In developing societal norms for a fictional culture I chose to put a representative through various stimuli and share its response. This expository method follows the “Don’t say there’s an elephant, describe the elephant” rule of problem solving. My representative has no name or individuality (or, I intended this at least).

The stimuli are being seen by some as motivations. My delivery is being received as a request to guide my protagonists through a crisis rather than derive a culture-driven response to certain stimuli.

Before I share it, yes, it is long. No comments needed to that. I’ve seen this done and received well, but I missed the nuance apparently.

Votes just closed my question as “not world-building” I hope some wording can be adjusted to show my Chik’en as a product of its culture.

My gut tells me one thing that could clear up: The story doesn’t tell at all what happened after the decision to cross the road was made. I feel there will be a tendency to deduct that the Chik’en followed through with nefarious plans. But I am not asking “Why did the Chik’en pillage a city,” I suspect that will be assumed.

How can I portray a cultural response to a stimulus that avoids looking like a specific character’s motive?

(Identifying words I used that preclude my query would be helpful) ——-

Intended responses

Things I hoped the query would draw are:

  • Chik’ens are pranksters but respectful in general, so the chicken was going across the Road to trick them into…
  • Chik’ens hate conflict, under pressure they buckle and become…
  • Chik’en culture is very loyal, and even if one is taken away like this, they will protect their own. The chicken is setting a trap, and will…

The point is the response is cultural and not personal, despite having some of the stimuli originating at home. That was to point out the resiliency of the culture to withstand pressure

  • $\begingroup$ You hoped that the respondents would invent the culture for you? And you don't see why this is off-topic? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Feb 26, 2022 at 17:53

4 Answers 4


Part I. An answer to this question:

How can I portray a cultural response to a stimulus that avoids looking like a specific character’s motive?

  1. Do not talk about individuals:

    Ex. In culture X it is common to curse in response to being cursed.

  2. Use individuals as examples and make sure that they are seen as examples of cultural responses:

    Ex. In culture Y it is common to buy a present for parents after receiving one's first paycheck, for example, Person A, a young man from country Y, bought warm red underwear for his parents after receiving his first salary.

  3. Identify the custom/cultural response as such when describing someone's actions:

    Ex. 1. Like many other men in his country, A presented B with a diamond ring when he proposed.

    Ex. 2. Following the custom, B resigned after she got married.

Overall your text should focus on culture and cultural responses, not the actions of a particular character.

Part II. How to get my vote to reopen your question

I do not agree that your question is 'too story-based' because you say this:

Answers are based on motives that are consistent with the plotline and the unique social norms of Chik'ens.

But as I said in the comments I think that your question is unanswerable because you do not provide information about the existing social norms. Therefore, it is not possible to make any predictions or talk about motivations related to social norms. I would vote to close as needing details if there were not 4 'too story-based' VTCs already.

In order to get my vote to reopen your question you need to do the following:

  1. edit your query for brevity

    it is a very long but not very informative read, a lot of details are not really necessary and only add noise

  2. add a list of social norms

    I will be easily satisfied with the Ten Commandments style, but other people might need a bit more. So I would suggest explaining each social norm in a sentence or two.

I would also advise against using the expository method in the future. The WB.SE community is not the right audience. Here people prefer bullet lists, getting straight to the point, and no mentions of individual characters.

Some reasoning behind my approach.

  1. I apply the principle of charity to all questions, which means that I tend to choose the most reasonable, logical, and constructive interpretation. The most constructive interpretation of your question, IMO, is this: 'What are probable motives for the Chik'en to cross the Road given specific social norms?'.

  2. I always see characters in this kind of question as members of a class, not individuals. There are 2 reasons for this:

  • this is the most charitable interpretation;
  • fictional characters are not individuals, they do not have the same complexity as real humans and they do not have will or desires of their own; they are artificial constructs that behave according to a set of rules1 (this makes them classes of objects, as opposed to individuals).
  1. I make a strong distinction between can and should. 'Can' is related to possibilities and probabilities, which are not random or arbitrary and which I see as part of worldbuilding. 'Should' is related to specific choices, which is part of story and character development.

