The FAQ endorses "practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face", but prohibits "catalogues (listing games that fit specific criteria or are like an existing game)". In https://gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/20858/was-there-in-game-environment-construction-before-infiniminer-minecraft-style-pl , I described a mechanic from a game, and asked if other games had used this mechanic. The question was closed as a catalogue and labelled a game-rec.

Questions like "what are some shooters with bullet time?" should be closed because they spawn small and incomplete lists of games: the site isn't built to handle that. But some open-ended or list-like questions are permissible:

And then some are not:

What is the difference between the two groups? Here are some rationales provided for closing, or against closing:

  • If you're not looking for a specific game, this is less "identify-this-game" and more "game-rec"
  • all relevant answers are equally valid by your criteria
  • This could possibly be interpreted as a shopping recommendation and must be closed.
  • I'm not looking for the best review site without scores - I'm just looking for any site.
  • (does it seem like the person is soliciting opinions on what they should play next, directly, or indirectly through a list?)

This suggests that there are no clear criteria for identifying questions as game-rec. This is a problem, because if moderators don't know how to apply the rules, decent or salvageable questions will be closed. Even if questions are closed correctly, if newcomers can't see why their question was obviously off-topic, they'll become annoyed and stop contributing. This has been discussed before, but given the range of rationales above, I don't think the answer is being applied very well.

So, is game-rec a matter of the questions soliciting a non-particular game? What's the right criteria?

  • Besides the ITG question, all the questions in the first group have been asked in November at latest, back when we didn't have a clear position on this. Do not read too much into them :)
    – badp
    Apr 29, 2011 at 5:48
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    We have a question which elabotates on the definition of a game-rec that may help clarify things.
    – Shaun
    Apr 29, 2011 at 7:18
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    @fail any any case, I would consider all the questions in the first group on-topic. Objective, answerable, and none of them are game catalogs - not even the "mama" one, in my eyes, as I've commented there.
    – Oak
    Apr 29, 2011 at 7:19
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    Yeah, "What was the first X" is clearly not a catalog, there is only one right answer. Whether they're bad for other reasons is another issue. Apr 29, 2011 at 14:58
  • Really, -1? Ok. @Shaun I did try to find the answer before asking, check what I linked before linking :) @badp what Oak said - I listed them because I thought they were borderline but ok, not because they hadn't been closed, so no worries Apr 29, 2011 at 23:47

2 Answers 2


Requiring questions to be about a particular game would be a huge shift from where we are now. Several very highly rated recent "Question of the week" nominees have not been about a particular game.

Optimum Mazing Path (by Length)

What is kiting?

Why do console games require a button press before showing the main menu?

I agree with what has been said already about why the first 3 counter-examples you mention are OK, and I believe the fourth should be closed (as I've said on the other thread).

  • I'm not suggesting it should be a criteria, it just seemed to be part of the rationale given for closing my original question. When I tried to find more info, nothing sufficient came up, so I asked. Apr 30, 2011 at 0:05
  • @Serenity As you can see by the one answer your question got, I think there would've been a whole lot of debate over what constituted a prior example, and it would've just devolved into a list/discussion.
    – bwarner
    Apr 30, 2011 at 0:34
  • The question simply asks what the right criteria was. "Itemized list" is criteria for determining which sorts of answers are bad. "Questions that create itemized lists" is not really criteria. May 1, 2011 at 19:41

Well, for starters, you've spawned this Meta question to discuss one of your above. The "first game" questions at the top are also starting to make me concerned, but I think we'll need some time to fully analyze that class of questions. Whatever the case, their problem is not quite the same as that inspired by the two questions you presented that are closed.

Ultimately, the criteria I use as a moderator is highlighted in the post you linked, which I happened to write because of some problems of consistency and understanding. Whether everyone actually follows it strictly, that's something I encourage but do not control. But they are what I classify as the primary identifications of the problem.

The main problem qualities of game-rec (which I soon hope that we can phase out that term...) fall into two places: itemized lists and recommendations. It's a problem question as a whole if the only options I can transform the question into are one or the other. But if it's just a list rather than an itemized list, or if it isn't soliciting a list at all, then it tends to perform better.

Of your example questions, disregarding whatever policies may soon be implemented...

  • None of the first 4 are itemized lists. One seeks a list but doesn't seek an itemized list, while the other 3 all seek a singular answer. Remember that an itemized list is characterized by not only attracting items instead of answers, but that the utility of the question as a whole is as a repository of items. When there is only a single answer, it makes all of the other answers wrong, which doesn't happen in an itemized list.

  • None of the first 4 are recommendations either. You could construe the Cooking Mama one as such, but I think that's really stretching the line.

  • Both of the latter 2 are itemized lists. That's a problem. However, the second one could probably be edited into something less itemized, because...

  • Only the Funny Let's Play is a recommendation question. It's the one that seeks to solicit opinions and items, rather than address a problem or concern. It's the one you can't transform from an itemized list into an acceptable question, as the transformation would basically be "What do you think is a funny Let's Play for the PS3?". On the other hand, I think it's feasible to try and transform the game review one into a problem solving question.

Unlike Web Applications, we do not currently implement a "specific only" policy as a means of fighting off problem questions. Part of this deals with the fact that we get a lot of good, valid questions that do not deal with specific games (graphics card questions, recording gameplay...), so I'm not sure how we'd phrase such a policy to be functional with what we do allow.

I can see the validity of why one might propose such a policy. The policy applying to what is "non-specific" about a game would result in a much tighter policy than our current game-rec one. I would like to evaluate our current volume and determine more broadly what extra classes of questions this would affect, before we would be able to institute such a policy. At the moment, I do see that it has some positives, but I want to be sure that the positives truly outweigh the negatives.

  • "Itemized list" identifies the effect, not the cause. We all know scattered items-of-a-list answers are bad, but exactly which questions cause that? Nobody asks "can I have an itemized list of x" except questions like 'mama'. So mods end up guessing on the basis of seeing "games with y?", and that's not the way to go. Was my question (linked at top) an itemized list? Apr 29, 2011 at 23:57
  • I wouldn't call your question an itemized list. However, it has similar faults as the "first game of X" class of questions that, like I said, should get some additional analysis. Also, as a moderator, my job is to make sure I'm never guessing, there must be some level of certainty in my actions. Whenever I'm not sure of something, it's my duty to bring it up with others and get a reasonable understanding of the situation before progressing. Not just guess what I think might be the best course of action when I run into it.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    May 1, 2011 at 1:08

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