Wished to write this a long time ago, and the last drop was this question As a time traveler, how would I see quantum randomness change history? really, you are serious this was a hard science question? (btw maybe someone should remove the plates for HS tag when it is not HS anymore)

Making a good hard science answer is a hard work, a lot harder than usual. Making hard-science worth question also a hard work, but I didn't see the question which did their homework in that regard. (A few questions kinda did it)

I think we can make a favor - to mods, to those who would like to answer hard science questions, for those who would have real answers - by redefining the procedure of asking hard-science questions.

Step 1. Asking a +

After getting enough attention, choosing probably more or less scientific answer and if the OP still needs so, after the first step the OP can go further.

Step 2. Asking a question

The question should contain in the header the link to original science-based question, the link to answer the OP has chosen as key which explains what he actually likes to get in a bit more scientifically valid way and might be a slightly improved version of his original question (which does not alters its sense, and if he is not certain than the original question)

The first step intended to help OP to formulate the question in a proper way, and determine if it is suitable to be answered in hard science way (helping the OP too).

As the result, we will probably have a question worth to spend 1-2-3 days to answer (helping the fans of hard-science)

Formatting the hard-science question in a proper way, which clearly distinguishes them from other types of questions will probably help mods in a way of eliminating the need to attach the hard-science plate to each of such questions and answers for the question.(and have no problems of removing them as in the question above)

It also will be a help for editors to clearly see if an OP has understood and read the requirements for hard-science question and do not confuse it with hard science fiction definition (helps OP and editors and quality of the tag on WB)

Having softer and harder versions of a question will allow those who would like to answer that type of question to participate in their weight categories (helping those who would like to answer and the OP).

Having a better quality of hard-science question might attract those who would like to provide such type of answers, and most importantly can provide it.(helps quality of such answers)


It still does not solve the problem, and it is not some kind of ultimate solution, but it probably might improve the way of handling hard-science questions in terms of formulating them, editing them, providing answers.

I guess it is fair if OP will spend some time to refine his views before someone will spend a lot of time in formatting nice answer to the question.

Those who are not certain of their capability in defining a scientific value of a question will have more information available for them to make their decision and vote for HS variant of a question.

It does not have to be a strict or enforced rule, it can be started as a good manner and stay so. I or any like me, knowing that OP have a good manner option, will be more certain how to vote, which is not the case now because the OP do not have a community approved option (a duplicate Q danger) and I'm not sure did he read the tag description and it is his conscious choice or he didn't and do not understand what he is asking for.

Hard-science nominee

What would/should humanity do with a copy of the Encyclopedia Galactica?
No one, including me, have not removed HS tag in the question - but really, in the situation is just an easy fix, as it is obviously a new user just didn't saw the description of HS tag and to replace HS tag with more appropriate to the situation is the same as I edited the answer to insert comma in a sentence there.

5 answers - none of them is hard-science as it is defined in tag description.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If we don't have to enforce it, then what's the point of having it? And how do you intend new users to know that's what they're supposed to do? Or users who don't watch the meta? $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 14:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre Same way as we do not enforce people to vote or downvote - they just do, those who care. The tag has pretty extensive wiki for it hard-science, proper information can be incorporated there. If an OP does not read tag description, it will be obvious, and I will be pleased to edit the tags in his Q and leave a nice comment with a brief explanation(or even answer the Q). Most of the times it will be sufficient for an OP. Current policy is - OP has chosen, he knows better, but most of them consider the tag as hard sci-fi. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 14:49

1 Answer 1


One of the problems which I think new users using the tag face is that they don't necessarily know much about it. Stack Exchange can be a bit complicated to understand when you first join, and a tag which requires enforcement like the tag does just adds another layer of complexity. This may have been what happened with What would/should humanity do with a copy of the Encyclopedia Galactica?. A first-time user decides to use the tag and may (may) not have known the full implications of using it. Then, half a dozen people suggested otherwise.1

The proposal here suffers from the same problem. It involves another step of complexity, and while that could lead to better questions, it's not going to make things any less confusing for new users. I think that people who are more experienced with the site in general are going to better understand how to write a question, and so wouldn't need to use the two-stage model anyway. But for new folks? Their first thought is that they have to ask another question to ask a question. That's not very helpful for them.

We also see the problem of duplicating effort. I won't necessarily write a non-hard-science answer just because the question doesn't have the tag. What do I (any answerer who does, this, really, not just me) do when the user then asks the version of the same question? Isn't my first answer good enough, and shouldn't the new question be closed as a duplicate?

Something that could be helpful is the question sandbox. It's worked for quite a few users in the past, and people can definitely help users better shape their questions, so long as the sandbox is visible and so long as people know about it, recommend it, and use it.

1 For the record, regardless of whether or not the tag was justified on that question, I'm extremely unhappy with how the community dealt with it. Six separate people basically said, "The tag should be removed. The premise isn't realistic." One person - MolbOrg - explained why the tag itself was inappropriate, and the exact specifics of what such a tag implies the questioner is looking for.

In the future, I have some requests of people:

  • Post helpful comments that reference the tag wiki and explain why the tag is not appropriate.
  • Do not flag the post for a moderator to remove the tag. I don't want to speak for the other mods, but I for one will not do that. The OP should remove the tag themselves.
  • Please do flag to have the post notices removed if the question no longer uses the tag. I do see people doing this; thank you.
  • Do not ignore the tag in your answer just because you don't think the question warrants it. If you can't answer the question according to the requirements, don't answer at all, or at least please don't complain if your answer gets a post notice and downvotes.

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