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12:15 AM
@ArtOfCode I see your meta post and am prepping a response to it. It's gonna take some time to come up with an answer. I too have been away for a while so I haven't had time to build up a feel for the kinds of questions that are asked right now.
 
12:34 AM
@ArtOfCode Seems people are providing you with evidence for your meta post - worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/35297/3202
 
@Samuel I simply don't understand that one.
 
@HDE226868 Questions like that make me think mind reading would not be a desirable super power.
 
@Samuel Certainly not if you couldn't control it.
 
 
8 hours later…
8:51 AM
Is there a way for mods to pull questions out of HNQ?
 
@overactor You mean people think wrong and we have to fix the internet?
 
@Hohmannfan Sort of
7
A: Is Worldbuilding a What If Site?

Monica CellioI've been wanting to start a meta discussion about this too. Thanks for bringing it up. I, too, feel that we're getting more of this type of question lately and that it's not good for the site. The reason I haven't mod-hammered more of these closed is that I'm confused about what the community...

I ask this question in the context of the comments on that answer
 
I have only been here for a month, but I agree with you observation. Popular questions here are likely off-topic
 
@overactor I don't think so. It could be closed of course, which would remove it from HNQ...
 
@bilbo_pingouin That's often a bit strong though
 
9:00 AM
///*writing script to automatically close popular questions*//
 
@Hohmannfan A questions isn't off-topic because it is popular... but I don't think it should be accepted as on-topic because of it neither
 
@bilbo_pingouin I know, I was just joking
 
@overactor well it's hard in any case. We want to have popular questions appearing on the HNQ... because then more people come, it's more active, and more fun.
However we want to have a defined scope...
And casual users may feel offended at having their popular question closed
 
And the scope is currently not well-defined. On what SE-sites are "what if" questions on topic?
 
the scope was defined to some extend... but it's always hard to draw a clear line in the grey zone
 
9:04 AM
XKCD-style what-if questions is a popular genre, so who are supposed to cover it?
 
plus I have the feeling that there are many more users recently and many more with higher rep, so the line isn't always defined by "older" users who participated in those discussions
 
[what-if] tag for hypothetical scenarios?
 
the what if questions should go to what they are about.
if it's about world building, they might be fine here. If it's about physics, they should go on physics, etc.
 
just as an illustration, you are relatively new... have you read the previous discussions we had on meta about what defines too broad, or idea generation, or single individual action..?
 
9:09 AM
just one of them. I think I am representative for new users in the way that most of us have not read them.
Also, most questions on this site is a new user's first question.
 
And as you, I doubt many did. So it's probably a good time (well after the election) to ask those again.
OTOH, with the reputation shift of graduation, less newer users will come to the review queues, so older users might go back... but it would still be good to know what everyone thinks.
 
Why wait to after the election? The scope debate is one of the things people are most concerned about, so why not let people know what the different candidates think about it?
 
because the new mod team will be responsible to enforce those decisions...
 
yes, and people would like to know what decisions they are going to enforce...
 
you'll note that the most-voted question for the candidates... is exactly about that :)
 
9:19 AM
Mostly I didn't want to start the conversation yet since I didn't want it and the election distracting from each other
and the new site design
all happening at the same time
I'd rather get the excitement out of the way and then have a proper discussion about the scope
but it's not a problem to have the discussion now
 
a scope discussion should always be present on any SE site, not just occasionally.
 
you can't go changing the rules every two weeks neither
 
Not really, the scope should be settled and decided, not constantly undergoing revision. The only reason to discuss it is refining the line for "grey area" questions. In this case though where the site is still relatively young it's worth stopping and looking abck and considering
We know a lot more now than we did 15 months ago when we were first establishing the scope
 
@TimB Wouldn't it be great to have it mostly worked out before we have our big graduation and we possibly receive an influx of new visitors?
 
9:50 AM
I don't expect a visitor influx due to graduation, no-one outside the site is going to know anything about it
it's more a reward for those of us who are already on the site than a way to attract new people
 
@TimB It'll get mentioned in tne podcast and I imagine more people might stick around after clicking through via the HNQ
 
I don't think there will be another announcement. Officially we are graduated. It just that the different steps that marks the transition are done progressively
 
10:11 AM
@James: I think you might find that comic strip appropriate: sandraandwoo.com/2016/02/04/0758-poor-choice-of-words :-)
 
10:25 AM
@bilbo_pingouin Another person reading Sandra and Woo!
 
