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Arqade, our well loved Q&A site for passionate videogamers is rapidly approaching its 9th birthday! We (and Stack Exchange as a whole) have grown a lot as a community from those heady days and - although we’re still going strong, we always strive to do better.

Firstly: Yes, we heard you. The recent election was controversial for some, and while there isn’t a lot we can do to change those minds, we mods want to put our best foot forward and get on with the job. In case you missed it, we listed some options available to community members if you take issue with anything the mods do. On top of that, moving forward, we are going to try and make every effort to be more open, welcoming and accessible to the wider community, starting with this post.

So what exactly is the purpose of this post?

We want your opinions, feedback, suggestions, annoyances, pet peeves, wishlists, bucket lists, gripes and grievances when browsing Arqade, using its features, or interacting with the community at large.

If you're not sure what to put, here's a couple of example questions to get you thinking:

  • In your opinion, what are Arqade’s strengths and weaknesses?

  • What are the day-to-day challenges or issues you face with Arqade? (eg. We get a lot of Minecraft tech support questions; can we introduce new users better to them?)

  • What’s that ‘one thing’ you wish the site had, handled, or did differently?

  • Do you have any suggestions, feature-requests, or other wishes?

  • Got an idea for a tournament, contest, or other community get-together?

  • Would you like a followup to an old meta/bug/feature-request?

  • Can we look over a reviewed/edited/closed/deleted question for a second opinion?

  • What can we do to facilitate community events or otherwise help you out?

We won’t be able to cover everything raised here in detail, but our hope is to identify the major issues, and then follow-up with dedicated metas for those issues afterwards. Plus, we know meta can be intimidating, so hopefully this meta will help to encourage folks that have otherwise been silent to weigh in.

Any other general feedback to share?

Got something constructive to say not listed above? Go ahead! This post is to take stock of the community and gauge some interest in doing more. Remember that Be nice applies here too!

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    for what it's worth, thank you for posting/asking this. I'm glad to see the diamond next to your name, because these kinds of solicitations for feedback are truly what mods should be doing in my opinion. :) – Tim S. Jul 9 at 3:08
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    @TimS. Thanks! But although I posted this, the message was actually crafted by the entire mod team (via the power of google docs). – Wipqozn Jul 9 at 9:02

10 Answers 10

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One thing I wish we could do differently is having a more formalized way to point users who ask a question that's out of scope for the main Q&A site to a more appropriate venue. it is good that we focus on questions we can answer, and I like that we generally don't bother answering questions that are out of scope, instead closing them, but I feel it makes us less welcoming to new users who by definition aren't familiar with our stricter rules, and it also doesn't really help those users, which even though it's not really our problem does make me feel kinda awful.

Currently all we're doing is closing those answers as off-topic, but a possible idea I've been mulling over is to have a canonical "external resource repository" question here on Meta where for each off-topic reason we list a handful of resources that can be helpful in answering the issue for that particular off-topic reason. A properly moderated and maintained list like that, while probably not helping to reduce the amount of questions we get, can definitely serve to help users who ask a question we're not qualified to help. Then if someone asks an off-topic question, we just point them to that question.

Maybe a meta question is not the right place for such a list. Maybe it should go on the "what can I ask about here" help page so we can link there. Maybe it should be half a dozen separate questions on the main site so we can close as duplicates. However, I don't think we should be straight up telling these people off and pushing them away from our site. That's extremely unfriendly, to the point that "closed as off-topic" and "marked as duplicate" have been turned into multiple different memes of people in danger not getting help because "you're not the first person drowning here, so we won't help you".

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    I really, really like this idea. We already have some links in our custom close reasons, and there's no reason we can't add more. – Wipqozn Jul 5 at 14:55
  • This is a great idea. It may help reduce these questions as those users bookmark those resources and advertise them to their friends. Probably not, but I can dream... – Batophobia Jul 5 at 15:36
  • My biggest concern would be adding it into the close reasons; I'm...uncomfortable doing that for the reasons listed here in @Wipqozn's answer. If we want to make a canonical for these types here, I'd be onboard, as long as everyone pitches in to keep them up to date. – Frank Jul 5 at 17:57
  • @Frank That's a great point. We'd definitely just want to link to a meta with the information, since that's something the whole community can contribute to. Plus meta can be a lot more detailed than a custom close reason. – Wipqozn Jul 5 at 18:28
  • So you're saying we would have a place for creating posts like this one? Am I getting this right? – Quijibo Jul 5 at 20:46
  • I think the point is, with Minecraft being such a large target of off-topic issues, having an Arqade based link of common fixes for answers might be a good idea to include in closed Minecraft reasons. – FoxMcCloud Jul 5 at 22:56
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Let's take another look at the difference between Good Subjective and Bad Subjective

I'm sure we've all seen subjective questions here, and some of us have voted to close many of those. I'm talking about questions like

  • What's the strongest team composition to fight the final boss?
  • Which weapon should I use to clear this quest?
  • What's the preferred build order when aiming to use these endgame units?

These are subjective questions, yet I would argue that they are not primarily opinion based, and in fact they are exactly the type of question that we need more of: questions that are not simply answered by a Google search, but questions that require actual game expertise.

The issue with these questions comes from their answers. With subjective questions, many users are tempted to post a short answer with the team/weapon/build that worked for them, without explaining why those choices are good, and what challenges they overcome. But then, why are questions being closed if the answers are the problem?

