Q: Who is the site for?
A: It's for builders of fictional worlds. Like fiction writers and game designers.
Q: What is it about?
A: What do you think about having a tail?
A: How would having a tail change the way our world works?
Q: umm... I guess it would be kind of cool, but it might get caught in doorways, and we would have to cut holes in all our clothing. Why?
A: We talk about stuff like that. We discuss what happens if the world were just a little different.
It doesn't have to be tails. It can be gills, or twin planets, or FTL travel, or almost anything.
Okay, so maybe that's three or four floors, but this little exchange is, IMO, one of the best quick pitches we can give for the site, for three reasons:
- World building is inspired by curiosity. I don't get the impression from the beta so far that anyone is asking questions because there is some significant external pressure for them to figure out if invisible aliens are possible, or if space lanes make sense. Sure, there could be users who are hard at work writing novels, designing games, story-boarding for movies, or even creating dungeons and dragons campaigns, and we want to attract as many of these users as possible. But I'd hazard a guess that one of the reasons the private beta has seen early success is because the discussion of worldbuilding is just plain fun, and if you can give a sense of that fun in the elevator, I'll bet that will be much more memorable and meaningful than some tag line, however catchy it may be.
- Most people will definitely remember that kid on the elevator who asked them about human tails, or that red-haired girl who polled your opinion on invisible aliens, or that old dude who asked you what you think would have happened if the JFK assassination was unsuccessful. Even if that person only has a mild interest, these types of discussions are contagious (in my experience anyway), and the stranger may get off the elevator with some amount of curiosity as they head back to their cubicle. By the time they get there the stranger might ask their colleague about hive minds, which would be debated, and could result in a web search to settle the dispute. And before you even asked the question in the elevator, you knew what the first hit on google was going to be when they searched for it :)
- There will undoubtedly be some people who just loose interest, or who just think it's too weird to imagine a world where humans have tails. They will squint their eyes at you and just say "I don't... know." and as they walk off the elevator they will spend exactly 5 seconds thinking how random that was and then proceed to their ordinary, uninteresting, and entirely normal lives, where nothing unexpected never happens. Ok, it might not be that bad, but this site is not going to appeal to everyone, and if they are not the least bit interested in your off the wall scenario you're suggesting then they aren't going to like the site, and we don't really want them anyway.
Worldbuilding is awesome and everyone here knows it. I guess this doesn't exactly replace the need for a shorter description, but if you've got 5 floors this is way better than a 10 second pitch and 20 seconds of silence. I haven't tried this on anyone yet, but I know from experience that some people love to discuss alternate realities. Why would you simply talk about your product, when you can give them a free sample?
Finally, let me quell a few doubts about my intentions: I'm not saying we should just open the floodgates and let every question that seems semi-interesting survive because its fun to talk about, I'm saying that there's raw interest in worldbuilding that, if carefully bridled by mods and experienced users, can fuel an inspiring and informative SE site for a long time.