Yet again, we have a question tagged that falls under "evidently impossible with 5 minutes of basic research" category.

Not only is it allowed to remain open, it gets highly upvoted - so much so that it makes it to HNQ.

It thus prompts me to ask what the standards for question quality are on this site, because it seems to me those standards either don't exist or are so low that they may as well not.


5 Answers 5


Yes, there are standards of quality here ... just not the ones you're apparently looking for.

Broadly speaking, these are the written standards:

Search, and research
Have you thoroughly searched for an answer before asking your question? Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you found and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and above all, it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer!

It's unclear how much research the OP did; but not all good questions spell out the step-by-step research trail either.

Be on-topic
Our community is defined by a specific set of topics that you can view in the help center; please stick to those topics and avoid asking for opinions or open-ended discussion. If your question is about the site itself, ask on our meta-discussion site. If you’re looking for a different topic, it might be covered on another Stack Exchange site.

Query is on topic for this forum.

Be specific
If you ask a vague question, you’ll get a vague answer. But if you give us details and context, we can provide a useful answer.

Query is fairly specific.

Make it relevant to others
We like to help as many people at a time as we can. Make it clear how your question is relevant to more people than just you, and more of us will be interested in your question and willing to look into it.

Query is easily relatable to other fictional settings.

Keep an open mind
The answer to your question may not always be the one you wanted, but that doesn’t mean it is wrong. A conclusive answer isn’t always possible. When in doubt, ask people to cite their sources, or to explain how/where they learned something. Even if we don’t agree with you, or tell you exactly what you wanted to hear, remember: we’re just trying to help.

This is actually more important for respondents than querents. Community needs to keep an open mind, especially as regards trans-science. It's basically our job to conceive the inconceivable here.

The only other standard I'd add to the above are the basics:

Write your query as best you can (English speakers' version)
Use good English mechanics: spelling, grammar, formatting.
Write to make sense: we're trying to help you with your made up world; try not to make up the English as you go along!
Poorly written questions attract more negative attention than well written ones; poorly written questions are harder to understand and may be off-putting to potential respondents.
Well written questions are a joy to read, and also a joy to answer!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "Keep an open mind ... this is actually more important for respondents than querents." +1+1+1+1+1+1. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Dec 12, 2020 at 6:36

You're a stickler for the rules. I get it, so am I. In fact, I'm sure there are people on this Stack who think I'm manic about the rules. But I think a little perspective is in order.

  1. With a total of 4 questions and 11 answers across both Main and Meta... you're pretty inexperienced on this Stack. It seems to me you might be trying to apply Stack Overflow's expectations here. Except they don't work here. On Stack Overflow, asking questions in the first place frequently demands a college-level understanding of the subject. That isn't true here. I've answered questions for users that I'm dead sure were under the age of 10. We frequently have teens participating. There are a lot of users here who are looking for help because they have not yet endured the years of education and/or experience you and I have. Expecting them to have our research skills (to any degree) lacks compassion.

  2. Like many of the Stacks, this stack took a pretty hard hit after Monica Ciello was fired. A fair number of our most experienced users reduced their participation or quit completely. People I remember regularly participating in the review queues simply aren't there anymore. I might be wrong about this, but it appears to me that the reviewers are less experienced in both the Stack and Stack Exchange, lowering the quality and value of the review process. This perception is strengthened by a recent request by L.Dutch to improve the Stack's review quality. It was a request that fell on far too many deaf ears because I'd be surprised if more than 20% of the users on Main ever bother to look at Meta (or the Help Center...).

  3. Add to that what appears to me to be a substantial increase in the number of new users joining and using the Stack. The number of questions being pumped through in a day feels considerably greater than just 18 months ago. That's great! Except for #2 and the fact that it's getting harder to review everything. After all, the experienced users tend to be people with jobs and families. The ratio of experienced users available to help maintain quality and bring people along in the culture of the site is a bit low right now — and it shows so much that it prompted the last question I asked here on Meta. Keep in mind, the primary problem (as I see it) is that we have too few reviewers who are familiar with the culture and rules of this Stack.

  4. Finally, where Real World stacks like Stack Overflow are focused entirely on the sober process of overcoming a specific problem that impacts education or occupation, this site is entirely creative and there are no consequences to asking a question that some (including myself) feel is poorly asked. Simply put, there's no motivation for the level of quality you're advocating (having said that, do not forget #1. Some users simply can't achieve that level of quality).

