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There are more and more gaming related questions poping up. I see here a very substantial gap between our focus on retroCOMPUTING with an emphasis on computers and technology, versus retroGAMING as being about (old) games and their consoles.

How to handle this?

  • As for your question, "How to handle this?": You can ignore the tag. It means those questions will not bother you. It's what I've done; it works well. – Wilson Nov 22 '18 at 9:01
  • Closing ones eye is never a good idea. At least not before the final day. – Raffzahn Nov 22 '18 at 13:57
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Where's the fun in a one-sided argument?

To date, we've only had 39 questions (four deleted, none (closed &~ deleted)), many of which are not about consoles, and 51 questions (five deleted, four (closed &~ deleted)) That's ~4.3% of our questions (~4.7% excluding deleted questions); not really a significant number (it's by no means dominating our site, considering how historically significant gaming is). The recent posting of four seven of these questions in quick succession (three after, including two because of, this meta question), including one not-so-high-quality question (*cough*), makes the site seem to be flooded with these questions, but they're not really all that damaging.

Our site's usual quality-control measures seem to be dealing quite well with these questions, and some quite interesting things have amounted from allowing these questions. I think they should stay, if they're good; we're already getting rid of the bad ones.

Consoles are computing devices, and video games are definitely a part of the computing landscape (think of all those gaming-focused home computers of the early '80s) so it doesn't make sense to arbitrarily exclude them if we can avoid it.

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    Wile your number games are entertaining, they don't prove anything, but my point - there is an huge increase. And I do think we should clarify early on, not when this is already converted to RetroGaming, and questions about the right 70s clothing to play a game are asked. "Consoles are computing devices, [...] so it doesn't make sense to arbitrarily exclude them" So are washing machines, car dashboards and well, toasters - yes, I got a toaster that houses two microprocessors, and it's older than 15 years now. Bottom line, why not rename it RetroStuff if we don't stay focused – Raffzahn Nov 14 '18 at 21:49
  • @Raffzahn Your concerns are valid, but they're not presented logically. I said "consoles are computing devices" because they could run arbitrary code; you can't really pop a new ROM into a toaster; making that possible is effectively making your own machine. Questions for games in general shouldn't be allowed, but questions where there's otherwise no reason to say they're off-topic shouldn't be banned. We're not going to rename it Retrostuff any time soon. – wizzwizz4 Nov 15 '18 at 6:53
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    I hereby assert that the recent posting of lots of identify-this-game questions was a fluke; if this trend continues then we should absolutely do something about it, but as it is I don't think there's much to do. – wizzwizz4 Nov 15 '18 at 6:55
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    @wizzwizz4 Indeed, my two gaming-related posts today were made because the blue goddess question reminded me that I had gaming-related questions of my own that I'd been meaning to ask. Had that not been posted I wouldn't have posted mine. – Alex Hajnal Nov 15 '18 at 8:51
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    My opinion is that (within the gamut of "retro") the focus should be for computing and not gaming. Further I think the focus should be at the system software/hardware/architectural level and not the application level. I don't think there's a firm line that can be drawn though and I couldn't really venture to say what that line even could be. From my POV, to misquote a former American congresscritter, "I know retrocomputing when I see it". I think gaming has a place here on RC but the focus should be on "how was X implemented on Y system" rather than "what was that game with Z, she was hot" – Alex Hajnal Nov 15 '18 at 9:02
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    To add to my previous comment, I think gaming (even "what this game") questions should be allowed, at least at the volume they're currently at, provided the questions are well researched and well written. If the site gets swamped with them (particular if the Q's are poor quality) I would change my stance but currently I don't see that it's a problem that needs to be dealt with. – Alex Hajnal Nov 15 '18 at 9:44
  • @wizzwizz4 for one, who says the ROM of that toaster can't be changed? I wouldn't wonder about the toasters ROMs being flash based and the board having some pads for a programmer. Even more so, your argument would bann any computer, whose components are not easy accessible. No matter if it's because the manufacturer has encapsulated the hardware or it's no longer available. Right?As soon as we accept theoretical accessibility - like programming a Zuse Z3 - we must assume it for all cases. Including a toaster. Thus the argument of accessibility is not usable to construct on/off topicness. – Raffzahn Nov 15 '18 at 14:04
  • @wizzwizz4 I interprete your argument of 'not presented logicaly' linked with the slipery slope Wiki entry as calling it a fallacy. As a serious participator - and even more so as moderator - you should think more than just a bit before swinging a LART. What I presented is indeed a good case of a slipery slope. Just it's not a fallacy. A slipery slop is only a fallacy if one tries to squeeze it into a hard case of two seperate issue and an absolute power to distinguish. Except, the realworld isn't a set of hard either or, but a huge field of grayscales. – Raffzahn Nov 15 '18 at 14:36
  • @wizzwizz4 You did later on comment that it may be a trent to take care of, right? And that's exacly what my answer is about. It tries to map the gray area of inbetween with some rough lines as a first draft. And instead of attacking the atempt with a missunderstood concept, I'd ratehr expect us to do positive work in improving RC – Raffzahn Nov 15 '18 at 14:36
  • @AlexHajnal Somehow this reminds me of arguments about seriousness of global warming. What's wrong with thinking ahead? Not to mention the continous nagging (by some) to sharpen the sites definition, not at least about the FAQ? If we got a better definition of how to define RC in contrast to otehr areas will benefit the site on a fundamental base. Even more so as I see your other arguments way in line with this Comuting != Gaming definition. – Raffzahn Nov 15 '18 at 14:39
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Not necessarily Probably supporting this but let's put it out there:

Nothing different is done. Gaming-related1 questions are allowed. Poorly written and poorly researched questions are modded into oblivion. Questions considered good by the community are voted up.

