I'm very new to the SE "Worldbuilding" site, and therefore I'm not quite sure if a question I have is on-topic there. It is about the mechanics of a world, though its this world, and the mechanics aren't very grand. My question is this:

Would it be okay, and realistic, to have two brothers named Cole and Nick? The reason for my confusion is because both Cole and Nick can be short Nicholas.

Just to clarify, I did not just ask my question. My question is: Would that kind of question be allowed? Because, technically, I'm asking about the mechanics of our world. Is it realistic for someone to name two of their children Cole and Nick, even if Cole is short for Coleman, and Nick is short for Nicholas?

So, to repeat my question (since it's probably a bit confusing); Can I ask questions regarding character naming?

  • $\begingroup$ In case you ever have a draft you want some feedback on you can try the Sandbox. It's good to have the general policy stated on WorldBuilding Meta, which is why I upvoted this discussion. But the question you drafted here would still be off-topic on Main as the answers indicate. "Why would my character do xyz?" is basically always off-topic, as well as "How should I name zyx?" (which is different from your question, but may be relevant to future readers). $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 19:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Raditz_35 I'm not asking if it's legal, only if parents could realistically give their children names who both can derive from the same name. $\endgroup$
    – A. Kvåle
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 19:53

3 Answers 3


Such a question would be off topic here. Per the Help Center, questions regarding "Actions of individual characters, rather than elements of the world they inhabit" are off topic and should not be asked.

Asking whether a parent would name their child some particular name is the action of a specific character, and therefore is caught by this rule.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This isn't quite right. The actions of individuals, aka "specific characters" are off-topic. "What would Mary and Ken Larsen name their child?" Questions that express general social behavior are not off-topic, such as "given the nature of my society, how would they name their children?" As expressed, the OP's question-in-a-question does not violate our rules. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 13:14
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH I disagree. "how might a society name its children" is on topic, but would one particular pair of children be named one particular set of names still depends on the actions of specific characters and is off topic. For a concrete example, "How would a hyperdimensional race of world builders with X language type name children" is on topic, but "could this race have a child named Slartibartfast" is off topic $\endgroup$
    – bendl
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 13:24
  • $\begingroup$ One particular set of names - but not one particular pair of children. The question is on-topic because any set of parents are subject to the question and any pair of sons might suffer the consequence. Further, there is no meta discussion supporting the idea that "could this race have a child named X?" is off-topic (this is the first I've heard of it). Can you point me to such a discussion? Because the question isn't about any action taken by X. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 13:39
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH you can apply that logic to literally any question deemed off-topic because it involves character actions. "No, I'm not talking about what John would do, I'm talking about what some subset of a population that shares every defining characteristic of John would do" It's the same question even if you abstract it, and there's no way to answer it because it depends on how John is feeling at the moment. As for the meta discussion, I'm sure one doesn't exist, as it's pretty unambiguously declared off-topic by the first three points on our off-topic page $\endgroup$
    – bendl
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 14:05

Not, is it not appropriate to ask here because it is entirely based on opinion. Parents can name their kids however they want, they can even call them Stormi.

The question could be suitable if you add a constrain to make it much less subjective.


Traditionally, questions that result in answers containing a list of ideas have been off-topic, kindof...

Worldbuilding.SE has had a love/hate relationship with the "Primarily opinion-based" VTC reason. Part of the problem is that we deal with creativity and fiction, and so there's always some opinion involved. Worse, POB is meant to identify a failure to meet Stack Exchange rules requiring one accepted answer, so from our perspective, a question is POB is, in our opinion, you (the questioner) cannot clearly decide between the value of any two answers — which makes us mind-readers of a sort.

This problem appears to have come to a head back in 2014 where two of our most prominent members introduced VTC reasons that specifically forbade questions asking for lists of things as answers, such as a list of names. Both users proposed, had accepted, and deleted the same VTC reason on the same day. It was a whirlwind romance.

Unfortunately, list of things answers are actually quite common on worldbuilding.SE. How would X change Y questions almost always end up with a list of bullet points.

So, should they really be off-topic?

Over at English.SE they have a problem. People regularly ask "what's a word than means X?" It's not simply asking for synonyms (that gets downvoted hard as not enough research), it's asking, what's a single word that reflects this phrase/context/behavior/explanation/etc? They do keep the OP on their toes and are very quick to downvote (not close) if the question isn't clear (expresses exactly the meaning the word is meant to convey). THe goal is to produce a question that results in, perhaps, a dozen answers ... not hundreds.

And answers can only have ONE response. No lists. While I'm sure you can find exceptions sprinkled throughout English.SE, they're pretty good about this behavior. This is how they maintain SE's "one right answer" context. The answers must also be properly formatted: the word, its definition, and an optional brief description of why the word would be best, such that the OP can fully understand their choices and ultimately accept one answer.

There are two kinds of list questions

  1. There are the obvious worldbuilding list questions like, what are the different kinds of clouds? What are the different kinds of political structures? Etc. These kinds of questions are usually quite definitive (meaning the length of the list isn't infinite and therefore POB). Therefore, these should be on-topic but downvoted if they demonstrate poor research (aka, you could have found that in 30 sec. with a google search and here's a link to prove it).

  2. The other kind of list question results in an infinite list (one recently asked question was looking for a list of "trickster" styled names for magic users). While it may be true that there are only so many synonyms or perturbations of "trickster" to be had, the fact is that the list is open-ended. This, at the moment, is off-topic as POB.


Let's make "Infinite List" questions on-topic. After all, the purpose of this site is to help people build worlds, and sometimes what you need is some ideas. However, let's follow the English.SE model: answers can contain only ONE proposal and must include a description of why it's a good choice. Questions that are poorly contained (the "trickster" question is a good example of a good question under this context, btw) get downvoted. Answers that just give a word ("illusionist") are also downvoted as a handslap to remind answerers of their obligation to justify their answer.

It'll take a while to get everybody into the swing of things, but it would produce a meaningful solution to a common problem.


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