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So we have a tag called and a tag called . My question is, how does one determine which tag to use, since they both weakly imply each other as far as the world itself is concerned.

I think I have a good idea about what the difference is supposed to be, but I thought it would be good to have a question asking for the difference for those that don't.

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If you click on the tag and read the text above the questions (and click read more) the tag wiki will answer your question. I've copied them here for reference. Putting only on a question may mean that some answers are more suitable for soft-scifi, while says that answers must be based on real science (or extraptolations from that). It is important to note that science fiction isn't always based on science. For instance star-trek, an iconic sci-fi show, can actually be classified as fantasy in space. None of it is rooted in science.

To give an example, your question on weaponising FTL is not an appropriate candidate for as time travel contradicts the laws of physics as we know them and you seem to want to allow that based on your answer.

Bonus: goes one step further than (and you don't need both) and specifies that only existing science can be used to answer the question (and you must cite references, show equations etc)

This tag should be used on questions relating to settings in science-fiction. This tag merely denotes the world's setting, and answerers should take this into account when coming up with answers: answers to science-fiction questions are also required to have the elements of science fiction in them that the question has.

Questions with this tag should be answered as far as possible based on known scientific fact or reasonable extrapolations from that. For example, we do not currently have the material science required to build a space elevator, but we can discuss the potential risks, consequences and benefits of building one based on known scientific facts.

When discussing future technology it is harder to know where to draw the line, but answers should still be rooted in what we know of the universe and be compatible with the current state of scientific knowledge.

Most answers on Worldbuilding are expected to be based in logic and, to some degree, science by default, so even questions without this tag may receive scientific answers. However, use of this tag indicates that the asker wants specifically science based answers; answers based in magic or pseudo-science on this question are not answers and may be deleted.

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    $\begingroup$ The only problem with your difference between science-fiction and science-based is that sometimes, the asker doesn't know the things they're asking aren't real. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Aug 11 '15 at 13:08
  • $\begingroup$ @DaaaahWhoosh that's what comments and editing are for Mr DW. $\endgroup$ – James Aug 11 '15 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, it seems to me that science fiction is a fairly meaningless tag. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Aug 11 '15 at 18:24
  • $\begingroup$ @TimB It's a good distinction between setting, theme, or genre. It's why bookstores -- err, online retailers, have different sections for Fantasy and Science Fiction. While both worlds can have the same things, they're described either using technobabble or magic, which seems like a useful request to make of answers. Science-Based would then be a sub-set of science fiction, but significantly limited in what's available. $\endgroup$ – Samuel Aug 13 '15 at 17:45
  • $\begingroup$ Science based is not a subset. For example a present day crime thriller might ask a science based question and is not sci fi. I am not sure what value a "genre" tag gives by itself but have no strong objection to it. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Aug 13 '15 at 17:47
  • $\begingroup$ @timb good point, but would a crime thriller be suitable for Worldbuilding? we generally reject questions concerning plot and characterization, focusing on setting and setting-driven issues. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Aug 24 '15 at 12:11
  • $\begingroup$ @JDĹ‚ugosz Building the world for a crime thriller, certainly. For example a reality check question on the method used to do the murder or on some element of forensics would both be on topic. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Aug 24 '15 at 13:36
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    $\begingroup$ Time travel does not actually contradict the laws of physics as we know them, closed timelike curves appear in certain solutions in Einstein's theory of general relativity, such as ones involving traversable wormholes and the Alcubierre drive. A future theory of quantum gravity may rule this out but it's an open question. $\endgroup$ – Hypnosifl Jan 22 '16 at 23:43

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