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I was aware that we do not accept generic programming questions, but does this include questions where the problem was encountered in game developing but turns out to be generic?

I came across this question, today, where a user was asking about a Unity error. A user voted to close the question as the context was generic programming, and commented on an answer telling the user not to answer such questions. Ultimately, the asker thinks the problem actually is specific to game developing, which in turn is adding to confusion. In the example, for instance, the user refers to a generic constructor problem as a "Unity error".


Previously, I have noticed that 'generic' issues encountered during Game Developing do not receive close-vote attention.

I frequently run into similar examples that are left open, answered, and upvoted. The clear difference is that it takes the effort of attempting to answer the question (or rather, solve the askers problem) to reveal the generic nature of the actual problem. Previously not giving it as much thought, I am sure some of my own answers simply address generic issues, and have nevertheless been accepted.

Examples I have seen include:

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Answers don't make a question on or off topic. Questions do.

If the question is obviously a generic programming issue or error, such as interpreting the meaning of a compiler errror (as is the example you linked), it's reasonable to vote to close as off-topic.

Otherwise the questions is probably fine.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This still leaves much ambiguity, as it does not address the fact that many other examples are generic programming. I mention the answers mostly because I feel users are having to address the answer to understand the generic nature (for example, the question I linked had its close vote started by a user only after they looked at the answer), but the questions themselves still base themselves in generic programming. A good example is the last question I link; while it has high votes, it simply asks how to read a text file. \$\endgroup\$ – Gnemlock Sep 28 '16 at 2:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Gnemlock My assertion is that when you vote whether or not to close the question, you vote based on that question. Answers should not factor in. The vote is for the question and the text of the question is what matters. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Sep 28 '16 at 3:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ As for the question that raised this issue, I object to your assertion that the user must have voted after reading the answer, because the timestamps only show you the order in which the user commented, not the order in which they read or made decisions. This is not tracked by the software. It seems entirely plausible that the user could have read the question, continued reading to the answer, and commented on the answer first since that's where the scroll position was, and then scrolled up. The decision to VTC could have easily been made after reading the question, though. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Sep 28 '16 at 3:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Further, I don't think it matters. The question seems pretty obviously off-topic to me right off the bat because the text of the error in the title is indicative of a general C# compiler error. I feel like you're trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill. As for other questions, if you feel they are off-topic, vote on them as such. I try not to go back into the archives of the site and retroactively apply my unilateral vote to old questions where policy changed or that might have been missed. It's not helpful. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Sep 28 '16 at 3:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ It doesn't help to enforce newer site policy on older questions? Now I'm even more confused. In such example we have the potential for old questions bumped to appear at the top (that is how the "how do I read text" question came up). Is there policy / best practice for only acknowledging new policy on older questions that could be of more help? This seems especially non-uniform, and especially confusing for new users. \$\endgroup\$ – Gnemlock Sep 28 '16 at 3:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Gnemlock If something bumps a question up to the front page, is flagged, or otherwise brought to our attention as moderators we generally act on it then. We do not explicitly go digging around in old posts trying to keep their open/closed status up-to-date with new rules that have come along. It takes far, far, far too much time and is mostly busywork. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Sep 28 '16 at 3:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ The rules we have in place here should exist to serve the sites goal of providing high-quality searchable answers to canonical game development questions. When we start to worry over retroactive enforcement of new policy and nitpicking over rules lawyering and all that, we start to lose sight of our utility. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Sep 28 '16 at 3:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ The "general programming belongs on SO" rule fits in to that view: it helps to delineate our scope relative to Stack Overflow so that we don't become a duplicate of Stack Overflow and to keep our focus on questions that deal with our area of expertise: game development. It's a pretty clear-cut scenario when a question is about a simple compiler error message. It's less clear cut in the "reading a file" case because perhaps there are Unity-specific issues involved (a better way than with File.ReadAllText, maybe ReadAllText isn't available in Unity like some BCL APIs aren't, et cetera). \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Sep 28 '16 at 3:56

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