When you see questions with a physics tag on WB, lots of comments and answers (and closures) immediately start to assess correctness, with current Earth physics as a reference. When a science or reality tag is put, the fact-checks are even more prominent.

I wonder if peer-mods have the expertise to judge physics questions this way. And often, there are nice engineering ideas that end up in closure, because they are qualified as bad research, insufficient focus, or off topic. I think it would be more WB-like, if the "physics" tag would be split into "physics-past" and "physics-future". This avoids questions that better be put on physics.se, and it allows a fictional approach to physics, without having to assert scientific thruth all the time.

  • A physics-past tag will be about science and technology for the period of the past indicated (neolithic, antique, medieval, steampunk etc). An additional reality-check tag, of science tag, would limit the answers to actual, historic science. That requires references. Without science tags, answers may e.g. be a mythical context, this kind of physics-past only needs to be plausible.

  • The physics-future tag allows for extrapolation of physics knowledge. When put with a science tag, the extrapolation should be made plausible.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ (1) When was the steampunk period? I understand from the question that it was at some point in the past, but my history teachers never mentioned it. Maybe because that when I was in school, my country belonged to the Eastern Block? (2) We are pretty much sure that in the neolithic, in the Antiquity, and the Middle Ages physics was absolutely exactly as it is today. That is to say, a machine design which worked in the Antiquity would still work today, in exactly the same way. (3) As far as anybody knows, there is no such thing as "current Earth physics". Only current knowledge of physics. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Mar 1, 2022 at 0:22
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    $\begingroup$ We have a tag for outdated-science worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/… which has more to do with the interpretation of the world with old models. A mass will keep bending spacetime no matter if you believe in it or not. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch Mod
    Mar 1, 2022 at 7:04
  • $\begingroup$ Unless you put the hard-science -and to a lesser extent, science-based- tags, there can be always extrapolations. It seems like the two above are more likely to control when extrapolation is accepted or if we want to keep scripto-sensus to the rules ^^. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Mar 1, 2022 at 9:03
  • $\begingroup$ The only purpose of the proposed split is to prevent askers from asking pure physics questions, and answerers and commenters refrain from - attempted - strict scientific fact checks for fictional scenarios, whenever a "physics" tag is involved. No current physics. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Mar 1, 2022 at 16:50

1 Answer 1


There are some misunderstandings here

  • The tag's purpose is to check a proposed condition or circumstance against a proposed reality. (See both the tag's wiki and "What topics can I ask about here?" in the Help Center.) In other words, you provide both the complete set of rules and the circumstance you want judged against those rules. The tag is NOT for the purpose of asking, "can X exist?" That's a popular error.

  • Tags stack. We already have , , and tags. Why would we need a "physics-future" tag? We also have , , and tags, so why do we need a "physics-past" tag?

But there is one common behavior that, IMO, is not supposed to exist

As I've said in another Meta post: Real Life cannot be an overriding limitation on any question unless specifically requested. No one should be jumping to the conclusion that anyone's question can only be (or should only be) answered strictly from the perspective of today's physics. This is underscored by a statement from the Help Center:

Worldbuilding Stack Exchange is a site for designers, writers, artists, gamers and enthusiasts to get help creating imaginary worlds. World building includes geography, culture and creatures for the world, not to mention magic and planetary physics, in short, everything from the physics underlying your reality to the entire universe you want to build.

The keywords there, IMO, are imaginary worlds and your reality. That's why I posted the Meta question I did. The Stack is falling much too far into the assumption that if you can't do it with Real World Physics, then it can't be done.


But this brings us to what I suspect is the basic reason why the tags you propose shouldn't exist

Generally speaking, users are really, really, really bad at correctly and consistently using tags. Most users have never read the Wiki pages for the tags they use. Even fewer have participated in editing and improving those tags. In fact most new tags never get a Wiki until a much later date when someone else writes something up.

In other words, all you'd be doing is further muddying the already muddy water.

  • $\begingroup$ And to stack things up, people don't consistently read tags, either. Proof : I often unintently skip them, they're too small ^^. Tags are definition helpers, definitely not definition definers alone. That's a lot of "defini-" words x_x. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Mar 2, 2022 at 12:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena I'll agree with that. I've overlooked them too. In fact, they're so easy to overlook that we've had to use a banner to draw attention to the use of the hard-science tag due to its substantial restrictions. The need for that banner proves your point. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 2, 2022 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ @tortliena apparently tags are not taken as important, or relevant. Not by openers and also not by peer mods. I think that is a missed chance. I certainly agree with above "The Stack is falling much too far into the assumption that if you can't do it with Real World Physics, then it can't be done." it was the reason I put this proposal. But when I get the responses right (and the -votes), tags don't help to solve this issue, and peer mods aren't interested either. Acknowledge this answer.. alas.. but tonight I am going to remove my question, for lack of interest in the community in tags. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Mar 4, 2022 at 14:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Goodies Don't think you can remove the question, since someone answered it ^^'. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Mar 4, 2022 at 16:58
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    $\begingroup$ haha @Tortliena well.. let it stand for future wisdom to emerge.. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Mar 5, 2022 at 1:07

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