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In a previous question, L.Dutch, a moderator, noted as a standard that mecha were impossible. and so the burden was on us to explain why they were possible.

That very element making mecha possible in your world might be of paramount importance to answer your question, but the burden is on you to explain it. We cannot read your mind.

Sphennings noted their own criteria.

We expect questions to provide the relevant details. If I ask "How will my magic system do a thing?" I'd better describe my magic system if I want my question to remain open. In general we make an assumption of things being similar to earth, except when specified. If I ask "What is the maximum altitude a human could climb to?" I don't need to say no magic because that's implied by me not describing a magic system. But If I ask "How high can a wizard climb to?" a magic system is implied and better have the relevant details described.

But even on their own questions, L.Dutch, the mod, doesn't explain the background behind sci fi concepts. for example, immortals. Also, most of the front page questions don't explain the science or magic behind their decisions. The masquerade question doesn't explain the scope of the masquerade, even though that would help with defining how the rules should be made. A question on wing maintenance for a demon angel hybrid doesn't explain how the magic or science of the angel or demon works, even though that could help with cleaning, and humans flying is scientifically implausible without some large changes.

Is there a list of topics that do require the burden of proof and don't? Which require an extensive background on how the science or magic works? Like

Burden of Proof required. Mechas. Superhumans.

Burden of Proof not required. Angels and demons. Magical society. Immortal humans. Cities which can walk.

At the moment it's hard to do questions without knowledge of which criteria will cause a question to be closed and which will be fine and accepted. Some clearer criteria for moderation would be valued.

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    $\begingroup$ If you see a question that you feel needs additional details or clarity, the expected thing to do is to leave a comment requesting details and clarification, and VTC. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Apr 12 at 17:47
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    $\begingroup$ Sure, but that's not what happens on most questions, so clearly most people don't leave a comment and VTC, so that's not the actual standard people have. Most questions have something that needs clarification, so almost all questions would need a VTC based on that- I'm looking for narrow criteria than almost all questions. $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Apr 12 at 21:31

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Mixing things up to create confusion is never a good way to achieve clarity.

As I stated in the previous question

That very element making mecha possible in your world might be of paramount importance to answer your question, but the burden is on you to explain it. We cannot read your mind.

Nowhere in my question is the way of achieving immortality functional to the answers, there is no reason to expect an explanation on that.

Simply said, you are comparing apples with oranges.

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    $\begingroup$ While I agree the question would have been improved if they provided more detail about the mecha; Eva need different resources to manufacture than a Gundam. I don't think what makes mecha possible is a super relevant part of the question the core would be similar for any large military project costing 30% of a national budget. Perhaps the answer is as simple as "In my world mecha make sense". $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Apr 12 at 19:13
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    $\begingroup$ People asked several questions and made several assumptions about how immortality worked- that they were deities, that their writing style would change, that they might be able to vary their age, that it would depend on how good their memory was e.g. "I assume, that you are regularry changing identity (like each 20-50 years - you have to age at the same pace as people around you and if you cannot magically modify yourself, this is how far you can safely go by mundane means)" so the method of immortality was functional to the question, and people had to world build for you to fill in the gaps. $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Apr 12 at 21:36
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There isn't a burden of proof. There's a requirement to provide the details necessary to answer the question.

Every site on the SO network has an expectation of answering the specific question asked. If I ask "How do I reverse a string in Python?" answers saying "Just use Javascript." do nothing to address the issue at hand even if Javascript has a better string reversal feature. Specifying Python precludes answers in languages that aren't Python.

On worldbuilding we have an extension to this concept which that your answer shouldn't add details to a world that aren't implied in the question. Imagine if you asked "How high could a human climb?", receiving "As high as they want if they cast Dave's Invocation of Infinite Climbing" does nothing to solve their worldbuilding problem, since there is no indication that magic exists in the world let alone the spell Dave's Invocation of Infinite Climbing.

With a programming language there's usually a deterministic specification and clear parse rules. Most details are already well defined. In worldbuilding we don't have the luxury of full specifications. We have the limited number of details provided to us. Information will be left out and strongly implied. It's a pretty safe assumption that unless specified the laws of physics will work the same. If you ask a question about a world set in the year 2000, it's likely that the US exists, unless specified otherwise. However there are details that can't be clearly implied.

Magic is one of the most obvious examples of this. The 4 elements of Avatar work differently than the 5 mana types of MTG, which work differently than magic in Dungeons and Dragons. We can't make a meaningful assumption about the rules of your magic system. You need to provide the relevant details.

As an example the answer to "What would be the market rate for a raise dead spell?" depends on how difficult, and socially acceptable it is to raise people from the dead. Depending on the magic system the answer could be "There is no market rate, raising people from the dead is impossible", "Using the equation of your expenses times 3 a freelance necromancer would charge 1500gp since casting raise dead requires a 500gp diamond.", "The faeries will do it for free but you'll owe them a favor which is going to end hilariously", or a million other creative and informative answers. But any one of those wonderful answers isn't going to be useful to you if they're relying on rules that don't exist in your world.

Unlike programming questions there's an inherent amount of subjectivity in how questions on this site are assessed. Whether we're assessing whether two questions are duplicates, or whether a question needs additional details or clarity, we're relying on the reviewers to determine for themself what details are necessary or relevant. Part of the reason we require 5 votes to close or reopen a question is to average out any one person's personal bias.

It's very easy to construct simplified questions where what is and isn't relevant, or necessary is pretty obvious. "How large can a red crab get?" is substantially similar to "How large can a blue crab get?" and the fact that one is red or green is not a relevant detail. Similarly if you ask "How high can a magic user climb with the assistance of magic?" the details of how magic works in your world are relevant to the question. If magic in this world only works within a mile of the ocean, the answer to the question is going to be substantially different than a world where magic can be used to transform someone into a tireless automaton that doesn't need to breath.

Questions need to provide sufficient details and clarity. They also shouldn't be a duplicate, too broad, or too opinion based. Importantly determining what's relevant, or necessary, and whether a question should be closed, needs to be handled on a individual basis.

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  • $\begingroup$ L.Dutch was clear there is a burden of proof, for mechas for example, so I'm not sure this individualized approach works well- if most of the mods believe there is a burden of proof for mechas, because they are impossible, then bias won't be averaged out because there's a systematic bias. $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Apr 12 at 21:48
  • $\begingroup$ @NepeneNep It's not a burden of proof it's a duty to explain the relevant details. details. So if you ask a different question where how mechas work isn't relevant then you won't need to explain. For instance if I ask "Would my wizard's fireball that burns with the heat of a thousand suns be able to instantly vaporize this brick" I don't need to explain the implied magic system since I've provided the relevant details. But if I ask "Can a cleric cast fireball?" I would need to describe more about my magic system. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Apr 12 at 23:59
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    $\begingroup$ I didn't ask a question about how mechas work, but multiple people were clear that I needed to justify how they worked. People were clear that the incidental possibility that something was changed in the background to make mechas work was enough that I had a burden of proof- so again, I suspect the mods have a different standard from you, and do see it as more of a burden of proof, while say the incidental possibility of immortality is not enough to have a burden of proof. $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Apr 13 at 5:43
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    $\begingroup$ @NepeneNep Given that the mods didn't take any moderator specific action, I don't see what the issue is. Everyone with the comment privilege (available to basically everyone) can request clarification and ask suggest improvements. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Apr 13 at 15:13
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There is no such burden, but your original question had a lot of problems and should have been closed

In a nutshell, you asked this: In a world remarkably similar to what you find in the movie Pacific Rim, how can a planet continue to build Jaegers for centuries?

People were well within their rights to ask for details, but it is unfortunate that few people pointed out the flaws in your question that led them to ask for those details.

  1. It was a high concept question, ill defined and open-ended.

  2. It violated the Help Center's "Book rule," meaning that it's reasonable to believe an entire book could be written to answer the question (explaining how a planetary economy would work given the circumstances you describe would require a library of books).

To be fair to you, an explanation of what rules of physics in your world allowed giant Jaeger to exist really isn't needed to answer the question: but understanding the economics of constructing, maintaining, repairing, transporting, and operating a Jaeger most certainly is. And I can see their point where figuring all that out without understanding how they can exist would be a challenge (see "Book Rule," above).

I suspect that to you the question was straight-forward, needing only a paragraph to unlock a mystery.

To those of us with experience on this site, that simply wasn't the case. In fact, I don't believe there's ever been an industrialized society on Earth that has existed under a military economy for centuries — which means we're inventing everything about your answer out of thin air. That's a very tall order, and to avoid problems, you need to be as specific and detailed as you can possibly be — and if you believe you can't (or shouldn't), that's a very good sign that the question isn't ready for prime-time.

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