In this question, Raven Dreamer and I have been arguing over whether or not the question should be closed or not. It is asking about the cause of a Minecraft bug, which can be exploited to turn Redstone into Obsidian.

I believe it to be on topic, as the bug manifests itself as an unplanned gameplay element (Obsidian farming), just like boosters, and the explanation of the causes might help in other ways to farm obsidian. Likewise, understanding the causes of other bugs (Missingno. in Pokemon and boosters for another Minecraft example) allow users to understand more elements of them, such as how to obtain Pokemon not obtainable in the user's version, or why boosters need to stop every so often.

Raven Dreamer's opinion is quoted here:

you're effectively asking for someone to debug minecraft. It's not a useful question, especially since, as a bug, it will be fixed.


@Macha - the difference is that that question is asking about the bug. I.e., how you accessed it. This question is "okay, this is bugged. [Video proof]. Why?"

What is the opinion of other users regarding these questions?


2 Answers 2


I don't believe that questions regarding bugs are inappropriate in general, but there exists a line which separates answerable bug-related questions from bug-based speculations.

In the case of the Missingno. related question, the original question was "What's the bug on cinnabar island that can mess up your save?" This can be reduced into a more general category of "Bug avoidance". I.e., "How can I avoid bug X?" As luck would have it, people are familiar enough with the pokemon red|blue code to not only explain why it happens, but that information went above and beyond the original question.

Here's a (non-inclusive) list of what I think are "answerable" bug-related questions.

  • "How do I avoid/prevent bug X?"

  • "If I've triggered bug X, how do I fix it?"

  • "I triggered bug X, what does this mean for my game? / can I still do/get Y?"

All of these questions have definite answers, even if that answer might be "there's nothing you can do."

In contrast, the minecraft question that prompted this discussion was the following:

"I found this bug. Why does this bug happen?"

Said this way, the question seems like it might have an answer, but what I see the question as really asking is: "I found this bug. What developer oversight causes this bug to happen?"

There are a few main problems with this:

  • Irrelevancy of subject matter. The question is not really about the bug, or even the game, it's about the underlying code that runs the game-engine, and thus falls outside of our scope. I think a question like this might be valid on another sight, however...

  • Speculative nature of the question. Unless the developer themselves comes in to explain what went wrong with the code, there is no way to verify the correctness of any supplied answers. That means that any answers provided within the context of the site are speculative. Speculative questions should be closed, and indeed, already are.

I could see a case for asking this if the behavior that triggers the bug is unknown, but that would then fall into "bug avoidance / prevention", as outlined above, as the intent of the question is not why the bug behaves as it does, but how to prevent the bug from occurring in the first place. See: "Why am I paying for dirt?"

I might add more to this later. I'm having trouble thinking straight. (I blame the fumes from my roommates insecticides)

  • "I'm having trouble thinking straight" - well, it still sounds right to me. +1.
    – Oak
    Apr 22, 2011 at 23:16
  • I read that as "what did I do to trigger this bug," rather than "what programming error caused this to happen" honestly.
    – badp
    Apr 23, 2011 at 7:52
  • 1
    As the answerer of the Missingno. question, I completely agree. That question, as posed, was absolutely atrocious, and I decided to give more detail than was really asked for in my answer in an attempt to salvage the question. It was the epitome of "above and beyond the original question". Apr 23, 2011 at 12:10

Discussing bugs in beta software (e.g. Minecraft as of now) seems totally inappropriate for this site, as they are highly prone to go away and/or change, so the question will be worthless later on.

As for why bugs happen, it's because the code is broken, and that's what happens. If you have the source go debug it over on Stack Overflow. (This is a weaker argument than the prior, but that does not detract from what's said above.)

If you want to replicate existing bugs, e.g. the Misingno pokemon or whatever, which can be interesting bits of trivia and get you to 110% in the game, then sure, those belong here.

  • Previous discussion regarding just bugs in general (which supported booster questions, another bug when Minecraft was in Alpha) was favourable to the questions: meta.gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/1980/…
    – Macha
    Apr 22, 2011 at 20:53
  • @Macha, Minecart boosters presented a unique, widespread gameplay use, and questions about "why" they did it were ultimately because it was useful to know how to design different ones.
    – Nick T
    Apr 22, 2011 at 21:49
  • Nick, that doesn't make them less of bugs that are about to be fixed thanks to powered tracks.
    – badp
    Apr 23, 2011 at 7:53

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