There are regularly proposals at Area51 for things were the majority of the content falls into TGO scope. Many of the example questions have to do with weapons or survival.

I was thinking about a tag 'apocalyptic' where questions that are generally in scope but presuppose a lack of government support and/or private/commercial infrastructure would find a home, and provide quick access to those interested.

A great many of our questions and answer, already assume that you are far enough out in The Great Outdoors that your only support is what you have with you. So this not really a scope question.

The current question I have in mind is about firearms (flint lock weapons in particular) and my clarifying content is heavy on lack of infrastructure.

My thought is that a tag 'apocalyptic' would make closing some Area51 proposals as dupes of TGO more clear. There is no need to include the cause of the apocalypse in questions or answers. If you're asking how to survive without infrastructure, it doesn't matter if you fell out of a plane, there was a zombie apocalypse or nuclear war.

So I guess this is a two fold question.

Do we want to market TGO as a home for these types of questions?

Should we create and use a tag 'apocalyptic' to give a home for these types of questions? (or some other variant, I am usually poor at picking names)

Clarify In all of the above, I am assuming that if someone asks specifically about a zombie apocalypse, it is out of scope and the question/answer would be closed or edited.

Example Question In the absence of lead, what can I use for a projectile in a flintlock rifle?

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    I agree with gerrit that we don't need the tag. In fact, I think it could cause controversy that might take away from the actual question. Would you be willing to add the text of a question you might ask? Obviously it wouldn't be etched in stone, but it could give us an idea of exactly what you're trying to convey. Thanks! Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 0:12
  • @sue example question posted on the main site and linked above. Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 21:43

7 Answers 7


No, we do not need an tag. Questions would be either off-topic or fit under the tag.

A problem with apocalyptic questions is that questions usually do not address an actual problem that someone is facing and answers may be highly speculative. How can I tell if a corpse is safe to eat? is probably a relevant question to someone trying to survive just after 99.999% of humans have died, but chances are no Outdoors.SE will be around to answer when the situation occurs. The first post-apocalyptic priorities may be to bury all the dead and protect oneself from other survivors; neither fit on Outdoors.SE. And even if someone does find that they need to eat corpses to survive in the great outdoors, it actually fits under again.

However, primitive wilderness survival is a skill that some people enjoy; trying to cross an ocean with primitive technology or surviving without modern tools in the middle of a natural area, far away from civilisation, are real outdoors questions. The second one happens to involve a skill that may be useful in a real apocalyptic scenario, but we don't need a special skill for that.

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    i think you are right, howeve, would there be some outdoor skills that would be essential for surviving an apocalypse that might not normally get included under survival. If not, let's just use the survival tag and accept apocalypse questions in there.
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 20:55
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    It might be prudent to keep an archive of the site's database locally in the event of an apocalypse. That would solve that problem for those that like to plan. :) In general I agree with you though the survival tag covers these questions well assuming they'd be on topic anyway.
    – Erik
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 3:12
  • @RoryAlsop can you post your comment as an answer. It makes a good compromise between the two existing answers It would be nice to see how ranks as an answer. Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 11:03
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    @RoryAlsop I would argue that anything apocalyptic that's on-topic here should simply be phrased as normal outdoors questions. The state of the wider world is irrelevant because it won't change how you deal with a situation.
    – Niall
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 18:17
  • I think there may be situations where therea difference Niall, but my comment was phrased more as a bit of a thought provoker than an answer because I don't have a well defined answer
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 19:00
  • @RoryAlsop I think "not well defined" is the whole problem really. It's very difficult to give a specific answer to a non-specific question.
    – Niall
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 19:53


And including it in the question should be discouraged.

Why? Because it's irrelevant.

Questions should be clear, precise and only include relevant information.

A good question will be of the form "how do I do X, when I don't have access to Y or Z?"

Not "how do I do X after we've been nuked by Sri Lanka and my family is dead?"

Anything that requires such information would be off-topic or overly broad/opinion-based.

To ask any question properly it's necessary to think through the question and decide exactly what you want to achieve and what specific things you will/won't have or can/cannot do. Simply saying that everything has gone to pot is inadequate.

As such, allowing apocalypse questions is begging for a mass of low-quality content.


I think apocalypse questions should be off topic otherwise things will get out of hand.

