Currently, when someone sees a question about something that doesn’t seem a good fit for the site, the only thing they can do is the least-effort option is to vote to close it for the reason that it ‘does not appear to be about retrocomputing, within the scope defined in the help center’. This may leave the asker puzzled as to why their question is considered off-topic: clearly if the asker posted the question, they must have thought it was on-topic, spammers notwithstanding. And it’s not just the askers who are baffled. I myself semi-regularly see questions being voted off as supposedly ‘off-topic’ that I would consider perfectly within scope according to past consensus. Sometimes reasoning comes in comments, but not always.

So I think more specific close reasons are needed, to encourage voters to explain themselves, and to provide more actionable feedback to askers. That said, like before, I don’t think any new close reason should come with an automated migration path. Migrations are too cumbersome to undo, and the closures too often turn out wrong and get reversed later.

I think I’m going to submit proposed close reasons as answers under this question, so that they can be voted on individually. If anyone else wants to do the same, each proposed close reason should include the following:

[Short moniker] [Explanation what questions fall within this close reason]

[Rationale for closing questions falling under the criteria]

Displayed to the asker:

[Instructions how to edit the question to make it on-topic or where else to move it]

And optionally some rationale for introducing the close reason and defining it in such a way.

  • 1
    Other than the three I already posted, I also have drafts for ‘non-computing electronics question’ and ‘ludonarrative gaming question’, but I am not too satisfied with either, so I am not submitting them yet. Mar 9 at 15:53
  • 1
    As a note. We can have a maximum of three custom reasons. They can be changed by two moderators acting in concert. - Adding migration targets is a different animal.
    – Chenmunka Mod
    Mar 9 at 18:06
  • Doesn’t Stack Overflow have five? Mar 9 at 18:09
  • SO has more of many things due to its very high traffic. The mods "edit close reasons" dialogue on this site says three.
    – Chenmunka Mod
    Mar 9 at 18:11
  • 2
    @Chenmunka If we have a pressing need, we can ask for more. But, the reason for the limit (high cognitive overhead for close-voters) is still definitely real, so we should still try to have as few as possible.
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Mar 9 at 18:36
  • 2
    By the by, close notices have two more sections: the text shown on the banner for everyone, and the text shown to people who aren't the asker. (We should probably decide what close reasons we want before investing too much effort into writing the text, though.)
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Mar 9 at 18:40
  • I'd like to see the 'ludonarrative' proposal, since I admit to being particularly uninterested in the many questions along the lines of 'I hazily remember some vague detail of some game I once played when I was a child, what is it?' Mar 19 at 21:45
  • @another-dave You can add identify-this-game to your ignored tags. If you want to make it off-topic outright, I think that's a separate proposal. Mar 20 at 17:57
  • I like all three suggestions as each will greatly to improve feedback and reduce follow up discussions. They will make the whole process more visible to anyone new to the site. I would as well support the "non-computing electronics" one. The "ludonarrative" has it's merits, but I'm unsure if it woud work well, as those may often need a case by case decision. Game content implementation was, back then, more often dictated by hard and software capabilities of systems hen the primary intention of the game idea.
    – Raffzahn
    Mar 28 at 1:49
  • @wizzwizz4 I would think that we have, by now, forged out that area quite a bit - maybe even more than other sites ever will. It is time to make that part work to our benefit.
    – Raffzahn
    Mar 28 at 1:52
  • @wizzwizz4 what RC.SE is about and how to foster useful content.
    – Raffzahn
    Mar 28 at 19:17
  • @Raffzahn We've got a lot less documented than most other sites. Even I'm not sure what our policies are, half the time, and it's kinda my job to know that! I'd really appreciate if you posted some self-answered Q&A pairs on meta, where there are gaps in what things are documented.
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Mar 28 at 20:40

3 Answers 3


Modern computing question The topic of this question does not involve retrocomputing in any way, not even in emulation. All hardware and software mentioned in the question are considered contemporary, and not related to retrocomputing at all.

Questions about hardware and software that is currently supported or substantially similar to still-supported versions used in production are considered outside the scope of the site.

Displayed to the asker:

Edit the question to focus on subjects within scope, if possible. Otherwise you may leave a comment asking to migrate the question to Super User.

I specifically exclude emulation here, since emulation questions should have a separate rationale, given that some emulation questions are in fact accepted. This close reason should only be used for uncontroversial cases, like people not understanding the ‘retro-’ part of the site name who ask about Windows 10.

