I've been dragging my feet on this as much as the rest of us, but we really need to get around to writing our Help Center articles. I last asked about this over a year ago, and whilst there were some suggestions, I didn't follow through with them *ahem*.

Over the next few weeks, we're going to sort out what should be on each Help Center page. If it needs to be changed at a later date, a new question can be opened to discuss specific changes, but we need something there to guide new users that isn't buried in 200 pages of Meta.

To start us off, I've put together something using stuff from the following pages:

Some ideas for things to add:

  • A list of on-topic things and off-topic things (e.g. Colossus v.s. iPhone X)
  • Further reading links
  • A rule of thumb for guessing whether something's on-topic, and what to do if you're not sure (Hint: Meta)
  • I still have no idea how this process is supposed to work. Having said that, I'll get some sleep and try to do a writeup.
    – Raffzahn
    Commented Sep 9, 2018 at 3:19
  • 2
    @Raffzahn That makes two of us, then.
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Commented Sep 9, 2018 at 12:10

1 Answer 1


What topics can I ask about here?

Links for mods: Source and Destination

Please look around to see if your question has been asked before. It’s also OK to ask and answer your own question.

If your question is not specifically on-topic for $SiteName, it may be on topic for another Stack Exchange site. If no site currently exists that will accept your question, you may commit to or propose a new site at Area 51, the place where new Stack Exchange communities are democratically created.

How do we define Retrocomputing?

Retrocomputing involves the restoration, preservation, history and maintenance of computer and gaming systems of yesteryear.

Questions are most welcomed on

What should I avoid asking?

Since their invention, computers have been used in almost every possible context. It's always a good idea to check first if the answer you want is really about Retrocomputing. As a guideline, it might be advisable to check any question in doubt against the above definition first.

Common areas to avoid are (non exhaustive):

  • Questions about modern, currently supported computers are off-topic. This includes questions about earlier versions of a current machine or OS.
  • Questions regarding writing code that emulates retrocomputing features may be better asked on Stack Overflow.
  • Questions regarding configuration of emulators on a modern computer may be better asked on Super User.
  • Questions regarding emulation on specific machines may be better asked on other Stack Exchange sites. For example: Raspberry Pi, Ask Different, etc.
  • Questions about electronics are off-topic unless they are confined to dedicated examples of existing circuitry of an existing and on-topic computer with the intention to understand its workings. For everything else, Electrical Engineering might be a good site.
  • Almost all "What If?" or alternate history questions, as they are fictitious in nature and rarely bring genuine insight.

What's on-topic and off-topic on Stack Exchange sites is determined by community consensus. This page is a summary of that consensus, but is not exhaustive. For more information, see the [scope] tag on Retrocomputing Meta.

  • If you've updated this and I haven't noticed (I won't notice), please post a comment with @wizzwizz4 in it so I can copy the new version to the Help Center.
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Commented Sep 9, 2018 at 12:11
  • 2
    There seem to be a lot of design and history (of such computer systems) questions here, as well.
    – JdeBP
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 11:11
  • @JdeBP Do you want to edit the answer to include those? Then let me know so I can copy it across to the actual /help/on-topic page.
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 15:45
  • Added to include history questions also. My reasoning is that no other SE site seems to take care of those questions. Also, there are already questions of this type.
    – UncleBod
    Commented Feb 2, 2019 at 13:00
  • Thanks; I've updated the help center article. (I've also discovered that the link for mods is broken, which is slightly infuriating.
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Commented Feb 2, 2019 at 13:34
  • 2
    Generally, I think that all links to other sites might be directed to the SE-site/help/on-topic pages. That's double service: those looking for that page save on clicks and loads, those jumping into asking are reminded of the help-pages first. Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 18:26
  • @wizzwizz4 I just added clarification about Electronics and exclusion of fictional questions,restructured the list of positive question identifiers added tag links to each of them to give a hint where to find examples. I stayed short of adding a positive entry for old/new hardware (like 'Combinations of new and old are fine as long as looking for an answer related to the old hardware' with tag links for new-hardware-adaptation/old-hardware-adaptation) as I felt that this is a rather complex issue for an easy to read topic page, or should it be added?
    – Raffzahn
    Commented Apr 1, 2019 at 13:44
  • 1
    @Raffzahn I think everything should be there, but you make a good point about it needing to be easy to read. Perhaps we can write faq posts and then just link to those. (Feel free to make an faq-proposed question / answer pair; usually these are Community Wiki.)
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Commented Apr 1, 2019 at 16:49

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