    Your question does not ask whether the Chik'en should cross the Road. It asks why, in other words, it asks for reasons. Given the constraints specified in the question (plotline and social norms) the most charitable interpretation is that you ask a 'can' question, not a 'should' question.

  2. I have some background in psychology so I do not share the view that all motivation is something unpredictable and deeply personal. Some motives are related to personal preferences and desires, but far from all of them. In addition to this, motivation is a popular research topic in psychology, sociology, and economics, so it is possible to talk about motives without much speculation. Considering that I see characters as artificial constructs there is very little room for arbitrary decisions2.

    Your question specifies that answers should be based on social norms and known facts from the story. This makes the question answerable if information about social norms is provided and we assume (or you state) that the Chik'en is not very different from humans psychologically.

1 Please note that while all fictional characters are artificial constructs, not all questions about them can be considered worldbuilding. Most of the questions are in-between worldbuilding, character development, and story.

2 I agree that it is a bit of a grey zone on the WB.SE, but I would never say that all questions about motivation are always off-topic. Motives and motivation are an important part of worldbuilding when we are talking about societies and cultures or the philosophy of the world.

  • $\begingroup$ That's the key difference in our approach which leads to different results : the principle of charity. You take the best interpretation in the sense that you close as much as possible the gaps yourself thinking the "best" of it and people. To my eyes it's a bit like... Optimism? In contrast, I choose from what I find is the most important issue at the time and the one that'll solve the most things in one go (if we're helped, of course). Given that asking for details is less daunting than telling it's off-topic and you're more likely to do the first, I believe it's a nicer way, too :). $\endgroup$ Feb 26, 2022 at 9:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena It is not about closing the gaps. It is more about respecting fellow humans. It is also the most rational approach to most discussions. And it is the best way to stay focused on the actual problems the questioner needs help with. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Feb 26, 2022 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ Rationality and reasonability have many definitions; Mine is more like facing ourselves of what we think against the facts. Well, to be exact, against our observations of the facts. From my point of view, you set the bar very high against what's seen, hence I'm thinking it's more you see the best from people, the 2nd part of the charity's principle. That's what I meant by optimist. However, it's likely that your thinking sees it as reasonable, while I don't as I've set the "optimistic" bar lower. Still, remember that you can be friendly without maxing out the charity's principle 🐶. $\endgroup$ Feb 26, 2022 at 19:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena I think you are misunderstanding something. I do not care much about being friendly. It does not bother me when people dislike me unless their emotions prevent them from having a rational conversation with me. When it comes to the WB.SE I care only about 2 things: 1) getting good answers to questions, because the purpose of the WB.SE is to help world creators with their problems; 2) following the actual rules. || I do not understand your point about bars. Please note that my definition of rationality is 'the quality of being based on or in accordance with reason or logic'. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Feb 26, 2022 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ The "bar" is how far I can relate a presented fact to an hypothesis, and in the principle's charity idea, the best hypothesis that is to the best advantage to the other party (ie. optimism). Perhaps in other words it could mean that I apply less the charity's principle? I'll end here unless you want to know more, but before I have my own doubts. So I want to be on the same page : When defining your rationality (so to say), what do you mean by the "quality of being based"? It seems like a word+comma is missing after "quality", like "the quality of thinking, based on..." $\endgroup$ Feb 26, 2022 at 19:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena There is no comma missing. This is a dictionary definition of rationality. This is also one of the most generic definitions of rationality. You can try Wikipedia for elaboration on this definition. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Feb 26, 2022 at 20:01

The third side of the coin

First off, I always appreciate queries that look into cultures, social structures and corporate motivations. Especially when the worldbuilder is trying to examine peoples and cultures that differ considerably from the human model.

You've gotten the psychological underpinnings and the SE specifics handled very well by Otkin and JBH.

