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There's been a lively discussion in chat as to whether we should allow questions on hardware specs where the information is available, and the hardware is available for purchase, but the hardware is not physically available to consumers yet. Specifically, this question:

Will the “Knuckles” Index controllers be compatible with my HTC VIVE?

Questions about unreleased games are considered off-topic, and for good reason, as there's a long history of developers over-promising and under-delivering. However, in the hardware world, this is a much rarer occurrence (The Xbox One debacle being the main perpetrator). While software can be changed up to and after the release date, hardware is relatively fixed after a certain point.

With that in mind, it shouldn't fall under the same restrictions as unreleased software. After a certain point, questions about unreleased hardware should be allowed. The question is where to draw that line. I propose that once hardware is available for sale from the manufacturer, questions about it should be allowed.

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    Just to import some of my points from chat: I know one of the main reasons we don't like to talk about unreleased hardware is because of the Xbox One debacle, but I don't think this is quite the same as that. That was some presenter at E3 talking about a product that only existed on paper, this is a literal preorder page with specifications. I don't know if we can really draw this out into a general exception or not though. – Unionhawk May 31 at 16:07
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My vote is off-topic.

  • Unreleased content can STILL change, even if it has a spec page.

  • I like having specific rules that are easy to follow and this rule will blur the lines between released and unreleased content. The rule should read: "Is X unreleased? Then off-topic."

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I can see some value in allowing hardware questions, but I don't think the value is great enough to make an exception for.

The only questions we can really answer prior to release is going to be related to the specs of the hardware itself. Functionality, compatibility, and what it will do, are all related to software, the very things we don't allow. The only things different with peripherals from games is that it's physical attributes can't be changed after the fact.

But by itself, the hardware can't do anything. It's only with the attendant firmware that it can even do anything. A good example is the cat and mouse game Nintendo is playing with hackers for the Switch right now. And it's that functionality that can change prior to (and after!) release, same as any game.

So I don't think there's enough of a difference; questions limited to hardware specs could be allowed, but that's about all I'd support.

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