15

I've just recently tried to join in on a few questions on this site after having a pleasant experience on a few other Stack Exchange sites, and I'm noticing an unpleasant reaction to questions that are still on-topic and answerable, including one of my own.

For example, I asked this question a while back to identify a character from Megaman X5's opening stage. The first and only comment back was the following:

What makes you think there's any lore at all behind it? The Mega Man games are not known for their deep story and motivation.

I maintain this was false and voiced my objection in the comments, but I accept that this objection can be raised. Fair enough.

I've also seen this kind of behavior on other questions, some good questions and some bad. Over the last month I've seen objecting comments on the following:

Is there any reason why Crash has to destroy all those boxes?

Are we honestly trying to make sense of a platformer with barely a nod to story? Seriously?

What game is this symbol from?

How do you know it was from a game?

I dunno if this really hits our exception for gaming identification; you think you saw it in a game, but we have nothing but your memory to go off of.

@GGMG No, it's a screenshot from a video with an element the asker thinks is from a game. It...sorta meets our criteria, and sorta doesn't. As is, we're straying towards a much stricter interpretation than before

I kind of just take it as a given that if there's a question that bears even a slight chance of not being answerable, somebody will take to the comments and disparage the questioner for asking or cast doubt on the asker's intentions.

I feel these comments harm Arqade for several reasons:

1.) They aren't constructive.

The site already has several built-in methods to shut down a question if it's off topic or not up to snuff. Leaving a belligerent comment doesn't add anything to the question or the answer at best and creates an unnecessarily hostile environment for the asker at worst.

2.) They shut down potential answers

The ID question above functioned exactly how identification questions are supposed to work, even in their narrow scope. Somebody had a tangible element from a game that they recognized but couldn't be image searched, they posted the artifact, somebody else who recognized the artifact and gave the game it came from, and the answer was accepted. Bonus points for sparking an interesting exchange on why the image was on the shirt in the first place.

The comments on the question demanding how the asker could be positive that they really, truly recognized this image did nothing except get in the way of procuring a perfectly valid answer. Same for the other two questions, if they ever do receive valid answers.

3.) You're allowed to answer that there is no good answer to the question

These comments, cleaned up and made a little nicer, could be answers. Sometimes there is no lore explanation for this thing or that, or there's a strong reason to believe some image is not from a game. At which point they receive the proper corrections and discussion they deserve.

A comment of this form is the worst of both worlds. They assert an answer to the question but avoid all of the checks and balances to official answers and aren't preserved as they should be.

  • 7
    Sure. Sideways attack me, personally. I maintain that arguing the core of a question most definitely is constructive. – Frank Jul 29 '17 at 23:55
  • 11
    @Frank While I understand your intent, I think there are better ways of phrasing criticism than "Are we honestly trying to answer this? Seriously?" – Stevoisiak Jul 30 '17 at 0:48
  • 2
    @StevenVascellaro Yeah, there are; perhaps the way I actually phrased it? Either way, I'm writing an answer at the moment. – Frank Jul 30 '17 at 0:49
  • 2
    @Frank It never occurred to me that you were the one that wrote all but one of those replies. My apologies if it came off like a personal attack. – user149305 Jul 30 '17 at 0:51
  • 2
    @Frank Although you assuming I am and using that information to undermine an honest question does kind of ring a bell with why I wrote this thing... – user149305 Jul 30 '17 at 0:54
  • 7
    The Megaman one and the Game ident one seem to be constructive criticisms, which are fine - they can get extra information out of the asker in order to clarify the question, or at least give the thought processes around closing or downvoting. However like Steve says, I think there are more constructive ways to argue than a comment of incredulity like the Crash one. – Robotnik Jul 30 '17 at 1:27
  • 2
    These seem like very reasonable and intended uses of the comments. Some are a little more abrasive then they perhaps should be, but given that this site does gets a fair number of vague/unanswerable questions, I understand the frustration. The questions in your examples are some of the more troublesome types as well. They are questions where it's extremely difficult to prove that there is no good answer. Essentially asking "How does this small detail relate to lore?" is impossible to answer "It doesn't" unless there's some developer response (which is unlikely for a small detail)... – JMac Jul 30 '17 at 13:35
  • 2
    ...The game identification question is the same to me. How could we prove it isn't in some game? Apparently it was in a game; but given that reverse image search did nothing, and it wasn't an in-game screenshot, it seemed hard to determine if it was even in any games at all; making it potentially off topic. Perhaps the attitude towards the askers was harsh, but in my honest option, they aren't really answerable questions, while still perhaps being "on topic". – JMac Jul 30 '17 at 13:38
  • I'm seeing a lot of the same user(s) in the linked comment trees, so take that as a sign that it's not the site community as a whole which is being close-minded, but a vocal few. However, none of those questions are very good either so take that in stride – GnomeSlice Aug 12 '17 at 15:33
5

1.) They aren't constructive.

