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First, let me say that I do not invoke ITG lightly.

mongoose vs snake

It seems to me that of the many discussions which arose regarding questions, one of the central issues was "Without artifacts from the game itself, there is no way for anyone but the original asker to know if the answer is correct, and any answers will by definition be guesswork." (my phrasing).

This question right here: Why is my game constantly crashing silently to desktop with no error message? seems to have that problem as well.

Only the asker is seeing the problem. It's random so it can't be consistently duplicated, and Crash To Desktop is such a generalized problem that votes on answers are unreliable - a fix offered in answer A may be the accepted one, but the fix suggested in answer D might be the one that solves the problem for me.

fbueckert had this to say about one of the answers:

That's a giant list of problems and possible solutions, which, by itself, is quite unhelpful.

Frankly, that sums up the question itself to me.

Therefore, I have two questions, one tactical and one strategic:

  1. Does anything need to be done about this particular question?
  2. Does anything need to be done about questions of this type?
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    Wee! I'm famous! – Frank Feb 18 '13 at 23:18
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    No, that's completely ridiculous. If the format of the question bothers you then rewrite the question to be "How can I fix/avoid this crash?" If it's not detailed enough to be answerable it's no different from any other undetailed question. "NaRQ" applies. – Matthew Read Feb 18 '13 at 23:37
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    Bad questions are bad questions. Just because a question is bad does not mean that every question like it is categorically bad. Close bad questions. Downvote stupid ones. There's no need for an ever expanding 'rule creep' to handle this. – LessPop_MoreFizz Feb 19 '13 at 1:45
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    That question you linked to is actually my question. There is nothing wrong with it, imo, and how you identify it as a problem that "only I could see" shows that you've never Googled "skyrim crash to desktop". This issue is so popular that "crash to desktop" has even achieved acronym status (Google "skyrim ctd"). – oscilatingcretin Feb 19 '13 at 16:04
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This is not the first crash/tech support question to have invoked an "ITG similarity" or "too localized" argument. You can level similar arguments about a wide range of questions on the site.

I don't think it makes sense to bulk categorize technical issue questions (this one, or otherwise) as too localized or similar enough to ITG to warrant closure. As I say every time I oppose a new blanket-question-close policy, there are bad questions that fall afoul of existing close criteria on every subject.

To say that the asker's situation is unique and cannot be replicated or validated in a technical issues question is simply untrue. Anyone with the game can replicate the circumstances of playing a particular game. Of those players, some will never experience issues. They are . Some percentage will experience a crash. Some percentage of those people will experience a crash similar to the one that the asker has. This percentage may be small or large, depending on the game and the issue, but it exists.

That the accepted answer might not work for everybody is not a problem as far as I can see either. There are many questions network wide where the community consensus does not agree with the accepted answer. This is not considered a problem. When troubleshooting or debugging an issue, it is common to try things that work for other people but don't work for you. This is a major part of why multiple answers are allowed.

To me, the most damning counter-argument to "these questions are a bad fit for the network" is that there are entire SE network sites dedicated to this sort of problem - Super User and Sever Fault are both technical issue debug and troubleshooting sites. If crash debugging is a bad fit, someone should go tell them to Shut. Down. Everything.

Does having other sites where crash debug is on topic mean we should migrate questions there? No, there is overlap between the sites of the SE network, and in general we're asked not to migrate questions that could be on-topic on the site where they are asked. There is enough specialized gaming debug expertise that having a community of expert gamers advise on gaming technical issues is worthwhile.

  • As long as enough information is provided to actually solve the issue, I agree. If a user dumps their problem here, and doesn't engage enough to resolve the issue, then it should be closed as NARQ. And in this case, it's garning lots and lots of speculation, which indicates that not enough information has been provided to resolve it. – Frank Feb 19 '13 at 1:18
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    @fbueckert, I agree with one caveat - I don't think engagement of the user is necessarily related to NARQ or not. If they post something really detailed and then delete their account, if we can still solve the problem for other people (or them, browsing anonymously) then I say let it stand. If it's NARQ and they have no intention of fixing it, it's NARQ regardless of the question class. – agent86 Feb 19 '13 at 1:47
  • Problem is, unless one of us can actually reproduce the error, we'll have no idea if we CAN solve the problem. On the off chance we can, alright, yes, let's keep it. But I suspect most tech issues, without the asker's engagement, are going to be status-no-repro. – Frank Feb 19 '13 at 2:23
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    +1 For not another blanket close rule. Goal 1 - help people. Close unsalvageable bad questions using existing rules. And if you've never been the person with a hard to debug technical issue gaming... I think your computer just blue screened. – EBongo Feb 19 '13 at 12:26
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With those kinds of questions, they should be rephrased to something like, "What are troubleshooting steps and/or possible fixes?" The most valuable thing to come out of such questions is what is not the fix itself, but more of a troubleshooting process. Some games have notorious crash to desktop, and you can see on forums a stickied thread with diagnostic steps as well as a list of "try this and see if it works".

Diagnostic/troubleshooting steps being a bit more methodical, and if thorough could be a definitive answer if they covered all of the scenarios: "Look here, does your config say 'blah==true', if so change to false. Run game, if this happens, then do this, else this, etc.". But usually there's a combination of both, some diagnostic steps, and failing that, a list of things to try.

I see no reason why that can't be a valuable and useful resource. It would probably be better served as a community wiki.

Indeed it doesn't answer the question "How do I stop crash to desktop?" because who knows from person to person which fix applies, but I think it does indeed answer the question "What are troubleshooting steps and things that I can try to resolve a crash to desktop?"

