I have just harvested the questions asked on Gamedev.SE in the last 12 hours (from when I started writing this). Here they are, from most recent to last:

  1. The most popular pattern for game-related programming in C++
  2. Do UDP game clients/servers block for receive calls?
  3. 2D jerky motion with AddForce and physics
  4. simulating light using masks on iPad
  5. 2d character sprite customisation
  6. Is there anything equivalent to Portal 2's linked_portal_door in any other engines?
  7. How to make and correctly use progress bar in cocos2d-iphone?
  8. What is the correct way of changing image of existing CCSprite?
  9. Something like libgdx for C++ / cross-platform (with mobile) SDK
  10. CCsprite.flipX not working!
  11. Do Apple and Google ask for a share if custom payment is done in a free app?
  12. Sea water shader using only fragment processor
  13. VBO and gl*Pointer management practises?
  14. Carmack Head Mounted Display optimized DOOM and the Oculus Rift are on the way, where are some good developer forums for this new class of HMDs?
  15. XNA Framework sprite vectors and also scaling

In 12 hours, we got 15 questions. So let's look at how well we're doing.

#1 is pretty obviously unacceptable. If that were on SO, it'd have been closed and deleted inside of 10 minutes. It's clearly subjective, polling, and not constructive; it's not even good subjective.

#9 is likewise garbage. It's a "find me some tech" questions, which we don't do.

#13 is at best borderline.

#14 is obviously unacceptable too.

So, of the 15 questions, 4 are things that ought to be closed. The concern isn't the ratio of 4:11 (over 25%); the concern is the fact that all four questions remain open.

#1 is understandable; it's recent, and GDSE doesn't get huge amounts of traffic. But as of right now, #9 has exactly one close vote: mine. #13 again has only my close vote. And #14 has three including mine. (note: #1 was closed 1 hour 34 minutes after it was posted. Which is pretty reasonable for a site this size).

Question 9 has been on the site for 8 hours. Granted, these are daylight hours, and it's only been viewed by 35 people. Indeed, all of these questions have low view counts, mainly in the 30s and 40s.

Having these kinds of questions on the site for extended periods without closing them is a broken windows problem. It gives the appearance that these questions are accepted. If that's what we actually want to say, well, that's a matter that we should take up as a community. But if it's not, if these ought to have been closed, then not closing them is a problem.

So, what is going on here? Is this just the community refusing to close inappropriate questions? There has been some resistance to the idea of closing the obvious poll question.

Are there not enough users with close voting rights to do something about it? That suggests a deeper problem: that many users leave or otherwise aren't sufficiently active to get rep and privileges on the site. That we have a lot of new people but few experts. That's not healthy.

One thing that would be indicative of the latter is a large number of "newbie"-style questions. Things like 8 (due to the answer being something you could look up) and 12 (overly broad due to not really understanding how difficult that task is). I'm not sure if there's enough to say that this is happening, but I do have a general sense that there is a fair degree of cruft on the site.

What do you think? Is this a real phenomenon, or is it just a bad 12 hours (where the people who would close it weren't around or haven't yet dropped by)? Do we need to be more proactive about closing bad questions? If so, how do we do that?

  • why did you approve "Sri Harsha Chilakapati" edit for answer to "Choosing the right game engine [closed]"? I know it is completely unrelated to this topic, but everybody in chatroom is wondering WTF? – Ali1S232 Aug 11 '12 at 1:53
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    @Gajet: I... don't know. Looking at it now it's clearly spam. I apparently didn't read it very closely. Sorry about that. – Nicol Bolas Aug 11 '12 at 2:09
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    If you see something that is obviously unacceptable, flag it. It'll get moderator attention before, say, I get time to go through all of the rest of the questions. – Tetrad Aug 12 '12 at 7:20
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    Also I think that in the general case, if a question is something like -4 then most people don't see it. At least that's my experience, I don't know if that's actually the case. – Tetrad Aug 12 '12 at 7:21
  • @Tetrad That happens for me too. (Edit: taking what I said here and putting it in an answer) – doppelgreener Aug 15 '12 at 3:09
  • So if you don't have the rep to vote for a close you should flag instead? I haven't flagged anything as I thought it was there for more serious issues than bad questions... – Mikael Högström Aug 16 '12 at 9:29
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    Yes, you should flag. – Josh Aug 16 '12 at 15:26
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    I used to be more active in closing questions and commenting on issues. But it often felt like I was the only one commenting, giving me a rep as a hard ass. It's also fatiguing to always be running clean up, so I still vote to close, but I'm not as active about it. I only voted on two of the four you listed. Basically, overall, we either need more people that vote to close or more mods, and in more timezones. – MichaelHouse Aug 17 '12 at 14:40
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    Why was #5 deleted? – Dronz Apr 28 '15 at 18:39

Voting to close requires 3000 reputation. We only have about 50 users who are beyond that reputation gate, and while I recognize almost all of them, many of them seem to visit the site irregularly (based on a random sampling and review of the "activity" timeline for some of the users).

Of those fifty users, even fewer participate in meta discussion regularly. My hunch is that the core group of us to contribute to meta on a regular basis is probably no more than ten people.

Similarly, of those fifty or even those ten, I'm sure we don't all agree on taking such a stringent stand on discussion-oriented or subjective (et cetera) questions, or on how strict such a stand is warranted. We are only human after all.

