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Looking at this question: If Alexander the Great never existed?

This is a lovely question, full of alt-history goodness. However, it is so broad that it is just not practical to address in an SE-format forum, and the question is bound to be put on hold. Fair enough.

So ... for questions like these, where what OP wants is just epically out of scope for SE, is it appropriate to point him to the right place for his style of question? In this particular case, OP's question would be welcomed with slavering glee, precisely here: https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/forums/alternate-history-discussion-before-1900.6/ . That forum encourages broad questions and back-and-forth discussion, which is what this question really wants. Turns out they've already taken a swipe or two at the "Alexander Question".

I'm a little reluctant to drop that on a comment though, not really wanting to be an SE reverse-advertiser.

Thoughts?

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  • $\begingroup$ Well, you've mentioned this on Meta, which is far more likely to preserve the reference than a mere ephemeral comment, no? :-) $\endgroup$
    – user
    Nov 15 '17 at 21:55
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling oh, you. ;D I put it here because I was starting to type that other link into a comment on the original question, then had second thoughts. $\endgroup$
    – akaioi
    Nov 15 '17 at 21:58
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I'd say it's okay to recommend other forums for questions that just don't fit this one - but it would be really nice if you could also point out stuff to make the question (possibly) on-topic here

Basically my answer is that I am not aware of specific rules regarding mentioning other sites. We are here to help and if you know where to find help if this site won't provide it - why not point them there?

But it would be weird to start seeing people recommend their favourite "What if?"-forums in every other comment. This is basically what you mean with the coming across as an SE reverse-advertiser.

Most of the time people just have to break up a question and focus on a few aspects of their initial too broad question. Many people start with a High Concept and need some little pointers to start their research and at one point along the journey they will realize how to ask a precise question, which is what we can and want to answer.

This is not a rule - it's more of my personal way of how I would handle it if I knew forums that might be appropriate.

Basically do not write comments like:

This won't work here, go there: xyz.com

Try something like:

Hey there, this is currently too broad to be answered here. Check out the [tour] and the [help] to learn more about the StackExchange network. You could break your question up and for example start with the technology around the time of when X was alive, instead of asking for technology, society, culture, geography, ... all at once. If you'd like more broad discussion please come to our [chat] once you have 20 reputation or try other forums like xyz.com

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  • $\begingroup$ I think there must be some kind of sliding scale... There are questions which just need a little tightening, or splitting into two. Then there are vast questions (like cited OP's request for an entirely new world history) which can't be chopped up into little pieces without completely missing the point of what OP wants. Not sure yet how to cope with both kinds. Maybe 1st 4 VTC comments would offer advice on how to narrow/split question, 5th could say, "if all else fails try AnAnvilFellOnAlexander.com"? $\endgroup$
    – akaioi
    Nov 15 '17 at 23:30
  • $\begingroup$ @akaioi Well, there is no rule about what to do in this the case you know how to help the OP when their question is completely unsalvagably too broad. Like I said, just go ahead and comment, but please try to not just write "go there". Maybe link them to one question on this site to see the scope and style and then link them to an example on the other site so they can see what can be done here and what can be done there. $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Nov 15 '17 at 23:36

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