Proposal: Worldbuilding

One of the toughest things the Worldbuilding proposal is going to face (based on the questions coming in so far, and the fact that it got closed temporarily already) is the fact that it is creative in nature.

Stack Exchange relies on questions that can have an actual answer. In a creative process, a lot of times, the "correct" answer is whatever strikes the creator's fancy.

If this proposal is going to actually work, we need to make room for plenty of questions that have correct answers that can be provided by experts.

So my question is, what criteria should be applied to ensure that the questions this site gets are actually answerable?

  • After all, there are currently 0 questions with a positive vote total...
    – rbwhitaker
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 21:40

2 Answers 2


Existing questions and subjectivity

Subjectivity in a stack exchange site isn't a problem; we know (more or less) how to handle subjective questions. But the example questions on this proposal all look to be in one of a few categories:

  • Brainstorming or "what if" questions that will result in people throwing out ideas. Brainstorming questions don't work well on Stack Exchange sites, sine there's no single answer possible.

  • Questions asking people to research something. While these can be definitively answered it would turn the world-building proposal into a site of research questions, which isn't the point. (Note that a lot of the upvoted questions fall into this category.)

  • There are also a few questions about tools. For example, What software exists that can simulate plate tectonics and erosion to produce a detailed world map on a non-Earth world?

One of the toughest things the Worldbuilding proposal is going to face [...] is the fact that it is creative in nature.

Going forward

Most Stack Exchange sites encourage question types that will benefit future visitors, and discourage ones that won't. Creative questions can work on Stack Exchange sites, and I think there are better example worldbuilding questions that can be asked. To flourish, this site needs to define itself with questions that are:

  1. Specific and answerable (note that this does not mean they can't be subjective)
  2. Not just research questions that could be asked on space.SE, history.SE, Writers.SE etc
  3. About worldbuilding (of course)

So how do you ask a question about worldbuilding that will work?

To work, this site will have to attract a certain kind of polymath. Let's play to their strengths and also look for questions that will be useful to future visitors.

Don't ask what to do when building a world, ask how to do something. Don't ask a research question, ask how to research something or where to research it.

Research questions

Worldbuilding pretty much requires creative invention and research by definition. Research questions are going to be asked on any worldbuilding site, so this proposal shuld expect them. The Writers.SE meta policy on research questions may be of help here:

I'd say some of these are on-topic. If you consider them questions about resources. Like the one about the blacksmith could be answered with references to sites/books containing such info. Likewise for the other questions.

Then we don't give the asker a fish, we teach him how to fish. ;-)

  • Welcome to the Party Neil.
    – James
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 18:08

As an Arts-based site, by its very nature, answers will be subjective. The criteria should be specificity of both questions and the desired answers, i.e. more specific questions such as "My proposed magic system allows for geographic alteration, what effect would that have on geography and human society?" should be preferred over questions such as "Should I have magic that allows for geographic alteration?", since answers to the latter question would depend more on the personal tastes of the answerer thanthe first question, With the first question, there should be at least some scope for the experts to agree on the answer to some degree.

  • Agreed. "What should I do?" type questions should probably be revised into an analysis of the tradeoffs, and allow future visitors to make their own decisions based on that.
    – rbwhitaker
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 15:27
  • Have to agree with Monty as well. "What should I do" questions will definitely be off topic. The more relevant question is what are the impacts of having terraforming magic on XYZ? I think the integration of systems and how a change to one can impact the others will be a large part of the content that gets covered.
    – James
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 15:38

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