I am writing a science fiction novel. It is my first time trying to write sci-fi. My knowledge of science is rather amateur. I have, somewhat seriously, taught myself physics and chemistry. On anything else, the base of my knowledge is simple curiosity. I've already got the basis for the plot and characters, but I still need to do a lot of world-building and add layers to the plot. I want it to be a plausible future, not a sci-fi epic fantasy (such as Star Trek, say). The thing is that I can't assume my predictions of the future are insightful enough. The story would focus more on humanism than science, but I need to put it in a feasible political and technological context.

The idea I had was to ask a series of questions on different SE pages. The thing is that, as they would be all hypothetical, I am afraid they could be deemed as too subjective. Another thing I wonder is if it would be fine to post the same question in nature, with different specifications of course, on different pages.

The nature of many of these questions would be something like: I want to get an idea of the future of Europe in 200 years time. I state some conditions, such as technology developments and geopolitical events I consider appropriate, what do you think would happen if...

That if could be, for instance, what you think will/would/should happen with the development of the data economy within the world. Would be Europe somehow separated from China, the US and Britain as their systems and laws for data protection would be too different? What would be your expectations on the matter? What would be the implications of your guess?

Now, the reason I like the idea of doing this in SE is that I like the straightforwardness, clarity and somehow professionalism of its community. I also prefer to do a survey within a somewhat closed system, rather than asking all around the Internet or keep on by myself, without other people's insight. The thing is that the question I used as an example before, I could post it on many different SE pages and get very different and valuable points of view on the matter (economic view, political view, IT view, etc). Of course, I wouldn't choose to post it in, say, the Islam SE site, although I would love to get their insight too. So, first things first... would be okay to post the very same question in politics, economics, law, worldbuilding and, say, information security SE sites?

Then, it would make some sense to post it in quantum computing, for example. Of course, I would edit the question to fit it more within the nature of that particular site, but it would, in nature, be the same question with some patches. If it's up to me, I would post it nevertheless. I really want their insight; they are different people with different perspective. But I am afraid it wouldn't be okay for many members. Am I wrong? In case it could be okay, any suggestions on how to avoid when posting the question on such relatively unrelated sites?

I can't find any specific rule or previous meta post that tells me what to expect if I do this survey. The only thing related would be this post I assume that having no particular procedure we should all agree with, it should have to do with how the community interprets it.

  1. So, would you approve?
  2. Is this totally against the whole ethos of SE?
  3. If there is a way to do it nevertheless, under which particular conditions?
  4. And also, is it fine in general to post the same question on different sites (being this survey or just two random questions related to both sites at the same time)?
  5. Also, from the perspective of each site... would it be considered spam to get a number of similarly designed questions with different topics? At the end, it would always be me and probably the introductory paragraph be the same in all questions.

The time invested in posting these questions would have to be taken away from the time I invest in other types of research, so I need to have reason to believe it would be ultimately worth it. Of course, if it works out as I think it could, it would be an invaluable source of ideas, information and clues on what lines of research I need to give priority to. Sort of a knowledge-based brainstorm. The inspiration I could get from it is too valuable not to try.

In response to "SE sites are not meant to only serve you" I want to add that the idea would also be that this might make for good content in the website. I am sure many of the questions could make an interesting and educational read to future users.

From what I gather from the answers I've got so far, I would be doing something like this:

  1. Posting a specific hypothetical question on the adequate site.
  2. Put into context what I need the hypothetical for but not focusing the question on it.
  3. Follow very explicitly the exceptions on the use of hypotheticals and subjectivity for each site.
  4. Wait some days to gather all the momentum of activity of that post.

Later on, if useful:

  1. Posting a tailor-made question on another specific site, following points 2 and 3 of the previous list.
  2. Even if it has a similar nature to the other question, make it as worth it to that community of experts as possible considering my own knowledge of the subject.
  3. Add a link to the previous question in the different site, being clear that it would only be complementary to read it and not necessary to answer this particular question.
  4. Ask for comment in the other post if they come up with something on the nature of the other question through the reading of this one.

