Cultures: What were the various games? What do the compilations contain?

This question appears to have been closed (long after it was asked) due to this excluded criterion:

"Catalogues (listing games that fit specific criteria or are like an existing game)"

Closing this question obeys the letter of the (vague) law, but not the spirit. The kind of question this was intended to exclude was list questions of the type "What are some good city-building games I should try?" Such questions invite everyone to chime in, and they have no definitive answers.

My question wasn't asking for an indeterminate list of games that bear some vague resemblance. It was asking for the games that comprise a distinct series. The fact that it isn't a big-list question is borne out by the fact that it only has one answer, and it is indeed a definitive one.

Is this really the kind of question that guideline was intended to reject?

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+1. This is certainly not the kind of question that rule was designed to forbid. Not sure how to amend the wording without making it cumbersome, though, which is why I'm not posting an answer. –  Oak Feb 16 '13 at 8:13
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@MatthewRead Agreed. There's zero subjectivity (bad or good) to the question, information online (from some light google-fu) is ridiculously sparse, and the only reason it's considered a "catalog" is because, no shit, games in a series are a "list of games". –  Rilgon Arcsinh Feb 16 '13 at 8:13
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@oak objectivity was NEVER a problem of game catalogue questions. The problems were maintaining, voting and general lack of fitness with how the site. This question shares at least the maintenance problem with the rest of the bunch. –  badp Feb 16 '13 at 10:13
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@badp Arqade would be quite unencumbered by content if we only dealt with questions answers to which cannot change. –  kotekzot Feb 16 '13 at 12:02
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@kotekzot Information rot is perhaps the biggest problem of Arqade, but that doesn't mean we must sacrifice the entire point of the site to its altar. When it comes to actual Q&A, our whole raison d'être, we just have to suck it up or close shop and — for what I know — the issue is kind of localized to our minecraft tag anyway (although I don't know how well our old league-of-legends questions and co are doing). See, while most games don't change much, games (and mods) are released all the time. Information rot is orders of magnitude worse when chasing game releases. –  badp Feb 16 '13 at 12:11
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Also applies to my question here which is bound with a max of this. If we're considering having to update a list every time a developer releases a game to be extensive maintenance, good luck making an argument for banning questions about games that are patched over time. –  Decency Feb 18 '13 at 16:48

3 Answers 3

This question doesn't seem problematic to me at all. It's well-defined, and can be definitely answered as evidenced by the definitive answer currently posted on the question.

While yes, the question does technically ask for a list of games, it is hardly a bad question about a list of games. It isn't the same as asking for recommendations based on a game ("I like Cultures, what else should I play?") nor is it a shopping question ("What's the best version of Cultures I can buy?"). I'd say it's more or less the opposite of everything that's problematic about shopping questions since at its core, as it reads to me, this question is asking about game features (specifically, the engine) and a comparison of those features between the different games in the series.

I think this question should be reopened as it does not have any of the qualities we typically associate with bad "list questions" despite the fact that includes the words "list" and "purchase".

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What? Engine features? Feature comparison? Are we reading the same question? The question asked for a list of (game, engine) couples plus all other games with the same engine (none of which is a finite list) and there is nothing in the question or the accepted answers about features. There is nothing there that teaches people how to fish, it's just a list of fish. The question admits it is asking for recommendations right in the final paragraph. –  badp Feb 17 '13 at 9:27
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Actually, if you read it again, @badp, you'll see that it asks what games in the series use the same engine. That's not an infinite list. It doesn't even need maintenance, as you could say "Games A through D used the same engine, and everything from Game 2 A on uses a different engine." It's also clear, from reading the whole question, that the interest is in the distinct set of games that share the same engine. It's a question that can, and does, have a definitive answer. –  Kyralessa Feb 18 '13 at 13:32
    
@Kyralessa A function of time (like the length of a list) that has no upper bound as time passes (e.g. new games being released) is the very mathematical definition of something that "grows to infinity." It's obvious that if we were to only exclude lists that have infinity items already, we'd be excluding very few list questions indeed. Nevermind that we don't exclude lists with "infinity items." We don't exclude lists with "items that grow to infinity." Up until this question was asked, we have been excluding all game lists questions, period, no questions asked, no saving graces. –  badp Feb 18 '13 at 14:34
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@badp, this isn't math. This is the world of games, where systems and engines and other things go obsolete all the time. If you want to get theoretical, then theoretically every question, list or not, could always be updated with a bit more detail. –  Kyralessa Feb 18 '13 at 16:14
    
