Struggling to find a way to phrase this question in a manner that doesn't fit into an 'idea generation' format and keep it on-topic in WB's guidelines. The question (with a bunch of caveats) boils down to why (or what motivation) humans would colonize a distant world fully knowing that contact between them and the Earth where they originate is near impossible (or take 10 years to send a message)? This would include knowing that the original colonists making the decision to leave would not live long enough to see the world they are to colonize, nor would their children, but their great great grandchildren would be the ones to colonize it.

Any idea's on how to write this question in a manner that isn't idea generation and keep it on topic? Or is it good the way it sits here?

It's easier to write this question as a what would society be like in such a format for the children / grand children that are forced into the transition lives between the two worlds...but I'm looking for a way to ask the motivational piece of what would encourage this send off.

  • $\begingroup$ We have some questions already about generation ships. Maybe those can help in shaping your question as well? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 8:16

2 Answers 2


There are three kinds of questions (Okay, I lie, there are lots more, but most of them fall into this model).

  • A is a starting point
  • X is what changed between A and B
  • B is the end point.

A question is only really a valid question if at least two of those points are well defined. We tend to have problems (ideas generation) with questions that go I have A and did X, tell me B (written AX?); they are often very open ended and so need to be really focused. i.e. What happens if I throw a moon at a planet? A is the normal state of those two bodies, X is causing them to collide, B is the result you want to know. (very basic I know).

I have A and B, what was X is probably the most common question we get, and they are normally always very focused. (Written A?B) How do I throw a moon at a planet? You start with the same A as before, B is your collision, and X is how you go about it. Great fun.

I have B and X happened, what would A have been? (Written ?XB) These are the rarest of the question that fit into this category. However they can generally be rewritten into A?B (and should be).

In your case, it presents as a ?XB that is really an A?B question.

Why would a group of colonists to want to leave, knowing that they would never be able to interact with Earth again?

A is standard Earth (define it. How is it different from current day?)

B is leaving with no chance of turning back, or communicating, etc.

X is the reason for leaving, which would be something that happened that you want defined. Was there an opportunity? Did something on Earth change? Was there something in their lives that caused them to re-evaluate themselves? Be specific about what you want from the answers. Do you want to focus on macro changes to Earth in some way, or do you want it to be personal, decisions the people made because of things happening in their lives? Try to define the general scope of X.

( I should really do a write up on the AXB system)


As this site decided (indirectly and without formal vote) that story building questions are ontopic as long as they tackle the history of your world, and your question is about the history of your colonies (/ world where the colonies start from), I see no problem.

To my understanding your question should contain all informations about the mission itself (time of travel and time of communication), the political and social climate in which the astronauts starts and any additional informations that might be of interest (Aliens, Dangers ect).

While this is in itself a discussion based question, I've seen worse on this site.

EDIT As performance index you could choose simply the proposal which will most likely attract the most (soon-to-be) colonists.
You will however need a good performance index on which you choose an answer over another. Be it the costs for a promotion campaign, the smallest ecological impact necessary ect.

To be short, keep your question as simple as: What could be the most important motivation for my colonists? (with above details in the question body + your desired performance index).

  • $\begingroup$ Yep, that works - deleting the obsolete comments and upvoting. :) $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 11:52

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