I want to request a new tag for WB: Character development.

Why do I think this tag would be a good addition?

  1. Introverted people with a lack of social skills have a hard time developing characters due to their lack of life experiences. For example for people who have not experienced love it will be difficult to write about romance.

  2. Cultural issues: For example if your main character lives in another country and you are not familiar with the culture.

  3. Why not?

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    $\begingroup$ I don't have a problem with it, but I know some people might shy away from it. 'Character building,' and 'actions about characters' are strictly off-topic. But I'll +1 if we can find some good examples where this tag can work! $\endgroup$
    – Mikey
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 23:18
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    $\begingroup$ Sentences in English are divided by a period followed by a space, not by a comma. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 3:09
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    $\begingroup$ If you want to rack up a bunch of useful flags on Super User, all you need to do is browse through their software-rec tag. They currently have 1,046 questions thus tagged (688 of those are not closed), while software recommendation questions are explicitly, specifically off topic there. The tag just apparently refuses to die. You will also notice that a lot of the questions that have it are asked by relatively low-rep users; not a great welcome to the site. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 18:36
  • $\begingroup$ Oh nvm the writers stack exchange has that tag already,I did not knew. $\endgroup$ Commented May 22, 2017 at 5:58

2 Answers 2


Character development clearly falls under character building and is off-topic.
I disagree with JDługosz on that "if some good questions could use it, then why not".

The first items listed as off-topic in the help center are:

  • Actions of individual characters, rather than elements of the world they inhabit
  • Character building

"But if there are some good questions where the said tag could be appropriate..."
If a question is on-topic but happen to contain an element which can be used for character development, then they do not need the tag "character-development". It's a bad idea to add that tag to those questions, even if they are good questions. Just because there are good questions where such tag could be added does not mean that it's a good tag; it will only open up the door for bad questions which are, according to the rules, off-topic. Adding a tag for something which is off-topic is to beg for trouble, people will not know if they should VtC a question with such tag for being off-topic or not, and those who get their questions closed will not understand why.

"But I really need help with my character development"
Well, then you got three options:

  • Phrase the question so that it's not blatantly off-topic. If you can cut away all unnecessary parts of the question and ask for a single element of how you want your character to be, but phrasing it so that it's not obviously about character development, then you can still ask the question (but without the tag). I admit, this is not an easy feat and I cannot give any good examples of how to do it but if you can phrase the question about something on-topic, then what you actually use it for later is irrelevant.

  • Start lobbying for making character development on-topic. Things can be changed, even the scope of the site, if you get enough amount of the users on your side. I must warn you, though, it's not going to be easy to change what is on-topic. The rules were set during the creation of this site and character development was chosen as off topic as it has no clear answer, it's mainly going to be opinion based answers (which is bad as good answers should be objectively good). So the chance that you will succeed is "slim to none", but as it is a site made for and by the users, if enough users want something, then it can be implemented.

  • Ask somewhere else. I'm not suggesting that you leave WB.SE, but for those questions which are not possible to answer here, you will need to seek help elsewhere.

In my opinion, the best way to go is simply to follow the first point - try your best to rephrase your question to be on topic, that way others can get useful tips from the answers generated.

Edit - only marginally relevant stuff below
The following part is not relevant to the question "do we want the character development tag?", but I add it anyway as I thought of some aspects regarding character building.

I did think of one example of how to make a character development question kinda on-topic:
This is perhaps not a good example, but I add it in order to offer some help of how to ask such question. Lets say that you want your character to go from naïve and happy person to a more grim and hardened person, then you cannot really ask "how to make my character go grim and hardened" "what type of event will make my character go evil" as that would not only be off-topic for being about character development, it would be off-topic as way too broad.

Instead, think through what your character will go through in the story and ask something concrete from there. As example, you could ask "what happen, in general, to persons going through a brutal war, where they see someone close to them get butchered". That question can be answered subjectively (but might still be off-topic) by looking at how real people behave after surviving a brutal event and would give answers such as "they risk developing post traumtaic stress disorders". If you then read up on PTSDs, you can find out how a person with it will react in various situations.

A thought on character development - proper research before asking questions is the key:
The best way to build a character is to write about what you know. If you, e.g., have no clue about how it is to live in Japan, then maybe it is a bad idea to write a story about life in Japan without first going there yourself for a while. An alternative is to not write about Japan, but a completely fictional culture inspired by from what you know about Japan. However, you can also research Japanese culture a lot first, without the need to live there, and then ask specific questions about aspects of the culture which you want to use.

If you, on the other hand, is an author whom is too shy to ever ask another person out for a date, then it will be hard to write about love and romance, but not impossible. Internet provides ample of opportunities for a shy, introvert, person to find someone else to chat with and experience some kind of relationship building. Sure, it will not be the exact same thing as going on an actual date with someone, but it will at least be a base to start from (and might be a way to overcome the social awkwardness and meet someone IRL). Maybe such author should not write about how it is to be an extrovert Casanova, but rather how it is to be a shy, yet romantic, person whom gradually gathers the courage to approach their true love. My point with this is that, again, background research is the key to good character building and it is possible to research love, even for a shy introvert person (and, to be fully honest, even persons whom have a lot of experience of love can be extremely bad at writing about it).

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    $\begingroup$ Perfect answer about this topic. I especially liked your edit with the example to help OP and other readers get started with rewording if they want to ask a "character development"-question and the emphasis on background research. $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 9:01
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    $\begingroup$ "Phrase the question so that it's not blatantly off-topic." I don't have any good, ready examples on WB, but I have done something very similar on Server Fault where questions relating to non-business environments are off topic. The solution is the same there as it is here: put your question into such terms as are needed to make the question a sufficiently good fit for the site's criteria to not be off topic. On Worldbuilding, that means asking about the species, or any member of a species, rather than asking about some particular member of a species. Some questions can't be asked that way; sorry. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 18:32

Can you list a few existing posts that you would think should have this tag? You can add that to your post.

My first impression is that character development is off topic. But if you can give examples of the questions that would use this tag, and they are good questions, then maybe.

  • $\begingroup$ Ok,let me check. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 22:59
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    $\begingroup$ This answer would have been better off as a comment, IMO. The first paragraph is clearly comment material, as it suggests ways to improve the question, and the second paragraph really hinges on the response to the first paragraph and might change depending on it. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 18:23

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