14
$\begingroup$

A year ago, we had Should the help center be updated to specifically list real world history questions as off topic?, to which nobody ever proposed an answer other than yes, let's list them as specifically off topic.

Now, we have just recently had Is a “real world” question off topic? with, admittedly, somewhat more activity, which appears to have concluded that yes, questions about the real world actually are on topic.

Given this, and perhaps more importantly to avoid further confusion, I feel that the help center needs to be updated.

In the answers to this question, propose changes to the help center article what topics can I ask about here? to clarify this.

I suggest marking answers as community wiki to allow people to make minor adjustments to them. Any substantially new or different suggestion should obviously get its own answer, so that voting works properly. Only one suggestion per answer; a single suggestion may involve adding, removing or updating several parts of the article, but must form a logical whole which relates to the on-topic-ness of real world questions. Then vote to indicate which variant you feel captures the site's scope best.

And, just to clarify: This question is not about whether real-world questions should be on topic or not! That has already been discussed in the above-linked meta questions. This question is about how we can clarify the site's subject scope in the help center.

| |
$\endgroup$
6
$\begingroup$

I propose a simple modification to this section (bullet 4):

as long as they are not about:

  • Actions of individual characters, rather than elements of the world they inhabit
  • Character building
  • Elements of plot
  • Facts about the real world, or historical or modern events, except when provided as examples or comparisons in the construction of an imaginary world (consider the History or respective subject-specific Stack Exchange sites)
  • General writing or storytelling (consider the Writers or Role-playing Games Stack Exchange sites)
  • Software that doesn't directly relate to worldbuilding (consider the Super User or Software Recommendations Stack Exchange sites)
| |
$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ That seems to me to go against the gist of the linked recent meta discussion... $\endgroup$ – user Aug 30 '16 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ This part? "We have many questions about history, culture etc. and are essentially asking for a comparison or background information from reality for aid in developing our imaginary worlds. This is perfectly acceptable and has always been on topic." $\endgroup$ – Azuaron Aug 30 '16 at 15:39
  • $\begingroup$ Or this part from the second-highest answer (which isn't down by much): "...questions about our own real world are off topic on Worldbuilding. Add something to it that is imaginary, and ask a question that focuses on the imaginary part, and it might very well become on-topic for us, as well as quite possibly becoming off-topic for the otherwise appropriate subject-specific site." $\endgroup$ – Azuaron Aug 30 '16 at 15:40
  • $\begingroup$ No, I mean listing questions about "facts about the real world, or historical or modern events, except ..." as off-topic when the highest-voted answer to Is a real world question off topic? explicitly states that "Questions regarding the real world as is are on-topic". $\endgroup$ – user Aug 30 '16 at 15:43
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It more fully states: "Questions regarding the real world as is are on-topic ... in order to develop and understand [a world] that we are creating." As I understand the gist of the discussion around the linked meta question (beyond that one line), questions about the real world are on-topic when they are being used for world building. Beyond that, the second-highest voted answer more explicitly states that caveat, and I don't think an 11-7 vote should result in an all-or-nothing decision for community direction. $\endgroup$ – Azuaron Aug 30 '16 at 16:22
-3
$\begingroup$

Real world questions have always been on-topic; the moon question was wrongfully closed. It fits the first criteria listed (Creation of elements of a world, in this case a moon).

Based on what I've noticed in the trend of questions about the real world and questions regarding that point, the bigger issue is the alternate history questions that are almost always too broad and impossible to answer (and thus closed often, but sometimes with the wrong close reason).

Even in the linked most recent meta question, the top answer states that questions about history, culture etc. and are essentially asking for a comparison or background information from reality for aid in developing our imaginary worlds is on topic. However, once you change anything slightly larger about the history, you can no longer pull those comparisons/background information from reality since it's no longer the same reality as ours.

The cause of the confusion between real world questions and history questions being off/on-topic is caused by alternate-history questions being closed as off-topic (which people misinterpret as "real world" questions), and actual real world questions being wrongfully closed as off-topic.

Let's make this clear now: alternate-history questions ARE NOT REAL WORLD QUESTIONS.

With that out of the way, why not just remove the confusion and target the problem directly?

Here is my proposed solution (Additions are in bold, and I've moved the historical events as comparisons point under the lists):

For example, Worldbuilding SE welcomes questions on the following:

  • Creation of elements of a world (languages, species, buildings, etc.)
  • Effects of events or world elements, including biology, technology and magic, on specific aspects of that world's societies, cultures, and environment
  • How to achieve a specified effect in a defined world, including by the use of biology, technology or magic, while maintaining in-universe consistency

as long as they are not about:

  • Actions of individual characters, rather than elements of the world they inhabit
  • Character building
  • Elements of plot
  • Historical events of or historical facts about the real world, or alternate versions of history

  • General writing or storytelling (consider the Writers or Role-playing Games Stack Exchange sites)
  • Software that doesn't directly relate to worldbuilding (consider the Super User or Software Recommendations Stack Exchange sites)

Note that we permit the use use of historical events of or historical facts about the real world in your questions, but only as examples or comparisons in the construction of your imaginary world.

| |
$\endgroup$
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ You say "alternate history questions are not real world questions", which I take to mean "and so are on-topic", but you then say, in the exclude list, "Historical (events/facts), or alternate versions of history". I'm confused. Is a question like "In my alt Earth the Internet was never developed; how would the post office have developed by the 21st century?" on-topic or off-topic? (Yeah it's probably too broad as written; I'm limited by a comment textbox here. I'm trying to understand your topicality proposal.) $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Aug 30 '16 at 19:54
  • $\begingroup$ Please note that this meta question is not about what is on-topic or off-topic, but how the subject scope should be clarified in the help center article! $\endgroup$ – user Aug 30 '16 at 21:46
  • $\begingroup$ @MonicaCellio You've actually touched on my point exactly in your comment - alternate history questions are technically about worldbuilding, but are almost always too broad - since they cause so many problems and confusion with the real world questions, my suggestion is to completely put alternate history questions as off-topic, and to update the help center based on that. $\endgroup$ – Aify Aug 31 '16 at 1:24
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling And I have done exactly that in this edit proposal (I just also happened to provide a lot of reasoning behind the proposal). $\endgroup$ – Aify Aug 31 '16 at 1:25
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @Aify ah, well in that case I disagree -- if an alternate-history question is too broad then we should close as too broad, but we shouldn't rule out an area of scope just because many questions in that area tend to have other problems. I don't think our current policy excludes AH questions, and as Michael points out, this question is about explaining current scope. Separately we can discuss adding an extra note about AH (be careful with these because...). $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Aug 31 '16 at 1:28
  • $\begingroup$ @MonicaCellio That's actually a pretty good idea (the extra note about AH instead of just ruling it out) - not sure why I didn't think of that. Perhaps you could edit it into this community wiki answer. $\endgroup$ – Aify Aug 31 '16 at 3:21

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .