I feel requests asking for help plotting a terrorist attack or a possibly real crime should be considered Off Topic for our site, because, if somebody really does come up with a great idea and it really does fall into the hands of a criminal, that just is not good form for Worldbuilding. I mean, it's not paranoia if you know there really are criminals out there trying to figure out ways to kill people. Just think what our mothers would say if they found out we had helped destroy the world or part of it.

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    $\begingroup$ The question you refer to is pretty much useless to terrorists, unless Elon Musk is hiding more than we think. $\endgroup$
    – PatJ
    Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ But it brought to mind the possibility that some question might in the future be something possibly dangerous. Idk, it just made me think. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ I will try to come up with better answer, but for the moment, try to think where to draw the line. Lots of the content of this site can be used for terrorist attacks. Namely topics like poison design and weapon design. Should we ban them? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 14:27
  • $\begingroup$ I'm certainly not going to be abke to decide this for everybody on the site, but I think that if a question seems more plausible for a terrorist or a criminal to use in real-life, it's not something that should be supported here. Even if it is used for fiction initially, if it's real enough to be used, someone may use it that way. Idk, maybe I'll just have to personally boycott answering such questions. To each his/her own. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ A criminal wouldn't ask on a public place like this, would he? I answered because from the style of writing it is clear to me that there's no real criminal energy behind it. On the other hand, a view hours ago, someone asked about 3d printed gun suppressors, something much more realistic and threatening: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/64333/… $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 14:41
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    $\begingroup$ Related: meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/3820/… and its dupe. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 16:53
  • $\begingroup$ Well, it adds the off-topic suggestion... $\endgroup$
    – PatJ
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 13:06

2 Answers 2


Terrorism is not Off topic

We create worlds, and those world may include anything. More importantly, we tend to create worlds that matter to us. And terrorism has stricken minds a lot in the past decades. So yes, terrorism is on topic, along with war, theft, rape, torture and any other horrid thing we know and hate.

Most things on this website are not new

This is in no way meant to disrespect the wonderful WB community. The thing is, most of WB's value (and most of SE) is not to create knowledge but to connect it. People on WB don't look for zero-day exploits or new bomb designs, they look for already existing ones. Now of course connecting information creates new information, but the addings of this community is that it would connect the terrorist plot to... the specificities of a world different from ours.

It would most likely be unusable anyway

Let's first ditch unusable and unrealistic answers (they exist), the big problem of a terrorist attack is not the overall plot, but the details of it. How secure are the communications between the terrorists, how to get the materials for the attack, how to go through the layers of security. From the idea of a thermonuclear device to its fabrication and then use, you'll need very very very very very talented engineers. If you have those, you're not gonna need some WB answers.

Putting in place that kind of moderation seems very problematic

Basically, "where to draw the line" seems very difficult. To me, considering the questions to be forbidden is threatening a lot of people with good intentions. How can you know if your question is going to help terrorists? Do you remove the question if it can, will or has created worthy terrorist information? How do you know what is terrorist-worthy? Why would you punish a question for its answers?

So you would punish the answers? That gives you even more moderating work to do, you are splitting discussion.

Mostly, refraining people from posting based on something that vague seems very bad.

Enough with that damn terrorist craze

Seriously. I know this is a very emotional topic, but that "we need to do something because we need to feel safe and we don't know what to do so we will do the first thing that seems to address the issue" is just creating an atmosphere of fear and distrust. Please don't bring that atmosphere to this site.


Death, Destruction and Violence are On-Topic

Every so often WB.Meta gets a post like this where someone is worried about encouraging violence, pedophilia, racism, etc. and I believe these should be addressed. However, keep in mind that the content covered by WB is the entire universe of which violence is an intrinsic part.

Some other Meta questions related to this one:

The difference between exploring and advocating

There is an enormous difference between advocating for violence and exploring how it might be done. As mentioned many other places on WB, advocating for violence is completely unacceptable and will mod-hammered immediately. However, asking how violence might be done is okay. We have entire categories devoted to weapons, ancient, medieval, modern, and futuristic along with the employment of those weapons.

Judgment of Intent

The only difference between a terrorist and anti-terrorism operative is intent. Both sides are well versed in the various techniques, scenarios, weaknesses and strengths. Both sides think about these things all the time. Similarly, anyone with information security experience will tell you that they think about how to hack things all the time too. The ideas themselves are not dangerous; it's what people do with those ideas that are dangerous. It is incredibly difficult to gauge absolute intent based on a single WB question.


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