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In May of 2012, Backflip Studios, the team behind the iOS hit DragonVale, decided to add a new type of Dragon, the Gemstone Dragon. These dragons are associated with the month related to their name, May being Emerald, June being Pearl, and the newest one for July being the Ruby Dragon.

Stay with me, I'm going somewhere with this.

The problem with this is that it's brought about a particular type of question. Normally, questions like these wouldn't be an issue, as they bring content and traffic to the site.

There are, however, two main problems with this type of question:

  • They are of the type to show no prior research, as the information is readily available on the DragonVale wikia.
  • Seeing as how these dragons are only available for a very limited time (the month with which their birthstone is affiliated), these questions are extremely localized.

I realize questions such as these have a been a good source of reputation, and even gold badges, for some of our users, but I honestly feel they are not a good fit for our site.

What should we do about them?

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    Will they be available again next July? If so, I'd hardly call that localized. – LessPop_MoreFizz Jul 1 '12 at 19:47
  • @LessPop_MoreFizz yes, they're monthly dragons and they'll be here year to year. In fact all Dragonvale limited dragons are on recurring cycles. – Ben Brocka Jul 1 '12 at 19:49
  • @BenBrocka There's no evidence that these will be like other limited dragons. Considering they have the potential to cost the developer money (gems being free as opposed to normally having to pay for them), I wouldn't be surprised if it was just a one-shot deal. – Niro Jul 1 '12 at 20:11
  • @Fluttershy doubtful, the gems you get from them are pretty pitiful. They already have protections in place to make them extremely difficult to get and at max you'll get 12 gems a week; the Coliseum gives 15 gems in 3 days if you're lucky. – Ben Brocka Jul 1 '12 at 20:52
  • "Only available in one month" is only too localized once that month is over. – badp Jul 2 '12 at 11:27
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    I think mentioning that it's only available during a certain month in either the question or answer fixes the too localized problem for things like this. As another example, say someone asks "How do I get the Whatever-Pet in WOW?" and the only way to have gotten it was to go to BlizzCon 2009 or something. The answer is still valid and it still deals with a problem someone has... just because the answer is "too late, buddy!" doesn't really mean it's too localized, IMO. It gives the asker useful information, versus being left to wonder why they can't find that pet because we refuse to answer. – Sterno Jul 2 '12 at 13:23
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I think the main problem here is your example authors likely know the answers but didn't bother to post the answer. Per Encyclopedia Stack Exchange I think the best option is to go ahead and post an answer with all the information you know, since playing a dummy doesn't really make sense. This is what I do when I post the new dragons. Full disclosure: I've posted several of these Dragonvale questions and I almost always self-answer with a complete answer. Now regarding self-answers, some people say it's more fair to let someone else get the rep for answering, but that's not the real point of Stack Exchange.

Remember the point of Stack Exchange is "to make the internet a better place", we do this by solving problems, and helping other people solve those problems too. Nearly one hundred thousand people saw the Pearl Dragon question and I'd wager a fair amount of them left knowing something about how to get the dragon they wanted. That's what we're here for, full stop.

Sure, users didn't get tons of precious reps, and it might seem slightly unfair that an "easy" question works so well. But that's not the point; the point is sharing information.

It's also important to note that unlike famous but ill-fitting questions on Stack Overflow, these questions are just fine by the FAQ. They are practical, answerable questions gamers face.