@Kyralessa You keep ignoring the elephant in the room, but - what about "systems and engines going obsolete" prevents the company from making more games within the same brand with different engines? –  badp Feb 18 '13 at 17:16
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@badp If that happens (and that's a sizable if), the answer can be easily amended. This isn't exactly new - answers go partially out of date on many sites from time to time. –  Anna Lear Feb 18 '13 at 17:34
    
@AnnaLear Regardless, it's not relevant to the 0-tolerance policy that's been used so far. Please consider this (mod-only) list of deleted questions for perspective. –  badp Feb 18 '13 at 18:08
    
@badp So this means we can proceed to close every Minecraft, League of Legends, Starcraft, Dota/2, etc. question, then? –  Rilgon Arcsinh Feb 20 '13 at 1:04
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@RilgonArcsinh You're entirely missing the point of what he's driving at. I can't tell if you're doing it deliberately or not. –  Frank Feb 20 '13 at 1:28
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@fbueckert Yes, it is. The point ("categorical lists are bad because information rot, even if there is a single, definite answer to the query") has no teeth because the vast majority of our questions can/do suffer from information rot. If information rot is such a god-damned sin (which everyone seems to be saying), then we can get to closing all the potentially rotten questions, yes? –  Rilgon Arcsinh Feb 20 '13 at 2:30
    
@RilgonArcsinh So what is it about this question that makes it an exception to the rules that we've followed up until now? Seriously. We've had zero issues with these types of questions until this one. Why does it get to be special? –  Frank Feb 20 '13 at 3:12
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None of this changes the fact that this. Is. A. Game. Rec. It boils down to exactly that. It presents a game, Cultures. It then requests games that match criteria from this game. One criteria is games in the series, which is what's probably garnering it support. The second is the same engine. The third is asking for details about what comes with it, which might be acceptable. The other two are game-rec in disguise, and we burn those with fire. I'm quite honestly perplexed at the amount of backlash this is garnering. –  Frank Feb 20 '13 at 4:22
    
So we're going to dismiss the entire body of the discussion from this question? Fine by me. –  Rilgon Arcsinh Feb 20 '13 at 7:07
    
@RilgonArcsinh That is completely unrelated; it's about showing a thing and asking what it is. It's not about showing a thing and asking for similar things. –  badp Feb 20 '13 at 8:09

This question is not a catalog question

The reason catalog questions were marked as off-topic is because they don't fit the Q&A format. There are multiple right answers, and each person can be as right as the next.

However, the question linked does not have this problem. There is a single set of distinct answers, and it fits well within the Q&A format. There is a simple question with a single, verifiable answer that is helpful to both the asker and to future visitors. It outlines the problem, why it exists, and looks for a solution. This is a question that includes a list in its answer, but it is not a catalog or list question.

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Agreed. I'd go as far as to say that the linked question is exemplary and should be emulated, not downvoted and closed. It is complex but clear, shows an effort at prior research, and has a single, verifiable answer (albeit a long and complex one, just like the question). –  Rilgon Arcsinh Feb 16 '13 at 8:50
    
@rilgon a question that isn't looked at for two years is certainly exemplary and worthy of citing as an example of how much of a problem information rot is for us. Information rot being the main reason why we don't do lists. –  badp Feb 16 '13 at 10:41
    
This. Lists are not necessarily itemized lists. @badp If maintenance is the problem with Kyralessa's question then they can simply explicitly specify that they only care about games in the series up until the time the question was asked. It's still useful info, especially while the question is current (and all that matters for many series that have long since ended). –  Matthew Read Feb 16 '13 at 17:23
    
