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We had a discussion not too long ago about questions that ask for mods as a solution to a problem:

Is "mod rec" really an umbrella category that we want to use? Or is it confusing the situation?

Closed 'mod recommendation' Skyrim question - Can this question be improved and then reopened?

Community consensus at the time appeared to be that "mod rec" is not the same as "game rec" and should not be treated as a blanket category worthy of immediate closure.

In the past couple of days I've seen a couple of questions closed that ask for mods to solve a particular problem:

A way to increase tile working range

Can I move my Kerbals inside a pod?

In both instances, the close reasons and/or comments appear to indicate that the closure is game-rec related. The former appears to have also requested a config file editing solution, but that was edited out. (Perhaps the file edits were considered gamedev related?)

I'm inclined to reopen the questions, given what I understand to be the current policy on the matter. Before I mod-override all of these votes, I wanted to give the voters a chance to either go back and revisit the previous discussions, call for new ones, or explain why they closed the questions in a way that is consistent with the current meta policies.

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    I don't like wording to the effect of "what's a mod to do this?" It has some of the same problems as general shopping recommendations. I much prefer to just leave it as "how can I solve my problem (mod solutions welcome)?" – MBraedley Dec 30 '13 at 22:41
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    Quickie answer, since I don't have time right now to post a full one: As in your answer to that other meta post, judge the question by the problem. If there's the a problem beyond, "I want a mod that does X" and we can reword it, its acceptable. If the only problem is, "I don't like the way the game works, I want to change it to do X" not acceptable. One has a root problem, the other is just not liking the way the game was made. – Frank Dec 30 '13 at 22:54
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    Most mods do or contain things that the base game does not. I don't think "I want to change it to do X" is at all separable from any other modding question. – Matthew Read Dec 30 '13 at 23:24
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Editing these questions is silly. Closing, then editing and reopening doubly so.

These questions pose a problem.

All cities have a maximum tile working radius of 3. I sometimes want to try a game with just a few enormous cities.

That's a clearly defined non-subjective problem with no ambiguity at all about what solves it. Solutions to this problem increase the working tile radius of a city in Civ5 from the default of 3 to some other value.

Is there any way of modding the game so that that constant is changed? And if there is could someone tell me where to find such a mod or where to change the game files to make one myself?

This is additional information about the asker's desired solution. It may have bearing on what answer gets accepted, but it does not fundamentally change the problem. Unlike game-rec, the true answer to the question is not the sum of all answers to the question. An individual answer should contain all the info to solve the problem. Unlike game-rec, it does not ask us to make a subjective choice about the "best" of something where the axis along which "best" is measured is unclear. There are probably multiple solutions, like most problems we face, and that's OK.

As mod tools grow in popularity and power, people are going to think "find a mod" when they have an issue with a game. This is not a type of question that is going anywhere, there are tons of them for the most popular games on the site.

Closing the question because a request for a mod is present doesn't make sense. Closing prevents answers, which aren't an issue here. There's nothing wrong with answers that suggest a mod, or answers that don't suggest a mod.

Editing it out doesn't make sense. It's additional information that helps voters understand how to gauge several answers to the question, and helps answerers to give better answers.

It is not a smart idea to:

  1. Discard this additional information
  2. Start fights with the user about pedantic word choice policy related to a similar sounding term we once had a fight about a couple of years ago
  3. Make more work for ourselves

...in these (increasingly likely) situations.

It does not matter if someone asks for a mod. The important parts that should determine closing and voting aren't in the mod request - they are in the rest of the question.