I'd like to focus on the writing, basically a critique that I hope might give you some ideas for making your underlying query work better. (And yes! It's going to be long!)

In perusing the comments, I note that several of them can be interpreted in terms of writing. Particularly those that dwell on storybuilding vs worldbuilding, formatting, form without substance and the like.

If I were to have written a comment on the writing, I might have said something like it comes across generally as disorganised and disjointed; word choice and formatting leave me confused as to what's being asked. I not sure I wouldn't have closed for being story based or not! I can easily see why that was the overwhelming reason, though I think there are other issues.

First impression is almost always mechanics. Spelling, grammar, usage, formatting. SGUF. As a writer, I'd note that your spelling is not bad, but paying closer attention to the red underlines would reveal the few errors that exist. Worse are some odd word choices. Right off "a metaphorical children's book"? Do you actually mean "metaphorical", like the use of a commonplace item to mean something deeper? Or did you mean "hypothetical", like a book that you could actually write but are not actually writing because the purpose is other than writing an actual book. Or did you mean something else? Metaphorical may well be the right word! -- but you didn't really convince me. Thus, I see this as a red flag of the "how much of this long query am I going to have to parse just to ensure I get the OP's meaning right" kind.

The worst of the first impression falls under formatting. You begin with a basic description of what you're doing, which seems to morph into a description of the Chik'en character as a person and then into the Pil-Dalians as a group, to their perceptions and then to their observations.

Its unclear where the story starts, what the story actually is and what's descriptive and what's part of the story. I think this could easily be fixed with some (very tasteful) section headers. You might also consider separating the description of the Pil-Dalians from that of the Chik'en character. And speaking of the Chik'en character, you might want to replace the description of this specific character with a description of Chik'ens in general. That way you're looking at society vs society, rather than our society vs a visitor from eslewhere.

The writing itself is somewhat tedious. Word choices and sentence structures are odd. Grammar is not well construed. Style, I think, might be off putting to some (and I must disclose that it was off putting to me); yet I am setting that aside in the hopes of getting what I believe to be a good question clarified and reopened. I'm just going to look at one paragraph as an example of writing & stylistic issues:

One time, their Chik'en was seen trying to go out into Welford Lake so it could have a camp on the island. It would walk this way and that, putting things in the water, trying for a raft. A visitor came to the lake, which is a bit outside the village, with a boat on a cart, and he apparently wanted to do some fishing. The Chik'en stopped its raft-building experiments and hid behind a bush as the visitor arrived. The visitor went about untying his boat, and preparing his gear, and apparently went away to go look for bait. Perhaps some worms or grubs, as he was looking intently at the ground with a cup in his hand. The visitor disappeared into the shubs, but the Chik'en was seen pondering only a little, and then returned to Pil-Dale. It became almost a legend in quiet mutterings when the youthful kids who saw this returned. Certainly, if they had some desire to get to an island, and a boat was put in front of you, they would have taken the boat! Who would not? But carrying such a thing around would just be a bother, they only stayed to observe this curious creature. This created suspicions in the village, and people became wary of the Chik'en.

