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I still don't understand this close reason:

Questions that ask which games or other products meet specific criteria are off topic. We primarily deal with questions about playing games, not about which games to play or historical trivia. We make an exception for identifying games based on an audiovisual artifact from the game in question.

Is it about historical trivia, products meeting specific criteria or both? Assuming it's about both, why?

Historical trivia and asking for certain type of products is in no way related, so why is it that the same close reason has two different cases to be used in? Whenever I see a question closed with this reason, it confuses me a little as the question doesn't fit the whole reason given. Should it be split in two?

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    AFAIK they were only giving three custom close reasons, so this got mashed together. – Arperum Dec 12 '13 at 9:53
  • It still doesn't mean it makes sense, though. – 3ventic Dec 12 '13 at 9:56
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    The phrase "historical trivia" is included to note that the close reason is not just about straight reccomendations, but also nonsense like "What was the first game to feature jumping plumbers?" If you'd like me to clarify further, you'll need to wait about 8-12 hours. – LessPop_MoreFizz Dec 12 '13 at 13:50
  • Is "historical trivia" here about 1) lore/background of game development, release, etc. (which is mostly unrelated to ITG), or 2) Identify this game from way in my past (a subset of ITG) – Jaydles Dec 12 '13 at 21:00
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    @Jaydles it's about 2, but it's also about "What was the first game to include [feature]", which is a subset of game-rec/itg that we've decided we don't like on several occasions, but which people have tried to worm through when we aren't sufficiently clear in our language about what we consider off topic. :( – LessPop_MoreFizz Dec 12 '13 at 22:58
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Okay, time for me to explain what's going on here.

The short version is, people are reading things far too broadly by ignoring an important word, and by considering a subjugate clause to be superior to the core sentence.

The important part of the close reason:

Questions that ask which games or other products meet specific criteria are off topic.

I don't think this is controversial - or at least, the controversy is long settled. Game recommendations, and game identification are both off topic. The two are combined because fundamentally, they are the same thing; asking for the titles of games that meet various criteria. Also falling under this header are a peculiar flavor of game rec that we've had from time to time like "What was the first game to introduce Bullet Time?"

The notable thing here is that, at their root, all of these categories of question have the same fundamental issue, which is that they are questions about shopping, or figuring out what games meet whatever arbitrary criteria the asker has imposed. It's as true of ITG as it is of Game Rec, as it is of What Was The First Game to Feature Laser Whips, as it is of What Video Card Should I Buy, which is why they're all rolled together.

The part that was included to try to explain why this is the case:

We primarily deal with questions about playing games, not about which games to play or historical trivia.

Note the use of PRIMARILY, rather than, say exclusively. Which is to say, there are edge cases that aren't purely about playing games, but our rules exist to keep us closer to our core focus. The phrase 'which games to play or historical trivia', as written, serves to summarize the two main reasons people ask these sorts of questions. However, people have sadly misread the phrase to mean all historical trivia of any sort, and taken the clause as coequal to the first sentence of the close reason. This is WRONG and conflicts with the FAQ. I wrote the close reasons, as they exist, to conform with our existing norms and FAQ, and to draw clear boundaries wherever possible around those norms. I did not set out to supersede or rewrite them.

We make an exception for identifying games based on an audiovisual artifact from the game in question.

The exception to the rule. Important for obvious reasons.

Personally, I like it as written, and I think people just near to learn to freakin' read. However, given that people are misreading it en masse, and acting based upon it, I suppose the fault is mine for any lack of clarity, and propose a few alternatives:

Questions that ask which games or other products meet specific criteria are off topic. We make an exception for identifying games based on an audiovisual artifact from the game in question.

Pro: No ambiguous second sentence.
Con: Buuuuttt whhhhhyyyyyyyyyyy.

Questions that ask which games or other products meet specific criteria are off topic. We primarily deal with questions about playing games, not about which games to play, which games you may have played in the past or to which game did a thing first.. We make an exception for identifying games based on an audiovisual artifact from the game in question.

