only say I don't think puffing it up would have helped. All that text just isn't needed. Usually less is best, and to that end, the only recommendation I'd offer is to gently edit a question for clarity before it's posted. You probably should have clarified that you meant federal level agencies when you first wrote the question. I did that to a certain extent when I edited your question. Since it was VTCed for being a duplicate, and since you said it clearly wasn't, I took the liberty to clarify which government level you were looking for. And given that most respondents seemed to be assuming you meant federal level, I VTRed as not being a duplicate.

If you're amenable to the experiment, I'd strongly recommend you take the revised text of your question and put it in our Sandbox! You might also put the question in its current form on Main in the Sandbox as well to see how they compare.

I am happy that you have chosen to persevere with WB.SE rather than leave in a huff because you've been buffeted by our competing comments and perspectives! Question writing is a skill that not everyone has, but anyone can learn. I think the Sandbox would really help you in that direction!

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    $\begingroup$ Convince me that there is one and only one U.S. agency that would shoulder the greater burden of dealing with visiting UFOs in each and every case regardless of story conditions and I'll upvote your answer. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Dec 25, 2023 at 23:01
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH --- You are talking about the US bureaucracy here. There's too much bloat, too much incompetence and too many competing mandates. I doubt they could even make such a decision. Even though it would be quite fun to watch the US Board of Tea Experts duke it out with the Department of Pronouns and the Office of Planetary Protection, I think the reasonable and realistic response could narrow it down to the DHS and perhaps FBI. My money would be on the DoD as most likely to bully everyone else out of the game. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Dec 26, 2023 at 1:52
  • $\begingroup$ I could be convinced that the DoD would end up with eventual authority. But who would act first? That's simply too circumstantial. In other words, the best such a question could do is to ask who might end up with ultimate authority - but do I believe documentation could be found to substantiate that opinion? I'm not too sure about that. If diplomacy is involved, the ultimate authority would go to the Secretary of State. I'm having a lot of trouble believing this type of question is acceptable, but I'm trying to keep an open mind. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Dec 26, 2023 at 5:51
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH --- I guess what I'm really getting at is this: WB.SE is becoming far to pedantic, far to restrictive, far less creative and far less fantastic. As you know, I've never really held with "opinion based" as a workable closure reason (with well known exception types), so I find questions like this one to be minimally acceptable. Just between us, we've expressed at least six different possible answers to the question. I don't have a problem with that. I'm much more concerned about the quality of the answers: 1., of course do they answer the question; 2. are they creative; 3. (cont) $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Dec 26, 2023 at 20:07
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    $\begingroup$ (cont) are they memorably useful. Let's just pit the US Board of Tea Experts vs the Office of Planetary Protection. I think a very funny and memorable answer could be written that a) introduces real world protocols for how the US government functions, b) exposes some of the foibles and fails of the system and c) tells a humorous story or sets this in the context of a satirical episode. To me, the creative aspect that can be brought out with a ho-hum question is an opportunity that shouldn't be discarded. As for this being a perfect, high level question, I think we'd probably agree (cont) $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Dec 26, 2023 at 20:11
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    $\begingroup$ (cont) that it's not either of those things. I'd contend the given question was acceptable, but only minimally so. This is one of those "grey questions" --- real world knowledge without which this worldbuilder can't really work on his fictional world. I'm kind of on the fence about those. TBH, if this query were closed for a legit reason (like lack of details or clarity) I probably would have left it be. As it is, the closure reason was wrong in my opinion, and as I got to think about it, it seemed like a good opportunity for someone to give a reasonable opinion on the matter. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Dec 26, 2023 at 20:22


Seeing that you became userXXXX, I can only guess that your account was deleted. Since you told your feelings elsewhere I have good reasons to think I know why 😢.

As such, I'm pushing my answer schedule faster than planned, in the hope it gets looked before it's super-really-ultra-very too late. But first, know that I wish to present my sincerest apologies. I'll be straightforward : I failed, and that's something I have to learn, understand and remember so it doesn't happen again in the future.

I just wish now this in-depth review will reach you. And as you asked me to, I wish it will help you improve your question writing style. Given the situation, these tips will be a more general, for-all-around-the-web usage.

Question review

In terms of raw content you gave even more than what I expected. The question should have everything needed to answer, and perhaps it even allows to go one step further. Let's just work on its shape then in order to solve an issue raised by the others here.

About length

The two current answers tell that the question is too long or has too much content now. I would personally tell it "feels" too long, since it's actually not extremely lengthy technically. It fits within a page at an 11-sized very standard paragraph font (Times New Roman) and holds ~640 words. My best questions in comparison holds between 400 and 700 words, and I've seen quite a few in that range that received many, many quality answers.

What holds your question back and make it "feel" long is its (relative) complexity and lack of formatting. Let's tackle complexity first then formatting.

More complex feels longer

I define complexity as the difficulty to move from word to word, and sentence to sentence. It's also about the need to go back to grasp the meaning. There are a few elements that can increase the complexity of one's writing :

  • Linking facts in a way that needs you to jump back and forth. Unlike a mind map which works really well when jumping "like a flea", a block of text is very linear and can't afford much back and forth.
  • Irrelevant or unexpected elements to the text/question. It's hard when asking questions (you need to know the topic enough), but still important.
  • Frequent noise/asides, or what I call "By the way!" interruptions. This is all about usage of smaller sentences inside your big ones. You often see them between dashes -like this!- or brackets (like this!). It's bound to the 2nd point, but it is a very common issue it's worth its own point.
  • Long sentences and complex words. It's as simple as it reads : The longer and more technical you make your sentences, the harder it will be for readers to grab the fact.
  • And some others like overdoses of negative sentences (e.g. : it's not X but also not Y and not Z...).

