Super User doesn't like games - anything which remotely reeks of it is carted here without a second thought. And, apparently, they are now concerned that we might migrate stuff over there without trying to discern if it's appropriate for them.

When we made our original policy, which summarizes as "If it's console, it's us. If it's PC, then it's us only if it's Gaming-exclusive", this was mostly under the thought that we need to be on something of an exclusivity clause with Super User. That is, things either belong on one site or on the other, and that we shouldn't tread on each other's toes.

By that logic, this question is off-topic since it is about graphics cards. Likewise, pre-edit and if we consider how we judge on the nature of a question moreso than the motivation behind it, this question was also off-topic. And now I'm starting to question if we actually need to be this strict. Questions like these seem particularly useful to us.

What I'm shooting for here is to expand the scope of what computer elements we allow, if the community finds it acceptable. Basically, instead of wanting things to be exclusively gaming, can we accept things which are basically gaming related even if not completely? Can we redraw the line that divides acceptable hardware?

What I'd like to accomplish with this discussion is one of two things.

  1. Determine whether or not we agree that we can increase our leniency on what we can handle.
  2. In the case that we do decide to increase our leniency, construct guidelines on the general kinds of hardware we're allowing. Graphics cards, for example, seem pretty on-topic, but what else is? Or, more importantly, what components are simply too far removed from actual gaming to be allowed? The ideal list is one where it's very intuitive what does and does not belong so that new users won't need to reference a hidden list - we'd just keep the list as a guideline when something comes to dispute.
  • I agree with point #1. PC gaming has driven (and been driven by) hardware since time immemorial. Other answers so far have already done a good job at tackling point #2.
    – Brant
    Commented Dec 7, 2010 at 17:20

4 Answers 4


Here is my concern.

Unanswered questions are bad. I don't mean bad for our site, I mean bad in general, bad for the entire Internet. They provide end points with without any recourse. People with similar questions find that question and no answer. They have wasted their time and have nothing to show for it. Above all else I'd like to avoid unanswered questions.

Now the question I linked went unanswered on our site for a number of months. Even on the Ubuntu site it took a couple weeks and a bounty. My concern would be that questions we do not know the answer to would end up on our site because they happen to have a video game somewhere buried in them.

Now to their credit, both of the questions you linked had answers. On the scale of things they were fairly easy computer questions. However, if a similar, more complicated version, came a long the questions would sit unanswered on our site and the end result would be that the world was a worse place for it.

I rather like the policy that: if you can ask the question without mentioning a video game (or gaming peripheral) then it does not belong on our site. True, both of those questions would not have ended up here, but they would have been answered in short order among almost any computer literate group, so they would still receive those good answers.

The important point here is that we don't need to do everything. Our goal is not to field every question even remotely about gaming (else there wouldn't be a need for Game-Dev), but rather the questions which are necessary to span the gaming graph. While easy Hardware questions might be answerable but gamers, by the same argument Hardware questions are also answerable by programmers. Both of those questions would likely receive good answers on SO (assuming they weren't immediately closed), but there is a reason SO doesn't want those questions; a reason they would be immediately closed.

Let us not forget that reason.

  • I definitely see wisdom in that policy, but it would completely exclude all questions asking about graphics cards, for example - even though the main use of high-end graphics cards is for gaming. Unless you consider the graphics card a "gaming peripheral", which is not an obvious categorization.
    – Oak
    Commented Dec 7, 2010 at 17:16
  • @Oak that's not entirely true. The only time it would exclude them is when you could avoid mentioning a game. As you've pointed out its hard to avoid mentioning a game when discussing a high-end graphics card. In fact, that's the very reason you don't want it excluded.
    – tzenes
    Commented Dec 7, 2010 at 17:17
  • 3
    I still feel uneasy about it, as it somehow seems very limiting, but +1 nonetheless - I would agree that any hardware/software question that can be asked without mentioning a game or gaming peripheral at least deserves very serious scrutiny.
    – Oak
    Commented Dec 7, 2010 at 17:21
  • I definitely agree with issues about unanswered questions - I may I dislike them as much as you do. But that said, in the same vein that my examples fail your policy, what does pass the policy is the danger example you provided. I find the culprit here to be one aspect of some questions (which is difficult troubleshooting, a subject which I've already written about as an issue) than to be about the particular aspect of being hardware.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Dec 7, 2010 at 17:27
  • Here's a possible alternate example of a danger question. Skipping past the aspect of it getting migrated to us; it remains quite unanswered, and probably would be better answered by people more familiar with the hardware than us.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Dec 7, 2010 at 17:35

I agree we need to be a bit more lenient - sometimes questions may theoretically be more on-topic on superuser but they just won't get the same quality of answers there, especially if they are questions of great interest to gamers.

Regarding guidelines - I don't think we need to base them on the type of hardware, but rather on what the user is trying to achieve. We can use the guideline of

If other members of gaming are likely to know the answer because they are gamers, it probably belongs on gaming.

