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The great strength of this community is its wide-ranging expertise on diverse subjects.

Questions that involve an individual are routinely put on hold as too story based but where else can we go for the required knowledge?

A sufficiently devious user could adopt the simple expedient of making it about a race of beings. By disguising the question sufficiently we can evade the problem.

Example

The following is a rather silly and extreme example but it serves my purpose as an illustration.

A.

Question: My hero, a sentient lemming, jumps out of a tenth floor window, does it survive?

Answer: Too story-based. VTC

B.

Question: On an Earth-like planet, a race of sentient lemming-like creatures routinely escape from their predators by jumping from high geological features. For example cliffs that are the height of ten-storey buildings. Can they realistically survive?

Answer 1: ...

Question

Can we have a MacGyver tag (the actual name is of course up for debate) that allows for one-off questions involving an individual (or small group) in an imaginary world?

Important Note

My example with the lemmings was 'scientific' but there could equally be questions about individuals or groups living in a magical/steam punk/other imaginary world.

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  • $\begingroup$ Ah - the usual downvote without explanation! This is tagged 'discussion'. I hardly think anonymous downvoting fulfils that requirement. ;-) $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Feb 17 at 16:26
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    $\begingroup$ On Meta downvote means simply "I don't agree". That way on questions like "can we?", "should we?" question score shows current community consensus and there is no need to write one word "yes" and "no" answers. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Feb 17 at 16:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Mołot That raises the question of why anyone would give a one-word answer. There has to be a reason for a Yes or a No. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Feb 17 at 17:04
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    $\begingroup$ So you are asking to make a tag to exempt Too story based questions from being closed, just because "it's one-off"? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Feb 17 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch - Since you ask, I think that 'story-based' is a pointless objection when dealing with fictional worlds. They are all story-based. However, No. I'm saying that the objection 'story-based' is often used as an excuse to close questions that relate to a small population. Furthermore it's relatively easy to bypass the objection by subterfuge (i.e. increasing the population to make it a 'society') which only exaggerates its futility. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Feb 17 at 18:26
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Can we have a MacGyver tag (the actual name is of course up for debate) that allows for one-off questions involving an individual (or small group) in an imaginary world?

My vote is for no.

We had extensive discussion about this and many other aspects of the site's scope early during the beta period, including during the private beta. Much of that is still around on Meta (I don't care to dig it out), and some can be found in the main chat room transcripts from around that time.

The reason why the site's scope disallows questions about individual characters, from which the off-topic-ness of "too story-based" questions largely derives, is that the motivations of a single character is something the author must decide on. A character without motivations is basically useless in storytelling.

However, once we start talking about species or systems, we can make meaningful generalizations. Any given answer won't necessarily apply to a specific individual, but an answer should apply to a large portion, if not all of, the population.

Which, incidentally, is a major difference between your two example questions.


My hero, a sentient lemming, jumps out of a tenth floor window, does it survive?

How would we know? If you want it to survive, it will. If you want it to die, it will. Whether it's a lemming or a human doesn't matter, if the scenario is even remotely survivable.

On an Earth-like planet, a race of sentient lemming-like creatures routinely escape from their predators by jumping from high geological features. For example cliffs that are the height of ten-storey buildings. Can they realistically survive?

If the behavior has evolved and been maintained through selection pressure, then reasonably, the survival rate of this must be higher than that of alternative options, or at least that of confronting the predator. I'd almost certainly vote that question down for lack of basic research (five minutes of thinking about it from an evolutionary perspective should give you the answer), but it is answerable in general terms rather than just making an arbitrary choice of whether the specific individual should survive or die.

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  • $\begingroup$ @a CVn - Thanks for your reply. I chose an unrealistic example because I didn't want to point to the actual cases that prompted me to ask. I made the mistake of doing this previously when showing an inconsistency in how questions were treated. The result was at least one person seeking out that question (not one of mine) in order to penalise it. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Feb 18 at 9:15
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    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK That's called the "meta effect". It's a known issue that must be considered when mentioning specific posts on Meta. (It can also work the other way; if you mention really great posts on Meta, they are quite often more likely to receive further upvotes.) $\endgroup$ – a CVn Feb 18 at 12:04

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