I see a lot of questions along the lines of "what would be the impact if X happened?" These seem to me to be skirting the edge of on-topic, even for our blessédly open-minded Worldbuilding site. So I'd like to understand: what makes such a question good. What makes such a question worth answering, and not worth closing?

Here are a few examples:

Most of the above are a slightly more specific flavor than what I had in mind, these are mostly "what would happen if tomorrow something changed." But I'm also interested in "how would the world be different if it was (always) just like ours except for X?" Like these:

One solid point, mentioned here, is that a good question should have clear criteria for what makes a good answer. What else should one consider before asking "what would happen if left-handed red-heads started getting super powers on their 33rd birthdays?"

  • $\begingroup$ Those last three look really interesting. And I loved your little joke about the third link. 😉 $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 3:33
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    $\begingroup$ It is an interesting question, indeed. Note that there are a few related discussions on-going: meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/3367/9685 and meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/3382/9685 You might consider chiming in those :) $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 6:00
  • $\begingroup$ @bilbo_pingouin: thank you, I hadn't seen that! That second question should be a must-read. It seems that most or all of these types of questions I'm highlighting fall under risk factor "how does that affect the society at large," so I'd like to better understand why they are not falling afoul of that rule. Or maybe that rule just isn't seen as a real concern by the people who VtC. $\endgroup$
    – user243
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 12:12
  • $\begingroup$ @JonofAllTrades you'll note that this is an on-going discussion. So not everything is yet fixed. But we hope to get to some kind of summary with one or two must read posts at the end. You can also see that kind of summary of all the discussions that are going on: meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/3263/9685 And do not hesitate to participate :) $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 13:08
  • $\begingroup$ TBH, other than the time near intelligent creatures question, ALL of the other ones are bad questions that are too broad (IMO) $\endgroup$
    – Aify
    Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 7:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Aify: I'm inclined to agree, but most have multiple answers and upvotes, so there seems to be a community consensus that this type of question is OK. I don't want to start a close vote campaign against the consensus, but nor do I want to contribute polluting questions. Can you expand on why you feel the time-stop question is good? $\endgroup$
    – user243
    Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 12:38
  • $\begingroup$ @JonofAllTrades the time stop question is good because it is VERY DETAILED AND EXPLICIT in explaining the desired effects, which would restrict the amount of possible answers (I only skimmed the question though, so I may be wrong). Also, multiple answers and upvotes don't always mean that the consensus is that that type of question is okay - it's much more likely that it's the new users who don't understand scope properly that are upvoting and answering. Some higher rep users also answer even though they really shouldn't though... $\endgroup$
    – Aify
    Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 17:05


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