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This also, by the way, extends to questions with the tag.

I just posted an answer to Is a spherical core and magnetic field possible in Cube world, the (as of now) most recent of the questions on cube-shaped planets. I had been busy during the other cube-shaped-planet questions, and so hadn't picked up on the fact that it was assumed that a little magic had to be invoked - otherwise, as I (and jamesqf, independently and long before me) - pointed out, such a planet could not rotate and stay in the shape of a cube.

Part of the reason I had been clueless to this was that all three of the questions used the tag. Normally, I would answer a question like this using only science, logic, and things that we know to be true - in other words, without magic.

The premise of the questions, though, appear to rest on what may be an extremely trivial or may be an extremely important use of magic. I'm asking this question, though, for future questions - so don't take these questions as the optimal examples.

How realistic should a question using the (or ) tag be? Are minor breaches of reality allowed? Alternatively, should it all be up to the asker?

I'd support the latter proposition, and deal with it on a case-by-case basis, if there even is a case like this.

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The reality-check tag says:

Unlike the science-based tag, a reality-check question does not always require a scientific explanation. Most of the time, it is used to figure out if a concept make sense or not. Answers to the question should determine whether or not certain elements of the question are appropriate or realistic.

So in other words if a question is science-based and reality-check then a hard science answer is needed, but fantasy-based reality-check would be asking if something is plausible within the context of that world.

For example The practicality of mail armor cloaks is asking about giants wearing chainmail cloaks. While the setting is fantastical the actual concept of a cloak made of chainmail can still be reality-checked.

Similar tags could be applied to things like unicorn cavalry, the travel time for a centaur army, etc.

Having said that - in usage the tag does mostly seem to be used on questions grounded in reality as we know it. So should the tag be updated to reflect that usage?

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. I edited the tag to try to reflect what you said. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Jan 18 '15 at 18:11
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The main difference for me is that the ask specifically for a hard science answer. This tends to include natural sciences like physics, chemistry, and possibly the earth sciences like biology and climatology. The is less restrictive and you can use social sciences (history, politics, economy...) and also natural sciences in the answer or just common logic (philosophy, mathematics). Furthermore, this tag ask if something is possible or logical.

For fantasy stuff, we also have

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    $\begingroup$ This is now utterly out of date with the burning of fantasy-based :-) For future viewers of this answer. $\endgroup$ – Mourdos Mar 19 '15 at 14:02

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