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I submitted a question about how to make a fictional anarchist society believable to non-anarchists. It's getting out of hand, and I think it's my fault.

Why my question might be on-topic

Worldbuilding in fiction (be it novel, video game, movie, RPG, or otherwise) generally requires suspension of disbelief. Not everything is going to be internally consistent and not everything about the world is going to be explained. Even if you write a treatise on how such a society might function, people are still going to find things about it that they believe to be impossible. Anarchism is a living example of that; countless treatises have been written, and it's clearly a very controversial subject -- case in point.

Thus, I still think this is a valuable question to people who want to build believable worlds:

Say your reader/viewer/consumer hates your political views and thinks that your utopia is really a dystopia or simply impossible. What do you need to do in order to still draw them in?

I considered making that my question, but it's way too broad, so I talked specifically about anarchy, which is the world I'm working on anyway.

Why my question probably isn't on-topic

@ivy_lynx pointed out early on that my question is half-writing and half-worldbuilding. @Benubird also seems to get what my question really is:

Other people have posted answers that basically boil down to arguments why an anarchic society is not possible. While I don't disagree with them, I also don't see them as relevant to your question. Setting aside whether such a society is believable, the best way to make it plausible is...

This answer is the only relevant answer that I see. Because the answer has more to do with writing than with worldbuilding, I'm guessing that the question itself is off-topic.

Why I'm disappointed with the answers either way

This is just a complaint that I want to voice: The answers I got were mostly about how anarchy won't work in the real world. I don't think those answers are helpful in terms of answering the question, and I also don't think that they're in the spirit of worldbuilding. The whole point of worldbuilding is to imagine how a world might look if _____. Occasionally, an idea for a world actually won't work even in one's imagination; clearly anarchy is not an example of that, given the large following that it has maintained for at least a few hundred years.

I'm new to this community, so I'll stick around and hope that this "your idea won't work" attitude isn't typical. It seems it happened because I brought up a contentious subject, but often those are the most interesting ones, IMO.

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    $\begingroup$ This is one heck of a gutsy meta post, given the question's success. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 May 13 '15 at 15:51
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding! Thank you for bringing your questions here, both the one on main and this one on meta. I see what you mean about it being in the space between writing and worldbuilding (overlapping both); the question seems to ask how to convey, which is writing, but you really need to work out how the world works first so you have something to convey. I don't think this is typical of most of our questions, so I'm hoping this is an anomaly for you. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio May 13 '15 at 17:51
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    $\begingroup$ For what it's worth - unless you tag with reality check or similarly ask whether something is possible worldbuilding answers are supposed to try and help make it possible. $\endgroup$ – Tim B May 13 '15 at 19:30
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    $\begingroup$ @MonicaCellio, thank you! I finally accepted an answer, and I think I warmed up to some of the other answers as well. It sounds like you believe the question is on-topic for WB.SE, so consider my meta question answered. I do have a clear idea of how I think the society will function, so we'll see if I can express that in a believable way -- through believable characters, and hopefully a believable world. $\endgroup$ – Logical Fallacy May 14 '15 at 4:01
  • $\begingroup$ @TimB Generally, but sometimes suggesting how to change the premise is the best answer anyway. For example, there is a wide variety of possible societies that could be described as anarchic despite lacking some factor that was assumed in the question. It is quite common for the problem to exist because we fail to question some basic assumption. Pointing that out is perfectly valid and useful even if the question includes that assumption. I'll concede this gets easily out of hand if politics is in any way involved... $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi May 14 '15 at 22:23
  • $\begingroup$ Two cents, devils advocate style way: I probably would have asked for the question to be moved because it feels like it is asked in a way that asks for elements of story telling, not crafting a believable world. It isn't a "how does this world exist?" question it's a "How do I make readers believe it exists?" question. $\endgroup$ – Jake May 16 '15 at 3:35
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Should it stay open?

Personally, yes. There is definitely a strong worldbuilding aspect there; it's not a duplicate; it's clearly written; the scope is reasonably narrow, and there's nothing opinion-based about it. That covers the entire close dialog - so essentially, it's a great question of the type we want to keep around.

Another (fairly) strong indicator is the question's success (though this is not a rule) - your question has seen 22 votes (with 0 down), 15 answers, and 2582 views as I write this. There's not a single close vote on it. That's a fair signal that it's a decent question.

Answers that aren't and

Let's be clear on one important point here: if an answer rejects the ideas you put forth in the question as impossible, it is not an answer. As TimB points out in the comments, answers are supposed to help you develop your world, taking into account the premises in the question. Whether they're realistic or not doesn't matter, except in (as far as I can see) two situations:

  1. The question is tagged . This is a request for a sense-check of your ideas, so answers can tell you they're unrealistic.
  2. The premises are self-contradictory. Ideas can be as wacky as you like, but if they contradict themselves it becomes very hard if not impossible to answer. These questions should be closed, fixed, and reopened.

Your question fits neither of those criteria. Therefore, if you feel an answer is completely rejecting what you set out in the question, leave a Not An Answer flag on it. This kicks it into a review queue, where the author will be informed that their answer is not, and the answer may be deleted.


All that said, welcome to the site! Your question, while on a contentious topic, is a great question, and is exactly the kind of stuff we like to see.

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  • $\begingroup$ [science-based] and [hard-science] would be similar to [reality-check] in this regard, in that it is a valid answer to point out that the proposal made in the question doesn't make sense, providing supporting evidence. $\endgroup$ – a CVn May 19 '15 at 10:57
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling To some extent, yes, although even unrealistic ideas can have scientific principles applied to them - unicorns charging an army? $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode May 19 '15 at 14:07

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