I propose we revisit our moderation standards for subjective questions, realize when a question is Good Subjective and leave it open, while strictly enforcing quality standards for the answers. Good answers to good subjective questions should mention the poster's experience and explain why their answer is good.

When looking at game-specific forums, it is rare to find entirely objective questions like "At what level can I learn this skill?". There are simply too many resources out there for easy, objective questions, so the majority of the discussion is based on experience. If these questions are curated properly, they can promote game discussion in a way that is appropriate for a Q&A site, filling a gap that I feel is currently present in our questions.

  • I 90% agree with this. There definitely needs to be some room to allow some minor discussion when it comes to strategy, because everyone has their own way of playing any given game. However, there's some situations where I feel like even a "Good Subjective" question doesn't fit well. The specific case I'm thinking of was a question a while back about the metagame of League of Legends. Though the question would probably be considered "Good Subjective", LoL gets updated so frequently that even a well-explained answer could become nonsensical within one patch cycle. So then it would be up to the – Mage Xy Jul 12 at 18:29
  • community to continously update the question with accurate info for the current patch. I'm sure LoL is not the only game like this. I'm not sure how to go about handling a case like this, but it is something I wanted to bring up. – Mage Xy Jul 12 at 18:29
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    Frequent game updates are a whole issue on their own, definitely. Maybe an answer on that is needed as well... – Wrigglenite Jul 12 at 18:31
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    I'd be cautiously in support, but I'd propose we include a, "back it up" rule as part of it. Something along the lines of Shog's answer on IPS. Everyone's going to need to be aware that it'll create confusion for a while until we settle into something most people can live with. – Frank Jul 12 at 20:54
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    @Frank Yes, that's more or less what "strictly enforcing quality standards for the answers" would mean. Backing answers up with personal experience is what I feel is the real hidden strength of our stack, not the wiki answers. – Wrigglenite Jul 12 at 21:01
  • @MageXy Even metagame-dependent questions in games that can be frequently updated are valuable, if the answer goes into detail about what makes the metagame the way it is, or what types of metagame a specific strategy is viable in. A comprehensive answer would include this information anyway. – Invader Skoodge Jul 16 at 12:04
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I will preface this post by saying that whilst I'm active on the network, mainly SFF, I am mainly a lurker over here on Arqade. I will do some reviews from time to time and I do like to read meta but I find it hard to get properly involved and here's why...

The homepage is pretty much only Minecraft related questions and most new questions I see are of the same (currently 10 of the 15 most recent!). This isn't a problem per se as popular subjects and games are always going to get more posts. However, the amount of them drowns out anything interesting (to me) and I am left to wade through Minecraft to find something that might interest me. And this isn't helped by the recent re-tagging of a lot of Minecraft questions.

Of course I could use tag related pages to find new questions but when I do look through my watched tags there doesn't appear to be anything new at all. So then I go looking through other potentially interesting things to find that I could answer but again I am shoulder deep in Minecraft.

Now we certainly don't need to stop or slow down the amount of Minecraft questions, as long as they are on topic, but I think we need to do something to get more questions asked in different tags for different games. Look at some of the recent AAA games and they barely have any questions for them, for example, only has 6 questions and that is an open world game with literally hours and hours of game play.

I imagine part of the problem here is different communities coming together for specific games and posting there instead of a general place like Arqade. And it's not helped by every other "news" website posting guides and tutorials on how to do everything in the game. But that said I still think we need to do something to attract new questions to other games, and not necessarily only AAA games but starting with the popular ones will always help and then you can move to some lesser known ones.

So what can be done? It isn't exactly an easy task to accomplish and probably worthy of its own discussion but off the top of my head:

  • Run weekly/fortnightly/monthly challenges for specific games, chosen by the community, and reward certain posts with bounty rewards. Best answer, most viewed question etc. (I know you can't bounty questions but I'm sure a workaround can be made).

  • In the starting days of Arqade SE itself used to run , I doubt that would start up again but could be worth a discussion with SE to see if it is possible. Or even if anyone is willing to start an internal contest. Heck Bricks.SE even run competitions in partnership with The LEGO Group, it might be worth trying to contact some publishers to see if Arqade could try something similar. (That would be quite a lot of work but if someone is up for it, it might be worth a try).

  • Advertise on different forums and in different groups. It would obviously need to be done well to not spam and check with their rules on promotion but is a possibility. This also applies to advertising on different stacks on the network using the community ads bulletin.

  • Another point that I think is quite important but can be quite hard to do is get those popular questions asked early. If a game has just come out and there's a question you can see that many might have, ask it! Even if you self answer in the end it can draw quite a lot of attention in.

    For example, see Where was Stan Lee's cameo in Deadpool 2? that I asked over on SFF the day(?) it was released because it was likely to have a lot of attention. And it had the desired effect gaining ~17k views very quickly, if I remember correctly (and I know results are tailored) it was even the top Google result for a while as I beat a lot of the "news" sites posting their articles on it.

    Speed on popular subjects is very important to get people looking and even if 0.1% of those new visitors stick around you're still gaining new users you otherwise wouldn't have and that can help the community grow. Just something that might be worth attempting though, y'know, being the FGITW isn't always easy.

