Using international waters to avoid legal punishment seems to be asking a real-world legal question. I think law is in principle on-topic on Worldbuilding (same as sociology or religion or other "how people act" questions are), but I'm having trouble seeing the worldbuilding in this one. Am I missing something?
The question is off topic as it is asking about our existing world.
A reality check question describes an artificial setting and asks whether it is realistic (consistent with what we know about the real world).
Asking about the real world with no changes is not building a new world, but assessing the existing one. This is interesting but not what our site is for.
I am in favour of questions on building worlds that are arbitrarily similar to our own. However, I draw the line at simply asking about our world. This question is off topic and should be closed to avoid setting a precedent of real world questions.
If you want to write a detective story set on Earth, with no changes, then you have no worldbuilding to do.
I admit that I'm not very familiar with this site (also, I have a bit of an a priori in favor of this question since I spent some time answering it). But it seems to me that it's a pretty run-of-the mill reality check question. Compare:
- “I want to build a spaceship that allows my characters to …, is it compatible with the laws of physics in our world?”
- “I want to build a micronation that allows my characters to …, is it compatible with the laws of nations in our world?”
Question 1 seems perfectly on-topic. What's so different about question 2 that would make it off-topic? Glancing through meta discussions, I don't see any sentiment to restrict the site to SFnal world building.
I don't think it's that much of a stretch to see how this can be on-topic. It only needs like one or two gratuitous sentences saying something like, "suppose someone wanted to create a new environment by starting a new pocket dictatorship on an uninhabited island, or even a ship, barge, or set of vessels, on 21st Century Earth. What set of laws would they need to work around?"
Seems like a world-building question to me, and it seems sufficiently implied that it's not strictly necessary, and that the question should not be put on hold, but that it could benefit from some such addition.
The question has net 20 upvotes, and an great answer to it has over 40 upvotes, as opposed to downvotes and people saying "boo hiss".
Should we just add an edit with something like the above addition to it?
What is the site's operating definition of the word "World"?
Consider that the OP might have, without leaving the specificity of the "real world", asked about the psychological world view of fictional characters trying to legally provide (non-child) prostitution services to American citizens on a yatch which travelled outside national waters before the carnality began.
What if they had asked what plot turns could be expected due to the complexity of maritime law?
What if they specifically asked how the fictional characters might escape prosecution, thus providing the story with a happy ending? (no pun intended)
Would these questions satisfy the intended focus of this forum?
Notice that none of these questions concern the conventional idea of world building.
After all, aren't we trying to provide authors with a place to work out the details of their stories? Aren't we trying to help them build a believable, fictional world?
...and before anyone brings up the detective novel again, let me clarify something which I think is important within the context of this discussion. All writing involves world building. Even when the author is trying to write non-fiction, they are limited to rendering the subset of reality which can fit on the paper and within the reader's attention span.
We are all world builders. Whether we do it by adding the fanciful or by subtracting the mundane, shouldn't be a criteria for participating on this forum.
I have to say I agreed with you at first. However, at second glance I'm reconsidering.
In general, yes there's no worldbuilding in it - until the OP comes to the idea of making/claiming an island. Specifically, one of the answers says that instead of trying to find an unclaimed island, he could create one. Now we're definitely into worldbuilding. Defining that island, whether just the island or the world surrounding it, is on-topic here, including defining its laws.
The question was edited per this answer and subsequently reopened by the community.
I'm marking this as accepted to indicate that the situation seems to have been resolved, but I'm not trying to shut down discussion if there's more to say about this.
Sounds like an information gathering for me. We don't really know what the guy is planning - for all we know he might be planning to murder someone in real life (although it's highly unlikely).
My personal impression is that OP's starting point is that someone did something wrong on international waters and got away with it, and now the author is trying to figure out how to justify it. Considering that in the real world it's incredibly hard to pull off such trick, I'd say that the fictional world in question definitely need some building.
Other, less likely reason to ask such question is that he is building some world from scratch, but wants to borrow some legal stuff from ours.
We don't know if OP had any of this in mind, but in my opinion there are valid reasons why other people may be looking for similar data for their work, so the question is on topic.