I was reading your on topic page trying to figure out what is and isn't on topic here when I noticed this.

as long as they are not about:


Software that doesn't directly relate to Worldbuilding (consider the Super User or Software Recommendations Stack Exchange sites)

I don't think it's very useful to point users to Super User or Software Recommendations. Those sites are wholly unrelated. Furthermore, WorldBuilding has nothing to do with software... This should be removed, or perhaps someone has some suggestions for what this should be replaced with.

So, to be clear about this, as a user who knows nothing about your site, I find it really confusing that you're referring people to these sites. It feels like something that was over looked when modifying a standard SE help page template. Agree with me or not about the need to refer people to these sites, but it's confusing for new users and confusing new users is certainly an issue for the community to address.


2 Answers 2


I don't think it's very useful to [under the "as long as they are not about" point on the on-topic help center page] point users to Super User or Software Recommendations. Those sites are wholly unrelated.

Actually, I feel confident in saying that the above was sort of the point with the phrasing. The help center page in question underwent fairly extensive community back-and-forth right here on Worldbuilding Meta and the phrasing that we ended up with emerged as basically community consensus. (Note that despite several diamonds in the revision history, up through revision 17 pro tem moderators had not yet been appointed.)

The key point in this case is that general software questions are off-topic here. We don't want the "I'm writing a draft description of my world and Word keeps changing my asterisks to bullet lists, how do I turn that off?" because that has nothing to do with the worldbuilding process. Such questions should go onto the general sites, and we helpfully point you in the appropriate direction rather than leave you wondering where such questions might be on topic.

However, some software can be directly related to worldbuilding. We've had a few of those questions, which are more likely to get better answers here than on a general site because of the type of expertise needed to answer them well. Hence, it makes sense to allow questions about software that directly relate to worldbuilding.

Stack Exchange sites aren't mutually exclusive, and aren't really in a competition for traffic. Each site has its scope, which may or may not overlap with other sites. (For example, technically the scope of Ask Ubuntu is wholly covered by Unix & Linux which partly overlaps with both Super User and Server Fault. Each of those sites still serve their niche, all are established and are doing well.) Questions on the network are regularly migrated between sites in efforts to get the best possible answers to the asker's question. If a question is off topic on one site but would be on topic on another, with established sites community members can vote to migrate, and on all sites, moderators are outright encouraged to migrate questions we believe to be on topic on the target site.

Given all this, I firmly believe that helping users find the most appropriate place to post their question is perfectly appropriate. If a question is posted in the correct place from the beginning, it greatly increases the OP's chances of getting good answers, it reduces confusion on the part of the community (particularly people new to the community and site) as to what the scope of each site really is, and it saves time (in our case for us moderators).

For some other sites that directly on the help center page list suggested sites for questions which are off topic on that site, consider:

...and probably others that I can't think of right now.

  • $\begingroup$ I've read this several times and I still don't understand how this answers my question/concern. If some software questions are on topic, perhaps that should be clarified. As it is, the help page makes it sound like all software questions are off topic. $\endgroup$
    – RubberDuck
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 12:27
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @RubberDuck Some software questions are specifically off topic. Others may be on topic, but we ended up not feeling good about officially sanctioning software questions as specifically on topic. See revision 14. Also chat discussion starting around here. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 12:39

Furthermore, WorldBuilding has nothing to do with software

Software is actually on-topic. See this meta post. Quoting Bobson,

I would say "Yes, if specific enough".

Most SE sites don't allow recommendation questions, but there's a whole Software Recommendation SE that's specifically for it. While they're good at finding software over there, it's a fairly low-traffic place and the kind of question which would be asked here is likely to be very specific, with answers talking about little-known software. We can do a better job of answering world building software questions internally than by pointing people over there.

We've also had some good software question:

What software can prototype a planetary system?

What software is available for map creation?

I don't think it's very useful to point users to Super User or Software Recommendations.

You might be right about that.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Okay. Fine, but I still don't think you want to point people to Super User and Software Recommendations... $\endgroup$
    – RubberDuck
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 21:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @RubberDuck You're probably right about that. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868 Mod
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 21:11
  • $\begingroup$ @RubberDuck Why shouldn't we point people to them? I don't see the reason behind your assertion. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 9:14
  • $\begingroup$ @TimB from the questions I've seen (mostly hot network questions, admittedly) it seems that people coming here just aren't very likely to actually be looking for those software sites. I would be completely surprised to find out that you're pointing people that direction often. I was just reading the help center and it just felt like a typo, something over looked. You all know your site best. I just wanted to make sure you all realized it. $\endgroup$
    – RubberDuck
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 10:41
  • $\begingroup$ @RubberDuck I don't see the harm in pointing them to a site that might be able to help when there is something that's off topic for us. I don't think we've ever sent someone in that direction - but we've no way of knowing how many people (if any) saw that comment and then went to the right place instead of posting on Worldbuilding. I see what you mean though, the number of people it actually helps is probably quite tiny. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 11:24
  • $\begingroup$ Right, so are there SE's more closely related to yours that you might want to point people to @TimB? That's all I'm getting at really. $\endgroup$
    – RubberDuck
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 11:38
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @RubberDuck Which is why the line above that one references people to Writers and RPG stack exchanges. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ Also note that the wording is specifically "consider the ... SE sites". It isn't a requirement; it's a suggestion where, for questions we as a community have determined are not good here, certain types of questions may be a better fit. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 12:42

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