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Being the most creative and imaginative Stack in the Stack Exchange library has a handful of disadvantages. Stack Exchange's basic behavior is to expect a single objective and answerable question that has the hope of leading to a single best answer. I believe this is one of Stack Exchange's basic selling points: to be a specifically useful place for people to find information, including people who come later, after a question has already been asked.

The problem arises when people have writer's block or any other form of creative constipation such that they need some help moving a cool idea to fruition. We call these "fishing for ideas" questions.

And they suck.

And they're fun.

And that's the problem. They're literally contrary to pretty much every rule Stack Exchange lists in the Help Center and in the VTC descriptions.[E.G. 1 see "guidelines" and 2 see "to prevent..."]. No matter how much we like them and want to answer them, they don't belong. At one point I tried to ameliorate the problem by introducing the idea of an off-topic infinite list of things vs. an on-topic finite list of things, but I believe it's time to better embrace the madness by offering some specific advice about how to legitimately fish for ideas on a service that literally loathes the idea of doing so.

This question is requesting a POLICY CHANGE since reading through the history of the issue it's obvious that idea generation (aka "Fishing for Ideas") has been a reason to close since the beginning. However, it used to be an official VTC reason — now that VTC reason is gone, but the underlying problems (story-based, opinion-based, needs-focus) remain.

Question: Knowing that it is impossible to entirely disconnect any idea-generation question from Stack Exchange's expectations concerning how to ask a good question, what advice can we give people to help them craft an acceptable Fishing for Ideas question?


History: This issue has been touched on several times (this is NOT an exhaustive list...):

If you take the time to tiptoe through that very large field of tulips, what you'll learn is...

  1. Idea generation questions (AKA "fishing for ideas") has been a reason to close since the beginning,

  2. All "fishing for ideas" questions are intrinsically opinion-based.1

  3. People really, really, really like fishing for ideas questions.


Problem with this Question: It could be reasonably said that this is a duplicate of any one of a dozen questions from the past. It's an effort to legitimize something that's been illegitimate thanks to the structure and rules of Stack Exchange since the beginning. Frankly, the Mods could solve this in a heartbeat by adding either "Idea generation questions are on-topic if you do the following..." to the Help Center "On Topic" page or "Idea generation questions are off-topic." to the Help Center "Off Topic" page. That would definitively solve the problem. Mods?


1Meaning there's no way for the respondent to assert that their answer is better than all others, and no way for the OP to judge one answer better than another.

