I completely agree with the close on: http://gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/1592/what-is-the-best-gaming-mouse-closed but I think that it's a good topic to have on this site in some form.

There is a number of these "list a thing" type questions on SO ( http://stackoverflow.com/questions/271398/what-are-your-favorite-extension-methods-for-c-codeplex-com-extensionoverflow, http://stackoverflow.com/questions/365489/questions-every-good-net-developer-should-be-able-to-answer )and other sites so I was wondering what we would consider reasonable in this.

Ideally the question would be someone looking for recommendation on a gaming mouse, but I think this type of list would also be ok.


"List of X" questions are discouraged: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/57226/… –  jmfsg Jul 15 '10 at 19:00
We need a final decision on this soon, otherwise it'll be a pain to implement. The basic idea I see in this tread is that they should be closed, but on the site I still see plenty open, and even getting re-opened. Let's make a final decision, add it to the FAQ, and get consistent on closing questions. –  C. Ross Jul 21 '10 at 12:05
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6 Answers

Some other classes of "repository" questions that I've been seeing include "Hidden Gems" (the new "Hidden Features" of Gaming, as I said in an aside in chat), game recommendations, best games, and games with certain features. And we are seeing a strong rise in these questions, the likes of which I really think are harmful to the site.

Our number 2 on-topic question, on the definition of the site at Area 51, was "How can I pass this [level/stage/boss/puzzle] in [game]?". Which, when I think of "Stack Exchange for games", that's the kind of questions I am expecting. I'm expecting people who have real problems coming to get real answers. And when I look at the front page, all I see is a flood of people asking for shopping recommendations.

The repositories aren't about using our knowledge to solve a problem, they're about plopping a bunch of opinions and ideas that don't actually solve anything. Because the people asking these questions don't actually have a problem to be solved. "Looking for game" isn't a problem, it's a temporary state whose success in exiting is based solely on the individual finding something of their interest. And we can only grasp at straws to provide mere suggestions. As random said in another question,

Do we want to sit around the campfire singing kumbaya?
Or do we want to get a direct answer to a game related problem we're having?

Doesn't take skills or expert knowledge to throw an opinion out there.

One user, on a question on the parent site, mentioned that even highly rated games end up being a bad experience and a waste of money. There's no potential for becoming an "expert" at game recommendations through being excellent at gaming.

If we honestly want this site to succeed (which many of us are having concerns about, including Jeff Atwood), we're going to need to shift our gears and get ourselves working on actual expert subject matter. We need to stop these repositories. We're not gamers because we buy games. We're gamers because we play games and do great at them! Let's show the world that they should be coming to us to figure out how to become a better player, how to get past obstacles - not a place to return to when you're done gaming and looking for something new.

We're not gamers because we buy games. We're gamers because we play games and do great at them! Amen! –  Ivo Flipse Jul 15 '10 at 12:40
Well, you can argue [identify-this-game] questions are also inappropriate because it only requires passing knowledge of some game, and yet those are considered positive and on-topic, at least according to the definition phase. Also, this discusses the game-recommendation questions. –  Oak Jul 15 '10 at 12:55
@Oak I agree with random on that question, which is both why I quoted him here and why I removed my original answer there (which addressed more "are these questions answerable" instead of "should we be fielding these questions"). –  Grace Note Jul 15 '10 at 12:59
@Oak, the definition phase is outdated, now is the real definition phase –  jmfsg Jul 15 '10 at 13:08
@Oak, yes, but it's not a finished discussion –  jmfsg Jul 15 '10 at 13:23
I think part of the problem is that people want to participate in the site, but they don't really have any questions, so they just post what they come up with. We launched in the middle of the summer gaming drought--I think the only major release since launch has been Starcraft 2. Hopefully there will be more real questions during the upcoming fall/holiday period. –  Kip Aug 26 '10 at 14:33
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IF you notice, most of these list of questions on SO are much older, when the rules were lighter, and CW was a "get out of jail free card", but have since been closed.

