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Minecraft.

Love it or hate it, it drives a lot of traffic to our site. Sure, recently we've had some bother with modded tech support questions, but overall, most of our questions/answers are fairly high-quality, and this is reflected in the substantial upvotes, bounties, views and comments on a lot of our questions (and answers).

Minecraft has been moving steadily onward, and as bugs were fixed or functionality was added/removed, we too updated questions, modified answers, and closed and deleted those which were no longer relevant.

Since that time however, Mojang has added the ability to select and load old versions of Minecraft from the launcher. Is that enough incentive to undelete well-written, well-maintained questions and answers?

For example, we have this question (10k+ only): How short can a minecart booster be and still be effective?

Minecart 'boosters' were due to an errant bug in the physics of how minecarts interacted with one another, which was fixed in Minecraft Beta version 1.6. With the ability to select a version prior to this, such as Beta v1.2, this question and answer is relevant again.

Should we vote to undelete this, and questions like it? (If yes, should a disclaimer then be added to the answer that states when the bug was fixed)?


Screenshots of the aforementioned question for those under 10k rep:

  • Out of curiosity, how many question will this (probably) effect? You mention one, which I cannot see, but at we talking about a few, or hundreds of questions? – Mathias711 May 29 '15 at 10:39
  • @Mathias - at least one that I can see today, but it's the precedent I'm wondering about. We did remove a ton of Minecraft questions because they were obsolete at the time – Robotnik May 29 '15 at 11:41
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    This shouldn't have been deleted in the first place, AFAIK. We haven't deleted any City of Heroes questions despite the game being unplayable forever. – Invader Skoodge May 29 '15 at 13:13
  • @Strix - there's a meta to the effect of "obsolete=delete" floating around, I'll find it when I get a chance – Robotnik May 29 '15 at 13:29
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    meta.gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/5565/… We don't delete questions about unplayable games, so why delete questions about unplayable versions? Maybe we have dissenting opinions on different metas. – Invader Skoodge May 29 '15 at 14:32
  • Ah, it was this discussion: meta.gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/5282/… Where some in the community were split on the issue – Robotnik May 30 '15 at 2:39
  • And this one... meta.gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/5727/… – Robotnik May 30 '15 at 2:56
  • @StrixVaria because information about unplayable versions of active games makes information about playable versions of that active game harder to find. We are not properly equipped to handle game versions. Stack Overflow is not properly equipped to handle software versions either, and it's immensely frustrating to sift through answers trying to understand what applies to the ancient version of Spring you're using at work and what doesn't. – badp May 30 '15 at 7:21
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    I'd vote to undelete the 'minecart booster' question, but it has been deleted by a moderator and only a moderator can undelete it. – galacticninja May 30 '15 at 10:00
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    Can't we move Minecraft to its own stack already? I actually ignore all the minecraft questions because its just too much for one game.. – user28015 May 31 '15 at 3:41
  • @NoneOfYourBusiness - I disagree that Minecraft needs it's own stack. Wasn't this discussed fairly recently? I'm having some serious Deja Vu here – Robotnik May 31 '15 at 6:53
  • Assuming the bug is still present even while using the Launcher's Time Machine there is also the problem that with the question you talk about none of the answers or even the question itself suggest it's a bug but an accepted feature. how would you propose to correct this in similar question in which a bug is in fact described as a feature? – Memor-X Jun 1 '15 at 4:19
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    @Memor-X - Same way Mojang did - by updating the answer to include something along the lines of "Minecart boosting was removed and replaced with redstone-based powered rail in Minecraft Beta 1.6, This answer is therefore only relevant for Minecraft versions prior to that revision". We don't need to distinguish between 'bug' and 'feature', we just state fact. – Robotnik Jun 1 '15 at 4:24
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we need to look at the bigger picture. Are there any other questions for other games that involve older versions? How did we handle those? In case we closed some and allowed others, did we do that based on legal availability of the subject?

My personal opinion: if the game version can be acquired reasonably in a legal way (either because the game isn't updated automatically and requires manual patching, or because you can get older versions from the original source), a question that is only valid in that version is perfectly allowed. A question about an older (launcher-compatible) minecraft version is okay. A question about how to do a no longer obtainable quest in World of Warcraft is not okay.

badp claims that we should base our moderation on popularity. I personally think that is one of the worst ways we can moderate. We should NOT base our moderation on whether a game or a specific version of a game is played often. That just leads to favoritism and arguments about what games or versions we should allow.

We should base our moderation on whether the question has merit. Whether a question has merit depends on whether the problem occurs with a legal version of the game and whether the problem does not have a trivial solution (one that is answered by the game itself in a very clear way around the same time as you encounter the issue). It should NOT depend on how many people are playing the game.

  • I never said that we shouldn't allow questions about unpopular games. – badp May 31 '15 at 19:16
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    @badp "we should figure out what the top two or three versions that are in active play right now, and delete anything that's not about those versions." Isn't this basically "we should only allow the 3 most popular versions"? I use games both as individual games and individual versions of a single game. – Nzall May 31 '15 at 19:49
  • Yes, we should allow questions about as many versions of Minecraft as they are relevant; this is certainly nothing to do with disallowing entire games. "We should NOT base our moderation on whether a game is played often." Many of the questions we'd uncover by going back and undeleting questions are about games that are not played at all and undermine the rest of our content. – badp May 31 '15 at 20:07
  • Nice edit, but you're still putting words in my mouth. – badp May 31 '15 at 20:08
  • @badp I clarified my answer so I refer to both games and versions in that part. – Nzall May 31 '15 at 20:08
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    @badp older versions may have adventure maps that rely on the version being an older one that has a certain bug. To say that a version is not played because it's old is like saying a book isn't read anymore because the author has died. In my opinion, we could put a base rule that you need to clarify the version of the game you're playing. I found a question about punching sheep in the face in Beta 1.6 that had such a disclaimer. – Nzall May 31 '15 at 20:16
  • no, when an author dies all that happens is no more versions come out. So everybody just focuses on one version, presumably the last, and only looks at the other ones for comparison purposes. e.g. I Promessi Sposi vs Fermo e Lucia. – badp Jun 1 '15 at 10:20
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    @badp So when the author of an adventure map stops updating their map, that map likely won't get an update to a newer version, unless someone else picks it up, so any maps that rely on a bug in an older version is only playable in that version.. My point is that we should not base the acceptance of questions on whether the product is popular or not. Not many people read the original versions of Shakespeare, but that doesn't mean books.se should only allow questions about the versions with modern spelling or even modern storylines. – Nzall Jun 1 '15 at 11:01
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    questions about those would probably be clearly marked. Clearly marking questions and answers with the full list of versions they apply to is impractical in all non trivial cases and of dubious value. – badp Jun 1 '15 at 11:08
  • You could do that if you asked today about 2014w13 but you wouldn't if you asked about the current state of the game. If you forced questions to be about a specific version, you'd just trigger people to reask the very same set of questions for every release, no matter how small. – badp Jun 1 '15 at 11:11
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    @badp - Yes but users can already restrict questions to a particular version, and they currently don't go off and reask the same question over and over for different versions. What makes you think this would change? – Robotnik Jun 2 '15 at 2:28
  • @badp - Just a random thought, but if we're worried about 'old' version questions polluting the [minecraft] tag, why not have a [minecraft-beta] or [minecraft-prerelease] tag? It could be argued that earlier versions of Alpha/Beta are almost separate games in their own right, and people do still play them (either for unsupported map reasons as Nate raises, for nostalgia, or even as a preference). One of my main worlds is a Beta world because attempting to upgrade it breaks it entirely (the spawn shifts or is entirely overwritten/regenerated, removing buildings and other things in the process) – Robotnik Sep 14 '15 at 3:52
  • Note I'm not advocating having a new tag for each version, just one to cover pre-release versions – Robotnik Sep 14 '15 at 3:53
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Yes, these questions should be undeleted and reopened.

As others have noted, these questions should not have been closed and deleted, since we have never agreed upon a policy of removing questions that are no longer relevant, due to version differences or inability to play the game in question.

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No. I suggest the contrary.

We should figure out what the top two or three versions that are in active play right now, and delete anything that is not about those versions.

As a resource, we are at the most helpful when you have a problem, you google it, you click on our link and the answer you want is the top one. The problem with that is that questions naturally get a spike of activity at ask time, and if the answer to the question changes later, chances are we're going to be left with an outdated and wrong answer.

"BUT BADP IS IT ACTUALLY WRONG IF YOU CAN STILL PLAY THE VERSION OF MINECRAFT WHEN IT WAS RIGHT?"

Yes, but who cares? That's not the version of Minecraft everybody is playing. If Stack Exchange had support for a version selector dropdown thingy that let you choose what version of Minecraft you need help with, then fine, keep ALL the versions.

We however do not. Let's not fool ourselves: the only versions of Minecraft that are actually relevant are the latest one and the ones that Minecraft mods use. In the latter we case, we wouldn't even be looking at questions about Minecraft itself, as the focus is really on the mod that's forcing you not to update.

You know what's worse than the top answer being wrong? The entire webpage being wrong, because the entire question is wrong. That makes your trip to Arqade worse than useless; we've just wasted your time.

If a game cannot be played at all, questions about it are of little value but do little harm too: they aren't going to be getting in the way of you seeking an answer for your questions.

If a game can be played at all but we're keeping around questions and answer that have stopped being relevant because years ago there was one weekly release where they sort of applied and you technically can choose to run that version — that makes our other questions and answers about versions of the game that people are actually playing harder to find. It makes our website less useful. It makes us a worse resource. It's a scenario INCREDIBLY different from the previous, I have no idea why they keep being brought up together.

Please let go of the past, keep deleted questions deleted and delete more irrelevant questions.

  • And if, in your mind, that means giving up on our valuable stash of seven city-of-heroes questions, just so we can be a little pickier about our 4,863 minecraft questions, then so be it. – badp May 30 '15 at 7:43
  • If people downvote a moderator, what will happen to them? – Universal Electricity May 31 '15 at 14:47
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    @TheCodingMonster Their souls will be forever consumed and ultimately absorbed from the dark abysses of my eternal stare. NBD – badp May 31 '15 at 18:40
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    Challenge Accepted. – Ender Jun 1 '15 at 1:44
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    If you can properly recognize and hunt down outdated questions, surely you ought to be able to make an edit indicating the relevant version info or at least a simple "This no longer applies to current versions" and linking the current Q/A if it exists. Why is deletion a better solution than that for addressing "wrong" questions? – Matthew Read Jun 11 '15 at 19:09

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