  • "Their Chik'en": who are we talking about? Assuming this is the opening sentence of the story, I'd have expected to be clued in to who is doing what. Outside of the story, I know you mean the Pil-Dalians; but inside the story, we won't have the previous descriptive paragraphs. Which leads me to second guess not only my reading, but also your purpose: is this even a story, or is this just a continuation of the description of what the Pil-Dalians were planning?
  • "Trying" doesn't make sense here. The Chik'en clearly went to the lake, so there is no issue of making an attempt. Since this is a report of what they saw, the first thing they would have seen is the Chik'en going to the lake.
  • "It, he, they, etc." Pick a pronoun and stick with it! Since you're dealing with a specific character, pick she or he and remain consistent.
  • "Have a camp" doesn't make sense. "A camp" of course can mean many things such as a public grounds for camping, a military base, a small cabin or house situated in a recreational area that one does not live in permanently. I suspect the Chik'en wanted to "go camping".
  • "Would" is not the right verb here. "Would" can express a bajillion things in English, but it seems that a simple past tense would be the best choice here. As it stands, I think the clearest reading of this sentence is one of habitual action, which is, I think, not what you're going for.
  • Comma splice. This sentence and the next one read almost as comma splices. The concatenation of motifs separated by commas is probably not the best style choice overall. But I could be convinced otherwise if your plan is to write a "dialect" story.
  • "Try for" is of course a phrasal verb, most often with a goal or something intangible as its object. Here, I'd have expected the simple verb "try", "trying to make a raft".
  • "Apparently". Too many in close proximity. Either pick a synonym or don't ascribe motive to the characters, especially since you've specified that this is "what they found out" about the Chik'en's behaviour. Why would they be interested in determining the motivation of a fellow Pil-Dalian? Repetition can be useful, but I don't think it adds anything here.
  • "Pondering". Again, ascribing a motivation or assuming an interior state of mind. He could have just been daydreaming about grubs!
  • "only a little". Only a little what? As written, "a little" describes the quality of the pondering: in other words, he didn't think much! I got the feeling that they were trying to describe a relatively short space of time; and if that's the case, I'd have expected "he was seen pondering only a little while before returning...".
  • "It became almost a legend in quiet mutterings when the youthful kids who saw this returned." I'm not certain how to read or connect "in quiet mutterings" with the rest of the sentence. Generally, we don't "mutter" legendary events. We might whisper them furtively or tell them excitedly. "...when the youthful kids who saw this returned." "Youthful kids" is a tautology. "Returned" is a little unclear in the context of a relative clause. Who is the subject of see and returned is the object of see. What this means is that the children "saw some thing or object returned to someone". I don't think that's what you meant; I'd have expected "...who saw the Chik'en's behaviour returned home."
  • "... if they ... in front of you ... they would" Don't vacillate! Again, keep pronouns consistent. Pick one and stick with it.
  • "But carrying such a thing around would just be a bother, they only stayed to observe this curious creature." This one is a comma splice. Also a non sequitur as the second phrase does not follow from the first and the first doesn't logically lead to the second. Carrying the boat is clearly connected to the previous idea of stealing a boat, but observing the creature ought to be excised. It doesn't fit anywhere. You could edit this phrase to introduce who did the observing and something of the manner of the observation and put it up in the beginning of the paragraph. This would solve the "Their" problem!
  • "An island". While not incorrect, it doesn't seem the best choice either. Since "the island" out on Welford Lake is already an established place in this paragraph and in the awareness of the kids doing the observing, I'd have expected them, or the narrator, to refer to it as "the island" in the context of considering the stealing of a boat. Thematically, it would tie the strange actions of the Chik'en to the local geography of the Pil-Dalians.
  • "This created suspicions..." What created suspicions exactly? What's the reference? I'm pretty sure your antecedent is "everyone in Pil-Dale was a taker by nature" from a few paragraphs ago, but the Chik'en has done so many things just in this paragraph that the antecedent ought to be specified.

Over all, the style seems to read as a kind of stream of conscious dialect tale. Some random things happen and things are described in a way that's more reminiscent of a grocery list than a story. It comes across as rambling and overly intimate. It lacks narrative cohesion. This can be perfectly fine when done well and in the right context. I think you could have done the stream of conscious better; but I don't think a SE question is the place to show it off like this!

Part of the disjoint I mentioned earlier I'd argue stems from the insertion of the story itself. It seems like the Pil-Dalians are trying to understand what makes the Chik'ens tick, but you are inserting a story about particular individuals and their own motivations and biases and misunderstandings which I think ultimately breaks the question.

What can be done? Given that your Meta question is "How can I portray a cultural response to a stimulus that avoids looking like a specific character’s motive?"; I think the best thing you can do, honestly, is to delete the story that happens in the middle of the Main question. Honestly, if it were well written and entertaining and seemed to mesh with the underlying question, I'd probably give it a pass. But slogging through something that looks like a very rough first draft and is not terribly entertaining and doesn't really mesh with the question at hand I think its inclusion is more detrimental than helpful.

