Can someone explain me what is wrong with this my question:

The maximum possible human population in fifty years, if we build up all the land

I have asked a simple theoretical (?) question for a simple (?) calculation. And I was expecting a simple number (with or without proper judgement) as an answer. Instead I have received a lot of (negative?) comments and questions asking or telling:

  • That there will be no resources to sustain my civilization, so my question is pointless / stupid
  • Will my civilization lower all the mountains and fill up all the oceans?
  • What will be your human grow rate to fill all that capacity?
  • Why don't I do this or that to my story.

When Worldbuilding was started I was told many times (and it was underlined in many comments) that we should strictly avoid questions or answers that are story-building instead of world-building.

Has that change in the site's formula since then? If not, then what am I missing?

I tried to answer above comments and questions that this will be solved in my world with that or this or by that... But this is all pure story building. Which I was sure we should avoid.

If I am asking about maximum Earth capacity in given scenario, must I really provide information on human's fertility rate to fill up that capacity? Or what would that people eat? For me asking such questions is pure story-building that brings nothing to a calculations one should make to provide the answer.


2 Answers 2


A Problem I Detect!, Yes?
Yes, there is a problem with your query, and it has a simple explanation. You yourself answered your own meta question, if unwittingly.

  • I have asked a simple theoretical (?) question for a simple (?) calculation.

The problem with your question is that it is not actually a worldbuilding question. It's a straight up request for us to do your maths homework for you by plugging numbers into an equation. Basically, we don't do your maths homework for you. You can pick your favourite search engine and google up the pertinent variables and apply the needed operations all by yourself to get the answer to your question.

You are correct that we should avoid storybuilding questions here. There is in the works a Q&A forum where storybuilding queries will be more welcome. Your linked query is obviously not storybuilding, so that's not the problem.

The problem is that you did not offer a question that addresses a problem or issue of actually conceptualising, devising, planning or fashioning a fictional world. The problem is that you asked us to do an arithmetic problem and you shrouded it within a thin veneer of worldbuilding.

Remove the veneer and your "question" becomes a bald command: Tell me the number of people that can live on Earth given the conditions X, Y & Z. That doesn't fly here.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your clarification. I agree with all your arguments and do admit that my question accidentally (not my intention) turned out to be not world-building. But, I also must admit that looking from that perspective, my question is not salvage at all. I can provide everything people ask in comments to my question, address all the doubts and... my question will again be simple math. Only with broader context and a little bit more colourful background. But still... asking how many people can live in this or that world ultimately narrows down to simple math as per me. $\endgroup$
    – trejder
    Aug 21, 2021 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ @trejder -- All this means is that, leaving maths questions aside, we'd be happy to entertain any cultural, religious, historical, scientific, alter-scientific, etc questions about your world you'd care to ask! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Aug 22, 2021 at 12:11
  • If I am asking about maximum Earth capacity in given scenario, must I really provide information on [...] what would that [sic] people eat?

Yes, you do

Producing enough food (and water, and raw materials etc.) for the inhabitants is exactly what "carrying capacity" means.

If all you wanted was for someone to multiply the land area of Earth, 148,940,000 km², with a given population density expressed in inhabitants/km², then what you really need is a remedial course in how to use a calculator.


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