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Consider these questions:

Most of these are open with a few upvotes. One of these is closed as off-topic. Does one of them strike you as particularly off-topic, compared to all the others?

I'm calling for some consistency in how these are handled, or clearer guidelines on what makes most of these on-topic except the one.

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    What you don't see is all the technical issues questions that are closed and deleted. – Frank Oct 25 '12 at 20:20
  • If the community wanted your question open again we would vote to open it.. Hop into the G.SE chat room (The Bridge) and talk to the people there, if you can convince them its as on topic as the rest then we will vote to open it up again at least.. But the truth is we just think you will actually be able to get an answer over on SU instead of here as here, we are clueless about this. – James Oct 25 '12 at 20:21
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    TBH, at least some of those are off-topic. – Ullallulloo Oct 25 '12 at 20:29
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    The lack of perfect consistency is mostly due to the fact that we simply can't catch everything; some unconstructive things slip by the community and don't get closed. We do our best with what we catch. For the record, I think that the ones about graphics cards and numpads are also off-topic here (although the numpad one makes sense in the context of the game and is probably okay in either location). – GnomeSlice Oct 25 '12 at 20:30
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    SuperUser is a better fit for your question, as evidenced by the fact that it has already been asked and answered there. superuser.com/questions/314570/… – bwarner Oct 25 '12 at 20:33
  • @bwarner Nice find! Going to go follow those steps myself :D – James Oct 25 '12 at 20:33
  • @bwarner I'm not asking mine to be reopened, but I do wonder how the Shift+numpad is not exactly as much off-topic. – RomanSt Oct 25 '12 at 20:35
  • @romkyns You make an excellent point. I expect that question will be closed very soon... – bwarner Oct 25 '12 at 20:37
  • @bwarner Well if I'm helping clean up this site and keep it on topic, why is this post downvoted? – RomanSt Oct 25 '12 at 20:38
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    @romkyns That's how meta votes work, I get downvoted to hell all the time on meta. Votes on meta show agreement with the proposition in the post, not 'I think this is a good-quality post'. – GnomeSlice Oct 25 '12 at 20:39
  • @bwarner About that numpad question... I'm not so sure it's off-topic here, it seems to be a pretty common problem for WoW players, and any answers here will give the best results for a WoW player, whereas on SU the responses will be much more generic. I suspect this question is okay in either place. Edit: I just noticed that one is about a gaming mouse. Definitely on-topic. – GnomeSlice Oct 25 '12 at 20:40
  • @GnomeSlice Ah... ironic, because I was proposing consistency :) Shame I can't delete my post for another 2 days. Also, sorry about wasting everyone's time on discussing what's off topic; from past experience these are extremely frustrating discussions and I wish I hadn't started it. – RomanSt Oct 25 '12 at 20:48
  • @fbueckert That's a fair point, I didn't think of that. But why do you delete them? By keeping them present and closed, you send a strong signal that it's off-topic. It might even come up in the list of suggested questions, which will tell me straight away the question I'm about to ask is off-topic. – RomanSt Oct 25 '12 at 20:51
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    @romkyns By keeping around closed questions that aren't duplicates, we're adding to the noise on the internet. The whole goal of SE is to increase the signal to noise ratio. Keeping them around is allowing broken windows. And also, people will, guaranteed, look at them, see they got answered, and ask their crappy tech questions. They won't see that they got closed. They'll just see that they got answered. – Frank Oct 25 '12 at 21:14
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    @GnomeSlice: I don't totally buy that argument, mainly because one of my questions about a gaming mouse got bounced to SU (read: I'm biased). I had the choice of posting it here or in SU, and I chose here as I thought I'd get better/faster/stronger answers. The community at the time disagreed with that. It's not that people thought it was off-topic, just that it would be a better fit there. Which, BTW, is something I saw a lot of there when Android, Apple, Web Apps, and to a lesser degree, Ubuntu were in their infancy. – MBraedley Oct 26 '12 at 0:59
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Whether or not a technical question is on-topic for Arqade can be a tricky question, because there is a fine line between "This is a gaming problem best answered by gamers" and "This is a computer problem bested answered by computer experts" (in which case it belongs on Super User).

The main thing it comes down to is whether or not this is a problem about gaming, faced by gamers, and is best answered by gamers. This includes question like Launching Minecraft lags computer, since the problem is directly related to and caused by a game, and gamers are the best suited users to answering this question (since they've probably faced this issue as well).

Questions which are really computer issues are best answered on our sister site Super User, which is a site for Computer Experts. This would include questions like https://gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/31847/how-do-i-tell-if-my-graphics-card-is-defective, since the question is about computer hardware which is only tangential related to gaming. Due to this it's best answered on our sister site, Super User.

So the key thing to ask yourself when looking at these questions is: Is this question best answered by a gamer, or a computer expert? If it's the former, it usually belongs here, if it's the latter it's probably a better fit for Super User.

With that said, there are certainly inconsistencies with how this rule is applied. Since it's such a fine line between off and on topic for these types of questions it's very difficult to always apply it correctly in every case. Furthermore, since we have such a large number of users, the users who just happen to stumble across a question also play a large factor. For although I may think a question is fine, another user may disagree and vote to close. This is all due to that fine line I mentioned earlier.

Finally, there are cases where a question just fell through the cracks, or was overlooked after a change in policy. Your best bet when you stumble across these types of questions and you're just not sure if they're on-topic is to either:

  • Flag the question to draw the attention of mods and 10k+ users
  • Leave a comment
  • Hop on over to our chat and ask what the users there think. Our chat is fairly active, and you'd be hard pressed to find a time there weren't at least a few users lurking.
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    Agree with everything you say. I forget that things fall through the cracks sometimes, and so feel that my question was treated differently. It still seems to me that my question was best answered by gamers – indeed as I said before, the question on SuperUser mentions games in the question ("DirectX applications") and in every answer. But anyway, perhaps it was indeed just an unlucky corner-case, let's forget it happened. – RomanSt Oct 30 '12 at 11:59

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