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You are asking questions about a story set in a world instead of about building a world. For more information, see Why is my question "Too Story Based" and how do I get it opened?

There seems to be some confusion about when this closure reason should be used. See How can "modern"-ish weapons occur naturally before Dark Age Era weaponry? for example. As worded, this closure reason seems very open ended because "a story set in a world" seems to mean something very different to different users. While I myself simply interpret this to mean the choices made by characters, others have interpreted this to include anything predicated on your backstory or history what-so-ever, See https://chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/112793/discussion-between-nosajimiki-and-jbh.

When you follow the linked discussion, it includes the phrase "...Capabilities of characters within a world and creation of groups of characters (like nations) are on-topic..." right in the first paragraph which makes this description of a close reason seem not just vague, but self contradictory.

Because of this I would suggest rewording this close reason to something more like:

You are asking about plot building instead of world building. For more information, see Why is my question "Too Story Based" and how do I get it opened?

or even more simply:

Too story based. For more information, see Why is my question "Too Story Based" and how do I get it opened?

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    $\begingroup$ To me at least, your second suggestion, plainly "Too story based", is even more confusing than the original. $\endgroup$ – KeizerHarm Sep 10 at 18:20
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    $\begingroup$ I think we used to have a message that was close to the second suggestion. I also like that 2nd suggestion and I'm in favor of changing to that. $\endgroup$ – The Square-Cube Law Sep 11 at 13:11
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I'm the person Nosajimiki discussed the issue with on behalf of the linked question.

The idea of what "too story-based" means has been hashed out on this site for years. If I recall correctly, Monica Ciello once explained that there was an early discussion about making a separate Stack for storybuilding questions — but it was abandoned because there's no way on the planet to meet Stack Exchange's expectations for objectivity.

Some of the discussions I've personally participated in on this subject include:

There is also the tried-and-true post linked in the VTC option:

These are all the results of years of debate and discussion that started long before I joined the site. While everyone has admitted that there will forever be a grey area between worldbuilding and storybuilding, it has (IMO) generally been narrowed down to an idea that I've regularly expressed as follows:

Worldbuilding (on-topic) is the development and consistent use of the rules and systems of a fictional world of your own creation wherein an infinite number of stories can be told. Storybuilding (off-topic) concerns circumstances, plot, and character actions and choices.

This particular discussion focused on the use of the word circumstances. It was (and continues to be) my opinion that the linked question was asking for a circumstance or series of circumstances that would justify a condition of the story (Soldiers in a WWI-technology time period are reduced to using medieval-era technology).

  • What technology exists is a worldbuilding question.
  • How that tech can be applied or used is a worldbuiliding question.
  • The nature of the political structures and demographics are, too.

But the site has consistently closed questions about how to equip soldiers. That's because the question is story-based — the author can come up with a nearly infinite number of ways to justify the use of any weapon.

And that's what the linked question is, a "how to justify the use of this weapon" question. It's a question about circumstances, which are a function of the story, not a function of the world.

Let's consider an alternative

Had the OP asked, "what is it about a WWI machine-gun that could be compromised to justify forcing my soldiers to start using swords?" we have a different context. That would be an application-of-technology question. Example answers could include the nation ran out of gunpowder (or a constituent chemical) or ran out of metal. Or the use of some form of trench-warfare gas caused the thin springs to disintegrate.

But the moment you ask, "OK, how would the nation run out of gunpowder?" you're back to a storybuilding question.

Worldbuilding must be true both before and after the story — otherwise it's storybuilding

What many post authors don't understand is that the rules and systems of a fictional world must exist above any story. To simplify the idea: they must predate and postdate the story (instances where this isn't true will be obvious, but you'll see what I mean).

  • A worldbuilding rule is that the world has no sulfur and therefore cannot create gunpowder using it.

  • A storybuilding rule is that insurgents blew up the warehouse storing the nation's strategic supply of sulfur.

  • A worldbuilding rule is that chemistry exists that can be exploited in the form of a gas grenade that will weaken gunmetal.

  • A storybuilding rule is how that grenade is used on the battlefield, when, and why.

