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A question I asked the other day received 3 close votes for opinion-based. In my question, I included a brief summary of my world setting, to give the reader a bit of insight into what I was working on, something I felt would, in the end, help inspire better answers. However, I can see that I might've gone into too much detail, tractoring away from the actual focus of my question. (This suspicion seems to be supported by the content of two of the answers, which didn't address my question at all and focused on my world details.) An alternative and identical question could've been framed as "durable, low-maintenance spacecraft design for frequent re-entry," and would've produced identical answers.

I want to avoid asking poor questions like this in the future, so I ask for your advice. Is my analysis accurate? Did I include too much redundant information? Is the world setting useful for answers, or does it just get in the way?

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    $\begingroup$ "durable, low-maintenance spacecraft design for frequent re-entry" yes. that. That's how you ask SE questions. The answer is... the only one that every flew: the Orbiter. $\endgroup$
    – Mazura
    Jan 10 '20 at 16:15
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    $\begingroup$ @Mazura which was neither durable, low-maintenance nor capable of frequent re-entry. $\endgroup$ Jan 13 '20 at 9:20
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Indeed you might have included too much information.

Asking questions here is a delicate and exacting art! You need to learn balance: too much information vs too little; superfluous or vital detail!

Me I don't think your query was any more opinion based than any other similar SF tech query we see here. But I do think you run a risk when you give too much detail. And you seem to have a pretty good handle on where your mistake lay!

In future, I think you'd be generally safe practicing the maxim "less is best". But even then, take care! You will be thoroughly excoriated no matter what you do! ;) If you feel that your query is heading into too much detail, you could opt to place the details in a spoiler box with a note to the effect.

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In general, the less people know about your world, the better. The fact that your universe has wormholes, is completely irrelevant. All we need to know is that 'travel between upper (space station) and lower (airports) atmosphere has become so commonplace as to be its own transport industry (like boats or airplanes).

You're question includes snippets that people can latch onto that aren't relevant like

  • "it is economically favorable"

    For who? Just like with cars, you can make a cheap piece of *@# that requires constant part replacements, or an expensive bulwark that won't need a dime for centuries (aside from gas) and is cheaper long term (gas vs solar energy for example).

  • "assume for simplicity that the atmospheric conditions around each wormhole are Earthlike (sic) at sea level"

    Why do we need to enter orbit then?

  • "These aliens"

    Invites alien tech even though you want a modern tech solution.

  • "While one side of a wormhole may be in the upper atmosphere, the other may be hundreds of kilometers deep in a jovian counterpart, unfit for entry or exit.)"

    I'm sure Physics.SE would just have a field day with this.

So this is why generally "less is more". The less information to shift through, the clearer the question being asked is, and the less side details to be distracted by. The extra world details also invite Frame Challenges (alternate solutions/set-ups to the presented problem). If you wanted a solution, this would be a good thing; but you aren't looking for a solution, but a cost effective design.

Sometimes the world fluff can be good to include. It can be a fun way of explaining things like the tech level, magic level, general world attitudes, and the like without just listing a boring bullet point list. But you need to review that fluff carefully and make sure it also ties directly back to the main question so the reader doesn't get lost on what the point is.

I recommend after writing a question you play your own devils advocate, and read it again finding every question a new reader may want to ask, even if it's not directly related to your main question. Every question you think of, some else will want to bring up. Either address it, or remove that detail from your question.

The other half is it's not just your question, but how you ask it. "what re-entry technologies would likely be employed by ..." the words "would likely" imply that you want speculations on driving market factors like, availability of materials from other worlds, environmental concerns (or lack thereof), ect. Avoid wishy-washy words in your questions like "likely" or "would" or "could". Your questions should come off as asserting the base facts are indisputable. So for example, "What is the least maintenance design for rapid re-entry vehicles?" or "What is the cheapest modern design for rapid re-entry vehicles?" (long vs short term is still debatable, but the question is at least worded in a way that an answer has to challenge you on that if they want to bring it up)

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The only difference between you and Incognito (other than about 25k rep) is your formatting. Who's Whose second best site is Writing.SE

I joined SE at Sci-Fi for fun, but quickly became enraptured by the level of pedantry in cognition and content that I was confronted with. So then I joined ELU (my second best site), because I hadn't really written anything in 20y, and I forgot that the word whose even existed.

I learned my formatting from Valorum over at Sci-Fi, you should take a look at Incognito's.

Generally,

hit them over the head with a hook

ideally at the top of the post, or at least without having to scroll. The title can be click bait, but your hook had better nail it.

I had to scroll way down to find your emboldened text, which should have been a header at the top (use '#' to start the line). If you're going to include so much garbage stuff in you post, write like they do and be prepared to deal with comments from people like me, just like they do: I don't think they've ever replied to any of my shooting-down-your-idea comments.

Just keep doing your thing and you'll get better. If you don't, well, that's why at SE "the good stuff floats to the top".

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