The tag states:

Asks if a given concept is realistic in a given context. Answers should say yes or no, with supporting info.

However I seem to be getting suggestions on alternatives despite not soliciting them in the body of my question, or in my tags.

For instance on Would this be a plausible way of safeguarding against an AI whilst being conducive to a Cassette Futurism aesthetic? one answerer suggested using a 'sneaker net', while that's an interesting approach that doesn't answer if my given concept is realistic within my parameters.

I can and do downvote, flag and move on, but what if anything should I be doing to make sure I don't get opinion based suggestions on those questions?


It has always been true that the majority doesn't understand the purpose of

In fact, it has always been true that the majority...

  • Don't read the Help Center
  • Don't participate in Meta
  • Don't read tag wikis
  • Don't notice the tags at all

And all that assumes that the question has been perfectly formed for the sake of the tags, which rarely happens.

So what can you do?

  1. Be patient. While some, like myself, are rule gorgons trying to make the "world" a better place through law and theoretical order, most are here to have fun and don't realize they're not actually contributing in the most efficient (or useful) manner. (You'd be surprised how often senior users answer questions that should have been slammed closed until improved simply because the question tickled their fancy. It's hard to look skeptically at a question and not simply believe that you understand it.)

  2. As a final note to a question, leave a brief note highlighting the use of the tag and quickly expressing how it will be used to judge a best answer. In a moment of frustration concerning this very issue, I wrote a question on Main that was specifically intended to highlight the use of the [tag:reality-check] tag. You'll notice the first comment is from L.Dutch, who appears to have missed the tag. We all make mistakes.

  3. Rather than initially downvoting non-compliant answers, leave a comment pointing out that that the answer fails the expectations of the tag and that you'll downvote followed by a flag to delete if the answer does not become compliant. You'll piss people off, but that's often the price of education. Make sure you consistently follow up your threat with the indicated punishment if the answer remains non-compliant....


  1. Don't worry about it. If the worst thing that happens to you in your life is that people don't pay attention to the tags on your post — you're doing great!
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Guilty as charged! I rarely read the tag line and have been known to answer queries that, deep down, if they were better conceived & better written, would be mediocre to half-baked simply for the fun of the imaginational exercise. But seriously, I concur. I've also noted many reality check answers where the respondent failed to take into account "in a given context" and blasted the concept as utterly implausible if not outright impossible because that's not how reality works! They failed to understand that the world in question is nòt the real world! Perhaps this tag needs to be edited? $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Jul 17 at 19:57

To answer your marquee question:

You Can't.

Sorry. That's not how human nature works. Humans are curious people and if you ask a question, someone's going to answer it, even if you express your sternest displeasure at being responded to in a way don't wish to be responded to.

Sometimes less is best. Depending on a person's mood, they might take your attempts at channeling the responses as you being a control freak or you being petulant (whether you're a petulant control freak or not!) I might just give you a suggestion simply because you abjure me not to!

Since you're really not asking a content question (like "how do I do...") but rather a qualitative question ("how well did I do..."), you might consider making it clear that the best answer will contain the least number of words. "YES" and "NO" and "POSSIBLY" all being one word answers, these would be the top three. If enough people concur that your scenario is plausible, then you'll either get a whole bunch of "yes" answers, or a whole bunch of people will upvote the "yes" answer.

You could also consider a clever flanking manoeuvre by answering your own question three times: YES -- NO -- MAYBE and simply ask people to upvote they one they agree with.

But you really can't prevent people from giving you suggestions. Downvoting them, while perhaps serving your immediate thirst for retribution, is ultimately not the most prudent response. It's also a waste, because commentary responses often earn votes and receive comments. Your displeasure vote will not even be registered with the miscreant.


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