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I was having a discussion with Robotnik in the comments to one of my answers, where it seems like the rule addressing tech support questions for modded minecraft is actually only for crash support, or if the game doesn't start in the first place:

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

So I suggest we change the wording in the help-center to mirror what the off-topic reason actually means.

The problem is still standing that "tech support" is too undefined, it's subjective wether or not something is considered to be tech support in many cases (there are some examples for ambiguity in the actual answer).
If it's actually supposed to mean "crash support", then it's also too broad, or actually wrong to have it say "technical support".

My suggestion is to change the wording in the help-center to be more precise and less ambiguous and to actually capture the reason for why we have that off-topic reason in the first place.

The answers I'm looking for explain one of these things:

  • What we should change the wording to and why that wording is a great choice
  • Why/how I'm wrong and why we shouldn't change the wording despite the problems stated above
  • Other solutions that I didn't think about

For those who don't feel like clicking/tapping the link, the wording in the help-center says "Technical support for non-vanilla Minecraft".
Note that the link itself also links to a question about crash support and not technical support

  • Can you link some questions that have been closed as modded minecraft support that arent crash reports that you think should remain open? – Dragonrage Aug 5 at 17:05
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    @Dragonrage There have been some cases where questions were flagged to be closed, but then kept open, because it isn't actually off-topic. Being more clear about the rules would reduce the amount of false flags we get. It would also prevent some unnessessary discussions. And I see no reason in general to not have clearly defined rules rather than something vague, open to subjective interpretation. I can look for questions that shouldn't have been closed, but that isn't even what I am actually looking for in the first place (though obviously on-topic questions shouldn't be closed as off-topic). – bearb001 Aug 5 at 17:14
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    I think being more clear about rules is a good thing, I just want to see where people are misinterpreting the rules most often, so we can make sure any proposed correction/update to the rules address those issues – Dragonrage Aug 5 at 17:19
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    @Dragonrage I'm honestly not completely sure about the rules myself, but you are definitely right. I could look for questions that were closed as "Technical support for modded Minecraft" that were not about crashes. But, because I myself am not completely sure about the rules, those questions may not be accurate choices to represent the problem. – bearb001 Aug 5 at 17:23
  • We had a bit of a clarification later on, here. I'm not sure trying to add the word, "crashes" is the line we want to draw; there's more to mods functioning than just crashes. We've had a few questions where we've been asked to help get mods working, even if they're not crashing; they're just not working. That, I feel, is still part of Minecraft tech support. – Frank Aug 5 at 17:32
  • @Frank Feel free to add an answer detailing your thoughts on this, if you feel like adding "crashes" isn't enough, then an answer with your suggestion would be great. You may want to suggest something like "Support for Non-Vanilla Minecraft in cases where the game crashes, or doesn't even start in the first place", or explain why we shouldn't change it at all. Also: if a game doesn't turn on, then it's as if it crashes before it even starts. It's admittedly a stretch of the definition of "crashing", but would still be in line with my suggestion and what I think about this issue. – bearb001 Aug 5 at 17:42
  • @Dragonrage - From the comments on the community catch-up, it seems like mod (and server) configuration, setup and settings tweaks were being lumped under 'tech support' – Robotnik Aug 8 at 3:53
  • @Dragonrage This question is about to be closed, I am unsure if it should be closed, or not though. It's about a modded server, where the server seems to work, but the connection to it times out (client side). It's either an example for something that is going wrong, or an example for something that should be a bit clearer in the help-center (in my opinion. I don't know much about minecraft servers though, so I may simply not quite understand the question) – bearb001 Aug 9 at 19:57
  • @bearb001, im not sure about that. if you remove the mods and you continue to have the issue, we might be able to help, but if its an issue with the mod, im not sure we can. also, without knowing how the server was setup, it would be pretty hard to figure out the root cause of that questions problem would be. i would lean more towards too broad as a close reason – Dragonrage Aug 9 at 20:31
  • @Dragonrage I would likely agree with it being too broad (As I said, I don't know enough about servers to actually judge it), but the close reason that already has 4 votes is "off-topic", "[...] because it's tech support for modded Minecraft.". – bearb001 Aug 9 at 20:35
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How do we define tech support?

When I argued the case for modded Minecraft tech support to be off-topic - I was referring to ones where users would post a question similar to the following:

Minecraft crashes with NullPointerException

I added mods to Minecraft but it's crashing can you help?