Posts that are better made elsewhere (gaming.se, electronics.se, etc.) are moved (especially if they don't have a clear retro focus). Ones with overlap that do have a clear retro focus such as these could stay:

  • "Why did the Cray supers not use cutting-edge technology?" (electronics)
  • "How was the interpreter/VM in the Apollo Guidance Computer implemented?" (space/software engineering)
  • "How was IPC implemented on the Sony Playstation 3's Cell processors?" (gaming/software engineering) - actually that's probably rather too recent to be considered retro but you get the idea

An example question that might be moved is:

  • "Back in '60s the computer industry had a choice of RTL, DTL, and TTL. Why choose one over the others for a given system?" (probably better asked on electronics.se)

A question like this is definitely off-topic:

  • "What was this game that I played on Windows XP?" (answered here but decidedly off-topic due to XP not being retro)

Thoughts on the pros/cons to this approach? What do y'all think?


1 and library-related and "how do I compile Netscape 1.0 on a SPARCstation 20", etc.

  • Perhaps a clarification of what's allowed is needed. Something like "all questions about post-2000 systems are off-topic". But how would something like the recent IrisGL question be classified under this rule? – Alex Hajnal Nov 15 '18 at 10:43
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    If, say, post-2000 platforms aren't retro then what about system-level questions about the transition from DOS-based to NT-based OSes in the Windows world. Is XP retro? How about Win2k? Or NT 3.51? Win2k was a first real attempt at the transition, XP worked out the kinks. – Alex Hajnal Nov 15 '18 at 11:45
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    Erm, Alex, this is your own answer. Wouldn'Tit be more apropriate to work additional thoughts into it, to give a thruout impression? – Raffzahn Nov 15 '18 at 13:49
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I do see a problem for RC keeping a clear focus, as many of these questions are abut game related issues (identify a game and alike) on gaming platforms (Sega etc.), not computers, or computing related issues.

In particular the following questions should no be apropriate:

  • General questions about gaming
  • Questions about consoles (*1) (i.e. not computers)
  • Questions about console modifications
  • identify-this-game for consoles and alike
  • Questions about game modules and modifications
  • Or handling questions for games in general

further

  • Any question about configuration and handling of console emulation

An exception to this should be:

  • Questions about game console hardware
  • In particular about CPU or GPU
  • Impementation details
  • HSI (or ISA) relates questions
  • Module related Hardware
  • Hardware related API details.
  • Console OS details and operation

A gray area might be the use of certain features and programming tricks, as well as issues comming up when disecting old games or programming new ones.

This clarification is not ment to disencurage question, but to keep RC focoussed on its core of RetroCOMPUTING.


P.S.: There is also a large number of incomming questions about game identification on comuters, which I feel as well unease about. Except here I have a hard time to come up with a working definition to decide about them being on/off-topic.


*1 - The term Console is ment to describe anything that is not a computer in the first place, thus including any game console, but handhelds or otehr electronic games as well as their modules.

  • "Console" is pretty hard to draw as a firm line, though. I mean, usually you'd consider a Playstation 2 as a console, because that was its primary purpose, but it has famously been used for general purpose computation. Even the Atari 2600 could be used for programming tasks, assuming you were willing to work within its limitations. So the line seems pretty arbitrary. – Jules Dec 1 '18 at 5:31
  • @Jules Sure, consoles are computers as there is a CPU working to a program, but so are toasters. And just because beople used them for some other job than playing a game, doesn't make them a general purpose computer. The fact that some device can be hacked to fulfil tasks it wasn't meant for doesn't prove anything. Such uses are rather the exeption proving the rule, aren't they? – Raffzahn Dec 1 '18 at 6:15
  • @Jules And again yes, the line is arbitary, but so will be any line drawn somewhere between a toaster and a PC. The important part here it's a line drawn alon intended use, as that reflects a sensible aproach - hardware can't do it, as an 8048 can power the toaster as well as some BASIC computer, or likewise a PC can provide more powerful graphics and sound as a game system originally intended to do so. I all comes down to the why instead of how. – Raffzahn Dec 1 '18 at 6:17
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Surely consoles are computers. They are just computers with a specific purpose, that of running gaming software.

This is no different to, for example, asking questions about the old Wang or Amstrad machines that could only run word processing software.

While I would be disappointed if this site became swamped by gaming & console questions, I don't see any necessity to block them.

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