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  • $\begingroup$ Isn't fantasy se for that? $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Aug 3 at 21:00
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg do you mean Science Fiction & Fantasy? They tend to focus on 3rd party and/or commercial worlds. $\endgroup$ Aug 3 at 21:06
  • $\begingroup$ If it is not offtopic there, then it just means people do not know that it can be a place. Point is it overlapping (at least in some way with them). In generally it inviting q's like those How would the phonetics of a snake be? to which answer is - whatever you wan't man - they use their heat sensor for telepaty - lol. Such answers require no effort to ask so as no effort to answer - and this will squeese out the leftovers of expert users. Quality of answers atm already its historical minimum. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Aug 4 at 4:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg "Quality of answers atm already its historical minimum." We're in complete agreement about that. $\endgroup$ Aug 4 at 5:01
  • $\begingroup$ Was that query on Main an experiment by any chance? $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Aug 10 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas Yup. A limited-list contextual question and wow, did this site fail. Every question about how to develop a gun, or a sword, or a shield, is not "too story based" because the character might make a choice that affects its development. $\endgroup$ Aug 10 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ I plead the third: Querents love asking and Respondents love the opportunity to wax creative! If it helps, I didn't read the question as plot or character oriented per se. Though I think you must admit that you danced a mighty fine jig on the edge of a sword. I can understand how others would read it that way, especially when you said you're "looking for McGyver style" solutions -- which are precisely what "the spy found A, B, C, & D" are! Frankly, that runs contrary to your other condition which is that the QM is providing the tool, who I took to be someone like Q in the James Bond world. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Aug 11 at 2:12
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    $\begingroup$ Basically I can see how "Q provides the tools, but Spy chooses which one to use in the moment" can be interpreted as plot. Perhaps with a dash of narrative necessity thrown in for measure: we know our girl is going to get over the ravine. Her failure is not even in question. Thus, ány device she uses must get the job done. It's just going to be a matter of which devices Q equips her with and which one she chooses for the job. Hope that makes sense! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Aug 11 at 2:16
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas I made a small edit to the question that I hoped solved the problem. I'm asking for a supplied tool, something the spy would check out from his/her quartermaster. Your point's well taken, though. It was hard to come up with a description that said, "I want you to be creative, but make sure you build a tool supplied by the government and not something the spy chooses to create from the local litter." $\endgroup$ Aug 11 at 2:16
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas it doesn't help that I'm irritated that I've found myself getting sucked into the Stack's continued descent into only-in-real-life answers. Frankly, I'd rather not be the arbiter of rules (despite my personality, which is a rule arbiter... darn personality...), I'd rather have more fun answering questions - but the Stack doesn't seem to want to do that anymore. $\endgroup$ Aug 11 at 2:18
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, I understood that you weren't intentionally asking a story based query! I think the edit clarifies, though. I think if you could double check the "Q designed the tool" vs "Spy did a McGyver with random bits" I think that would help as well. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Aug 11 at 2:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ And yes, we're back to the devolution of WB into the Ultrarealist School. I think we're more or less on the same page lamenting that slippery slope! I wonder if the present nadir isn't part of some long cycle system where eventually we'll be all about irrealia again and real-world-only can just take a hike. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Aug 11 at 2:21
  • $\begingroup$ Have you considered looking into Codidact? I've proposed that the WB forum there ought to be focused on the artistic and the creative -- not eschewing science for the trivially fantastic, but elevating the art of geopoetry and putting science to the service of art, not the other way around like is happening here. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Aug 11 at 2:30
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas I'm over there now, and I've proposed a "Stories & Worlds" community that, I think, better fits what most Worldbuilding querents are interesteed in. $\endgroup$ Aug 11 at 21:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JBH -- I saw it and replied! Was good to see your proposal there. Hopefully the two geopoetic proposals can be combined! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Aug 12 at 1:11
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Simple: YOU DON'T

Generally, fishing for ideas is defined in all those cases, that the question is extremely broad and there are no real factors that make one answer better than another. As a result, any question that is fishing for ideas is by its setup opinion based and has to be closed.

How to ask and not fish?

To avoid fishing your ideas, there are about a handful of factors:

  • Be as specific as possible - Try not to answer "Who's the ruler of Constantinople?" but "Who'd be the Ruler of Byzantinum in 1453 if the Byzantine-Ottoman war ended with a win of the Byzantines but the death of their ruler?"
  • Do your research - In our example, look up how byzantine rulers in that time were chosen and elaborate on who is available as a possible heir in your empire.
  • Don't try to get a story solution - Yes, we don't answer too story based questions. Which is the pitfall my example question falls for. It might be better to ask "The Byzantine Emperor is dead. There is no legitimate heir! Which method for a new emperor is employed?" and then elaborating on what kind of research you have already. Suddenly, we are at a point where there can be a best answer - one that picks up the clues and combines it with other research.
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  • $\begingroup$ I used to hold this opinion. Then I realized I couldn't keep the dam from breaking. That's when I created the distinction between an infinite list of things and a finite list of things. I still couldn't keep the dam from breaking. Which led to this quesiton. I honestly hope you fare better than I. $\endgroup$ Aug 12 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ @JoinJBHonCodidact in general most fishing questions that are ill-defined are infinite list of things. you need to provide enough to make it a finite list, which is what I try to say here. But if you constrain to a finite list, then it is not longer "fishing" imho. $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Aug 12 at 19:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You're preaching to the choir, sister. The problem you'll run into is that people like asking fishing-for-ideas questions and people love answering fishing-for-ideas questions. When high-rep people like myself point out earily enough in a comment that the Q must be more constrained (and force the issue with a VTC + a promise to retract once constrained), it works. But we can't police every question and it's proven very insufficient. Frankly, the Stack needs to either declare all FFI Qs off-topic in the help center or they need to explain how they can be asked. The issue needs authority. $\endgroup$ Aug 12 at 19:29
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I concur...
An edit delineating exactly how far from shore one may fish and what sort of license one needs to fish in these waters would solve a lot of problems.

