I'd like to propose we make use of the existing structure of SE for sandbox questions instead of artificially putting them inside Meta. I've not been able to find a previous discussion about this although I have searched.


Currently there seems to be a lot of admin to maintain it as part of Meta. This is because we are going against the grain of how the system works.


Allow questions such as "Here is my proposed question - how can I improve it for submission?"

Although answers may rely on opinion somewhat, answering could be restricted to people with substantial reputation.


Suggestion 1. Open a new stack (is that the right term?) in addition to Meta, that allows you to ask questions and has a discussion tag just like Meta does.

Suggestion 2. Put questions on the main Worldbuildng site and have a Sandbox tag.

The question will be phrased, "Here is my proposed question, how can I improve it?"

This way the SE structure is being used exactly as intended, i.e. question and answer.

Is this doable? If not what are the reasons?

  • $\begingroup$ If, in your opinion, the sandbox is difficult to find (click ? in the top bar, click Help Center, click What topics can I ask about here?, click Sandbox), then how would having a completely separate Stack Exchange site help improve things in that regard? I'm not trying to be a nit, here; I genuinely would like to understand how you feel your Suggestion 1 would improve things. I very much doubt we'll be able to go that way, but maybe there's something about the reason for that idea which we can use to improve matters. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Dec 10 '18 at 17:03

World building is meant as a repository for all world building questions and answers.

"Polluting" it with "concepts to be refined" would lower its value. Moreover, we have already Meta and the sandbox for that, so this proposal would further spread the information, making more difficult for novice users to find their way.

  • $\begingroup$ I think you'd be surprised if you took a poll of novice users. Most of them don't know what meta is or how to get there. Even when they find it, they don't know that it actually contains the Sandbox. A simple routine link to a purpose-made Sandbox for someone new would make it perfectly easy for them to find it. As it is, one has to find the Sandbox within Meta and then learn a whole new way of operating it that doesn't accord with anything else on SE. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Dec 10 '18 at 11:40
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    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but back in 1995-ish, when I first got Internet access, one standard advice before jumping into any discussion forum was to (a) follow the discussion for a while, to get an idea of the tone of the community; and (b) read the FAQ, if one was published. On Stack Exchange, "read the FAQ" more or less translates to "read the help center". One could perhaps argue that the help center is a bit hidden for new users, but it's certainly there, and once you find it, "What topics can I ask about here?" seems a good place to start; it, in turn, links straight to the sandbox. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Dec 10 '18 at 16:59
  • $\begingroup$ About the 'polluting' argument. I can see the sense of that but doesn't that happen anyway? Questions are put on hold if they are considered unsuitable. It's very rare that a question actually gets deleted. So aren't all these 'on hold' questions polluting the stack? $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Dec 12 '18 at 19:50
  • $\begingroup$ The closed/on hold questions make visible what is not viable for the site. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Dec 12 '18 at 20:09

What you propose is accepting chameleon questions on the site.

Chameleon questions are bad enough that they should never be accepted. We opened up an exception in the form of the sandbox, and I have always had a bad feeling about it. Now imagine that we start accepting chameleonism in the main site. How do you know that a question has gotten into its final form? How do you know which answers are good for iten any answer can be invalidated at any time?

I say we keep things as they are now. Also I think that if the admins and community ever think that the sandbox is too much, they can either take it down or make an election to have more admins.