Given that, I'm not entirely surprised that it takes us a while to amass the critical mass necessary to close some questions. Perhaps in addition to voting, one should flag the questions that are obviously egregiously off-topic or inappropriate, as the moderators tend to review flags rather quickly?

I don't think the overall quality of questions is going down, although I'm not sure if it's accelerating beyond our user growth rate (so in effect it stays approximately the same as we get an influx of new users who ask completely inappropriate questions but also retain older users who understand how to ask better ones).

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    50 users, and it's vacation time for a lot of people so 'we' don't tend to visit every 30 minutes now :P. – Roy T. Aug 18 '12 at 14:32

I think that part of the problem has to do with the fact that the people who do know how to ask appropriate questions are plenty aware on how to search for answers (here and elsewhere), so you will see less "intelligent" questions here because those people know of other places to look.

Also, a lot of the inappropriate questions are coming from people that will most likely give up on game programming because they either don't know where to look for their answers or ask questions that some don't feel like answering. If you look through some of the old inappropriate questions that get closed, you will see (more times than not) that those questions are the only ones on their profiles. That and I think some of them get offended that their post was closed so they leave.

This site is open to the public so you can't easily control the huge influx of aspiring game devs, and nobody is required to help with the 'housekeeping'. I don't really see any other option than to continue doing your part and eventually, more users will hit the 3k rep and hopefully help out. I like coming here so I know when I do get to that point, I will help out.

I've been using GameDev.SE less lately because of just how many trivial, uninteresting questions there are, or how many "help my code isn't working" questions there are*.

I'm here to learn from others, and to learn by articulating what I know into really good answers or solving nontrivial problems like in that tiles-on-walls question, and there's less opportunity to do both now. It is beginning to feel like digging through trash to find the good stuff.

* On code problems:

Even these are fascinating sometimes. When it's about an algorithm or advanced concepts, I love it. I loved learning about L4D's solution to dynamic pathfinding. I also loved sharing what I'd learned about how to detect open space, developing a way to put tiles on walls, or teach a person about OO design in answering how bots should be recognised by the game engine. The challenging stuff I find fascinating.

The problem is that a lot of these aren't challenging issues. They're solved by the asker just understanding programming better, sometimes by understanding their library better. Sometimes those library-related questions are good questions, sometimes they're not and the person wouldn't need to ask if they understood how to use programming libraries.

This place should be a place that deals with serious game development issues. Questions like that though turn it more into a place where we teach people how to program. It would help to draw a line somewhere.

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    You're basically suggesting throwing out questions that directly involve code. That would make GDSE into Prog.SE for game development: conceptual white-board programming questions only. Would that actually be a viable site? – Nicol Bolas Aug 15 '12 at 3:24
  • I don't know. I'm mainly just sharing my experience, and I don't think I've ruled out all questions directly involving code. What I have ruled out is questions by people that don't understand how to program or debug, and I have cast "I don't understand how to use this library"-type questions into a grey area where the question might be good or bad (and I'm not sure how to distinguish the good ones from the bad). – doppelgreener Aug 15 '12 at 3:27
  • @NicolBolas Also note: code questions which don't fascinate me personally aren't necessarily bad! I don't have any examples in mind of good code questions, but sometimes someone just has no idea how pathfinding works, and sometimes someone's wondering why their incorrectly written A* algorithm is screwing up, and here's one I'm iffy about: I don't know what to do with the results someone else's pathfinding algorithm produced. – doppelgreener Aug 15 '12 at 3:33
  • I kind of love the idea of a "Prog.SE" for game dev. I fear that it wouldn't see much activity though. Its definitely a site I would follow and participate in though. – SpartanDonut Aug 17 '12 at 13:46

I'd say it's mostly the fact that most people in this site are newbies. there are some active experts giving answers to almost all the questions people ask, like Josh Petrie, Byte56, David Gouvia and yourself. But as far as I can tell, these people don't even look what is being asked if the question looks like it's worthless. besides how bad the questions are has a real big impact on how fast they get closed, like number one in your list is closed by the time I'm writing this answer. I'm not saying there is nothing wrong with out community. It is a fact that our experts are very few, and they don't check the site regularly either. So you can see there is almost all the question have only one answer and that one answer is accepted. people check the site and start from the top checking all the questions, if they have at least one answer they usually skip that question even if that answer was not accepted, since they assume that answer was given by another expert and it's not accepted yet but going to be accepted. At least that's my opinion about this site. And there is one more thing, lots of people who know something doesn't have a question, and lots of people who have a question doesn't know anything at all! just look at people asking last 50 questions, there are only 6 people with reputation more than 200, And only 3 of them are above 500. This means most questions here are asked by some newbies who found GD with a google search and think this a regular forum they can ask whatever they like as long as it's related to game development.

I resisted myself to the closing of #1, as I was feeling it needed an answer that could be linked to for future similar questions... until Jeff pointed to a dupe that I didn't know about.

Maybe closing questions as duplicates of already-answered (and probably already-closed) questions would cause less resistance. It gives OPs something more than "sorry, this is not welcome here, goodbye". We already have a good set of "generic answers" to "not a good fit" questions, maybe they should be linked to more often.

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