Annoyed by some of my questions and those of other people being closed for spurious reasons, I decided to set up two test questions.

The first question

This was deliberately designed to be popular but to be thoroughly story-based. The answers were predictable and were nothing I couldn't have thought up myself. Nevertheless there was not a single close vote - why not? Making a sword in the stone, in a medieval world without magic

The second question

This is a world-building question where I don't disclose the precise mechanism but I indicate that the idea I have will affect the technology of the time. It has been closed because it is 'too story based'. Steam-Assisted Victorian Engineers - Why the secrecy?

My question

Why the hypocrisy? By all means vote down a question if you don't like it but I object to closing for a completely spurious reason yet allowing clearly non-suitable questions being kept open simply because they are interesting.

Can anyone justify this behaviour?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Just to be clear: you are deliberately probing the system to test its boundaries? $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch Mod
    Mar 20 '19 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch - Just to be clear I am not probing the system. In this one particular case (and no other) I deliberately set up two questions to test misuse of the system. I was able to correctly predict the outcome of both from my previous experience of having questions closed for no reason other than dislike of the subject matter rather from genuine "non-world-building" reasons. $\endgroup$ Mar 20 '19 at 13:56
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Applying the scientific method to world building. $\endgroup$
    – AndyD273
    Mar 20 '19 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch "the system" in this case means the whims of the mob. I've noticed inconsistencies in the past too. While the SE system works pretty good, it's not infallible. There shouldn't be a reason that it can't be probed and tweaked to make it better. Or at least make the rules for closing questions more clear. $\endgroup$
    – AndyD273
    Mar 20 '19 at 14:20
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @AndyD273, scientific method would require a double blind test. Here I read a "post hoc" validation. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch Mod
    Mar 20 '19 at 15:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The capricious nature of worldbuilding voting is being tested? Say it ain't so! I suspect what you'll find is that it's a chaotic system with a bias toward order. $\endgroup$ Mar 20 '19 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH - Ordinary Voting=no problem. Misusing the VTC system=problem. I suggest disciplinary action against offenders. $\endgroup$ Mar 20 '19 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch - Single-blind is perfectly acceptable in some areas of scientific enquiry. What I didn't have was any way of finding a control group. However I didn't claim my experiment was strictly scientific. $\endgroup$ Mar 20 '19 at 15:39
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    $\begingroup$ Ignoring the issue of people's opinion about what is or is not a violation is as varied as it is in real life with real laws (and seriously addressing what was probably a flippant response): the only disciplinary option available is banning. $\endgroup$ Mar 20 '19 at 17:28
  • $\begingroup$ I laud your experimentation. i do not get the experiment, though: Forced to choose, I'd have predicted Hats getting closed, Swords staying open, both from personal experience and from my reading of the rules. The " here's what happens, now please tell me why " questions i mostly enjoy, but they are against my reading of the rules (though i mostly don't close-vote them, and also answer if i feel i've got a nifty idea), i don't think the rules are well written for this. Could you explain more about why you thought the Sword is the one breaking the rules? $\endgroup$
    – bukwyrm
    Mar 21 '19 at 6:33

I am not sure you understand what we mean when we say story based

So in the first question you linked, you have a very specific very answerable, no magic question, namely:

How can a sword-smith use medieval technology to simulate a magical sword in the stone that can only be released (or put back) by someone who knows the secret? No actual magic is allowed.

Your second question on the other hand, is asking us why an organization would do something.

Why would the government of the day want to suppress knowledge of these 'engineers hats' from the general populace?

Question 1:

  • Has a specific question that is answerable with the application of real world technology.
  • That you include story background information is frankly irrelevant to the question you end up asking.

Question 2:

  • Asks answers to define a motive for an organization that exists in your imagined world of which they have little to no knowledge.
  • This is a textbook example of a story based question.

Question 1 is very much an answerable world-building question. Question 2 is very clearly asking us to help come up with a plot point.

From the help page: When asking questions keep in mind that the goal of the site is to help you build your world, not to tell your story.

There is no hypocrisy here. I will agree that it does exist on the site and we do our best to keep on top of it, but in this situation I think you misunderstand the concepts we are discussing.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Well said. The sword-in-stone question is a legitimate question asking for help with a specific problem. The Isambard Kingdom Brunel question asks the community to speculate in order to set up the premise of the plot. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Mar 20 '19 at 17:07
  • $\begingroup$ I concur. Even wìth magic involved in Question No. 1, it's still straightforward worldbuilding. Now, Mr. Brunel happens to be a favourite historical personage of mine, if for no other reason than Broad Gauge Railways, but Question No. 2 is quite obviously plot driven. Perfect example, I think, of narrative necessity. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Mar 23 '19 at 7:50
  • $\begingroup$ Okay - So, if (1) is worldbuilding, why is the following one not? worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/142197/… $\endgroup$ Mar 24 '19 at 12:16
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK I don't see any issues with the linked question about the guy in the well. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Mar 25 '19 at 19:07
  • $\begingroup$ @James - Somebody does because there are close votes. $\endgroup$ Mar 26 '19 at 9:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK I can't control what people do with their votes, but if you're looking for 100% consistency on the internet I have bad news for you... $\endgroup$
    – James
    Mar 26 '19 at 14:27

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