@Hohmannfan I read just too many webcomics for my own sake
 
gunnerkrigg court, xkcd, smbc, sandra and woo, gaia, gpf, questionable content, alice grove, twokinds, freefall......
 
most of those yes
 
@Hohmannfan I dropped qc a while ago
other than that, I only know xkcd and smbc off that list
 
qc really changed from the start which was focusing a lot on indie rock...
and SMBC, their RSS isn't very good. Or they haven't been updating much recently...
Gunnerkrigg Court is one of the main Fantasy Webcomics, though I prefer the style of Gaia (even if they are quite slow those days).
 
10:41 AM
@bilbo_pingouin smbc updates constantly, must be the rss
 
I hate it when they change their feeds without announcing it on the previous one
 
 
2 hours later…
12:26 PM
0
A: Is Worldbuilding a What If Site?

Tim BEvolution in the scope of the site is not a bad thing, we've learned a lot about what does and does not work in the over-a-year since the site first entered private beta. I'll use a number of my own questions as examples here to avoid picking on anyone else. Certain questions are clearly both po...

It's more of a question than an answer
or a discussion point. hmm. Oh well, I don't think it warrants being a completely separate question
 
12:39 PM
@ArtOfCode Be interested on your thoughts about those questions
 
@TimB I'll take a look when I've got some more spare time later on.
Spoiler alert: I'm going to say most of them are IG.
 
1:48 PM
0
Q: Is he dead yet?

T3 H40I just did my fourth (? stopped counting...) review on an answer to the question You are an advanced AI that controls a smart house. How do you kill your master? As it stands now, the question has a total of 29 answers, 17 answers with score <= 3, five of those with zero score, and About a ...

 
2:40 PM
@bilbo_pingouin That good stuff lol
 
3:23 PM
Yep...questions have officially gotten out of hand.
Where could I hide from enemies ANYWHERE IN THE GALAXY
 
I recommend they hide in a black hole...
They'll never be found
 
Hide in closed source software. They'll never be found
 
4:12 PM
so... anyone want to talk about that 'what if' Meta question?
 
Yeah, its a fine line but we have gone over it...
 
I think we can all agree that something has gone wrong, and we can probably agree something needs to be done, but I think it's time we really got into what we need to do
I think we went over the line about the time I joined the site, and that was over a year ago
 
@DaaaahWhoosh Well, I have been going through the last few days marking questions for closure...so that's a start.
 
yeah, I've seen a few in the queue this morning, hopefully there's more
 
I admit I haven't been terribly diligent about reviewing beyond the queue lately. We may be relying on it too much.
 
4:21 PM
I try to review questions as they come in, less so for answers
interestingly enough, answers have that 'challenging the frame' problem, while questions have the 'what if/off-topic' problem. I think each is just as important as the other, but they're completely different issues
 
@DaaaahWhoosh Agreed. I do occasionally challenge the frame of a question when it appears the OP is ignorant (not saying stupid or anything) of the topic they are writing about, which happens pretty often around here.
@ArtOfCode Heya
 
There's a lot more meta posts I want to make on the subject of IG, what-ifs and scope, but I think I might have to wait until after the election, just so that we have some space on the community bulletin.
 
@ArtOfCode Actually, I think these questions are useful for seeing what candidates are made of. If you keep asking, there'll be more material from which we can choose the best mods
 
Speaking of elections, we seem to have peaked out on new candidates.
@DaaaahWhoosh That's true, and I did think of that, but I do also want to make sure most people see the posts, because it's a pretty big effect on the site.
Maybe there are some smaller bits I could ask...
 
Is it wrong to say that if they don't already check the meta, their input wouldn't be useful?
 
4:33 PM
Where would you even say that, though?
 
@DaaaahWhoosh Some people do check meta, but only when they see things come up in the bulletin.
 
3
Q: Case Studies - on or off topic?

Tim BEvolution in the scope of the site is not a bad thing, we've learned a lot about what does and does not work in the over-a-year since the site first entered private beta. I'll use a number of my own questions as examples here to avoid picking on anyone else. Certain questions are clearly both po...

