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Plausible Weapon or Other to Cause Space-stage Civilization to Shatter and Revert to Primitive Societies

Since I am horrible at coming up with ideas, I couldn't think of a circumstance or weapon that could cause such a powerful nation to fall apart in a instant. It needed to not destroy the environment and solely target people in a way that cannot be prevented, even by a highly advanced civilization. It wouldn't eradicate all humans but just heavily reduce and shatter society. Is such a weapon or situation possible?

This doesn't seem to meet the Too Story Based qualifications of Why is my question "Too Story Based" and how do I get it opened? but is asking us to fill in the blanks but the catch-all Too Broad and Primarily Opinion Based reasons are unsatisfactory.

So, do we need a new VTC reason "We don't do your work for you" or just settle for POB?

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As Michael pointed out this is very close to the previous Meta discussion about How to deal with “I have a High Concept, please do my work for me” questions? The OP has this cool idea, but they haven't really thought about the reasoning/implications and now they want us to come up with the reasoning/implications. While the older Meta discussion was about the implications of "I introduce [stuff] - what happens?" this specific question asks for "I want [stuff] - give me ideas?"

The most problematic part in my opinion is:

Since I am horrible at coming up with ideas

Those are basically trigger words to scream "primarily opinion-based" because the OP clearly wants us to give them a handful of ideas so they can choose the coolest one.

But reading through the question carefully we can see that the OP also has a few criteria for what the should or shouldn't happen. This makes me feel like this question could be salvaged. Maybe.

In its current form I would go with advice similar to what Michael mentioned in his answer to the High Concept discussion: VTC as "Primarily opinion-based", try to edit a bit and then point out the problems that you see. In my opinion this case is already covered by the "Primarily opinion-based" close reason, or maybe the "Too Broad" reason - it depends on the specific case.

All things considered, I would say that we don't need a new VTC reason for "We don't do your work for you" - that's already included in "Too Broad" ("Writing a whole book for you is too much") and "Primarily Opinion-Based" ("We don't give you a couple dozen ideas so you can choose which one you think sounds cool").


For completeness sake my usual (rough) take on the close reasons is as follows:

  • "Too Broad" - "Writing a whole book for you is too much. I know what you want and I think it's theoretically on-topic from a content perspective (I can see that you are currently building your own fictional world), but it would take far too long to talk about all the details that are necessary to sufficiently answer your question. I need some more details so that I know what you want to focus on first - you can ask more questions later where you incorporate the details from previous questions. As the help center states: If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much."
  • "Primarily Opinion-Based" - "A question is "primarily opinion-based" if every reasonable answer would be equally valid. Giving you a bunch of ideas for you to choose the one that sounds coolest is not how this site works. I know what you want and theoretically this would be on-topic from a content perspective, but we need some criteria to vote which answers are valid, which answers are good and which ones are better. It's a big, blurry region, but personally I feel that these criteria are not yet clear."
  • "Unclear what you are asking" - "I have no idea what this is supposed to say. Either there is a big language barrier, the querent has misunderstood quite a few things about the topic he is asking about, there is no question or there are so many things missing from the description of the world that it feels to me like a random excerpt where too much is missing to make any meaningful attempts at answering the question. I don't know the situation, I don't know the goal - I just don't know how to help the querent yet."
  • "Off-Topic" - "This is not about WorldBuilding (as defined in our help center). You are for example asking about help with your story, about character actions, or about something completely different, like misunderstanding that there are multiple sites on the network and accidentally posting a question about programming languages on WorldBuilding, ... We can't help you here, you need to go to a different site on the network or for example to a forum to find the answer you are looking for."

These statements serve as rough guidelines for me when judging whether a question should be temporarily put on hold or not and in which direction the OP should edit his question.

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  • $\begingroup$ Can I quote "Writing a whole book for you is too much" and We don't give you a couple dozen ideas so you can choose which one you think sounds cool" in my VTCs? Something tells me it would get flagged as unhelpful or abusive... $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Apr 16 '18 at 7:45
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    $\begingroup$ @RonJohn Yes, only saying "We don't write a whole book for you" is unhelpful. You should mention tips that help the OP understand how they can narrow down the scope, like "What timeframe are you talking about? How many people are supposed to die?" and you might want to look at the linked discussion, especially Michaels answer. "Remember the so-called book test: if you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much." <- that is an excerpt from our help center $\endgroup$ – Sec SE - clear Monica's name Apr 16 '18 at 7:49
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    $\begingroup$ To me, primarily opinion-based is the one to choose when you could state "I can tell what you're asking, but I don't know how to tell a good answer from a bad one; add some criteria for judging answers". Too broad is "I can tell what you're asking, and you're asking for too much at once; narrow it down". Unclear what you are asking, correspondingly, is "I can't even tell what you're asking; add a specific question". Those aren't hard-and-fast rules for when to apply the respective close reason, but I've found that as rules of thumb, they work pretty well in practice. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Apr 16 '18 at 12:51
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling I edited my answer to elaborate on my personal take on the close reasons with a bit more than just one sentence each. $\endgroup$ – Sec SE - clear Monica's name Apr 16 '18 at 13:25
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling Those are reasonable rules of thumb. Although, adding criteria for judging answers is problematic. I know this idea does get some mileage, but, ultimately, it is the OP who determines the good from the bad with their acceptance or not of a preferred answer. $\endgroup$ – a4android Apr 19 '18 at 12:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Secespitus "Remember the so-called book test: if you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much." It's the word imagine that worries me. Imagining something doesn't make it real. Perhaps it should be something: "If it needs an entire book to answer the question, this is too much." Even entire books can be summarized in their final chapters. Some questions require books to answer them (which are rare), but the main points often can be put in answers no longer than standard WB answers. $\endgroup$ – a4android Apr 19 '18 at 12:11
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android If you are worried about this way of phrasing you should start a new meta discussion as that is the phrasing used in the third paragraph of this help center page about What should I avoid asking?: "Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much." $\endgroup$ – Sec SE - clear Monica's name Apr 19 '18 at 12:14
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android OP is the one who knows what they want. Thus, OP is the one who will need to state some criteria for judging or evaluating answers. It seems like you read my comment about adding criteria for evaluating answers as meaning that someone else should decide on such criteria, which was not my intent. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Apr 19 '18 at 12:16
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling Sorry that wasn't my reading at all, and was not my intent. I don't think the OP should be providing criteria for judging or evaluating answers. What they should be providing is sufficient criteria to ensure they get the answers they want. $\endgroup$ – a4android Apr 19 '18 at 12:24

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