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The idea of a close reason specifically for modded Minecraft tech support has come up time and time and time again. Since we have recently revisited the wording for off-topic Minecraft questions, now is a good time to tackle this problem one (hopefully) final time.

As I've mentioned in reply to the most recent Meta question on the subject, we only have four close reason slots available for use. If we want a new reason for modded Minecraft, we'll have to replace one of the existing close reasons: "recommendations", "unreleased or illegal", "game identification", or "game design or development".

Users with at least 10k reputation can check various close stats on this page, but in short, these are the least used close reasons over the past 90 days:

  • Unreleased or illegal: 0.58% of total
  • Game design and development: 1.35% of total
  • Game identification: 2.03% of total
  • Recommendations: 3.47% of total

And for comparison:

  • Modded Minecraft (from my counting): 12.74% of total

As such, we're looking for a consensus on two issues:

First, which close reason we want to replace, if any.
Second, what the wording of the new close reason should be. Keep in mind that close reasons can be at most 400 characters long, including link syntax.

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    Even though unreleased and illegal is the least used close reason I feel like the recommendations close reason could be a candidate for replacement since recommendation questions can be closed as primarily opinion based. – Jutschge Sep 3 at 10:14
  • I'd ask more on why do we only have those? SO seems to have 5 options last I checked. Is this a thing we need the SE team to look into? I really don't feel like we should replace the Unreleased / Illegal option as it's very much important despite it not being used much. – Codingale Sep 3 at 10:21
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    @Codingale We were told that our close reasons are not used enough to justify having 5. – Wrigglenite Sep 3 at 10:31
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    Really? It's like a single row in a SQL database right? Well I'm no sysadmin, anyways I'd personally keep it as is, or replace the game design one, as it fits for Opinion based more so, in my opinion lol – Codingale Sep 3 at 10:53
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    @Jutschge Keep in mind that we've recently added our new FAQ for recommendation resources to that close reason, which should be helpful in guiding users towards an answer. For that reason, I'd personally rather not see that close reason be replaced. – Wrigglenite Sep 3 at 10:56
  • I totally see the concern here, just based on the numbers you've provided. That said, it seems very, very strange to me to have an entire close reason dedicated to a specific subset of questions about a specific game. To be fair, my concern is probably heavily driven by my own biases (I have all minecraft tags blocked because they are high volume and I don't play it). It still does seem like a strange approach that we would need to add in a permanent close reason for such a specific set of questions though. – JMac Sep 3 at 15:06
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    @JMac The main reason to use a custom close reason is to speed up and simplify the process of closing off-topic questions. (Modded) Minecraft questions produce by far the most amount of off-topic content so replacing one of the lesser used reasons isn't really a strange approach imo. (I also have the tag on blocked but if you take a look at the CV review queue you'll see 90% minecraft crashes) – Jutschge Sep 3 at 15:15
  • @Jutschge It just seems to be too targeted of a close reason to have as a dedicated custom reason. I feel like there must be some better way to word a close reason that it would absolutely apply to these minecraft questions; but may also apply to other similar tech support questions. To me "Modded minecraft tech support" could at least be broadened to apply to many games with similar problems; even if minecraft is going to get the most use out of it by far. – JMac Sep 3 at 15:20
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    @JMac That's more of a concern with making modded Minecraft tech support off-topic, rather than the custom close reason. It sounds very specific because it is a very specific rule. You can check the reasoning on the question where it was made off-topic. – Wrigglenite Sep 3 at 15:39
  • @JMac I agree with you, and maybe there will be a game that comes out that will be just as popular as Minecraft that also supports a million different mods. At the moment though, this is a blatant issue that comes up every day here. – FoxMcCloud Sep 3 at 15:40
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    @Wrigglenite Right; but I feel like doing a custom close reason for Minecraft mod tech support seems like a bit of an X Y problem to me. Modded Minecraft seems to be by far the biggest culprit; but I would hope the exact same reasoning should apply to any similarly-scoped tech support questions. It seems like this would be a good opportunity to clear that up. It just really rubs me the wrong way that there would be rules for specific games; when in reality it should be based on a broader framework which should also apply to these minecraft questions. – JMac Sep 3 at 15:56
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    @JMac - "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. "Minecraft crash questions caused us problems, so I'm sorry but your simple question about Half-Life 3 crashing is off topic" is a hard stance to defend." - SevenSidedDie – Robotnik Sep 4 at 2:11
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    To give a relevant example to the above quote: Clash of Clans "How do I attack this base?" questions are also off topic, so should we also extend this rule against "attacking enemy base" questions to all games? No, because Rules exist to solve actual problems we've faced. Some games are varied and different from one another in ways that make it impossible to come up with generalised rules that would apply across all of them at once. – Robotnik Sep 4 at 2:39
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    (cont) - I get what you're saying, our custom close reasons should be general, but really, they are just shortcuts for the most commonly used off-topic reasons, there's no reason they shouldn't be updated to reflect actual site usage. In a way, our 'Game Ident' reason is the exact same thing: a closure rule that exists for a particular tag because of problems inherent to that tag. Modded Minecraft crashes are off-topic, and stats say they are closed often enough to justify a custom reason. So why should we try to broaden a clear, off-topic definition so that it covers all cases? – Robotnik Sep 4 at 2:52
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    @Codingale Yes, from a programming perspective it's absurd that they would limit a site to 4 where many sites have 5 CV reasons. It's especially absurd to continue to refuse adding a 5th one in the event that a 5th reason becomes necessary/useful. – TylerH Sep 17 at 19:11
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I would choose to replace the "unreleased or illegal" close vote reason.

