I posted a question concerning the game "Scan Most Bluetooth Devices" and it was closed pretty quickly as off topic. As an avid user of many Stack Exchange Sites I thought I have figured out by now what is considered on- and off-topic - in this case I don't get the reason at all.

According to the FAQ, questions about "Gameplay strategies and tactics" are on-topic and that's what my question was all about. How can I maximize my score/time ratio (gameplay strategy) in a computer game (android games are on topic if I didn't miss something) in a given surrounding (big city, which shouldn't be considered too localized).

Unfortunately no one added a comment why it is considered off topic, at least not by now. Can anyone help me to see what I did wrong and how I can salvage the question?


Although I do not understand why the question at hand gets down voted, I will not ask about that but focus on the answers instead. I came to the conclusion that the main reason for being off topic was that "Scan Most Bluetooth Devices" does not fit the definition of a video game because no direct image manipulation takes place. It also seems inappropriate to ask about strategies that involve factors not entirely controlled by the game itself (like distribution of people). The question was also too localized because cultural aspects were not considered.

Thank you all for the helpful clarifications. Time for some Bluetooth hunting!

  • 8
    I wouldn't call this a 'video game'.
    – fredley
    Apr 12, 2012 at 15:36
  • 8
    "As an avid user of many Stack Exchange Sites I thought I have figured out by now what is considered on- and off-topic" I'd just like to point out that knowing what is on and off-topic on one site doesn't help you much on other sites. Every site has it's own set of rules, and sometimes they vary greatly. For example we burn recommendation questions with fire, but many other sites allow them.
    – Wipqozn Mod
    Apr 12, 2012 at 15:39
  • 4
    @fredley I find this interesting in that we're determining exactly where our line is. Is "The Great Land Grab" a video game? Are questions about the pedometer from Pokemon on-topic? Exactly how much does a game's mechanics have to be about real life to be off-topic? Apr 12, 2012 at 15:41
  • @IanPugsley AFAIK we don't have some kind of flow-chart for deciding whether a game is on-topic (maybe we should!). For now I think we just take aim at stuff that's clearly off topic.
    – fredley
    Apr 12, 2012 at 15:44
  • 2
    @fredley I'm not asking for a flow chat, I'm suggesting that "clearly off topic" is entirely subjective. Apparently numerous people agree that this is off-topic - I'm wondering where exactly that line is. Apr 12, 2012 at 15:50
  • 3
    @Ian I'm just saying we don't have a line, we decide on a case-by-case basis
    – fredley
    Apr 12, 2012 at 16:08
  • 1
    I'm happy to share my downvote reason, this game looked very sketchy and a case of "A 'game' that is mostly used to collect information about other user's bluetooth devices and whatever open information they might be accidently exposing and transmit to an agency with malicious purposes". The downvote was to try to discourage further discussion about this application.
    – Resorath
    Apr 12, 2012 at 18:57
  • 2
    @Resorath It seems a lot like a, "Hey look! Earn points for helping me spread my BotNet!!"
    – Adanion
    Apr 12, 2012 at 19:36
  • @Adanion - Thanks for sharing your concern. I skimmer over the source code of the current version and couldn't find the slightest indication for a malicious payload. Can you give me a more specific pointer where you suspect such ill behavior?
    – Demento
    Apr 12, 2012 at 21:01
  • @Resorath - I thank you as well for sharing your concern. Please help me understand what you are worried about. From what I have seen so far, the only information gathered from the devices is the device name and the mac address. What should an attacker do with this information that's bad enough to discourage playing the game?
    – Demento
    Apr 12, 2012 at 21:10
  • 6
    1) The app's mere existence acts as a proof-of-concept for imitators with it with shadier intent. 2) The way apps are updated means a payload could be introduced further down the line when users believe the app to be safe. 3) Even if the game doesn't have a payload, the statistical data gathered could be used to plan strategies for future attacks. 4) Even if the developer's intentions are benign, the underlying database could be compromised by ne'er-do-wells and used for other intentions. 5) Gathering any data from other people's devices without their consent is a pretty douchey thing to do.
    – raveturned
    Apr 13, 2012 at 12:37

3 Answers 3


A Definition of video game

1.A game played by electronically manipulating images produced by a computer program on a television screen or other display screen

When you are playing the game, you are not manipulating images. Your strategy question doesn't involve the manipulation of images (video gameplay).

Dwarf fortress uses images rendered (by default) in ascii.

MUDS and other text-based games use imagery convey'd via text.

  • 2
    +1: Ok, so the game itself is off topic because it is not considered a video game. I didn't get this requirement, I thought any computer games are on topic. Thx!
    – Demento
    Apr 12, 2012 at 16:27
  • I wonder what people think about zombiesrungame.com
    – Amy B
    Apr 12, 2012 at 17:29
  • I have no idea, but this game looks like fun =). If I understood the feedback here correctly, a question like "should I run at a constant speed or mix it up when I get chased by a zombie" would be off topic, while "should I invest rather in water or medicine" would be on topic.
    – Demento
    Apr 12, 2012 at 21:45
  • @Demento Both your examples would be on topic. How you run from the zombie is something you control, unlike the frequency of bluetooth devices at various locations. Something about how to run for a long time, however, would be off topic, as we aren't fitness experts here. Apr 13, 2012 at 11:48
  • 9
    Honestly, this is the worst answer because, despite the origin of the term "video game" having to do with video, that is not necessarily a requirement of games any more. Apr 13, 2012 at 12:02
  • @StrixVaria read the whole answer - I included games that have imagery - not just games that have graphical output.
    – Amy B
    Apr 13, 2012 at 13:51
  • @AmyB, how do you feel about 3DS streetpass questions then? Would "How do I/What's the best way to meet 5 female Miis in a row?" be off-topic? Because you can't 'manipulate' the meetings, but what you do afterwards based on who you met would count as 'manipulation'.
    – Gwen
    Apr 16, 2012 at 5:58

We are a site about in-game strategy and tactics.

The "strategy" that you're asking about is an out-of-game luck-of-the-draw phenomenon, and doesn't fit within the realm of what we do or what we're experts in at all.

It's also a list question, which is a Bad Thing™.

  • +1: Yes, I can see the point about the list question, although I was hoping for an answer like "At the typical starbucks I am able to get 12 Devices per minute, which is the highest output I could achieve over time so far". This makes answers comparable. But yes, it has the touch of a list question.
    – Demento
    Apr 12, 2012 at 16:31

I very much agree with @StrixVaria, but just want to give a little more information about why I commented that this question is too localised.

  • Any answer will be a generic listing of places that have lots of people, not at all specific to the game.
  • Any answer given to you, may not be helpful for people in other cities. It depends on the people.
  • Encouraging people to hang around outside schools can't be good.
  • +1: Thanks for the clarification, I wondered about that as well. I am not sure about your first point, because I was thinking about things like cinemas or the beach as well. But people are unlikely to have activated bluetooth devices there I guess. So the game specific challenge of finding active bluetooth devices does not always equal finding many people. I agree with your second point, that culture might influence the results a lot and that there might be other hot spots in Japan compared to Paris for example.
    – Demento
    Apr 12, 2012 at 16:37

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