I am an aspiring author and one of my favorite ways to generate ideas is brainstorming with my brother. I find it incredibly constructive when designing stories and was hoping I could do something similar here. When I posted my first question, it was put on hold for being too broad. The question was asking for ideas of a species and I gave as many specifics as I could regarding the answers I wanted without just giving options. I just don't understand how this can be useful for someone trying to build a world. It seems that the only way to make it fit the criteria is to already have in mind what I am looking for. If I already know the answer I want, why should I be asking you?

My question: Is there any way I can ask a brainstorming question without it getting put on hold?


3 Answers 3


Part of the answer is that Worldbuilding SE doesn't encourage open-ended hypothetical questions. Unfortunately, these types of questions are brainstorming. See here for this and other types of questions that shouldn't be asked. This will give you an idea why brainstorming questions will get put on hold.

Strictly speaking, brainstorming questions cannot be asked here. However, if you as a questioner take a question (which you would like to ask for reasons of brainstorming) then disassemble it into its constituent parts. You can then ask questions with greater specificity about your topic.

For example, in the case of your question about a desert planet. This can be questions about environments on desert planets, questions about adaptations for desert planet life, and questions about desert adapted animal life. Instead of asking a single wide-ranging question that is essentially brainstorming you can replace it with a series of more focused questions concentrating on specific areas of your desert planet.

That said, Worldbuilding SE does allow a modest degree of brainstorming in answering questions, so it is not forbidden per se, but what is disallowed is brainstorming pure and simple.

  • $\begingroup$ So would something such as this be allowed: What are some adaptations of modern animals that can be implemented into a creature living on a desert planet? $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2017 at 6:23
  • $\begingroup$ Possibly. I say possibly because users can still decide to put such a question on hold. I can only suggest what seems likely or sensible to me, and still get it wrong. The proposed question in your comment above has a better chance. Give it a whirl and good luck. It isn't easy to learn how to ask questions here. Even old hands can come unstuck here too. Keep going. This is a good site. Have fun! $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:30
  • $\begingroup$ thank you for your help. You've explained this better than anyone so far. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2017 at 7:02
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    $\begingroup$ @BlippThePanda We also have a Sandbox on Meta where you can post questions first to get feedback on the style. This means that people will tell you if they think the question is on-topic, if there is something missing, point out spelling mistakes, etc. All this general stuff. When in doubt it is a good idea to post a question on the Sandbox first and get some feedback. Posts in the Sandbox are automatically shown in the chat to get attention to the proposal. $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Mar 13, 2017 at 8:01
  • $\begingroup$ @BlippThePanda Secespitus' suggestion is good. Try posting to the Sandbox on Meta first to sort out issues with questions. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Mar 13, 2017 at 8:22
  • $\begingroup$ On an alternate track: If I wanted to ask a brainstorming question, where would I go? Is there even a Stack Exchange area for that? $\endgroup$
    – Andon
    Mar 14, 2017 at 2:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Andon I don't know of a Stack Exchange for brainstorming. You could try Area 51 to see if you can start one. Otherwise, chat might be used for brainstorming (but I might be wrong). Questions are specific, but chat conversations can be more freewheeling, however, I'm not sure how freewheeling they can be. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Mar 14, 2017 at 3:57
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android - I agree that chat would be a great place for it, but I couldn't see it being a full .SE site: for one thing, the Question-and-Answer format of the main .SE doesn't lend itself to lengthy discussions and brainstorming, while a chat could. I think a lot of .SE's (Writing, et. al.) could have chats that are brainstorming particular topics/questions. $\endgroup$
    – Mikey
    Mar 14, 2017 at 4:13
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    $\begingroup$ @Andon our chat room is the very model of wide-ranging, free-wheeling conversation! You're welcome to join in. $\endgroup$ Mar 16, 2017 at 1:28

Is there any way I can ask a brainstorming question without it getting put on hold?

The obvious flip answer is: post them on a different site.

Stack Exchange is a Question and Answer site. It is not a forum. The format lends itself best to questions with canonical answers. That's almost the reverse of what a brainstorming session provides.

If you want to brainstorm, you would be better off looking for a forum. Alternately, you could make a public chat room (requires at least 100 reputation) and try it here.

Given what we do, it's possible that we should try to make a forum site. We already have a blog. Maybe a forum would fit as well. But that's probably a larger project than would fit in an answer.


Time Commitments

Stack Exchange is a Question & Answer site intended for someone to ask a question and then someone to spend time to try and correctly answer it - which is tricky for Worldbuilding.se's concept oftentimes. With your question originally, it discouraged me from wanting to spend an enormous amount of time for such a wide-ranging topic, just to find out it's not what you wanted.

Lack of Information

With 'too-broad' questions, there's simply not enough information to provide a good answer. It also encourages the selection of the answer to be opinion-based, and not a technical criteria for selecting the best answer.

Welcome to Worldbuilding!

I was particularly intrigued by your question after the edits. Welcome to Worldbuilding and you'll get better and better, and I hope the site encourages your writing and helps to enhance it. "Too broad" is just very difficult for all of us to avoid when building a world.

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    $\begingroup$ Helpful hint: If you study a "too broad" question, usually you'll find that you can break it into several smaller questions. The smaller questions are reasonably answered. So if you get put on hold as "too broad", try asking separate (possibly sequential) questions instead. $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Mar 14, 2017 at 4:46
  • $\begingroup$ @SRM Totally agree - in fact that's exactly what's happening to the question in question :) $\endgroup$
    – Mikey
    Mar 14, 2017 at 5:02

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