Main issues I see:

  1. The old "VTC for being Opinion Based": I know I've said it many times before, that every query ever asked here, with the exception of hard science questions and queries asking us to plug numbers into an equation, are fundamentally opinion based. Dragons, elves, aliens, space economics, what clothing would X wear --- all of that is opinion and speculation of the most delightful sort!
  2. Fishing for Ideas: this is just a (somewhat) less than kind way of saying "opinion". See no. 1 about the two exceptions that aren't fishing expeditions.
  3. Querents love asking and Respondents love the opportunity to wax creative: yes we do! There's no denying this. Frankly, I find myself viewing such questions as less and less problematic as time goes on, though with a caveat.

I always liked your distinction between the off-topic infinite list of things and the on-topic finite list of things. It's specific enough that it looks like we've accomplished something, but broad enough that we can still allow pretty free rein for querents who are in difficulties with idea generation.

Potential advice:
I certainly get that a fishing question like "I have this alien setting: what are the aliens like?" are a touch broad. I'd argue that the tried and true pieces of advice are still the best:

  • Try to be as specific as possible: pick two or three different areas you'd like to focus on and ask separate questions about each. "I'd like the aliens to breathe methane -- can humans visit their world?" --- "Can these aliens get sick with human diseases?"
  • Try to offer some guidelines that will help the respondent tailor an answer to your needs. "Good answer requires that A, B & C be taken into account".
  • Write your query in the Sandbox first, especially if the querent is bright and shiny new. Their problem may be more about how to write a question at all more than searching for ideas.
  • Last but not least: advise querents to come into this forum having done their homework first. We generally demand that people try to do basic research about a topic first. It's really annoying when a 0.167342 sec google search reveals twenty-seven different awesome answers to the question. Same thing for fishing expeditions: if you want to know "what are the aliens like", at least do some basic brainstorming first! Perhaps advise that if you want to go fishing here, you have to provide at least two positive and two negative pieces of data. (The aliens do this and that; they're not like thus and so.)

Perhaps a potential edit to the Help Center to make use of these? A statement that neither allows nor disallows fishing expeditions, but does offer firm guidance on how to fish.

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1
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the support elemtilas. It's appreciated. I think it's fair to say that the proverbial high concept question represents the unacceptable end of the pendulum swing (you know, the "I've not put a lot of work into this, would you mind doing the work for me?" kind of question). I was fond of an example from one of the previous Q links: I have all the legos, how should I put them together? vs. I'm building something, what lego would fit in this hole? See here. $\endgroup$ Aug 2 at 6:48
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CC BY-SA

Do not forget that all "user contributions [are] licensed under CC BY-SA". Answering a question with facts, or even with barely supported opinions, is unproblematic; facts and opinions as such are not creative input, and the querent will most likely use only the information given and not the form in which it was given.

But providing creative input is different. If the querent takes up a suggestion and runs with it, what they would be doing is creating a derivative work; the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license would be triggered, with its attending obligations and restrictions.

If questions asking for ideas are to be allowed, I think that at a minimum the platform should tag or flag them as such, and it should add an unmistakable banner, similar to the banner automatically added for hard-science questions, making it clear that by asking the question the querent understands what they can and cannot do with the answers, and what obligations they assume when using one or more of the answers.

