So the bullet question. What can be used to make the world's deadliest bullet?

Something about this question makes me think it should be off-topic. At the same time (especially with the edit) it doesn't seem that different from some of our other questions. I know we have voted already and it is on hold, I am just having troubles defining why which isn't fair to the poster.

  • Is it the specific nature, or is it that it seems more relevant to plot than world building?

Thats what I am leaning toward but wondered what you all thought.

Additional information: Ok so this question popped up. How can I lightly irradiate 30,000 km² for just 3 generations? I like this question and feel like it is far more on topic than the bullet question. Why? Whats the difference?

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    $\begingroup$ I get the sense it's because it's a straight-up physics/chemistry question with straightforward real world answers. (Though... Too many of them, especially since there's always something deadlier, but past a certain point that just becomes academic.) $\endgroup$ – doppelgreener Oct 27 '14 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ @doppelgreener That was my exact reaction. It isn't really about worldbuilding, either. But an edit has been made by the OP, so let's see what will happen. . . There was a re-open vote at some point; I haven't decided what my vote will be. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Oct 27 '14 at 22:11
  • $\begingroup$ I just gave it a reopen vote after the asker added some fluff to the question. I couldn't think of a reason why it wouldn't warrant a reopen but it's the same question with some more (irrelevant) text added to it. This is quite problematic if you ask me. $\endgroup$ – overactor Oct 28 '14 at 9:25
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    $\begingroup$ @overactor If the edits in your opinion don't fix the "off-topic-ness" of the question, then don't vote to reopen. Just because a question that is put on hold gets edited doesn't mean that it should be reopened. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Oct 28 '14 at 9:27
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling The problem is that if I look at the question as it is now, I think it deserves to be open, but I don't think anything real changed. Note that I never voted to close though, I was on the fence. $\endgroup$ – overactor Oct 28 '14 at 9:31
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    $\begingroup$ @overactor If you feel that "nothing real changed", then that implies that you felt the original could have been left open as well (which isn't quite what you are saying); in that case, the edit is inconsequential to your decision about whether the question should be closed or not. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Oct 28 '14 at 9:41

As far as I can tell from the suggested help article and the clarification on "Magic and Technology", this is off-topic. It is covered exactly by the "but not where it relates to specific characters or plot elements" clause.

This doesn't really address the general issue, though. There seem to be two:

  1. Are questions about properties of reality (A, B, C) on-topic?
  2. How big does something (D, E) have to be to be part of world-building, rather than a plot detail?

The second issue seems to be already discussed here.

For the first issue, I suggest that the opposite formulation be encouraged. Rather than asking "Given a world $W$, (how) can I do $X$?", ask "I have a world $W$ in mind and also want $X$; what do I have to change?" This would make answers to such questions contain distinctly different (and hopefully more useful) information than people would get on a reality-oriented site. (Hopefully, it would also be a bit more clear what is and isn't based on reality, see for example the answers to B.)

(While writing this I was concerned about accidentally involving questions of the form "I have a world $W$, what follows?" (F, G). These seem to be some of the best and most on-topic questions, but they do have some overlap with the previous group.)


I think the problem with the question is that it feels too small in scope. It's in keeping with the overall theme of the site but designing one ammunition for one weapon for one plot point feels like it has little connection to "world" building.

If it was talking about entire classes of weaponry or outfitting of armies or the future development of weaponry then (assuming they weren't too broad) that would all be fine. This is asking about just 1 bullet though. i.e. it's about an individual which is explicitly out of scope.

  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, and for some reason Anton's answer saying almost exactly the same thing wasn't showing on my screen. Oh well :) $\endgroup$ – Tim B Oct 28 '14 at 17:15

My objections to the question were/are as follows:

  1. It isn't really about worldbuilding. It's more of a physics or chemistry-oriented question. As far as I can tell, this site can't really offer much. Before the edit, it had absolutely nothing to do with the site's premise. The recent edit helped, but I still feel that worldbuilding is only tangentially related.
  2. Weapons. This a personal opinion, but I'm not a huge fan of questions regarding explicit weaponry - that is, detailed instructions on how to kill someone. This doesn't seem to be suitable for a site like this. But this is just my opinion; others may disagree.
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    $\begingroup$ Weaponry in general seems on topic to me, but a specific act I agree is OT. $\endgroup$ – James Oct 29 '14 at 14:22

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