One thing to notice from the survivors, however, is they are not just "best x" questions, the gaming parallel of which is the "best gaming mouse" message, but are either limited within one area (e.g. a gaming equivalent to the exnsion methods question would be "best strategies for L4D2". Not as specific as "How to deal with the witch", but still answerable.

We actually already have a equvalent to the other example, of "Things every x should know", in the form of a question about playing online FPSes. It's basically "Things every online FPS player should know".

There is a continuing conversation on meta.stackoverflow.com about whether these older questions should be closed/deleted or allowed to survive. The position ebbs and flows and each time a new example is brought up there's a good chance it will get closed. –  ChrisF Jul 15 '10 at 10:57
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I completely agree with Grace Note, we need to start drawing the line more aggressively and further define the scope of the site.

Last night Jeff expressed his concerns in an improvised chat on meta's third place, and we all agreed it's necessary to enforce what questions are allowed as per the FAQ.
He even encouraged us to modify the FAQ to our needs, so let's try to build it here

I already voted to close on the questions Grace linked to, and I encourage the rest to do the same.

If not we risk this site not succeeding, or even becoming like super user.

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While I do agree with intolerance to subjectivity, gaming in itself is a subjective activity. Let me explain.

Grace said above:

We're gamers because we play games and do great at them! Let's show the world that they should be coming to us to figure out how to become a better player, how to get past obstacles

Unfortunately, this is not the point of being a gamer for many gamers out there. Just like the point of hiking is not always to exercise, many people do it purely for scenery, for many people the point of gaming is not to be great at them, by far. It is to enjoy a particular process. For clarity sake, I'll be calling these non-sports gamers "scenery gamers", where scenery stands for all things non-action (art, music, story).

Gaming is a huge field, and not one person or subset of people can take gaming and stick it into their way of thinking about it. This stackexchange site is not a walktrhough site, not a guide site, it's a gaming site. If it was one of the "nots" above — it would've been a narrow community of gamers who are playing for a single subjective reason. In that case it shouldn't be taking up all of gaming namespace in its name. It should instead be called "problem solving in games" or something.

Let's try drill down to the point of this rant. There are people who play to be great at games, and there are people who play to enjoy the game like a good book, where if their character is always doing things right — they don't feel right. So what? We are looking for objective stuff, right? We can't help this other group. The objective questions can only be found asked by the former subset of gamers, not the latter. But before we completely condemn the "scenery" gamers, let's try to ask ourselves:

What are the objective problems "scenery gamers" may need help with?

For scenery gamers, the real problems they encounter are exactly things like "looking for a game with a set of characteristics", or "I love western theme, help me find more". These are real problems that need to be solved, exactly because there is no way for these players to find what they're looking for, except by means of crowdsourcing ungoogleable questions. As a problem solving site, I think stackexchange needs to help solve the problem for broader community of gamers. It's ok that some of these problems are in danger of turning into subjective flood fest. We can always moderate them down/out. However, if somebody felt like they've finally found some people who understood the problem and do well at providing solution (like I did here http://gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/2534/deep-atmospheric-imagination-driven-non-action-games-of-the-past-decades/2537#2537), closing it down makes no sense. Just because some problems are harder to express/answer than others, doesn't mean they stop being problems needed to be solved.

In conclusion, by focusing on gameplay problems, you are making a subjective choice of which kind of problems this site will resolve, you are removing all other aspects of gaming from "gaming"-themed stackexchange, and you are narrowing the gaming community to a very dry subset of what it could've been. This is not stackoverflow, where all you need is to resolve programming problems. In fact, I can argue that questions such as this on stackoverflow: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/487258/plain-english-explanation-of-big-o are very much akin to my question linked above. Games are far more than a set of obstacles. We need to broaden our definition of "problem" because the "game" is itself a broad concept. I'd like to urge you to try and stretch objectivity to accommodate the broadness of gaming.

