I don't wish to come off as being presumptuous. I'm comparatively new here, and there is probably something I'm missing.

Recently, a question was asked regarding inheritance or transfer of memory from hominoid mother to child. I understand perfectly well that the question cannot have a hard science answer for something which does not have a hard science basis. I am wondering: why was it put on hold as being “opinion-based” rather than something a little more suitable to the problems of the question? I do agree that the question, as written, is rather barren and misinformed. I posit, however, that it fails to abide its own tags rather than invite wild conjecture.

It would seem to me that the purpose of Worldbuilding is to pose questions which involve a broad, multidimensional range of approaches and knowledge for the purpose of helping someone who is designing a world but either

  • lacks enough expertise to do so,
  • wishes to obtain opinions — i.e. the espousing of expertise or perspective — on the validity and consistency of the work they already did,
  • or simply has an urge to learn.

They say to write what you know, but the only way you learn is by seeing what you don't know. Building a new world, whether for yourself or for others, need not be a solo venture.

So far, so good. Although I do make a distinction between opinion and absurd or erroneous opinion, that's not what I mean to examine here. My proposal is not as to whether wild conjecture does not belong here, or indeed as to how much invocation of the What–If Machine is too much; rather, it is how we help others refine their questions so as to:

  • make the answers as simple and applicable as possible;
  • be of the most use to future perusers of this website.

I don't think the Opinion–based Hold is very useful in that regard. So, in conclusion, I suggest that we use the Off–topic version instead, and furthermore that we create subset versions of it to help well–meaning users to see the more precise reasons why their question would be better asked somewhere else.

Can anyone else give me some reasons as to what mistakes I made in my informal, sparse, and shoddy arguments?

P.S. I recently have tried to add such helpful comments in that vein to and questions which I see have been placed on hold, and especially those to which it seems the original asker was genuinely interested in obtaining an answer. So, I'm not being a hypocrite.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I recommend that you check out the "risk factors" series of posts here on WB Meta. Also, keep in mind that we have only a few slots for site-specific close reasons, and that one can always elect to leave a comment along with their close vote to explain (in much greater detail, too) what they feel is wrong with the question and what can be done to fix it. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 10:51

1 Answer 1


Opinion based questions are discouraged for a simple reason. The purpose is to provide information to the questioner so that they can use it to do what they want in their world without being influenced much by the opinion of others. Further questions are somewhat meant to be archival. That is to say, they are supposed to be helpful to anyone who needs that question answered and mostly not a one time thing. If you allow opinions then I as the questioner have to wade through those opinions and then with my lack of knowledge, decide which is the best answer, which I am not qualified for.

There are questions that do require some "opinion", for example, my question of "What can aquatics use to write on/with?" there are multiple answers, all very good. What each answerer chooses to answer is based on their opinion of what is the likely scenario, but so long as they can present the case for why it is reasonable to think in x way then it's fine. It's only when it comes down to "because you can do anything" is it really a problem, because then there is no reasonable argument to be had and you're not asking a "world building" question and more of a personal preference or "writing" question.


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