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    I understand the point you are making here. I think the biggest issue, for me at least, is the first bullet point. I understand the reason behind asking, but I tend to agree that questions should be asked if the information was not readily available elsewhere. The majority of these questions are readily available, and easy to find. – Niro Jul 1 '12 at 23:11
  • @Fluttershy the fact that they get a lot of hits here seems to indicate we're filling a niche. – Ben Brocka Jul 2 '12 at 2:01
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    @Fluttershy - frankly, this site is easier to find information on than any of the Wikia sites with their annoying pop-ups. I'd rather have the info here. Also, the SE sites always rank high on Google searches, so an answer here is more likely to be "found" by people. – au revoir Jul 2 '12 at 2:53
  • +1 for "to make the internet a better place ... by solving problems ... That's what we're here for, full stop." – Wikwocket Jul 2 '12 at 6:02
  • I'll throw out there that I often ask these questions via mobile, and it is not so easy to post at all via that interface. When it comes to the answer, I think it works best to include pictures of the egg, and hyperlinks. I'd be happy to answer my own question, but you can bet one of the other Dragonvaler's will be on it in less than 30 minutes (which is before I can get to it). I am a huge advocate of the questions themselves, as they provide a searchable direct answer to the question. – EBongo Jul 10 '12 at 1:26
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    Via mobile (and remember - the game is mobile) - it is not at all easy to search the wiki, even when you know what you are looking for. In a few seconds users get an answer from Google via our site, rather than many frustrating minutes of pinch zooms via the wiki. – EBongo Jul 10 '12 at 1:28
  • @EBongo Mobile...so that's how you get to ask them before me. Great point though; unlike many sites (and dragonvale Wiki) we have a decent mobile site. – Ben Brocka Jul 10 '12 at 1:28
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In addition to my comments on BenBrocka's answer, let me also state that for other mobile/casual games we should have more questions like these.

I appreciate Fluttershy bringing it up, because I think it is a worthwhile discussion. My opinion stems from the fact that mobile/casual games are inherently more "snack sized" in nature - and the concept of too localized should be looked at in a different dimension. If you look at these questions through the lense of Skyrim or Diablo 3, sure - they are much smaller in scope (both time and content) - but so are the games themselves. Answers may not be relevant in a month, but for that month they may be almost the only question that matters. Also, given the evolving nature of patches and DLC the flagship games are becoming more time sensitive too. A great question this month may be irrelevant after the next patch - who knows?

I believe the views tell the story. If a question like this is getting 10k+ views, it is helping many more people than even many/most questions on the flagships like Skyrim, ME, and D3. The first part of the "Too Localized" reason states "This question is unlikely to help any future visitors" - here we know that for at least a month it will help thousands.

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I think those questions are fine, though I don't know the specific game in question. But they got 10k+ views, so they seem to be relevant to a significant number of people.

My interpretation of the "too localized" close reason is pretty restrictive, a topic that might be only relevant for a small geographic location or time is still relevant enough for me if a significant number of people are interested in it. I consider the true purpose of the "too localized" close reason to be questions that are of no use to anyone except the user asking it, a question that a few thousand people are interested is relevant enough, even if it is restricted to a short time.

One might make an argument that those questions should be deleted after they are no longer relevant, but I personally wouldn't bother with it. I imagine that they might be still of some interest to players of that game afterwards (to guess patterns for future dragons, or something like that), but as I don't know the game I'm open to being corrected here.

As for questions being too simple, I don't think we should close based on that for new games. When a game is just released, most online resources are a mess, the wikis are chaotic, not to speak of the forums. If we can provide a succinct answer to a specific problem, we are providing something of value. Not to speak of the fact that SE doesn't have obnoxious advertising, as opposed to e.g. Wikia.

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    I can personally testify to Gaming.SE being one of exactly two Dragonvale resources that aren't a cluster-eff when a new dragon is released. The other option is the Dragonvale Wiki, but dragging the info out of the Wiki involves a lot more noise. We also show up in the top results for "new dragon name breeding" on Google like 5 minutes after posting the question. – Ben Brocka Jul 1 '12 at 19:53
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Why not have a community wiki page with all of the dragon breeding patterns, including dates of availability? Once its up and running we could merge all the old breeding questions into it.

Its highly searchable, doesn't involve deleting the questions, and means that we quit seeing variations of the same question all day every day. Its also more convenient for the people that actually want the content to simply have one page with all the breeding patterns rather than dozens of individual page

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    Why is Community Wiki in any way better? It's also substantially less searchable from search engines than the current solution. – LessPop_MoreFizz Jul 1 '12 at 21:54
  • same question all day every day there's usually about three new dragons a month. That's hardly "all day every day". And yeah, agree with LessPop, throwing them all in one question won't help searchability at all, it will actively harm it. And it wouldn't stop it from being bumped each time there's an edit, so it would show on the front page exactly as often. – Ben Brocka Jul 1 '12 at 21:54

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