  • It's the close reason that used the least

  • It's easy to identify - Unreleased game questions are obvious and are usually off-topic for other reasons such as this question. Illegal game questions are also easy to identify as they usually have something about 'connecting to multiplayer' or 'the files didn't download correctly'.

  • Putting a comment about how we don't support unreleased or illegal games isn't that hard and if you want to go the extra mile, you can link our rules page. Just a comment will be enough for all users to get the idea that those questions are off topic.

  • The occurrence difference is over 12%, that alone should be reason enough to change it out. The issues that come up more often should be at the top of the list, it just makes sense to do it.

  • This is the exact reason for the "Meta off-topic repository" idea that we have come up with. We can fully support all types of modded Minecraft servers and versions and whatever else and have a link in the close reason for the user to get their issue fixed. There could be a ton of really great answers to the most popular issues that come up.

  • For those that ask a modded Minecraft question, it's a great opportunity for new users to go into our Meta section and make it better by posting an answer to the "repository" of answers. If you get the users involved, they will stay longer and contribute more.

  • In addition to adding a comment about how unreleased/illegal games are off-topic, you could also go as far as adding a custom VTC. Essentially what most people do right now with modded tech-support minecraft questions, except far less frequent – Wondercricket Sep 3 at 16:06
  • FWIW on SFF we use the primarily opinion based close reason for questions about future works instead of a specific one and unreleased content seems to be the same as future works. It might make sense to use POB for this too. – TheLethalCarrot Sep 4 at 10:23
  • Do you have anything in mind regarding the wording of the close reason? – Wrigglenite Sep 5 at 8:23
  • @Wrigglenite Questions about modded Minecraft are off topic on Arqade. We only support questions about vanilla Minecraft. If you still want to seek help, please ask us over in The Bridge. Something like that? I also really like my meta idea about putting down a repo or FAQ about questions so you could link there. – FoxMcCloud Sep 5 at 14:56
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    Why not simply add "debugging for unofficial content" to "unreleased or illegal" rather than replacing it? There's still a (rare) need for closing questions about unreleased or illegal content even if it's the least common reason. – TylerH Sep 17 at 19:13
1

Which close reason, if any, do we want to replace?

Game identification: 2.03% of total and Recommendations: 3.47% of total

I think it would be relatively simple to put these off topic reasons together, asking for a game that is about 10 years old where you play as a goat could either be game identification, or a recommendation, depending on the rest of the question. They are fairly similar and would probably work well together. We could rename this new close reason to Game identification and Recommendations.

Questions asking for recommendations of games, servers, software, or hardware, or to identify these based solely on memory are off topic. If you have a picture, video, audio file, or other medium to point to, we can help identifiying the game. See our Game Identification Wiki, our curated list of external resources, or "Q&A is Hard, Let’s Go Shopping!" for more info and help.

Game design and development: 1.35% of total

This makes sense as an "official" off topic reason, I don't think that we can combine it with any of the other three off topic reasons in a way that makes sense. I'm not completely sure what kind of questions we usually get for this, but it may be possible to close these question as off topic, because they belong on another site in the Stack Exchange network instead.