Also note that this site has a broad international membership; laws and rules about intellectual property vary very much from country to country, and any solution would have to be carefully designed.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That's a darn good point.... (*insert favorite expletive here*) $\endgroup$ Aug 4 at 18:44
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ As far as I know, mere ideas as these here cannot be protected by law, at least not in France. It's a difficult topic that makes game designers very wary of showing their original game design documents to the world, even without communication and marketing into play. Just look at how many "candy crush" games there are : exact same concept, but little to no lawsuit (excepted for the trademarked names :) ). $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Aug 4 at 19:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena: True, mere ideas are not protected. (The rules are basically the same throughout Europe at least.) They can be reused freely, and very often are. But the user must be very careful to use only the idea, and nothing of its material clothing. That's what I meant by "what they can and cannot do" with the answers. For example, somebody writes an answer with a story of an English king named John who quarrels with the king Philip of France and loses the Duchy of Normany, earning the nickname Lackland; then only the idea can be used -- man quarrels with landlord and is evicted. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Aug 4 at 19:45
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Ideas are not copyrightable. Only the fixed expression of an idea has copyright. The Philip/John Lackland idea itself is unprotectable because it is historical fact - any copyright on it is not in existence since it happened in 12th century. $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Aug 4 at 19:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Trish: A written answer counts as fixed expression. As I answered to Tortliena, the ideas as such can be freely reused, but the user must be careful to recreate all their material clothing -- cannot reuse the names, cannot reuse the descriptions, cannot reuse the incidents and so on. (Of course, the John Lackland example was chosen specifically because everybody knows the story.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Aug 4 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ by writing about John Lackland you do not gain copyright in John Lackland. Your choice of word is protected, but facts are not copyrightable. The story of John Lackland is facts. $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Aug 4 at 19:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Trish: That's exactly why I chose the example, we all know the story. Maybe I was wrong to assume that readers will understand that the example is not to be taken at face value. Sorry. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Aug 4 at 19:50
  • $\begingroup$ Because the example is all facts your example is weak or wrong. You need to write about an immaginary John Mirquintopholis, king of the Qwerktze who is at war with Gukklik III or something to not trigger the "sorry, you have no copyright in the characters or story". $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Aug 4 at 19:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Trish: Yes, that's exactly what the user must do when they reuse the idea in an answer. That's what "can and cannot do" means. That's the point. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Aug 4 at 19:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Interesting point actually. Hmmm it seems Wilk is an evil user who sets traps times and times again, lol. But yeah, interesting point. So answers in story form have to be discouraged, as barely some one unsupecting will think about such implications. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Aug 5 at 6:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Trish correctly points out that no one can stop anyone from writing about history - but copyright in the U.S. restricts everyone from using what anyone previously wrote about history. I was a publisher for 10 years - you'd be surprised just how thin that line is. However, that issue is irrelevant to Alex's post, which points out that intellectual property is being shared under the umbrella of a legal contract that the proverbial 99% of users don't understand. They especially don't understand that CC releases the protection of copyright in predictable but not always desirable ways. $\endgroup$ Aug 12 at 19:50
  • $\begingroup$ Ugh, limited-length comments. "...what anyone previously wrote about history until enough time has passed that the written text is considered public domain, which context changes country-to-country and is honored internationally somewhat capricously. The King James Bible is a good example as it's copyprotected in the UK and public domain in the U.S." $\endgroup$ Aug 12 at 19:53
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This is a big can of worms actually (sometimes, based on observations I even think there is sabotage going on on wb, not with the proposal, but with other things)

Plenty of good points in @elementilas post, and in an ideal situation why not, but wb isn't in an ideal situation.

First of all, I do agree that every q will contain some room for opinions, it by nature of topics, of what subjects are asked, so as fundamentally it is so because how does one asks what one does not know - so splitting hairs on that, forcing OP's in 69 figure is not necessarily useful, and such situations have to be handled on the side of those who answer q's. So as it may be some food for newbies as well, they learn, shape their mindset, get some rep, so occasionally - why not.

