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Part four of the case study series.

Part 1 - Tim B

Part 2 - Daaaah Whoosh

Part 3 - James


I submit the following for review.

These are my 5 most popular questions order approximately from less to more popular. (though the last on would more likely lend on place 2 or 3, but has been put as last since it was a follow up of what ended up being number 2)

Can I keep our universe, but without the speed limit (of light)?

About world building?

It seems to me like a pretty fundamental worldbuilding question to me.

Risking off-topic?

If anything it errs a bit towards a too scientific side, but I think physics.SE wouldn't appreciate this question and worldbuilding.SE would answer it more in the way that I was hoping. Though as Pavel Janicek's answer pointed out, this question may not be the right one to pose when building a world (to some).


How do I prevent my turtle from collapsing under its own gravity?

About world building?

Creature design is an accepted topic on worldbuilding.SE and this particular creature aspires to be roughly the size of a world, I think this is a pass.

Risking off-topic?

No, this question is very much answerable.


What could cause an avian species to become intelligent?

About world building?

Yes, no doubt about it.

Risking off-topic?

It leans a bit towards idea generation (or simply too broad). There are many possible answers and there is no very clear way of picking one answer over another. On the plus side, it does have a rather well defined scope.


Could a disaster kill all (human) life on Earth but leave astronauts in low orbit alive long enough to return?

About world building?

Debatable, but I think it falls on the right side. Disasters may be rather plot-y, but designing or choosing a specific disaster, especially a worldwide one, seems more worldbuilding.

Risking off-topic?

Yes, I think it's an interesting question and has the starting and end point well defined as well as a tight scope, but even though it's not posed as one, it is a very list-inviting question. And it did in fact attract lists as answers. I guess the deciding factor here would be: are these lists potentially endless and do the minor differences between list items really matter, or can things be generalised?


What should three men and three women do if everyone else is dead?

About world building?

I don't know. It is about the actions of individuals, but they are the only remaining individuals and I did ask for whatthey should/can do and not what they would do. I feel like this one might fall on the wrong side of the line.

Risking off-topic?

It's definitely a tad broad and invites speculative answers, I'm not entirely sure if this alone would make it closeworthy.

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    $\begingroup$ I really want to answer this, I just have so much to do at work today,,, $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Feb 15 '16 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ I wasn't sure how detailed you want your answers, but I provided mine. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Feb 16 '16 at 5:34
  • $\begingroup$ I think you should consider that the "three men and three women" problem has already been answered outside of Worldbuilding.SE; take a look at Farnham's Freehold. $\endgroup$ – The Daleks Apr 14 at 0:55
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Speed of Light: Maybe too broad but overall I think it's fine.

Turtle: On topic

Avian Intelligence: On topic

ISS surviving apocalypse: Off topic - clearly too broad just from the number of answers and the fact that several answers are a list of possibilities.

6 survivors: Too broad. "what could these people do in order to maximize humanity's chances of survival?" was maybe ok but then you added "(and what are some less obvious problems they will face?)" which was immediately definitely too broad. If you trimmed it down to the first question then maybe it's ok. It's a "can" question not a "should" or "would".

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  • $\begingroup$ Would you say that the ISS question should be closed or locked and the follow-up edited? $\endgroup$ – overactor Feb 18 '16 at 8:58
  • $\begingroup$ It may warrant a historical lock. I think it's worth finishing all the discussions before we start taking action though. This one may be clear but not all will be. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Feb 18 '16 at 9:30
  • $\begingroup$ fair enough, I just wanted to clarify what your position was. $\endgroup$ – overactor Feb 18 '16 at 10:57
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They all seem on topic and perfectly answerable to me, as long as the people answering know what they're talking about. The many people who upvoted them definitely thought so. And the people who didn't close vote them obviously thought they were on topic.

And as for the last question, I feel that it is in topic, because you are talking about the human species as a whole (a very small whole) who would have a specific goal in mind.

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Can I keep our universe, but without the speed limit (of light)?

About world building? Looks good to me, one might call it universe-building but I think that definitely fits here.

Risking off-topic? The problem I have with these kinds of questions is that they're not always the easiest to answer. Changing the fundamental laws of the universe generally throws out most forms of knowledge we might have. But in this case I think it's a narrow enough question.

How do I prevent my turtle from collapsing under its own gravity?

About world building? Yep, creature design is on-topic.

Risking off-topic? Well, you are asking for a solution to the problem, with no real criteria to judge answers, which could border on 'idea generation'. It's also a bit too broad, since you state that even the laws of physics can be changed to get this to work, which sounds to me more like the magic that you didn't want to use. The question seems to be of the form "I don't know how to get this to work, please provide me with some ideas", which is the kind of question I'd like us to avoid. So I might consider voting to close, though it is almost a good question.

What could cause an avian species to become intelligent?

About world building? Yep. Evolution seems on-topic to me.

Risking off-topic? Yeah, this is idea generation. When analyzing James's questions, I realized that answers should be the primary idea generators, not the questions. That said, the accepted answer to this question attempts to answer a more general, 'what does it take to become intelligent?' question, which I think would be on-topic if it was ever asked (and maybe it has been).


Could a disaster kill all (human) life on Earth but leave astronauts in low orbit alive long enough to return?

About world building? This one is tenuous. I like to go to my shoot-someone-from-space question and say that since it was closed for more of a plot event than a worldbuilding aspect, that this should also be closed for the same reason. But since I thought my shoot-someone-from-space question was on-topic, I would be fine letting this one in, as long as people agree I was right.

Risking off-topic? Well, the way you ask it, it should have yes or no answers, but the only way to really back up these answers are to provide lists of possible disasters. Plus, you're asking for way too much specifics; this looks to me like a 'everyone describe a really interesting way this can happen' question, which I'll admit are fun to answer and to read other answers, but I don't think they should be allowed. Or maybe they should, I don't know, that's worth considering.

What should three men and three women do if everyone else is dead?

About world building? There are only a few characters involved, but it's not really their actions as individuals you're worried about. You want to know about them as a species, as the last of humanity, so I think it works.

Risking off-topic? This seems like more idea generation to me, but I would say it is much easier to judge objectively. So not too bad, but could be better.

Summary: A lot of these seem like idea generation to me. I know we've been saying that 'everything is idea generation', but my and James' questions have shown that that's not true. These questions don't seem as bad as some, but I definitely don't think they're the best examples of how we should encourage users to ask their questions.

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