  • The one time this community comes together in recent memory to ask/answer is probably during Hat Dash. And questions around Hat Dash are also varied. So running periodic contests such as that could help. – Lore Friendly Jul 10 at 14:56
  • Try to watch and ignore tags to your preference and then use the new custom filter feature. It will basically filter out all the questions you don't like and sort the remaining questions to your liking, possibly with a few other criteria. – JJJ Jul 11 at 8:38
  • @JJJ "Of course I could use tag related pages to find new questions but when I do look through my watched tags" I already mentioned that. However, I was mainly making my point through illustrating what is going on, on the homepage to get to what I actually wanted to discuss - how to attract posts to other tags. At the moment Arqade seems to be very much a Minecraft community with a few other interesting games thrown in. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 11 at 8:41
  • You also say you're shoulder deep in Minecraft. If you use those custom filters, you won't see those and there are actually plenty of questions not related to those tags without answers. I don't really think one highly-trafficked tag is a problem. I don't play Minecraft myself either, but it hasn't bothered me that much. I've asked and answered only one question, but mostly I'd look through the game-related tag that I'm playing at the moment. Hence my suggestion of using the watch function with custom filters. I think most users are only interested in a few tags. – JJJ Jul 11 at 9:02
  • Isn't that the same wat the SF site? I guess most people (maybe not you, seeing that you have tag badges in GoT, HP and Marvel areas ;p) are interested in a few particular tags, not all the tags. – JJJ Jul 11 at 9:04
  • @JJJ I'm not saying it is a problem, in fact quite the opposite as it draws in a lot of new users. I'm mainly describing the situation as an outsider sees it. Imagine you're a new or anon user, you don't have the luxury of watched/ignored tags or even know of their existence. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 11 at 9:05
  • @JJJ The difference on SFF is whilst the more popular tags get a steady stream of questions we seem get more "seasonal" questions i.e. bumps around the time works are released and then it quietens down again so unless you're in one of those bumps the homepage will be full of a variety of different stuff. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 11 at 9:07
  • The homepage being mostly minecraft questions is probably in large part a consequence of my retagging sprees. – pppery Jul 11 at 16:26
  • @pppery Aye, I did acknowledge that "And this isn't helped by the recent re-tagging of a lot of Minecraft questions." Though to be fair it does seem to usually be predominantly Minecraft anyway but I am a lurker so maybe it's just when I'm around. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 11 at 16:29
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We could do more to entice people to contribute here

We (Arqade) don't do a whole lot of dedicated advertising or community building. A lot of our traffic tends to come from search engine hits, and our community is pretty broadly-scoped to encompass all games. What this means is a lot of those game-specific experts tend to drift towards more dedicated forums, subreddits, and fan-sites, because those sites give them the ability to discuss various intricacies of the game they are interested in with other like-minded experts.

So, could we do more in the way of building up our community's unique presence, and try and attract more people to join in?

Reach out to other gaming communities?

There's plenty of dedicated communities for various videogaming endeavours out there - for example, competitive gaming, speedrunners, achievement hunters, and so on. Perhaps we could reach out or partner with some of them and promote asking/answering questions here?

And this isn't necessarily restricted to the gamer-side either - what about game developers? @GameDevs - What could we do to help build up a repository of knowledge around your game? Could we be your official dedicated FAQ?

Cross-promote on Stack Exchange?

Speaking of Game Devs - We have some great SE communities that overlap on certain topics with us in different ways, in no particular order (and off the top of my head) there is:

  • Game Development
  • Board and Card Games
  • Role Playing Games
  • Sci-Fi & Fantasy
  • Super User
  • Retrocomputing
  • Worldbuilding
  • Movies & TV

So we could do some cross-promoting? I'm thinking cross-site competitions, Community Promotion Ads, Monthly 'best topics from across our related SE sites', that sort of thing.

What would you like to see done along these lines?

