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Proposal for a Stories & Worlds Community
Elevator Pitch: A community embracing poets and dreamers searching for help and inspiration to bring their creative stories, RPGs, and worlds to life.
The intended scope of this site is to help creators with the development of their creative infrastructure (e.g., "worldbuilding") or story development. This community embraces the creative where other Codidact communities embrace the scientifically factual or disciplinary.
It is also within the scope of the community to embrace the disciplines of worldbuilding and storybuilding. The community exists to both help build a word and structure a story, and to explain the process of building a world and telling a story (insofar that it doesn't step on the toes of another community, see below).
Questions that are fishing for ideas are accepted, so long as appropriate limitations and conditions are supplied to ensure a reasonably finite list length.
Questions that are "opinion based" are also accepted as, by definition, all assistance in the creative process is a matter of opinion.
This community embraces the idea of helping participants to write a story, but it is not within the scope of the community to write a story for participants. Thus, a question asking, "I have the following five options, which one should my character take?" is off-topic while a question asking, "I'm working on a list of options my character can choose from, I already know he'll take this one..., Can you help me flesh out a list with the following conditions and restrictions?" would be on-topic. To this end, questions of the form "what should my character/nation/entity do next?" are off-topic.
While answers with length are encouraged, a question so broad in its scope that more than a single page is required to answer it is off-topic and considered a violation of the "we won't write your story for you" policy. A good example would be, "I've introduced modern plastics into medieval society, what would happen?" To this end, questions of the form "what happens next?" and "what would be the consequences if...?" are off-topic. (I expect this to be one of the earliest Meta discussions, because if the question is objectively narrow enough, there's nothing wrong with it. It's when the question is so broad that the consequences to my little sister are encompassed by the question that there's a problem.)
Respondents are encouraged to explain why they have answered the way they have. The only unacceptable explanation of why is this, "because it doesn't work that way in real life." The value of this scope rule is that many creators are seeking a rationalization or justification for an idea ("I want my merfolk to switch between legs and tails... how can that happen?"). Such a question is entirely within the scope of this community so long as it doesn't violate the more-than-a-single-page rule mentioned above.
Overlap with other CD communities: This site would not overlap at all with other Codidact communities. Questions about the real world would be redirected to communities like physics or (when it exists) history. Questions asking for a basis in science would be redirected to speculative science. Questions about writing techniques ("how do I effectively express the following idea?") would be redirected to the writing community. If the Codidact community does not yet exist, we would encourage its creation.
The real problem will be questions asking for help developing alternative physics. That would touch strongly on multiple communities — none of which at this time (unless I'm misunderstanding their limits) would accept such a question. At this time I propose that alternative physics would belong here.
NOTE: Based on a comment from Canina on another post, alternate physics would be suitable for Speculative Science, which makes the above paragraph moot.
Where are our users?
- Subforums for Worldbuilding and Storybuilding; introduction / help for each (along the lines of Spec.Sci "Q&A" and "Rigorous Science" subforums.
- Tab with a list of worldbuilding resources
- Tab with a list of storybuilding resources
Potential Weakness: Creative content isn't just personal, it's intellectual property with potentially intrinsic value. A significant problem should this community be approved is that all of the licensing options fundamentally give away any and all rights to the creative. The closest match to what should be available (IMO) is the default query post should be CC BY-NC-ND and the default response post should be CC BY. We still have a bit of a caveat emptor situation with users bringing their copy protected ideas and content to us. In the long run, I'm likely straining at a gnat. I doubt any author who used this service would attribute the respondents, anyway (even though they are legally obligated to).
The Other Side of the Moebium
I'm copying and updating this from the other, seemingly dormant, worldbuilding related proposal from a year ago. I think this would mesh here as well. It looks to me like Speculative Science codidact forum is going to claim the scientific side of the geopoetical coin. This is good (though I really don't get the name -- speculative science speaks to me of what the future has in store for real world science). I'd like to propose that Stories & Worlds take up the artistic side of the same coin.
WB.SE seems to focus a lot on general science and I notice that a lot of queries get comments essentially along the lines of "your scenario is implausible, because that's not how reality works". Well, duh. Querent isn't asking about reality -- she's asking about a fictional world! That forum also seems to slightly downplay art and to more than slightly downplay creativity. Which is really kind of counterintuitive! In all fairness to WB.SE, there has been a constant struggle to fit the tesseract shaped peg of worldbuilding queries as art & craft into the one dimensional hole of Stack Exchange model of "one single best fact based answer". That's an admirable goal, and works great for science and math questions but not so much for creative questions.
There is currently some beginnings of a discussion on storybuilding as a legitimate part of worldbuilding (I don't mean character development or plot determination, but rather, how the fictional world and the developed character interact to form the plot). And there has long been discussion and some tension on what constitutes "opinion based" queries.
I think we could distinguish this forum from both WB.SE and from SS.CD by embracing and treating seriously the fanciful, the opinion based, the artistic, the intuitive, perhaps even the literary. If SS.CD is taking science in worldbuilding seriously, then why not take art in worldbuilding as seriously?
Lots of questions at WB.SE seem to be really "basic", if you take my meaning. Like "can I have a unicorn cavalry in a Civil War setting". I'd like for this forum to bring that up a few notches. Explore the hows and whys, the wherefores and hownows. Consider the choices made as matters of art: what are the underlying meanings and significations? How do these choices mesh and create a deeper world? Where do we touch the transcendentals of goodness, truth and the beauty through geopoetical arts?
Ideally, we'd not be fielding "can I do X" kinds of questions, but rather queries of implications, possibilities and relationships. So not "can I do X" but rather "in situation A, B, & C, if I do X, what might the ramifications be in the military / economic / political / social spheres?"
Some Other Considerations
I really like how Speculative Science has two sub-communities (their general Q&A and also a Rigorous Science category. That functionality would be useful here. We could have a general Worldbuilding Q&A category, a general Storybuilding category, and perhaps a category for geopoetical spelunking, a deeper dive into meaning, world as art and the like.
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Is there any way this proposal can be combined with the Worldbuilding Proposal?
I think JBH's proposal and my proposal for a deeper dive into issues of world (and story) building mesh pretty well. I also think that anyone who would want to join Stories & Worlds would also join WB.CD. And vice versa.
I think the two proposals have enough in common that joining them together under Worldbuilding would make more sense than having two competing forums, especially since Speculative Science already exists for the more scientific aspects of geopoetry!
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