I posted this question in 2010:

What is a good starting platform for a teenage game programmer?

Since then, it's had 22 up-votes, its answers have had at least 86 up-votes, and 5 people have marked it as a favourite question. It's had a wide variety of answers, which have been well informed, well presented, and incredibly useful to me, and, I would suggest, other people as well. A variety of potential introductory game development platforms, have been suggested, including one the day before it was closed that alerted me to Greenfoot - an Oracle-backed, Java-based platform that I hadn't heard of before, but looks ideal.

A few days ago it was closed as "not constructive", as far as I can tell by the unilateral decision of one moderator, rather than because anybody had voted to close it. Apparently my only appeal (according to the moderator who closed it) is to post here "if I really want to".

Well, I do want to. How can this question be viewed as "not constructive"? It does involve facts, references, and specific expertise. It hasn't elicited debate, argument or extended discussion, and it's not a poll. Is the gamedev board really better off with this question closed?


I agree with the decision to close.

The biggest problem with the question, from my perspective, is that it is a "best" question. It is a question that has no answer that you objectively measure as being the correct one and is quite open-ended (look at the variety of responses), and is therefore unsuitable for the site. It's also a question facilitating a set of answers that create a "list of" options, which means the question should be a community question if it allowed to live at all. Making a question a CW isn't really a desirable option, as they don't serve the focus of the site. They're basically a last-ditch way for a "bad" question to hang on a little bit longer.

Due to the combination of both factors, I don't see a real need for the question to remain open.

This isn't to say that the topic isn't interesting, valid, or useful to you or anybody else -- just that's it's not appropriate for this Q&A site.


First off, popular doesn't always mean good for the site. Closure also doesn't mean "this is a bad question", it means "this is a question that isn't a good format for our site".

There is an answer to another question that another user on this site wrote that I think encapsulates part of the reasoning:

Is that answerable? Absolutely not. Any answer given will be based entirely on opinion, because there is no best way to learn anything. I, for one, believe that the Superbible version 5 is not a particularly great learning guide because I disagree with its teaching methods. Does that make me "right"? Is anyone "right"?


There has been a lot of discussion by the moderators on the various SE sites on how to steer the sites' content towards what SE sites are good for, and that is expert answers to specific problems. http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/01/the-wikipedia-of-long-tail-programming-questions/

More to the point I felt that your question, namely "which is the best way to learn", is a "bad subjective" kind of question: http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective/

And "which technology should I use" is a "gorilla vs. shark" kind of question: http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/08/gorilla-vs-shark/

And there is flak associated with steering the site away from one type of post to another by closing questions. But at the end of the day, even though it's an interesting question, in my opinion, it just isn't the right fit for the site. http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/11/question-closed-and-its-probably-best-that-way/

Stack Exchange is about objectively correct answers that stand the test of time. There is little room here for questions that ask for something less correct or less permanent.


It hasn't elicited debate, argument or extended discussion, and it's not a poll.

Oh really?

This question has sixteen answers. They are all different and vary in quality. Each of them is just someone putting forth their opinion on the subject. Virtually none of them justify their opinion with anything approaching facts; the best that happens is that someone says that they've personally used it.

It has elicited nothing but debate. Oh yes, people aren't talking to each other (outside of comments). But they're all putting forth their unsubstantiated opinions about learning how to make games.

And despite having sixteen separate answers to choose from... none of them are accepted. How could they be? The question cannot be answered. There is no objective criteria by which someone could state that an answer was "correct". If it cannot be answered, then it is not a legitimate question for a Stack Exchange site.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Not Constructive is "This question is not a good fit to our Q&A format. We expect answers to generally involve facts, references, or specific expertise; this question will likely solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion.", NARQ is "It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form." Personally I think NC is more applicable, but at the end of the day it doesn't really matter that much. \$\endgroup\$ – Tetrad Jan 21 '12 at 1:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tetrad: Fair enough. \$\endgroup\$ – Nicol Bolas Jan 21 '12 at 1:57

This site tends to police these types of questions too heavily IMO. While some of them are too chatty, the members tend to blur their eyes and when they see type of content, it's automatically too subjective. This question, while it could have multiple answers, came out to be useful and should have received no further close votes. The FAQ may look like its against these questions but if you look at the questions in the beta, it was founded on these exact types of questions. Just because older members get tired, doesnt mean we should always close

All of that in respect of course, where I disagree on that, some of these closing are completely warranted, I just think if the question ends up being helpful, it should be locked so this exact situation doesn't happen. The only time this question detracted form the sites usefulness was when it was closed