A couple of the comments focused on the fact that your story relates to a single character rather than a whole society. This makes it almost impossible for me to overlook the individual Chik'en's actions and motivations. I understand why you'd like to use a single character to represent a whole culture; and I also think that doing so would actually work in the context of a story that is part of a book of stories about the weirdness of the other and coming to grips with it. It does not work in the context of a WB.SE question.

These problems can be fixed by the usual process of editing & rewriting. Basically, reread and rewrite the story itself for SGUF and for narrative interest. Reread, edit and possibly rewrite and reformat the question itself. Above all, if you're going to use a story as background for a question, please make me want to read the story rather than have to slog through only to end up not getting the connexion.

On second thought, if you really do want to keep the story as background, I'd suggest shifting it either to the very end, where it can be used as a reference, or else putting it at the top with a note that this is a story that you've written and that respondents are to understand the story, not as a narrative, but as a cultural object that you have a question about. It still needs editing and rewriting, but at least this way the story's presence is given a context.

Lastly: Get Your Story Straight! In your Main query, you specifically ask for an individual's motives:

But why? Why did the Chik'en cross the very dangerous Road?

Answers are based on motives that are consistent with the plotline and the unique social norms of Chik'ens.

Here in Meta, you declare that you want to ask about cultural or social phenomena, not individual motives:

How can I portray a cultural response to a stimulus that avoids looking like a specific character’s motive?

The story you told is all about an individual Chik'en. Even though he is a representative member of all Chik'endom, he is also his own person and has his own quirks, his own story, and worst of all, he has lived in Pil-Dalia for some time and is thus culturally contaminated. What you're portraying in the story has to be some unknown admixture of his native Chik'en culture, his adopted Pil-Dalian culture and his own particular personality as it is informed by these two cultures.

Careful attention to composing the query and writing the components of both the query and the story will go a long way to making your question reopenable.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I reread your answer and found out what SGUF meant : Spelling, Grammar, Usage, Formatting. I missed the link at first ^^'. $\endgroup$ Feb 26, 2022 at 9:20
  • $\begingroup$ Is there a real need to trash the OP's writing style? Most of your answer is dedicated to expressing your dissatisfaction with their style rather than answering the OP's questions. AFAIK, the WB.SE rules do not require great writing. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Feb 26, 2022 at 19:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Otkin The question's title is "Can I word this better to reopen?"; And one of the question's sentence is about how long it is and "how they've seen this done and received well, but they missed the nuance apparently.". Also, only Elemtilas themselves will be able to confirm this, but I guess the writing style that "left them confused on what is being asked" led them to not "be sure they wouldn't have closed for being story based or not!". $\endgroup$ Feb 26, 2022 at 20:22
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    $\begingroup$ Besides, if this is thrashing for you, I don't advise you come to the school I were, or look at some of the online reviews I received from my work. Those were oftentimes really ugly and non-constructive :(. $\endgroup$ Feb 26, 2022 at 20:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena Perhaps 'to trash' was not the best choice of words. But my question still stands. Is such a detailed analysis of mistakes necessary? Does it add anything to the argument? Especially considering that the analysis itself contains mistakes? Would not it be more constructive to limit this 'critique' to several examples? Please note that your own argument (some online reviews you've received are even worse) is an example of the logical fallacy known as Two wrongs don't make a right. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Feb 27, 2022 at 3:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena TBH, I am not that invested in talking about this topic. I was just wondering about it casually because, in my opinion, a lot of the elemtilas' criticism of the original question equally applies to this answer. My impression of their answer can be described with this quote from the very same text: 'it comes across generally as disorganised and disjointed; word choice and formatting leave me confused as to what's being' answered. But I guess it all boils down to personal preferences. I tend to favour more neutral, more academic styles of writing. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Feb 27, 2022 at 4:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Otkin You didn't get the two underlying meanings and so took it as a fallacious argument : First it's not wrong to give constructive arguments, relatively to online reviews that end up with just 0 star and one word. On the contrary, if Elemtilas helps in improving the work and preventing the latters reviews from coming... Second, if you can't receive this kind of criticism, then you're probably not ready to publish as said online reviews risk a lot to be soul-destroyer class attacks. And those ones won't be from Elemtilas. $\endgroup$ Feb 27, 2022 at 10:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena Let's agree to disagree and stop here to avoid hurting people's feelings. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Feb 27, 2022 at 21:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Otkin As long as you understood that I see Elemtilas's attempt as positive and not negative, yes, we're settled :). I don't intend to change your mind about how it was performed. $\endgroup$ Feb 27, 2022 at 22:23