Consequently, I rarely complain that someone hasn't done enough research. I've even noticed users who have frankly done too much research. What I mean by that is this: they're not college-educated people with tons of experience. They're teens or young adults who've read just enough about the subject via Wikipedia or YouTube to be dangerous, but not enough to realize they're barking up the wrong tree. It really doesn't help them to complain that they haven't done enough research, from their perspective, they have.1

Therefore, I politely recommend the following (and do so knowing perfectly well that I'm not perfect with this, either):

  1. Be patient.
  2. Offer to help clear up issues.
  3. If you don't understand it, the odds are someone else does.
  4. If you do understand it, the odds are someone else doesn't.
  5. If you think the issue is obvious, you're probably wrong.
  6. Believe that you can't read the OP's mind.
  7. Believe that the OP's a nice person who would be a great friend if you could meet them in Real Life.
  8. Remember that some people are participating because they want to be part of the group - but don't want to be part of policing the group (and occasionally don't want to be policed by the group).
  9. Remember to feel honored that someone would share their creativity with you.
  10. Use Stack Exchange's tools to motivate and educate, not punish or oppress.
  11. Find the joy each user is seeking or experiencing.
  12. Express your joy so that others may find the same thing.

and finally...

  1. If you try to help the OP craft a better question, but so many people jump in with an answer that the OP ignores you. Smile, shake your head, and move on.

Please keep in mind, unlike Stack Overflow where failure to get the best answer quickly can quite literally affect someone's job and livelihood, this Stack is a hobby for everyone involved. No one is (or at least should be) in a rush and no one will fail in any way if they are imperfect.

Which is good... because most of us are in the same boat.

1The one and only thing that keeps me from being entirely irritated by the persistent teenage belief that they know anything to a competent level is the clear and humbling memory of my own teen years. Man, I was an idiot.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ some may never have proper or good education too, each country has different standard/quality in their education, since this is internet its worldwide, not considering certain country blocking certain site or information, or simply due to their language limitation. regarding imperfection though, i want to point out that if you have single mistake it more likely you get downvote or your answer as a whole is brand as wrong or not worth reading, and usually because the grammar is not perfect which apply to question too.....so to me seems like many ppl demand perfection here though. $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Dec 14, 2020 at 4:07
  • $\begingroup$ @LiJun Yes... there are too many who expect or demand perfection. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Dec 14, 2020 at 5:56

Stellar engineering is a fairly standard scifi trope. There's no problem with the subject matter, the answer simply needs to be a matter of where the required technology is likely to fall against a civilisation's position on the Kardashev scale.

Just because it can't be done with current technology does not invalidate the question. This is Worldbuilding, world destruction included.


World Building was inspired by the Q&A format of Stack Overflow. We get a lot from that site, including some ideas about rules.

For a time new members kept asking in SO's meta whether a googable question should be acceptable. Veterans insisted on an idea put forward by SO's creator, Jeff Atwood: SO was supposed to be the repository for all programming questions. The goal was for SO to be the first result in Google when you were googling for an answer!

While I don't think that applies 100% here, I do like the general idea. Is the question you asked very simple and easily researchable? Yes. Does that disqualify the question? No! By asking that question here, the OP can have lots of good answers from different points of view, and anyone who lands here will have a quick summary of those.


Like it is stated when you hover your mouse on the up arrow, this means the question has been deemed useful to the person who read it. But the more people are inclined to see the question (whether the title is inquisitive or the subject very important), the more likely a question will get votes.

In otherwordly words, if you get 100 % of views to positive vote rate and have 100 viewers, you will have less votes than if you had only 10 % of views to positive vote rate but had 10 000 views (100 vs 1000). You'd need to have a null or negative view-to-vote rate to have no or even negative impacts of views on your "mark". In simpler terms, having lots of positive votes is not a goodie way of measuring the quality of a question.

However, having positive notes is a hint that the question was well received by people, and having negative votes means that people disliked your question, for any good or bad reason. That's where the standard lies. If there was no standard, then every question would be positively and often highly voted, which is not the case.

I mean no harm by telling this, but are you sure you don't confuse having high standards and having usually different standards than yours :)? Bear with me a momentary moment to explain. If you navigate between questions mostly through tags instead of typing keywords like on your favorite search engine (like most people know how to do), then perhaps that's why you're not happy to find nice voted things at the places you don't expect them?


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