Pro: maintains my existing intent of the close reason, as written, while trying to avoid misinterpretation
Con: Kind of unwieldy, IM, Not so HO.

Questions that ask which games or other products meet specific criteria are off topic. We primarily deal with questions about playing games, not about which games to play. We make an exception for identifying games based on an audiovisual artifact from the game in question.

Pro: Maintains most of original intent.
Con: But I don't want to know which games to play, I just want to know which was fiiiirrrrrssstt. (Reminder: This has already happened. It is not hypothetical.)

  • Here, use Comment Upvotes to choose between the three. Alternately, leave comments with changes you'd like made, or some WILD AND CRAZY fourth alternative. Or bother me in chat. – LessPop_MoreFizz Dec 12 '13 at 23:07
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    I like the first option! It's simple and to the point! – LessPop_MoreFizz Dec 12 '13 at 23:08
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    I like the second option! It's super complicated but it explains everything! – LessPop_MoreFizz Dec 12 '13 at 23:09
  • I like the third option! It's full of mushy ambiguity and I intend to abuse that! – LessPop_MoreFizz Dec 12 '13 at 23:09
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    I wonder why we need the ItG exception text at all. It's such an edge case that I'm wondering why we are drawing so much attention to it. How many closed ItGs have been re-opened because the OP saw that text and added an artifact? – au revoir Dec 13 '13 at 16:14
  • @Jason at least one. That said, I don't really care one way or the other. – LessPop_MoreFizz Dec 13 '13 at 17:30
  • I'd say all the above reasoning is fairly dubious. I don't see how a question about which video game to play is not a video game question. The choices on what questions are appropriate, and what aren't, seem to be totally arbitrary. – Code Whisperer Dec 18 '13 at 17:06
  • @itcould The question. Of whether game recommendations are on topic at all is not the subject of this post. It's a settled matter. Of you'd like to challenge that, make a new post here on meta, but I'll tell you that it likely won't get a warm reception. – LessPop_MoreFizz Dec 18 '13 at 17:26
  • The second option I think covers all the bases, and really, is there any reason not to be wordy? You could maybe put those reasons in a bullet list if you think it looks inelegant. – Zibbobz Dec 20 '13 at 16:13
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I recommend the following to replace it:

Questions that ask for game recommendations or asking which games or other products meet specific criteria are off-topic. We make an exception for questions about game identification which include an audiovisual artifact. If you don't have an A/V artifact, this post on the Arqade blog has some suggestions on how you might be able to find an answer outside of our site.

I'm definitely open to some tweaking of it, but one big goal was linking them to that Arqade blog post about game identification so that they still get some help and can maybe find the answer on their own. That way they feel they've still been a helped a bit, rather than outright rejected.

  • Even if this close reason wasn't approved, a meta or blog post that sums up the "meets specific criteria" issue would be really useful as something we could link to people in comments when they ask for further explanation about why their question was closed. – Sterno Jan 23 '14 at 15:21
  • Alright, good points. – 3ventic Jan 23 '14 at 15:27
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    @3ventic you should read my answer up above. 'Historical trivia' as a broad category was not and never has been off topic. It was a poorly written turn of phrase meant to refer to what are essentially a class of game-rec/ITG questions; "what is the first game with bullet time" etc. – LessPop_MoreFizz Jan 23 '14 at 17:25
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    Other historical trivia questions are often largely not good fits for a host of other reasons, but the subject is not categorically off topic, in much the sane way that most lore questions are terrible questions and may deserve closure for various reasons (opinion based, too broad, unclear) but are not categorically off topic. – LessPop_MoreFizz Jan 23 '14 at 17:26
  • @LessPop_MoreFizz Yes, I understood that. – 3ventic Jan 23 '14 at 17:27
  • @3ventic then it's not missing. – LessPop_MoreFizz Jan 23 '14 at 17:33
  • @LessPop_MoreFizz I guess I should have been more clear in my second comment. – 3ventic Jan 23 '14 at 17:34
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The original reason I wrote up for this, based on the number of actual questions closed, read:

Questions asking for game recommendations are off-topic. For details on why, and how you might ask your question differently, see: So, what actually is a game-rec?

