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I see "It does not play to our strengths as a site" being used as a justification for closing questions but have never heard what those are. Do they exist? I can think of a few things that are not strengths, so I'm not sure what's left.

  • For finding a specific answer about a specific game, it's certainly more likely that you can find that answer on a certain site with game-specific FAQs and message boards.
  • For finding answers about strategy and tactics, you are again likely to be able to find those in FAQs on another site. Those questions are frequently not allowed here anyway.
  • When looking for game recommendations, other forum-based sites are a better match. Those questions are not allowed here anyway.
  • Community is not a relative advantage - Some members of the community are openly hostile towards new users if they ask the "wrong" question, and will close questions even if someone has already taken the time to answer it. I can think of two examples where this has probably driven away a new user (unable to verify the older example since I can't find the question anymore). This does not seem to be a unique concern. See the related question at What about the new user experience here is turning people away?
  • There isn't much for new users to be able to do. Asking a question may trigger hostility. Being the second to answer a question may trigger hostility. They can't comment, and using the answer field to add a comment will trigger hostility.
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    Is there a particular grievance you want to air, rather than this general one? – Sterno Jun 16 '15 at 13:41
  • The E.T. discussion is the most recent example, but I've seen this many times. Can you please explain the downvote? What is bad about this question? – Mike R Jun 16 '15 at 13:42
  • I never noticed any hostility against me, not even when I just arrived. – Arperum Jun 16 '15 at 13:43
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    Valid reasons for downvoting on meta: You disagree with the question, you don't like how it's written, it is Tuesday. – Elva Jun 16 '15 at 13:44
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    I did not downvote (yet), but it probably is because this seems like a rant about not liking the site. It's unclear what problem, in particular, you are attempting to solve, beyond "I'm not happy with the site.... is there any reason I should even be here?" Rants generally receive downvotes. I asked my question in the first comment because I'm wondering if we can narrow it down to one specific issue that can be addressed. – Sterno Jun 16 '15 at 13:51
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    It is meant to be a serious question and not a rant. I'm sorry if it does not appear that way. I joined this site a few months ago because I wanted to be helpful. I still have that goal, but over time have become less certain that it is possible here. I've linked a related discussion about the new-user experience because if I had to pick one specific issue, it's probably that. – Mike R Jun 16 '15 at 13:56
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    For the record, I'm pretty sure my "hatred" of the ET question is what spurred this. I might point out that even though the asker leveled several personal attacks my way, not once did I ever attack him. While he might be taking concerns of his question personally, at no point does that allow, or justify, attacking someone. – Frank Jun 16 '15 at 21:52
  • One is not several. Pointing out a fact is not a personal attack. I even encouraged you to report it if you thought it was an attack. – Mike R Jun 16 '15 at 22:00
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    I wasn't referring to you, actually. My apologies; I hadn't made that clear. The asker of the question was not a happy camper when his question's validity was questioned. And made it rather well known. I hadn't been involved in it until after it got closed the first time. I suspect you saw much of that, although perhaps not the beginning. – Frank Jun 16 '15 at 22:05
  • OK. Thanks for the clarification. I thought you meant the asker of this question (me) not the E.T. question. – Mike R Jun 16 '15 at 22:09
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    I'll just say (as I have in the past) that the focus on quality and content over social niceties was one of the key reasons I stuck around here to become a daily user. I was sick of forums where capital letters and commas were like gold dust and the same questions came up again and again. My first question was closed and yeah I was disappointed but I just learned to ask better questions, read about the site scope, and became a better user. If other newbies can't be bothered to do so, there's a limit to how much we can help. – shanodin Jun 17 '15 at 9:29
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    @Alex actually the FAQ, tour, and help pages are all very easy to find. – shanodin Jun 17 '15 at 9:37
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    @Alex then it's their own fault their questions get closed and their answers downvoted. – shanodin Jun 17 '15 at 9:59
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    @shanodin perhaps that is the attitude that is taken by those who might be accused of hostility towards new users. And if so, then it's possible that this attitude will shine through in their dealings with those new users, thus giving the new user the impression that they have done something wrong, that they are being punished, ridiculed, and causing them to feel unwelcome. It would be more constructive to initially concentrate on the faults of the system not the user, the system exists to serve the user not the other way around. – user61492 Jun 17 '15 at 10:18
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    @Alex before you start making baseless accusations, I suggest you go and look at my comment history and actually find out how I address new users. – shanodin Jun 17 '15 at 11:09
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Unionhawk had a pretty great answer to your question, but let me address a few of your claims that certain things aren't our strengths, because I disagree in many cases:

For finding a specific answer about a specific game, it's certainly more likely that you can find that answer on a certain site with game-specific FAQs and message boards.

GameFAQS is pretty cool, and you can indeed often find an answer to your question there. However, often times, you can't. And when you can't, I find I'm a lot more likely to get a quick answer by posting a question here than by posting to their forums. I'm also more likely to get a detailed answer here. Also, sometimes, a FAQ can be so large and cover so much ground that actually finding the answer to your particular question can be tricky, even if the FAQ contains it.

GameFAQs is great, and we certainly have overlap with them, but it doesn't have to be all-or-nothing on either site.

For finding answers about strategy and tactics, you are again likely to be able to find those in FAQs on another site. Those questions are frequently not allowed here anyway.

Yes, just like above, you can often find answers elsewhere. Sometimes you can't. Sometimes other places are better. Sometimes they aren't. We don't need to be the single source for gaming information on the Internet. In general, the more popular or in-depth a game is, the more likely you are to find better, in-depth tactics/strategy advice elsewhere. That doesn't mean it doesn't fit here, though, and particularly for smaller games that don't get entire wikis devoted to them, it doesn't mean that this isn't a great place for such questions.

As for them being "frequently not allowed here anyway", that should not be the case. These questions are definitely in scope. They tend to be some of our best questions and answers. I would definitely like to see some citations of general strategy/tactics questions that have been closed. They may have had other problems with them (often, "too vague" or "too broad" are the problem). Or there may be some people who voted to close that I need to go yell at. Either way, I'd love to see them.

When looking for game recommendations, other forum-based sites are a better match. Those questions are not allowed here anyway.

Yes, this is definitely not the place for those questions. We had them for a while but they just didn't fit the StackExchange format well. Voting on answers tended to be a popularity contest of "Oh, yeah, I remember that game! It was awesome!" People would often end up getting answers, so it was cool that we were helping people, but the questions really didn't help anyone else, make the internet better, or have votes that actually reflected their accuracy. You can read a ton of meta posts about the long arguments we had over whether they should stay or go.

It's not that we don't want to help people with these sorts of questions. It's just that the site isn't a good fit for them. We do want to help! When I remember to, I try to direct people to this Arqade blog post that tells them where they might be able to find an answer.

Community is not a relative advantage - Some members of the community are openly hostile towards new users if they ask the "wrong" question, and will close questions even if someone has already taken the time to answer it. I can think of two examples where this has probably driven away a new user (unable to verify the older example since I can't find the question anymore). This does not seem to be a unique concern. See the related question at What about the new user experience here is turning people away?

There is no doubt that some of the site policies turn off new users. If a question is off-topic, we close it. If it's bad, we downvote it. This can scare off new users who feel attacked for "doing it wrong". However, we can't simply allow off-topic content just because it's a new user who is asking it, nor should we upvote bad questions/answers just out of pity that it's a new guy asking them. Our goal here is to generate high quality content where the best stuff bubbles to the top via votes, and the bad stuff sinks to the bottom.

We can, however, try to be nice about it when we explain to a newbie why their question was downvoted or closed. Some people are better at this than others. Some users don't even try to be nice. There's not a whole lot we can do about that except, as individuals, trying to personally be helpful to set the best tone possible, and to flag outright rudeness when we see it. There's a huge gray area in between that we can't do much about though. That exists on any gaming site you go to which allows conversation, though.

There isn't much for new users to be able to do. Asking a question may trigger hostility. Being the second to answer a question may trigger hostility. They can't comment, and using the answer field to add a comment will trigger hostility.

