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As some of you may know from MSO, there will be changes coming to how we close questions. Among them will be the removal of "too localized" (see below for how that will work) and the addition of various of "off topic."

The "off topic" variations will each come with their own specific message, representing the different ways something can be off-topic. Also, the specific "off topic" variations will vary from site to site. So I wanted to ask what it is we should provide for various versions of "off topic"-ness. I'll put my suggestions in an answer below.

What we currently call "too localized" will simply be variations of "off topic", as it will on SO.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank goodness for discussion on this post; I was going to say, aren't discussion-oriented questions a poor fit for the Q-and-A format? \$\endgroup\$ – Shotgun Ninja Jun 13 '13 at 20:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ShotgunNinja the meta sites follow a different structure than the main site does. \$\endgroup\$ – Tetrad Jun 13 '13 at 21:19
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Here are my suggested off topic reasons.:

  1. Getting Started (though technically the "too broad" reason would apply, this one would be a much clearer way to close)
  2. Which tech to use
  3. Pure-programming question with nothing Gamedev-specific; should be migrated to SO.
  4. plz debug mai codez

Here's a first-pass at the wording for these reasons (attempting to be polite):

  1. Questions about how to begin developing a whole game, or otherwise how to begin developing games are not permitted on this site, per the FAQ.

  2. Questions about which programming language, game engine, library, or other tools to use in developing games are not permitted on this site, per the FAQ.

  3. This site accepts programming questions, but only when that question represents concepts and scenarios that are specific to game development. General programming problems that come up during game development can be handled on Stack Overflow.

  4. Questions should contain more than a block of code and a short description of the apparent problem. Please use existing debugging facilities to narrow the scope of the problem.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think we should have some wording beyond just "see the faq". It would be better to have some succinct reason for why a question is bad other than "the faq says it's not permitted". There's a reason those kinds of questions get closed, let's make that reason more apparent. With the exception of the generic "off topic" close reason in the MSO thread you linked to, all the other close reasons are good examples to follow. \$\endgroup\$ – Tetrad Jun 13 '13 at 21:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tetrad: The reason is "we don't want them." To add anything to that would require an explanation of why we don't want them, which goes into the nature of SE sites and other things that can't be summarized in one or two sentences. The "succinct reason" is "we don't want it." Furthermore... why does it matter why we don't want it? It's not going to help them fix their question. \$\endgroup\$ – Nicol Bolas Jun 13 '13 at 21:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the "getting started" questions easily fit under the "too broad" example, and the "which tech to use" questions fit under the "primarily opinion based" example from the MSO \$\endgroup\$ – Tetrad Jun 13 '13 at 21:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tetrad: But this way, the message is tailored specifically for those kinds of questions. It's much clearer what the problem is than the generic "too broad". Also, it makes it more clear that the problem cannot be rectified. If you ask a broad question about game design, you can make it reasonable by adding details that narrow the scope. However, if you ask a broad "getting started" question, you can never add enough details to make it reasonable. \$\endgroup\$ – Nicol Bolas Jun 13 '13 at 21:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm mainly going off the examples in the question you linked to in the OP as well as the examples given here in the accepted answer about how to solve the "off topic is too vague" problem (we've been typically using as "not constructive" instead of "off topic" to close those kinds of questions) meta.stackexchange.com/a/169824/149294. Some of those reasons go into detail (e.g. "mobile phones are not considered computers"), but then again some do not as well. \$\endgroup\$ – Tetrad Jun 13 '13 at 21:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ A mere "not permitted on this site" or "we don't want it" is exactly the kind of problem that's discussed here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/169814/… - the intention is clearly "We can do a much better job helping posters to understand why their question is off-topic" and it's worth reading that entire topic because it shows how this line of thinking is not in the spirit of the new closing reasons. Also "we need to convey that information with as little dependence on other sources (FAQ, etc.) as possible". \$\endgroup\$ – Maximus Minimus Jun 13 '13 at 23:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mh01: "we need to convey that information with as little dependence on other sources (FAQ, etc.) as possible" I don't agree with that at all. Quite frankly, the kind of person who won't read the FAQ is the kind of person we want to not be here. It is not wrong to be selective about the kind of people who come here. And I'm perfectly happy with a basic criteria of selection being the willingness to follow a link to find out what you did wrong. Remember: they are the ones who screwed up, not us. \$\endgroup\$ – Nicol Bolas Jun 14 '13 at 0:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't disagree with you on that; it's also the case that the type of person who asks this kind of question is generally the type of person who doesn't read the FAQ. Nonetheless, "per the FAQ" isn't going to change that (it's basically just an instruction to read something they're not going to read anyway, so it accomplishes nothing), and if doing it by the current guidelines helps turn even one bad person into a good one, it will have been worth it. \$\endgroup\$ – Maximus Minimus Jun 14 '13 at 0:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mh01: But I've suggested will already be saying more than they do now. The nebulous "Not Constructive" reasoning would be replaced with a clear message that what they specifically asked for is not appropriate on this site. The person who wants to ask a "getting started" question is going to consider most attempts to explain why such questions are bad to be specious. Just look at people on meta here or MSO who just don't understand why those are bad questions. Do you honestly think a couple of sentences is going to change their minds? \$\endgroup\$ – Nicol Bolas Jun 14 '13 at 0:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ But the purpose is not just to say "this is not appropriate", it's to say why it's not appropriate, and it's not aimed at the ~99% (or whatever) of people who will just ignore it, it's aimed at the remainder who may just pay attention and start asking good questions (a secondary purpose is to discourage "why was my question closed as X" questions on meta). Remember - this is not what I think, these are the guidelines we've been given to work within. \$\endgroup\$ – Maximus Minimus Jun 14 '13 at 1:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mh01: "Remember - this is not what I think, these are the guidelines we've been given to work within." All that means is that the "guidelines" are hopelessly naive. Furthermore, none of the suggestions on that MSO page explain why any of those things are bad. They don't say why shopping questions are bad. They don't explain why SU believes Smart Phones to not be computers despite that being prima facie stupid. So if those are the "guidelines", they're doing a poor job of meeting them; all of the suggestions are about what was done, not why that was bad. \$\endgroup\$ – Nicol Bolas Jun 14 '13 at 1:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mh01: Indeed, the "guideline" seems to be "how can we make the system convey what specifically made a closed question off-topic, with as little navigation as possible?" So what specifically made a "getting started" question off-topic? The fact that it's a "getting started" question and we don't accept those. Explaining why "getting started" questions are off-topic is not part of the guideline. \$\endgroup\$ – Nicol Bolas Jun 14 '13 at 1:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mh01: Ultimately, the point of the exercise is not to explain why the rules are what they are. It's to explain exactly which rule they broke. \$\endgroup\$ – Nicol Bolas Jun 14 '13 at 1:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd also drop the "per the FAQ". It makes it sound these are the Tablets of Law. I'd rather like a softer "check the FAQ for details". \$\endgroup\$ – Laurent Couvidou Jun 17 '13 at 17:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd also change "not permitted on this site" to "not appropriate for this site" - again, to make it sound less draconian. \$\endgroup\$ – Nathan Reed Jun 18 '13 at 23:24
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I would like to keep something in the spirit of the original too localized, because sometimes it was true.

