Periodically we see questions of the following form:
After reading the back story and my description of my worldbuilding idea, what do you think?
I'm going to call this question type a Review My Idea question. The OP isn't looking for help solving a problem — they've already solved it — what they're looking for is insight into the quality of their effort (whether that takes the form of simple approval for a job well done or the more complex, "I really want you to shoot arrows at this idea" question).
I hope he doesn't mind, but I'd like to use a recent question by Ichthys King. He doesn't waste time with back story. The description of his worldbuilding problem and solution are clear, well thought out, and have supporting plausibility from Real Life examples. Frankly, his idea is really good.
He concludes his post by asking the following:
Could this adaptation work as I've described within realistic biology and physics, or is there something I've overlooked here?
I believe there are two questions there.
One question asks if the idea is plausible in Real Life.
That's not an uncommon question on Worldbuilding, even though it doesn't make sense as our goal is to help people build imaginary worlds. It reflects a desire for hard science (the genre, not the tag) or to be as "realistic as possible." We have a better Meta question that addresses this even though it's been made a bit out of date due to the recent change from the old Reality Check tag to the new internal-consistency tag.This is not the question we're focusing on in this post.
It's the second question that's the focus of this post. He's asking for a review of his idea.
I admit that this form of question doesn't fit the mold Stack Exchange prefers. There isn't a single best answer, by definition all the answers are of equal value. But exceptions to Help Center rules are why we bring matters up in Meta.
I also admit that this question type is close to an existing question type: the internal-consistency question. However, I believe there is a difference. An internal-consistency question provides a set of rules and a test case or circumstance that exercises the rules and asks the community to judge if the developed rules are being consistently used.1 The Review-My-Idea question type only presents a rule, or a creature, or a technical design, and asks (simplistically) did I do a good job?
Finally, I admit that this question type can be abused as it could be used to circumvent asking a question about a real problem that would force the OP to adhere to the formal rules of the Stack and Stack Exchange. In other words, there might not be much difference between "can you help me solve my problem?" and "here's my half-baked idea, what do you think?" I would hope the latter would be a violation of whatever rules are devised for the question type.
Question: What advice should we give to users asking for a review of their idea?
The answers to this post will serve as a policy statement for the Stack. They may include but are not limited to:
- A decision to support — or not support — questions of this type,
- Rules we expect OPs to follow when asking a question of this type.
- Restrictions we expect OPs to respect when asking a question of this type.
- Expectations the OP should have concerning the nature of answers to their question.
If the community agrees that this is an on-topic question type, I will post a second Meta discussion about how to implement the decision. Let's avoid that discussion in this post.
Edit: I'd like to introduce an example of the danger of this question type. With my apologies to user98816:
This is an example of a "Review my Idea" question that's not well enough developed to be (IMO) worthy of asking. As I mention in a comment, thanks to Clarke's Third Law, the only possible answer is "yes." But that answer doesn't really help the OP or anyone else with Worlbuilding. Nevertheless, as you consider your answers, keep in mind the potential breadth of quality this question type might embrace.
1 I believe it was Sphennings who made a good point about consistency that's worth repeating here. Our job is to help people create rules that can be used consistently, not to help people build consistent worlds. A world can be utterly chaotic and have no underlying logic at all so long as the rules the OP has developed can, themselves, be consistently applied. This idea might deserve a Meta post of its own, but it's important and I wanted people to be sure what I meant when I suggest rules should be consistently usable or use the phrase "consistent rules."