We have an unwritten rule that questions about commercial worlds (e.g. Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5, etc.) should be asked on the Science Fiction & Fantasy stack.
Or we might have one. That's the problem with unwritten rules.
Question: Therefore, I'm seeking consensus concerning whether or not we should officially allow or disallow questions about third-party worlds.
A third-party world (also known as a "commercial" world) is defined to be a world that is not owned by or protected under copyright by the individual asking the question. For the purpose of this discussion, third-party worlds made available through any open-copyright (such as Creative Commons) are still considered "third-party."
Policy on Science Fiction & Fantasy
Any question that is asking for an answer within the context of a fictional universe, even if that question requires real-world science information, is on-topic. … Questions which are explicitly asking for an out-of-universe explanation of the science from a work of science fiction or fantasy should be off-topic. (Source)
This opens up the possibility of asking for out-of-universe explanations of third-party worlds on Worldbuilding. However, there are some pros and cons.
- It expands the number of questions people may bring to our stack.
- It increases the visibility of our stack to search engines (e.g., "Star Wars" is mighty visible).
It might (and probably does) duplicate what's going on at SciFi.SE (and others, including RPG.SE and Movies.SE).
Answers provided on WB.SE may not express the "canon" of that third-party world, potentially opening up unwanted comment discussions.
Would invariably create a list of tags identifying the third-party world, the rules of which should (must?) be followed for the purposes of answering the question.
- I suspect the majority of questions will be requests to explain in-universe eccentricities. In other words, a world isn't actually being built. It's merely an effort to sate the OP's curiosity.
- OPs don't have control over the world the question refers to. In other words, in the worst case, we might be participating in copyright infringement. (I consider that an outlandish worst-case as fan fiction has some protection. Some.)
- We sometimes see questions (like this one) where the source of the question is fairly obviously a third-party world. Along with a clear Yes/No, it would be nice to comment on whether or not "I'm borrowing their idea for my world" questions should be permitted. If you think this bullet should be its own question, please indicate so in a comment.
Relevant Meta Questions:
There are basically none. The idea of third-party worlds are mentioned in this answer to an unrelated Meta topic and this answer to a barely related Meta topic.
Example Main Questions
- How can I create a form of carbonization while keeping the mind active?
- How does the atmosphere of Jimmy Neutron's spaceship work if my brain doesn't?
- Could Earth exist in the *Star Wars* universe?
- What's something technological or scientific that has NOT been done in Star Wars?
- How might "the force" in star wars work if it was real?
- Scientifically plausible lightsaber
- What language would droids use to communicate with each other?
Oddly, there are few Star Trek examples. It appears OPs do a much better job of asking "using this Star Trek idea as an example, how could we...?" instead of, "How does this in-universe idea work?" Curious, that. I wonder if I could get some grant money to study the differences between Star Trek and Star Wars fans?