If apocalypse questions are entertained, then virtually any subject area will suddenly be on topic and this site won't have any focus. Suddenly "how can I tune a piano when all the local piano tuners have turned into zombies?" is on-topic because it's the apocalypse and because your piano is outside suddenly the question is 'outdoors'

Survival should be limited to common or probable situations. Survival as it is should mostly be limited to likely situations for most recreational or professional activities, and little more.


In short, while the questions are ok here, the apocalyptic answers are not.

I have created a proposal for a new SE site apocalyptic.

I expect there will be some discussion of duplicating TGO in that proposal so I outlined in meta post why it's the answers not the questions with scope issues at TGO. I have also linked back to this discussion.

Update The proposal and related discussion were deleted at about 3 days after being proposed. It had 2 followers and about 10+ questions when I looked in it a few hours prior to deletion. Insufficient communitty support were likely the reason for deletion. Minimum Activity Requirements for Area 51

  • In your linked post on Area 51 you described what I was feeling after reading some of these questions but hadn't put into words yet. I think your answer here would be greatly improved by incorporating more of that logic.
    – Erik
    Commented Feb 13, 2017 at 23:31

I agree with others about the answer of 'no', probably to both questions you pose but mainly to the second one. In addition to what others have said:

Apocalyptic survival is covered by many existing Stack Exchanges. So, it will continue to be complicated to tease out why Area51 proposals on this subject are appropriate or not because they are already covered or not.

For example, addressing @RoryAslop's comment on gerrit's answer:

i think you are right, howeve, would there be some outdoor skills that would be essential for surviving an apocalypse that might not normally get included under survival. If not, let's just use the survival tag and accept apocalypse questions in there.

Yes, absolutely, of course. Cooking. Martial arts. Radio communications. Non-wilderness medicine. Politics. Wildcrafted baskets and shelters can fit in TGO's 'survival' tag, but more advanced crafts or shelter improvements may approach more suitability under Arts & Crafts or Home Improvement SEs.

Bottom line: Apocalyptic survival inherently includes a very wide range of subjects, not at all limited to the Great Outdoors. The fact that we cover weapons and (wilderness) first-aid in TGO makes many apocalyptic type of questions relevant here, but many other apocalyptic type of questions would be (1) new subjects for TGO and (2) more suitable in other Stack Exchanges.


Sure why not :)

Here's what I would look for in new questions

  • Are they interesting?
  • Are they fun to answer?
  • Are they well written?
  • Is it content that people would enjoy reading?
  • Do they have to do with the Outdoors?

Here what I don't look for

  • Is an actual problem? (I can be curious about all sorts of situations I don't expect to encounter)
  • Is the likelihood of this happening high? (The odds of having to self-amputate your arm are low, but it has happened and would be an interesting question)

With all of that said, I would say these look like interesting questions and I think they would be on topic here and be interesting to answer.

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    As a rule the TGO community is not judgmental, and the community does a good job of addressing it were it does occur. I personally post a lot of questions, and when I asked them they seemed like a good idea. I have learned that I am often wrong about how the community will feel about them. Some that I have posted that I thought were on the lower end of borderline have done really well. Others that I thought, really good have flopped. Mostly if I think they are good I post them and try not to take it personal if they are not well received. Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 18:31
  • @JamesJenkins I significantly edited my answer Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 20:12
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    I totally agree with you that the content could be fun and on-topic. I don't see what the new tag would offer though.
    – Erik
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 3:16
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    Personally, I do care whether something is an actual problem and has any likelihood of happening.
    – user2169
    Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 2:43
  • @BenCrowell Case in point, it may be extremely unlikely that you will be attacked by a mountain lion in your sleep, one might argue that it has never happened, but that doesn't mean that people aren't going to worry about it. Its worth putting that info into the answer, but it doesn't mean that the question is off topic. Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 2:52

I guess this has to do with questions like these:

In the absence of lead, what can I use for a projectile in a flintlock rifle?

When should I boil water before distilling it?

IMO these are off-topic because they aren't things we would actually do outdoors. If I was manufacturing bullets or distilling water, I would be doing those things indoors. In some hypothetical postapocalyptic world, the survivors would probably spend some time indoors and some outdoors.

I also don't think it's productive to ask or answer these questions because they seem purely hypothetical and impossible to answer. There are too many unknowns. E.g., in the question about bullets without lead, I'd have to guess why there is no lead, guess what tools and technologies are available, guess what metals and minerals are available other than lead, and so on.

So I don't think an "apocalyptic" tag is a good idea, because I don't think a question marked with such a tag would be on-topic or worthwhile in the first place.

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