Thanks for joining Worldbuilding.SE! We look forward to stepping foot on your world and enjoying another world of wonder and excitement!
Our site is a wonderful place for creative and imaginative people to ask questions about the worlds they're building. We have an amazing group of people from around the world representing an astounding amount of experience in many fields of both fiction and science.
Allow us to give you a quick introduction to the culture of our site. This will allow your time here to be both productive and enjoyable and also help you avoid the most common issues new users run up against.
Hold/Close is an opportunity, not a judgment
The Stack Exchange family of websites operates on one model that is sometimes a challenge for creativity: one specific question leads to one best answer. Consequently, Stack Exchange users vote to close questions to stop answers from being posted while important updates are made to questions.1 Unfortunately, votes to close (often called VTH or VTC) often come with downvotes, which represent the community's confidence in the preparedness of the question (such as performing expected research before posting). It is very important that you do not take this personally. Please! Do not take this personally. Everyone, even experienced site users, receive downvotes and have questions closed.
This is an important opportunity for you to update your question. You should consider both the reasons for the closure (which are listed in a yellow box below your question) and issues listed in comments. You can see the reasons before closure by clicking on the "close" link below your question. If you have specific questions, you can always bring them up in comments, in chat, or by entering our Meta site where you can ask about your question directly. A great many participants on Worldbuilding.SE are willing to help you understand the issues.
Please do not give in to the temptation of anger. This is never helpful. Promise us you will hear us out and we promise you we will hear you out. Most of the time it's an issue of how you are asking your question, nothing more.
1. If your question is put on hold, please don't take it personally. Work with us to get the question reopened.
Our question sandbox is your best friend
Creative questions are often difficult to express in quantifiable terms (which is a fancy way of saying, "it can be hard to be on-topic"). Our Sandbox for Proposed Questions is a great place to fix these problems before presenting the question on the main site. There, site participants will help you craft your question such that you can receive the highest quality answers. We hope all our new users will take advantage of the Sandbox to learn how best to ask questions on this site.
2. Use the question sandbox to your advantage!
We help with building worlds, not stories
This may seem counterintuitive, but we're not here to help you write your story. We are here to help you build your world. Worlds are the framework for many, many stories. Some questions are meant to advance the story, not build the world, and are considered off-topic as too story-based. We mentioned above that question problems are usually an issue of how a question is asked. Here is an example of a highly focused question that doesn't depend on the specifics of a story to be answered:
(Good Example) In an alternate Earth circa 1350 A.D., a small army in England of 50 archers and 300 infantry encounter 400 orcs armed with leather armor and short swords in the East Lyn valley of Devonshire. How could the terrain best be used to defeat them? The best answer will favor survival of the archers over that of the infantry.
Why is this issue important? Because a well-written question will benefit many people, but a story-based question will only benefit the questioner. Click here to learn more about what makes a question too story-based.
3. Your question should be specific, clear, and independent of your story.
You may need to guide us toward an answer
On our sister site, Stack Overflow, programmers ask questions about designing software. It's difficult to ask an unclear, opinion-based question. For example, "How can I concatenate two string variables in the PHP programming language?" On the other hand, it's very easy to be unclear or demand too much opinion here:
(Bad Example) How can my future society build a Dyson sphere?
Such a question will be quickly closed as too broad or too opinion-based.
You need to provide clear limitations to your question and may need to provide insight into how you will judge the best answer.
(Good Example) My future society has the ability to move celestial objects the size of Earth's moon. How can I avoid gravitational problems caused by a star when moving moon-sized components of a Dyson sphere into place around my sun? The best answer will make the most use of physics as we understand it today.
Click here to learn more about what makes a question too broad.
4. Your question should be focused and limited. If necessary, explain how you will judge the best answer.
You can edit your own question at any time
Finally, please know that you can edit your own question at any time by clicking the "edit" link found below the list of tags at the bottom of your question. We invite you to use this feature frequently when perfecting your question. When asked in comments to clarify your question, please do so by editing the question, not by answering with a comment.
5. Use the "edit" link to modify and update your question.
1 Hold and closed are the same thing. The question's status is changed from "enabled" to "disabled." The phrase "hold" is used during the first five days to prompt the questioner (called the original poster or "OP" in our lingo) to update the question. If no update is made, the word is changed from "hold" to "closed." Questions may be reopened at any time. No hold/close ("disabled") condition is permanent.