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    \$\begingroup\$ "The FAQ may look like its against these questions but if you look at the questions in the beta, it was founded on these exact types of questions." That's a problem with the beta, not the FAQ. Explain how the question is not entirely subjective. \$\endgroup\$ – Nicol Bolas Jan 21 '12 at 4:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ I might have missed it but I think he asked for a good platform not the best. That's subjective by definition, but is easy to answer in a general enough way to be useful. You're getting caught up in semantics and not the meaning of that aspect of the FAQ. The most active members of this site posted similar questions to this as far as subjectivity in their first posts to the site. Which in area51, the first posts are intended to define the types of questions acceptable for a site. They defined it and since, many questions of this level have been asked and have been ok. \$\endgroup\$ – brandon Jan 21 '12 at 4:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Which in area51, the first posts are intended to define the types of questions acceptable for a site." Says who? There have been plenty of older questions closed and deleted on Stack Overflow for not being good questions. And questions are only "OK" to the degree that the community and moderators allow them. The moderators are trying to make the site better by not allowing these non-questions from existing. \$\endgroup\$ – Nicol Bolas Jan 21 '12 at 5:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, that he didn't ask for the "best" platform doesn't make the question "not entirely subjective". What constitutes a good platform? \$\endgroup\$ – Nicol Bolas Jan 21 '12 at 5:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Beta... The earliest questions set the tone and topic of the site for a long time. [ area51.stackexchange.com/faq ] Again you're caught up in semantics. Saying avoid subjective questions helps get rid of questions like "What's your favorite", which has no use on this site for sure. Asking where a good starting point is technically subjective, but is very useful for others coming to this site, hence the 8 favorites on the post.I agree some posts are useless that are subjective, I am just saying dont be so black and white when subjective terms are used and look at the content instead. \$\endgroup\$ – brandon Jan 21 '12 at 5:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Anything can produce useful information. "What's your favorite" questions can produce useful information. Stack Exchange sites aren't about producing any kind of useful information. They're about asking real, actual, answerable questions, and getting real answers. This question cannot be answered, so it has no business being here. That is the way of Stack Exchange, period. And if the tone of gamedev.se was set so poorly, then that's the site's problem, a problem that should be fixed. Otherwise, the place is no better than just another forum. \$\endgroup\$ – Nicol Bolas Jan 21 '12 at 5:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think any game programmer could accurately answer what a good starting point for game programming is. I'm done though, other people may read my statements more objectively. Edit: not meant as blunt as it comes off, i realise it's hard to come off rules when they're set in a black and white manner. Just my opinion that we are missing out on some questions by closing (some) useful posts without much thought \$\endgroup\$ – brandon Jan 21 '12 at 5:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, we are "missing out" on some questions. I don't think that's what's being argued here. What is being argued is that some questions, while not entirely devoid of merit on their own terms, don't fit here. I also think that the discussion in this particular topic (the whole question not just your answer) and in chat that goes on re: the same subject indicates that we aren't closing entirely without thought. \$\endgroup\$ – user1430 Jan 21 '12 at 16:20

The question might be borderline. But does that really warrant closing it more than a year after it is asked?

There is often little use to use to moderating old questions. If it wasn't closed back then I'd say there need be a pretty strong reason for closing it now. For the question in question, no such strong reason exists.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I would disagree, on the basis that the policies and practices of a site change over time, and new users can still find their way to the site via old questions. Plus they remain as precedent, open or closed, so they should be updated if possible to reflect the current focus of the site. \$\endgroup\$ – user1430 Jan 23 '12 at 16:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ That is, you are for retroactive enforcement of rules? \$\endgroup\$ – aaaaaaaaaaaa Jan 23 '12 at 17:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ Mm, I wouldn't generalize it that far (I wouldn't for example agree that a user should be banned for a post in 2010 based on a rule enacted in 2012), but in the case of what questions are considered appropriate or not, yes. \$\endgroup\$ – user1430 Jan 23 '12 at 17:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Try to look at it from gkrogers's point of view. He writes a question, get some answers, and everything is fine, then more than a year later his question is suddenly marked as "not constructive". This does not make a lot of sense to the commoner. Of course, decisions has to made to benefit the site as a whole, but closing a question always has a negative impact on at least one users experience, to warrant the closing there has got to be at least an equivalent positive impact on the rest of community. \$\endgroup\$ – aaaaaaaaaaaa Jan 23 '12 at 18:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Part of the reason for moderating it after the fact was that it was one of the more popular questions. Consider this question on SO, which was closed almost two years after it was opened. stackoverflow.com/questions/1711 If it was a question that had a small subset of answers then yes, I agree with you. But if it's on the front page of questions sorted by votes then we need to pay special attention to them. \$\endgroup\$ – Tetrad Jan 23 '12 at 18:49

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