Well, at least I tried.

Thank you for providing feedback. I plan to respond once I've collected my thoughts more solidly. –  Grace Note Jul 17 '10 at 19:41
Now, not to comment that we cannot serve the people to whom gaming is a casual or intellectual exercise, but we cannot classify a good question merely on the bounds of "It's a problem that a gamer needs to be solved, and it's not very easy to find the answer". Working purely off of that logic would permit questions on piracy, just to name a random subject. I'm not saying that scenery gamers are bad - but my point is that a successful site is one that has a scope. And to be successful, our site needs one that is much more specific than just "gaming". –  Grace Note Jul 17 '10 at 20:10
I feel that branding our current scope as "nothing but walkthroughs and guides" or "just for gameplay issues" is not really accurate. I take fault for implications that my statement was about skill. My point wasn't that we can only cater to great skill in gameplay - my point was that the act of buying a game is not really something we can easily cater to. But that hasn't restrained us from addressing several questions that aren't concerned about getting "good" at gaming. –  Grace Note Jul 17 '10 at 20:35
Consider questions like gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/1036/…, gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/2426/…, gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/2429/…, and gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/87/… (could be considered a spoiler, so be careful about looking at that one). –  Grace Note Jul 17 '10 at 20:38
The first one is about someone who cares less about obstacles and more about whether he can still have some good company in a good game. The second one is about system requirements (and for that matter, addresses an easy confusion that all games within a distribution method will have the same requirements). The third wants functionality in order to play a game while attending other duties. And the fourth asks about character and plot, which is centered on the experience. –  Grace Note Jul 17 '10 at 20:41
Alright. Hopefully we can avoid the mistake of building an asphalt road only to find out that people keep walking their own trail. It's a delicate question of what's natural for a particular community. Rules that are hard to sustain/constantly broken are very likely unnatural, and don't benefit the community as well as they could. Looks like this can only be resolved with some more beta-testing. –  hakunin Jul 17 '10 at 20:46
All of these have things in common - they are objective questions that have a concrete answer. Server activity can identify whether Diablo 2 is actively, questionably, or rarely played (though it can be seen as localized). System requirements, within a scope, can be defined (but asking what the system requirements to handle all games would be too open-ended, for example) quite specifically. Configuration settings always either exist or not, with some grey areas for modification. And when it's not an element of interpretation, plot and character questions are completely answerable. –  Grace Note Jul 17 '10 at 20:47
So I agree - I want to be able to satisfy the scenery gamers - I enjoy gaming for story, even self-crafted ones (I mentioned Etrian Odyssey in the linked question), as much as I enjoy good gameplay and being skilled. But there's a fine line between satisfying these gamers, and the chaos involved with opening to gates to all questions. Like you said, this is why we perform beta testing. –  Grace Note Jul 17 '10 at 20:49
Well, thanks for thoroughly addressing this. Maybe you're right, and even if there is a need for less-restrictive "not-too-objective" community, stackexchange is not a platform for it. After all, my proposal is practically incompatible with the concept of choosing the right/best answer. –  hakunin Jul 17 '10 at 20:56
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I think this is a reason for a Fourth Place: Polling where these lists could be migrated to

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Is there any way we can just completely nuke the [subjective] tag out of the main site? I think that having a [subjective] tag exist, we're implying that it is acceptable to ask subjective questions. Case in point with this question. The OP tried to justify his question by adding the tag. I think it really sends a mixed message as to whether or not we allow/approve of/support subjective questions. It makes it confusing for new users, and it creates situations where we have to clean up/close questions because of it.

Yes. Remove the tag from all questions and no new users will be able to recreate it. It won't stop higher rep users doing so, but will discourage them as it won't be suggested. –  ChrisF Jul 21 '10 at 11:26
The [subjective] task is now history. Both Grace and myself pointed out the incorrect usage of tags on that question, so hopefully people will get the point. –  ChrisF Jul 21 '10 at 12:14
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