This sounds fair enough to me. But I wonder if it would be less problematic to avoid linking posts to each other. I would be creating some sort of layered monster for some of the hypotheticals, and that could prove to be unpopular. The thing is that I find not sharing the links dishonest and it would also lose much of its appeal to me.

On a different note, but with regards to the acceptance of cross-posting in general, I recommend a look at this other post (7 years old):

Build and strengthen the Stack Exchange community with “crossover questions” between sites

I find its most upvoted answer quite interesting.

In the end, it is not that different from what happens when a post is migrated. Perhaps even preferable to have different replies in different sites rather than mixing everything up. On migration.

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    You shouldn't cross post the same question. I'd expect this sort of question to be closed as opinion based on most sites except possibly worldbuilding. – Robert Longson May 3 at 13:38
  • Even if the particular statements that would lead to the conclusion were very specific? I am talking about a rather syllogistic form of questions to which answers would need to have a decent amount of knowledge to be at the level of SE requirements. I know they are hypotheticals, but hypotheticals can be objective if well proposed. A good deal of stoic and medieval logic is based on that. Of course, if the community feel it as opinion the project would be doomed the same. – Pablo GM May 3 at 13:44
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    You might want to ask on the per-site beta if something doesn’t break a fundamental SE rule (such as no polls), but you’re not sure if it is on topic for a site. Also please note you can go @ sombodiesname to ping them so they know you replied to them. – Ekadh Singh May 3 at 14:17
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    This post is almost a novel in itself. – Luuklag May 3 at 20:19
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  • Sounds like Worldbuilding to me, too:) – Martin James May 4 at 7:23

And also, is it fine in general to post the same question on different sites (being this survey or just two random questions related to both sites at the same time)?

This is the most important question. The answer to it is twofold:

Based on that, I can tell you I would disapprove, but like I said, if you can tailor your questions to specific sites, it might be possible to ask on more than one site (that's the conditional part).

  • Good. The thing is that the help don't-ask page can be a bit ambiguous. My questions would fall under the hypothetical subjective question type, but they would fall under all statements of the exception to the rule: inspire answers that explain “why” and “how"; tend to have long, not short, answers; have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone; invite sharing experiences over opinions; insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references; So, what if I redact my questions following all this precepts orderly? – Pablo GM May 3 at 14:01
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    @PabloGM I'd then advise you to go to specific sites, find their chatrooms or meta sites, and ask there if your question would be a good one for that site. People that are actually active at those sites can probably tell you better if your question would be a good subjective one. When I hear the word survey, I mostly think of 'every answer is equally valid' and 'expect more answers' over it being a question that sparks the good answers that explain why and how, but ymmv. – Tinkeringbell May 3 at 14:04
  • Sounds logical as it might well be a matter of culture, rather than rules. Although I am not sure if that would be considered cross-posting too. It would be the same question in all places, pretty much. Namely, this one edited. – Pablo GM May 3 at 14:08
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    @PabloGM copy-pasting a question across multiple sites would be cross-posting, it's as simple as that. You need to tailor your questions to specific sites. I also doubt most of the STEM sites take any hypothetical question on 'what would this field look like in 200 years'. But if they do (I'll leave it up to you to check), you tailor your question, and show your research effort: Show what you know about the developments within a field and how the speed of those increased or decreased over the years, for example. – Tinkeringbell May 3 at 14:12
  • That would be the idea, roughly. Making the question itself as much of a good read as possible. The thing is that if I spend too long giving explanations on why I came up with the assumed premises for the hypothesis I ask for, the nature of the question would have to include many facts from different fields of knowledge than the site's. Also, if it gets deleted it would be a massive loss of time. My plan, really, is to do as I find fit from your answers in this post. If I get a good enough ratio of approval, then link to this post to show I am following your indications to my best ability. – Pablo GM May 3 at 14:19
  • Of course, I'll tailor them as much as possible, but find that I either share only some research according to any particular field in each site or it would be rather ambivalent in nature. I find it best to explain what I mean with the question and put things in context, but it pushes the question further away from the topic of the site. It's tricky. – Pablo GM May 3 at 14:22

One thing to think about when trying to decide if a question is too subjective is "How would I objectively rank the answers I'm hoping for by how "correct" they are? If you would choose one answer over another because the author was very creative in extrapolating your hypothetical, it's probably too subjective.