For example, a GPGPU question will not be on-topic - even though graphics cards play a large role there - while a headset question might be on-topic if the question is specific enough to gaming (e.g. "what traits to look in when buying a headset specifically for gaming" should be on-topic, in my opinion).

  • If other members of gaming are likely to know the answer because they are gamers, it probably belongs on gaming is an argument in favour of asking any FRAPS-related question here. Just saying... (and have my +1, I totally agree with it!)
    – badp
    Commented Dec 8, 2010 at 20:06
  • 1
    @badp indeed, I also consider FRAPS questions entirely on-topic. Remember that your controversial question came under because many users considered it mostly about video conversion, rather than directly FRAPS.
    – Oak
    Commented Dec 8, 2010 at 21:47

As I'm partially responsible for creating and bringing up this problem, I'll at least pitch in to explain why Super User disallows gaming question. Early on in the SU beta Jeff suggested to bring up the ban hammer on these question, to prevent them from setting an example for others, after which we've excluded any question even remotely related to Gaming.

While I completely agree that certain question fit Super User's scope, the fact that they are Gaming related creates a grey area. Allowing questions that even hint towards Gaming creates a precedence that other users will abuse to argue why their slightly more Gaming related question should be allowed.

This is a touchy subject, especially if you consider that an Xbox or a PS3 is 'a computer too'. Which makes others argue that iPhones are 'faster than their old Pentium, which was on-topic too!'

I'm speaking out of my year long experience with moderating on Super User and while I'm an avid gamer myself, I had to wait until this site was created to be able to ask questions. But my personal feelings aside, I think these borderline question should never be allowed on Super User as it will simply bring back up the discussion with new users, who haven't heard all the arguments before. Consistency in your policy is very important for a stable site!

What does this mean for Gaming?

While I agree with @tzenes that having unanswered questions are bad, I'd caution against allowing everything Gaming related. Like [game-rec] these questions are heavily localized to one's computer. They could start asking question for every game that is giving them problems, ignoring the fact that they should simply replace their faulty GPU (for example).

Furthermore, it invites other users to start asking the same low-quality question, where they're not will to solve the problem between the screen and the chair...

I would recommend once more: teach them how fish, instead of handing it over to them! It would be great to have several compendium questions for frequent (troubleshooting) topics, such as:

  • How to troubleshoot my hardware?
  • How to pick a new GPU?
  • How to benchmark your computer to find performance bottlenecks?

As these would teach them how to figure out their own problem, as there isn't anything else we can do anyway.

But aren't these computer-related questions?

Well in essence they are, but in spirit they aren't. There's a big difference between a developer, a Super User and a gaming PC, each has their own distinct areas that are important for performance or quality. These questions should be focused solely on helping Gamers.

But this doesn't stop them from asking?

If you close them as duplicates of this one it sure does! And what if they end up asking a question that doesn't have a compendium yet? Well then you edit his question into the right form, but make sure that the expected answer more or less answers his question! They may not like it, but we have to think of all the future users who have this problem too. I'd rather hurt one persons feeling, if it helped thousands afterwards than doing the opposite.

  • You were more of an expedient or catalyst than the ignition point, as it were. In any case, I'm glad to have your input. Having an ally amidst SU's moderators is a blessing to this site. ♪
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Dec 8, 2010 at 13:23
  • I find it interesting that you brought up PS3 and XBox 360 being "computers", as that's one of the points I've been dwelling on. With all due respect to us, our ability to handle console hardware is not any better than our ability to handle gaming PC hardware questions. This is why I'm not really concerned about the issues of troubleshooting questions within the scope of here; they're a different issue that should be looked at sometime. What I want to do is figure what defines a Gaming PC hardware, so that we can avoid inappropriate migrations to SU (and ideally, avoid the reverse as well).
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Dec 8, 2010 at 13:28
  • Regarding 'faulty' migrates, when we reach an agreement here on what is appropriate, I'll make sure the other SU-mods will follow those guidelines too @Grace Note
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Dec 8, 2010 at 14:27

I would favor allowing any gaming-related hardware questions, with the usual exception of pure shopping recommendations.

I would define gaming-related hardware as

  • graphics card
  • CPU
  • peripherals like gaming mice/keyboard
  • special stuff, like e.g. 3D glasses and monitor for gaming

I would consider as off-topic

  • Any other peripherals like printers, external harddrives ...
  • complete PC builds

I'm not sure about monitors, I would tend to consider them off-topic.

I generally think that of all the SE sites we're the most qualified population to answer general gaming-related hardware questions. Gaming hardware is a field of its own, and the people who care about it, and also know something about it, are mostly gamers.

  • Do you think you could expand on your point? Why should we? Yes we're all capable, SO is capable of answering these questions, but I wouldn't recommend asking them there, so why should we support them here?
    – tzenes
    Commented Dec 7, 2010 at 17:21

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