  • $\begingroup$ Okay, let's say I withdraw the 'main site' idea. What's wrong with a separate Q&A site parallel to Meta that is simply a Sandbox site? It has the right structure and all the usual mechanisms of SE. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Dec 10 '18 at 12:20
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK because it does not fit the format of the stacks. How would you pick a correct answer? $\endgroup$ – Renan Dec 10 '18 at 13:20
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    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK Besides all the other issues (of which there are plenty, of which Renan mentioned one), if people can't find their way to the Help center or to Worldbuilding Meta (from Worldbuilding), they don't seem likely to me to be able to find their way to a completely unrelated site which has no obvious relation to the one they're on. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Dec 10 '18 at 17:06
  • $\begingroup$ @ a CVn - (a) Genuine question - Why would it be unrelated? Worldbuilding Meta is related to Worldbuilding, why wouldn't a a Worldbuilding Sandbox be equally related to Worldbuilding? (b) They would find their way to a sandbox site because when their question was put on hold, they would be given an explicit link to the sandbox. No need to read any documentation. Also other users could give that link in the comments if they thought it was necessary. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Dec 10 '18 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Renan - Show me in the documentation where it says there is necessarily a correct answer to every question. People upvote and down vote and the user chooses their preferred answer. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Dec 10 '18 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK (a) Because, as pointed out by Monica, while Stack Exchange has the concept of a main site and its corresponding Meta site, there is no similar venue for extending this to additional sites. So you'd basically have to start a whole new site via Area51, with its own users, with their own reputation points there. (b) By the time the question is posted and put on hold, the negative things have already happened. At that point, using a sandbox might help the user if they're willing to stick around (not all are) but it's utterly inconsequential where that sandbox is located. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Dec 11 '18 at 18:31

I actually really like the fact that the Sandbox is a question of its own, with submitted questions appearing as answers. First, this discourages users from answering the question rather than providing feedback - we’ll occasionally get someone proposing solutions in the comments, but I think it’s dramatically reduced from the number of people who would attempt to answer the question if there was an “answer” box available. Second, the comment threads under each proposed questions lend themselves nicely to the kind of discussion that the Sandbox is supposed to engender. With actual answers, there’s a higher barrier to entry if you need to switch from editing your answer in response to comments instead of responding to the comments themselves.

  • $\begingroup$ That's interesting. I can see the force of your argument. Incidentally, are 'discussions' allowed in comments in the sandbox? (They aren't in the main site and get shunted off) $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Dec 12 '18 at 19:47
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK I had the same question a while ago - the consensus seems to be that it's fine as long as it remains on-topic and the asker is okay with it: worldbuilding.meta.stackexchange.com/q/6261 $\endgroup$ – Dubukay Dec 12 '18 at 20:03

Back when we set up the sandbox we talked about having a tag on meta, so that sandbox questions would be questions (that people could answer with constructive feedback) and you could see all of them by visiting the tag. We decided not to do that back then, though that doesn't mean we can't reopen the discussion.

A key point, though, is that it would be on meta, not main, for the reasons other answers have given. It's not fair to the community to have either (a) questions known to be "not ready" or (b) questions that are going to change a lot after people invest in answering them.

Ideas on how to make the existing sandbox (or meta in general) more discoverable are always welcome. Things we already have:

  • A community ad.
  • A link in the help.
  • Many people who comment on new, under-developed questions with pointers to the sandbox (though that's after the fact).
  • A feed of new sandbox questions into the Factory Floor, our main chat room -- this is mainly to alert community members to new posts needing help, but for people who use chat, you can't hang out there long without becoming aware of the sandbox.
  • $\begingroup$ I'm coming round to the idea that diluting Worldbuilding or Meta has drawbacks. I still haven't understood why there can't be a site parallel to the meta site that that might be called Worldbuilding Sandbox. Thus there are three Worldbuilding sites each with a separate and clear purpose. Is this a software limitation of the Stack-Exchange structure? Even it if that suggestion isn't implemented I'd still like to know whether objections are for software or for functional reasons. If it's the former then I suppose nothing can be done. If the latter then I'll take time to marshal my arguments. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Dec 10 '18 at 22:28
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    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK the SE code is built around the idea of site+meta; I don't think there's a way to "bake in" a third linked site. Because of that, I haven't given much thought to whether it would be a good idea, though my gut feeling is that tags already allow one to "filter" a site (meta in this case) so that'd be a more plausible direction to go. (There's not really much functional difference between "front page of this new site" and "sandbox tag page on meta, which shows all the sandbox questions only".) $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Dec 10 '18 at 22:33

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