 
4:57 PM
Yep, unless you're active in chat most members won't get notified of meta posts and have no reason to check meta in their general usage
 
Anyone have experience with writing Finite Element Analysis equations?
 
This is one reason I was going to leave this discussion until after the election/site design excitement died down
considering we're expecting the new site design any day now
 
@Green I can spell it...does that count
 
@Green not for 20 years, sorry :)
 
@James, that's only mildly helpful :)
@TimB anywhere you can remember I might go looking?
 
4:59 PM
@Green Lol, thank you for being generous.
 
@James (mild psychologist voice) Now, James. We aim to make this motions with hands around the room a safe place. Where everyone's contributions are valued. :)
 
@Green you what
i.e. nope
 
Okay, not the equations themselves since those are well understood.
 
@Green Sorry, did some playing with it at uni but nothing since.
 
Rather, anywhere I could get resources for writing simulations.
 
5:02 PM
0
A: Is Worldbuilding a What If Site?

Tim BI feel like "what-if" is only a small set of the potential problems, and additionally many excellent worldbuilding questions are "what-if". The problem with what-if questions is actually a symptom of a larger problem rather than a root-cause. What we need to do is define the "axis" (Risk factors...

^I think that's our way forwards tbh
once the election's over define the risk factors, then define the accepted tolerances on the risk factors
 
Hey folks, is there a meta post which speaks about how to write/ what makes a great answer in the WB site?
More like the qualities of a great answer!
 
@Dawny33 Hey Dawny.
Have you checked the help page yet?
the sections on Asking and answering are the best guidance we can provide.
 
@James Yeah, Been through that. Especially this:
However, it speaks in a general tone.

I'm asking especially about WB :)
 
A slightly more sneaky way is to find several high rep users then look through many of their answers. Don't outright copy their style but it should give you ideas of what does and doesn't work.
 
there isn't a single post I can point you to, although it might be a good idea if there was one :)
it partially depends on the question as well, look at the tags. hard-science for example expects really solid backing for your statements
 
5:09 PM
I did participate in answering some. But, I don't think I still get it :)
@TimB Yeah, I think that'll help!
 
Honestly I just had a quick look - your first deleted answer was an attempt to answer a horribly unclear question (better to just close and move on)
but for the most part your answers aren't bad
 
@Dawny33 Youll have some duds along the way as you get the hang of the site Dawney...we all did :)
 
ha! I still get plenty of duds.
But then I seem to have the shotgun approach to answering questions....
 
haha. I've been a silent spectator of this site since it's beta stages, and it was one impressive growth it had :)
 
@bowlturner You answer questions first and ask questions later
 
5:20 PM
@DaaaahWhoosh :)
 
5:48 PM
I'm starting to wonder if we should all post case studies, everyone just picks their 5 most popular questions and asks if they're on-topic
would anyone be up for that? I could post a question where we schedule who posts what when so we don't get overloaded
 
I'm up for that.
 
great! maybe just one more person, then that'd be four, four's a good number
you think one user a day would be too much? Maybe one user a week? Or every two days?
 
@DaaaahWhoosh I'd be up for it. I only have 13 questions and were mostly asked during the wild days though.
 
I can do it if you like. I've got a couple that were fairly popular, iirc.
 
all right, then yeah, let's do this. how do we do scheduling though?
 
6:01 PM
@DaaaahWhoosh by talking to each other here
damn one handed typing
 
lol all right, so I could go first, I was thinking on Monday
 
Sounds good.
 
then anyone else can go after that
and we just assume no one else Leeroy Jenkins's it and goes ahead of schedule?
 
Hey, hang on. 5 of us. If we start on monday and post in two day intervals (i.e. monday, wednesday, friday, sunday, tuesday), we coincide nicely with the end of the election
 
well, it's four of us, Tim went already
but maybe someone else will want to join in
 
6:06 PM
uh, 9 answers and 2 upvotes on my mountaint-size-machines q
i mean, to me, if it's worth bothering to answer, and not so trivial as to give a throwaway answer, it's worth upvoting, no
 
@SerbanTanasa It could go both ways. Maybe they think it's only worth upvoting if their answer is accpeted
 
6:22 PM
I upvote most of the questions I answer, but sometimes I come up with what I think is a good answer to a poor question.
And sometimes I just don't think of it at the time, and then go back later.
 
Where are we going to collect our notes?
 
@Green notes?
 
