I've been noticing a pattern of people closing questions as not Worldbuilding which to my mind clearly are Worldbuilding. I don't want to get too hung up on this specific example, but I don't have a good way of viewing closed questions by close reason and this is the one that I just saw:

Someone's building a fictional world with a space elevator and they want to talk about seeing the space elevator in the sky -- where in the world might they be? Now clearly this question has problems. For example, we don't know how the counterweight is designed. Is it just an extended cable? Or a satellite? Perhaps the author did too little research. But that's a reason to downvote, not close.

The original version did not make clear that it was a fictional question and not a real question. Is claiming fiction a requirement? Should every question include "This is for a fictional world" just to check off that box?

One could argue that this question might be askable elsewhere. But that's a bad reason to close. One, overlap is inevitable. Two, more reality-based sites don't have the speculative background that this site has. If someone wants to ask about the current NASA budget, this is the wrong site. If someone wants to speculate about the results of doubling the NASA budget, then this is the right place. If someone wants to speculate on what would have happened if we'd gone on from landing on the moon to building a moon base, this is absolutely the right site.

No one's ever built an actual space elevator. To me, that makes questions about what a space elevator would be like on-topic for this site.

Part of my concern is that "off-topic" is a terminal concern. It's essentially saying that the question doesn't belong on this site. Unlike "too broad" or "unclear what you're asking", it doesn't lead to natural fixes (narrowing or clarifying the question).

  • $\begingroup$ Sometimes there are problem with conflicting grounds, and it is not always shown. In the specific case of that question, I voted to leave close, not because it's not about WB, but because it is far too broad. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 12:57
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    $\begingroup$ On some sites - I say "some" because I don't know the full extent - lack of research effort is reason enough to close. This ensures that questions that have Google-able answers don't keep coming in. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868 Mod
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 16:15
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    $\begingroup$ Related to those Physics based questions that aren't clearly WorldBuilding and HDE's Google-able point, I know a pet peve for me is anyone who posts a question about time travel who isn't even aware that time travel axioms are not universal agreed upon. I have to admit having a terribly selfish urge to close questions with "Come back when you're more educated" and a few links to wikipedia on time travel. I'm not convinced my approach is productive but MAN do I want to make people find out what has been created before, before trying to rebuild the wheel. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 16:57

1 Answer 1


It's hard to answer a general question with only one example, so I'll just address that example.

When the question was put on hold, it read (in its entirety):

From how much of a planet's surface will the Space Elevator be visible?

On Earth, from how much of a planet's surface will the Space Elevator be visible?

The worldbuilding aspect is not at all clear there. It sounds like a geometry question.

Putting it on hold did what it's supposed to do: it prompted the author to clarify and expand in an edit. It's now more clearly on-topic and should be in the reopen review queue. It's only been an hour, so the community hasn't had time to act yet. (You have enough rep to vote to reopen, so if you haven't yet, you could do that.)

The process appears to be working. Even question put on hold as off-topic can be fixed sometimes.

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    $\begingroup$ Indeed, the purpose of putting questions on hold many times is to allow them to be fixed so they no longer need to be on hold (or closed). $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 18:25

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