I can't really say much about this except "people shouldn't be hostile... sorry if they are" and sometimes factual messages such as "Answers shouldn't be used for comments. I'm flagging this for removal" can come off as very hostile when they're not intended that way, especially to a newbie. Again, some users here are pretty tone deaf. Everyone can be, at times. My comments on your original question could have been better worded, but I was still half-asleep because I hadn't had my caffeine fix yet this morning.

That said, it doesn't take long for a new user to earn enough rep to leave comments. You get that at 50 reputation. That's 5 answer upvotes or 10 question upvotes. It's a network wide policy that many people don't like, but isn't likely to change (probably mainly because otherwise it opens the network up to easy spam). And at 20 rep, they can come to chat and ask questions or leave comments. That's just 2 answer upvotes or 4 question upvotes.

  • Even if you don't want to answer, you can always edit. There is +2 reputation for approved suggested edits, so you can use this to gain your rep until you can comment. – angussidney Jun 17 '15 at 6:46
  • @AngusAtkinson I'll be honest that that never occurred to me. Intuitively it feels like the privilege to add your own comment should be less restrictive than the ability to modify someone else's text. – Mike R Jun 17 '15 at 14:01
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    Well, your edits need to be peer reviewed before they go live. – Sterno Jun 17 '15 at 14:03
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    I agree with everything you said, and would like to also like to add in that one of the major downfalls of GameFaqs compared to us is that Gamefaqs is an extremely hostile environment. Pop into just about any post which is just someone asking aquestion and you're almost guaranteed to find at least one user being insulting or condescending to the user just for asking a question. That's not the case here, where asking questions is the entire point, and the number questions which get hostile response is very small (and when it does happen, the comments will usually get purged) – Wipqozn Jun 18 '15 at 11:12
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Stack Exchange is all about making the Internet a better place by bringing in experts on a particular subject. This site, in particular, excels at answering questions about playing video games. Gameplay, puzzles, strategy to some extent, etc. Those are our strengths.

Just because other sites may do these things too doesn't mean they necessarily do it better. That's like saying that because you can find a programming FAQ somewhere there's no reason to ask a question on Stack Overflow. We exist in large part because the resources available now are not adequate.

Stack Exchange is not a forum, so questions resembling forum discussions, or relying entirely on opinion don't work very well. It doesn't really have anything to do with us, in particular, they don't work well in the Q&A format of Stack Exchange generally speaking.

The recent E.T. question (which is still under discussion) is a bad example. There was (and still is) an extended debate about whether or not it should be open. A moderator decided that meta was the better place for that debate, and relocated the debate there. That sort of question could be seen as a discussion, which may not fit very well in our Q&A format (I haven't read the discussions in enough detail to make an actual judgment on that question myself). Gaming history questions are a bit contentious in that some users really don't like them, and I don't think we've come to any concrete decision on them as a category.

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    Thanks. I appreciate this answer because it describes what the site should have as a goal. I still have trouble seeing how some users are helping to meet that goal though. I don't think that the equivalent of yelling "Get off my lawn!" at everyone who passes by is doing much to make the Internet a better place. – Mike R Jun 16 '15 at 14:13
  • Some people are not nice to others. In my experience, that's true of every site on the Internet. – Sterno Jun 16 '15 at 14:39
  • I could've sworn we've nutted out the "Is Gaming History on topic or not?" discussion before... – Robotnik Jun 16 '15 at 14:42
  • @Sterno - inflections and facial expressions tend to get lost in plain text - some people might come off as rude but in fact are trying to be polite :-) – Robotnik Jun 16 '15 at 14:43
  • @Robotnik Maybe. I'm not sure. Either way, it's like lore in the sense that no matter how much we may or may not have actually discussed it, there will always be contention. – Unionhawk Jun 16 '15 at 15:13
  • @Unionhawk - with regards to the E.T. question, gaming.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic does not classify it as on-topic or not, and based on gaming.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask, there are valid interpretations either way. Should the FAQ have a section for lore-type questions that says the question may be well or poorly received? It might reduce the shock value a little. – Mike R Jun 17 '15 at 14:02

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