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    This seems to pretty much run along the same lines as my answer here. The other things I mentioned were running weekly/fortnightly/monthly challenges like some other communities do. And also I mention the contests that used to happen (though I know that is a long shot). – TheLethalCarrot Jul 10 at 14:30
  • @TheLethalCarrot Haha yeah. This answer was borne out of a discussion the mod team was having about community ads and kinda grew from there. Contests and competitions are definitely something we're considering :-) – Robotnik Jul 10 at 23:04
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    Well, currently we need more new questions than answers, so reaching out to game devs might not be the first thing to do. When a new game hits the shelves we should have some content ready already, so new players find us on Google already in early stages (where most of their questions occur). That's quite hard with our rules (unreleased = off-topic). I suggest to allow questions about games that are about to be released, even if that means some extra moderation effort, because they might still undergo some changes before their release. – dly Jul 11 at 9:46
  • @dly - The idea behind reaching out to game devs was to try and build those relationships early, make Arqade the place to get help and support, have the game devs engaged to answer content about their games, that sort of thing. – Robotnik Jul 11 at 10:28
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    That still doesn't change the fact that we won't reach Googlers in the early stages until we have a decent amount of questions, which is imho more important. Many people search for problems first, before going to the devs websites. – dly Jul 12 at 6:46
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    @dly right, but if we're working with devs to get their official faqs set up here, while simultaneously promoting asking & answering questions about newly released games, we can win both the short term game (right after a game comes out) AND the long term game - future questions directed towards devs or official communities get asked & answered here. – Robotnik Jul 12 at 6:51
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    Aye I wouldn't underestimate how powerful/important it is to get those early popular questions asked (and answered). In my answer here I mentioned one I did over on SFF that garnered a lot of hits quickly and I think was one of the only things for a popular subject for a couple of days. Once you have people flocking in to see the questions on the new stuff retaining them by playing the long game helps even more. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 12 at 8:04
  • @Robotnik I didn't say it's of no use, but I'd start with easier things first. Getting devs on board is a great idea, but also a tough challenge as they usually have their own repositories and KBs already. Filling our Q&A with questions (and answers) that pretty much simulate FAQs is way easier and requires no third party. It's just against our current rules to start with those beforehand. – dly Jul 12 at 10:27
  • @dly - I don't see it as easier vs harder than anything else, it's stuff we simply should be doing. We're not going to spend 6 months smashing out early release Q&A then shift focus to working with game devs to the detriment of everything else. I'm saying let's do more to drive community engagement overall, and reaching out to game communities or devs is one facet of that. We can answer the game-release questions, build the community promotion ads, reach out to gaming communities, fix Minecraft, get game devs involved, hold competitions, do giveaways and everything else all at the same time – Robotnik Jul 15 at 6:36
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    It feels like reddit has supplanted Arqade in recent years. It's much harder to get an answer to my questions for some games (I've pretty much had to self-answer 2 of my last 3, and a higher percentage than other sites if I go back even further), and I'm not talking niche games, but games that have sold millions of copies. Unfortunately, reddit answers are buried in daily megathreads and the search there sucks, so overall it's just gotten harder to find game information. – Troyen Jul 16 at 5:10
  • @Troyen yes! and that's exactly the niche I'm hoping Arqade can start to fill: work with the communities that have the expertise to get the technical gameplay questions asked/answered here, and have the general discussions / megathreads play out on Reddit or forum sites - all sites playing to their strengths, better information archives that everyone can benefit from, and places to go for further discussion. Win win win, IMO – Robotnik Jul 16 at 6:49
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    (sort of) Game dev here, my site has its own 'how to play'/reference type thing but there are still lots of scenarios that come up during games that i often get DMs on my discord asking about. I am trying to encourage my community to ask slightly more generic versions of their questions here in an effort to reduce the amount of duplicated questions I have to answer myself. I recall one question having the "in game <>" removed, because it's already tagged as such, which will probably hinder a google search returning naturally. – Kirschstein Jul 19 at 15:56
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    (Following on from the above), the community of my game help to maintain the guide on the site, and there was some comment recently about taking some of the arqade questions and folding it back into the how to play, some something may be lacking for searchability of people's questions for my particular use case. Perhaps I need to think about some finer grained tags. – Kirschstein Jul 19 at 16:09
  • @Kirschstein - Thanks for reaching out! RE: trying to encourage your community to ask more generic questions here to reduce the amount of duplicated questions you have to answer - could the solution be to ask & answer the generic version of the question here yourself, and then if anybody asks you in discord, point them here instead of answering them directly? or can we help in another way? Can we set up extra tags (and /or synonyms) for your game, and/or host a small competition to ask/answer questions about your game etc? – Robotnik yesterday
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    @Kirschstein FWIW the "top tag" on a question (tag with the most questions I believe) is appended on to the title for the page and shows up in Google IIRC so if the game tag was the only one it shouldn't affect the search. – TheLethalCarrot 16 hours ago
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In your opinion, what are Arqade’s strengths and weaknesses?

It's strength is the foundation of being an SE network and functioning like one. That is what drove me here in the first place. The weakness of Arqade is the vast amounts of low quality questions. There are tons of questions from young users who have spelling and grammar mistakes and people who don't read the rules.

What are the day-to-day challenges or issues you face with Arqade? (eg. We get a lot of Minecraft tech support questions; can we introduce new users better to them?)

We need to have a "tutorial" of sorts on how to ask a good question. It goes right in line with playing a video game tutorial section, and there needs to be more of a guideline on how to ask a good question. I know the counter-argument to this is that nobody reads the rules anyway, but if we can force a new user to through some sort of tutorial, it would greatly reduce the amount of low quality stuff here.

What’s that ‘one thing’ you wish the site had, handled, or did differently?

I wish we would redo the close reasons and rules for more clarity. Our rules are vague for newer users. We need to have concrete, easy to understand close reasons. We always get arguments on "too broad" being too broad of a close reason, for example.

Do you have any suggestions, feature-requests, or other wishes?

I suggest advertising The Bridge more. Getting users to stay on the site and be a part of our community would be great. Once they see Arqade as not only a Q&A SE site but as a community that talks about games, politics and life events, maybe they would contribute more around the site.

Got an idea for a tournament, contest, or other community get-together?

Arqade discord would be awesome. With the amount of people here playing games, why not have a discord to get us all together?

What can we do to facilitate community events or otherwise help you out?

I think we should do more game-related events. New games are constantly getting released, but we don't push users to post questions about them. We should "feature" games and game-tags depending on releases and updates. Something like: "Update 1.15 for Game XYZ released today - got questions? Use the Game XYZ tag today!" That's pretty cheesy but I hope you get the idea.

More thoughts

My post on the election was highly downvoted for being excited for Frank being a mod. I remember my first run-in with Frank; he came across as stern, but someone who knew a lot about the rules. I had a decision to make at that time - either leave the site or double down and learn the rules. I decided to learn to the rules and become a 20K member of the site. People keep posting on and on about SE Be Polite policy, and I think overall we do a fine job at that. When there are blatant issues, there's always a meta post about Being Polite the same day. Even I was the subject of one not too long ago.

I think we all need to keep our chins up and remember that we're doing okay. With a couple of changes, the support of a great community and an open mindset, we'll make Arqade the place we all want it to be.

