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Black holes, Dark Matter, FTL, & Hyperdrive have differing probabilities of actually influencing Space Exploration, but they all are only theoretically possible (to differing degrees).

Should questions on these topics be out of scope here? It can be argued that Physics and Science Fiction would be better sites for discussion of these topics.

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For the most part they would probably fall under the "primarily opinion based" vote to close category, as there might not be much (if anything) to substantiate one's claims in the possible answers, or for others to dispute them. However -

  • If it's on the theoretical level, and not inquiring about any practical applications, then it would belong to Physics, and the question should be voted as "off-topic" and request for migration to Physics made (if it's on-topic there, not a duplicate of already existing questions, e.t.c.).
  • If it's regarding current scientific investigations into the possibility of alternative modes of space travel, space exploration, or other practical implications such advances in science and technology could make (in the not too distant future), and can be otherwise reasonably expected to be answerable within the scope of our website, then they are on-topic.
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I have some simple guidelines I follow for every question that pops up:

Is it about space exploration, or substantially related to it?

This, I find, is a fairly good filter. It allows us to keep questions like

Could black holes be used for swing-by?

While nuking

https://space.stackexchange.com/questions/518/what-would-happen-if-you-dropped-a-miniature-black-hole-on-the-earth

Also, this rule is very easy to apply to any question. Easy to remember, too!

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I'm torn on the direction this site is taking. Personally speaking, I would not have focused on these topics for content (unless you happen to be that rare person who is actually working in one of these fields — in that case, my apologies; carry on).

When we created a site for "spacecraft operators, scientists, engineers, and enthusiasts", I envisioned a much more applied site. I'm not sure if this is an actual problem (we'll be doing an evaluation in the upcoming week), but it feels like the aerospace engineers and related experts have not become the heart and sole of this site.

Most of the questions seem more inspired by where the Science Channel meets science fiction then by folks who are actually working in these fields. There is certainly a place for the avid enthusiast here for sure, but when a site doesn't have a strong constituency of "doers", you lose a really important component of learning for which these sites are built.

I didn't mean to delve into a larger macro issue, but that seems to be at the crux of your question. Maybe it's worth a larger discussion.

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  • $\begingroup$ Are enthusiasts, more to the point, their questions really welcome? $\endgroup$ – user92 Jul 21 '13 at 5:58
  • $\begingroup$ To capture professionals, you have to offer them something. At least, some tools to express their minds freely. And guess what? There is no ability to edit formulas in posts yet. $\endgroup$ – Deer Hunter Jul 30 '13 at 21:43

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