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So I'm new to this site and I tried to ask a question about possible powers someone with electromagnetic manipulation could do and listed off powers I know he already would have, but I was told it was too open ended, vague, is brain storming which is not allowed for some reason, and has powers not relating to the powers of electromagnetic manipulation.

I edited the question at least five times, narrowing down that he can control all of the electromagnetic force in the universe but still told that I'm just brainstorming. Once I realized the brainstorming was the issue, that's when I decided to make my question as simple as possible. I was little dissatified, but I figured I'd at least get an idea.

Suddenly I was stuck because someone answered it, so I finally just gave up and decided to start over. Unfortunately because I had already asked the question I was still told no and the question was closed as a duplicate.

So I can't actually edit the question properly because someone already gave an answer and I can't just start over. No one is willing to work with me or help me out and all comments don't actually offer any help at all... so what am I supposed to do?

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    $\begingroup$ Way to bring your concern to Meta, Melchizadek. I wish more new users would do this. Cheers. In support of my answer to this post, I've voted to reopen your second question on Main. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented May 17 at 4:21
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you I really appreciate your support, honestly the meta was pretty useful and introduced me to the sandbox, so hopefully I'll be able to an idea how to at least use the site $\endgroup$ Commented May 17 at 5:29

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You've run into one of the unwritten rules of Stack Exchange... or at least this Stack

Maybe other stacks do the same thing, but Stack Exchange encourages editing questions. By definition, editing a question to bring it into conformance with Stack Exchange's rules (such as making an open-ended question deterministic) should, theoretically be allowed.

Here it isn't. Here we think answers are more important than the question and an answer — even when it shouldn't have been provided (such as answering a question that violates the rules and leads to closure) — locks the question into place.

This wouldn't be a big deal except we embrace the idea that you can't duplicate your own question

When you read Stack Exchange's Help page about duplicates you learn that some duplication is OK (follow the link to the blog entry or go directly to it here). Here on Worldbuilding, however, we disagree. At this time we think you should go back and edit your original question — which you can't edit because someone posted an answer, which might not have even been appropriate because the first question should have been edited to bring it into conformance with the rules.

This is a royal pain in the patootie. I complained about this in a Meta post that received answers that suggest it would be better to ask the duplicate question rather than invalidate answers to the original question.

But no policy came of that Meta post.

And, frankly, it's time we set a policy

While it's true that a new user should, ideally, learn all they can about what they can and cannot do on Stack Exchange, the reality is that it never happens. This means questions that violate the rules, leading to closure, will happen — and users who don't know the rules (or don't understand why they exist) will answer anyway.

I believe the policy should be that a question that failed to capture the OP's full intent or failed Stack Exchange's rules and this Stack's policies that could not be edited before the first answer is posted should be allowed to be asked again. HOWEVER, this policy should not be abused. It is the responsibility of the OP to ask a better question, one that fully conforms with the rules and is markedly more clear than the original. A subsequent question that fails to meet this expectation should be closed as a duplicate. But if it does meet this expectation, it should be left open. OPs who insist on not improving their question and simply ask and ask again to circumvent closure should have their account suspended or, eventually, banned.

