There's question type which has bugged me for a while: "Can someone provide me with a Guide for game X"? They seem to clearly fall under "Shopping Advice and Recommendation", and should therefore be closed as off-topic. However, we've never closed them and have several of them on the site. Some of these questions are just poorly worded, and others will need to be closed.

Drawing from these two wonderful answers by Miss Note, guide questions seem to fall under all the criteria listed as being an off-topic recommendation. She lists three criteria we can use to determine this:

  1. A Shopping Recommendation: I think this one goes without saying. It's just a matter of opinion. "I suggest guide X because I like it."

  2. An Itemized List: I also feel like this one goes without saying. All the questions will be is users listing guides they like.

  3. Can the Question be Reworded into a Question about a Practical Problem: Some "Can I have a guide for X?" questions are just poorly worded, and are asking an actual problem. In these situations the question should just be edited to better represent the actual problem and question, because we should be doing this anyways.

    Questions which consist of nothing more than "CAn I have a guide of X?" should be closed as either off-topic or not a real question. Off-Topic should be used when there is no problem presented in the actual question body, because then it's just a shopping recommendation. not a real question should be used when either a really broad or vague problem is presented, since that's the what not a real question stands for.

So why is it we've allowed these questions up until now, and is it time we've changed this policy to begin closing questions which are just users asking for a guide for X?

  • @StrixVaria The ones I listed in my question are just a small selection of opened guide questions (some of which can be reworded as outlined in point 3)
    – Wipqozn Mod
    Jun 20, 2012 at 22:24
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    It should be noted that most of your examples are nearly two years old, and most of them have well written, entirely home grown, and complete answers. Your failure to cherry pick examples, while admirable, does not help your argument. Jun 21, 2012 at 1:38
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    @LessPop_MoreFizz: My sample base was meant to represent questions was meant to be represent both salvageable questions (ones with poor titles) and those which are really a problem, which in should give some idea as to the ratio of real guide rec questions to poorly worded questions.
    – Wipqozn Mod
    Jun 21, 2012 at 10:32

3 Answers 3


Why do we allow them?

Because we're Gamers, not Pedants.

Okay, well those of us posting on Meta probably are pedants, but we should endeavour to restrain our pedantry insofar as it risks driving away users.

The thing is, most of the time, when someone asks for a 'guide to x', they're really asking 'how do I get through x' or 'how do I use x well'. And if you look at most of the open questions with the word guide in them, you'll find that most of them have pretty good answers. Some of those answers link offsite, others are entirely self contained, but nearly none of them end up as 'lists of things' of the sort that we have trouble with. For instance, this answer is exceptional, and doesn't link offsite at all. Just because the asker used a word you're not happy with to describe his problem does not mean his question is invalid in any way, or even, I'd argue, in need of editing. Our users are pretty damned good at knowing how to properly respond to these questions for the most part.

Now, some requests for offsite resources really are recommendation questions of another flavor, and those are problem questions, and we're generally pretty good at closing those.

But, we really don't want to get into the business of closing and deleting questions over a failure to invoke the magic words (or not invoke the forbidden ones, as the case may be). In most cases, the intent of the asker is pretty clear, and if there are other issues with a question, as was the case with this mornings tempest in a teapot, then yes, by all means, clean it up to remove the word 'guide' if it annoys you so much. But to start a witch hunt over this seems exceedingly silly and shortsighted to me. The proper way to deal with these questions is to encourage and reward quality answers, while discouraging and downvoting low quality linkdumps and lists.

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    I agree that we should assume "Do you have a guide to X?" means "How do I X?" by default, but it's frequently the case that the asker really does want links to off-site resources, and the link dump answers wind up getting accepted. If we wanted to replace our pedant caps with bureaucrat caps, we should be enforcing SE's deletion policy regarding link-only answers more strongly, which would help to fix some broken windows.
    – user3389
    Jun 21, 2012 at 4:19
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    I don't think you read my post close enough, as I outlined in point 3, if the question can be rewritten to "How do I do X?" it's not Really a guide question in the first place, just poorly written. It's questions that can't be rewritten that I'm claiming are the ones that can't be salvaged and should be burned.
    – Wipqozn Mod
    Jun 21, 2012 at 10:12
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    Some examples that I linked in my question which fell under that criteria (as I outlined in my comments, I was just listing both kind of questions that were asking for guides, and not just ones which couldn't be salvaged, for the sake of completeness)
    – Wipqozn Mod
    Jun 21, 2012 at 10:15
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    Also, I disagree with your stance that questions which are "Is there a guide for X?" don't need rewording when they are really asking something else. If the title isn't an accurate representation of the actual question body, then it's terrible and should be reworded. "Is there a guide for x?" is a useless title which tells you nothing if the body is asking about an actual problem. The BF3 question you linked being a good example of that.
    – Wipqozn Mod
    Jun 21, 2012 at 10:28

I present the following suggestion:

  • Questions asking for a Guide of X which can't be reworded into an actual problem should be closed as off-topic.

  • Questions asking for a Guide which can be reworded, but would then be too broad or vague, should be closed as not a real question until the asker refines their question.

  • Questions which can be reworded into an actual problem, or just have titles misrepresenting their problem, should be reworded. Questions which are poorly worded, or just have bad titles, are supposed to be reworded anyways; this isn't anything special.

  • Sounds perfect to me. Jun 22, 2012 at 4:33

I never thought we allowed these in the first place. Any that are still open (no matter how numerous they may be) are likely oversights.

I don't see any reason to keep these open. We should be hosting quality content that helps gamers solve problems on our site, not merely serve as a repository of links to quality content elsewhere.

LessPopMoreFizz's answer to a separate question asking about why we closed a specific case of this is a good resource here. Guide questions are bad at being questions, although linking to a guide my be a viable addition to an answer. That decision, however, should be the answerer's, not the asker's.

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    Not all kind of questions can find an answer on our site. Questions that ask for external resources for help we can't provide are useful for the community.
    – badp
    Jun 20, 2012 at 22:28
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    @QAdp Are we experts on providing links to external resources for help we can't provide? :P Seriously though, external references should be supports for good answers, they shouldn't be the answers themselves. We're not a let-me-Google-that-for-you service any more than a recommendation service. Jun 20, 2012 at 22:46
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    @MatthewRead I disagree. There are times when an external source really is the only good answer. Arqade is not an Island. Jun 21, 2012 at 16:23

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