Which would be stronger against armor: 8mm or 6mm?

Research screenshot looks like a military manual, or a manufacturer ballistics calculation site.

Question... "what caliber is best" ? no further explanation, 0% story context, 0% science fiction, this is simply a question about currently existing RW ammunition.

I wonder if this (very) specialized stuff on ammunition is off topic or not ? I would prefer so actually.. Does WB have rules, or a description of target scope for WB, that could prevent this kind of factual inquiries on bullets ?

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    $\begingroup$ Note : Reality check is about asking if something is doable in a given context. It's not about choosing whether option A is better or worse than option B in a given context :p. Doesn't seem like reality-check here therefore. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 23:22
  • $\begingroup$ Ah excuse me, "reality check" is a tag, this is not about the tag, I will adjust the above question and title. This is about asking questions on WB about real world ammunition and their real world effects. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 23:33
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I still understood your question :). I just wanted to clear that up, that poor lonesome tag often get misunderstood. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 23:41
  • $\begingroup$ A question like that might fit on Physics.SE, since answerers could actually crunch the numbers. They might need more specifics. $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 2:36

2 Answers 2


TLDR: questions about caliber aren't off topic. But you need to demonstrate worldbuilding purpose.

The question isn't whether something is about worldbuilding or not. In the right case pretty much everything can be framed in terms of it being a worldbuilding question. What matters for this site is that the worldbuilding context is made apparent to us.

We already split this difference with our policy on banning questions about existing works of fiction. Asking how plausible is it for a moon to have a forest on it?" is an excellent worldbuilding question. However asking "how plausible is the forest moon of Endor?" is likely to be closed right away, despite engendering pretty much the same assessment.

We expect questions on this site to demonstrate their worldbuilding purpose. It's a pretty low bar to clear. Just file off the labels of any fictional work and provide the context about why you need to know the exact diameter of the rounds being fired.

  • $\begingroup$ There is no story context or WB purpose at all in this case. The question better be put on a website of Smith & Wesson, making a factual inquiry about their products. It does not belong on SE imho, we are all hobbyists, these are questions for professionals in the field. Maybe these folks also roam around here, being happy to answer such questions.. but it chased me out, for a few hours. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 0:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Goodies Exactly. If I'm asking which is better caliber A or caliber B I haven't demonstrated worldbuilding purpose. If I'm asking would the UK have adopted a different caliber for their MBR if they didn't join NATO then I'm asking about something relevant to the alternative history I'm trying to construct, and as such have demonstrated worldbuilding purpose. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 1:08
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    $\begingroup$ I think we agree.. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 1:11
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    $\begingroup$ Not directly relevant to this post, but for the avoidance of doubt: "how plausible is the forest moon of Endor?" would also be off-topic at the Science Fiction & Fantasy site. SFF is all about existing works of fiction, but questions asking for real-world scientific explanations or plausibility are explicitly off-topic according to one of our custom close reasons. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 17, 2021 at 13:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Randal'Thor I'm not on SFF often enough to know their close reasons. That's useful information when people start asking "Where can I talk about how realistic my favorite content is?" $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Dec 17, 2021 at 15:51
  • $\begingroup$ "But you need to demonstrate worldbuilding purpose." <-This is a World Building site, the default assumption is that if you ask a question here, it is for world building. This expectation immediately invalidates the majority of questions on this site. More often than not, the problem is that people go too far into depth about why they are asking a question and they get VtCed for being plot based. It has never been the reasonability of the OP to include anything to prove that they are World Building. It is the reasonability of the VtC to point out any proof that the OP is NOT World Building $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Dec 30, 2021 at 18:25

Does WB have rules, or a description of target scope for WB, that could prevent this kind of factual inquiries on bullets?

Is it off topic for being about factual stuff?

No, WB.SE supports this sort of question. When Goodies says "0% science fiction", this is irrelevant because real world questions are officially on topic as long as they provide enough context to let users know why you are asking the question, can not be answered by a simple Google search, and includes what requirement your answer will be judged by.

When he says "0% story context" he is actually misunderstanding requirement #1 because the official guidelines are not for STORY context at all. Story context is plot which IS off topic here. By "context", the guidelines simply mean that the question includes enough information so that users know "what kind of answer you want."

This question specifies that they want a bullet that can pernitrate a certain amount of armor at a given range which satisfies why they are asking the question. It includes research notes that proves the OP tried to answer the question on his own, but could not. It also states that he is looking for the best option between the two for an anti-armor round satisfying the 3rd point.

So, as for the question if this is on topic for being about real world stuff, then answer is that yes it is.

Is it off topic for being about Bullets?

Bullets (or more specifically, the terminal ballistic properties of bullets) are a mix of technology and physics which are both specifically listed as on topic for this site. So it passes this test as well.

Does this question demonstrate a World Building Purpose?

Sphennings posted this question in his answer but does not cite it. Nowhere in the official rules is this actually necessary. You do not need to say "I am writing a story" in your question. We have rules on this site about what is NOT world building like questions about an established franchise or questions about plot and character development, but there is no rule that says you explicitly have to say what you are working on. That said, even if you were apply this unofficial requirement to the Referenced Post, the OP of this question specifically states "I am working on a sci-fi thing" completely invalidating this argument in this case for a reason to close a question. No, he does not say what his sci-fi thing is about, but we do not need to know any of that to be able to answer the question as asked or to know that he is in fact asking this question in a World Building capacity.

Should the cited question have been closed anyway?

