The moderation lately has been getting harsh. It's too severe in my book, and is not conducive to creating a welcoming or even useful community environment. New people should not be afraid to ask questions, even if they are "foolish" ones. It makes us look mean, grumpy and a closed, "Go away n00b" type of community.

Imagine this place as a store. Someone comes in and asks an obviously naive question. Shutting them down is probably eliminating them as a customer. It's also probably encouraging them to tell friends, "Don't go there - they are rude."

On the other hand, helping them out and giving them a positive, encouraging and helpful experience is almost guaranteed to turn them into a customer.

Case in point, How does one develop a first person shooter with a one man team?

That's a perfectly reasonable question. There are legitimate answers to it. I have one I'd post, but I can't because it got shut down.

Yes, the poster is probably naive. But let's not send the first time posters away with a firm slap. Let's guide them a bit and help them learn. Let's get them moving forward rather than just slap them down.

The answer RE: One man team FPS games? See early Counter Strike. OK it was two developers, but one guy pretty much just did the voices, and another guy did all the coding & modeling. Also, see Garry's Mod. One author, FPS, over 1 million copies sold on Steam.

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    Additionally, some of us are more than happy to answer the beginner questions. Some of us are much more suited to answering the hard core tech questions. If a question isn't your style, it doesn't mean it's not someone else's style. – Tim Holt Aug 10 '11 at 22:46
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    It's that term, "Nazi moderator" that comes to mind - we all know what it means. – Tim Holt Aug 10 '11 at 22:58
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    No, actually, I don't know what it means. There's no defined protocol for murder-over-internet, so I guess you must be thinking of some other aspect of the word "Nazi". – mmyers Aug 11 '11 at 13:33
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    ...Godwin's law?! – Martyn Aug 11 '11 at 16:08
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    Okay, let's not get too relaxed here :) this question is just begging to be closed... – Cyclops Aug 15 '11 at 22:08
  • Sigh... and here's Exhibit B... – Cyclops Aug 16 '11 at 23:00
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    I'm with @TimHolt on this, noobie users may need low rep users help why does a mod even need to look at such questions? instead they often feel they have an obligation to shut down a question simply because of its "niavity" which for a user with 1 rep is brutal. Let the site be what it is to some extent and have mods step in when needed. – War Aug 11 '14 at 16:48

I think this is a general problem with the Stack Exchange site methodology. There are many means of communication: voting, flagging, commenting, even chat. But what each one means is very ill-defined.

What does a downvote mean? To a newbie, it means, "Someone here didn't like me." To another person, it means, "This question is not helpful." To another, it means, "This question does not fulfill my criteria of being 'good'."

One good aspect of forums is that there's exactly one means of communication: replying to a post. And it's very obvious what that means, since they have to say it.

One thing that would help is forcing users to write a comment in order to downvote. Or to select an already written comment that effectively adds 1 to its total.

On a site like Stack Overflow, it's really very simple, because questions there are almost always narrow, focused, etc. You have a programming problem. You go to SO to get a solution. You can look at all of the questions and see answers to them. You can see what questions others ask, so you might ask one in a similar fashion.

People go to SO if they have a problem. But people don't see GDSE that way. They want to think of it in terms of a forum. You'll get people who just decided one day to "make a game", so they see a game development site and start posting. They don't want Q&A; they want to talk. They want interaction. They want dialog.

If we're going to be a Q&A site for game developers, we have to stop those questions. They have to be shut down and closed. We have to be focused on real, answerable questions.

It's fairly easy to build a community around a forum. Communities are about communication, and forums do that very well. For dedicated Q&A sites, this is far more difficult. Communication, by the very design of the site, is restricted and rigid. How people communicate is muddled and non-intuitive.

If your question gets closed, you don't get an answer, period. Your question hasn't gone away; the site simply said, "NO!" and left you in the cold. Maybe you get a couple of comments linking to tutorials or other off-site information, but that's about it.

Allow me to put it another way. There is a difference between Q&A, and getting help. A lot of beginners want help, and the failure of them to get it here will drive them elsewhere, for both "help" and actual Q&A.

  • That does not answer the OPs point regarding GDSE being a "Go away n00b" community. I agree that there is a difference between Q/A and help but those who come looking for help, if they feel they were treated well, will come back when they have a real Question that can be answered. I think we need a better process to guide those "help" questions to chat, or gamedev.net or another forum. – Nate Aug 16 '11 at 19:32
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    +1. There's a difference between forum topic "Plz help me make game!!1" and Q&A post "How can I do A with B to achieveC?" – Kromster Aug 22 '11 at 13:25
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    There are websites for people who want to participate in dialog about a game. – Jonathan Dickinson Nov 29 '11 at 9:02
  • +1 & All you have to do to find out what a downvote means is hover over the icon, and a little tooltip appears to tell you. If, as a reasonably new user, you can't figure out to do that, then frankly I don't care if you misunderstand the feature. – Lightness Races in Orbit Sep 7 '14 at 0:24
  • If people coming to GDSE really want more of a community than a Q&A then we probably should advertise the chat system more prominently. E.g. for each closed question we could post a comment referring to the chat. I never used it so far, so I don't know how much activity there is. But it should be ideal to get quick tips for the broader questions. – Trilarion Sep 8 '14 at 8:02

It's not about how many people are happy to answer beginner questions. It's that too many bad questions drag the entire site down, reduce the S:N ratio, scare away other professional developers, and thereby make the site no different than gamedev.net.