You could ask hypothetical questions that would give you information that would help you do the creative extrapolation. For example, you might be able to ask on politics about how the US might respond to some hypothetical development in China, but you would need to make your hypothetical situation very focused so that any answer could be supported by other sources of information. A question that asked "What would the world be like if China replaced the existing Internet with its own version?" would be far too broad.

To be focused enough, each question should be specific to the site you ask it on. You might ask about the political impacts of China replacing the Internet on Politics and ask about what sort of technology approach would make sense on World Building. Before asking, read the help center page of the site to learn exactly what is on-topic and off-topic, then refine the scope of your question to give it the best chance of being well-received.

You may want to look at well-scored recent questions to get an idea of what kind of questions the community on a site likes. For example, you could search for is:q score:4.. (the actual score may need to be adjusted based on how active the site is) and order by newest. If you know what you want to ask about, you could add a relevant term or tag to that search to try to find questions similar to the ones you want to ask. I would recommend asking only one question on one site and staying engaged with that one question for a few days to see how your approach is received. Once you have a feel for how to limit the scope of your question, then you might ask a few more questions on a few sites. I would not pepper a site with 5 different questions posted on the same day.

Treating communities like an answer vending machine is a bit rude. Take the time to engage with the people who are going to try to help you. Part of treating a community of experts with respect is taking the time to ask them questions that require their expertise, not questions that each sort of expert would answer differently based on their expertise.

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    Great answer and recommendations. Very constructive. Particularly the "Treating communities like an answer vending machine is a bit rude" bit is something I want to avoid at any cost. Waiting to see what replies I get on a given forum before readapting the question to another one, and linking it, was my idea. I didn't specify it in the question, though. The thing is that it can be received wrongly by some communities. Crossing references between similar questions can be a great way to be able to make the question specific to each site and at the same time putting the whole thing into context. – Pablo GM May 3 at 14:50
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    @PabloGM It is extremely rare that a question asked on one site should be posted without adjustment to another site. If you are thinking about going from site to site asking the same question and just changing "Dear Politics.SE" to "Dear Economics.SE", your question is undoubtedly too broad. Part of treating a community of experts with respect is taking the time to ask them questions that require their expertise, not questions that each sort of expert would answer differently based on their expertise. – ColleenV May 3 at 14:54
  • I am not sure I agree with that last statement, but I am sure many would agree with you. And having good reasons too. I get that the key is to adapt the questions to the community as much as possible. I wouldn't simply copy and paste. Although for some questions that come to mind it would be actually possible and lead to widely different expert information. But your point about respect is important. I wouldn't want to make feel "communities like an answer vending machine", as someone else has pointed out. – Pablo GM May 3 at 16:16
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    @PabloGM There's nothing wrong with those sorts of questions in general - they're just out of scope for SE because they are too broad. You're expected to do enough research to be able to ask a relatively focused, answerable question. If two experts can answer the same question differently, how do you rank which answer is better than the other? You can't, which makes such questions unsuited for this format. You may be able to get some discussion going in a site's chat room that would lead to a question that is better suited SE however. – ColleenV May 3 at 16:57
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    The bit about how'd you rank an answer better than another has been sort of a revelation to me, honestly. It's rather obvious, but it makes me understand the system of SE much better. I'll see if I can come up with some format that respects all that. It will probably be less of a survey than intended and more like a few questions that will take me a long time to write. I might ask in different sites, though, but only if the format of the posts will enable me to choose a "solved" answer in each objectively. Having that as a target should make the questions acceptably different to each other. – Pablo GM May 3 at 22:22

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