Recently, not constructive has been changed to primarily opinion based. Some questions simply don't have a strictly evidence- or fact-based answer and the best answer is the opinion of majority. Or sometimes it's the opinion of some authority that makes the perfect answer.

There are many great questions that helped me understand game development on this site and a lot of them are opinion based, with I think... answers.

Why are primarily based questions not welcome on this site? Apart from closing them is there anything else we can do to prevent debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion? Is it possible to deal with primarily opinion based question in other way?


Closed opinion based question that influenced me the most and the wisdom from accepted answer is repeated many times in other questions/chat:

Great question that I consider opinion based and was not closed:

Question that I consider opinion based, but is nevertheless interesting (still very active):

  • It seems like the site allows an interesting, although discussion/opinion based, question live every once in awhile. Maybe gamedev just needs these types of questions every once in awhile to get their discussion itch scratched. – MichaelHouse Jul 10 '13 at 3:02
  • I'm in favor of closing the boss battles question, and I don't like "what should a developer never do." "Too awesome to use" does seem to fit into the realm where there is enough balance between objectivity and subjectivity. – Josh Jul 10 '13 at 3:09
  • Well, I put the boss battles on hold, and the "what should a developer never do" was already closed. – MichaelHouse Jul 10 '13 at 3:23
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    Mm. Still not a big fan of the 'boss battles' question; it's too open-discussion, without any particular question to be answered. I think asking about the design behind boss battles is useful, but I'd really rather such a question be phrased as "How do I decide whether boss battles are appropriate for my game?", rather than as "Tell me why every other game decided to use boss battles and whether there's any research into the matter (whatever that means) and what function they serve". – Trevor Powell Jul 10 '13 at 23:12

Questions with answers that are based on a single person's opinion are fine, but when the principal basis of the answer must be subjective and there are little to no supporting facts or objective arguments to be made in favor of one answer over another, the discussion doesn't fit within the StackExchange model.

Those questions should be taken elsewhere, perhaps to the chat, where refinement of the actual query can occur and hopefully mold it into something that is appropriate for this. If not, the question should be taken to another forum entirely. StackExchange sites are not meant to be everything to everybody.

  • A question with answers that have a lack of evidence supporting them is a fault on the answers, but not the question itself. – Alex Shepard Jul 10 '13 at 23:01
  • Not always, though. Some questions are just questions about somebody's opinion. – Josh Jul 10 '13 at 23:27
  • The text of the VTC reason makes it clear: "answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise" - this is standard SE wording and not specific to this site. Josh is correct - some questions just fall into the category that cannot be answered without "IMO" on every key point. – Maximus Minimus Jul 20 '13 at 22:35

These questions are interesting and fun to participate in the discussion. However, they are only the fun and interesting versions of off topic questions. Allowing such opinion generating questions opens the door to a wide variety of questions that don't have answers. Unfortunately, when we throw the bad subjective questions out, these fun ones go with. There is no correct answer to "Are boss battles important" or "How to prevent 'Too awesome to use' syndrome" or "What things should an indie game developer never do". All three of those questions just generate a list of individual opinions, without a correct answer. Real questions have answers.

  • I would disagree that the "too awesome to use" question can't have an answer. It might have multiple answers, but it is a problem with game design that has solutions. The "boss battles important" question can't have an answer because the question isn't sufficiently defined. Specifically, the "important" part of the question almost begs for opinion answers because the audience for "who is it important to" is undefined and people just assume themselves. "What should an indie never do" is just a list-of question. – Tetrad Jul 10 '13 at 16:38
  • I think all three of them can have answers. But none of them can have a correct answer. Because there is no single correct answer. There may be multiple answers that could be correct depending on the situation, but that's the point, "it depends". – MichaelHouse Jul 10 '13 at 16:43

This is my idea of the difference between this site and other gamedev sites:

This site is for questions that arise when you get stuck making your game (in any phase)

One should not ask here: Are boss battles important? It is a Game Dev question, and it is a good question. But it probably did not arise when the author got stuck making his/her game and therefore it is not solving a specific problem. I can't think of the right question that would probably arise when having difficulties designing a boss fight, but I think such question wouldn't be closed.

On the other hand, How to prevent the "Too awesome to use" syndrome probably was (or would be) asked by the author when designing such item.

IMHO this site should allow questions describing a problem, requiring opinion based answers that lead to solving the problem. General opinion based questions should be closed.

Of course there are many borderline questions and often people who vote close on one opinion-based question get interested in another one and won't vote... Sometimes a good question that might have good answer is closed. And I believe that's where the mods must take over and use their best judgement.

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    To hit on your point a bit more, I think the "voice" of a question (and the type of answers you would expect out of it) is pretty key. I, personally, don't want "discussions about games". There's a big difference between a game enthusiast asking why games do something and a game developer asking how to solve a problem. This site isn't meant for non-game-developers to be able to ask game developers questions. It's for game developers to ask each other questions. – Tetrad Jul 10 '13 at 16:35

Let's look at the three questions and evaluate what they are asking for.

  • What things should an indie game developer never do?

This is asking for a generalized list of stuff that game developers are encouraged not to do. And that's why it's not acceptable.

The fundamental purpose of all Stack Exchange sites is to build a functioning, searchable knowledge base of useful information, such that people can later find that information with ease (typically from a real search engine like Google). A list of suggestions for game developers to avoid is not searchable; it's just a random list of stuff. If someone found this question, it would only be by actually searching for "things not to do".

And people don't search for that stuff.

It's not even a comprehensive list, so if you're looking for things not to do, you haven't actually found it. You've found some things, but not all of them.

It's also too "chatty" of a question. While people could post their personal experiences with things they've done or seen done, people are more likely to just come up with stuff off the top of their heads. And the stuff will have no rhyme or reason to it: some will be game design, some will be programing, some will be art, etc.

  • How to prevent the "Too awesome to use" syndrome?

Is this question opinion-based? To a degree, yes. But the question is very clear and specific about what it's talking about trying to prevent. This invites people to provide theories of why this syndrome happens and therefore how to avoid it.

People are being invited to provide opinions on how to solve the problem. But that's not very different than people posting opinions about how to fix a particular program. People have different ways of solving the same problem. The thing that makes this question good is that the question itself is reasonably stated and meaningfully scoped. And thus we can judge answers based on that.

  • Are boss battles important?

This is really just a bad title. The question could be improved to ask about what bosses are and what function they serve in a game. And again, while it does invite opinion, it's still a specific, meaningfully scoped question.

On a site where less concrete, more subjective questions are allowed, we have to use good judgement to determine which ones are worthwhile and which are not.

Apart from closing them is there anything else we can do to prevent debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion? Is it possible to deal with primarily opinion based question in other way?

Like what? It's a binary choice: we either shut them down or we allow them. Anything less than switching them off is tacitly approving of them, thus encouraging others to provide the same.

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