<Some really generic Exception/Stack Trace>
  • My laptop is a Dell Windows 7 with an Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, nVidia 540M graphics
  • I'm running Java v7 and Minecraft v1.2
  • I'm using these mods: <lists 200+ mods>

I have tried Googling the error, loading a new world, and relaunching, but nothing has helped.

Note that this was considered pretty close to the best case scenario of a modded Minecraft crash question!

This was further defined by Frank's definition of modded Minecraft technical support:

[Not] just crash logs (although we get a ton of those), but anything that can charitably be described as, "I got mods, and Minecraft doesn't work now. Help."

So we've been pretty consistent about 'modded minecraft tech support' being about troubleshooting or diagnosing crashes or issues to do with mods, at least at a policy level.

Can we make the wording clearer?

If 'tech support' is too broad, and we're getting users thinking that it encompasses stuff like server configuration, mod settings/config options etc, then personally, I don't see why not. Here's what we've got in the off-topic reason currently:

  • Technical support for non-vanilla Minecraft

How about something like:

  • Troubleshooting and Diagnosis of modded Minecraft, including crashes, startup errors or other abnormal behaviour caused by modding.

Breaking it down, that's:

  • Troubleshooting and Diagnosis --> 'Tech Support' but more towards the 'not working' side than just general mod configuration.
  • Modded Minecraft --> Only modded Minecraft is a problem here.
  • crashes or startup errors --> some relevant examples that we've seen in the past
  • other abnormal behaviour --> A little bit of wiggle-room for weird cases
  • caused by modding --> reinforce the problem is the mod crashing.

How does that sound?

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    I think that wording would be better. The current version says "non-vanilla" instead of "modded", I'm not sure if that makes a difference though. The "other abnormal behaviour" maybe is a bit too undefined, but since it's restricted with "troubleshooting and diagnosis", I guess that would probably work, too. It definitely feels much more defined to me and I think it would require less research after reading the rule, which is something I'd value, because many wouldn't research the origin and intent of a rule before judging based on it. – bearb001 Aug 8 at 20:28
  • The new wording sounds great. I'd also suggest adding a word or two to include non-vanilla servers (Spigot, Bukkit,...) - the consensus about our policies is similar towards them – RudolfJelin Aug 9 at 20:29
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The thing is, though, that tech support isn't limited to only crashes. It required some clarification a few years ago, but it hasn't been controversial so far as I know.

Tech support encompasses more than just crashes; it also includes diagnosing lag, where to find installed mods, or how to install mods, among other things. Tech support has a bit of a broad definition to it.

I think the current wording, "Technical support for non-vanilla Minecraft" is fine, from a rules perspective. For the most part, tech support is outside of the game, and is pretty clearly off-topic. There are some, like lag, though, that aren't quite that clear. So from a closure standpoint, though, I'd like to propose a potentially simpler process:

Where does the problem with modded Minecraft reside?

If the asker is having a problem in the game, with switches not working, commands not functioning, those are fine. That's gameplay, which we've historically supported without issue.

If the issue, however, is outside of the game, like the examples above, then it's off-topic. This requires a bit of expertise, but that's something we have in abundance. Just like lore questions, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect some modicum of knowledge of the problem domain before voting to close.

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    About there not being any controversy, I think that a 11:5 ratio for up:down votes is not exactly uncontroversial. That ratio applies to the answer that you linked as being "some clarification". To go a step further, this answer, which is directly under the answer that you linked, has a 7:3 ratio, which is more upvotes per downvote than the answer that you linked. It states that we should "only make modded Minecraft crash questions off-topic" (if tech support for games in general is allowed). I did not vote on either of those answers yet. – bearb001 Aug 5 at 23:55
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    Controversy occurs in comments disagreeing with the interpretation of the rule, @bearb001, not votes. I'm not seeing much disagreement, other than to broaden tech support immensely. In the years since that post clarification, there hasn't been much disagreement with how to interpret it. – Frank Aug 6 at 2:38
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    on meta sites a vote is seen as agreeing, or disagreeing, if there are many downvotes, then that doesn't mean that the answer, or question is bad. If there are many downvotes, then many disagree and if there are many up, but also many downvotes, then there is some controversy, because people do agree, but others disagree. 11:5 is a clear tendency, but I wouldn't say it's so clear as to not be somewhat controversial. – bearb001 Aug 6 at 5:43
  • All of your question links have been deleted. – pppery Aug 12 at 20:49
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    @pppery People are allowed to disagree with what they believe constitutes tech support. That doesn't mean it's controversy; it just means people have different opinions. At no point is it ever going to mean we'll have a unanimous agreement on what we think it means. – Frank Aug 16 at 13:20

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