Most cases they are. That's what the comment section is for: trying to get more out of the OP is a good thing. In the case of "how do you even know it's from a game," there was someone who also commented that said that thought they saw it in a game, so we narrowed down closing reasons, which made the question on-topic.

2.) They shut down potential answers

No I think they shut down potential reasons to CLOSE the question. Like I said in my answer to number 1, if we can narrow down reasons to close the question, it also makes the question better IMO.

3.) You're allowed to answer that there is no good answer to the question

Eeehhhh, sure. I've rarely seen an answer of "No, you can't." have a ton of upvotes. I've even seen answers that say something like "No, but here are some alternatives" get downvoted because they suggested something completely different. Anything that doesn't specifically answer the question doesn't get accepted I find. Maybe you've had better experiences elsewhere, but I've not seen it here.


The comment section has always been a weird place for me in general. I've seen "funny" or "joke" comments get upvoted and left, and I've seen a ton of them get deleted. I've seen "stern" comments get both upvoted and flagged. I don't really have an answer for you in regards to what needs to be changed, but I can tell you that from what I've seen, 99% of comments here are helpful.

  • 1
    Just on the last point, I've personally had some experience with 'No' being the basis of an answer that has been generally positively received, eg 1, 2. While I agree in the general case that an answer that simply stated "No you can't" would be a terrible answer, the same can be said about a "Yes you can" answer - Answers in the positive or negative without any logic, evidence or examples backing up the claim being made are just bad. – Robotnik Aug 3 '17 at 4:12
-3

Alright. Let's address the elephant in the room. You're talking about me. Every single one of the comments you're using as a reference were from me. You seem to have a problem with me.

So let's get one thing straight: I am not attacking anyone. I am expressing my distaste for what I believe are low quality questions. I continue to maintain that each of the questions you are referencing are low quality. Incredibly so, in fact. The crux, however, is that they are popular.

That's why there's such controversy about these questions. Popularity is almost always in direct conflict with quality. Let's look at the first one, your Mega Man X question. This one, I most definitely am an expert; I've played them all, up to X7, and I'd like to think I've gotten everything in them. Your question, at its heart, it playing a game of poke the plot hole. I am willing to lay long odds that there is absolutely nothing about the statue in any of Mega Man X canon at all. The X series is not known for deep and coherent storytelling, but just enough to give you motivation for why you're doing what you do. Think too hard, and the whole thing just falls apart. But, its a lore question, and we accept those, no matter how outlandish the premise.

The second question is worse. It's a game design question, but it plays magic word syndrome in order to try to make it on-topic. It would have been closed instantly after asking, except for the beginning of the second paragraph: 'But is there any lore reason why the destruction of those boxes is important?' Lore is on-topic, no matter how bizarre the question. I could ask if there's an in-game reason why Crash is an orange lemur with pants; because it has the magic words, we accept it.

I ascribe to a higher standard when it comes to lore; I expect the asker to give us a link that leads them to believe there is more depth to the question than what's on the surface. That gives answered something to go off of that's not just random curiosity.

For the third question, game identification is a rather contentious topic at the best of times. Our exception is to identify games that you see in a movie, TV show, or other media. Nevertheless, askers have found ways to twist it to meet the letter while totally ignoring the spirit of the exception. This is one of those. The asker is watching a show, and sees something they think is from a game. There's nothing but their memory to go off of as a tenuous link to gaming. They got it right, but that's still not what our game identification is for. An artifact was provided, from a T-shirt, of all things. Its like I find a random symbol somewhere, take a picture of it, and ask about that, stating I think it came from a game. Does it meet the letter? Sure. Is it really what our exception is for? Not a chance. As is, we're migrating towards a more strict interpretation of game identification, so I suspect this problem is going to be solved soon.

Noe let's move on your reasoning for disallowing these types of comments:

1.) They aren't constructive.