Possibly... while the question is fully within the official scope of WB.SE, there is always the possible issue that a question needs more needs details or clarity. Not everyone has the same ideas about what "needs details or clarity" means because not all possible answers need more questions asked. For example, this question could easily be answered from the perspective that the only factor the OP cares about is penetrating the example armor, but there may be other caveats to consider. Knowing how important things like cost, reliability, versatility, ammo capacity, accuracy, carry weight, etc. are to the OP would help set clearer goals for a best possible answer.

That said, if you are going to VtC a question for lack of clarity, you should always explain why. While this is not an official rule, it is extremely unkind to do because it does not let the OP know what they need to do differently to get the question reopened later.

  • $\begingroup$ Oh swiffy, the comment's thread's a lot smaller now that you rewrote the answer from scratch. Doesn't change my stance however ^^. Guess I'll rephrase it in as few words as possible :[...] $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 3, 2022 at 12:41
  • $\begingroup$ [...] There is no worldbuilding context in the question. Asking about which ammo is better disregarding weapon type, targets, economy and usage is asking for "what" but not telling "why" ("why do you want to get there?"). Why did they ask only for these two ammos? Why against this specific target type and range? Why is weapon type not important? [...] $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 3, 2022 at 12:43
  • $\begingroup$ [...] In that regard, I'd like to copy-paste AlexP's comment from another post : "There is no such thing as a weapon effective against any opponent.". Outside iron plates, it's impossible to know what kind of opponents they are facing without making many and too much assumptions. Compare with this question or this one, which both include goals and actual worldbuilding thoughts, not pure physics and ballistic ones. [...] $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 3, 2022 at 12:44
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    $\begingroup$ [...] In case the context is missing, we shouldn't make guesses about unknown parts of the asker's world to build up our own. We should ask them for context. And to do that, we have to close the question, comment, and either send them on another site/source to get better information or edit/reopen the question. Questions without context are most likely to miss what it is really sought, and they are unhelpful to other people that might ask the same thing :]. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 3, 2022 at 12:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena I re-answered because I realized neither of us were discussing the question "Does WB have rules, or a description of target scope for WB, that could prevent this kind of factual inquiries on bullets?" The answer is plainly "no it does not". What ever other issues you have with the cited post are irrelevant to the OP's question. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Jan 3, 2022 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena that said, as I try to see this from your point of view, I do think mentioning the "needs details or clarity" rule and how to address that when VtCing a question is worth including since that seems to be what you are really talking about here. See my revised answer. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Jan 3, 2022 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ It's more relevant we discussed this as you think, because as it lacks "worldbuilding" part, it cannot be considered as a worldbuilding question, therefore "off-topic" as asked. That was something I missed from my summary. However, seeing it another way, yep it could be seen as in need of details :). In anycase, since "official" closure reasons are chosen by majority and they are all fuzzy blurry (especially to new users), it's generally a good idea to sharpen them in comments, both off-topic and clarity. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 3, 2022 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena You are not responding to the question being asked. When someone asks a meta question about one thing, and you confound it by focusing on another, you encourage fallacies by association. Stop focusing on what you do not like about the example question and read what is really being asked. Questions about factual bullets ARE ON TOPIC. Period, there is no grey zone here. Whether YOU see this as a world building topic does not matter because this is a question about the official rules of WB.SE, not your opinions about the rules. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Jan 3, 2022 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki did your replace the text here ? My comments seem to have disappeared. You did not answer these comments, but now I am referred to many times in the new answer text, without my words and what I wanted to say. We can have the same debate again, but I don't see that as productive. When you want to comment, please answer the comment, Also, you put that link again, but most members - including me - are not able to read the original topic. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Commented Jan 3, 2022 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Goodies Sorry, I deleted the other answer because I realized it was not answering your question. You asked if real bullets were are on topic and I answered if they should be, not if they are. The question you've cited has other problems that confounds your question, but instead consider this one: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/193107/… It specifically uses a real world bullet a (.50BMG-SLAP) but has all of the World Building context that your example is missing. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Jan 3, 2022 at 17:30
  • $\begingroup$ So there is nothing wrong with using real bullets in questions. My concern is that you (and other users) are associating real world bullets with other problems that specific questions include. If you make it an over-arching rule not to use real bullets, then you invalidate all of the research that goes into questions that are looking for guidance in accurately portraying ballistic weapons. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Jan 3, 2022 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki the topic you link is far better, it asks for "ideal material specs" for a new armor. It does not ask to pick some existing RL caliber of some existing RL bullet. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Commented Jan 3, 2022 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Goodies So, are you saying that using real life bullets is okay as long as it is just a point of reference for designing something new in your setting? $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Jan 3, 2022 at 18:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki If you want to go the "fallacies way", you're oversimplifying my arguments and made it all black and white (straw man). Questions about bullets are not all on-topics **in each and every state", that's my whole argument but alas, you seem to divert it again, playing the red herring :). Besides, you say that we cannot use the question used to describe the kind of question... Well, how do we describe said kind of questions then? If you wish to continue, I'd advise to do so in discussion. I don't wanna see these comments pile up again. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 3, 2022 at 18:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena I'm not over simplifying your argument or saying not to reference the reference question. I am saying that there are elements of the reference question that have nothing to do with Goodies's question. It comes off as you are trying to invalidate the entire topic of IRL ammo because of unrelated problems with a single question, but the topic of IRL ammo itself is in-scope. It is okay to say that question should be closed for other reasons, but the use of IRL bullets is not a reason to close it, and that is the question that Goodies asked here. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Jan 3, 2022 at 18:40

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