It's not just that I don't want to answer an endless steam of bad beginner questions. It's important to me that you don't answer bad beginner question on this site either. If you want to help beginning game developers, there are no shortage of places on the Internet for that already.

There are good beginner questions. I'll vote those up. There are bad beginner questions. I'll vote those down. There are bad beginner non-questions. I'll close those. That doesn't make me a nazi. It doesn't even mean I don't like the person! It means I understand the notions of target audience and scope.

(Incidentally, there is massive irony in users with 101 rep or a couple of questions/answers telling me I should participate by answering bad/nonquestions rather than voting. Tim isn't guilty of this, but there are usually several in each "please be 'nicer'" thread.)

I have noticed a lot of questions being voted closed recently. But I've also voted to close a lot of those myself -- even questions that I would answer on another forum. My rationale is that this is not a forum, so questions that don't fit the direct Q&A format don't (generally, community wiki ones being an exception) belong.

I try not to be vindictive about it -- I don't think I down vote the question unless its particularly egregious. But the way I see it, if we let open-ended questions live just because the site is new and we're trying to bolster membership, we set a precedent we may have a hard time undoing.

Additionally, it makes the process of dealing with duplicate questions more cumbersome. When a question is clear and directed, a duplicate is usually obvious and can serve as a marker to the real question and answers. An open-ended, poor question is harder to isolate duplicates for. This leads to either questions with overlapping answers, spreading out the information (a thing we close questions as duplicates to help avoid) or it leads to questions being closed but the duplicates only touching on the kind of information the asker really wanted.

In this particular domain, it tends to be the case that beginner-type questions tend to be the most open-ended and inappropriate for the Q&A style format. You must, perforce, know something about a field to ask well-targeted questions usually and in game development it can be even more of an issue. I don't think the close votes and moderation are necessarily a sign that we don't want beginners(*) here, but rather a reality of that intersection.

I think the best course of action is to vote to close (or flag, or whatever is appropriate) and explain yourself in a comment. This can encourage the asker to reformulate their question (possibly thinking about it in more detail and coming up with a better question in the process) and also teaches them about how this site and its community operate.

(*) which is not to say that more expert-level questions would be undesired!

  • In case that we want more good questions from beginners what we still could extend a bit is putting emphasis on improving bad questions or resubmitting them in an acceptable format. Giving more hints to the newbie and asking him to improve or resubmit in an improved form while closing the old, unsuitable question. This would probably increase the number of good question but would also mean a bit of extra work for those who close... – Trilarion Sep 8 '14 at 8:11
  • Just out of curiosity, what do you think is the reason for the perceived relatively low part of expert questions? They do not have question and know all the answers? They do not trust there are enough experts here? .. – Trilarion Sep 8 '14 at 8:13
  • The case is that most of the times the users do not explain themselves, and OPs do not have a way to reformulate their question before it gets actually closed. – Luis Masuelli Dec 28 '15 at 15:37

Part of the problem is that there is a small, very active group of people who actually do embody the "go away n00b" mindset simply because they are starved for good, "expert" questions.

This is made even more severe by the dogpiling of negative votes. A good example of this is the question How can I implement gravity?. If you don't have enough rep to see it, that particular question has 4 downvotes (most likely people who think the question is too simple and easy to look up) and 4 upvotes (people who think it's a reasonable question, and potentially who think that the downvotes were not warranted). Sure, it's a decidedly easy question, but 4 downvotes? And no comment as to why? Two "Not a real question" close votes?

Sometimes I feel like it might be better to intervene early with the frame of reference of a moderator than let the question get dogpiled by the community. I usually don't, though.

Like I said in chat, I fully expected that example question you gave to go negative early, even though there are potentially good answers to give, particularly if you take it from the less-naively-worded "how can I be effective at making a game with very limited resources". Granted, the op could've better explained what their goals were. For example, getting something up and running quickly would be the assumed purpose of the question, but if their goal was to start at the bottom and work their way up the technology chain, giving them examples of middleware to use wouldn't be very helpful.