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    $\begingroup$ "Here on Worldbuilding, however, we disagree. At this time we think you should go back and edit your original question — which you can't edit because someone posted an answer, which might not have even been appropriate because the first question should have been edited to bring it into conformance with the rules." that's...not true though. Editing a question to invalidate existing answers is definitely not allowed. But there is no such thing as disallowing posting a new differently scoped question because you already had a question before. There is no catch-22 as described here. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Commented May 17 at 4:39
  • $\begingroup$ @VLAZ Scroll up to the post and click on the second link to Mel's 2nd question, which L.Dutch closed as a duplicate of the first with an admonition to go edit the 1st. Honestly, I agree with you, it's what my proposed policy states... but it's not (yet) what happens here. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented May 17 at 4:41
  • $\begingroup$ OK, I'd argue this was more of a mistake. It's slightly differently scoped but also repeats so much from the first one it's easy to mistake it for the same question. Also an argument can be put forth that it barely changes the original question. I'm on the fence whether it does or doesn't. My reading is that question 1 is "Can electricity be used to make somebody insane" while question 2 is "Can electricity be used to make somebody insane or would they simply die" which...is barely any difference. Both seem to be answered by the same answers. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Commented May 17 at 4:48
  • $\begingroup$ @VLAZ It's the user's 1st question on Stack Exchange. I'm not expecting miracles. It would be nice if the OP received more insight into how to improve the question. What, in your estimation, is needed to create a third not-to-be-closed question? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented May 17 at 4:51
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    $\begingroup$ "I want <element> in my world to achieve <some goal>. <Include more context about world, capabilities, limitations>" would be a good template to follow. A big thing in the questions that's lacking is what is insanity. It's a huge issue that "insane" is treated like some sort of toggle in many works. But even then - is that "fantasy insane" like what them people in most fictional asylums suffer from - just random behaviour? Or is it actual abnormality in which case, there is many and there is a spectrum. Catatonia might be achievable. But "Hannibal Lecter" probably isn't. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Commented May 17 at 5:06
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    $\begingroup$ Also, if it's going to be "fantasy insanity" as sort of "general lunacy" then...why would fantasy electricity not be able to do it? It's mostly a fictional disease anyway. It'd be a story question more than a worldbuilding question. Unless it's asking to actually design something like "the brain that can be toggled to 'insane' under the correct electromagnetic stimulus" It might be a decent question. One I don't find very interesting but should be on-topic. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Commented May 17 at 5:14
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Unfortunately once you've received answers your ability to reduce the scope of the question asked is greatly diminished. This is one of the many reasons why we discourage experienced users of this site from jumping to answer posts that have resolvable issues. Each answer makes it more difficult for the OP to modify their question to meet site policy while also addressing your worldbuilding concerns.

Your best bet may be to ask a separate, much more focused question. In addition to making sure that you are not asking us for help generating ideas, you will need to make sure that it is clear that your question is not a duplicate of your existing question. The best way to do this is to describe the specific problem you are having and ask for help resolving that.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, honestly baring the person who actually answered my post, this the most help I've actually received since I joined this site $\endgroup$ Commented May 13 at 3:58
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You Don't


I see you're learning how Stack Exchange works --- the hard way! You are correct that brainstorming is an issue. It might help to understand why. Brainstorming is essentially where two or more people get together to come up with ideas regarding some issue. Brainstorming questions are typically wide open: we want to make a TTRPG, what kind of world should it be set in? There are literally hundreds or thousands of equally viable answers to this question. Brainstorming questions are also typically very basic questions: we want to make a TTRPG, what's a list of fantasy races we can use? Brainstorming isn't bad --- worldbuilders do it all the time! Yet this forum is constrained by the underlying principles of Stack Exchange.


Stack Exchange itself is a Q&A platform designed to do one thing really well. And that is to take a very well focused question about any topic and give a single best answer to that question. Worldbuilding is a little different from the other forums because we deal in fictional realities where more than one correct answer is expected. Nevertheless, we strive to remain as true as possible to the standard set by Stack Exchange in only accepting certain kinds of questions. Brainstorming questions are among the types we can't take!

What to Do next


I'm sorry you didn't get help or support that made sense or was useful at the time! I concur with sphennings: once you get an answer, you are very limited in how much you can edit your question. Very often it's new members like yourself that get themselves into this situation unwittingly. Very often, they edit their question, which causes a Moderator to revert the edit or people yell at you in comments, and sadly, some new people leave the place feeling rejected.


For your own future reference, there are typically three things you can do:

  1. I don't know if you've already read the Help resources for this forum, but they do provide some half-way guidance. (Not perfect by a long shot, and we are working on revamping those resources!) Give those a read and see if your original query fell afoul of something that could have been resolved early on.

  2. As soon as people start mumbling and complaining in comments, try not to take it personally, but do consider it a sign that something isn't right! Check back with the Help, look at how more experienced members write questions. See if there is something in your own method that could be improved.

  3. Last but not least, right here in Meta we have an awesome resource for new and experienced members alike: The Sandbox! This is a place where you can get help with question writing skills. Unlike many Q&A forums that allow a free-for-all, writing for Stack Exchange is a bit of a learned skill. I would strongly recommend you stop by and give it a try! Feel free to just copy in your original question and see what kinds of suggestions we can give! The great thing about the Sandbox is that you don't have to worry about the crush of answers, conflicting and sometimes unhelpful comments, the threat of having your question closed, etc.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you I really appreciate that, yeah I know this the internet so asking to be nice is like asking fish to breathe air, but the level of hostility and aggravation from the rulings I felt on this site so far is what made me tempted to just leave altogether but no one that sandbox detail thank you that is really helpful and I appreciate it and now I understand why brainstorming is frowned upon on this site thank you $\endgroup$ Commented May 16 at 20:28

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