Be too strict also may be against the goal - helping authors to make better works, better in a sense of science and such from tour page. Better in objective frameworks, not in creative writing.

Be extreme about answers is also not the best, as a good answer is one which is helpful and at least points in some useful direction, also per some guidance page.

So being anal (sorry but it is the only english word I know which fits the description, plz someone help me to change it in a british humor sentence) about deviations isn't good or helpful for many - those who answer and those who ask.

All that to say - I do not support extremes, I do not do extremes, and I do not advocate for it. And it for to point out that what I say next may sound as if I do(or if it sounds that way), but I do not and I do advocate for moderate approaches. (Extreme in a mathematical sense, just in case if it has some weird connotation in english, you'll never know those days, longing for times when dead Latin was as lingua franca, there was some convenience in languages which do not evolve, lol)

Atm we place too much pressure on those who ask questions, and not enough of it on those who answer q's.

Many questions can be classified as containing some percentage of objective content, which can be addressed using knowledge of real things, and opinion part which also can be distinguished as expert(knowledge) opinion and fantasy opinion.

  • so a random q can have 2 or 3 scores given. For people who do not have expert knowledge for given q it may look like one or two scores - (opinion, [objective, [expert opinion]])

Just detecting an opinion part in a question is not sufficient to close the q, and I would argue(in an ideal world maybe) even 100% opinion q is not necessarily worthy of closure if op is willing and capable to work on it and improve it. There is long reasoning behind it(flaws of tech used to close and open q's on se, which does not work well on wb), but one relevant to the discussion - instead of making a bunch of low-quality q's OP may focus efforts on making that first q better, learn in the process what wb is about, make a good example, etc.

  • sandbox on meta - it does not work for most people, really - it is reality, and if someone didn't recognize it it's time, really. Things have to happen in situ. in that sense proudness of blitz closing q's which was a thing for quite a long time - u kidding me, really?

So just detecting the opinion part in q is not sufficient to close it, and here I support L. Dutch's stance, once expressed in comments - we may or should then address a more objective part of such q. That actually a good position, and it is up to us - those who answer and vote close or open to stick to it. Detect our shortcomings, detect limits of our expertise, stick to a more proper way to write answers.

Some people, sometimes - do not even bother to address the q, jumping straight to alternative solution/vision, etc. If one's knowledge says to him the q has problems and one wishes to write alternative solution - sure, it may go well in-line with helping people make better works, but please spend some of your time to describe which and why there are problems. Or maybe spend some time in comments clarifying things.

  • we use the comment section well enough, but some could use it too. And some who stealthy remove comments do it less, I see that chat removal cases are lesser in numbers, that is a good thing. The comment section is a workplace for those who answer the q or consider it, and it requires as much as it requires.

So considering that, we already have everything for list asking, and it already happens. Again it is due to the nature of the matter, most of the time we do not handle q's which are so narrow for them to have one solution or few alternatives. And another thing is q's aren't like one can test them, it not like 'How do you change bash prompt' - where one plugs(danger, do not remove your /, lol) a solution in CLI and it works or it does not.

What needs is to work out some more or less coherent judgment, with which it was always a problem. Exchanging points in comments, specific to the question, is a good attempt to do so.

In that sense VTC VTO comments - I find it to be a very good thing.

  • this is a good thing you do, and more people should do it. it allows us to build some shared views or discuss them on meta to agree to disagree or agree on something different or just correct our stances in a reasonable manner - or nothing, as an attempt it all fine. So such comments are very useful, as it allows us to change in some organized way.

in that sense, we have everything it takes to ask lists, and it happens regularly, providing them.

A question how my alien makes a perfectly round ball out of clay, for to repair its space ship on a planet which is almost a carbon copy of earth and does that from scratch - does not differ that much from a q - how to make a ball out of clay, of how to do the same + some restrictions like tools skills time place whatever.

indeed some times there is a necessity to ask things that one does not know, and it may have a finite or infinite list of answers.

