With Windows 8 coming out it is inevitable that we'll receive a flood of compatibility question for games released prior to Windows 8 being made available. How should we handle such questions?
The problem I see with allowing all compatibility questions is that you run the risk of having questions for every single PC game released prior to Windows 8.
Working with the assumption that most games that work with Windows Vista/7 should also work with Windows 8, since Microsoft has a fairly good track record of maintaining application compatibility, the answer to most of the questions like this recent one would be yes, it is compatible, end of story. There is no actual problem to solve here.
Instead, I propose that we only allow questions where the OP has, at the very least, actually tried to install / run the game, and, is facing actual compatibility problems. That way we ensure that there is an actual problem to solve here, and help narrow the scope the problem down.
My proposed solution is that we have a single community wiki question, and it only asks
Is my game compatible with Windows 8? That's it. The title and the body, and then tagged windows-8.
Then we have only one (community wiki) answer that says:
Yes, if your game worked under Windows Vista or 7, then it probably works under Windows 8. The following list are the known exceptions, or links to guides for the games that need a little extra work.
The list would then link to external guides, or more preferably, to
What steps do I need to take in order to get <X> to work under Windows 8? questions here.
Then, when another
Is this game compatible? question pops up, it simply gets closed as duplicate.
I realize this is a huge divergence from what we usually do, but it saves us from having potentially dozens of pointless open questions that really aren't going to make the internet better 6 months down the road. We condense it down into a single slightly less pointless question that could actually be of great utility.
I think questions like this are potentially fine and should be considered innocent until proven guilty.
Are we going to get a few of them? Probably.
Are they awesome questions that are always high quality and should be heavily encouraged? Nah, I wouldn't say that.
Could they be lazy questions that deserve downvotes? Probably.
Are some of them going to be too vague and NARQ? Yeah.
Should they be forbidden? In my opinion, not in the general case, no. I think we should judge each question of this type by its own merits.
My "similar question that we would allow" in this case would be asking:
"How do I open this side door in this dungeon in Skyrim? It's not on my way to complete my current quest, but I'd like to know what's on the other side or if it's important."
The arguments against are:
You run the risk of having questions for every single PC game released prior to Windows 8.
In the Skyrim case: You could ask about any door in any dungeon in Skyrim. There are a lot of doors in a lot of dungeons in Skyrim. We could have near-infinite questions in the same vein. How do I open this other door? What about this door in a house? What about that door in this cave?
How is the existence of many/infinite questions in a problem space a reason to forbid a question?
I can see how if someone was asking a million of these questions we might say "hey, slow down a bit." That could be spamming or content seeding. The potential for a question to be varied slightly and asked again isn't, though.
since Microsoft has a fairly good track record of maintaining application compatibility, the answer to most of the questions like this recent one would be yes, it is compatible, end of story.
In the Skyrim case: Most doors are openable via keys, lockpicking, or a nearby mechanism. It's the same answer, every time.
How is the answer being short or similar to the answers to other questions a reason to forbid a question?
I posted my thoughts on this before with the "Diablo error" questions, especially the section on "Dupes and Frankenquestions."
Instead, I propose that we only allow questions where the OP has, at the very least, actually tried to install / run the game, and, is facing actual compatibility problems.
In the Skyrim case: The door is not a problem you actually, currently face. There's no quest marker on the other side. You don't have to go through this door, so it's not a problem. You could just ignore the door. You could just quit the game, even. Come back when you have to open the door, and then we'll help you.
Sometimes knowing the solution (or that there is/isn't one) about a problem you anticipate can help you make a decision or prepare for it.
Knowing that there are issues with a particular game might influence my decision to upgrade to Windows 8. In essence, the root problem is "Can I upgrade to Windows 8?" and the manifestation of that problem on our site is "(Will I still be able to)/(Can I) play this game if I do an upgrade?"
If I read this answer and I wanted to play Just Cause 2, can I not ask if it's compatible or how to play it on Windows 8? How far do I have to go before it can be considered a problem "I actually face?" Is a reasonable suspicion enough? Can I go by reports on the internet, or should I only trust my friends? (This all seems like good research that should be done in order to avoid getting downvoted or VTC'ed) Or do I have to have personally be in the situation in the question at the second I ask the question?
If we're tempted to make a more stringent requirement for "problems you actually face" we should probably consider doing that site-wide, and not specific to a certain type of question.
For a more network-wide perspective, this question and answer on MSO shows how at least one SO mod interprets this particular clause (it's also +10/-0 as of this writing), and there's a podcast here where Joel touches on it, although his examples aren't precisely on-point.
Some other Skyrim examples of "community approved anticipatory" questions:
You don't currently have the problem. Go join the Companions and then if you're having trouble joining the Dark Brotherhood, come back and ask a specific question.
Kill a few and then you'll know. If you run into downsides, come back and ask about them.
You're not in the situation yet - put the key back, and then ask if there's any way to get it afterwards.
Why don't you try it and see? Come back if you're having problems balancing magic and stealth and ask a specific question.
(I just picked a few at random - I was looking for one in particular, so I searched for "[skyrim] +thief" but then I got distracted and found a number of good examples)
Having said all of this, there are certainly some of these questions already that I would feel comfortable voting to close as NARQ. I don't think that's a reason to ban the whole class, though.