I liked this because it identified a specific problem, and linked to a helpful discussion of how problematic questions could be avoided or improved.

The current text is based on a proposal by LessPop_MoreFizz:

Questions that ask which games or other products meet specific criteria are off topic. We primarily deal with questions about playing games, not about which games to play or historical trivia. We make an exception for identifying games based on an audiovisual artifact from the game in question.

As you noted, this is somewhat more vague as to what the specific problem is... That said, it does at least link to some more detailed information on meta, albeit one not exactly written to be an educational tool.

The current wording is still vague/broad, and also fails to link to anything that might give someone any hope of gaining a better understanding of the specific problem. I'm sorry, but that's crap. I've re-activated my original wording for this until such a time as y'all can come up with something better.

If the intent here is to also cover hardware recommendations and game "identification" then that's admirable - if it's possible to come up with a wording that makes this clear to the reader, that is. Otherwise, it might be necessary to break one or more of those out as a separate Off Topic reason.

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    For the most part, I think you do an admirable job. However, I'm not a fan of you overriding community consensus without so much as a by your leave. – Frank Dec 12 '13 at 22:59
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    Not a fan of letting problems sit around when there's a solution ready at hand. – Shog9 Dec 12 '13 at 23:02
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    You're not fixing the problem so much as deciding what the fix should be. That's what I take exception to. If you see a problem, I feel it's better to point it out to us to decide what to do, rather than unilaterally deciding that your solution is the one that gets implemented, without so much as our say so. – Frank Dec 12 '13 at 23:06
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    Y'all are free to implement a better solution, and I said as much in this answer. A broad close reason without so much as a "why is this a problem" or a link to clarifying information isn't useful, and until you're done talking about it I don't see the point. – Shog9 Dec 12 '13 at 23:08
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    @Shog9 The problem is, the 'solution ready at hand' omits a fairly large chunk of community consensus, because it leaves us without an easy way to close what is, without a doubt, our number one category of problem question. I get that you aren't happy with what was there, but the alternative you've imposed is objectively worse. – LessPop_MoreFizz Dec 12 '13 at 23:11
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    Then fix it, @Less. An OT reason that complicated, with NO link to any clarifying information, is no better than a generic "off topic" reason. Possibly worse, since it's always possible that someone would write something helpful in a comment if they had to click "other". – Shog9 Dec 12 '13 at 23:18
  • @Shog9 I guess part of the solution is giving us a fourth slot to break up things onto, yes? Or is one of the two other slots used so rarely we could afford to lose it? – badp Dec 13 '13 at 0:17
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    That's a good question, @badp. You should post that as a separate question so that I didn't have to try and cram an answer into a comment or tangential edit. – Shog9 Dec 13 '13 at 0:20
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    @shog9 that last comment sounds to me like you've promised us an answer on this subject. If it's yes, I think that (I know I at least) the community might be a bit more engaged in trying to get a proper set of four written. If it's no, then we ought to fix what's already there. As it is, we've done neither. The current situation has been in place for a month, and I don't think anyone is really happy with it... – LessPop_MoreFizz Jan 23 '14 at 17:44
  • Oh yeah, that's why I've had this open in a tab for a month. Was starting to think I just liked looking at the icon. – Shog9 Jan 23 '14 at 17:56
  • @shog9 for what it's worth: I don't think we need 4. I really do think that Game Rec and ITG are two sides of the same coin with a clearly defined common element, and the issue here was my own inarticulate writing. But if people think splitting them is good for business, that's cool too. – LessPop_MoreFizz Jan 23 '14 at 18:06
  • And it is, admittedly, a very attractive icon. – LessPop_MoreFizz Jan 23 '14 at 18:07

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