Today, two questions were asked:
- What was the first console or handheld to have a user interface outside of games?
- What is the origin of the standard color coding scheme for item rarity?
Very quickly, a discussion started in chat regarding the on-topicness of questions about historical trivia, with some participants believing that this type of question - "What was the first game/console to have X feature?" - falls under the old description of off-topic game identification questions:
Questions asking for help identifying a game, whether based on a description, a feature list, or any other set of criteria (i.e. "What was the first game to…") are off-topic.
This close reason is also mentioned on this answer to a meta post discussing this very issue back in 2011.
As far as I can tell from looking at the list of off-topic close reasons on Arqade (10k+ link), the wording on this close reason was changed on 2015-12-15, when it became:
Questions asking for help identifying a game, based on a description, feature list, or any other criteria are off-topic
Curious, I decided to examine the evolution of this close reason and its wording, so here is every meta post related to historical trivia and its on-topicness that I've found:
- Are "what was the first..." questions on topic? - No consensus is reached, but seems to be leaning towards allowing these questions.
- How do we feel towards specific questions about the history of a certain game mechanic? - Seemingly in favour of allowing these questions, though by no means a consensus, as the answers score +19/-6 and +19/-12.
- "practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face" - This question touches on the issue slightly; here the consensus seems to be against allowing these questions.
- Is it on-topic to ask if [a specific game] "invented" [a specific feature]? - Here both stances have a considerable number of votes backing them up.
- Is "Historical Trivia" off-topic? - Here the questions are allowed. Note that his question was asked before the close reason was reworded, and before the tag wiki was added.
- How to ask about the history of keyboard trends in gaming? - This question seems to have prompted the next one.
- What should we do with two similar styles of "history" question? - Here the consensus seems to be to allow these questions, regardless of wording.
- On Trivia, Answerability, Character Identification and Fun - Touched many subjects, but cites old metas when it comes to historical trivia. No answers! Highly upvoted question though.
- Should this question about colors depicting game item rarity have been re-opened? - At this point, the consensus is once again to close these questions, under game identification or recommendation. Also notice how the second question asked today is a duplicate of the question discussed in this meta.
Most of the arguments against historical trivia questions stem from the similarities of this type of question to game identification ("It's asking for a game without an artifact") or game recommendation ("It's asking for a list of games with specific criteria").
Lastly, avoid questions that ask for the first game that did something. These questions are too narrow for gaming-history.
The tag wiki was created after a meta post where historical trivia questions were declared on-topic.
This... this is a mess. And I understand why, it's not an easy subject; I have changed my mind on whether these questions should be allowed or not before.
But I think it's time to put forth our best arguments for or against historical trivia questions, and change all of our resources - close reasons, the on-topic page, and the gaming-history wiki - in accordance with any consensus that comes from this discussion.