Your question seems to suffer from the 1st and 2nd complexity issue mainly. There are a lot of facts that don't tie to each other perfectly well or that might not be needed. As a consequence, you need to reexplain things here and there; In turn, this makes your sentences just a bit longer than needed. So here is a tip that I hope will help you deal with this :

The tricky trick in communication is to find the core point that you need to convey. In the case of questions, what do you need to know? With that tightly kept near you, sew from this every element that might be of interest to this fact. The journalist's five Ws (What, Who, When, Where, Why) can help you make this list of elements. Let's take your question as example and make a quick, probably over-shortened recap :

  • Your core question : I need to know who gets called for help in the case of a crash
  • What : There have been several crashes of an unidentified alien object. This UFO is unmanned, boulder-sized (but the crash-site is surprisingly relatively intact). It is radioactive and interfere with power in a large area, however.
  • Where : There were several crashes, but the one I'm interested about happens near a town in the south of USA. This world is a carbon-copy of the real-world (excepted the alien crashes).
  • When : The crash happened in 2022.
  • Who : There is no alien in the ship. Human witnesses are few as the UFO didn't get caught (Note there's not alway a "who")
  • Why (not explicitly stated here, but I can guess for you!) : I want to write a story about humanity piecing together the clues of mysterious object crashes that there is "more out there" in space.

Now you mainly have to reorder everything. Usually when setting the context of a question (or in general a story) you start with the "when" and "where", then the what/who and finally the why. For example :

Today in the restaurant (when+where), the waitress (who) told me there were snails (what) on the menu. I didn't order them, but I'm curious (why) how they taste. Do cooked snails really taste like chicken? (core question)?"

Formatting helps a lot to make it feel shorter

If you check this answer, I make heavy use of sections and lists. It puts each element inside their little box, and this overall helps nibble on your text. Don't overdo it of course, but I suggest you add some sections, too 😊. A format I like for its simplicity is to add 4 sections : "Context", "Problem I'm facing", "additional context which should be helpful", "core question" (in one sentence max). In the third section there usually is a list, as there are many small elements that are hard to tie together normally. If you're not peculiarly inspired by this configuration, change it! It's more important to be in a writing style you feel comfortable with than to adhere a strict ruleset.

To go further, you can put emphasis with bold or italic. It's to be used sparsely though, as it can get distracting very quickly. Still, an almost always good case of using bold fonts is for your core question : It's indeed the pivot of why you're here and not watching snail races on youtube (if that's your thing 🐌!).

Some specific examples to your query

I've already delved a bit in the complexity part, but we can group some elements together and sew a stronger question together. I'll use the last revision you made, as reference, and number paragraphs from 1 to 10 (including your preamble). Here's what I noticed :

  • Paragraph 3 : "Some of these UFOs are witnessed while others are not.". Tiny detail here : "while others are not" is noise to your core query and can be removed : people can't use what they haven't witnessed to follow a guideline or make a decision. This includes agencies choice.
  • Paragraph 4 : You can shorten this paragraph by either quickening or removing the shadow organizations disclaimer ("As another quick disclaimer, there are no known shadow organizations,[...] dealing with these type incidents"). Just telling "there is no specific shadow organization dealing with UFOs" along with "this is a carbon copy of Earth" should work just fine.
  • Paragraph 5 could be put after paragraph 1. It's more part of the social context, the "meta" setting of the question than about your world. You would then remove a whole 100 words for your final question ^^.
  • Paragraph 7 could use a simple bullet point list, each describing a fact that the President knows. Faster to read, easier to remember :).
  • Paragraph 8 and 10 : One-sentence paragraphs love bold fonts 🐶. These two should like them, too!
  • Paragraph 9 : I'd start with something like "My research taught me so far that (this is not under FBI/CIA juridiction...)". Actually here, I'd add more specifically "From my previous question..." to match more the current context. Indeed, it currently looks like you already know the answer to your question ^^'.

I'm not the best judge of these things, but I'll offer my cents anyway. The Q is a little verbose in my opinion. Q's that are too long often get ignored. But if I'm understanding it correctly you're simply asking how the present day US would delegate agency after an event in its own jurisdiction, an event that you've clearly defined. That to me seems to tick all the boxes for a good question.

  • $\begingroup$ I didn't read the full question (yet). However, a quick look at the question's length and complexity yields ~640 words, which is on the upper side -but not extreme upper side- on SE. Its complexity is rather high, around 14 on the gunning fog index (a quick complexity check tool). This and its lack of strong formatting -sections, pictures, lists and bold words...-, might be the reason you feel it's long. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 24, 2023 at 1:29

We have a Sandbox for this very purpose

This was the wrong place to ask "is my question acceptable?" We have a question sandbox for that purpose and it's the appropriate place to receive feedback about a question.

But, to answer your question... no.

Here's your problem: government bureacracies are constantly driven to prove their value and increase their budget. Consequently, each and every agency in the Federal government, once they heard about the UFO, would be acting to prove their worth by trying to get involved in the issue.

In other words, I can write a story that rationalizes every agency.

Which ones would be given the bulk of the responsibility? We're back to your story. Are the aliens causing trouble? The FBI. Are they covert? The CIA. Is there a chance to negotiate with them? NASA. There simply isn't one correct choice for all circumstances and that is what differentiates a worldbuilding question from a storybuilding question. Worldbuilding is used in stories, but is not dependent on any stories. Ultimately, there is only one correct "rule" and that rule is true for every story.

There is not one agency that is "correct" when it comes to alien visitors. That's a choice you need to make based on narrative necessity. Which one do you want to have the burden? That's the right one for you.


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