Now for the most part this is obvious clear, addressing the question, useful, ...

But what I am discovering now (I think) that we also strive for questions which lead to answers that are universally right. Which I think is often not helpful for the questions that can be asked. For example my newest question is again to broad (as was the question before) because from what I gathered it was not leading to a single true answer.

But isn't that what this site is for? To give as many people as satisfactory answer to as many people as possible? Also in my case I don't want a single right answer which is why I formulated it so broad so that someone can make an estimation with his number and explain why while another one can justify a completely different value.

Also from my understanding (which of course has the advantage of already knowing what I want) my question gives a clear guide as to which answers I want just not what will be a "right" answer. If you can justify why 8 million people are enough for planet earth fine by me if you answer 3 billion and justify why also fine.

So do we actually aim for questions with single true answers or for questions which allow a big variety of answers? (Of course you should know if somebody wants an answer concerning chemical reaction or if he wants to know how a part of mechanical physics works)

  • $\begingroup$ Have you tried the question sandbox and/or chat? Plenty of people will be happy to help you refine your question in both of those. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Jan 14 '19 at 10:23
  • $\begingroup$ Soan I am going to point you to the help page, particularly this bit: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic Give that a read, I think if you check out the guidelines in there it'll help illustrate where you may need to tighten up your questions. $\endgroup$ – James Jan 17 '19 at 7:03

It is not our job to help you overcome writer's block

If you think about it, the moment you start asking for a list of ideas to overcome a problem with your story with no one of them being the best answer, your question is too story-based. This site is dedicated to creating the world of your story, not your story.

Worlds are about systems

And systems are objective and definable — because they must be reusable and operate consistently and predictably without interference from the specifics of one story. In that regard, they are exactly what you're unhappy with: universal. A world is a place where an infinite number of individual stories can take place, and so we address rules and systems. For example, how can I make natural rain on my world appear magenta? This question is about the system of the world: the environmental process of raining.

Stories are about circumstances

On the other hand, if you ask, "my mad scientist did something and now the rain falling over Megopolis is magenta, how'd he do that?" you're now asking about the circumstances of your story, not the rules or system of your world. Basically, justifying the actions of an individual character. That's not what we're about at worldbuilding (not storybuilding or characterbuilding) dot-SE.

Separating the two...

Unfortunately, a great many people are building their world at the same time they're writing their story — which makes it very difficult to separate the two perspectives. From such an author's point of view, a storybuilding question is a worldbuilding question. You, the original poster (OP) of a question, are required to know the difference between the two.

It should be noted that the question of allowing storybuilding questions has been regularly asked on this site and regularly rejected. If you think about it, the site would no longer be about worldbuilding almost overnight as the number of storybuilding or "help me overcome my writer's block" questions outnumbers worldbuilding questions 1,000:1.

Does this mean there's no place for list-of-ideas questions?

Or course there's place. While asking for an infinite list of ideas is off-topic, asking for a finite list of ideas is not. It's up to you, the OP, to narrow your question so that it can be answered in a practical way.

Can I depend on Worldbuilding.SE to apply these concepts universally

Nope. We try our best to get people to consistently follow the rules, but for a thousand reasons they don't. Generally Speaking we're pretty good at helping everyone (new users and experienced users) to follow the rules — unless the question is a really cool question that tickles the fancy, then we really suck at it. However, as painful as it is (and every one of us has suffered the "learn how to ask questions" lesson...), it is important to learn how to ask questions properly. When you do, the questions are much more valuable to everybody — including and especially the OP!

Here's the important part...

The fundamental problem is that worldbuilding.SE is NOT an OP's all-volunteer personal reserach team. That's a really harsh way of saying it, but when all you want is for us to come up with a (fundamentally infinite) list of ideas from which you can casually select a convenient answer, that's what you've turned us into. One of the fundamental attributes of Stack Exchange (and this is their site, not ours) is that questions and answers must serve everyone. Not just the OP. In other words, as you ask questions that are more and more "just what I need" you come closer to violating one of SE's basic tenets — helping everyone.

