I did try to change the third question (the only one that's closed right now, also) to answer the more general question, "What emulators are the most mature and feature-complete?", but it mustn't have been good enough for the 2 people who ejected it in the off-topic bin.


  • The question here discusses emulation in general. I'm not sure any conclusion was drawn there.
    – tQuarella
    Jun 17, 2011 at 14:09

5 Answers 5


Aside from the one badp edited to salvage, these are recommendation questions.

Clearly off-topic. Recommendations all have the same issues.

Here are a few that were stated in our long game-rec war, but this is hardly a comprehensive list:

  • Answers are equally valid, even if the criteria are extremely specific.
  • Voting is done based on popularity rather than correctness.
  • What are you talking about?
    – badp
    Jun 17, 2011 at 14:30
  • They all ask for a recommendation for an emulator. Jun 17, 2011 at 14:40
  • Fine; what about the one I edited and still was closed?
    – badp
    Jun 17, 2011 at 14:56
  • @badp That question is worded horribly, but can be salvaged. Note that this is one of the (few) times I actually didn't vote to close :P I think that question would be a good solution to all questions of this nature. Jun 17, 2011 at 15:02
  • @badp Maybe that revision is better? I voted to re-open that question. Jun 17, 2011 at 15:05
  • 1
    I disagree, because "reccomendation" in case of emulator should be intended as a technical question: most accurate emulation, most feature available, availability of the source, OS compatibility, mainteinance status... Jun 17, 2011 at 15:10
  • 3
    @michelemarcon Whether you use those criteria or not, it still has the same issues as non-technical recommendation questions. Jun 17, 2011 at 15:22
  • 4
    @michelemarcon The problem of recommendations isn't the matter of how technical the criteria is. I don't get any better points for asking "What are great open-source Mac games that are constantly patched?" than if I ask for great games featuring specific costume styles. It's still shopping.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jun 17, 2011 at 15:39
  • and I think the problem with the latest edit is that it then becomes localized ... this discussion seems to cover that edit and similar ones. While I see value in questions like this, I'm not convinced that asking them on gaming (rather than in chat) is the best approach. Jun 17, 2011 at 16:12
  • 1
    Reopened the 'global' question, closed the others as dupe so that people googling in have a prominent link to the more general resource.
    – badp
    Jun 17, 2011 at 22:59
  • @badp - The global question is now gone (AFAIK for less than 10k users anyway), meaning the duplicate links are broken
    – Robotnik Mod
    Nov 22, 2012 at 23:53
  • @Robotnik Well, let's see how well this goes...
    – badp
    Nov 23, 2012 at 11:52

My only issue is that the answers are likely to change over time.

I mean, I don't think those questions are off-topic and I don't think they should be merged into one question, as you have tried, since that is very bad for their Googlability. But those questions are technically unanswerable unless you add a "right now" or "as of today" to the title, and that makes them a little localized.

So I'm not really sure what should be done with these questions, but I think it's better let them remain open, I believe their net value for the site and the Internet at large is a positive one.

  • 2
    The same could be said regarding nearly any question asked about a game that is still being maintained. The date stamps on the question and answer should be enough of a statement of "right now". I do agree with you on that they should stay open though.
    – tQuarella
    Jun 17, 2011 at 14:18
  • @tQuarella I don't know, it doesn't seem the same to me, since I feel like emulation tools are a lot more dynamic than most games are. Some games (ahem) do get updated very frequently, however, I'll give you that.
    – Oak
    Jun 17, 2011 at 14:21
  • I closed those questions as dupe; I hope that'll help with your valid Googleability concerns.
    – badp
    Jun 17, 2011 at 23:01

Someone may object that the answer changes over time, but that's not completely true. For machines that are 10+ years old the emulation scene is quite stable and rarely appears, for example, a MegaDrive emulator that completely blows away what's already there. For every target machine there usually is a few of stable/complete emulators and that's it.

Newer machines, however, can see big changes (someone comes out with a HLE PS3 emulator that show the menu of one game, the after 6 months another emulator comes out with one games playable and so on...)


There are significant objective criteria as to which emulator is the most complete. It's called their game compatibility list. If emulator A plays 95% of games, and emulator B plays 80% of games, then emulator A is more complete than emulator A.

Example: PCSX plays pretty much everything, pSX plays rather less and ePSXe needs configuration for a significant number of games. Conclusion: PCSX is the most complete.

"Best" is more difficult as it takes into account things like emulation speed etc. as well as all the usual problems with quantifying best. For a emulator of really old systems on any modern PC though, speed is irrelevant therefore "Best" can still be taken as most complete IMO. To go back to the PS1 example: PCSX is objectively the most complete, but "best" could be about the debugging features or plugins available. Therefore "most complete" questions are not the same as "best" questions.

The complaint that answers are likely to change over time is a non-issue for most platforms. Where stable emulators exist, the pace of change is glacial. Should we ban Terraria or Minecraft questions? They're more likely to change than emulators.

Merging all the questions into one with links to emulator information is just downright stupid. The answer to "What PS1 emulator is the most complete?" is different to "What N64 emulator is the most complete?". Merging them into "Where can I find links to emulators" is like merging all Dwarf Fortress questions into "Where can I find information on Dwarf Fortress" and linking to the Magmawiki. We are a question and answer site, not a forum of links to FAQS.

As to Strixvaria's complaint that all answers are equally valid: This only applies to certain consoles, such as the gameboy which are simple enough to have hordes of emulators written for them. More complex consoles have fewer emulators with more difference between their compatibility. Nearly all boss fight/strategy questions will. If more than one emulator has 100% compatibility, answer with a list. X and Y are both 100% complete.

  • 2
    It is network policy to not host shopping recommendation questions. They just don't work on SE. What we can do is link to other resources that do the recommendations, or do nothing at all. I'd rather do whatever little we can do
    – badp
    Jun 18, 2011 at 15:52
  • 1
    Your answer outlines exactly the difference between this and a "shopping recommendation" question. There are specific answers, they are helpful to many more people, and there are easily definable criteria for a best answer. Any other issues this shares with shopping rec also apply to innumerable other questions. Jun 21, 2011 at 18:10
  • That ePSXe lets you configure everything is why I use it. It's no wonder why people think this edges on POB.
    – Mazura
    Nov 8, 2015 at 5:29

To me, these are on par with my question which was closed.

The important difference between questions like this and game rec is that with a game rec you are looking for a list of things that you might like, based on general criteria, while these questions are looking for a resource to solve a specific problem.

In addition, with a question about something like emulators, there is a best answer -- a list of the most popular emulators. The asker is looking for resources, the answers for which can be objectively judged as more or less helpful. It is my understanding of Stack Exchange that the purpose is to choose the best answer, not necessarily the correct answer.

If you really care about questions having more than one "correct" answer, then you should close all the questions about tactics in games, skill tree advancement, WoW specs, build orders, and any number of other similar types that don't currently suffer from this scrutiny. As I said in this meta question, the current criteria and follow through seem arbitrary.

I obviously disagree with the people in control here, though.

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