No one is splitting hairs

You were quoted the Help Center:

If ... you aren’t sure what a character (be it an individual or organization) should do, that is out of scope for the site.

From your own question we read:

The Chik'en said that he would do this. He would cross the Road, and lead them into his city, and his home, to take things for their village. His only answer was a riddle to them all: "Because I am a Chik'en."

But why? Why did the Chik'en cross the very dangerous Road?

Answers are based on motives that are consistent with the plotline and the unique social norms of Chik'ens.

  • "The Chik'en said..." means you're dealing with a decision made by one character.

  • "Consistent with the plotline" violates another Help Center statement:

When asking questions keep in mind that the goal of the site is to help you build your world, not to tell your story.

How you ask a question is important

A question asking why all horses would prefer to stand in the shade is on-topic because you're asking about the behavior of the species (creature design) and therefore a rule of your world.

Asking why (as an example) the United Nations (an organization) would prefer to hold meetings in the shade is off-topic because the United Nations is not a creature or a species — it's a group of individuals individually contributing to a decision on behalf of the organization. On other words, the United Nations is not a creature that has an independent psychology.

Asking why one creature makes any decision — especially a decision that's "consistent with the plotline" — is storybuilding and that's off-topic.


  • Because what would motivate an individual or an organization to make a decision is based too much on the story, too much on individual variation with the species, and not enough on the rules of the world — and we do not answer questions about storybuilding.

NOTE #1: the fact that any question that should have been closed was left open is not precedent to ignore the Help Center.

NOTE #2: Popularity is 100% irrelevant.

