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Proposal: Worldbuilding

How is it possible to prevent overlap with other SE sites?

For instance, a lot of questions will be mostly history questions. There are many examples of this in the example questions. Other areas of overlap will be in sci-fi and fantasy, as well as role playing games which has it's own world-building tag.

I suppose more specifically, at what point do those other sites suggest the OP to move their question here? And at what point do those questions more belong on those other sites instead of here?

While I agree that a world-building SE site sounds wonderful, it doesn't seem to be unique enough. Also, the users answering these questions would be the same users answering the world-building questions on the history/sci-fi/roleplay sites.

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    I'm going to play Devil's advocate here and ask a question in response: Should we try to prevent overlap? Can questions always be pigeonholed into one site or another? Will the users feel comfortable crossing site boundaries if they're sent elsewhere? – rbwhitaker May 19 '14 at 18:17
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Sometimes questions for world-building will be answerable on other sites. Sometimes they can be answered on world-building with sources from other sites. For example, questions about the effects of radiation will probably be answerable on physics.SE. But, a question about something fictional that behaves like radiation would be speculative, thus not in scope for physics.SE. However, it could probably be answered with a source from physics.SE. We should try to move questions that are answerable on other sites to those sites and try to include sources from other sites for the more speculative questions.

We can also try getting other sites to move new world building questions to this site but that might not happen until world-building goes live.

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I have to agree with the other posters that mention that overlap is not inherently a bad thing. Getting an answer to a physics related question, say interstellar gravitational impacts/possibilities, on the Physics SE is great but if you start asking the Physics SE folks to do so in the framework of world building it would likely be OT.

A couple more things to add beyond just my agreement.

  • A question initially asked here may lead community members to reach out to other SE sites with which they are familiar (though the poster may not be). This can help both in Answering and Framing the question. There is so much to world building that an OP may need guidance in properly framing the question, after all it takes unique individuals to be specialists in physics, chemistry, astronomy etc, its hard to find someone who knows them all, let alone how they interact.

  • World Building SE seems like a natural cross section of the natural sciences and cultural tradition. Not to say they intersect (culture and science) here, rather they and all their sub-disciplines will mix together to aid in creating fictional worlds, essentially a place to combine reality and fantasy.

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    Skeptics.SE is another cross-section SE. I’ve seen questions there come from politics, the various sciences, history… But the answers you get on Skeptics are going to be very different than those on any of the other sites it overlaps with. So I definitely agree that even in the overlap, there will be benefit to framing it in a world-building context instead of a history/earthscience/physics context... – Bobson Jul 31 '14 at 3:31
  • Good to know it works elsewhere, thanks for the info. – James Jul 31 '14 at 15:59
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I will attempt to add to crownjewel82's answer.

Indeed, a question can affect a few other areas that are the specialty of other SE sites, and still belong here. It would then make sense for the OP to clarify his other problems, and leave for here what has remained in the scope of World Building.

I mean, the user would have to search or ask explicitly in the other SE sites the related questions, by following their own on-topic criteria. Then with this information (possibly in the form of related links) to ask the World Building-related question here.

Now, this would really work in a perfect world, but in reality, most users could:

  1. not be familiar with the SE network and that other sites for the corresponding topics already exist.
  2. feel uncomfortable "leaving the boundaries of this site", as rbwhitaker points in his comment
  3. must have the patience and discipline to solve their other issues before asking us here. This includes waiting for an answer in the other SE site(s), then summarizing and forming a suitable question here. So, for one to ask something, s/he would have do this in a few places more. In the end, it could even happen that the information form the other SE sites is irrelevant to the possible solutions.

Instead, I'd propose a slightly different approach. If the question can be answered partially from the other SE sites, and the other SE answer only provides specific parameters, which would not affect the solution proposed here, then we could answer the part that concerns this site and propmt the OP to ask at the other SE site to get his details. I will include a sample question and answer to best describe what I have just said, if deemed as unclear:

Q:

I am making a game where the environment is the open space. I have planets, stars and etc. They can interact with each other so that a planet can get into the orbit of a star, an asteroid can become a moon of a planet and so on. What is the minimum possible speed that would allow a moving body X with mass m to become entangled in orbit around body Y. What would be the maximum distance between the bodies for such an interaction to occur, if each one's gravity is known? What effects would the inhabitants of a planet Y experience when the planet acquires body X to start orbiting around?