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    We do have a discord iirc (I'm currently not at my computer but I'm sure someone in the bridge could link it to you) – Jutschge Jul 8 at 15:22
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    more game-related events Now this is what I was also thinking. I remember a few years ago Skyrim/ME3 came out, and I saw the frenzy behind asking and answering. I miss the excitement behind new game releases and the asking/answering frenzy. I wish we could somehow capture that again. However it feels most of those people who used to participate then are inactive and we are unable to attract new people who are as knowledgeable. – Lore Friendly Jul 9 at 4:16
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    Back then it was like we were playing two games. The one that came out, and one here on Arqade and seeing where we could score the highest. Heck there were times when I would pause the game, post a question/answer on Arqade and just wait for the answers and upvotes to come in, all while ignoring my actual game that I was playing. – Lore Friendly Jul 9 at 4:22
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    @LoreFriendly I really agree with this. When big new games come out, there is almost no new activity and I think it's because we also don't do our job to entice people to post questions and ask them. I hope that we can come up with some new fun things to do to drive some content here. – FoxMcCloud Jul 9 at 5:40
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    "Update 1.15 for Game XYZ released today - got questions? Use the Game XYZ tag today!" I like this idea, but it seems kinda specific. Maybe something like other site's fortnightly challenges. I could see encouraging questions for specific genres or certain consoles. – Batophobia Jul 9 at 14:15
  • @Batophobia Yeah sure, I think there's a lot of room here for creativity and different things for us to encourage. – FoxMcCloud Jul 10 at 13:41
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I've been thinking a lot about what to do about bad questions, specifically questions. I know that unlike the other posters in this question I'm not a super high reputation or duration user of this site (or other SE sites), but I feel like I may have one possible solution for this problem.

But first, however, I'd like to more carefully define the problem, which is that there are many low-quality questions being posted, which bury and cover questions which are actually interesting. In this case, low-quality means that they reflect a general lack of understanding of many of the principles behind Minecraft command usage, and reflect a desire to just have a command written for them rather than a desire to learn why said command works.

I have been, of course, guilty of this on one or two occasions, like here, where I thought that items inside inventories could have scoreboard tags and would retain said tags when they were dropped on the ground. Of course, items are not entities and cannot be tagged, as I learned quite quickly. As you can see, I got three downvotes, two of which I accept are valid because I did not do all of the research I needed to. However, other questions, like this one, demonstrate no research effort nor effort at understanding entity selectors, which is certainly something someone should know the basics of before posting here. Of course, this question is very easy to answer (and is pseudo-free rep) for many of the people who ask and answer questions on the tag, however, they are still detrimental to the overall quality of the site.

That brings us to my proposal. Given that attracts a lot of new users who make an account to get a question they have about how commands work answered (for example, me when I made this account, although I was a bit more careful about what questions I put), we don't want to go around like the Knights of Question Closing closing every question that has an obvious answer, because that makes us seem unfriendly.

Instead, I'd opt for something similar to Nzall's idea above, but just for : a specific community wiki which explains in layman's terms how selectors work, how nbt structure works, how to use /execute and what an executing entity and location even means, etc etc, with external links if an explanation becomes too long. I know that the Minecraft wiki covers commands, but from personal experience it is really hard to understand as a beginner, and this was after I was pretty fluent in Java. I also know that Arqade is a Q&A site, but there are a lot of bad questions and honestly this seems like a good way to solve that.

In addition (if this idea is adopted) I suggest adding a new close reason: Covered By Commands Wiki, or something similar, so that these questions don't need to be downvoted into oblivion (which makes you, a new user, feel really bad), and fits in with the above stated desire for more clear reasons for closing: it's either on the community wiki or it's not.

Thank you for considering my proposal. I have an interest in teaching so I would be willing to help write this.

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    Why not just create several canonical questions for "how do I do X?" and then maintain a list of them on meta or in the tag wiki? Then you can close the questions as duplicates which is far more helpful for most and gives everyone the answer they are looking for. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 9 at 8:29
  • @TheLethalCarrot I think that's a fantastic idea. The problem is in the execution -- how do you list all the ways that a modded game can not work? It would have to be a living document, constantly updated with new information, which is almost something that would require a semi-dedicated group of people. (which was the impetus for my original notion of a separate SE site.) – Tim S. Jul 9 at 12:54
  • @Nik3141 There isn't any reason why you couldn't start writing those community wiki pages, then simply ask in the bridge chat for someone to tag it as community (I have no idea how that works yet.) One of the things I do like about this (and I mean SE in general) is that everyone is empowered to do something, and then the community as a whole (through voting) decides if it's worthwhile or not. – Tim S. Jul 9 at 12:58
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    @Tim Ok. I have some stuff on a google doc so I'll finish writing it today (hopefully) and post it all up tomorrow. Also, commands are a completely vanilla feature, but they are so expansive that a simple FAQ will probably not suffice. Also, most questions aren't about how to do something specific but how to use a specific system to do something, which is why teaching the system is a preferable option. – Nik3141 Jul 9 at 15:48
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I think there is a fine line between following/enforcing the site's rules and actually helping people. In the broader sense, the rules are there to help people. They keep content organized, tagged appropriately, cleaning out the stuff deemed off-topic, spam, etc., so obviously one can easily see how the rules lead to helping people.

But aside from the above-mentioned controversy, I think we need to re-evaluate what helping people actually means. Recently (a month? ago) I started getting back into the review queue after having been super busy with work for a couple years. I see TONS of modded Minecraft questions, most of which seem to be asked by new users, and judging on the grammar and language, I'd guess mostly relatively young users. I follow the rules and vote to close obviously off-topic questions, and knowing that I know nothing about modded minecraft (I can barely answer basic Minecraft questions because I usually only play with my daughter) I definitely cannot help, but I still feel bad for those people. They are trying to get something to work, and are failing, and we're literally just booting them right off and telling them "We won't help you."

