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Would it be on topic for this site to ask a question like

What are possible faster than light travel mechanics and their narrative consequences?

And have the answers explore systems like warp, hyperspace, BSG jump drives and so on, explaining how they could possibly be executed in stories.

No answer would be selected, like community wiki questions on other SE sites.

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  • $\begingroup$ You might consider phrasing it like: "what is the most realistic, given our current science understanding, FTL travel mechanics". Otherwise it is very broad. $\endgroup$ – clem steredenn Nov 30 '15 at 6:53
  • $\begingroup$ No, I'm not interested in realism, I'm interested in a discourse on the implications of multiple models of FTL travel that have popped up in various SF so if someone wanted FTL but didn't know what to do they could read through an analysis of the societal and strategic effects of jump drives vs warp drives and choose one that would fit their story or that their story would fit. $\endgroup$ – Azor Ahai -- he him Nov 30 '15 at 6:56
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    $\begingroup$ I appreciate that. But that would make a 'too broad' question. Stack Exchange isn't the right place for such open-ended discussion. You could consider as an alternative, to write a blog post for our blog: medium.com/universe-factory $\endgroup$ – clem steredenn Nov 30 '15 at 7:32
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    $\begingroup$ If FTL travel warrants a tag, its tag wiki would be a great place to include overview information (including main options), external references, and links to key questions. (There'd be no need to link all questions as the tag already does that, but particularly-important ones could be linked.) $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Nov 30 '15 at 14:07
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I would argue that asking such a question is not appropriate for our site. Collecting answers to overly broad questions is not what Stack Exchange is meant to do, nor what it does well.

Just because a question is marked Community Wiki doesn't mean it doesn't need to adhere to our quality standards. As bilbo_pingouin already pointed out in the comments, a question such as the one you propose would be extremely broad. (You are asking for all possible mechanics and without bound their narrative consequences, for all possible imagined faster-than-light propulsion systems. This one wouldn't even be limited by, say, a or even a tag. If that's not closeworthy as "too broad", then frankly I don't know what would be.)

I could design a FTL drive for my universe which is powered by the digestive byproducts of little white mice eating bits of cheese after running through labyrints, and describe that system including its narrative consequences in excrutiating detail. (The probability of such a system? Most likely, it would be almost infinitely improbable. But who are you to judge?) It isn't likely to be useful to anyone else, but it would be a valid answer to your question as proposed.

In addition to the above (which is largely generic), as far as the specific example is concerned, almost any FTL-type drive would have similar consequences and narrative implications. This includes allowing violation of causality. The specific technological gizmo or handwavium used to overcome this might well be different from one story to another, but the problem to be overcome (or simply handwaved away; or not overcome, if that's what you want!) remains exactly the same.

You can, however, ask a series of questions that are sufficiently specific for our site, and then post a meta question about the series. I'm not entirely thrilled about that latter either myself, but that is much more a valid use of the site. If you go this route, then please spread the questions out over time so that each can get the attention it deserves.

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    $\begingroup$ Was your entire third paragraph a Douglas Adams reference? $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Nov 30 '15 at 14:28
  • $\begingroup$ @DaaaahWhoosh What makes you think it was, or wasn't? :-) $\endgroup$ – a CVn Nov 30 '15 at 14:47
  • $\begingroup$ The mice, and the infinite improbability. Now, if instead of eating cheese, the mice were eating at a bistro, it would have been a dead giveaway. But since it was just the two, I couldn't tell if it was a coincidence or not. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Nov 30 '15 at 14:59
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    $\begingroup$ @DaaaahWhoosh The mice did sometimes take the wrong turns, just to amuse the scientists conducting the experiments. Of course, that meant no cheese for them that day. (The scientists, I mean. The mice always won out in the end.) $\endgroup$ – a CVn Nov 30 '15 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer, although I didnt mean to suggest a repository of applied phlebotoniums, merely the effects of each, like how Halo slipspace means ships arrive at different times or Star Wars hyper drives mean trade routes are hardly varied from once established. $\endgroup$ – Azor Ahai -- he him Dec 1 '15 at 6:10
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    $\begingroup$ The trouble is that it would just turn into a massive list. On the other hand a specific question about the results of a Halo-like drive would be an interesting read. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Dec 1 '15 at 12:44
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While I agree that one massive post is not the way to go about it, that doesn't mean there isn't another way.

You may be able to go about it in a way similar to the Anatomically Correct series of questions. Where each separate question is more like:

What are narrative consequences of faster-than-light travel in the form of... [warp-drive, etc]?
Feel free to suggest/use better versions of the question. There would have to be more than that one sentence but you get the idea.

And then start compiling those questions in a big list on meta. However, I wouldn't ask those questions all at once. People will tire of them quickly and they wouldn't each get the attention they deserve.

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