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The moderator team has noticed a handful of questions which all amount to "How do I solve this exact Minesweeper board?", and we believe that these questions should be closed as duplicates of more general questions. Those questions are:

Several years ago we decided that questions about "How do I attack this base?" should be considered off-topic. The two primary reasons were that those kinds of questions (and their answers) can quickly become outdated due to patches, and that the questions and solutions are far too specific to a particular player and base to actually be useful to a more general audience. Although the issue of patching doesn't apply to Minesweeper, the concerns around the questions and answers only being useful in very specific situations does apply to Minesweeper.

Since Minesweeper boards are generated randomly, the odds of another player getting the same board, and then getting stuck in the same way as another player, are extremely low (I haven't calculated the odds, but I'd guess the odds are nearly zero). Due to this, these questions don't really offer any value to anyone outside the asker. They may not even offer any long lasting value to the asker either, since the answers won't necessarily help them the next time they get stuck. Back in the day, these questions appear to be a perfect example of why the Too Localized close reason existed.

The answers to these questions can sometimes provide valuable techniques which are helpful in the general case and to a wide audience, such as the answers to this question, which demonstrate how mathematics can be used to determine the safest course of action. However, these more general techniques would arguably be better fitted to a more general question, which we actually already have multiple examples of:

Some of the above questions are arguably duplicates, and if the only answers to "How do I solve this board?" questions which have future value are ones which address the more general case, then one could argue that these questions would best be closed as duplicates of some of the above as well.

So, due to all of the above, the moderator team feels that the best course of action would be to close these "How do I solve this board question?" as duplicates of the more general questions. Additionally, we think that some of the questions would actually be good candidates for mergers, such as this and this. However, given the positive community reception to these questions, and the lack of any closures until now, the moderator team felt we should consult the community before taking any action to determine how the community feels these questions should be handled (including "Do nothing, they're fine").

Should we continue to allow questions asking how to solve a specific Minesweeper board? Should we close/merge any of these questions? What action, if any, do you believe should be taken with regards to the above questions?

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  • 11
    A question every two years or so shouldn't be much of an issue. As long as they're not frequent enough I'd rather not take action.
    – dly
    Aug 23 at 14:18
  • 5
    @dly The concern is largely around trying to make all this information easy to find, instead of it being spread out over multiple questions.
    – Wipqozn Mod
    Aug 23 at 15:53
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    @dly There is no precedent for not closing questions as duplicate because they're asked infrequently enough.
    – Wrigglenite Mod
    Aug 24 at 6:01
  • If they're duplicates... that remains to be seen.
    – dly
    Aug 24 at 6:47
  • If we do decide to close minesweeper board questions for this reason, I think the same logic should be applied to other game scenarios generally that have a near 0 chance of being replicated. This was done previously with Clash of Clans, but applies to many more games to, for example Pokemon battles against other human players.
    – MBorg
    Sep 11 at 0:58
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Like I stated in the comments I'm against this suggestion.

The main reason for this simply that there are not enough Minesweeper questions. We currently have 17 questions (~2 per year) about Minesweeper, of which only a very low amount would be closed (the three questions posted above = one question every three years). The change would be extremely minor and isn't worth it.

Also SE's primary goal is solving specific problems. This is what StackOverflow is all about and I don't see why we should be any different. If we disallowed specific boards we could as well ban Minesweeper altogether, since its questions would then be better off on Math.SE or Puzzling.SE when it's only about the strategy or statistics.

I vote to keep it as-is.

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  • 1
    "Also SE's primary goal is solving specific problems" Not in the way Minesweeper questions about a single player's specific board are "specific". Questions should be helpful to more than just the asker, it's why we voted specific bases in Clash of Clans as off-topic. Besides, each of the Minesweeper questions received the same answers, which really just proves that they're duplicates of each other.
    – Wrigglenite Mod
    Aug 23 at 18:08
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    Only because the answers are similar it doesn't make the questions duplicates. Minesweeper is just like any other puzzle. The approach is similar, but still each board is different.
    – dly
    Aug 23 at 18:37
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    Precisely because each board is different we should not have individual questions for each board where someone happens to find a situation that is impossible to solve for sure. The answers are just going to be the same strategies over and over and over again.
    – Wrigglenite Mod
    Aug 23 at 18:51
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    How SE defines duplicates is less "these questions are essentially exactly the same" and more "these questions provide essentially exactly the same future value". If we go with the former interpretation, we pretty much wouldn't be able to close anything ever (except exact reposts). Not to mention that it goes against official policy and the stated goals of the site, which arguably makes it objectively wrong within the context of this site. If we go with the latter interpretation, the questions would be duplicates.
    – NotThatGuy
    Aug 31 at 8:30
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    The number of questions shouldn't matter much (unless there's an overwhelming enough number of them and they're starting to overwhelm the site as a whole). Either they are duplicates, and they should be closed, or they are not, and they should not be closed. This is true for any number of questions. The number of questions only matters in as far as how much time it makes sense to spend on this and how careful we need to be about making a decision. Although the decision made here could also have far-reaching consequences and affect questions about many other games.
    – NotThatGuy
    Aug 31 at 8:41
  • If we decide these questions are duplicates, whether this means essentially banning Minesweeper altogether is also kind of irrelevant. We probably don't want to allow something which only gives us questions we don't want.
    – NotThatGuy
    Aug 31 at 8:42
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Due to the reasons outlined in this meta question, Minesweeper questions asking to solve a specific board should be closed as duplicate of more general questions.

There is no benefit to leaving these questions open and having the same answers under each question, when the goal of duplicates, and Stack Exchange as a whole, is to have all relevant information in a single place rather than having to hunt it down on different pages. Indeed, merging questions with particularly good answers would allow us to have a very strong duplicate target for current and future questions.

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