6:38 PM
Our case studies. (Sorry, notes was the wrong word.)
 
ah, well, I was gonna write up a meta post
then once we got scheduling out of the way we'd each just make another post when it was our time
 
Do you want most popular by views or by upvotes (or does it not matter)?
 
I think I'll leave that up to each user. If you want, you can just pick five questions that you think would be the most useful
@Green since you were the first volunteer, do you want to pick the date you'll post?
 
Um, today.
 
no, too early
Tim B already has one going
 
6:44 PM
If I don't write that post today, I'm gonna forget about it.
 
You can write it, and then hold onto it, and I can remind you
 
That'll work nicely.
I'll let you know when I've written it. (And I plan on using TimB's current meta post as a template.)
...unless you have an objection to his format.
 
No, I think it's good. You don't have to conform too strictly though
 
Agreed.
 
well, I posted the meta post. Hopefully this works, but monday feels like a long way away
@TimB Do I have permission to add you retroactively to this case study series?
 
7:03 PM
Do we have a case studies tag for Meta? Seems appropriate given the intent of the "question".
 
I didn't see one, maybe we can create it?
 
Sure, go for it :)
 
great, done
by the way, sorry if I was in any way hurtful in my answer to your post. When re-reading it, I could feel some hostility that I did not indent
 
I wouldn't have put them out as targets if I didn't expect people to shoot at them :P
but other people might be offended so moderating your tone might be constructive in future
 
7:10 PM
@ArtOfCode The case studies?
 
@TimB bang bang bang
@Green No, the linked question.
 
1
Q: Case Study Series

DaaaahWhooshAs discussed in chat and based on Tim B's recent post , I'd like us to have a series of case studies, where various users of the site post their five top-rated questions (or any five questions they think would be most interesting), self-evaluate, then allow the rest of the community to debate whe...

 
@ArtOfCode Ah, got it. I like that question. I just wish I knew more chemistry to be able to answer it.
 
7:24 PM
It's very idea generation :p
(see we can close anything \o/ :D )
 
@DaaaahWhoosh I'd better not take the 10th, so I'll go for the 12th if nobody else has had it :)
 
@ArtOfCode It's clear so far, I'll edit you in
 
Cheers
 
@DaaaahWhoosh Good plan, count me in
 
Maybe this whole IG problem is just a failure to clarify the parameters of the answer and not being specific enough.
For example: answers result in boolean [Yes|No] answers with a little justification.
Too broad requires an answerer to build an extensive system (basically, write a large amount of "world-code" in order to generate an answer.)
IG questions tend to generate lists of items but the question doesn't specify any metrics on what is or is not a good answer.
The "everything is an idea, so let's close everything" meme is kind of right in that the response to any and all WB questions are ideas. Maybe our ontology of acceptable answers just isn't precise enough.
Maybe I should put all this in an answer to the meta data post.
 
7:37 PM
@Green I definitely think you're on to something there, I don't think we can ever get rid of idea generation but I bet we can limit it constructively
somehow
@James Am I to understand you're volunteering to initiate a case study?
oh, nevermind, I see you've edited
 
@DaaaahWhoosh Thanks :) I like the line of thinking too. As a programmer, I tend to see things in terms of algorithms, constraints and computability.
 
@DaaaahWhoosh Yep, I am in, its a good exercise to work on this question
 
And it just looks like we don't have enough constraints on our answers/questions.
 
I think any question on here is going to be IG at some level. That's kind of the whole point. This is where I want to go, this is what I've figured out, and I don't know how to get from here to there.
I feel the trick is to find the questions that are to broad, or asking to many things, and get them split apart in to narrower questions.
 
@Green At the very least these tag specific descriptions should go in the tag descriptions
 
7:42 PM
@AndyD273 Either split up or narrowed, dividing infinity never helped anyone
 
@DaaaahWhoosh It helps mathemeticians and philosophers.
 
And engineers.
 
Hey Samuel
 
Yo.
 
@James Perhaps we could introduce a set of tags that specify what kind of answers to give. Reality-check automatically maps to Yes|No.
 
7:47 PM
@Green There might need to be some reason give as to why yes or no. Like, yes, if this set of rules are true.
 
