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Earlier this year, we decided that modded Minecraft crashes, specifically, should be off-topic, which is a decision that I, personally, have had concerns about, fearing that a rule about a particular game could cause long-term problems.

Now we get virtually no crash questions, which was the end-goal. However, now that there are no more crash questions to close, I get the feeling that everyone's definition of "technical support" has expanded.

Take this question for example. This is very clearly a gameplay issue, to me. The game runs, but a particular element of the gameplay is not working. It just so happens that the server is a bukkit-equivalent for MCPE, and, as such, it's being closed because it is "about a specific set of minecraft mods."

This is not and has not ever been the decision. Our goal was to eliminate technical support questions, and now, questions that are not technical support are being closed because they mention modded Minecraft. This is exactly where my concerns came from back in April.

So, the question is, what exactly does our decision cover. I read it very narrowly, as in, to literally only cover crashes. But apparently some people disagree. How should this decision be read?

  • The only possible answer to that question is "because that's how it is", so I feel like it certainly should be closed for some reason. – hobbs Nov 7 '15 at 23:30
  • @hobbs So, I guess we've ruled out possible workarounds as possible answers? – Unionhawk Nov 7 '15 at 23:31
  • I don't see the question asking for workarounds. Perhaps if someone had one, and edited the question to fit, it would be salvageable. "Go complain to the person who wrote the software" is still the avenue most likely to bear fruit, though, which is what makes it feel like OT as tech-support. – hobbs Nov 7 '15 at 23:37
  • @hobbs So "That's how the game is, complain to the game developer" is okay, but "That's how the mod is, complain to the mod developer" is not? Seems like a double standard. – corsiKa Nov 10 '15 at 22:00
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My line for tech support is essentially this:

  1. Does Minecraft currently work?
  2. Is it unmodded?

If both of those questions come up as no, then I hit the close button.

Because that was essentially at the heart of making crash questions off-topic; there are so many things that could be going wrong that we just don't know what could be causing it. I've been extending that to encompass Minecraft, specifically, when it comes to getting Minecraft working. Not specifically to just crash logs (although we get a ton of those), but anything that can charitably be described as, "I got mods, and Minecraft doesn't work now. Help."

For this specific question we're discussing, the buck stops at point 1. Minecraft is working. It doesn't really matter if it's modded or not; this would be seen as a gameplay-related issue, not tech support.

That's the fairly simple line I've been drawing. Is Minecraft working? No? Is it modded? Yes? Then we don't help. If Minecraft is working, then it's a pretty safe bet that what they're asking about is a gameplay related issue, and we can allow it. They've done the heavy lifting to get it all running and playing nice (hopefully). We use the same mods they do. We probably know what's going on when they're asking us for help.

A side issue might be map downloads; I'm currently using the same criteria for these, because all we're really getting is, "I got this map, and it's not doing what I was expecting, and I'm running mods." I think a case could be made for modifying the criteria for these questions, but I'm not exactly sure how that would work.

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    Maps are an entirely separate can of worms that I really don't feel like diving into. That said, one could download the map and examine the redstone (in the specific case of Minecraft), so it's within the realm of possibility that one could figure it out – Unionhawk Nov 5 '15 at 22:31
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    What does "work" mean? I wouldn't classify it as working if you couldn't craft anything – Aequitas Nov 5 '15 at 22:32
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    @Aequitas That's a rather broad definition. In the strictest sense, it means, "Does Minecraft boot up? Can you load your world and not have it crash?" – Frank Nov 5 '15 at 22:34
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  • I really agree with your simple checklist - instead of arguing whether x is off-topic, just simplify it to those two rules. – angussidney Nov 6 '15 at 5:23
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As there is so much underwhelming support for the other answers to this question, I'll wade into it.

The original problem was very specifically about modded Minecraft crash questions, where Minecraft would not start at all and would display a long Java exception report, likely due to incompatible mods. It was this deluge of "Minecraft not working" questions that was considered a problem by the original poster, not Minecraft tech support questions or general questions involving Minecraft mods.

However, it did not take long before answers referenced all Minecraft tech support or even tech support for games in general. In fact, the accepted and highly upvoted answer used the term "Minecraft Tech Support", despite the question only asking about Minecraft crash questions.

Why am I making this distinction? Because I think that it is apparent that allowing tech support for all games (including vanilla Minecraft), but disallowing tech support for one variation of a game (modded Minecraft) is causing issues. People disagree on what tech support is; people focus on the modded Minecraft part and not the tech support part; in general, I feel there is more moderation required now than there was before we had an official "no modded Minecraft tech support" policy, especially with regards to dealing with incorrect question closures.

On the other hand, a Minecraft crash question is a well-defined thing that everyone can agree on (i.e. does Minecraft display the crash report), making moderation a much simpler affair and reducing the number of false closures that occur.

So, if we must have this special policy for Minecraft, and we are going to allow tech support questions in general, then I propose we only make modded Minecraft crash questions off-topic and deal with all other Minecraft tech support questions the same way as we do any tech support question (i.e. general apathy and close as unclear if it warrants such a closure).

I am also going to throw out a call to arms. If you play Minecraft and are reading this answer, please consider taking some of your time to work on a canonical question and answer regarding Minecraft crash questions, which would allow us to better serve the Minecraft gaming community by pointing them to a resource that will help them solve their problem, rather than closing their question without providing any help at all.

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I think that question should be closed because it is about modded Minecraft, but not because it's technical support. If you use mods in a game, then the answer is likely due to a bug in one or more of a mod or a combination of the mods.

So the answer is probably going to be remove all mods and see if it works, then add them back in one at a time.

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    That's...a massive stretch. Mods don't automatically make a question off-topic. From the problem text, it doesn't even look like a mod is at fault. – Frank Nov 5 '15 at 21:58
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    NO. We unambiguously allow questions related to modded games (assuming there's not other off-topic reasons that apply). Mods have never and still don't cause a question to be off-topic. – Unionhawk Nov 5 '15 at 22:11
  • i'm not saying that a modded game makes the question off-topic, I'm saying if there's an issue that is caused by mods it should be. – Aequitas Nov 5 '15 at 22:14
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    How can you prove a specific issue is caused by a mod? – Frank Nov 5 '15 at 22:17
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    @Frank yeh that's a good point, which is why I think it should be off topic unless they've removed their mods and they still get the issue. – Aequitas Nov 5 '15 at 22:25
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    Minecraft is currently running. Seems like they hit a permissions edge case or something, to me. The mod might be giving them those permissions, but that doesn't mean the mod is at fault. – Frank Nov 5 '15 at 22:28
  • @Frank everything ties back to mod abuse – GodEmperorDune Nov 6 '15 at 1:33

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