I also want to add, sometimes no amount of information from the asker can provide enough information to provide a single solution. This is simply because many games provide very poor diagnostic/error/logging feedback. Especially in the case of a CTD, and hence why games that have lots of CTDs usually have many possible potential causes, and thus the only way to solve them is to test each possible solution.

  • Answers on questions should not be guesses, or things that might work. At the very least, if you encounter an error, and you resolve it, your answer should be, "This is what worked for me." Not, "Try this and see if it helps." That's what comments are for. – Frank Feb 19 '13 at 5:00
  • @fbueckert "Try this and see if it helps" answers are not necessarily bad in this context. To troubleshoot most crashes (to help the OP and other people with a similar issue), one would need to to try out different things, i.e. troubleshooting checklists or steps (AKA "things that might work") to see which issue is causing the crashes, and to try out a proper solution. The comment box is oftentimes, not an appropriate medium or format to put detailed troubleshooting checklists/steps and fixes on, which if long enough, should warrant its own answer. – galacticninja Feb 19 '13 at 8:17
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    @galacticninja: I disagree. The only place to put "Try this" steps is in the comments. 9 times out of 10, they aren't full solutions, but rather just an indicator of the true problem. If the step succeeds (or fails, as the case may be), then the commenter can post the full solution as an answer. Remember, we're looking for a solution to a problem in this context. Anything that is not a full solution does not belong in the answer section. – MBraedley Feb 19 '13 at 11:43
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    @fbueckert "'This is what worked for me.' Not, 'Try this and see if it helps.'", other than the wording, there is no difference. "Try this" is a suggestion that is made on the pretense that it has worked for others before. They are part of the information gathering process. They are a systematic solution. It is the very essence of how troubleshooting works. Change a variable, make an observation, change something else as a result of that observation, etc. rinse repeat. In superuser/serverfault or if you do support, you know these aren't guesses, they are parts of a path to a solution. – AaronLS Feb 19 '13 at 17:14
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    @Mbraedley By your logic more than half of the answers on serverfault/superuser would be comments. – AaronLS Feb 19 '13 at 17:15
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    Arqade != Superuser. We work a little differently here. – Frank Feb 19 '13 at 19:41
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    @fbueckert If you want to decide as a community to disallow posting questions about crashes/bugs, that's your decision. But how you describe the path to a solution for a very ambiguous problem is universal, don't redefine "solution". Because the problem has little information, like a CTD, you have to perform many steps to investigate the cause and test fixes. That is here, or there, or wherever, the only way you can come to a definitive solution to such problems. It's not a problem with the question or answers, it's simply a side affect of the CTDs providing no error/log information – AaronLS Feb 19 '13 at 19:54
  • We're not disallowing tech support questions. We just work a little differently, in that we prefer tech support to happen in the comments instead of as answers. That's what I was referring to. We define answers as answers, not some place to put troubleshooting steps that may or may not resolve the issue. – Frank Feb 19 '13 at 19:56
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    This again is why I suggest community wikis are best for these questions, because just like a sticky in a forum for Oblivion for example, the community has to over time develop a systematic approach to solving the problem, simply because it is so complex and ambiguous. – AaronLS Feb 19 '13 at 19:56
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    @fbueckert The question will never serve as a resource in that capacity, as it will be too localized. After all the investigation through comments, the asker finds the solution and posts it as the answer. However, that answer is only the side affect of the systematic approach of discovering the problem. If you as a community develop a systematic answer to the question "How to solve Oblivion CTD?" then you can create a question that is useful to everyone with that problem. – AaronLS Feb 19 '13 at 19:59
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    And that's all we need. The troubleshooting is anecdotal to the actual problem. People don't need to know what went wrong. They need to know how to fix it. If there are several different solutions, that's fine. That's what tech support is about. But the actual diagnosis and isolation of the issue has nothing to do with fixing the issue. It just helps you figure out where the issue is. – Frank Feb 19 '13 at 20:00
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    @fbueckert You don't understand that "how to fix it" includes the troubleshooting process. You are giving a man a fish instead of teaching him how to fish. That localized answer is of ultimately no use to the other 80% of people with CTDs. You end up with duplicate questions, but different answers, which is a bit of a paradox and the reason why stackexchange would encourage a more systematic answer as a community wiki in this case. That's my last response and I'm done. I have alot of experience in doing support, and documenting solutions to complex issues. – AaronLS Feb 19 '13 at 20:05
  • I've done my time as tech support. Users don't care about what broke. They care about fixing it. They're also not interested in learning how to fix it themselves, so spending time on telling them things they're just going to ignore is wasted. Here's the problem, here's a possible solution. Done and done. They can read the comments if they're interested in the why. – Frank Feb 19 '13 at 20:08
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    Bottom line is questions on stackexchange should become resources, and they should be answered in a way that cause a need for others to ask the same duplicate question later because the answer for that question didn't solve their problem. If you want to provide one-on-many crowd sourced support as you are describing, then that should take place exclusively in the chat rooms because it adds no value to the community. – AaronLS Feb 19 '13 at 20:08
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    @fbueckert The community does not provide tech support through questions. For exactly the reasons I stated, the question becomes localized and useless to others, and thus they must duplicate questions. Answers should be formulated to not be localized, which means troubleshooting steps are included in them. If you want to provide tech support, take it to a chat room. If you want to provide valuable answers that are appropriate to stackexchange, then follow my guidelines. – AaronLS Feb 19 '13 at 20:11

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