There was one question that I saw yesterday which I thought was very interesting, but I didn't think had a single definitive answer, If I travelled back in time to invest in X company to make a fortune, roughly what is the probability that it would fail? and the range of answers seems to bear that out. That question got many upvotes, and more power to the author of that question.

I posed a question What is the most important chemical element to build space station, well beyond Earth?that I thought had a more clear cut answer, but I got down votes. What about my question is unacceptable?


2 Answers 2


I read over both questions you cited. I think the first is a bit broad but not overly so. On your question, you don't say what metrics your using to choose one element over another. You just ask. Someone responding has to make a lot of assumptions about what the station is there for and the available materials. There are also no links to what a Hill sphere is, nor is there a description of the size and use of the station. Tech levels are also omitted. All this information will help clarify the question considerably.

Further confounding is the very basic observation that any space station is made of many elements, not just one. Choosing hydrogen means you cannot actually build anything but you have a propellant. Choosing copper means you can't have the structural strength and durability you might have had with iron or silicon but your electrical conductivity is great. Do you see the problem?

Stronger questions build in evidence that the author has spent time and energy trying to master the subject before asking the question. The first question does this by acknowledging the paradoxes inherent with time travel and asks for probabilities given the uncertainty inherent in trying figure out if a little extra funding would have made Google fail.

Hope that helps. If you haven't done so already, I'd recommend looking through the questions with 20 or more upvotes, just to get a feel for what does and doesn't work. It just takes exposure to gain skill in asking good questions that people want to answer. There are also guides to help you write good questions and answers. I wish you the best in your growth here.

  • $\begingroup$ I understand your point. $\endgroup$
    – Bob516
    Sep 27, 2019 at 14:10

Thanks for pointing these questions out! :S As I read through the first cited query, I don't find it to be about worldbuilding at all. It's basically a plot generation question. (It is also opinion based, but 94.7% of all questions in this forum are opinion based.)

As I read through the second cited query, I don't find it to be about worldbuilding per se either. It's not really long enough or detailed enough to determine if you're working on a story or if there's some other reason for the question. It's very vague and thus far too broad and also opinion based. Basically, almost any element can be cited as "the most important" with some validity.

The long and the short of it is that Worldbuilding.SE doesn't really deal in either kind of question as a matter of practice. What we mean by "worldbuilding" is that we field questions about systems --- how worlds and the phenomena in them work. You could easily alter your question to fit the needs of a particular fictional world, for example.

I'm sorry your question got downvotes, but I'd chalk that up to a combination of it being a low quality question (lacking detail, lacking focus) and also not pertaining to the forum's goals. The other is just an example of a query that is engaging and interesting and that generates feedback, but is no more appropriate to the forum than yours!

I voted to close your question as being too broad. Once you hammer out the details a bit and bring it into focus (which element is most important given XYZ conditions). I'll most happily retract my VTC! Or else vote to reopen, if it gets closed.


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