This question was fueled by the following question being put on hold: Reason for magical abilities. However, my meta question below applies to the pob close vote reason in general and I do not wish to start a discussion on the linked question in any way.

So I'm mostly active in the scientific stacks and I'm new here, but still I would like to dare asking the reasoning behind close-votes based on pob on a non-scientific stack:

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.

It seems that only those questions with a tag could be closed as such? Since this is a world-building forum with magic, sci-fi, portable MRI scanners. bipedal insects and horse-less worlds (to name just a few subjects) - how would one justify pob close-votes here?

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    $\begingroup$ You chose an awful example. I'm not even sure what his question is. $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 3:50

2 Answers 2


So . . . this gets back to the issue of Good Subjective, Bad Subjective, which is a concept Worldbuilding's struggled with since its conception. The main two points, as they apply here, are:

  • It's fine to have questions that are a bit subjective or opinionated . . .
  • . . . but answers to those questions must be supported in some way - they can't just be pure opinions.

You should be able to constructively, objectively (paradoxically!) say why an answer works (or doesn't work). That is, you should be able to point to X, Y, and Z, things that make the answer good or bad. That's why we try to close questions that ask things like "What color would make my humanoids the most beautiful?" You can't really objectively support an answer to that, can you?

We kinda get looked down upon sometimes as the Stack Exchange site without much credibility, or scope boundaries, or anything that takes strides away from a forum. And . . . that's not great, and fortunately, it's not true. We do close questions that are opinion-based (or too broad); we do ask that authors set limits on their worlds so that not everything is valid; we do try our best to encourage (and write) answers backed up in hard science, on occasion.

The point is, we're not the anti-scientific Stack Exchange site. A superficial glance might make it seem that way, but we aren't. And we have to take measures to ensure that we aren't, like closing questions that don't fit well here, or on any Stack Exchange site.


So I don't necessarily agree with some of the SE rules here

simply because this is "World Building" which should generate a lot of opinionative questions to a healthy extent. Having differing opinions on a world building concept creates healthy refinement of that concept. I truly believe that the only reason this SE has any difference from others (like writing) is so it can refine hypothetical conceptual ideas which inherently means that it is possible to have multiple right answers (The OP gets to choose which is most right for his scenario).

That being said and to the extent I agree with the rules. There needs to be criteria that limits the scope of the question and potential answers. In some cases some questions are better off being chunk-ated into smaller questions. Or the topic is so broad like social evolution that any meaningful answer could be a doctoral thesis in length. Establishing clear criteria is ESPECIALLY true with questions involving magic.

Once you throw magic into the equation without imposing any kind of rules on that magic the answer virtually becomes "because I feel like it" which isn't very helpful.

That being said, and as you know, SE employs some crowd sourced self moderation mechanics which means some of these decisions are subject to the whimsy of the mob.

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    $\begingroup$ Moderators try hard to avoid acting, or even appearing to act, on "whimsy". Our job is to enact community norms within the bounds of SE rules. If you see moderators do something that seems contrary to that, it's always fair to ask about it! Maybe there's something you didn't see, or maybe we goofed -- we're human too, after all. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 21:20
  • $\begingroup$ @MonicaCellio Clarification, the "moderation mechanics" was in reference to the flag system, which allows users to collectively take moderator level action. Hence whimsy of the "MOB" $\endgroup$
    – anon
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, "mob". I'm sorry, I misread that. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 21:26
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, I see far more questionable calls from that than I do the actual mods. If anything they effectively reign that in. $\endgroup$
    – anon
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 21:29
  • $\begingroup$ Regarding "there needs to be criteria that limits the scope of the question and potential answers", see What types of questions should I avoid asking? in the help center. Particularly note that "Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much." This page is referenced also from What topics can I ask about here? in that "Questions must be specific as well as answerable." (with links). $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 11:12
  • $\begingroup$ If you see a question which is open but you feel should be closed, or for that matter which is closed but you feel should be open, then use those cast close/reopen votes privileges you earned at 3,000 rep. Keep in mind that just because a question is highly voted doesn't necessarily make it on topic, or for that matter that just because a question is voted low doesn't automatically make it off topic (though the latter is probably more likely to be the case). If you're having trouble figuring out why a question is open or closed, that's what Meta's [specific-question] [on-topic] tags are for. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 11:16

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