No, @MatthewRead. That doesn't solve the issue. People on the internet don't care about timestamps. People on the internet are who we're ultimately serving. –  badp Feb 16 '13 at 17:27
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What does the question want? A list of games. What is the criterion? Games in the Cultures series. A list question does have one right answer. The answer with the most complete list. How is this any different? The problem with list questions is maintaining them. –  user9983 Feb 16 '13 at 17:52
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@badp Because of the way games are developed now-a-days, many of our questions/answers need maintenance on occasion. Why does that make this type of question off-topic? Minecraft is an oft-cited example of answers needing a lot of updates, but WoW, LoL, and others also suffer from information rot. If the information is out of date, update it, bounty it for an up-to-date answer, or make a comment that the information is out-of-date and request the answerer to look into it. Those are our methods for handling that, not closing valid questions. –  Ktash Feb 16 '13 at 18:37
    
@Ktash Thanks for agreeing with me that information rot for questions about a specific game is problematic enough. –  badp Feb 16 '13 at 18:45
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This is essentially a sideways game-rec. Stuck to the same series, but a game-rec nontheless. Which is the whole reason we don't allow questions of, "Here is game X. What game meet criteria Y from it?" –  Frank Feb 16 '13 at 18:55
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Yes, many of our questions need maintenance on occasion. The difference is how that maintenance is brought to the attention of the answerer. For example, people are aware of Minecraft changes because they already play the game they answered a question about: Minecraft. With list questions such as this, answering the question at one point does not imply that they will be aware of any needed update. People have to actively go looking for new games on a regular basis to maintain the answer. –  user9983 Feb 16 '13 at 18:56
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@fbueckert You're welcome to feel that way, but you should probably be aware that the cliquish attitude that Meta seems to gravitate towards really drives people who would otherwise love to contribute off of the site. –  Rilgon Arcsinh Feb 17 '13 at 3:03
    
@RilgonArcsinh You're missing the context for that comment. Suffice it to say, I took exception to something, and responded. It then got removed, which was probably for the best. I'll be removing my comment now, too. –  Frank Feb 17 '13 at 3:05

Sorry, we just don't allow questions that ask for lists of games, no matter how small or big said list is. Wikipedia already does lists far better than we could ever hope to and I suggest you check this page instead:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultures_(video_game_series)?welcome=false

The main reason we don't do lists is that we have a proven track record of being crap at maintaining them. Unlike Wikipedia, this site isn't organised as a dictionary of topic-explanation entries, but as list of question-answers pairs. These questions don't need multiple answers. These questions need instead a clear unique and easily referenceable identifier for ease of updating.

These questions in short are a poor fit for our engine and our audience. This is why we voted then to be off topic two years ago now. I'm happy to reconsider, but it will take more than one casualty for me to reopen a can of worms that took six months to resolve only to repopulate the shore with rotting outdated lists that are already on Wikipedia to begin with.

Objectivity has very little to do with this problem. Game catalogues are objective almost by definition, as they would be game recommendation questions otherwise. This doesn't save them. The problem of quality remains — and it's a problem that trascends a single answer posted two years ago and that is still up to date through mostly a stroke of luck.

See, the underlying question here is this: Why was your question only closed now for a policy that changed two years ago? Because it slipped under the radar. For two years we failed to look at your question and say, oh dear it needs to be updated (as in, closed). This whole question is a testament to how terribad we are at lists and fighting information rot in general. The only reason the answer is still up to date is because no new games have released in the past two years. That is honestly awful.

The whole point of Stack Exchange is to do one thing (q&a) and do it well. Lists of game is not that thing, add it isn't for lack of trying. Sorry.

tl;dr: we're not Wikipedia. Leave the lists to them and leave the actual q&a to us.


Post scriptum:

Closing this question obeys the letter of the (vague) law, but not the spirit.

I was looking for games in a well-defined series, not games that "fit specific criteria or are like an existing game". This question doesn't elicit long meaningless lists of games, as should be obvious from the fact that it has only one answer. (#)

This "(vague)" rule you're quoting is so vague, it doesn't even exist. It is not this policy that got this question closed at all; vagueness of the criteria, breadth of the list, objectivity, meaningfullness of the list and number of answers are all irrelevant to the matter at hand.

The policy is "Game recommendation and game repository questions are off-topic, period." That's all there is to it and it is anything but vague.

