I've been wondering where the appropriate place to put questions related to speculative evolution should go. There is a very popular "evolution" tag, and nearly all questions found there are about speculative biology.

But previously, I've seen questions of others about speculative evolution being suggested to be transferred to the biology stack exchange site, as well as meta questions about "cleaning up" the xenobiology questions here.

I've read the biology.SE regulations on what questions should be asked, and I'm not sure whether speculative biology counts as a "general biological mechanism", and it's certainly not a biological mechanism behind a medical condition or a technique in a biological/biochemical laboratory. Then again, it doesn't say anything about asking about speculative biology being not allowed.

I just thought that since there's an "evolution" tag, that that kind of thing would be allowed here. Is xenobiology, future evolution etc. not welcome on the site as a rule, or is it just some people that don't think it should be here?

I guess, the whole point of stack exchange is to "Ask questions, get answers, no distractions." But personally, I feel like people telling you to go move your questions to another site falls into the distraction category.

  • $\begingroup$ It really depend on what the question is. People here on Meta might tell it is okay and then someone disagree and vote to close the question. It is not possible to guaranty that it will not get closed. $\endgroup$ – Vincent Apr 4 '18 at 15:30

Questions about speculative evolution are firmly on-topic on WorldBuilding (I am not active on Biology.SE, but in general other sites don't want speculative stuff)

Questions involving speculative , or for example are on-topic here. They are about creating an element of your world and that is what WorldBuilding.SE is for. These questions would not be well-received by other StackExchange sites that are about real-world biology/evolution/...

Furthermore just because a question would be on-topic on another site doesn't necessarily mean it should be migrated. If it's on-topic here we suspect that the OP wants some WorldBuilding done and give them the benefit of doubt that this is the correct site for their question. It's nice to point out that there are other sites that may be useful to explore, but just because Biology.SE exists doesn't mean all questions that are in some way related to biology should be migrated.

But there can be a lot of discussions about what constitutes "speculative". If your question is about a real-world mechanism it might very well be the case that you would get better answers from the topic experts over on Biology.SE and if there is no clear WorldBuilding element it might look like you are asking about real-world biology.

But in general stuff like for example the Anatomically Correct Series is perfectly on-topic and if someone recommends that you might get better answers on Biology.SE you can just ignore it. It's a nice tip, nothing more. If someone recommends migration you should make sure that it's visible that you are talking about speculative stuff and that you are creating an element of your world that is not in this form present in our real-world and everything should be fine.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes. Just because a question might also be on topic on a different site in the network, doesn't make it off topic on a first site. In such a situation, it's up to the OP to decide where to post it. $\endgroup$ – user Apr 4 '18 at 15:03

I completely agree with Secespitus' answer against this question and the 'anatomically correct' series of questions has already been discussed in Meta before as he links to.

That said; there is one element of SE that he doesn't address and I'd like to (respectfully) add - SE is decentralised by design.

The relative value of each contribution to the site is subjective. So is the interpretation of the closure reasons, as well as the relevancy of a question against a defined tag. This (while confusing at first) is actually one of SE's greatest strengths. It is a collegiate 'rulership' that determines what should be closed, what should be migrated and what is of relative value to the site. Like any college based decision making process, you get the advantage that the opinions of many minds generally average themselves out and you get the 'right' answer to these value judgments. That averaging process means (however) by definition that we don't always agree.

You're going to get people who vehemently disagree with you on almost everything. You're going to get people who seem to be in complete alignment with you all the time, and you'll see people who reside all along the spectrum between the two.

For example, Secespitus and I have not always agreed on which questions to close and the relative merits of certain answers, including each other's. But, I certainly agree with his answer here. The beauty of our relative anonymity (and I admit that I didn't get this at first myself) is that you're not judging the contributions of each other based on the person, or even the personality. You're judging the contribution on its merit, which is hard enough given the subjective nature of the assessment process.

So; do I personally think that your speculative biology questions are fit and proper for this site? Yes. But, I don't speak for every person who monitors the site and sometimes I hold the minority position.

The trick is not to be discouraged by that. Refine your question a bit, re-post. Highlight (as Secespitus points out) the speculative nature of your query to increase the chance it'll stay open.

In short, persist. I'll admit there are times that this site seems like a hostile place, but after being here for nearly 6 months I can confirm that such times are the exception. Most of us here really want to help; we want to teach and we want to provide great answers to great questions. To do that though, we need great questions. While comment fields are limited in size, many of the comments that come across as terse are really only trying for brevity so remember to consider them in that spirit, and take the constructive part of any criticism, use it to shape your question, and leave the rest.

Oh, and welcome to the site.

  • $\begingroup$ So, given the almost "democratic" nature of the site, does this mean that there is no hierarchy or 'admin' that can dictate whether or not it is acceptable? $\endgroup$ – SealBoi Apr 5 '18 at 10:03
  • $\begingroup$ @SealBoi that's a big answer, but the short version is that your ability to do things is expanded as you gain reputation, and there are some elected moderators (they have diamonds after their name) who have some very specific powers that can make changes quickly. But, like the old Roman Republic, all power is shared and temporary. I (for example) can't make a change that others can't easily undo, and even the elected moderators can have their decisions overturned with just a little more effort. But, there is no titular 'head' who has final say and to whom any final appeal can be made. $\endgroup$ – Tim B II Apr 5 '18 at 10:11
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, thanks. And, if a question of mine perhaps involving speculative biology is voted to be closed, is there any way I can get an answer? $\endgroup$ – SealBoi Apr 5 '18 at 10:13
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    $\begingroup$ @SealBoi You can try to edit your question if it gets put on hold. The first edit from you in that state will automatically send the question to a reopen review queue. Only after 7 days without an edit a questio is closed. And then you would just need someone with at least 3k rep to come along and think it's worty of reopening and this person can manually send it to the queue. It takes five people to close and to reopen. You can also start a meta discussion to ask what's wrong with the specific question or you can try our Sandbox if you would like some feedback before posting on the main site. $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Apr 5 '18 at 10:19
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, thanks for clearing that up. $\endgroup$ – SealBoi Apr 5 '18 at 10:21
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    $\begingroup$ "But, there is no titular 'head' who has final say and to whom any final appeal can be made." That's not quite true. If disagreeing with the actions of a moderator, and discussion in chat or on the site's Meta (the site-specific Meta generally being preferred) doesn't result in corrective action (but make sure you know the difference between what you think corrective action would look like, and where you just disagree with the community), ... $\endgroup$ – user Apr 6 '18 at 19:04
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    $\begingroup$ ... then any mod action can be appealed to Stack Exchange Inc company employees via the "contact" link in the page footer. There have been cases of moderators being stripped of their diamonds for what SE employees considered to be out-of-bounds activity, even when each individual step was well within the moderator's diamond powers. The bar for stripping someone of their diamond would be pretty high, but it really has happened. Elected (on graduated sites) or appointed (on beta sites) diamond moderators are not Stack Exchange officials or employees, but volunteers. $\endgroup$ – user Apr 6 '18 at 19:04
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    $\begingroup$ See also the Moderator Agreement, which essentially amends the terms of service. $\endgroup$ – user Apr 6 '18 at 19:07

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