  • I know the sting of negative votes with no comments - this question got two of them :) – Tim Holt Aug 10 '11 at 23:18
  • @Tim Holt - although I didn't vote either way on the question, I will note that votes on meta -questions aren't really the same as votes on regular main-site question (despite the crappy tooltip). Usually a downvote on meta doesn't mean the question is bad, just that the person disagrees. Unless a question directly has a set of YES/NO answers below, there's really no other way of indicating agreement/disagreement. Well, okay, there's also comments, but aside from that... :) Voting is a bit more concise than seeing 50 comments, anyway. – Cyclops Aug 15 '11 at 14:22
  • I think that "How can I implement gravity?" is kind of a semi good question in a way that it is a bit too broad and depends on the context. A puzzle solver surely doesn't need the same physics as a planetary movement simulation. I wish the questioner would have given more context. You see it in the answers, they are quite different and none of them is really excellent. I think that splitting that question into two or three to cover the relevant topics better would have helped the viewers of GDSE and asking for more context would have helped the questioner in getting the information he wanted. – Trilarion Sep 8 '14 at 8:18

Couldn't agree more with this suggestion. As a relative newcomer to this site, the tone of some of the moderation has been a bit of a turnoff lately.

I completely understand the need to cull out bad information in order to keep the site useful, and there needs to be room for constructive criticism and keeping new/naive users aware of the rules, but some of the comments that I've seen have ventured pretty close to personal attacks/hostility. The "what to do with new users" thing seems to be a problem common to all the Stack Exchange sites, but from what I have seen, the others tend to handle it a little more tactfully. And in fact most users here do the same, but unfortunately it only takes a bit of negativity to noticeably affect the tone of the site.

It's disappointing to me because there's a ton of really useful knowledge here, and I've recommended it to a few friends, but usually with the caveat of 'be careful what you post because some people can kinda be dicks'.

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    You're right that some comments have been too personal or hostile, at times. But (as far as I can tell), it's usually due to a feedback loop - the OP gets a (neutral) comment about their question being unsuitable, then the OP gets defensive and unpleasant, then the replies get more unpleasant, and it builds to a flame war. While I agree that the long-timers here should show more restraint :) , I also have to say that it usually starts with some poster refusing to admit any possibility that they might be wrong... – Cyclops Aug 16 '11 at 23:08
  • True, and I'm not sure if there is much that can be done about overly defensive OPs. I like Nicol Bolas's suggestion of requiring a comment for a downvote, though even if more downvoters made an effort to explain their reasoning, it would go a long way in teaching the rules to new users without provoking resentment. I have also seen a few cases where someone posted a bad question/answer and got piled on in the comments. Many of them don't seem to bother coming back to respond... – mrohlf Aug 17 '11 at 1:31
  • In theory everything here should evolve around posting and answering good questions. So the key question is alway how to improve bad questions. At some point you can not anymore because you don't know what the original poster wanted and he is not making visible effort to improve his question. Then you have to dismiss this question and however polite you do it, people will never like it. I think that a bit of frustration is unavoidable. But on the other hand criticism must always stay constructive - that's absolutely true. – Trilarion Sep 8 '14 at 8:22

I partially agree with the suggestion - I don't think moderators are being 'too harsh' because as Nicolas pointed out this is not a discussion website. The SO/SE family has always been a place to participate in very focused questions/answers; and hostility to 'zero-self-research' is a very common theme across these websites - and rightfully so, it is not our job to replicate the internet/Google. However, the question that the Tim pointed out is something that is quite difficult to research yourself: people just don't write literature about that kind of stuff.

I think these discussions were one reason the 'community wiki' feature was implemented: "I have some ideas - can anyone add to them?" That might be the answer: spend more time determining if the question should be closed or if it should be wikied - ideally that question should have one answer that is perfected by the community as a whole. It seems that 'questions where answers shouldn't earn rep' are being incorrectly classified as 'close this'.

One thing I have seen is 'trigger-happy' moderation; I have contested closed questions on a few occasions: mostly because the question looked (at first glance) identical to another question - often the devil is in the details. These questions are especially important on a website like GDSE because game developers are usually solving the same problem; however each one has their own weird borderline case to tackle. Before a question is closed as a duplicate I really think more effort (that is, beyond gleaming over the title) should be made in order to determine if it really is an 'exact duplicate'.

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    The "community wiki instead of close" mindset has fallen out of favor with SE moderation as a whole recently. If it's valuable enough to be on the site, with few exceptions, then it's valuable enough for the asker/answerers to gain reputation from them. CW isn't a way to allow poor questions to continue to exist. Some mods will say that the reputation part of it doesn't really fit with the decision making process anymore. blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/08/the-future-of-community-wiki – Tetrad Nov 29 '11 at 16:30
  • @Tetrad I could see why - I really didn't get the point of CW until I saw this suggestion. – Jonathan Dickinson Nov 29 '11 at 18:08

This place is not a store, and those people are not customers.

There is absolutely no reason to pander to those who cannot be bothered to read the help material or study existing questions before posting. By doing so you will only encourage more of such behaviour and, before you know it, this will be a den of detritus worthwhile to no-one.

It sounds to me like you think Stack Exchange sites are help forums or discussion boards; they are not.

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