I mean, WB: SE has one, and when I skimmed through the meta site, I couldn't find any trace of a sandbox. Should we make one?

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  • I think it's a good idea, but I'm also okay with people just asking here on meta. I created two answers so people can vote. – Goodbye Stack Exchange Aug 30 '17 at 23:45


Worldbuilding is rather unique as Stack Exchange sites go: It's often difficult to tell what information is needed in a question in order to make it answerable, and sometimes even whether a question is going to be on topic or not. Small nuances can tip the scale from a question being on topic, to off topic, to back on topic. Navigating the tide can be difficult even for experienced community members at times, so a sandbox where these issues can be (at least mostly) hashed out serves a purpose. With most of the quirks out of the way before the question hits the main site, far less tweaking is typically required afterwards. It also doesn't help that Worldbuilding is often considered a "dump an idea onto the community and see what happens" kind of site, which is pretty far from how it was envisioned.

The way I see it, Writers doesn't have that same problem. It's fairly easy to tell whether a question is about the craft of writing, or other aspects of authorship. The help center has a pretty thorough list of what's on topic and off topic. I rarely find myself wondering whether or not a question is on topic on Writers; on Worldbuilding, it's often nowhere near as clear cut.

Also, a question sandbox requires an active community that frequents wherever the sandbox is; honestly, Writers lags far behind Worldbuilding in this regard. One can speculate about the reason for this (I won't, at least not here), but that appears to be the way it is.

Generally speaking, I don't see a whole lot of closed questions on Writers, which would indicate that there isn't a major problem to be solved. From a quick look, it appears that Writers has about 10% closed, non-deleted questions on the main site (588 out of 5,605 at the moment); this in comparison to over 21% (2,768 out of 12,907) on Worldbuilding.

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    @RedactedRedacted It takes a fair amount of (I'd say deliberate) effort to actually get to the point of the automatic question ban. Well before a user is actually question-banned, they are shown warnings to this effect. See Why are questions no longer being accepted from my account? in the help center, and (for example) Quality ban warning and Warn new users when they ask a question after a previous question is closed, downvoted, or deleted. – user Sep 9 '17 at 16:48
  • I've read the on topic several times now, but I still don't know if I can/should ask about specific character interaction in stories of mine here. This SE seem to be more about the art and technique of writing than of specific problems that can occur within a story. WB emphasizes that its questions shouldn't be about individuals either, so I'm left wondering where this kind of question should go. – SK19 Feb 21 '18 at 18:06
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    @SK19 Broadly speaking, that kind of questions doesn't really have a home on the Stack Exchange network. Stack Exchange aims to build a repository of knowledge, by providing a platform for asking and answering generally applicable but narrowly focused questions. Questions about specific imaginary characters are unlikely to be useful for anyone else, so don't really fit this model. You might have some luck on Interpersonal Skills, if you frame the question correctly... or go ahead and ask it elsewhere (Reddit maybe?). Not everything has to go onto the Stack Exchange network. – user Feb 21 '18 at 20:03
  • thank you very much :) – SK19 Feb 22 '18 at 6:07
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    I'd like to point out that two of the main reasons Worldbuilding has so many closed questions is because (1) we struggle with on-topicness/site scope, and (2) because of the site scope struggle, we're sometimes a dumping ground in the sense that we get occasional borderline topics. The debate is still ongoing, but one of the ways we fix that risk is by using our Sandbox to get feedback. Writing, though, is pretty clear-cut. – FoxElemental Jul 13 '18 at 0:24

We already have a thing for this - it's called Meta! There's no reason not to open a question here with a proposed question in it. "How do I ask about (thing)" makes a fine question here on meta.

We do have a fairly substantial close rate here - it's somewhat higher than 10% - but not all those questions stay closed. We also do a pretty good job of helping people edit questions so they get reopened.

I've thought for a while about suggesting something like the sandbox here, as it's clearly a pretty awesome idea over on Worldbuilding. The problem is that we do give people the opportunity to edit and reopen, so that part of the system is working.

Having a question closed isn't fun, and it's nice to work out the bugs in a less public place like meta. Questions that straddle the line between a critique and a specific question that just uses a piece of writing to make a point can be a little tricky to get right.

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    Note that the Worldbuilding question sandbox isn't just "how do I ask about X?". It's really where you post a question on Meta, get feedback on whether it's good or how to improve it, then post that same question on the main site. – user Aug 31 '17 at 7:41

I'd be fine with something like the sandbox here - it's a really cool idea and a great use of meta over on Worldbuilding. What's on-topic here can be pretty involved and hard to follow for new users, let's give them all the tools we can to ask better questions.

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    The big problem with this (and one that we've battled with on Worldbuilding as well) is that in order to participate on Meta, one needs to already have at least a small amount of reputation on the site. Apparently the reputation limit for meta participation can be lowered if the community so desires, but this still presents a restriction (not just a hurdle in finding it) to those most in need of such help. – user Aug 31 '17 at 7:40
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    @MichaelKjörling However, that doesn't apply to users that come from other sites and have the +100 start bonus (like me) – SK19 Feb 21 '18 at 18:08

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