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Keaanu's comment in this question brings up a good point.

Questions that are "Catalogues (listing games that fit specific criteria or are like an existing game)" are off-topic, as described in the FAQ.

As such, these questions should be closed:

They'd go unnoticed as broken windows without the attention of a meta topic. Hopefully we can get rid of them quickly.

  • You can alternatively flag questions that are this obviously OT. No need to open a meta topic every single time you see something that should be closed. :) – badp Nov 20 '11 at 2:48
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You're right in that these are poor questions and should probably be closed. In fact, by the time you're reading this, I'll have already done this.

I think there's a larger, underlying issue at work here, though. It's something I've been calling the "Wrong Rock" fallacy. The fundamental idea, as I understand it, is, "These questions are valid, because they have answers." In my opinion, that is wrong. The questions may have answers, but the questions themselves are inherently unanswerable.

Imagine that someone creates a new question on Geology.Stackexchange that can be summed up in four words: "Bring me a rock". Rocks (answers) flood in, and the asker is the sole governor to determine if the answer is correct, and should be accepted, or if the answerer has brought "the wrong rock".

In a sense questions like this become, "I'll know the right answer when I see it."

This is the wrong way to build a question.

The idea of stack exchange is that questions poll experts, who are able to deliberate between each other (up/down votes and comments) and come to an agreement about the definitive merit of an answer on its own. This is why upvotes can eclipse the "accepted" answer - because the experts of the stackexchange have determined it is a better answer.

The problem with questions like these is that they break the stackexchange formula. Due to their very nature, they are often speculative and meaningless - potentially interesting trivia, but otherwise a meaningless list or collection of lists. There is no definitive correctness to be judged - it either meets the criteria of the list, or it doesn't - and that's when the voting model of stackexchange starts to break down.

So how can one avoid asking for rocks? Oftentimes a question like this ends up asking for examples of something - so why not turn the question around so that the very examples you're interested in are useful in answering the fundamental question?

For instance, don't ask, "Which games have minus/worlds?" - ask "Why do some games have minus/worlds?", with a sentence or two in the question body asking for examples of famous instances. Don't ask "Which games on Xbox360 support 3d?", ask "How can I tell if an Xbox360 game supports 3d?". "What games can I play on my Macbook Pro under Bootcamp?" is almost an okay question, because the body asks "How can I translate my system specifications so I can know what I can run under Bootcamp?".

The "Wrong Rock" fallacy is part of why Game Recommendations are considered off-topic, and also why we close "Why did the Dev's design X this way?". The elephant in the room is that "Identify-this-Game" falls squarely into this category as well.

  • I was wondering why it took you so long to post that you'd closed them all. Well said. – Invader Skoodge Oct 26 '11 at 1:02
  • @Raven This is a great post. The difference between ITG and all of these examples (both real and contrived) is that ITGs are not list questions. Whether that's a meaningful difference is a discussion for another time, I'm sure. – Matthew Read Oct 26 '11 at 13:07
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    @MatthewRead - I think that ITGs are very much list questions. – Raven Dreamer Oct 26 '11 at 13:37
  • @Raven A good ITG has a singular answer, and the OP only wants a singular answer. Vague ITGs should be closed and bad guesses should be discouraged/downvoted. No good ITG should ever have a list. – Matthew Read Oct 26 '11 at 13:41
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    @MatthewRead but only the author can make that distinction. ITG is practically defined by, "I want a rock // wrong rock". – Raven Dreamer Oct 26 '11 at 13:43
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    @Raven Good ITGs map to a unique game. Mine is an example. The sequel doesn't even fit. If that's not enough I fail to see how any "How can I" type question fits either ("I want a solution // wrong solution"). Both need to be specified enough to be answerable. If an answer given to an ITG exactly matches all details given and the OP says it's wrong, the question should be closed as NARQ (or perhaps treated the same way a "How can I" receiving that response to a valid answer would generally be -- "clarify"). – Matthew Read Oct 26 '11 at 13:55
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    @MatthewRead If the OP isn't satisfied with an answer, we should close the question? You can't just declare the OP to be wrong because someone provides "what should be" the right answer. The fact that such a thing could even be suggested should be indicative that something is seriously wrong with the current ITG system. – Raven Dreamer Oct 26 '11 at 14:35
  • @Raven It's just an alternative to closing all of them. As I noted, the same issue can occur on other questions and is handled much differently. I'd be perfectly happy with a request for more details when an answer that fits the given details is rejected, as with all other questions. The point is that ITGs are not list or "rock problem" questions if specific enough, and non-ITGs can suffer from the problem too. – Matthew Read Oct 26 '11 at 14:49
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    @MatthewRead - the reason I say ITG are list questions are because it's impossible to know what the author is looking for before they confirm or deny it. Thus, the only way to answer the question is to provide a list of possible games that meet the given criteria. This list may only be 1 answer long, but it's still a list quesiton. – Raven Dreamer Oct 26 '11 at 15:05
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    ITG questions also can't be objectively voted on by the community in order to bring to light the "best" answer, because only the asker will know the answer, and he'll only know it when he sees it. – Invader Skoodge Oct 26 '11 at 15:10
  • @StrixVaria ...and yet they are. What kind of voting do you think goes on in ITG questions? What I see certainly isn't "voting on the item" (OMG! PORTAL! +1,000!!!) What I see going on is upvotes meaning "oh yeah, I was about to suggest the same game" or "Yeah, it does fit with the description, this should be it." In other words, "yeah, this answer should be objectively correct." – badp Nov 20 '11 at 2:46
  • @badp But that's not what upvotes are supposed to be used for - it's not okay for upvotes to mean something completely different on a specific tag. The fact that people don't know when to give an upvote is an argument for ITG's removal. – Raven Dreamer Nov 20 '11 at 2:51
  • @RavenDreamer uuuuh... when is it that an upvote doesn't mean "yeah, this answer should be objectively correct"? (Except for subjective questions; I guess you can't have an objectively correct answer to a subjective question - I added "objective" here just to stress that these questions aren't even subjective.) – badp Nov 20 '11 at 2:52
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    @badp That's just it. ITG answers can't be objectively correct, as the only one in any position to make that determination is the question author. They have an objective answer, but only one person is qualified to make that categorization. – Raven Dreamer Nov 20 '11 at 3:21

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