Lately, I have the feeling that there are some questions about climate discussions with changing the geography or a few things to our world. To name a few that might fall in those categories

To me, those questions can't have a really good answer, as climate simulation is a very complex task, which requires the knowledge of many parameters that are fully missing in the questions. Some of those questions have been closed on the basis that they are too broad. It is indeed a real problem: impossible to have a satisfying answer, unless spending days running some simulations. And we can't be expected to do that, are we?

Should we agree on a treatment of the questions of that type: "If I do this to a continent, how is the climate changed?".

Please note that it seems most of those come from the same user.


3 Answers 3


I've noticed those kinds of questions too and find myself unwilling to make the effort to answer them for several reasons.

  • Climate is really complex. One need look no further than the hundred of publications on climate change on Earth to show how many different factors there are to account for and how much variation there is in the answers.
  • People who ask these kinds of questions don't appear to have done enough research into climate to ask focused questions and if they do learn enough to ask those focused questions, they know to ask them to climatologists, not us.
  • (This may seem petty) but I don't want to spend my time answering the question of someone who hasn't done basic research into the water cycle and rain shadows. I don't want this site to turn into "Let me Google that for you" for basic climate information.
  • In general, the quality of answers I see for these kinds of questions is low probably because it's so hard to answer with any kind of specificity and relatively few of us here are climatologists (I'm sure not).

If someone asks a focused, reasonable-time-to-answer question then I vote to keep it open. If not, then close it with the "too broad" tag.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ This is my attitude to them as well $\endgroup$
    – ArtOfCode
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 17:07
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed, but it seems to me that a great many WB questions function the same way. Perhaps someone could write a "here are the issues you need to look up, some internet sources, and what your question ought to look like when it's ready" standard post? $\endgroup$
    – CAgrippa
    Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 14:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @CAgrippa Probably a great thing for someone with the knowledge to put in the climate tag wiki. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 17:24

In contrast to the correct answer, I actually find these questions inviting when I have the time.

While I know there can never be a 'correct answer' to these, the results of the speculative science seem to always be rewarding for consideration of other worldbuilding. I agree, however, that this defeats the purpose of a Q & A.

Maybe they can be edited to more concise, such as "Would the oceans get warmer, if..." or "Would it disrupt the gulf streams if..."? Tough topic to tackle.

  • $\begingroup$ Your final paragraph in particular sounds a lot like Green's final paragraph: specific, focused questions are okay; questions biting off too much should be closed. Are you sure you two aren't actually saying the same thing, just phrased differently? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 20:02

This started as a reply to The Ancestry of Fantasy but it only answers the first line of that posting, not the main question, so I moved it here.

This is more a comment than an answer, but I need more characters and the ability to do some formatting. I believe you're using the label alternative world in the wrong way, which makes it difficult for me to answer some of your questions, like this one, this one, or this one. You might note that it takes five votes to close, so I'm not the only one who has problems with the questions.

Speculative fiction can be divided into subgenres. The borders are fuzzy, but alternate history has a generally accepted meaning. Alternate world is less clear. All are appropriate topics for Worldbuilding, BTW.


A story involving magic and the classic fantasy races. Tolkien, swords and sorcery, fairy tales, and all that.

  • Urban Fantasy takes the magic into the modern world. Still fantasy.
  • Horror is often, but not always, using fantasy tropes.

Science Fiction

A story that explores the impact of scientific discoveries on the protagonists. Often with a focus on engineering, and bordering on the non-scientific where it comes to FTL drives and the like.

  • Space Opera. Starships and heroes. Star Trek and Star Wars, even if the latter borders on Fantasy.
  • Technothriller. A science fiction story set in the near future, often involving espionage or weaponry. Tom Clancy, Dale Brown, much by Michael Crichton.
  • Time travel. A science fiction (or fantasy) story where characters travel into the past. There they may or may not change history. Poul Anderson, SM Stirling.

Alternate History

  • A story which explores the outcome when a historical event turned out differently. It should be an outcome that could have happened, but didn't. That means no time travelers. No aliens. No elves.

Summary: The label "alternate Earth" generally refers to alternate history. The questions you're asking seem to go in a different way. The definitions are not set in stone, but the links show that my usage isn't completely without precedent.


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