I notice that several of the questions about weapon design are solely about the weapon. They appear to make no effort to integrate the weapon into a world.

What do others think?


4 Answers 4


I would say what @MonicaCelio usually writes (occasionally to me): if you think something is off-topic, vote to close it. People may or may not follow your lead, but you should help maintain a consistency throughout the site. Recent cases have shown that sometimes off-topic sometimes evade the usual voters/mods. If you are unsure about a certain question, do ask on meta about it.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ This. As mods, we are usually cautious about closing borderline cases, simply because our close vote overrides that of the community. (Even though the community can reopen by vote, that's wasted effort.) It's better if the community determines, especially in borderline cases, what is off topic and what is not. The help center article is supposed to be a guideline, not something that artificially limits us, especially while the site is still relatively new. We have amended and clarified that help center article before, and we can do it again should that turn out to be needed here. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 11:40
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling - You say, " It's better if the community determines...". If only that were true. I'll give the following of my own as an example. worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/20942/… It received considerable community support and yet was closed on what I believe to be a technicality. (I've argued this in a separate question on meta). $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 8:54
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK If you believe that your question was closed because of a technicality, and assuming that belief is correct, then you should edit your question to clarify or remove that technicality and it should be well on its way to being reopened. Remember that if you edit your question while it is "on hold" it will automatically enter the reopen review queue. That does not change the validity of this answer, which is based on that the community should decide whether a particular question is on topic or off topic, which is done is by voting to close questions one feels are off topic. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 8:57

Some appear to be borderline according to the help page.

For example, questions are welcome that are about:

Creation of elements of a world (languages, species, buildings, etc.)

Weapons are elements of the world but the questions should also include how the elements helps defining/altering the world. If the sole focus of the question is only about the weapon, then I believe it's not a worldbuilding question. If your not sure but you think it's off-topic, you can flag it. If enough high reputation users agrees with you, it's probably off-topic.


It's possible that some of these weapons are already integrated into the world, and the askers are just asking how to plausibly account for them. For instance, my question about a sound gun is based around a weapon I wanted to have in my world, and I just wanted to know how it would work, or if it was plausible.

Come to think of it, I assume that's what the tag is for: questions not specifically about worldbuilding, but about building individual aspects of that world that you'd like to have, but aren't sure are possible. In many cases, I don't think it's necessary to flesh out why you're using the weapon or what other aspects of the world exist, so long as you provide the materials available for the construction of said weapon.

Allow me to point out this question, where the accepted answer pretty much states that you don't actually have to have a world in mind when asking a question. As long as that question is on-topic. There might be a chicken-and-egg scenario here.

I admit it's sort of a grey area in many cases, though. I get the feeling we're having way too many 'is this worldbuilding?' questions here on meta, and the answer usually comes down to what you as an individual (with close votes) decide.

  • $\begingroup$ I've thought something similar: that if there's no description of larger context then implicitly the OP is stating that the weapon or question is with the context of current-day Earth. $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Green Yeah, that's a good point. But I will say that questions that don't build onto that context, and simply are about current day Earth, are probably off-topic and in need of migration. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 19:58
  • $\begingroup$ Nothing personal but this seems to be the ultimate get-out clause. We all preface our question with the boiler-plate. "I have this world and I wonder how the following would fit into it." This is followed by 'nuclear-powered mouse-trap' or whatever. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 1:56
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK Yeah, you could look at it that way. But I'd rather upvote a question that's not about worldbuilding but could help someone who is building a world than downvote a question about building a world that I don't think is really about building a world. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 13:08

My own preference and the reason I don't tend to vote-to-close except in blatant cases is that I would prefer a relaxation of the rules. I suppose, on reflection, what I'm really doing with this specific question is crying "Unfair!" when I am treated strictly and others aren't.

That doesn't mean I want to bring others down with me. Despite the title, I don't object to such questions. I actually think they are very useful.


  • $\begingroup$ You have to consider a few things: 1) it is everyone's right to give xir point of view on whether or not a question is on/off-topic. 2) You have the same right. 3) Not everyone read every single answer and question. So yes some question may fall through the filters of the stricter close-voters of us. 4) If you have the feeling that it is biased against you, try to evaluate from your own, whether you aren't, on the contrary being biased in your favour and that objectively some of your questions deserved more than some others to be closed. If not come to chat to ask. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ Please note that I am not making a statement on your questions, I haven't reviewed anything prior to writing that comment. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 14:14

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