Proposal to allow reality check was rejected, hard. See Should we finally allow reality checks of other plot elements?

At the same time, there are questions like these two:

So are we actually allowing some plot element reality check? And where is the border? Why some get closed and others are left alone?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'd say that the rules are a bit fuzzy and from time to time something slips through. So maybe both should be closed. The second one was better before the author provided the latest edit. $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 13:03
  • $\begingroup$ See Questions about single individual actions and my answer to it. I don't like questions about plot elements, but I think there are cases where they can be on-topic. $\endgroup$ Commented May 26, 2017 at 13:56
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Actually, in addition to my previous comment, I do think that first question should be closed. It's not about worldbuilding. $\endgroup$ Commented May 26, 2017 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ It's so easy to convert plot questions into worldbuilding ones..... $\endgroup$ Commented May 26, 2017 at 13:59
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @DaaaahWhoosh I agree that there are some edge cases, I just don't think these two relatively recent examples are edge cases. And it looks like community is inconsistent, says no but then allows it anyway. Suicide guy is not an authority, has no authority. Famous guy on the battlefield - as your answer linked in your comment says, it could be salvageable, maybe. But now it's simply about survival of a hero. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 14:04
  • $\begingroup$ @DaaaahWhoosh By your single individual metric the papercut question is OK because it is asking generally about the plausibility of a particular action. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings and that's why I think we need to discuss where the border is. Plausibility of a particular action, if generally allowed, would turn this site into "ask anything", or close. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 14:14
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Some of the points made in Is a “real world” question off topic? may be relevant here. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 15:51
  • $\begingroup$ Can someone explain to me what is meant with the 'no reality checks of plot elements' with some examples? It's a bit confusing to me. $\endgroup$
    – Century
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 18:54

1 Answer 1


I think the paper knife question, by being asked here, invites inventive world-stretching answers, like a science fiction plot. It could be phrased to be less specific and be abstracted from the story in which the idea occurred (as I was explaining in my Lessons series). The underlying idea then is no different from inventing vehicles, firearms, concrete, etc. (Contrast with asking on Lifehacks.)

The sword in the stone current question is all about a specific character in a specific plot! Nobody complained about that one?

In both cases, we answer it as if it was a generic question. How to make a paper blade, period. How to get steel to weather for hundreds or thousands of years, period.

  • $\begingroup$ While the sword in the stone question was framed for a specific situation, its solution is generic and ,therefore, constitutes worldbuilding. Ditto with the paper knife. Certainly there are cases where questions about specific situations will deal with issues pertaining the fictional worlds where they happen. OK. I'm just agreeing with what you said & putting it my own words. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 7:52

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