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When someone says they're running an unmodded game, such as vanilla minecraft server, should we encourage answers that say "Well, if you mod your game, you can do X to solve your problem"? It seems like every minecraft-smp question has at least one answer that begins "First, install Bukkit" and every skyrim question has at least one answer that begins "Open the console" (not technically a mod, I know, but it's PC-only and outside the realm of normal gameplay, so it has the same feel to it).

In my experience, you get a lot of people who are willing to do anything to peruse the perfect gaming experience, including console-hacks and mods, but you also get a lot of people who want to play the game as it was developed, no alterations. For them, answers that boil down to "install extra shit and/or hack your game" are useless. Should we care?

Some examples: This question has one answer that works with the user's setup, one that suggests another mod which may or may not be compatible with their stated setup (no mention in the answer), and one that says to switch to a totally different server setup which also is probably incompatible.

This question specifically mentioned using vanilla and therefore not using Bukkit plugins, and an answer was given today saying "Use Bukkit" despite two other vanilla suggestions existing.

This question also specifies vanilla, and one answer says "Use Bukkit" followed by an edit that basically says "I know you said you use vanilla, but use Bukkit anyway."

Before this question was closed, it said in all caps, "NO BUKKIT", and it managed to attract an answer that says "use Bukkit." It was closed as a duplicate of this question, to which most of the answers are "use Bukkit".

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    This really bothers me too. I don't like how people automatically jump to mods/console commands to fix problems. Solutions should be given within the context of the game. – Invader Skoodge Jan 17 '12 at 14:36
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  • @TobiasKienzler Win. Now my coworkers are giving me odd looks for laughing – Yamikuronue Jan 18 '12 at 18:43
  • @Yamikuronue mission accomplished :-) – Zommuter Jan 18 '12 at 18:53
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I totally agree with you.

You should downvote answers that do not apply (answers that suggests mods if the question states they are not desired, answers that do not specify if a mod is compatible, etc... basically, the ones you listed there)

To summarize: Downvote, it's cool.

  • I did downvote the latest one (on my question), but many of the others have multiple upvotes, so I thought I'd bring it up to the community. – Yamikuronue Jan 17 '12 at 14:47
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    +1 Downvote-phobia is a real problem. – LessPop_MoreFizz Jan 17 '12 at 15:52
  • Sorry, I disagree. Downvoting an answer because it doesn't match a restriction which other users with the same question don't necessarily have, is downvoting for the wrong reason – Zommuter Jan 18 '12 at 18:52
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I think there's an important distinction between a question saying that they're running vanilla and a question explicitly asking for a non-modded solution. Just because a user is running vanilla, doesn't mean that they're hellbent on non using mods. In this case, I think answers suggesting mods is just fine. In the other case, though, I think "not an answer" applies, since it explicitly answered the question as it was asked.

There are times when mods legitimately don't work (possibly because of conflicts with other mods) or because the user doesn't want to install software from another party. Either way, I think explicitly specifying that you are looking for vanilla answers is important.

Going back to your title question, though, as to why mods are frequently the answer: because it's usually easier than reinventing the framework mods like bukkit provide.

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I sympathize, as I don't like to mod much, and finding that the only ways to do something I want require mods is quite depressing.

However, often times the only way to do what the OP asks for it to mod it. In some cases, the real answer is "Mod it or it's impossible".

Take the weather question. Until recently, that was impossible without mods. Should we have left all the people who do mod without an answer just because the rest of us don't want to?

(However, I really dislike when people suggest something the question explicitly disallowed. Like Juan said, downvote those.)

  • Technically, it's not "impossible" without the use of mods, but in a lot of cases the solution would essentially require reimplementing a lot of work already performed by modders. If it can be written by modders, it can be done without those mods. It just might be a lot of duplicated work. I'm just arguing semantics though, I agree with your answer – Dave McClelland Jan 17 '12 at 19:33
  • @DaveMcClelland Are you referring to the user modifying the source of their game? If so, that would still fall under modding, wouldn't it? So "Mod it or it's impossible" is still correct, and we are pointlessly arguing semantics. :P – John the Green Jan 17 '12 at 23:08
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    Good point - I was arguing more the phrase "I don't want to use bukkit." Technically it wouldn't be bukkit :) – Dave McClelland Jan 17 '12 at 23:25
  • I totally agree. A modding answer is better than "You can't do that" or (more honest though) "I can't do that" – Zommuter Jan 18 '12 at 18:56
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I can at least address why the "Open the console" responses are so prevalent.

