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I recently purchased the early access game, Starbound. From listening to some of the Stack Exchange podcast, I am under the impression that we generally don't want to duplicate information that is easily found elsewhere on the Internet. In the case of a new game where there is little information readily available, is it considered "lazy" or "helpful" to post questions and answers that are maybe only available in one or two places at the moment to try to get Arqade answers higher in Google searches?

For example, I was thinking of posting a question asking for a guide on the controls for the game Starbound, since there doesn't appear to be official information about these in the early access phase. A search did point me to an IGN wiki but it seems like this might not be comprehensive and/or the information isn't widely available in an easily read or understand way. Is this a way we want to advocate for the site or would this get downvoted by the community?

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    If the game is popular enough you'll get upvotes no matter how easy it is to find the content elsewhere. – GnomeSlice Dec 7 '13 at 21:40
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    Don't ask for a guide. Ask what problem you're trying to solve. That goes over much better than something simple that can easily be found elsewhere. I, among other members here at Arqade, frown heavily on not attempting to solve the problem yourself first, and that goes double for information easily found somewhere else. – Frank Dec 7 '13 at 21:44
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    However, collating scattered info from around the web and quoting, referencing & attributing them appropriately with links back is one of the ways to write a good answer. – Robotnik Dec 8 '13 at 0:03
  • For what it's worth, I'd find a good answer to this question very useful. – shanodin Dec 8 '13 at 7:31
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There are different opinions on how much seeding of questions is acceptable, and even what "seeding" actually is.

I don't think seeding is bad for this site under certain conditions. The online sources for new games are often very limited in the first few days or weeks. We're also a fundamentally question-limited site, we have far more users willling to answer questions than our actual question volume.

The goal should always be to solve an actual problem that the players of that game are likely to encounter. You should only post questions about issues you encountered yourself, and that seem like other users might encounter as well. You should not ask questions about issues that you never encountered yourself and that you only suspect to exist.

The answers should also not be trivially findable, but that aspect has quite a few exceptions. If there is a well-known and comprehensive Wiki about the game that fully answers your question, you shouldn't ask it here again. But if the only sources for the information are some forums posts or similar, or if the answers are just not very good or comprehensive, or if they are not easy to find, duplicating the issue here in a better format has some merit.

If the existing answers on the internet are lacking, and you found out more about the issue by playing yourself, posting a self-answered question with a superior answer is also a good idea.

I've encountered this issue myself when I received The Witcher 2 from the community game grant. I've copied my answer below as the situation back then was similar:

As I'm the user that posts the most excessive amount of questions about the Witcher 2, I feel obliged to respond. As far as I know you are correct and all the users you mentioned are part of the community sponsorship.

To clarify one point, all of my questions are real questions. Those are all aspects of the game I was confused about in the beginning or I just did not know. They are certainly seed questions in a way, because I'm actively thinking about what would make a good question while playing. This is an obvious and unavoidable effect of the sponsorship, as we users who received the game feel obliged to provide content for the site. But I don't think this is a bad thing.

I solved many of those questions myself after a while, but that doesn't mean they are bad questions. Not everyone reads the whole manual, all of the quest journal entries and makes dozens of attempts at defeating a boss, trying out all kinds of tactics. If I would only post questions here that I am incapable of answering there wouldn't be many left. I tried to give other users a chance to answer my questions, even if I solved them myself after posting, but I didn't want to leave too many open question around. My copy of the game arrived earlier than for the other participating users, so that may have skewed the population of users capable of answering.

The fact that I had a certain question at some point, that I had to spend some effort in solving it is often a good indicator that other people playing the game have similar problems. Take a look at the number of views many questions about the game get, most of the hits are likely from Google. That is a pretty good indicator for the interest people have in those questions, and I think you can conclude that many people are searching for the terms that lead to those questions.

I'm picking my questions about destroying Nekker Nests as an example, as it got more than 10k views at this moment. The reason for that is that to know the answer you would have to either buy an in-game book and read it, or kill a lot of Nekkers and then read the appropriate knowledge tab in your character screen to get the information you need. This is something most gamers won't do, and this specific game does not hold your hand at all, you're on your own figuring that out. This question got more than 10k views in a few days, I'd say there is a definite interest.

I'm a bit wondering too why so few other established users are participating in the Q&A for that specific game. Maybe everyone interested registered for the promition?

I do think we have a problem with the amount of questions asked here in general, but just the other way around as you describe. I think most users here are not asking enough questions. Especially the experienced, high-reputation users. They are used to solving their own problems, but if they were to ask their questions here, they would likely ask higher quality questions than 1-rep users that just found our site here.

In short, I think the flood of questions is exactly what we want to achieve with this promotion. Compare us to any random, well-known game forum, and the number of posts about this newly released game is likely higher there than the still small number of questions asked here. I don't think an additional questions hurts this site, as long as it is a high quality one.

Is the community sponsorship program working a little too well?

  • A good answer, but I somewhat disagree with this part If there is a well-known and comprehensive Wiki about the game that fully answers your question, you shouldn't ask it here again. First off, there is no "Should not ask here" for questions like that... you just have to understand it might get downvotes if it's considered too trivial. But even still, there are a lot of times that it will be easier to get a clear question & answer here than digging through a wiki to pull out the relevant info. It's all about signal to noise ratio, and sometimes wiki pages have a lot of noise. – Sterno Dec 9 '13 at 13:20
  • @Sterno That part of my answer is only valid if the answer is easily searchable, and the answer is not hidden among a lot of irrelevant stuff in the Wiki. So if the first Google hit perfectly answers your question in a useful format, there is no need to ask it again. – Mad Scientist Dec 9 '13 at 13:25
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Much of this depends on the motivation for asking. If information is easily found elsewhere, and the only reason you're posting it here is so that Arqade has it, well, that we tend to frown on it. That's called content seeding, and we're not here to store every bit of information about every single game.

We're about solving problems with video games. Making sure Arqade has the information isn't a problem. If it's a problem people have, we prefer it to be asked organically, by someone who actually had or has the problem..

While we will allow questions that are essentially content seeding, don't expect to be appreciated for it. We downvote questions not asked in good faith rather heavily. We're here to make the internet a better place. Does copying information found rather easily elsewhere make the internet better? Not really.

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    To expand on this a bit more, we tend to dislike questions where the answer can easily be found on a wiki (and occasionally viciously downvote them). Vanilla Minecraft is the prime suspect for this, although I could see this happen (or it already has happened) to the likes of KSP, Terraria, or any number of other games. If you think that an answer could be RTFWiki, then you probably shouldn't ask it, even if a wiki doesn't yet exist (for indie games, it undoubtably will). – MBraedley Dec 8 '13 at 2:55

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