Therefore, yes, the ideal Stack Exchange (you'll notice I did not say "worldbuilding") question is objective, narrowly scoped, and leads to a single best answer (aka, a "single true answer"). We respect the fact that Worldbuilding is a creative and imaginative process and some lattitude must be allowed — but only so much. The more effort an OP puts into asking a question that meets both SE's and Worldbuilding's standards, the more likely the question will be well accepted and remain open.

  • $\begingroup$ Isn't it a system question when I ask about how many people civilization would settle for when given the ability to change that by will? $\endgroup$ – Soan Jan 12 '19 at 20:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Soan, your referenced question was closed as too broad. You weren't asking about a single system - but a large number of systems, too many to be handled within the scope of Stack Exchange. Just because the result you're looking for is simple (one number) doesn't mean the question you're asking is simple at all. Also, closure is neither a judgment nor the end of the world. It's meant to give you time to repair your question so that it meets the community standards. It can be reopened at any time. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jan 12 '19 at 20:38
  • $\begingroup$ So how can I formulate my question to ask about only the system I mentioned above because I don't see what I have to change. $\endgroup$ – Soan Jan 12 '19 at 20:46
  • $\begingroup$ To begin with, realize that what you're asking for is unrealistic. People have babies. Some people are geniuses, others have an IQ that wouldn't make a noticable earthquake. Some are wealthy, some are poor. And we keep having babies, not according to some ideological desire (a balance between resources and tech growth), but based on an ancient desire to propagate the species. There is no one number. There can't be one number. Not unless you're planning to cull the herd. Are you? $\endgroup$ – JBH Jan 12 '19 at 20:49
  • $\begingroup$ I thought of some one like Google or Amazon creating an algorithm which can influence every opinion of every Google/amazon/... user and thereby control population. But as you said thats a part of my unique story not a system. $\endgroup$ – Soan Jan 12 '19 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ Exactly. The mechanism for disseminating information in your society is a system. What information is being disseminated is circumstantial. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jan 12 '19 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ So now we have the highly unlikely part out of the way what else to do? For my question to be not to broad. $\endgroup$ – Soan Jan 12 '19 at 21:12
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    $\begingroup$ Next, what is your overall goal? When it comes to people, you can't turn one dial (e.g., population growth) and not expect other dials to turn with it (e.g., tech growth). What are you trying to do that demands a restricted population? $\endgroup$ – JBH Jan 12 '19 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ Isn't that all story based? and not a question about systems $\endgroup$ – Soan Jan 12 '19 at 21:46
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    $\begingroup$ Frequently, but your needs are not your questions. Part of the problem is that you haven't had experience seeing your needs in terms of your world and its stories. There are occasionally needs that are 100% story based, but it's not that common. Most needs have both systemic and circumstantial dependencies. We are delighted to address the systemic issues - but how to ask after those issues depends on understanding your needs. E.G.: Why does your world need magenta rain? Because you're developing a religion that uses it to symbolize blood. Oh! We get it! $\endgroup$ – JBH Jan 12 '19 at 22:08

in my case I don't want a single right answer.

You should take some time to learn what a stack is. It uses reputation and badges as a form of gaming, so that if you are earning those you are doing things right. Electing an answer as the correct one gives both the asker and answerer reputation. Having too many questions closed in a short span of time, on the other hand, can sometimes cause you to be unable to post new questions until you get some of your closed ones reopened by fixing them.

So do we actually aim for questions with single true answers


or for questions which allow a big variety of answers?

That's Quora, not us.

Also, notice these, from one of the help pages called What types of questions should I avoid asking?:

Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.

If your motivation for asking the question is “I would like to participate in a discussion about ______”, then you should not be asking here.

To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite ______?”

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    $\begingroup$ This^^^ well said. $\endgroup$ – Dubukay Jan 13 '19 at 19:14

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