Today I caught myself almost entering a downvoting spree.

Not because I was enraged, hungry or somehow ill tempered, but because some of the questions that I read were a bit... hard on my mind. I'm not posting examples for now, I'm not sure if they are needed.

It's not my intention to point any fingers, so to speak.

Well, to the issue.

From time to time, I walk around WorldBuilding reading what people are doing and casting an eventual comment about the content. I'm more of a lurker, so to speak.

Today, on my usual stroll around World Building, I found some... less than cohesive questions, asking information about worlds that... just don't work in the context the author wants it to work without some heavy hand waving.

I noticed that this sometimes happens because someone wants to build not a World, but a Story, and is asking about story elements without considering the worldbuilding elements per se. Those questions normally use "Consider that assumption X is true" or something similar. That's mostly ok, but... sometimes the "X" is something that makes the world, as proposed, be impossible or nonviable. I see that, if the author goes that way, his end result would be something that doesn't really helps the suspension of disbelief regarding his works.

I'm not talking about fantasy-based, crazy worlds that are, by design, weird, like Discworld ou Synnibar. I'm talking about worlds that are "Like Earth but with this critical thing different".

My first impulse when I see a world with such a impossible setting (let's say, a question that assumes that human evolution would be the same in a world with radically different parameters) is to comment the perceived problem pointing what I noticed that was a bit off. If the author keeps pushing his view as correct, and keeps asking for handwaving, I tend to just downvote and disengage.

I'm not sure if that is the correct way to go, tho.

Note that "impossible settings" are only a problem when the proposed world has realistic overtones - science-based, evolution-based, hard-science questions... things like that. Questions tagged with obviously are not in scope here.

How much... world cohesion should we expect from questions?

  • $\begingroup$ Related: meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/2679/2138 - We're both trying to figure out similar things from opposing angles. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 17:51
  • $\begingroup$ @DoubleDouble Thanks for those edits. English is not my main language, and sometimes I mess it up a bit! $\endgroup$
    – Mermaker
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 18:38

2 Answers 2


The answer to this question, like many on world building is yes...and no.

The yes:

Yes a world should make sense in the end. When someone builds a world, as a user/consumer/viewer/reader/whatever I expect a logically consistent world (within the premises outlined. I am not saying all worlds need to be scientifically accurate, but they should be plausible and (again) internally consistent. Worlds that do not do these things drive me absolutely crazy.

The no:

World building is a site for asking questions about creating your world...none of us are experts in everything, some of us (me included) are not experts in anything...we dabble. Anyway, odds are the main question that drove this discussion is this one: Blind Humanoid Species - how would they discover the concept that some species have sight?

I will premise this with, I up-voted this question. Why you ask? Well because it is an interesting question and an interesting scenario. It made me think. That the premise is flawed does not in my opinion mean it is a bad question. We all have flaws in our logic and gaps in our knowledge...That is why we are here asking each other questions.

So I guess my point, if I have one, is that an interesting question with a flawed premise shouldn't require down votes. I reserve down votes for poorly asked questions. I figure a question that generates (at this point) 6 answers is worth of an up-vote because people are interested, even if only to tell the OP that the question is flawed.

The Point: So in the end, yes, your world should be cohesive, but while you are working on it you are just trying to get to that point and maybe you learn that in the end your idea just isn't great...better to find that out now than when you put a finished product together and people go..."what the hell is going on this makes no sense"


Like James, I don't think we can give a definitive answer. The possible actions to an implausible question are

  • accept the premises and give the best answer possible,
  • comment to explain why the premises are not plausible/coherent
  • suggest an answer, modifying slightly the premises. This might be ignored or even downvoted, but at least you tried to help.
  • downvote the question. In particular if there are incoherences and the OP denies/refuses to react to comments pointing it out.
  • pass on to the next question and forget you ever read that.

My point is that if comments and constructive answer does not help, leave it at that, you don't know the reasons behind the question. If the OP does not at the end get a satisfying answer, he might reconsider the comments.


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