Proposal: Speculative Science

Recently in yet another discussion about too broad scope of this topic, I saw moderator's opinion talking that adding science qualification to topic is not enough for creating acceptable bounds to topic's scope. He argued this with fact that science word could have many different interpretations. I can't disagree with it, because when people will ask a questions, they will be on their own to guess that questions should match physical science scope rather than any other science they might think about. Not sure if physical clarification is appropriate enough, but you can correct me.

After all comments we received about "Speculative Science" scope (including moderator's comments), I suggest to concretize title and description of this proposal with something like "Speculative Physical Science" for preventing this proposal to repeat the "What If" scenario.

Update (before proposal edit)

Currently, example questions are already contains questions that are not related to physical science (which does not mean that these questions are not interesting, but anyway). I also saw downvoted question which perfectly fits to this proposal, and what even more confusing - it contains comment talking that "It's a very nice physics question. Not so much a "speculative science" question".

As you can see, despite of the early "define" state of this proposal, the level of confusion is already high. I believe that we should change title/description as soon as possible, otherwise moderators will not pass this proposal to beta.

Update (after proposal edit)

Editing of title and description of this proposal shown us that number of original title supporters is actually bigger than it seems to us when this question was created. As James suggested, let's wait for a few weeks and watch answer's feedback to see the actual community preference.


It's okay to clarify the proposal if you wish, but frankly, it seems largely unnecessary to get this proposal moving forward. This proposal is not going to be closed based on the current definition and example content posted to date.*

I suggest changing the name to Speculative Natural Science

In the final evaluation, it's possible that the longer title will be seen as unnecessary for such an academic clarification. Everyone I talked to seems to "get" this site as it is, and they're looking forward to seeing how it works out.

This subject is already more credible than the "what if..." proposal because the title more clearly suggests what such a community would look like, and the potential answers feel more "demonstrably rankable" than the proposal that came before.

Everyone I talked to seems willing and eager to give this a shot.

As an aside, sometimes getting overly specific in the title and description can be harmful, too. I'm playing devil's advocate, but the sun disappearing isn't "natural", so is that on topic? I understand what you mean by natural sciences, but explicitly enumerating what subjects are on topic in the description sometimes causes more pedantry than is healthy for a new community. You can imagine folks closing great questions based on technology, logic, or theoretical linguistics because it didn't "make your list". We don't want to go too far in that direction either.

* This is based on a preliminary opinion from the limited progress so far. This assumes the content doesn't take a weird left turn or run into some other problem in the proposal process.

Good to know this won't be closed – Beastly Gerbil Sep 17 '16 at 15:53

I think the bounds are quite simple.

The questions must be related to either Physics, Biology or Chemistry and have a scientific explanation.

Questions that were asked on the 'What If?' proposal such as

which all have 10+ upvotes would be closed as off topic as the answers would not be related to science

For me the Speculative Science proposal has a lot more bounds than What If?

I assume you wouldn't limit the scope to the three sciences listed, but to all the natural sciences (e.g. geology)? – HDE 226868 Sep 13 '16 at 13:20
@HDE226868, geology would be part of science – Beastly Gerbil Sep 13 '16 at 13:22
"Speculative Science proposal has a lot more bounds than What If" - the problem is that community doesn't like Science word because of many possible interpretations. E.g. social science questions shouldn't be asked in this topic, despite it is still science. Personally, I liked almost all positive-scored questions from "What If". But as soon as we must follow StackExchange rules, we should concretize this topic. "natural sciences" suggested by @HDE226868 seems good, despite I can't be 100% sure because english is not my native language. – Sam Sep 13 '16 at 13:39

Given that it has been suggested by SE Staff the "Science" by it's self may be problomatic I suggest changing the name to Speculative Natural Science This encompasses the scope that the community is defining while making it clear to the causal user that there are limits, which was also called out as an issue by other SE staff

I agree. How would we know when we could edit title/description? And what would we do with question examples which will not match new title? – Sam Sep 14 '16 at 18:03
Any one with sufficient rep can alter the title description. I would let this ride for at least 24 hours first. You can vote to close questions that don't fit the updated scope. – James Jenkins Sep 14 '16 at 21:11
@Sam I have updated the title and description. – James Jenkins Sep 16 '16 at 12:39
I followed up on this answer in my post below — – Robert Cartaino Sep 16 '16 at 14:44

Robert suggests in his answer, that adding 'Natural' to the title, does not add value from the SE perspective and may actually harm the proposals growth.

I propose returning the name to Speculative Science if this answer gets a 2 point lead on the answer suggesting the longer name

Hi James, thanks for editing proposal. I created this question after seeing that community have a bad feeling about "Speculative Science" title, but it was necessary only to change the title, as we suddenly have seen that the original title was actually ok :) I'm going to edit question to ask people make a final choice as you suggested, but as soon as Robert's answer is already has votes, I suggest to consider his answer (as the original title vote option) instead of this answer. Don't you mind? – Sam Sep 18 '16 at 16:35
to much change is bad, a lot of people don't visit Area51 regularly, I would leave everything as it is for a few weeks at least and see how it develops. – James Jenkins Sep 18 '16 at 21:36

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