Unreleased or illegal: 0.58% of total:

Edit: We could replace this off topic reason due to the low rate of usage and some other things.

This is an important close reason in my opinion. It should not be removed, even though it isn't used much. This would basically show that we do not want to help with illegal activities. I personally don't consider questions about unreleased games to be quite as bad. It might make more sense to combine questions about unreleased games with the "Game design and development" off topic reason.

This should stay as it's own close reason

What should the wording of the new close reason be?

We have a highly specific rule that singles out a single game.

I believe that this is, in general, the most common complaint about this reason to close a question. I may be wrong, but it's certainly an important problem.

The problem is not that these questions are about minecraft, the problem is the general lack of quality and the difficulty to troubleshoot the problem, if it's even possible to recreate it. We will have similar problems for any other popular game that is highly moddable.

I would suggest that we change the wording to "non vanilla versions of highly moddable games" instead of "modded minecraft". This would mostly affect minecraft, but it wouldn't single out one game, it would be a general rule that would account for all questions that would suffer from the same problems.

I basically think that we should have "Troubleshooting and diagnosis of non vanilla versions of highly moddable games, including crashes, startup errors or other abnormal behaviour caused by modding" as the reason why we close a given question.

This would work well as an off topic reason:

Questions that ask for troubleshooting and diagnosis of non vanilla versions of highly moddable games, including crashes, startup errors or other abnormal behaviour caused by modding are off topic.

It would also work as a custom close reason:

I'm voting to close this question as off topic because it is about troubleshooting and diagnosis of a non vanilla version of a highly moddable game, including crashes, startup errors or other abnormal behaviour caused by modding.

Summary

If we decide to add it to the off topic reasons, then combining game recommendations and identification may be a good way to do this. Alternatively it may be possible to remove "Game design and development" from the off topic list, but I consider this alternative to be worse. We wouldn't nessessarily have to add it, but it would make sense.

Edit: We can also replace the off topic reason for questions for Unreleased or illegal things.

I think that we should reword the close reason to not be about a single game, while keeping it narrow enough to only be valid for games that are likely to cause the same problems.

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    You proposed close reason (without links) is 593 characters. With links, it is quite a bit longer. Custom close reasons have a maximum length of 400 characters. – Dragonrage Sep 3 at 20:15
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    I do like the version of the close reason encompassing multiple games if we can come up with a way to do it that makes sense. I don't like getting rid of the close reasons you stated. I also don't like the thought process of "if it isn't in the close reasons, it's not an official rule." There are some good thoughts and ideas in this post though. – FoxMcCloud Sep 3 at 20:57
  • @FoxMcCloud I do think that rules can be official, even if there is no explicit close reason for it. I do think that the rule should exist in a clear form on an official site like this one though. I don't think we should remove any close reason either, merging two of them would be a better solution. I may also have worded this poorly (This makes sense as an "official" off topic reason). – bearb001 Sep 3 at 21:14
  • @Dragonrage I reduced it to 492 characters including links and formatting. It's still too long, but it can be reduced further by someone who knows a bit more about what information is the most important. It may be enough if we leave out this sentence for example: "We can help identifiying a game if a picture, video, audio file, or other medium is provided." (That would reduce it to 387 characters including links and formatting). I'm not sure if that makes sense though and I'd like some feedback on it first. – bearb001 Sep 3 at 21:30
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    Just as a reminder, our close reasons do not dictate our policies, it's the opposite way around. Removing one of the close reasons wouldn't mean that we would start accepting, say, questions about piracy. It would just mean that in 0.58% of cases, a custom reason would have to be typed in, instead of clicking one of the pre-set close reasons. – Wrigglenite Sep 3 at 22:16
  • @Wrigglenite I see where the confusion is coming from. I'm aware of the fact that the close reasons don't dictate our policies. I think that this off topic reason is important enough due to it's nature though. It's like saying that we REALLY don't want to help with illegal activities. I've been thinking about this a lot while trying to find a way to propperly explain my point and I guess it wouldn't actually change that much. I kinda wonder why we don't use the most common off topic reasons with this logic, but I guess there would be no harm in replacing that one in particular. – bearb001 Sep 3 at 22:28
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    I disagree with the close vote reason you suggested. The close vote reason should follow consensus. Consensus is specifically only for Minecraft, while this close vote reason also covers all other games. – galacticninja Sep 4 at 8:44
  • @galacticninja While it would cover all games, my suggestion would not affect all games. Can you think of any highly moddable game that isn't minecraft? If so, do you think that questions for technical support on modded versions of those games would be any better than those for minecraft? Of course the close reason should follow consensus, but if anything is supposed to change, then someone will have to make a suggestion, if the suggestion is good, then the consensus will shift. – bearb001 Sep 4 at 8:51
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    @bearb001 I don't think we had a similar issue with mod-related questions in highly moddable Bethesda games, e.g. Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout - that are similar to issues Minecraft has. Maybe mod issues in those games can be troubleshooted easier. "Other abnormal behaviour caused by modding" is too broad and would cause non-problematic, solvable tech support questions about other moddable games to be closed too. We're looking for a close vote reason for an already established consensus, not looking to discuss new ones. There should be a separate meta post for that first. – galacticninja Sep 4 at 9:07
  • @galacticninja There is a consensus here. I didn't change the wording much, I agree that "Other abnormal behaviour caused by modding" may be too broad. I don't think that Oblivion, Skyrim, or Fallout are as moddable as minecraft, I'm not too familiar with those games and I'm open for alternative suggestions instead of "highly moddable games". – bearb001 Sep 4 at 9:15
  • @bearb001, highly moddable game that isn't Minecraft? Kerbal Space Program. – Mark yesterday
  • @Mark as I already stated, I'm open for alternative suggestions instead of "highly moddable games". – bearb001 yesterday
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Questions seeking technical support for modded versions of Minecraft that cannot be reasonably reproduced by others are off-topic. These include crashes, errors, and undesired behavior caused by modding. We recommend first isolating the mod causing issues, then approaching that mod's community to get an answer.