And even if the list isn't expressed in one answer, it is expressed by the set of the answers, and rightly so - there is more than one way to make a ball.

  • in that sense insisting, for q closure purposes that a q should have strict criteria for the best answer, this test alone is not sufficient for closure.
  • when op accepts an answer - it is nothing more than ops gratitude and a sign that wb was helpful for him - it does not mean he did verify an answer and it worked for him and it is a correct one. The rest answers can be correct and good as well.

Litmus test could be - does answering the q in the way may make better work in sense of science and such. if a list does that - it is a list, if opinion it is an opinion, etc.

Since L. Dutch stopped singlehandedly close questions, respect for that is not easy to change oneself, then it up to the community(mostly) to influence and shape the flow of q's and a's.

And for that:

  • we share vtc's vto's to sync clocks
  • explain and clarify q's with ops - teaching, explaining, encouraging to work on their q's, not just hack them with closure
  • give them some slack, it is not necessarily easy to ask a good question plenty of examples of all kinds - and try our best judgment in writing an answer, which in some way refffers to a perfect question in our mind.
  • more often do and demand doing preliminary work and discourage those who jump with answers for the shake of rep if there are some significant problems with q's and a's (but do not forget essence core of the q, reasonable)
  • do downvote(maybe, if there is a reason) those answers which do jump in just for rep.
  • skip more often in the rev queue - if the topic is not one we are closely familiar with. observing myself I noticed a difference in judgments when in judgment in a queue or when I read and think on a question that drew my attention from the main. Time invested is different, so predictably there is a difference in the quality of judgment.
  • more fuzzy logic in the process - it is a thing, and it happens anyway, so again - splitting hair over a word is not useful for anyone. we have to train to be able to grasp the intention of a q, its essence for it to be ours guidance in follow-up actions.
  • more understanding that other se's practices maybe not be directly applicable to wb content. Authors so as we have practical problems and solutions and we have to use what we have - no one will change things just for our necessities - imperfect world and we have to use imperfect tools. But there is a guiding star - help authors to make better work.
  • do no forget it for authors - I may expect some maturity from people, but I do not expect them to prove that and I am not interested in such proofs. even if it is a schoolboy with an intention to tell a story to his girl, or a lonely guy making his own fantasy - for all intended purposes they are equal to me - questions are legit as they may(0.001%) be useful for others as something - ideas inspirations. But on the other hand quality of q's do matter as well. Sorry for the language, but my own preferences, I would rather read a long good one, than a short and shitty one.

Most important:

  • helping authors to make better works

it is a guiding star, and I personally think it is an important and good mission. (on a level like - saving humanity - lol)

But helping ones to do so, we help consumers to get used to higher quality, which will force more people to try to produce better ones, more q's for us - profit.

Not only that, understanding or accepting or adapting that helps to resolve many discussions which happen on meta since inception and since we left beta - opinions, on topic, belongs to other se's - it helps to take decision and judgment in all those cases for many q's.

And in that sense list q's aren't an exception.