@Green I was just thinking that...it wouldn't hurt to edit the text on the close reasons (if we can)
as you mentioned we could replace the text on 'Too Broad' with something like Overly broad questions require those answering to build portions of the world not mentioned in the question or ask several related questions in a single post
Actually I just went ahead and edited the tag description for reality-check
 
Have you guys seen my latest answer on the what if question?
 
@James YES!!!! It's working already!
This is fun! I've never done ontological definitions before. Today is a good day.
 
8:02 PM
Basically I'm suggesting we need to identify the categories by which things can be off topic
then each category as a custom close reason & associated meta post
 
are we able to define custom close reasons? I feel like we should've done that a while ago
 
@DaaaahWhoosh I think I heard we get a few. Like 3 maybe?
 
@AndyD273 I would have to defer to the current mods on that, I am not sure.
@Green I majored in ontological definitions.
@TimB Yep
 
@James Oh hell yeah!
 
@James What kind of a career can you get with an ontological definitions degree?
 
8:10 PM
@TimB I am going to move my answer from the case study post over to that one actually...
@AndyD273 IT. Like any other degree, lol.
(Philosophy was my degree)
 
we can get custom close reasons, a reasonable number
most are covered by the existing though
 
8:25 PM
Ooh, can we get a 'flawed premise' close reason? That could be really useful
 
I come much after most of the discussion, but the problems lies in the definitions... like IG is generally either too broad or opinion-based. But to define each more cleanly, maybe we leave out on some questions that should also be removed, that is the reason why IG is useful, as it covers those
@DaaaahWhoosh probably covered by 'unclear what you are asking'
 
@bilbo_pingouin I use that one more for when they don't actually ask a question. I'm talking about when they ask a question but you can't answer it because their assumptions are wrong
 
@DaaaahWhoosh If there assumptions are wrong, wouldn't downvotes be sufficient?
...though with how often WBers don't downvote, that may not be terribly useful.
 
the problem is that it opens more grey zone... what if it was flawed on purpose...
 
@bilbo_pingouin comment and ask first...
 
8:31 PM
the problem that I have is that asking is fine, but when there are too many questions around, I seldom remember to go back to it...
 
@James are you going to be around for a while? I think I'm close to finishing my first draft of the WB answer ontology and I'd like you to look at it.
 
8:49 PM
@Green Probably for another hour or so
 
Okay. I'll let you know when I'm done.
Maybe IG questions are so onerous because they expect the answerer to do work that the OP could have done themselves but chose not to? Maybe?
 
@Green For me, it's just that it's not what SE is supposed to be about. You want to generate ideas, bring it up in chat or go somewhere else
 
There's also an important distinction between "could not do" and "would not do".
I'm uncomfortable with the problem currently described by the term "idea generation" as idea generation. As so many have said, WB is IG. But clearly, some IG is Good and some is Bad. What makes some IG good and some IG bad?
 
Constraints.
 
IG is good for small I. As I approaches infinity, it becomes a bad question
the best value of I is 1. I'd say anything greater than 1 is dangerous
 
9:00 PM
Could it also be who does what work? IG as historically understood places a significant load on the answerer to come up with lots of different answers to a question. Often this looks like lists of answers embedded in a single answer.
@Samuel I agree that requiring better constraints would go a long way towards clearing up the problem.
 
It's really the difference between being open-ended or not.
It seems the bad IG questions are more like "what's next" rather than "what's between these points"?
Good IG is interpolation, bad IG is extrapolation. Mostly.
 
@Samuel I really like that metaphor.
 
I'd also say that the problems with bad idea generation are similar to the problems of bad fictional worlds. The best worlds feel like they already exist, and you're just exploring them. Bad worlds feel like they're being made up on the spot, and don't exist beyond the nearest walls
 
@Green Agreed
 
9:28 PM
@Green Do you have my email address?
 
9:42 PM
I think you do. Feel free to shoot it to me. Starts with Jeb
 
I have to say that I am a bit puzzled... there are big posts on meta about adapting the scope of the site
and I think part of the reason we have that discussion was the arrival of newer users and a form of relax from older ones. Yet in those discussions, I don't see much people like Xandar, Hohmannfan, etc.
they are active in the review queue though... or at least I have seen their names around for some time
shouldn't we try to be more attractive for them to join our discussions on meta?
 
 
2 hours later…
11:36 PM
@James Maybe somewhere. I think I got it from you a while ago. Let me check.
 

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