  • $\begingroup$ You probably won't like reading this, but I think there's a strawman's not far when people in the United Nations would seriously ponder if they should make most/all meetings in the shade, like if they were horses or -in my head- prepping for a picnic. The absurdity of the situation makes it easier for the mind to throw away without actually moving your point forward very much :). I know it's easier to make the transition from a "aye" to "nay" that way, but perhaps you should think about something the United Nations would actually "choose" (->so story-based) to prove more strongly your point? $\endgroup$ Feb 26, 2022 at 0:47
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    $\begingroup$ While I agree with your answer, I'd only note that the UN is in fact a "creature" with an independent psychology. It is not just a collection of individuals who each choose their own actions. Rather it is very much like a herd of horses, or a culture or a society. A metaorganism, a corporate body. It has its own cultural norms, its expectations, its hierarchies and its procedures. I suspect that the answer to why the UN would prefer to meet in the shade is pretty much why horses prefer to stand in the shade. Two different cultures respond to a particular situation in a similar way. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Feb 26, 2022 at 6:16
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas Do you have a better example of the "organization" part of the help center's restriction? I believe the point of the statement is that there's a difference between a choice (a conscious decision based on a complex set of factors too dependent on the circumstances of the story for Worldbuilding) and a reaction (an unconscious behavior based on the physiology or psychology of a species that is reasonably predictable across the species for the same set of circumstances). I believe the reason "organizations" was included in the statement is that (*continued*) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 27, 2022 at 14:56
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas ...it's nearly impossible to separate individual decisions from organizational behavior. Having said that, I think we (especially Vogon) are having trouble separating creature design (which is what I believe you're talking about when you refer to the UN) from the actions and choices of characters. "What decision would X make?* is invalid whether asking about me or the UN. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 27, 2022 at 15:00
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas You know, what this really boils down to is that Vogon hasn't paid much attention to the help center. He's not even using the perfect question checklist, which is included in the first bullet page in the help center. First "negative question that should be answered 'no'" is, "Do you ask how your character would act in a given situation?" $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 27, 2022 at 15:23
  • $\begingroup$ "Do you have a better example of the "organization" part of the help center's restriction?" Yes, there is; One that is realistic to what the UN would actually choose :). I mean, you could take my example and turn it to your side, it would be more valid. This aside, Vogon didn't ask "Would Chik'en cross the Road" or "how would Chik'en act in a given situation". They asked "why did they cross the road?". So the answer to this first bullet is "no". $\endgroup$ Feb 27, 2022 at 16:12
  • $\begingroup$ (though... Note that they failed the point 10 of the perfect question list : I took more than 5 minutes to read it :) ) $\endgroup$ Feb 27, 2022 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ @JoinJBHonCodidact -- Organisation vs Collection of Individuals... Hm. Well, one timely one, if we replace UN by NATO, is what's going on relative to Ukraine. Individual NATO countries can choose to act and respond as they see fit. I think the US has sent weapons systems and so forth; Germany I believe sent some helmets. Every country has its own needs, its own priorities and will make its own policies. I'd say that is "actions of an individual character". But when the ominous music starts playing and talk turns to Article Five, well (cont) $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Feb 28, 2022 at 2:23
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    $\begingroup$ (cont) all of a sudden NATO has to act as one. It's no longer a choice of a character, but the invocation of rule or system of the scenario. In this respect, NATO would be acting as an organisation following the rules of the world. I'd say that's worldbuilding because we're talking about how things get started, how they have to play out, what rules must be followed regardless of choices, regardless of motives, regardless of emotions. If Vogon had focused on the Chik'ens as a race or a culture then I'd not have an issue. To bring it back to the UN, if there were, buried deep in the UN (cont) $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Feb 28, 2022 at 2:27
  • $\begingroup$ (cont) Charter, a paragraph that says *...between the hours of 11am and 5pm Eastern Time, and when the Sun is shining in NYC, the several Committees, Subcommittees, Commissions, Subcommissions, Commissariats and Subcommissariats of the Entirety shall adjourn to the shady spots of Central Park..." that would be akin to asking why horses stand in the shade. That's more a "rule that governs" rather than a "motivation that convicts" or a "stimulation that prods". $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Feb 28, 2022 at 2:30
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas In regard to your comments and after some thought, I think the point here is that we should be happy to help people develop the charter, constitution, bylaws, etc. of an organization because that is what defines the organization's "psychology." How an organization (or any member) reacts to a specific situation could be asked as a reality-check if both the circumstance and the proposed reaction is given to judge consistency. Asking how any organization should react, even if the bylaws, etc., are completely known, falls into the "what they would do" restriction. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 2, 2022 at 0:37
  • $\begingroup$ @JoinJBHonCodidact -- happy to help, yes; how it does react, yes; how it should react, yes. Agreed on all three points! I think it's important to distinguish between points 2 and 3. Situational reality check vs what ultimately comes down to a choice of individual department heads. Me I think a number of "story based queries" get closed even when they're examples of point 2. For some reason I have in mind an old query about a spaceship in need of repair and folks arguing about the decisions of the captain as being germane. I'll see if I can dig it up. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Mar 2, 2022 at 4:21

I actually had thought of more than one possible closure reasons. So let's split hairs, but two big, fatty ones, to understand the why and indirectly how to improve your question.

Your question needs clarity

Let's get the smaller fur out; I know I have the attention span of a butterfly 🦋, but even working around that by rereading twice slowly I don't remember much of the story.

That's because I don't know why you tell about all this. The story's intentions are not matching the question's, so it becomes a swamp swiping many subjects of interest, but few that actually interest us.