They most certainly are. They express that there's a problem with a question. It generally pinpoints what the issue is, if it doesn't give a method of resolution. Most often because I don't believe there is a resolution to them. Personally, I don't believe they're worth keeping. But I generally don't vote to close them; not unless they're way over the line. You'll notice I didn't vote to close either of the still existing questions, although I defended the closure of the game id one. I voted to close the Crash one once the asker's action showed it was an end run around our game design question ban. It was then subsequently self deleted.

2.) They shut down potential answers

That's sorta the reason I'm doing it, along with spurring the asker to improve their question. I could just vote to close, yes, but I believe there could be something there that might be worth keeping, if the question gets some improvement. Popularity will also ensure there is yet more controversy if I do vote to close, and to be honest, I really dislike having to argue each and every case. So I leave them alone until I'm totally sure they're too problematic to allow answers.

3.) You're allowed to answer that there is no good answer to the question

This is what I adamantly disagree with. We want questions to attract quality answers. A question not having a good answer is a bad question. An answer that says there is no good answer is a rather crappy answer. And its pretty hard to prove a negative, which is yet another problem with the question. If its a bad question, close it. That's literally why we close questions; to prevent answers.


At the end of the day, I am a massive proponent of high quality content. I am extremely hostile to what I believe is low quality content. But here's the kicker: I am not attacking the user. Any user can ask any question, but that doesn't automatically mean its a worthwhile question. My comments are meant to point out issues, sometimes guide towards improvements, and generally make Arqade a high quality repository of gaming knowledge.

  • 8
    This is not a fight with you. Please stop trying to say that all of those comments are from you. They are not, one is from Ash and three that I wanted from other questions no longer exist. – user149305 Jul 30 '17 at 2:30
  • 4
    This is also not a fight to defend the questions or their place. I don't care how you feel about game ID questions, I don't care how the community feels. Separate issue. I do care about the value of the comments that people leave behind and the comments provided are valueless at best and destructive at worst. There is no worth to anybody in asking "Are you SERIOUSLY suggesting X is worthy of Y?" or "Are you SURE you remember X?" Of course they are suggesting those things, that's implicit in the question. If it were just you, this wouldn't be an issue, but I feel it happens more than it should. – user149305 Jul 30 '17 at 2:35
  • 3
    I would dispute the non value of the comments. They point out issues with the question itself. Not in the most friendly manner, I admit, but game dev questions are a personal pet peeve of mine, due to their general low quality and magic word syndrome at play. If an asker truly believes their question has value, then they can provide the link that shows it's not pure curiosity. That leverages our expertise, and it shows the effort the asker has invested. A question does not inherently have value just because it was asked. The asker must show the value in the question. – Frank Jul 30 '17 at 3:17
  • 2
    Then maybe that's the core dispute here. I maintain the comment's don't add anything, or at least don't add anything that a close vote or a downvote or an authoritative answer can't. And this might be a personal preference thing. I come primarily from SciFi StackExchange and you would be amazed how many questions I look at with a "No way that has an answer! That's ridiculous!" only to come back with five separate answers that detail just how vast and wide the world of scifi is, and occasionally a few good answers explaining how the author probably didn't think that far ahead. – user149305 Jul 30 '17 at 3:27
  • 3
    Comparing us to SciFi is going to cause a lot of roughness. We are two very different SE sites, and we generally are polar opposites when it comes to opinions. For the most part, if SciFi allows something, chances are extremely good we won't. We have particular quality standards, ones that differ greatly from theirs. – Frank Jul 30 '17 at 3:29
  • 4
    I'm coming around to that. That's (sincerely) why I put this meta suggestion up, not to pick a proxy fight with one of the highest ranked members of the site. I think the change in attitude would be an improvement on this site and I think a few questions, mine included, don't get the fair shake they deserve if they're greeted with this kind of reception. I'll leave it to the votes and community to do whatever they want with the advice. – user149305 Jul 30 '17 at 3:33
  • 18
    @Frank By your own admission, your tone is "not the most friendly". It is 100% ok to comment on questions about why they may be disallowed or inadequate. It is 0% ok to be unfriendly. Please make an effort to be friendly, or let someone else take the lead. – Invader Skoodge Jul 31 '17 at 0:06
  • 9
    "Popularity is almost always in direct conflict with quality" - I disagree with 'almost always' here - sometimes sure, but we have plenty of popular questions that are also high quality. – Robotnik Jul 31 '17 at 2:13
  • 1
    Did you just admit to downvoting questions because they are popular? – GnomeSlice Aug 12 '17 at 16:55
  • 2
    @cazc Way to strawman, Gnome. Have fun with that. – Frank Aug 12 '17 at 17:40

You must log in to answer this question.