EDIT: I've added a 4th point that I want help with
I have recently noticed a lot of questions that seem like quite chaotic approaches to world building. In my humble opinion, if your approach is extremely unstructured and you ask a question that cannot be answered at this point because the world you are constructing does not yet have the foundation for an answer to make sense, it is not a good fit.
Some worlds have a low maturity, but the questions ask about things that should really be answered later in the WB process.
A quick word about world maturity: For me, it means both the world as well as the knowledge of the OP itself. If they want to build a world set in Ancient Greece and they have yet to do any research on that period, I think you can say that the maturity is very low no matter how detailed the world is - if the question encompasses aspects that can and should be researched.
Since I'm calling people's worlds chaotic, I don't want to link specific topics, but I'm going to make up one example based on a real question asked recently. If you know the question, please keep it to yourself, benefit of the doubt.
It's the year 4000. Humanity has settled on Mars. How do I distribute electricity amongst the citizens?
The issues here are that obviously the implications of the year 4000 are ignored. Human society, values and most likely biology (imo) will have changed by then. If they haven't, there needs to be some explaining. Also, the motivation for settling Mars is not trivial, I think it matters. You can come up with more things that seem to be unclear at this point and need to be answered first.
I hope this is enough of an example, please let me know if it is still unclear.
This issue comes in various shapes or forms. I've seen questions about concepts the OP was unfamiliar with, the usage of historic time periods and settings the OP does not seem to know much about or has not put much thought into it and many things like that.
Many questions do get answered, but I rarely see a direct answer. In the best case, it's suggestions on how to build the world before asking this question, it may be an explanation as to why the concept makes little sense (currently), it could be a brief explanation of what the words the OP is using actually mean and in the worst case it's an answer filled with assumptions and guesses about the world that are impossible to make at this point. I don't think shutting down the OP with answers explaining them how they cannot do whatever is helpful and encouraging. I also don't see why such explanations need to be given via answers. There have been quite a few popular "this is not how things work" answers.
I think it all comes down to:
If the world is not mature enough for the question to be answered directly, what should be the prodecure?
My approach so far has been asking the user to give more details about the world. This can be successful, we all are sometimes unstructured when asking a question and the world might be in good shape, but recently it hasn't been. It has been frustrating when I see interesting questions in principal get boring answers explaining the basic concepts and encouragement by the community for the OP to leave the question as is instead of dealing with comments asking for clarification.
Something that I've tried is explaining to the OP via comment that their world does not seem to be ready yet. The standard response I have gotten often is: That's why I'm asking. If I knew everything, there would be no need to ask. I think that if they had a structured approach, they might not even need to ask the question. I don't tell them that anymore because it might be interpreted as insulting - and it has been.
So my questions are:
Should you answer such a question? I personally think you shouldn't and instead ask for clarification via comment, but that does not seem to be the opinion of everyone. There will always be grey areas, but often the answer explains that the problem is quite complex and that's it.
How do you communicate to the OP that they should do some world building before asking this question effectively?
What about close/down votes? Are such questions "too broad" or "unclear" in principal? Does a down vote apply if not the question but the world is of low quality?
This seems to be a broad topic that might not be answered or even easily discussed in one answer. I really do appreciate the answers given, but perhaps I need to start with something a bit more answerable. Any suggestions (perhaps via comments) on how to divide the topic into handable chunks without losing the sight on the whole issue are welcome.
This has been written in somewhat of a hurry. Please point out any issues with this question. I myself might be chaotic ironically.