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  • $\begingroup$ That was a pretty good post (and you used the word "anal" correctly). Unfortunately, we're stuck with a framework created by Stack Exchange - a framework we must work around because it doesn't quite fit our needs. In this regard, it's frankly surprising SE allowed WB to come out of Area 51 or Beta. Be that as it may, there's good advice here. What I could wish is to convince SE to give us the ability to lockout questions for, say, 4 hours so that no one can answer during that time - but we can interact with the OP to help improve the question. But we're the only Stack that needs it. $\endgroup$ Aug 4 at 14:06
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH -- Well, we theoretically can do that on our own. L. Dutch has wielded the Hammer of Mod swiftly on a number of occasions. Mods could single-handedly close an egregious question and perhaps edit in a boilerplate text to the effect the query has been "locked" so that it can be improved apart from the usual closure channels. Obviously, in order for the system to work, you'd need more mods and they would need to come up with & apply a consistent method of assessment and action. I'm not certain that this is a power we should give to the mods in the first place. We'll either attract... $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Aug 4 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ (cont)... tin Hitlers who constantly roam the archives seeking to slam closed queries based on their own whims, or else the system will fall apart due to apathy or real life intervening. Before empowering our mods in that way and definitely before petitioning SE for a special gift, we'd really need to consider how desperate are we! Do we truly have so many bold and broad fishing expeditions that we just can't handle it in the ordinary way as a community? Do we really need to create a Stazi to go around and police the forum in that way? $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Aug 4 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas, to be fair, I expressed my wish knowing perfectly well that SE would never implement it. SE has a solid track record for ignoring the needs of individual stacks other than Stack Overflow and, as you rightly point out, it has its own problems, too. Were it to be magically implemented, I'd prefer that it be an automatic lockout applied to all questions so that it wasn't interpreted as a closure or an action "against" anyone - just a period to give a question a chance to be improved before the answers start rolling in. $\endgroup$ Aug 4 at 18:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JBH -- I understand what you're saying! I don't thìnk they'd implement such a thing, but I lack your unshakable faith that they wón't implement such a thing! ;) SE's meddling in the [torture] discussion was several steps over the line in my opinion. Coupled with the whole Monica scandal, I wouldn't put anything past SE the company. But as for your clarification: yes I think a universal lock -- perhaps waiting period? -- I could get on board with that. It would be an inconvenience, of course. Perhaps it could be implemented transparently: the lock would just be another review queue that ... $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Aug 4 at 23:05
  • $\begingroup$ (cont)... members over x reputation can participate in, along with the OP. They could make suggestions, ask clarifications, edit and ultimately Vote to Publicise. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Aug 4 at 23:07
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH self restraining and organsing can do wonders actually, no need to ask anyone about anything. The internet was build with RFC's. Amusing hot train wreck I just witnessed realtime - L Dutch in berserk mode nullifying comments no matter what, user got 7d jail card for interacting clarifying his idea, jumpers jumped with answers - it sure an exception, but as illystration what not to do (for all participants) the quality of such illystration is just stunning, lol $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Aug 5 at 6:36
  • $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg I apologize, but self-restraint is not a solution. It's never been a solution. The reason law exists is entirely due to the fact that no one can trust the public to self-restrain. It's a non-solution with no evidence of success that I simply can't get behind. $\endgroup$ Aug 5 at 16:15
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH selfrestrain probably not the best wording on my part, or rather it need explanation or both. It needs 5-7 people following certain set of loose agreement to deliver a message and tip scales. To reach such agreement it may require certain compromises and selfrestrain. One of which, as an example, 100% compliance is not a goal, it just not posible due loose topics and such and in general, and if one wishes to clean all the filth, some OCD extreme - it won't happen ever and such expectations have to be contained. Restrain of expectation - with goal to bring some improovement. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Aug 5 at 18:38
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH as an example - you quite mild on meta with your stances and proposals, but I do remember your comments which probably are an attempt to deliver rules as written, and not how it work(kinda, again wording may be not the best, just my impression). Let's take baby steps, if you interested, and besides q's themselfs let's pay attencion to a first answer - how well it is a match to a q. And if we see a problem with the A, let leave a comment, what kind of a problem do we see, to inform answerer and to see if we may have concensus here. A: adressing different q, jump to alternative, whatever... $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Aug 5 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH Expanding VTC/VTO beyond closure. Score of an q SOQ relevant details 3/5 opinion based 2/5 ... and Score of answer SOA giving an answer to poorly defined q and failing or some other comment on that A if it deserves any notice, if there are some problems with it. - maybe not the best examples, needs work it out. All that just to show that there are peoole which may pay attencion to that as well. Done one of such but seems comment fall like a hero for due other matters (after holy war in that comment section) but I'll continue testing that idea, when I have time $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Aug 5 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ (There was some heated discussion between answerer and op, posted my comment 12 hours after those and it was deleted with few comments of that heated discussion) $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Aug 5 at 19:06
  • $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg Hmmm... (a) The purpose of posts like this one is to establish a consistent set of rules that we can point to. That solves some of your concerns especially getting any number of people to do what you're suggesting is likely impractical - too many of us have jobs. Any answer with the word "scoring" is unlikely to work because convincing SE to do it is 99.99% impossible. But, to reiterate: what I'm hoping to get from this is a consistent set of rules and advice - especially if w can convince the Mods to put something in the help center. $\endgroup$ Aug 5 at 19:13
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH I do not mean evaluate all new q and their first A's (again less extreames, more swarm logic) - no change in frequency of how often we interact with wb, so as no significant change in which q's we are interested in (maybe just a little - like expanding scope a little - hop, this one probably will have problems, let's see - just a random extra one for the day). A meta post may be a nice idea, maybe there are by a chance some suggestions, so as for those who may be curious what's happening, but it probably not me, at least not unitl I get some practice with the aporoach. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Aug 5 at 19:42
2
$\begingroup$