The link would point to a community wiki here on meta where we explain the process of removing all mods to troubleshoot an issue, then adding several mods back in until the crash or abnormal behavior is found.

  • I think that this definition is too broad. Just making "troubleshooting" off topic without any further explaination would make almost all questions about modded versions of games off topic. I do agree that we shouldn't single out minecraft, I wouldn't nessessarily be against using it as an example, though I don't see the point of that. It would be better if the definition is clear enough to obviously affect minecraft. The close reason would have to be a lot narrower though and there would have to be an explaination on what makes a game similar to minecraft. – bearb001 Sep 4 at 6:09
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    This is not our policy, and to claim so is misleading. We accept tech support for modded games, just not Minecraft because it has proven in the past to produce particularly hard to answer questions, consisting of nothing more than a crash dump and (if we're lucky) a list of mods installed. If you want to discuss the problems with only declaring modded Minecraft tech support off-topic, this question is not the best place for that. Feel free to make a new Meta question and, if it gets enough support, this proposal can be put on hold until we define a new policy for all modded games. – Wrigglenite Sep 4 at 7:13
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    Okay, take two on this one based on your guys' feedback. Let me know if you'd rather have this as a separate answer so it isn't tainted by the first version's downvotes. – Gigazelle Sep 5 at 23:25
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Would it be possible to combine "Unreleased or illegal" and "Recommendations" into one reason thus freeing up a slot for modded Minecraft?

I don't know the character limit for close reason text, but something like:

Questions that ask about unreleased or illegal content or for recommendations of games, servers, software, or hardware are off topic. For more information, see "Q&A is Hard, Let’s Go Shopping!". For other places that accept requests for recommendations, see our curated list of external resources.

Perhaps the "For more information..." part may need to change a bit if we went this route.

  • I can tell you that the current wording on that specific close reason is a handful of characters under the limit. You have to keep in mind that the link syntax takes up much of the available space. – Wrigglenite Sep 3 at 11:42
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    I personally really don't like merging those two reasons. They're completely unrelated. Merging two close reasons is a good idea in theory but I don't see any two of the four we currently have making sense if they're merged together. – Jutschge Sep 3 at 11:42
  • @Jutschge should they have to be related? Both point to off-topic. I figured between the other close reasons that these two were the most similar to concatenate. I'm not seeing how merging two reasons would make them unclear. The wording still explains that unreleased/illegal content is off-topic as well as recommendations. In the actual close reason prompt, the key words are bolded to help clarify the reason. – Timmy Jim Sep 3 at 11:52

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