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We've undergone two close and reopen vote cycles with this question:

What will happen to my owned games if Steam were to close?

Originally, it was asking what would happen if Steam were to shut down, and was closed for being about unreleased (I think; history doesn't show anything but off-topic). It was then reworded to be specifically about whether or not Valve has said anything about this particular scenario, and re-opened. It went through another close cycle for developer intent, but was just as quickly reopened.

What's going on here? Our stance on whether or not a developer has said anything falls has historically fallen into the same area as developer intent; the question is just wording around it, and we see it as the exact same thing. What Valve has said they will do, and what Valve will actually do equate to the same question. We're just playing magic word syndrome again. Grace's answer here also gets at the reasoning from a different angle:

Which is, at heart, what I think is the target destination for this kind of information. News sites are where people dedicate themselves to tracking down every bit of developing data about the world of gaming, about new releases and especially about big events like E3. It's a completely different domain of dedication than what we do here, and for that reason I think it's important that we don't mix ourselves up as a news site. We are not intended to be a singular destination for all things gaming-related - different kinds of material require different space to host them. We can barely even store special data relevant to any individual game, being pretty limited to whatever we put in a tag wiki.

This information resides outside of our domain. Granted, the information isn't new by any stretch at all, but that's still the domain where this information resides; it's not about games, specifically, but a side area related to games.

Another post here, also from Grace:

The important thing is that July isn't right now, and it's not our job to be a news site to keep people up to date on things, which is the only thing that having the question around can serve right now.

Where she links back to the above answer.

Why has this question been reopened? Based on our stated policies, it shouldn't be. At the end of the day, focusing on what a developer will do isn't really our core strength at all.

That said, we seem to be rather inconsistent on this basis. Here's a few more questions that would fall into the same area, but whether they are opened or closed seems to be based on when people see them:

So, I guess this is less about this specific question, and more about a plea for consistency. Is there something about these questions that makes them salvageable?

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    That other meta question you linked doesn't seem to have very significant consensus. It has one answer at +9 supporting this point, one at +5 opposing it, and a few at 0 score arguing for one side or another. – murgatroid99 Feb 16 '16 at 23:09
  • @murgatroid99 Yeah. That's been enough to close the example questions and keep them closed, though. I think there's been a few others that have hit that same area, and have been closed. I can't seem to find any at the moment, though. – Frank Feb 16 '16 at 23:10
  • Incidentally, though, there's also been this question, which goes the other way. I guess we're not being all that consistent. – Frank Feb 16 '16 at 23:13
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You have pretty much answered your question:

Why has this question asking for developer statements been reopened?

Here:

That said, we seem to be rather inconsistent on this basis. Here's a few more questions that would fall into the same area, but whether they are opened or closed seems to be based on when people see them...

I can only offer an in-depth explanation that merely boils down to what you say above. The problem can either be seen as people interpreting the off-topic reasons differently or just plain ignoring them (i.e. developer intent should be on-topic). I'm not sure if there is on-site chat or off-site discussions which sway the net opinion one way then another (possibly) but essentially, the biggest problem is maybe getting the developer intent reason clearly explained.

In the help centre we clearly state that the following is off-topic:

Speculative questions about developer intent, with respect to both mechanics and narrative

To me, it sounds like questions that ask "Why did the developer [do this]"?

RE: Mario question - it doesn't directly ask the developer intent, but is borderline as a question. Obviously the accepted answer is directly related to developer intent, but that shouldn't reflect on the question itself. The question could be answered without the developer, using references to the game/series etc.

RE: Monkey Island question - specifically asks for the developer's intent, clear violation and closed. I don't think there is a strong argument for this not being about developer intent.

RE: Steam question - I think the high scoring answer is a bigger problem than the question. It contains a lot of speculation. Richard Eriksson's answer seems far more accurate. However, like the Mario question, we shouldn't judge the question on its answers. It could be answered by using the license agreement and/or the mythical word from Valve promising all games will have their DRM removed once the company goes bust (lol). I'm assuming Valve is treated as the maintainer of the Steam marketplace rather than a game developer.

To address this question:

Is there something about these questions that makes them salvageable?

RE: Mario - having better answers (the video-only answer could probably do with some explanation text too)

RE: Monkey Island - I don't think so

RE: Steam - having better answers, and also clearly distinguishing Steam as a game store against Valve as a game developer

Even if you don't agree with my judgement/observations on the questions mentioned, I would say the following action should help this situation:

Define the boundaries for the off-topic developer intent questions clearly

A lot of discussions are made in the meta, and after a long debate the outcome isn't always reflected into the on-topic/off-topic lists. Minecraft mod technical support, Clash of Clans specific base attack questions etc... (some other examples of possible off-topic questions that do not appear on the help centre).

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That seems more like a legal question than a developer question. It can be and was answered from the perspective of a user. And it's a useful question. What it really boils down to is "Can I buy Steam Keys without worrying about the possibility of Valve going out of business?"

If Valve goes out of business, is there anything that we could do? As per the answer to the question:

In theory, it should be possible to install Steam, install ALL the games in your library (which could take up a very large amount of hard drive space, depending how many games you have), set Steam in offline mode, and then take a snapshot of the install (many possible options; one is to just clone the whole hard drive; another is to use the Steam backup feature) to preserve access to all offline games (see below for online games).

That's a purely technical solution (always play in offline mode) that requires no developer action.

That seems like exactly the kind of thing that this site should be covering. It's not a question about the latest technical doodad or speculation about what developers will do in the next patch cycle. It's a question about how to handle one of the base models of copy protection. This isn't a short term thing. This is the fundamental mechanic of how online license keys work.

There are reasons why we have rules against questions about developer intent. But those reasons don't apply to this question even if it is possible to classify the question as "developer" intent if you extend the meaning of "developer" sufficiently.

  • Not classifying Valve as a developer in this case seems to be more of a semantic argument than anything else. – Frank Feb 17 '16 at 1:06

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