Spawning from dispute over this question about sensitivity settings in console FPS games, what should we do about questions in the category "Why is this standard practice in the industry?"
Note: This idea and policy should apply to the class of questions brought up in the original post. This does not mean that it necessarily applies to the specific example question, which may not belong to that class.
Downvote, Close, Delete
Q: How is this different from "Why did they design it that way?" questions?
A: It's not.
Trying to make a distinction between these two is only going to lead to arguments over shades of gray. We already have a policy on this, and we don't seem to be having much difficulty enforcing it. The question you liked was already closed by the community.
Seriously, what is the difference between: "Why do the characters in TF2 have melee weapons?" and "Why do so many FPS games recently have melee attacks?" Nothing. They're both poor questions for our format, and should both be treated the same way. Neither has any reason to be on our site.
I think this question is fine, even if it's not excellent, and I disagree adamantly with assertions that it's "The same as 'why did they design it that way' questions".
This question isn't asking why the feature is standard in the industry. The exact history of the feature is (probably) not documented very well, because it's not really important. That question isn't suitable here with the burnination of the trivia tag, and probably wouldn't be suitable on GameDev.SE either. It's also not asking about a specific developer, and game element, but about a generally recognized feature in many modern games of a given genre. Even if he were asking about a specific element in a specific game by a specific developer, this would not simply be an unanswerable, 'why did they design it that way?' question.
The asker here wants to know what the purpose, or function of the adjustable sensitivity feature is. This is not the same thing as what I discussed above. The question is answerable, in fact more answerable than some questions I've seen go by on the site recently. There are specific reasons for giving players the option to choose their own sensitivity (see here). This isn't exactly what's going on, but we don't get to tell users on the site what they can and can't ask about just because we don't see the question as an issue. I'm sure most of us already know what adjustable sensitivity is for; great for us. That doesn't mean everyone else does. But I digress.
This is not an off-topic question, nor is it even a terribly bad question. It might not be an amazing question, but the asker seems to think it's important, and who are we to tell him that he's wrong? It seems to me that people have been stopping after 'why do' without looking at the entire question objectively. I fail to see any difference between this question and questions like this one (why do people use a certain strategy), and this one (general industry trivia).
As far as the whole argument about this question being more suitable to GameDev.SE goes... I just don't see it. The second question I linked above might actually be more at home there, but a question about why you would ever want to use the adjustable sensitivity feature in a game, and what the benefits are easily belongs here, as far as I'm concerned. That wouldn't even make much sense as a question on GameDev, which is more geared towards questions like "How wide a range should I allow players to adjust their sensitivity in?".
Migrate to GameDev.SE
Big Honking Disclaimer: I can speak only from my own experience
I asked on Game Dev why games like Mass Effect 2 disabled save functionality during combat, and got several very good answers.
It seems that the question about sensitivity is similar to my question, and may be suited to that community as well.
Don't burn the house down with lemons
I think these are questions that are valid and answerable questions. Unrelated to gaming (mostly) but a possible example within this category is Why do we use a mouse on a computer? And there is a lot of evidence surrounding this material (see Fitt's Law, et al) as to why it has been chosen as an industry standard.
Most games today run play tests, and some game studios are starting to even run studies on practices within the industry (something we as gamers should learn about and encourage). It is conceivable to have answers in this category that belong to decisions made based on research rather than those just made arbitrarily and these are interesting and valuable questions. In fact, they are, in my opinion, some of the most interesting cross-game questions we could ask here on gaming.
I've heard a few say that these questions might be a better fit on GameDev.SE rather than here, but just because something can be asked in either place does not mean it is off topic here. The question as stated is not about the development of a game, but about the games themselves. It is from the perspective of a gamer, not a developer, and as such is a better fit here.
But what about the
children arbitrary decisions?
Stating that there is no known research that supports the decision made by the industry is completely valid answer. We can say that this decision industry wide was not made (at least not with public knowledge) based on any information other than its success or on preferences by developers. "Because people saw others doing it and decided to do it themselves" is a valid answer (though my reflex is to cringe at that answer a little) as long as the leg work has been done to investigate that conclusion.