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The question

How to make money from a browser who sees 5 seconds into the future of any web page?

Seems to have triggered some controversy. It appeared to have been closed, reopened and as of writing has collected another 3 close-votes. I thought it would probably be best to clear it up here.


To me that question isn't suitable for various reasons:

  • Story-based: the question focuses on a plot-device (a browser allowing an access to the future) found by a given character and its possible usage to accomplish specific goals of said character (being rich)
  • Too broad: the question presents said device and then asks: "how can I use it to achieve a goal?". There are an unlimited number of answers that might fit. It is impossible to be completely exhaustive.
  • POB: it does not offer any criteria on which we could evaluate the different answers, so we are left to judge on each opinion's/witty/humour/writing quality of each of the answers.

All those are good enough to get that question closed. So I don't understand the debate.

What are your views on it? Did I miss something?

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    $\begingroup$ At the moment, the question has an open bounty, which prevents it from collecting additional close votes. That may be why it hasn't been re-closed. $\endgroup$ – Gryphon Mar 22 at 12:59
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, but still does not explain that debate for me... $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Mar 22 at 13:43
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    $\begingroup$ Not a ton of time to answer, but in short, I think the question needed constraints. Just tell me what will make one answer better than another, and I'd think the question was fine. $\endgroup$ – James Mar 22 at 18:17
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Another example of popularity vs. suitability

I agree with @James that if the question met our expectations for avoiding closure as primarily opinion-based it would be suitable. I can also see @Elemtilas' point, though I believe the backstory is getting in the way (in other words, I don't believe the question can only be answered as a function of the plot), but it's close.

However, ours is a creative site and it's common for people to vote because they like the question and not because the question follows the rules. Rules are a necessary evil to keep our site from becoming Stack Exchange's dumping ground for questions no other Stack wants to answer, and they therefore tend to chafe OP's who are looking to write their story (or simply sate their curiosity) and not build the infrastructure of a fictional world.

In this case, the question is popular enough and close enough to being on-topic that there's a lot of swing in the votes. The OP could resolve this easily by simply following the rules — but you'd be surprised how challenging it is to get people to read them, much less follow them, which brings us back to people voting because they simply like the question.

Sigh.

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I'm surprised it got reopened after it was closed the first time. It's totally and 100% story based. It's all about an individual's motives, desires, whims & personality: how can my character get rich from this? There is nothing in this question that relates to world, to functionality or design of said device. I.e., it's a question of character, not about "systems" or "fundamental laws of nature" that make this world different from the primary world.

Too broad and opinion based are also viable closure reasons. Also, sufficient reasons for not reopening the question. Too bad the bounty can't be removed: I actually see the placement of a bounty upon a contentious question after it's been closed and miraculously reopened to be skirting just over the fine line of abuse of system.

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Story-based: the question focuses on a plot-device (a browser allowing an access to the future) found by a given character and its possible usage to accomplish specific goals of said character (being rich)

This is not story-based. Story-based means that it is plot instead of setting. But this is clearly setting. There is a way to see the future with some limitations. How would this be exploited? Not by this individual character but by everyone who has access to the browser. The available list of options is determined by the nature of the world (setting).

It may very well be Too Broad (asking for an unbounded list) or Primarily Opinion-Based (no best answer, although we might think about finding the best way to make money). But it clearly isn't story-based.

Example of story-based: my character is a pacifist with these other characteristics. Given the choice between two bad (non-pacifist) alternatives, which would my character choose? See the difference? Story-based means that a particular character's characterization is important because different characters may make different choices. The choice is a characteristic of the character, not the setting (or world).

Being rich is an objective measure (maximizing money). All characters will measure it the same way even if they value it differently. Asking how to convert a mechanism into money is a characteristic of the setting. By contrast, being a good pacifist is a subjective measure. Each character will measure it differently. One can write a story about a character who picks either option reasonably.

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  • $\begingroup$ "Not by this individual character but by everyone who has access to the browser." Nope, the question asks how can that individual get rich with it. $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Mar 24 at 19:22

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