So, in an attempt to provide some kind of assistance, I proposed a new SE site for modded Minecraft. Even though I don't necessarily think it's a great idea, I was just trying to think about how all those people we turn away can be helped, or at least find a place to ask their questions. As of now, only one person has commented, and it was a blatant "no dice" response. I understand "off-topic is off-topic" but it really feels like rules > helping. I think this mindset is what drives a lot of people to dislike the site, post the "F you I'm leaving" posts on Meta, and generally resent some of the people here.

I remember when I started on this site, and I didn't know how to properly ask a question, and I got reamed for it. Fortunately for me, I stuck with it long enough to get the hang of it and was finally able to answer some questions, gain some rep, and start contributing. I don't think that most people who have similar bad experiences hang in long enough to reach that balance, and I'd like to be able to help them somehow, without compromising the content of the site.

I see the same thing at my workplace -- some people follow process for process' sake, forgetting the actual goal or purpose the process was designed for in the first place. I think we're teetering on the edge of that here, and it makes me sad.

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    The "TONS of modded minecraft questions" is probably a consequence of my patrol-old-questions spree (I flagged 30 of those in one day a week or so ago), not a general statement about new questions on Arqade. – pppery Jul 9 at 4:01
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    I strongly agree with this, even in the light of pppery's increasing the modded mc questions we see. I remember when I first got here I didn't ask questions with incorrect grammar, or about anything off topic, but I simply didn't really know how minecraft commands worked, and so when my question would be given a sarcastic comment or an instant downvote it really did make me feel bad, because I was just trying to figure out where to put my Name: tag to give a custom named item, or how to modify the data of an entity, or... etc etc and I wasn't getting anything other than "do more research". – Nik3141 Jul 9 at 4:49
  • Which is why I proposed my suggestion down below. – Nik3141 Jul 9 at 4:49
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    It might be a good idea to take a look at the original reasons why modded Minecraft tech support was made off-topic in the first place. In short, it is really hard to help users with these questions; they usually require more information than provided in order to be answered properly and it can be hard to reproduce the issue and identify its cause. – Wrigglenite Jul 9 at 8:42
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    @Wrigglenite Don't get me wrong, I was using modded Minecraft as an example, but it was just one glaring example of many. Granted it seems to be one of the bigger ones (as pppery said maybe that's a clean-up fluke) but moreso it's just an example of the "we don't do that" mentality in favor of the "we don't know how to help you" mentality. – Tim S. Jul 9 at 12:49
  • In my experience, most of the time there is some attempt to help redirect users to somewhere helpful. Like the game-identification wiki (although the previous close reason was likely more helpful) and the various technical issues with comments redirecting users to the appropriate support info. – Batophobia Jul 10 at 14:27
  • @Batophobia I'd have to disagree in my experience, the close messages I usually see just say that modded minecraft is off-topic, and that's it. Hopefully it's more of what you've seen and my experience is an anomaly. – Tim S. Jul 10 at 16:49
  • That may be true. Perhaps it's just because these questions are hard to redirect. You can't send users to Minecraft support when it's related to a mod, and odds are the mods have either poor or noon existent customer support. My input is limited here, but maybe a meta post we can link to with alternative options for the user to look into? – Batophobia Jul 11 at 4:30
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    Personally I really like the previous comment about having a community wiki page that people can update as necessary (for those who have the desire and the knowledge) that links to a bunch of known issues, solutions., etc, and basically say at the end that if what you need isn't listed here, sorry we don't have an answer for you. Kind of an end-of-the-road page. Then we can redirect all currently off-topic questions to that wiki, and still close them as off-topic. – Tim S. Jul 11 at 13:03
1

I'm disappointed to see controversy around Frank's election. Frank has been an extremely committed user of our community for many years with a keen eye for policy setting and upholding, and while we definitely haven't been agreeing on everything, I'm happy to see his passion rewarded with the position of responsibility he sought for so long. I'm sure that it will quickly dawn on everyone that, while it's fair to use behavior as a user as precedent for how one would then behave as a mod, the role of a moderator is actually quite different from that of a user, and so you shouldn't expect the exact same patterns of behaviour to continue.

There is definitely a bit of a learning curve here, so I encourage the community to be kind and patient towards Frank as he grows into his new position, while also delivering feedback directly to him when you see something objectionable.

So long as we give each other the benefit of the doubt, it's probably going to be fine. And when it doesn't, I have absolute faith in the community managers to steer things in the right direction. In years of interactions with them, they have always been spectacularly helpful and a source of great advice in how to handle thorny situations. (I should know; I've made my own share of mistakes, too.)

Looking at Frank's recent activity, I would simply encourage him not to directly close questions that are obviously off-topic* (example). Rather, simply have faith in your community to close these questions for you. Look at it from the receiving end: seeing five users work together to close your question is quite a bit different from seeing it be closed by the singular act of one moderator. The latter is more likely to get the asker upset, and an upset asker becomes more work for you.

