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I asked this question, and after almost a dozen answers, it got closed for being story-based. Mind, I'm quite satisfied with the response I got before that happened, so the reason I'm asking is merely curiosity, to allow me to understand the rules better.

The definition of story-based seems to be that it's about questions regarding the actions of individuals, rather than systems. I understand the general case; "Would Jack hate his mother if she disagreed with his sense of fashion?" is obviously story-based.

But in this particular question, the agent, the person whose actions we're sorting out, is a dictator. He steers the nation; anything he does becomes a system, which other people have to live with. This is figuring out the long-term strategy of a tyrant looking for his nemesis among the populace (or well, justifying a given approach, which I understand to be a subset of that). I personified the actor, just to make it more recognisable, but what matters here is what his nation, network of agents, is doing; and whether it is optimal, and how to improve on it. To me it might as well be a spaceship design question: it's a nation's approach, not necessarily an individual's.

After reading this answer, I think I check the first requirement pretty well. I think I checked the second box too; I felt like there wasn't much additional value in adding details like the level of technology or the fact that the dictator is actually a council of bankers, but reasonable minds can disagree on that. The third criterium; this is not high-concept ("What would happen if Hitler died as a baby?"); I also personally don't think it's open-ended. But if the second or the third box wasn't checked, then surely my question should have been closed as Too Broad? Instead five people voted for Story-Based. Why?

So as said, not looking for a reopen: just trying to understand the rules better. Let's say I want to sort out some of the other tactics my dictator/council could be using to keep the planet in their grasp; how should I be phrasing those questions?

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Fair Enough!

Preliminary notes

  • Just because a question gets a lot of answers doesn't mean the question is a good fit for Stack Exchange. It just means 12 people felt like answering your question before someone else came along and closed it. This is called a failure of the system. It happens a lot here, actually, and I think that's because of the nature of the material we deal with.

On to your question! I see you did the hard part of answering it for me!

Indeed, questions regarding the actions of individuals are story based. This is because the actions of a character are matters of plot. If Evuls does Ecks, then Wye, then Zed, the plot goes thát way; but if Evuls does Wye first, then Zed may never happen and it will already be too late for Ecks, so the plot will go thìs way. Of course, as the Writer, plot management is on you and since, as you say, it has nothing to do with the systems or underlying nature of the fictional world, this community simply washes its collective hands of that line of inquiry.

I think you might be misunderstanding what is meany by "system". What you're calling a "system" that comes to be once the dictator does his thing is, in reality, the plot of the story unfolding. If he blows up a town in order to kill the Chozen Won, well, that's collateral plot damage, not a new aspect of the fundamental nature of the world.

Even if your dictator did something that truly altered the fundamental nature of the world -- say he came across a device that could push the Chozen Won into a different set of dimensions. The hole left in the universe's space-time web is now injured and begins to tear apart. The new reality of physics in this universe is that new forces are at work and perhaps some old equations will no longer work.

Thát is a matter of underlying systems. And that question, of course, would be entirely on topic here. However, that's not the question you asked! You asked about the dictator's motive -- you asked "he continues a world-wide witch hunt ... why though?" Motive is a matter of character development and is expressed through plot development. Therefore, the question of strategy as asked is off topic.

As for that cited answer ... no, sorry, you didn't tick the first box at all! Not even close! You certainly gave some interesting background and worldbuilding context. But that doesn't make your question about the world (systems, rules, application). As for the second box, I don't think you really ticked that one either. Check out those three bullet points below the two tick boxes: they provide you with some guidance as to how a why question might possibly squeak through. You didn't offer any boundaries or limitations. The result is an infinite list of things.

Last but not least, even if your query weren't story based, you'd then be closed for lack of focus. Your title question asks about motive. But then, at the end, you ask about strategy. And then, you ask about advantages of doing something.

HINT: That very last question might could be a way out. Advantages to choosing a course of action points back to fundamentals of the world. In this case, perhaps, constantly hunting down and killing children prevents the Chozen Won from maturing and developing her powers. Following a different line of inquiry might even get your why question answered on the sly!

