OK, I've decided to pop an answer out there. Most, if not all, of my points have been made by others, but my comments are getting entirely too long. So here I explain myself.
First off, I respect Jeff, Joel, and the entire ownership of the SE network. I want to make that perfectly clear. I've argued with them in the past on Meta.SO, and sometimes (like now) I wish they'd take the "We don't run
[site], you do!" out of the FAQ, but by and large I think they've done something wonderful for the Internet at large. Making the SE sites free and a primarily-democratically-created system were amazing steps forward. And I understand, and absolutely respect, Jeff's desire to make the sites the best they can be -- and to be protective of them, to keep them from getting poisoned.
That all said, I want to address some points which have been made in the comments. First off, tzenes makes a good point that some of my rationale could be used to justify "any" question. (BTW, tzenes, I wasn't arguing with you per se. Some specific instances of ITG -- and many other questions -- should be closed with extreme prejudice; it's Jeff's "nuke from orbit" option which scares me. I picked up on the fact that you agreed with the fact that some ITG questions are OK.)
I think the biggest issue with this question is the combination of upvotes (many of which likely stemmed from the effort to hand-draw "screen shots"), its popularity, the fact that it actually combined two questions in one and what that may mean for the future. As I have said before, I believe the current count of ITGs is 86, out of (currently) 3,454 questions total. They comprise approximately 2.5% of our current question count. Some are fairly searchable, some are not. (This one was not; I and my fellow junior janitors failed in the editing department -- I cop to that. If I wasn't somewhat tipsy at the moment, I'd be editing that question into shape right now -- it really wouldn't be that hard.)
There are two sides to this coin:
- You have a new user, whose question proved extremely popular, who received an answer (though, admittedly, hasn't been online since to see it). This is his/her first question, indeed his/her first participation. Is it worth alienating this user -- who may be extremely helpful and productive in other ways -- just to "nuke them from orbit" based on an arbitrary, unspecified rule that it appears much of the Meta community -- that is, the community truly devoted to the site's success -- and even the community's other diamond mods disagree with?
- On the flip side, if the site were to be completely overrun by these, I can absolutely understand the "nuke them from orbit" option. I understand slippery slopes (I am, after all, a psychotic libertarian; slippery slopes are a big part of our general arguments). But until there is a serious problem with these questions overrunning the site and being shoddy in general, I think they deserve the benefit of the doubt.
While some here might pitch this as a "community vs Jeff" thing, I think it's extremely telling that Jeff has not exercised the option to obliterate these questions with extreme prejudice yet. He certainly has the power and access to do so, and I'm inclined to believe that he's evaluating all of our arguments. While we may not have convinced him that they are worth keeping, I do believe we have him thinking about other downstream ramifications of a rash reaction here. I understand where he's coming from; I just disagree.
I have two readily-apparent subjects with which to compare:
- On SO, we have many "help me fix the bug in my code" questions. Jeff's retort is that "at least we have the code to go by, not some vague memory of what might have been." I get that, to an extent. However, these questions provide absolutely no useful merit to anyone else on the internet (one of the arguments made for extermination of ITG questions), and the SO community in general is uniquely equipped to handle them -- and handle them, it does, with aplomb. While ITG might be based on memories (and for many ITG questions, those memories are accurate enough to provide an answer -- including this one), instead of a solid code example to debug, in all other ways, the two are directly comparable: The end user has an on-topic, not FAQ-ruled, question, provides enough detail to resolve it, and gets an answer -- despite the fact that it will likely help no one else on the internet.
- The entire game-rec tag. Seriously, we're going to allow recommendations for games based on (typically) little information, but disallow real, answerable questions because they might not be fully searchable or the active/passive knowledge ratio is off? I notice that there are 13 pages of game-rec questions, of which several are closed. While no ITG questions may be closed yet, perhaps that is because those questions are on-topic, not explicitly ruled-out by the FAQ, provide value to the asker, provide some fun in answering to the community and in general are fairly well-formed.
Gaming.SE (as with many others of the new SE sites) is not Stack Overflow. Once upon a time, when introducing Super User, Jeff claimed that we should beware, because there would be Ewoks there. If we're going to be somewhat lax on one of the core sites, and do not wish to drive away traffic on any of the sites, then is a network-wide ban and nuking existing questions from orbit really the rational argument?
In a case like this, where -- as I type this -- Jeff's original question is sitting at +7/-14, and almost all of the answers are unequivocally that the question specifically mentioned is OK, and where the moderators of the community are (in general) behind the category ... Shouldn't the burden of proof be on the one who wishes to see these questions obliterated? I think the community has spoken, Jeff. And it looks like most of us respectively disagree.
Edit based on Jeff's edit to his original question
The only positive attributes of these questions I can think of, based on the comments:
* if the user can produce a screenshot or some other reasonably concrete identifying artifact to work with, other than "I kinda remember.." I have less objections to these questions. I'm still not a fan of them, but I think that's a fair way to limit how many we have.
I will be personally monitoring this [identify-the-game] from now on and aggressively closing any that I find which are insufficiently clear, as Not a Real Question.
That is completely, totally and 100% fair. It is the right answer. Some of these questions absolutely deserve closure (depending on community response, that is -- remember that 5 reopen quotes will cancel your moderator closure). My primary argument is with the single question you used as an example.
Having an additional moderator monitor the tag and close bad questions is A-OK. It's a measured response, one which allows for the few which are pretty good/challenging/cool, but which also obliterates the chaff.
Kudos, Jeff, for working with your community on this issue. And thank you, truly from the bottom of my heart. Not just for the network of awesome websites, but for you listening to the community, hearing our arguments, and working toward a middle ground. You found, I believe, the right answer here.
Once more, with feeling
Since this debate started, there has been a spate of truly awful
[identify-this-game] questions. Some are (thankfully) getting closed. I do not have the power to cast those votes, so instead I've just been downvoting them, and relying on others to do the sensible thing.
At no time did I intend to argue that all ITG questions are good, or qualified for inclusion on the site -- like any other kind of question, there is wheat, and there is chaff. And a lot of the more recent ITGs have been, frankly, chaff. These are the ones where I agree that closure and eventual deletion is the correct answer. (In other words, judge them based on their content, not their category. A point I think many others, such as tzenes, have been trying to make all along as well.)
Just 200 more rep to go and I can start casting close votes ... Need more Fallout questions to answer! :)