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    +1 I'm not sure if I agree with you on this specific question, but I do agree with the rest of your post. Mods are a viable solution to a problem, and I don't see anything wrong with users asking for a mod solution. Additionally, just because a user asks for a mod doesn't mean we can only answer with mods. After all, questions exist for everyone, not just the asker, and answers should be responding to the core problem (aka why they want the mod in the first place) – Wipqozn Jan 3 '14 at 17:05
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    With that said, I do think that users should provide the reason why they want a mod. What problem are they trying to solve? I feel like that information is vital to providing a solution to their problem. If the user doesn't have a problem, then I'd argue that it may fall under the Can I do X? problem, and perhaps into shopping recommendation. – Wipqozn Jan 3 '14 at 17:12
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    Counter example to your second unlike game-rec: "What's a mod that adds more engines to KSP?" Well there's KSPX, B9 Aerospace, KW Rocketry, and that's just three I can name off the top of my head. I realize this would be closed as subjective, but bare with me. Even with a more specific problem statement, only one of those mods might be eliminated from further consideration, which can still leave us in subjective territory. No, questions need to be firmly rooted in "I want to solve problem X." – MBraedley Jan 3 '14 at 18:06
  • I disagree with your interpretation of this. Asking specifically for a mod opens the scope up for any number of games. Minecraft, especially, has tons of mods, any one of which can do what the user is asking, but might have unintended consequences, of which the user does not want. At which point, we get another question (or the current one edited), specifying more details, and then it turns into nothing but a mod recommendation question. So, no. There needs to be a base problem to be solved. – Frank Jan 3 '14 at 20:46
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    And we just got a question that is a straight mod recommendation. There is no problem in there, just a request for a mod that does specific things for the user. – Frank Jan 3 '14 at 23:22
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    @Frank - I think your dislike of mod-rec makes it impossible for you to objectively view a question the moment the word mod appears. The issue with that question is that it is an unbounded list, and we already have ways to close questions that are unbounded lists. The OP has a problem (I'm generating power - what can I power with it) and if they were to restrict the scope of their question to just the mods in Feed the Beast, I would happily vote to reopen. – au revoir Jan 4 '14 at 11:56
  • @JasonBerkan It's not the word mod I dislike; far from it. It's questions that have no problem being solved. I don't think the problem the OP is having is actually a problem; it's a request for suggestions as to what to use it for. That is what I oppose; we're about definitive answers, not for ideas as to how to use something. – Frank Jan 4 '14 at 14:17
  • @Frank - If you do not think that "I have an <x>, what can I use it for?" is a gaming problem, especially in an unstructured game like Minecraft, I'm not certain there's anything else I can say. – au revoir Jan 5 '14 at 2:37
  • @JasonBerkan The question wasn't, "I have an <x>, what can I use it for?", but, "I have an <x>, what else can I use it for?". That's a clear request for suggestions, as the user already knows what it can be used for. We're in the business of solving problems, not recommending what something should be used for, especially in an open ended game. – Frank Jan 5 '14 at 19:11
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I agree that mod recommendation questions probably shouldn't be closed with the Game Rec close reason, because Mod Recs, while similar, are not quite the same. But I think they should be closed, and mercilessly. Part of the problem is that, if we have a question of the form

I'm playing Deathstorm, and it's great, but I really wish my gun shot unicorns. Is there a mod to make my guns shoot unicorns.

There really isn't all that much meaningful difference between that, and a question of the form

I'm playing Deathstorm,and it's great, but I really wish my gun shot unicorns. Is there a game that is Deathstorm, but with a unicorn gun?


In both cases, what we should instead be considering is what we would do if the question read

I'm playing Deathstorm, and it's great, but I really wish my gun shot unicorns. Is there a way to make my gun shoot unicorns in Deathstorm?

Because that's what a lot of the mod-recs come down to; a severe case of the XY problem. If we can change the question to actually ask about the asker's problem, then we can provide better answers, especially if it turns out that Deathstorm already has a super-secret hidden Unicorn Gun with alt-fire AoE Rainbow Spray, or if the fans of Deathstorm complained about the weapon selection so much that the first DLC added one in. More importantly, by shaping up the question to remove the Mod Rec in the first place, we sidestep a fair bit of the quibbling about whether Mod Recs are the work of the devil, or whether the wide gulf between "Game Rec" and "Mod Rec" instead allows for them, or what have you.

And, the best part is, we even have an entire mechanic here on Stack Exchange for getting the OP of a question to step back, edit the question to be more acceptable, and try again. It's called closing the question. The close reason we've been using for it probably isn't the best one, and should be changed, but oh look, we're already considering changing the custom close reasons on the site, and both the existing proposals, as of right now, have broadened the recommendation-closing reason out in some way.

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    No, I don't think it makes any sense to make people edit their questions to remove language about mods or recommendations. It's just pedantry that we shouldn't force on askers. For my reasoning on the subject, consult the two answers on the meta questions I already linked. – agent86 Dec 31 '13 at 2:01
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    And actually, I don't want to get into a third discussion about why I don't think mod-rec is a close-worthy thing. The purpose of this question is to determine if these were closed as a result of mod-rec, which I don't believe is a valid close reason according to the previous discussions on the topic. If you've got something to contribute to those discussions, by all means do so there. (I don't mean this to come off as hostile and I apologize if it sounds that way - I'm just really tired of this conversation by now ;) – agent86 Dec 31 '13 at 2:02
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    I, for one, completely agree with this answer. Allowing every question to stand just because it asks for a mod for an existing game is exactly the same problem as game recs, as I stated in the previous question. Either we have a problem within the game to solve, and the question can be reworded to bring that out, or we close it. – Frank Dec 31 '13 at 4:17
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    I see this as: Q: "Are we closing "mod rec" questions contrary to community consensus?" A: "Yes, we are indeed closing "mod rec" questions contrary to community consensus." This does not set a good example of respect of community consensus. – galacticninja Jan 4 '14 at 7:01
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    @galacticninja Whereas I see this as Q: "Has the community consensus shifted over time to be in favor of closing 'mod rec' questions" A: "Community consensus right now is to reword them to be non-mod-specific, whether by direct editing, close-edit-reopen, comments to the OP, whatever". – Billy Mailman Jan 4 '14 at 18:18
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Billy Mailman said that we should close mod rec questions to encourage users to edit their posts from the form

Is there a mod to do X in game Y?

to the form

How can I do X in game Y?