A:

The first 2 questions What is the minimum possible speed that would allow a moving bodyXwith massmto become entangled in orbit around bodyY. What would be the maximum distance between the bodies for such an interaction to occur, if each one's gravity is known? seem more suitable for physics.stackexchange.com - make sure you word them according to the specific rules of the site.
Assuming you already have this information, it would be possible for the inhabitants of planet Y to experience some intensive light effects with the presence of the other body. Maybe they would see it appear like our moon, glowing by reflecting the sunlight. It could cause some energy exchange between itself and the planet - gravity and magnetic energies, that would result in storms, earthquakes, volcano eruption and other disastrous events. The effects may even be deadly for the planet's population, or could drive its inhabitants to either emigrate or evacuate under the planet's surface. The water activity (if there is water) would be affected as our moon affects the oceans ...

Maybe something like this. The example itself may not be the best suitable for here, which I welcome you to address, but I'd rather focus on the approach where you still answer the question, but leave the OP to do his research elsewhere, in order to get the complete picture. Or maybe, one would decide that the other "external" questions are irrelevant to each other.

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    That sounds good to me. Although, I'd try to see if the answer exists on physics.SE before telling them to go ask it there. – crownjewel82 May 23 '14 at 14:06
  • @crownjewel82, yes, this is an option too. I tried to cover the case when the external question is either too specific to worldbuilding to really have been asked in the same manner; or the answerer is not aware of the external SE site at all, but recognizes that not every question in the post really belong here. – Ivaylo Slavov May 23 '14 at 18:05
  • It's fine. As long as linking to existing answers is a rule, moderators and experienced users can make edits to answers to include them. – crownjewel82 May 23 '14 at 18:17
  • I'm sorry but this is a horrible example. I understand the gist of what you are saying, but you have no expertise to answer "What effects would the inhabitants of a planet Y experience when the planet acquires body X to start orbiting around?" Because that is also a physics/geology question. You have only speculation based on your media/limited science education. (Because I doubt you are an astrophysicist) I simply can't think of an example of a question that someone would ask requiring "facts" that could be answerable here. And the questions that are conjecture are best for writers/scifi.se – Inbar Rose May 25 '14 at 7:01
  • @InbarRose, I am sure you'll see questions for "facts" here, because the OP may not know of the other SE sites, like physics, or may be in doubt where the question really belongs. If the the question, or parts of it, seem to be suitable for another SE site, then it must be flagged, but the criteria for rejecting a question should be clear. You already suggested another alternative for potential questions - the world building topic may easily leave the boundaries of scientific facts and move to the sci-fi dimension. I feel this should be discussed at least in another answer, or in a new topic. – Ivaylo Slavov May 25 '14 at 22:23
  • As for my example, I will improve it as soon as I think of a better one. I am using indeed some unverified suggestions that seem quite fictional, but if the world you are building is also fictional, then this makes things harder to distinguish what really belongs here, should physics.SE (or another "facts" site) be consulted, or should one leave the things entirely to imagination? I think it is unclear (at least to me) where world building takes place in this matter. – Ivaylo Slavov May 25 '14 at 22:27
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    I would think that the more accurate a fictional world can be (based on our current understanding of a wide range of scientific topics) the easier it would be for the player (or reader) to be able to suspend disbelief as they interact with the fictional world. I guess, this is the main reason that I have no problem with overlap on this site. – thurizas Jun 2 '14 at 16:49
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I don't think the overlapping is a real issue here. Sure, there's a number of items that duplicate topics on other SE site, but please take into consideration that SE is VAST. This also means that not everyone is following other sites. Furthermore, for some (many?) this is the ONLY site they're following on SE.

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Given the potential breadth of world-building, I expect there to be lots of cross-postings, and I don't think this is particularly a bad thing. The following is an (incomplete) list of things that I think would be in-scope for this exchange

  1. cosmology
  2. world geography/geology
  3. world climate / climatology
  4. distribution of fauna / flora
  5. civilization development
  6. linguistics and language
  7. civilization centers / development of civilization centers
  8. history of planet / civilizations
  9. mythology / religion of the planet.
  10. government / government styles

If we want to draw on real-world examples to help create believable worlds, I can see pulling in experts from all these area, and potential cross-posting in the relevant SE forums.

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I think the most important distinction is impact.

Is “desert planet” or “swamp planet” a viable option, or should all planets have diverse biomes and ecosystems?

Is it physically plausible for twin planets to form in orbit around each other (e.g., if the Moon were the size of the Earth)? Do we know of any yet?

Are both strictly science questions. Is this possible?

Then there are the impact questions.

How would having more than one moon affect a planet?

What impediments could prevent civilizations' technology from ever progressing past a medieval stage?

These are impact questions that require critical thought, experience, and "expert" knowledge of worldbuilding rather than being strictly scientific.

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