Unfortunately, like many new authors on this site, the OP was more interested in idea-fishing than in considering the rules and intent of this site. The OP (to my knowledge, I haven't looked recently) has not edited the question to restrict responses to only worldbuilding contexts.

TL;DR

Perfection is impossible. No matter what the exact text of the VTC definition, if people refuse to click the link and read the explanation, there will always be someone who is confused or under-educated by the definition. I therefore do not believe it need be changed.

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  • $\begingroup$ I believe you are using the term "circumstance" too broadly. There are tons of answers in the links you provided that describe circumstances that are on topic but only three lowly ranked answers that bring up that circumstances might be off topic. Two were yours and Renan's only said they could be off topic, and gave a scene specific circumstance as an example. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Sep 10 at 20:32
  • $\begingroup$ The reason I am in favor of reopening the weapons question is because the circumstance you describe affects the setting, not a scene. You can tell any number of stories in a setting where guns have been replaced by medieval style weapons. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Sep 10 at 20:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki I'm not willing to continue the argument here. I do not use the word "circumstances" to describe the conditions or possibilities of rules or systems of a world. I use the word to describe the ethereal conditions of the story that have nothing to do with the more concrete rules of the world. As I said in my post: questions about how to arm soldiers are regularly closed on this site. $\endgroup$ – JBH Sep 10 at 21:43
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    $\begingroup$ Okay, no need to continue discussing that question here, but "circumstances" is certainly an ambiguous term. Can you think of a word or simple phrase that means what you are trying to say that would not require deep knowledge of WB.SE cultural heritage to understand? $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Sep 11 at 14:15
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    $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki No. Circumstances predominantly means the ethereal conditions surrounding an event (legal: "circumstantial evidence.") I don't think it's ambiguous at all. $\endgroup$ – JBH Sep 11 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ I get what you are saying, and I see the point you are going for, but an event can be far more profound than something plot specific. For example: "What circumstances are best for fossils to form?" or "What circumstances would prevent hydrogen from burning?". Perhaps what you mean is "Storybuilding (off-topic) concerns plot elements & circumstances and character actions & choices." or do you feel like this would be too narrow? $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Sep 11 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ @OmicronZed From today's rendition of the question: "how can Medieval technology be considered more effective than pre-WWI technology, but remain chronologically sound?" Medieval tech can only be considered better than WWI tech circumstantially because a direct weapon-to-weapon comparison will never prove medieval tech to be better. And since a weapon unused is a useless weapon, this all boils down to "how do I equip my soldiers?" In the end, you're looking for a justifying circumstance. (AKA, idea fishing.) $\endgroup$ – JBH Sep 14 at 15:47
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For the record, I concur 100% with JBH's answer as it condenses many years of debate.

But to address your specific question, I'd rather see the current boilerplate amended with the addition of JBH's quote. Like this:

You are asking questions about a story set in a world instead of about building the world itself. Worldbuilding (on-topic) is the development and consistent use of the rules and systems of a fictional world of your own creation wherein an infinite number of stories can be told. Storybuilding (off-topic) concerns circumstances, plot, and character actions and choices. For more information, see Why is my question "Too Story Based" and how do I get it opened?

If the point is to clarify the closure reason, you can't get much clearer than those two additional statements!

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  • $\begingroup$ Mostly I like this, but I believe the term "circumstances" should be avoided. Circumstances can mean history, it can mean current government, it can mean orbital mechanics, it can even mean a rule or system. Perhaps a more concise term for what I think you are trying to say may be "scene". Worldbuilding is about building a setting. Scenes are the individual setups within it. Circumstances applied to a setting are world building, but circumstances applied to a scene are story telling; so, blanket saying circumstances are off-topic seems contradicts all sorts of highly voted meta opinions. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Sep 10 at 20:29
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    $\begingroup$ how would you feel about: "You are asking questions about a story set in a world instead of about building the world itself. Worldbuilding (on-topic) is the development and consistent use of the rules and systems of a fictional setting of your own creation wherein an infinite number of stories can be told. Storybuilding (off-topic) concerns scenes, plot, and character actions and choices. For more information, see Why is my question "Too Story Based" and how do I get it opened?" $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Sep 10 at 20:40

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