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    $\begingroup$ I am not asking about motive; I'm asking about rationale. Motive is personal, rationale is objective. It's more like I am comparing a number of potential solutions to a reincarnating hero problem. Same idea behind comparing spaceship designs, in my understanding. $\endgroup$ – KeizerHarm Apr 10 at 10:39
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    $\begingroup$ Would rephrasing it as "How should a world government deal with a reincarnating enemy?" make it on-topic? Seems like a small change to me, but it makes it clear that I'm asking for an optimal strategy, rather than one individual's wants. $\endgroup$ – KeizerHarm Apr 10 at 10:48
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    $\begingroup$ @KeizerHarm Rationale is "a set of reasons or a logical basis for a course of action or a particular belief" and is a synonym to motive ("a reason for doing something, especially one that is hidden or not obvious"). Both are dependent on the individual character. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Apr 10 at 12:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre Alright, I stand corrected on the definition, but my point was that an optimal approach is not plot-based, because the answer is dependent on the rules of the universe (specifically the behaviour of people and the government infrastructure) rather than the feelings and flaws of an individual. $\endgroup$ – KeizerHarm Apr 10 at 12:20
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    $\begingroup$ @KeizerHarm Those two things are not rules of the universe, first of all; the universe won't fall apart if national leadership or style of government (democracy, oligrarchy, etc.) changes, and the behavior of people is a story thing. As for consideration of this being a "comparison" thing: that's exactly the problem. There's no way for the community to identify Answer A as being more correct than Answer B because the only thing that matters is what a specific character wants to do. That is a matter of character/plot and wholly up to the author to decide. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Apr 10 at 13:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre With "behaviour of people" I meant "behaviour of people in large numbers", which is sociology, a science. None of this is dependent on any specific character's actions. Emperor Evulz himself was just a parable, he doesn't even exist in the story. This is about a government's actions to hunt an enemy. $\endgroup$ – KeizerHarm Apr 10 at 13:02
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    $\begingroup$ @KeizerHarm The fact you were able to change "government" to "character" to get your point across shows that it doesn't matter what the instigating entity is. The problem is still that there's no way to identify the "best" answer because it depends on what that entity wants to do. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Apr 10 at 13:34
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    $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre Preserve the integrity of the world government. I thought that was implied, in the cliche "Only the Chosen One is able to stop him". And there are at least two ways to do that (kill the hero over and over again; lock him up forever) - but they might have interesting and beneficial side effects; like the idea about world-wide registration. $\endgroup$ – KeizerHarm Apr 10 at 13:39
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    $\begingroup$ Could I get some confirmation that "How should a world government deal with a reincarnating enemy?" would be on-topic? That takes out all the possible personal interests and make it a pure strategy question, like I originally intended. $\endgroup$ – KeizerHarm Apr 13 at 15:34
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    $\begingroup$ @elemtilas You probably think I'm dense at this point but I really don't understand that last bit. "How a government deals with something is on-topic. Asking for a list of all the ways a government should, would, could, might, mought, nought or mustn't are all off topic" - what exactly is the difference between the two? As we're talking about hypotheticals, rather than a strictly historical scenario, any question I can think of is always in the "would" or "should" mode. E.g. "If a government wants to preserve itself, how should they deal with X?" How could you phrase that without "should"? $\endgroup$ – KeizerHarm Apr 13 at 19:41
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    $\begingroup$ @KeizerHarm - No, I don't think you're dense! It's simple: Stack Exchange works on the basic model of you give us a single focused question and we give you on point answers for that question. A question that asks for a list is not focused. The difference is this: don't ask for "all", "any" or "several". Ask for "one". When you ask "how should a world government deal", you're implying that they have multiple options available (this is basic contingency planning), and you're asking for a list of those possibles. We don't do lists. (cont...) $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Apr 13 at 20:22
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    $\begingroup$ ...If you ask "these are some things government could do; given the circumstances, does this one choice make sense?" then you're focusing your question properly. Everything here is a hypothetical, so that's a red herring argument. Your job is simply to narrow down the possibilities so we can all focus on that. You can certainly ask another question about another choice the government might make! That's allowed, and encouraged. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Apr 13 at 20:25
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    $\begingroup$ @elemtilas Thank you for your continuing explanation. It seems that there's a big distinction between "Why would a government do X", seeking to justify an approach, and "Would a government do X", which is more of a reality check. I will not touch the old question, as the answers I got all worked on the original phrasing, but I will try to keep it in mind for future questions. $\endgroup$ – KeizerHarm Apr 13 at 22:57
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    $\begingroup$ @KeizerHarm -- Precisely. Stack Exchange like single questions that can be definitively answered and which answers can be more or less objectively judged as being "incorrect", "correct" and "most correct". We all in WB know that our material doesn't really lend itself to the Stack Exchange model very well. I mean, even the "science based" and "hard science" questions might have to bed the absolute rules you'd find in Chemistry or Physics -- after all, Thaumics is a science too! And so is Astrology, when you get down to it, and sometimes a respondent just doesn't have a choice but to (cont...) $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Apr 14 at 0:27
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    $\begingroup$ No, like "Ecks" and "Thát". $\endgroup$ – The Daleks Apr 14 at 2:20

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