More direct intervention is better used when handling corner cases in the community meta, where you would otherwise see a question be opened and closed several times. In that case, helping people follow the spirit of our rules to correctly extrapolate the correct outcome is precisely what you should do. Something like "we didn't have the X rule; as a result we started getting this Y kind of questions; this is specifically what is wrong with Y questions; does this particular question have the same fundamental issues that X questions do? If not, we shouldn't apply the X rule.". We've seen cases where such questions would be closed and opened and closed and opened and so on, and indeed that's not a good experience for our community; quickly driving such a discussion to its correct outcome is what a moderator should probably strive to do then. And if you can't? Oh well, to the meta we go.

This is however more of a nitpick and I have no problem believing that Frank will rise to the challenge and meet the standards of behavior that this community has come to expect of moderators.

*It's still perfectly fine and actually great fun to destroy spam accounts on sight.

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    I don’t agree that he should avoid using binding close votes on obviously off-topic question. What’s the point of giving someone such great power if they purposefully avoid using it in uncontroversial situations? – Chaosblessed Jul 7 at 19:38
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    @Stormblessed take it from the site's founders stackoverflow.blog/2009/05/18/a-theory-of-moderation but fundamentally there are lots of tasks that only moderators can handle, and closing questions isn't one of them. If the community can make something happen a moderator should allow that to happen IMNSHO as a past moderator – badp Jul 7 at 19:45
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    "Look at it from the receiving end: seeing five users work together to close your question is quite a bit different from seeing it be closed by the singular act of one moderator. The latter is more likely to get the asker upset, and an upset asker becomes more work for you." FWIW I'd imagine some people would look at this differently and feel like 5 people would be "ganging up on them". – TheLethalCarrot Jul 8 at 11:30
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    IMHO binding votes are okay to use in clear cases or even when the community vote was obviously wrong. As long as the mods don't clear the queues all by themselves I'm fine with them using their powers. They've been elected because the community trusts them to use their privileges properly, so why not use them? – dly Jul 9 at 6:48
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    I have to agree with @badp here -- I think the power to close a question should be left to the reviewers, and a moderator steps in when necessary. I don't think that one person should be primarily doing what a "committee" (for lack of a better phrase) is chartered with doing. Just my 2 cents. – Tim S. Jul 9 at 12:52
  • @TheLethalCarrot watching your question be closed is never going to be a good experience, and different people are going to process the experience in different ways. That said, it's easier to drive your anger towards a single person than an entire community :) – badp Jul 9 at 17:14
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    @dly there have been cases when the community voted to close questions that were acceptable or started answering questions that were problematic; those are fine times for a moderator to take action and table a discussion (not necessarily in that order) – badp Jul 9 at 17:15
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    @badp yup, I agree... that's where a mod should intervene. I already mentioned a case like that with when the community vote was obviously wrong . – dly Jul 9 at 20:29
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    Honestly, I'm genuinely glad to see the controversy around Frank's election. It shows clearly that the community cares about its moderation team and are not afraid to voice their opinion on the matter. Additionally, all posts I saw were handled in a professional manner that adhered to the site's community guidelines. And because of the controversy, I anticipate Frank will be a much better moderator. That's a positive outcome for everyone involved. – Gigazelle Jul 9 at 22:31
0

I probably have a somewhat distorted opinion here because I haven't been active on Arqade for very long, and I'm only active in but:

Not enough effort is/was spent tagging questions

I've edited almost 400 questions, and the vast majority of those are simple things like adding the tag to a question that has a tag but no parent tag, or are tagged but lack the appropriate subtags. Many of these questions were asked years ago. The fact that these questions needed my attention years later indicates a failure of the community.

Not enough effort is/was spent closing questions

I don't think I can explain this better here than I did in chat yesterday

  1. Some duplicate questions acquire 19 upvotes and go unclosed for four years)
  2. Other duplicate questions attract 14 upvotes and go unclosed for six years.

The closure rules aren't enforced strictly enough

This question and this question are clearly about tech support for modded minecraft, which the community has ruled off-topic. Yet both of those questions have passed the close vote review queue. The failure to close questions that clearly should be closed does not send a good signal.

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    All of your sample questions are 4+ years old. That doesn't seem very indicative of where the community is right now. Very few people are patrolling questions that old to look for duplicates or missing tags. – Chris Hayes Jul 9 at 3:56
  • @ChrisHayes Well, that applies to the first two sections. The last section contains two questions that passed the close vote review queue less than a month ago despite being (in my opinion) clearly off-topic. – pppery Jul 9 at 3:59
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    @pppery with your two examples you're right, but you should as well be more careful. IMHO you flag too many questions for no reason. E.g. you dupe questions with similar problems that are not actually the same. Or questions about the same command with completely different issues. But I really like your style of flagging sprees as it often maxes out my close votes, so keep up the good work. :) – dly Jul 9 at 6:39
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    Thanks for your post @pppery - a coordinated push to clean up Minecraft posts is a possibility to come out of this discussion, including more explicit tags for the different game versions. (Unfortunately mass retagging has to be done on a question-by-question basis so it will be quite an effort but not out of the realms of possibility). – Robotnik Jul 10 at 1:08
-1

The off-topic reason for questions about tech support for modded versions of minecraft should be more clear, and more general

If a player encounters a bug and asks a question on how to work around it, is it about tech support, or about gameplay?

Is a modded version of the minecraft launcher considered to be a mod for minecraft, or the launcher?

If there is a problem, where someone can't delete a profile for a modded version of minecraft from the vanilla minecraft launcher (there are many who seem to have this problem with forge), is that a question about a mod, or the vanilla launcher?

also

I don't think that we should close questions because they ask about minecraft: we should close them because the type of question is off-topic. The main problem may be minecraft mod related questions, but we may have similar problems with different games.

