Today, I opened this question:

What is the etymology of the term "Console Wars"?

where I asked where the "Console War" concept was coming from. I was asking if it was first mentioned in a magazine or in a presentation and it was then used as a normal expression, or if it was coming from anything else.

There was some close votes about the question because it was "off-topic", because it was apparently not referring to gaming or at least wasn't something that we are able to ask on Arqade. Well, considering no one would lie for something like that, I deleted my question (it has then be undeleted following this question discussion).

Now I would like to understand : why asking about the etymology of a concept linked to games off-topic ? I mean, I don't see why we shouldn't be able to answer to a question like that. For instance, I don't see what would be wrong in asking "When does the notion of video game appeared in history ?". The question is asking about an information linked to games or the gaming industry.

What I would like to know is why such a question does not have its place here, or if it is an error.

  • 2
    I didn't see your question, but it doesn't sound all that dissimilar to "when did Soon(tm) orginate?" in structure. It's pretty easy to have terminology or history questions be closed for reasons other than pure topicality, as they are hard to get right in a way that works within the SE format. Gaming history in particular has a bit of a trouble past, with meta apparently somewhat at odds with reality right now?
    – user6789
    Mar 16, 2016 at 15:36
  • @JoshPetrie It was indeed in the same idea as the Soon(tm) post. My question was by the way tagged with "gaming-history", and later "terminology".
    – Izuka
    Mar 16, 2016 at 15:50
  • 2
    Note that the "Soon(tm)" question is almost 5 years old. The rules have changed in that time period, and sometimes questions that are against the rules remain from before those rules were made, so you shouldn't judge what's on topic based solely on old questions. In this particular case, I think the question is OK, but got caught up in the rules against "What was the first game to X?". Mar 16, 2016 at 16:21
  • @murgatroid99 - Note that there is a closure comment on the Soon(tm) one from last year, hinting at a failed closure review (as there are no closures/reopens in the edit history). The majority of the community would seem to think it still falls within our expertise to answer these (myself included)
    – Robotnik Mod
    Mar 17, 2016 at 3:52
  • 1
    The biggest issue I see with this question is that it would be very difficult to provide a real answer, but that doesn't automatically make it a bad question. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the negative response was related to other recent terminology tag questions. Regardless, people downvoting is a normal and reasonable response - don't necessarily take it as your question being bad or against site rules.
    – two bugs
    Mar 17, 2016 at 4:15
  • The question has now be reopened following your advices.
    – Izuka
    Mar 17, 2016 at 7:11

2 Answers 2


(In my opinion) There is nothing wrong with the question. It doesn't violate anything on the "don't ask" or "off-topic" lists found in the help centre.

This website is community driven, so what you are seeing is people wanting these types of questions closed. There will be a group of people who think they should stay. After a tug of war contest your question will be open or closed. Sometimes there are multiple tug of war contests. If history tells us anything, it will most likely end up open if you undelete the question...

Other examples of "where did [some term] originate?":

How did the term 'noob' originate?
How did the term 'buff' originate?
Where did 'Soon™' originate?
Where did the 'pwnage' or 'pwn' or (verb) 'to pwn' come from ?
Origin of the term "gimping"

  • 2
    I'd like to see the question for myself before saying if its exact wording is okay, but it sounds fine in theory.
    – DCShannon
    Mar 16, 2016 at 18:02
  • @DCShannon - I've added a link and an image of the (now deleted) question to the question body :)
    – Robotnik Mod
    Mar 17, 2016 at 3:59
  • Thank you for this. After thinking about it again, I decided to undelete the question. I will let people judge what to do with it (as I really would like to have an answer, even partial, to it anyway).
    – Izuka
    Mar 17, 2016 at 6:59

We have been getting a disproportionate amount of honestly rather simple and sometimes poorly researched questions not entirely unlike yours (1, 2, 3), so it is little surprise that the community's reaction to them is becoming increasingly kneejerk. While they are in scope, I don't necessarily know that they should be encouraged.

This is not to justify the kneejerkness of those questions, but please do consider twice before asking us to define a term that has its own article on Wikipedia, asking us about what was the first occurrence of a thing and similar questions, because they skirt the limits of our scope and the limits of acceptability.

  • 1
    I understand that point. Well, in fact, that's because I felt on this Wikipedia article that I decided to ask the question, as I wanted to know if someone had a way more precise origin to the term than what is stated in this article. I didn't post my own thoughts in the question itself as I didn't want to have something that could already be the answer. I do know that there is maybe not a best origin explanation than the one in the article, though I found that it was interesting to ask about it. If that is really not the case, I can totally understand that my question is bad.
    – Izuka
    Mar 18, 2016 at 13:52
  • @Isuka Thank you for understanding. :)
    – badp
    Mar 18, 2016 at 13:58
  • 1
    In a perspective of asking questions of a better quality for the next times I would like to ask something in the same idea, should I include what I have found so far in my researches in the question itself ?
    – Izuka
    Mar 18, 2016 at 14:04
  • 2
    @Isuka YES. Including research is one of the basic things that makes a question good. Lack of research is a criteria for downvoting.
    – DCShannon
    Mar 22, 2016 at 9:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .