Update: Thanks to all for your suggestions and feedback! We have decided to go with Dragonrage's suggestion, which addressed all the key points, and combined the best parts of the other suggestions. We hope this new close reason helps improve the closure workflow for ITG questions!
We've been discussing the topic of Being Nice in comments on Game Identification questions, and it kinda struck me as a bit odd. Not the part about comments being snarky/rude (and that's definitely something to keep in mind!), but that we needed to leave clarifying comments to explain downvotes & closure for Game Identification in the first place:
If we need to reply to an ITG question telling the OP why they are receiving downvotes, we can use something like this:
Sorry, but game identification questions that rely solely on memory are off topic here (see this meta post and our help page). However, r/tipofmyjoystick might be an alternative for you to find the game you are looking for.
After all, isn't the information we're trying to impart here already contained in the close reason? Ideally, the answer to "Why is my Game Identification question downvoted/closed? :(" should be "Hi, read the description in the yellow box, thanks :)".
The whole point of having custom off-topic reasons is to explain to the asker what's wrong with their question and why it doesn't fit on Arqade. If our current Game Identification close reason isn't doing that, and we're resorting to commenting to clarify our policy all the time (to the point where community members are getting exasperated and leaving snarky comments even!) - then perhaps we should come up with a close reason that better describes the problem!
What is the current close reason?
"Questions asking for help identifying a game, based on a description, feature list, or any other criteria are off-topic; this blog post might help. One exception is identifying games based on an actual piece of the game, i.e. screenshots or audio clips."
Now don't get me wrong, I think this pretty succinctly describes our close reason. But then, I'm a fairly prolific user of this site, I have all the discussions and meta questions and site policies and exceptions and case studies of the past providing me with context, which a lot of Game Ident askers don't have. So let's take another look, point by point:
*Questions asking for help identifying a game,
Ok, that's us.
based on a description, feature list or any other criteria are off-topic
Yup. A description of the game. Oh! Or a list of features of the game. So like controls and stuff. Ok. What 'other criteria'? Is that explained anywhere?
this blog post might help.
When was the last time you (yes you, reader) clicked this link? Does the blog post help? It doesn't explain the 'other criteria' of the previous sentence - it gives some guidance on how to collect relevant info and search for games when you only have memory to go off. Useful info sure, but not relevant as to why we don't allow these kinds of questions.
Also, the blog is fairly useless in it's current state:
- It's an archive only - we're unable to edit it to keep it current and relevant.
- It throws a Security Cert Exception on HTTPS1 Again. Oh also, despite being a HTTP link, it's forced to HTTPS, so everyone will see a big nasty cert exception.
One exception is identifying games based on an actual piece of the game, i.e. screenshots or audio clips.
This part is the part that seems to need a lot of clarification and gets followup comments like "But if I have a screenshot of the game I wouldn't need to identify it!". I think the most glaring thing is that we explain the criteria we require (screenshots or audio clips), but not the actual type of 'game identification' that we support: games that appear in other forms of media.
How can we improve it?
Upon rereading the close reason line by line, I think that if we are to improve upon anything, it would be to somehow include the explanation that a lot of us have left in various comments over the years: "It's more for those situations where you see a game in an advertisement, or in a TV show, that sort of thing." Clearly stating what is and isn't allowed with relevant examples.
I also think we need to drop the link to the Blog post - it's an uneditable broken window and very low on Stack Exchange's list of priorities to maintain. So I've taken the liberty of updating our Game Identification Tag Wiki with more information on why memory-based Game Identification is off-topic, as well as the full contents of the blog post2; For the meantime at least, the information is now in a place where it is more easily accessible.
Now, we need your input & voice
I now turn the discussion over to the community at large: Do you think the Game Identification close reason can be improved? If so, How should we word our Game Identification Close reason?
If you wish to make a suggestion, please write it as an answer to this post. Here are the guidelines that I suggest:
- Explain what's off topic - clearly state what is off-topic
- Explain what's ON topic - Provide some example or explanation of what we do allow in a game identification question
- Make it clear where to get more info - preferably, info that will help the user with their problem, and explain in greater detail why description/memory based identification is off-topic.
- and remember, Keep it succinct - we have 400 characters to play with, including links. That's less than a comment! (600).
I've written my own suggestion below in it's own answer - please check that out and provide commentary on that there.
1 Raised by StrixVaria on Meta Stack Exchange
2 I might come back and trim this part down and give it a less "first-person" blog feel at a later point - although feel free to jump in and do this yourself if you want :)