What if tomorrow the game "mycraft" is released: it's similar to minecraft, but it would be a different game.
Should questions about that game be on-topic, even if they are identical to those for minecraft? Should we change the rules and introduce a new close reason, every time there is a new game with the same problem?

My suggestion

I think we should have clear rules that account for all games.
We could rephrase the close reason to something like "technical support for modded versions of games, when there is a stack trace, but no code".
If the stack trace is not provided, then the question is unclear.
If it is provided, but without the code, it would be off-topic.
If it is provided, including code, then it would likely be a question better suited for SO, or gamedev, which is also off-topic on arqade, but we would point in a direction, where the question might find an answer.

I think this would specifically target the type of questions that we try to target with the current rule.

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    I would appreciate if you didn't just downvote this, but also leave a comment on why. If you feel there is a type of questions that should be off topic that is not accounted for in "technical support for modded versions of games, when there is a stack trace, but no code", then please leave a comment on that. If you have a link to where it's clearly defined what is considered to be "tech support for modded minecraft", then feel free to leave the link in a comment. – bearb001 Jul 15 at 7:09
  • I think making the rule more general is the wrong direction. I think making it more strict is the way to go. I'm in the camp of "no crash, no mod and no tech support for modded anything" It just simply introduces too much variance with versioning, pc specs, servers and all kinds of other things. I don't want Arqade to become Mojang Mod Tech support, or any other game for that matter. – FoxMcCloud Jul 15 at 15:10
  • @FoxMcCloud I believe that we mean the same thing here, it should be a strict rule, but it should be more general in the sense that it should not only apply to minecraft. It should be a clear rule that is strict, but not game specific. Thank you for your feedback. – bearb001 Jul 15 at 15:13
  • Yeah exactly. I think this is becoming a real problem and I am not a fan of seeing mod question after mod question after mod question. – FoxMcCloud Jul 15 at 15:19
  • @FoxMcCloud I don't even disagree with that, we should make the rules clearer though and they should apply to all games, not just minecraft. We can make the rule specific enough to basically only target minecraft, but we shouldn't have the word "minecraft" in a close reason. (Or the name of any other game) – bearb001 Jul 15 at 15:21
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    While I'm certainly not a fan of these questions, I'm not seeing anything but Minecraft in any abundance. Trying to ban the entire class of questions without more data is something I'd be uncomfortable with. Do have have any examples of modded tech support questions that you feel are bad? – Frank Jul 16 at 0:30
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    @Frank we would have to discuss, what actually makes minecraft mod tech support questions bad, it's certainly not the fact that it's minecraft. If we can figure out WHY they are bad, then it would be rather simple to ban questions that have those particular propperties. I don't know any particular tech support questions that I consider to be bad, but I don't think it's a good idea to have a rule based on what game it is, it should be based on the propperty that makes that kind of questions bad. – bearb001 Jul 16 at 0:35
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    Well, a good place to start would be the meta where we outlawed Minecraft modded tech support. That can give some valuable insight into our reasoning, and perhaps see if it can or should be applied to other games. – Frank Jul 16 at 0:38
  • @Frank That's where I got the idea about the code less stack trace from the answer. It would in general be nice to know what exactly is considered to be tech support, the rule itself seems to be rather vague. I'm not even completely sure what would be considered a to be a mod of minecraft (example minecraft launcher from the answer) – bearb001 Jul 16 at 0:42
  • Er. I think we clarified that later on. I know we have a pretty agreed upon definition that works pretty consistently. Let's see if I can find the post... This might be it. I don't think we have a specific definition of, "mod", so much as just taking the user's word that it's modded, or the crash log says it is. Essentially, if it's broke, and has anything modifying the code, we no comprende. – Frank Jul 16 at 0:43
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    The Minecraft Modded crash ruling is deliberately narrow: only Modded Minecraft crashes are off topic, because it was only modded Minecraft crashes where we faced a problem. Modded Minecraft is fine. Got a question about configuring Forge or setting up a Bukkit server? Cool, that's an expertise we have and can answer. Throwing a crash log at us with 200+ mods installed and expecting us to somehow find the offending one that's causing it? Not so much. – Robotnik Jul 16 at 4:18
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    This was actually discussed in the comment thread on the Modded Minecraft Crash post regarding extending the ban to all tech support across all games. To quote SevenSidedDie: "Although that might appeal in a "rules should be rules" sense, it violates the No Elephants Allowed Sign rule-making principle: rules exist because they solve a real problem. Applying rules to non-problems because it's "fair" can cause more problems than they solve, such as unnecessary extra work applying or defending the rule." – Robotnik Jul 16 at 4:20
  • @Robotnik So the official reason to close a question about modded minecraft is for when it crashes, or doesn't even start in the first place. Did I understand that correctly? – bearb001 Jul 16 at 6:19
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    @Robotnik Can we maybe change the wording here in the section "Please note, however, that site policies prohibit questions of the following types:" from "Technical support for non-vanilla Minecraft" to something like "Technical support for non-vanilla Minecraft crashes"? That site appears to be fairly official. I think that would likely be clear enough, just "tech support" is not very clear and would require to do more research just to know if something is considered to be "tech support". – bearb001 Jul 16 at 6:47
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    @bearb001 I agree. Until reading this thread I was under the impression that anything other than actual gameplay of modded Minecraft was off-topic. Including configuring Forge or setting up Bukkit. Changing the wording would help clear up a lot of confusion. – Nik3141 Jul 16 at 16:06

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