The list of bugs in Skyrim is huge. Although almost none of them are show stopping (i.e. you can't play the game anymore), a lot of them have no workarounds at all (without using the console).

Rather than leaving those questions dangling, at least posting a solution for PC players is better than nothing. And its better than just hoping Bethesda will patch it.

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    I don't follow Skyrim questions, but it seems like I've seen answers involving the console while some others do it with gameplay (which makes the console answers seem like blatant cheating) – Nick T Jan 17 '12 at 18:21
  • Both are valid though. If working around a quest bug takes me 15 minutes of ridiculous contortions to pull it off in-game, or 5 seconds of a console command, I'd like to know my options! – Sterno Jan 17 '12 at 18:56
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    @Sterno I'm referring to things like (not an actual example, just one in spirit), Q: "How do I make a lot of money", A1: "Level up pickpocketing and mug rich people", A2: "Open the console and type gimmetehcash" – Nick T Jan 17 '12 at 19:35
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    @NickT I guess I see where you're coming from, because while I feel that such "cheats" are not only valid but useful, I guess I'd hope that those wouldn't end up being the only answers, or the accepted answers, if other means existed. Still, if someone asks how to get 1 million gold in the game, I think telling them how to do it with the console in 5 seconds versus grinding it out in 10 hours is valid. – Sterno Jan 17 '12 at 19:54
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I disagree with Juan's post. Asking for a Minecraft multiplayer solution without bukkit may not be the same as, e.g. asking a windows programming question without using the WINAPI, but adding additional restrictions to questions is, in the exaggerated case, actually a reason to close a question as too localized.

One can of course add "solutions that don't involve modding are appreciated", but SE is not about the individual asking the question, it is about everyone happening to have a very similar question. The OP is free to only accept answers respecting their constraint, but the community should not base their own votes on this. If they disagree with modding but don't know if the answer won't actually be simpler than any vanilla-solution (if existing), they should keep their vote neutral and instead only upvote the other answer. If the mod is harmful or the answer actually useless, then of course, downvote.

Someone else having the same question but willing to accept modding (or different compatibility issues) will still be grateful to see a potentially quicker solution that some other users confirmed working by upvotes that were not countered by "may work but doesn't fulfil the constraint"-downvotes.

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    Windows without a core feature of windows is way different from Minecraft with a 3rd-party mod. – Invader Skoodge Jan 18 '12 at 20:26
  • @StrixVaria please note the quantifier "may not be the same" :-P ok, maybe I should have named a famous but not mandatory library... – Zommuter Jan 18 '12 at 21:06
  • Sorry. I'm bad at reading :( – Invader Skoodge Jan 18 '12 at 21:54
  • @StrixVaria nah, that's ok, I'm just as lazy when it comes to walls of text - actually I don't know since whem I'm posting these myself :-/ – Zommuter Jan 19 '12 at 6:14
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    Since when is "the way the game comes in the box" an excessive additional restriction to "in game X"? Or rather, if I ask "in game X, can I do Y?" I don't see how adding "without mods" makes the question too localized. It's kind of implicit in the "in game X" part. With mods, you're not doing it in game X, you're doing it in "a modified version of game X". It's like saying "You can't do that in Bedazzled but you can in Bejeweled which is basically the same thing". The only difference is mods are usually free. – Yamikuronue Jan 19 '12 at 14:50
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    @Yamikuronue What about games that come boxed with modding tools? Is there a reasonable expectation that modding is an acceptable way to answer a question at that point? Minecraft has long had plans to introduce a modding API, and when the is implemented, will minecraft mods become acceptable to answers not specifying a preference for or against? – Dave McClelland Jan 19 '12 at 17:48

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