"This question is unlikely to be helpful to any future users. It covers tiny typo errors, simple misuse of libraries, or custom code that will never be reused."

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    \$\begingroup\$ Definitely; the "Closing Changes" post includes this text: "Today, TL is used helpfully on code dump questions on SO, but the new OT reasons are where this is now correctly addressed. SO can use 'Large blocks of code with requests for debugging without meaningful supporting info' as a specific OT reason." and the same would be valid here (for much the same reasons). \$\endgroup\$ – Maximus Minimus Jun 13 '13 at 23:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ ... that will probably never be reused. You never know, if it ends on the interwebspace, somebody is gonna copy-paste it. \$\endgroup\$ – Laurent Couvidou Jun 17 '13 at 17:02
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The new off topic mechanism is in place, and we only have space for 3 custom close reasons.

The top close reasons seem to be the following, so this is what I would propose:

  • "Which tech should I use to X" (off topic because it'll usually just be a list of answers. More detail here: Are "What should I use to do x?" questions really on-topic and good?". I'd probably add "consider changing your question to be 'how do I do X' instead of 'what can I use to do X'"

  • non-game-dev-specific programming questions (should be on stack overflow)

  • "how do I get started?" (design paralysis, not really answerable, too broad, etc.).

The "dump of code" type question might be mergeable with #2 if worded appropriately, but I feel they're really separate reasons.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think the second one should be limited to programming, as we've also had off-topic questions regarding asset creation, security etc. It could still mention though that generic programming questions should be asked in Stack Overflow. \$\endgroup\$ – msell Jun 26 '13 at 5:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Such a shame there's not room for the 'OT because it is about debugging your code for you.' Do we have usage stats on the OT close reasons? I wonder if the in-practice reasons might actually show that the frequencies of the various reasons aren't what we expected when we picked the top 3... \$\endgroup\$ – MrCranky Feb 18 '14 at 9:47

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