This meta post is about whether or not What fantasy race has an affinity for water? should be put On Hold.
I would argue that this question is far too broad: the asker must specify a lot more detail about their world and about what he or she is looking for in an answer. Because right now, all of the answers are nothing more than bare lists of ideas, and really they cannot be more than that. As of this writing, three of the four answers have exactly the same score, which indicates that we just do not have enough criteria by which to judge one as better than the rest. They’re all just equally-valid.
Several people have already commented on this issue, but I think more action needs to be taken. As-is, no one can even attempt a definitive answer, and the system is not working for promoting a “best” answer, because there isn’t and cannot be one.
Consider these comments, on the question and on @ivy_lynx’s answer, respectively:
As worded I have to agree there seem to be countless (well ok you could probably count them all) options here from all the various fictional universes out there.
um downvote because it's mostly links? Should I elaborate on all these? The question is quite broad.
Why is this a problem?
Because it’s impossible to vote. How do you say one list of possible races is better than another list? You could pick the biggest one, or vote for all of them, or vote for the one that interests you most personally, but none of those reasons are related to which answers the question best. We just don’t have enough context to pick out a particular race and say “ah yes, this would be perfect!” The question doesn’t get answered — the question-asker just waits long enough to see something they happen to like, or until they come up with something of their own, and they check the answer that happened to include it.
The Stack Exchange system doesn’t work under these conditions. The system is broken by the very concept, and everyone benefits from simply putting the question On Hold, encouraging the asker to really pin down what they want, and then we can see about giving really definitive answers.
What the question needs
We need enough information to be able to decide why any given vaguely-watery-but-not-aquatic race is better or worse than any other entry in that category, because the category is large and nebulous. The nix on aquatic creatures is a good step; the emphasis on trade and sailing is also, albeit a bit obvious (can you imagine a race that could be called “watery” without that?), but we need more.
Some particulars that I would like to see, personally, are some more context about the world they’ll be placed in, particularly the other races and how those are tied to elements. Knowing that would allow us to make arguments for or against any particular race as a good fit, based on the niche the race is supposed to occupy and through parallelism with existing races and their connections to elements.
It strikes me that what's required here is a formulation, composed by those who put the question On Hold, that the question requests a list or enumeration rather than a definite answer. The same thing might go like this: "Can someone give me some examples of a fantasy 'race' that lives entirely in water?" A definitive answer to this would be "yes." Which isn't helpful. In other words, "On Hold: this question requests a list rather than being answerable definitively." Something like that.
The requested edit should ask that the question be reformulated either to be exceedingly narrow -- say, one or two examples might exist but they're hard to think of -- or, far better, to specify exactly the characteristics sought, with a subsidiary request for extant examples. That way, an answer can describe how such a species might operate, and go on to say, "for example, in so-and-so's book Such-And-Such, there are the Blahblahs."
Enumeration or list questions are going to pop up with some regularity, so I think that ought to be addressed specifically.