Don't ask for a list of ideas, ask for how to make a list of ideas

When you ask for a list of ideas, your question should be closed as per terms of use; however, pretty much any fishing for ideas question can be reworded in a way that asks for how to generate a list of ideas that works in your setting. Asking how to make your own list of ideas in a given situation fits the SE mission because now you are asking for a singular rule or system that works for your setting, and that is at its core what WB.SE is all about. So, as long as your question has some clearly set, non-plot based criteria for what the best system would achieve, you have a question that should not be closed.

EXAMPLES:

Bad Question: My system has too many combat spells, what are some non-combat spells I could add to balance it?

Good Question: My system has too many combat spells, how do I balance it with non-combat spells?

Bad Question: What kinds of things can a soldier in my setting do if he has a jetpack?

Good Question: What role would jetpack soldiers play in a my setting?

Bad Question: What kinds of planets would be too extreme for sustainable human life?

Good Question: What are the minimum and maximum environmental limitations for sustainable human life.

By asking for a system, the OP may not get a list hand delivered and placed in his lap, but in many ways he gets something better. He gets a higher order rule that will help guide him in making his own things.

That said... you probably will get a list of ideas hand delivered and placed in your lap anyway because people LOVE giving examples, and lists of examples are totally allowed. So, when someone gives you a rule about how to balance combat/non-combat spells, they can not make a compelling argument for why their system works best unless they give examples of specific non-combat spells. If they tell you what role jetpack soldiers play, then they would generally delve into examples of what that role does to explain why that role makes the most since. If they are defining human environmental tolerances, they likely mentioning specific situations where the environment is too hostile to support their claims.

So, by asking for a system for making a list of ideas, you will normally in the course of logical debate get a list of ideas without actually violating Stackexchange's Terms of Use.

$\endgroup$
3
  • $\begingroup$ I read this twice, the first time I thought this was a good idea, but the second time I realized the flaws. (a) Most of your "good questions" would be closed for lacking details, which the OP doesn't have or they wouldn't be asking the FFIQ in the first place. (b) Educating the OP about how to develop the ideas themselves is more opinion-based than just giving them the list. $\endgroup$ Aug 13 at 16:22
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @JoinJBHonCodidact (a) The examples are only question titles so as not to complicate the issue with too many variables. Don't read them as, does this title check all the boxes to pass, but read them as does this title check any boxes that automatically fail. IE: other issues could be addressed in body. (b) Educating the OP about how to develop the ideas is giving them a system to work with. System building is not an opinion because it's outcomes can be measured against the goals of the question. You can prove that a system will meet the goals through examples. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Aug 13 at 16:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The assumption that systems are not-opinions is the whole foundation for WB.SE's existence. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Aug 13 at 16:51

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