Our friendly mod Agent86 thinks this is pedantic.

I think when we find a mod-rec question, it would be easier to edit it to a proper question than to mess with closing and reopening it. New users aren't penalized for missing the distinction, and it only takes one user to make the edit.

  • I'm aware that I am not very active on this site and not up-to-date with the history of mod-rec questions. I apologize if I've treated this issue inappropriately. – Kevin - Reinstate Monica Jan 3 '14 at 1:54
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I've always seen these types of questions as more of a way of saying "I would be ok if the answer to my problem lies in a mod".

I completely disagree with Billy Mailman's suggestion that mod recommendations are an example of the XY problem. They actually seem more like asking about the problem then proposed solutions. The problem is that some users are looking for answers in the base-game while others are willing to mod their games.

Best example of this is probably Minecraft. Take this question as an example. As it is asked, it mentions nothing of mods so perhaps they want an answer in Vanilla Minecraft or perhaps mods are acceptable. If they added "Is there maybe a mod that does this?" then it is clear that answers involving mods are acceptable.

As always, bad questions span across all types of questions. Example: if I ask "What are all the mods for Minecraft" then that should be closed for reasons of any list question.

TL;DR

Questions asking about mods generally fall into 2 categories. Either they are asking about the specific mod or they are verifying that answers involving mods are acceptable. Neither of these seems like an issue.

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Even with our mods, mod rec is a contentious topic. I don't see this being any other way in the community, unless we set hard rules. Which we can't, because the topic is so open ended. So you using your mod vote to reopen questions closed by the community, based on our understanding of this issue, doesn't sit right with me. I'd appreciate it if you'd allow the community to handle this ourselves, please.

The way I understand it, mod recommendations are allowable if there's a core problem being solved. Something within the game already that someone just has difficulty with, and needs a little help. As stated in your answer, disregard the supposed solution, and focus on the problem. If there is a problem within the question, something we can address, that's what I edit the question to. If its just someone who doesn't like how the mechanics work, and wants a mod to change them to something more favorable to them, that's something I will vote to close without a moment's hesitation.

Our expertise lies in gaming. There are lots of side skills that accrue naturally as part of that expertise, but those are not the focus of Arqade. And as I've said before, allowing any and all mod recommendations is as bad as game recs. Some games have enough mods to make the scope as large as game rec, and those have the exact same problems. We're not here to provide things that might work. We're here to see the problem the user is having, and providing solutions to that specific problem. If the problem is that the user doesn't like the way the game works, well, not every game is for every person.

We're not in the business of hand tailoring a game to a user's liking. Just as we close questions that ask for game genie/shark codes to do specific things, we close questions that ask for mods that do certain things. The scope is too broad to be feasible.

For those questions that have a real problem, and the user is assuming only a mod can fix it, we can reword it to bring the problem to the forefront, remove the request for a mod, and continue on. Like you said, mods can make valid answers, but not if the only valid answers are mods.

  • Note that a valid answer to this type of problem would ideally point out it can't be done in the manner requested, and provide a workaround. If there is no workaround, this would be one of the few questions where I think, "No, this isn't possible." would be a valid answer. – Frank Dec 31 '13 at 5:12
  • I notice that there are several downvotes going on, and yet, not a single argument as to why. If you're looking to change my mind, you're doing an awfully bad job of it, downvoters. – Frank Jan 2 '14 at 18:20
  • I've read through your answer twice now, and while I do agree that any question involving mods should have a specific problem, I'd like you to clarify a line for me. "... mods can make valid answers, but not if the only valid answers are mods." So if I had an actual problem playing a game, such as my keyboard inputs for minecraft weren't bein recognized, and I therefore wished to try a controller instead (this is all made up on the spot mind), but the only way to do this, or fix the keyboard error, were a mod, I would be out of luck? Correct me if I misunderstand, but that's how I read it. – LLF Jan 17 '14 at 18:08
  • Now if I was just asking for a mod to use a controller because I just wanted to play with a controller instead of a keyboard, I can see that one being closed. So don't read my example like that. I also feel like an edit is not needed if the problem is clearly stated in the question. If there's a non-mod way, as stated elsewhere in this thread, just answer that way to the effect of, "An ingame solution to this would be ___, and wouldn't need to be downloaded/installed as a mod would, making it more time effecient." – LLF Jan 17 '14 at 18:10

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