A question about Linux support for Lumberyard was recently closed as off topic. A further comment mentions that:

.. questions about the support and software requirements (et cetera) of various products are not on topic here, in general, anyway.

I respectfully disagree. There's a precedent set by similar questions (this for example), & I didn't see anything in the on-topic/off-topic help indicating the contrary. The wording of the closed question could certainly be improved, but it's not obvious to me why it was closed, but the second example was not.

To clarify, I'm asking whether or not we should consider "does product X have feature Y" type questions as on-topic or not.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking why I closed that question, or are you asking whether or not we should consider "does product X have feature Y" questions on-topic or not? (I think they are separate discussions) \$\endgroup\$ – user1430 Apr 7 '17 at 16:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ The latter will likely inform the prior, so let's start there. It appears to me that some questions of the given form are okay, while others are not & there's no obvious way to know apriori which holds. What are the guidelines for such questions & how are communicated? \$\endgroup\$ – Pikalek Apr 7 '17 at 16:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ I personally don't think they're really okay at all, and I'm not sure why I bothered to answer that older one instead of just closing it. Probably I just wasn't paying enough attention. \$\endgroup\$ – user1430 Apr 7 '17 at 16:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ For the record, I didn't select that example to criticize you. I selected it because it was a recent question of similar form that happened to involve the same X. I'm interested in understanding the issue & making it less opaque to new users, not scrutinizing any particular person's moderation history. \$\endgroup\$ – Pikalek Apr 7 '17 at 17:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps I've misunderstood things - my reading of furthermore is that even if the question isn't requesting speculation, it ask "does product X have feature Y", which is also off-topic. Perhaps I should have edited the question to reflect the clarifications made via comments, but I don't see how I've misconstrued things, or what point I've made if I've done so. \$\endgroup\$ – Pikalek Apr 8 '17 at 2:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ For one, your saying the question was closed, citing a specific quote that was never used in closing the question. Editing your question to more clearly state that, as I thought that was quite obvious, to begin with. \$\endgroup\$ – Gnemlock Apr 8 '17 at 8:37

I don't think they're the best fit for our format here. I don't know if I'd call them off-topic, but there's a number of awkward aspects:

  • In my experience, most of these questions I've seen are answerable by looking at the technology's website/documentation, or searching for similar features in tutorials/games built with that tech. So I often downvote for lack of research effort when this comes up.

  • If they're not easily answered with reference to these resources, then to answer them you need not just experts in game development, but experts in that specific technology. Asking on a dedicated user forum or product support site for that tech is more likely to get it in front of the right people.

  • What would a "high quality" answer to such a question look like? Especially if the answer is "no, it doesn't support this" — lacking an official statement from the developers, this can be tricky to demonstrate concisely, and trying to expand on why the feature might not be supported tends to run into speculation about developers' intentions.

  • Like other tech questions, this can age badly. Maybe the feature wasn't supported a year ago when the question was first asked & answered, but is supported now. Until a subject matter expert notices this and adds an updated answer, new users stumbling across this question will get completely incorrect advice.

  • These questions are ripe for side-tracking into "what technology should I use" discussions anyway, eg. through well-intentioned answers saying "You could/couldn't use technology A for this, but you really should use technology B..." At the end of the day, it's still a "help me pick my tech" question with similar issues.

Any case I can think of for these questions could be more constructively reframed as "HOW can I achieve this goal with this tech" rather than merely "Can I", so my recommendation would be to encourage the user to edit the question toward this direction.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Your closing point, in particular, jives with the general idea that "yes or no" questions don't work well on SE: they almost always have an implied "if so, how?" follow up and it's usually better to just edit them into that form. \$\endgroup\$ – user1430 May 11 '17 at 5:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree that reframing such questions is probably better idea in general & that they are awkward. I still favor using community voting to reflect community values as opposed to closure. In either case, this answer currently best illustrate why such questions should be downvoted or closed. \$\endgroup\$ – Pikalek Jun 13 '17 at 14:33

I don't think we should permit questions that are about whether or not particular products support particular features.

These kinds of questions aren't really meaningfully related to game development in a way we should care about. Just because the product in question might be game development related doesn't mean querying about its feature is. That query is fundamentally the same whether you're talking about Unreal or Excel. It demands basic internet search expertise, not the specialized knowledge required of a game developer.

Further, the answers to these questions tend to change over time much more rapidly than the answers to other kinds of questions. A new version might come out tomorrow, adding or dropping features, rendering old answers obsolete. Permitting these sorts of questions open a door, in my view, to permitting the site to devolve in the direction of being bullet-point-wiki of feature support, which would do harm to the audience and create a lot of tedious busy-work to maintain that I think falls outside the scope of what a StackExchange site should want to be.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems like a slippery slope ("how can I compile X for platform Y" is in part, "does X support Y"). \$\endgroup\$ – Pikalek Apr 7 '17 at 17:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am not particularly in favor of "how do I compile X" either, for similar reasons (that's what X's documentation is for, and that's potentially a hugely broad and involved topic). \$\endgroup\$ – user1430 Apr 7 '17 at 17:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with your negative points, but differ in that I see them to be poor questions in need of down voting (i.e. if the answer is in the documentation, it shows a lack of research) rather than off-topic. Furthermore, some questions of the given form appear to be of higher value to the community than others. Why not let the market sort it out? \$\endgroup\$ – Pikalek Apr 7 '17 at 20:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think there is something that can be salvaged in "how to compile" questions, potentially. I don't see anything salvageable in "does this have feature X" questions, and only negative precedents. \$\endgroup\$ – user1430 Apr 7 '17 at 22:13

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