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You mean the page that has less content than the answer that was provided to this question, that addresses only one of the three prongs of the question asked, and is formatted worse than some of the questions we close as unsalvageable? –  Rilgon Arcsinh Feb 16 '13 at 10:16
    
@rilgon no one is stopping you from contributing to Wikipedia and I suggest you do, actually. –  badp Feb 16 '13 at 10:17
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Sometimes I feel like we try so hard to fit things into a "close reason". This question is clearly answerable, with a correct answer - and it is old... Put down the pitchforks people - this isn't a League of Legends contest... –  EBongo Feb 16 '13 at 15:02
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@EBongo A question being old doesn't mean it's exempt from the rules. It was on-topic when it was asked, now it's not. We could use a historical lock in cases like this, but we're trying really hard to stay away from that, I believe. –  Frank Feb 16 '13 at 15:13
    
@fbueckert Historical lock is meant for extraordinary cases, where a question which is an excellent source of invaluable information is no longer fit for the site. I wouldn't classify a question asking for a list of games as invaluable information. –  Wipqozn Feb 16 '13 at 15:16
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@fbueckert My point is: What difference does closing it at this point even make? It's not getting new answers. It is a solved problem. The likelihood that anyone will benefit from this closure is remote. The likelihood that you will put people off from the site and its idiosyncratic "close vote" witch hunts - much greater. I look at the site policies for closure like the pirate code - "more what you'd call 'guidelines' than actual rules". –  EBongo Feb 16 '13 at 15:26
    
In a case like this, where the rule could be interpreted for or against (see Ktash's answer, which I agree with). Then why not live and let live... what is the harm –  EBongo Feb 16 '13 at 15:28
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@EBongo The harm is that it serves as an example to other, off-topic questions, which, guaranteed, will point to this one and go, "This one was allowed, why wasn't mine!?". It's the point of consistency, where we do our best to apply the rules equally. –  Frank Feb 16 '13 at 15:35
    
@Wipqozn If this question were to remain open, I'd seriously consider an historical lock here... except, of course, we'd then be more or less doomed to information rot on the answer, and make matters worse. –  badp Feb 16 '13 at 15:37
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@EBongo The way I see it is that the age of the question is irrelevant. Either it's allowed on the current site, or it's not. I'm not saying we should go out of our way to hunt down all these questions (because we shouldn't. It's a waste of time), but when we do find them, we should treat it no differently than if the question was asked today. With this in mind, I don't see how your argument that "the rules could be interpreted for or against" holds water, because there will always be someone that disagrees with a closure (or a rule). We may wish to tread more carefully... –  Wipqozn Feb 16 '13 at 16:14
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...in cases of borderlines questions, but the age of the question shouldn't matter. It should be based purely on the merits of the questions, which is something age doesn't account for. Additionally, this isn't a case of users trying to "fit a close reason" (although I'll agree that's a problem). This is users thinking a question is close worthy for a site, with a well defined reason, and acting accordingly. –  Wipqozn Feb 16 '13 at 16:18
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You are mistaken, @badp; the rule I put in quotes was precisely the rule cited as a reason for closure by Wipqozn. As for the rules of the site, would it be safe to assume, based on your arguments about Wikipedia and maintainability, that you completely disagree with Joel Spolsky's Encyclopedia Stack Exchange post? Are canonical answers valued here, or should we just be pointing people at Wikipedia instead? I'm fairly sure the StackExchange team doesn't do all their SEO just to be a set of pages with links to Wikipedia. –  Kyralessa Feb 16 '13 at 16:21
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Read the whole thing, @fbueckert. "For a long time we’ve been pleading for people to write more canonical answers so the same questions don’t keep coming up again and again." "We’re trying to move even more of the world’s long-tail, detailed knowledge into Stack Exchange." –  Kyralessa Feb 16 '13 at 16:27
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@Kyralessa Stack Exchange is not an encyclopedia. It's a questions and answers site. We want to be a source of canonical answers to questions, not a source of canonical lists for criteria. We're very much ill equipped for the latter. Wipqzon probably tried to be helpful in explaining why we ban those question types - but it doesn't change what the actual site rule is. –  badp Feb 16 '13 at 16:28
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@badp Except the question in... question is a relevant question. The second prong in particular is most definitely the sort of "thing that requires specialized knowledge and has a single, accurate answer" thing that we claim we want to cultivate. Is this really all because the first prong is "Hey, what games are in this series?" –  Rilgon Arcsinh Feb 17 '13 at 2:58

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