To give you a few instances I was wondering why you're telling me this in regards to the title question "Why did the Chik'en cross the road?"

  • You're asking about a Road, yet there's a named lake far-off in the distance, a fisherman which seems to not be part of any of the interested parties and the type of baits they're using?.
  • How's Dreon's traits are important, this AFTER Chik'en crossed the Road? The reasons to cross the road can't be related to who they met after it.
  • Chik'en becomes "the Chik'en" (singular o_x?), then "he/his", then "them/its". Very confusing in the end. Also, why all characters are called directly by their name but not Chik'en?
  • Wait a mini-nut, you ask the reasons Chik'en cross the Road, but then you tell they "might" actually not have crossed the Road and they don't recall anything?

Your question is too story-based

That's the reason I chose, and there're many factors leading to that.

You talked about one character only

And I mean beyond talking about one character, you describe too much the character to be one "individual" among many other ones. It's not an unknown named character, it's Chik'en who's a prankster and not an "opportunist", whose friend's Dreon and is getting suspicions from the other people.

This leads to the problem I mentionned in comment : Sociology and statistics are really not good at determining accurately what a specific individual will do. It's just not what they're meant for. If some studies tell 50% of women wear gloves in winter, then picking one woman will give you 1/2 chance of finding they're wearing gloves. It's the same as tossing a coin and predicting it will fall on tail, that's how terrible it can be.

I don't agree entirely with JBH's thought and though : You can ask about "why an organisation would do something", because at this level we can think about optimal strategies, which don't relate to individuals. Taking a real world example : Why would Russia attack Ukrainia in 2022? Two answers which are acceptable :

  • Because there are oil-pipelines (economy, strategy, military).
  • Because there are ideological disagreements in Ukrainia (politics, sociology, cultural).

That's still world-based : The oil's there not because of a character's choice, and people have a culture, regardless of what their individuals think, grow and do... Individually. Note that it doesn't (and should never) tell what Russia will choose, but give factual elements that can lever where it's interesting for them to go. It's not easy to ask these kind of questions because you have to think about strategical resources (in the largest definition) you can gain rather than just reasons. But asking them is doable.

By telling it through a story

I can't help but tell the question's a story. You have many elements recalling the usual story structures : Initial situation, Triggering event and obstacles : how Dreon struggles keeping her calm, how Chik'en is handling the tests...

Because you present it so much as a story, any psychological element tend to become character development, so story-based per definition. Let me give you my understanding of this :

When you tell a story, you -the artist- puts their point-of-view and personality into it. It's almost always heavily tied to your perception. This in turn, gives a point-of-view to the story. However, this perspective alters how it's seen by the readers, it's less objective and more subjective, and subjectivity is much harder to deal with when you want to give a more objective answer to a question.

I believe historians can tell how hard it is to know what objectively happened from testimonies and documents, even harder when there's only one document left. Your question is kinda like that one document, it's harder to work with objectively in the scope of a scientific approach, be it psychological or some other domain. This therefore makes us think outside the scope of those domains, and more in the ones of storytelling.

To go deeper

I think some of these things might interest you :

  • $\begingroup$ My meta post was not about why questions about social sciences are rarely asked. I was raising concerns about the social sciences being ignored. It is a very different issue. Moreover, I stated that it is better not to have any questions related to these fields than to handle them the way they are handled now. Please make sure that you do not misrepresent the words of others. Thank you. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Feb 26, 2022 at 3:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Otkin We've always been open to well asked questions about the social sciences. We certainly aren't going to blanket ban a topic because you don't like how community moderators collectively vote on questions related to the topic. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Feb 26, 2022 at 4:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @sphennings I am not sure how your comment is related to my comment to this answer. Did you get confused about something? $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Feb 26, 2022 at 4:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Otkin That's what happens when you write things at 1 AM :p. Is it better for you now? $\endgroup$ Feb 26, 2022 at 8:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena Yes, I think it represents the intention behind my original post somewhat better. Thank you for the edit. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Feb 26, 2022 at 19:10

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