  • 1
    I feel that the "Displayed to asker" message seems a bit vague, and that it should explicitly include something about modern/contemporary computing not being a valid topic - that is, after all, the reason for closure. Mar 10 at 11:50
  • 2
    I imagined it would be displayed together with the second paragraph above, and likewise for the other reasons. Mar 10 at 18:48
  • the "not even in emulation" - isn't really obvious what that means to me
    – davidbak
    Mar 10 at 21:31
  • @davidbak It means what it says, that not even an emulation of a retro system is involved. Mar 20 at 17:49
  • are considered contemporary - raises a question, how and by whom? Maybe just provide some guideline here, instead it's just weasel wording that is going to be abused. that is currently supported is also problematic, since, e.g. some really old and obscure DOS systems are (or were, not long ago) still supported by specific vendor in specific conditions. Also, "support" is vague, e.g. is Windows XP still supported or not? Is it retro yet or not? Maybe Windows ME? Windows 98? Windows 95? Windows 3.11? ... IMO, some more clear and definite rules are needed here.
    – user213769
    Mar 28 at 13:38
  • to elaborate - "should only be used for uncontroversial cases" is problematic, because, well, there will be controversies with a close reason stated just like that. Saying "that were initially released before year 2000/more than 20 years ago/10 years ago/whatever and/or are not actively supported by a major vendor" would be lot more clear and uncontroversial later on IMO. (yes, the exact wording can be changed, and there will always be corner cases, but at least some of the ambiguity and potential for abuse will be gone). I wholeheartedly support this close reason, but not this exact wording
    – user213769
    Mar 28 at 13:42
  • and, just to show why I think this is important: we have e.g. retrocomputing.stackexchange.com/questions/5133/… ; retrocomputing.stackexchange.com/questions/2461/… also. IMVHO, they are perfectly good here. XP is "retro" because mainstream support ended. OTOH, Windows 7 and 8.1 are also unsupported now, since January 2023'. Does Windows 8.1 questions are retro enough or not? I think the question is completely valid and needs answering/discussion here first before this close reason is up.
    – user213769
    Mar 28 at 13:48

Shopping question This question concerns product availability, pricing, or other current market conditions that are specific to a geographic area and are likely to change rapidly.

Answers to this question are likely to become obsolete quickly. Shopping questions are considered unfit for a long-term knowledge base, and are therefore off-topic.

Displayed to the asker:

Edit the question to focus on matters where answers are likely to stay useful in the long term. Otherwise, some kinds of shopping questions may be accepted by Hardware Recommendations or Software Recommendations; review those sites’ policies if you want to ask your question there.

Compare , especially Should we allow questions about where to buy parts?. This seems to be a policy adopted in most sites on the network. (I have not actually looked much at HWRecs or SWRecs, so I might be wrong to recommend them.)

  • Of the three this might be the one needing the least attention. This is not an argument against, it would for me be the one to drop if the number has to be limited. The other two (especially the emulator one) may be more often appropriate and thus helpful.
    – Raffzahn
    Mar 28 at 1:56

Emulator integration question This question concerns configuration of an emulator against a host platform, or other matters that are non-existent on the original emulated platform, and has no relevance to a pure retrocomputing context.

Questions about emulators are within scope of the site only to the extent they cover problems also present on the original platform, or analogous ones. Questions about installing an emulator on a modern platform are considered to concern modern computing and are therefore off-topic.

Displayed to the asker:

Edit the question to focus on aspects that also exist on the original platform. Otherwise you may leave a comment asking to migrate the question to Super User.

Compare tag wiki for and Is emulation on topic?; I think this wording matches the consensus expressed in the latter. This reason would cover questions like https://retrocomputing.stackexchange.com/revisions/25757/1 or ‘how do I configure DOSBox to output to PulseAudio’.

  • 4
    I don't think this needs an entire close reason devoted to it. Fundamentally, these questions are off-topic because they're about modern computing.
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Mar 9 at 20:05
  • 1
    But it’s going to be hard to phrase the ‘modern computing’ reason to also cover emulators without some people going ‘the emulator is modern, therefore it’s modern computing, full stop’. We already have that, in fact. Mar 9 at 20:13
  • 2
    Rare enough that it doesn't deserve to occupy one of the small number of slots available - just use a custom reason for these. Mar 10 at 11:46
  • 1
    I absolutely disagree that emulation of old platforms should be considered off topic.
    – JeremyP
    Mar 20 at 10:51
  • @JeremyP - I agree 'some' emulation questions are on-topic, particularly ones that are either 'how do I solve this problem in this emulator I am writing?' (which I think of as a disguised question about the hardware) or maybe 'how do I install this OS on my emulator?' (which has an analogue in real hardware), but not 'how do I run the HAL-9000 emulator on RedHat Linux?', which is all-modern. For some of us, emulation is all that's available for air-conditioned machine-room systems. Mar 20 at 17:39
  • @another-dave I disagree. It's still retro computing in that the person wants to do some retro computing but can't because they can't make the emulator work. It's more retro computing than the endless "when did the first x appear on a y?" questions. At least there's actual computing involved.
    – JeremyP
    Mar 20 at 18:20
  • While I agree with Wizzwizz4's general classification, not at least as that's the common ground we're came to use over the years. Nonetheless @user3840170 is right, that a finer feedback is quite helpful to anyone not following that discussion as close an more often than not come up with the long decided argument about any emulation topic being retro related.
    – Raffzahn
    Mar 28 at 1:25
  • @JeremyP The point has been closed since long time with a clear definition: If it's about behaviour or details found with the original system than it's clearly on topic, anything else (i.e. about the emulations implementation, operation and environment) is off-topic. The argument about 'getting it to work' has been as well discussed and it was seen as not really helpful - except the emulator itself is a no longer supported, ancient piece of technology. In all other cases that emulators support site, forum, bug tracker or maintainer is the appropriate target, not RC.SE.
    – Raffzahn
    Mar 28 at 1:40
  • @Raffzahn I don't agree. If you want to welcome people who are interested in retro computing, which I assume we do, you do not turn them away when they are failing at the first hurdle. That should be common sense. It's not like we are being inundated with questions and most of the ones we do get are of the "when did x first become a feature of y" variety. That is computer history, not retro computing.
    – JeremyP
    Mar 28 at 8:24

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .