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I'm a little disappointed right now that a completely subjective and opinion-based list-question has not been closed already. On the contrary, it has become popular enough to be protected: Simplest system to create an emulator for

Opinion-based questions are already off-topic per the standard help page, and list questions have previously been decided against here on meta.

I really enjoy the format of the Stack Exchange network of websites which is why I'm being such a bore and a pain in the ass and complain about people not following the rules. I believe that the success comes from it being designed specifically to reduce noise and clutter from the traditional forum model where it was customary for everyone to chip in with their opinions. Opinion-based questions (what is the best...) really triggers everyone's wish to have their opinion heard, which is also why they are specifically mentioned, and to be avoided.

Even though the retrocomputing community is a great resource for all types of retrocomputing questions, not all questions are a good fit for the format even if everyone wants to answer, and leaving some questions but closing others is not fair either, IMO.

I can see a couple of different types of answers to this "rant":

  • This is not a list or opinion question, because...
  • List questions are now on-topic, see discussion X
  • We don't need to be so strict about the rules if the question is popular and brings activity here

or what I'm hoping to see:

  • I agree, this question is not great

But please write an answer and remember that opinion-based questions are explicitly on-topic here on meta, so I'd love to see your opinions!

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To start with: there's a difference between list questions and opinion-based questions, even though we traditionally use the same close reason for both. This is due to most list questions being opinion-based, and technical limitations to having lots of close reasons.

Now that's out of the way, I'm going to post a Type I answer.


I think this question is not opinion-based because:

  • It gives clear, objective requirements:
    • Minimum number of peripherals
    • Minimum number of hardware bugs
    • Has more than one addressing mode
    • Has registers
    • Has something memory-mapped
      • With as few peripherals as possible, this is almost definitely going to be the display.
    • Doesn't have sprite trickery etc.
    • Doesn't require cycle-accurate emulation.
    • Is simple enough that a realtime emulator can be written without optimising the code
    • Has games written for it

I think this question is not list-based because:

  • It's looking for the "simplest system", not "simple systems"; there is one answer.

The community as a whole seems to agree, since there's only one "opinion-based" close vote (I assume yours). It's currently on four, so this is no longer correct. It's currently closed with three reopen votes... Curious.

That isn't to say that the question is on-topic... Honestly, it'd be a better fit for CS Educators if it were reworded to "What system should my students emulate?", since it's really an XY problem.

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You're right, it is a lousy question and off-topic.

However, when I first saw the question, I left it to be closed (or not) by the community rather than use the moderator's hammer. It is not for moderators to dictate so I use the hammer very sparingly.

The community seems to have taken to the question, HNQs are wonderful things. Maybe the community will close it, it does have close votes against it. We will see.

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I'm a little disappointed right now

So am I and I i think it's partly for the same reasons. Except:

that a completely subjective and opinion-based list-question

Only partly true.

  • Yes. It is asking for opinion. Even thouh it asks for a maxima ('simplest'), answers may be opinion based. May, since an answer can strive to attack the hidden issues, here that simpe hardware (no sprites) means that the systems software is also simple and free of tricks that are hard to emulate.

  • No. It is not a list question (if there ever is one). It asks for a concrete, clearly defined purpose and does so by communicating this.

  • Maybe. In addition it can well be seen as to broad, as it misses any further requirements to realy determinate a small group of possible answers. Doing so, it will produce opinion based answers of the 'System X is best - which by the way is the one I always a fan of' kind which usually bears only small relevance.

[and I now mix sequence]

I can see a couple of different types of answers to this "rant":

:))

This is not a list or opinion question, because...

These are the ones you're asking for, so no chance to avoide them :))

List questions are now on-topic, see discussion X

We don't need to be so strict about the rules if the question is popular and brings activity here

Oh, these two (especially the last) are good - and in fact, I was waiting for exactly them, as non regular, ad hoc handling seams to be the intended style here.

I agree, this question is not great

Hard to give you that, as the question is great - after all, geing great and being off-topic aren't mutually exclusive.

I really enjoy the format of the Stack Exchange network of websites which is why I'm being such a bore and a pain in the ass and complain about people not following the rules. I believe that the success comes from it being designed specifically to reduce noise and clutter from the traditional forum model where it was customary for everyone to chip in with their opinions.

I wholehartly agree. Couldn't have said it better.

Opinion-based questions (what is the best...) really triggers everyone's wish to have their opinion heard, which is also why they are specifically mentioned, and to be avoided.

Similar. The key word here is avoided. Avoidance can only work if there is a way around to find a solution. Not asking will never produce a solution, or will it?

The issue behind is that it's not a question primarily asking for opinions (it is is some sense, no doubt), but a quesion with multiple possible solutions. Lets look as example at an especial simple question like

"How to sort a dozend 16 bit integers" on like StackOverflow.

This is clearly someone looking for a simple sort solution, and quite valid (as usual ignoring that its not even beginer level). It isn't asking for opinion. It just looks for a sort. But as we all know, there are as many sort algos out there as atoms in a cup of luke warm tea - if not more. There is no single right one, but all do answer the question (Ignoring the usual RTFM ones). And some will even list several methods.

It can never be the fault of the one asking when there are multiple solutions. Nor can he (always) made responsible for the kind of answers that are given.

Even though the retrocomputing community is a great resource for all types of retrocomputing questions, not all questions are a good fit for the format even if everyone wants to answer, and leaving some questions but closing others is not fair either, IMO.

I'm all with you here. There are many more questions to be closed. Even more, handling such on a simple case by case base should be kept to an absolute minimum. There is no wisdom of the crowd. Quite contrary, relaying on the crowd is making unfounded opinion king (no need to say Brexit here:)). The main reason why I try to define areas and support the creation of rules.

Rules are a way to go along in an impartial manner - Ruling isn't.

And the best rules are such that are not needed, made in early stage andwith calm and thruout consideration - not ones that are made in a hurry, afterwards and only handling very specific cases.

But please write an answer and remember that opinion-based questions are explicitly on-topic here on meta, so I'd love to see your opinions!

Got mine :))

And speaking of opinions, since you mention the flood of answers under multiple angles, I would have loved if you as well incooperate them and their wariations to qualify the question. Type and frequence of answers can be a great indicator for a question to be problematic or not. THey are a direct result of the main content, as well as form (and list/opinion based is a form issue).


Now let me add my opinion about the question itself, and why I did not vote for closing, desprite beliving it is too broad (which I think I did state as a preface): It does fit RC. Yes, it is a question about teaching and therefore would well fit on CSE.SE. Except, the underlaying expertise asked for isn't about teaching, but computer systems. So having it on EE could have been better. Then again, the OP already asumed correctly, that a classic system might fit the requirements best - and this is what we are all about.

It always help to think about alternatives and motivation before pressing the close button (at last before finishing it off). It could have been me asking that question (in principal that is - in reality I feel I could answer it without RC :)). Sure, I may have had the same grumbling feeling about being on topic, but it's a kind of information I won't get from a teaching group on SE - there I may get examples of similar cases in use in other places, but less likely the in depth knowledge about computer architectures that is needed to give an answer.

When answering I also tried to tackle the issues behind the presented aproach, nt just list systems, as there is, as so often, a missconception - not at least by blinding ourself with the idea that our beloved and old systems where simple. Something that may have as well be part of the OP's line of thought.


Now a point or two about Wizzwizz4's answer:

I think this question is not list-based because:

It's looking for the "simplest system", not "simple systems"; there is one answer.

Sorry but simply (SCNR) no. There isn't just one answer, there will always be a group of answers, as for one the definition what is considered simple isn't one dimensional and stringent, but also computers wheren't made by a socialist planing buero optimizing output. Just imagine 'the most simple machine' would be clearly defined as a 6502, a 6532 and 4 KiB of ROM. There could still be several different computers from different manufacturers going by that scheme - except having the ports decoded at different addresses. Hard to make it a singular machine as answer.

The community as a whole seems to agree, since there's only one "opinion-based" close vote (I assume yours).

If this statement becomes invalid, I'll remove it.

That is a serious bad idea, damageing the discusion. When a statement like this is done, it may be augmented when the base changes, but removing it tries to retroactive change hat has been said. You should have enough respect for the community to not play such games.

  • By "remove", I meant <del>strikethrough</del>; that was because my answer inherently relied upon that, so I needed a flag to signify whether it was correct. Other than that, I wholeheartedly agree with your answer. You make good points. – wizzwizz4 Nov 21 '18 at 7:30
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I'm not going to try to defend the question on its own. Others have justified that the question may not be off-topic and I don't want to rehash that.

It has also been noted that this may have been better received on other SE sites. Since it doesn't seem there's much interest in migrating it I'm guessing we're "stuck" with the current audience.

Do quality answers bring it back into acceptability?

Even if you feel the question leaves a lot to be desired and our upvotes are encouraging the wrong sorts of behavior, does the quality and content of the answers do enough to help balance it out? In the case cited here I feel the answers are numerous, but several are well thought out and nicely written. The answers are written from a retro-computing context and for me that reflect well upon the question even if the question didn't seem great before any answers came in.

It could become tiring to have a string of open-ended questions. I wouldn't expect every "bad" question to get such great answers. Using the protected flag to indicate that you're in dangerous waters seems like a nicely balanced way to handle cases like this.

Too many answers?

In writing this I noticed that the referenced question has 17 answers, which seems like it could be too many. I feel the StackExchange format makes this harmless. I feel bad for not reading the long tail, but if somebody gets what they want out of the top answer or two the rest of it shouldn't get in their way.

Time to reflect on on-topic-ness?

If we find popular things like this that don't fit with the official lines for what is on or off-topic should we reconsider the official lines? Could we soften the rules without causing lasting harm? I'm too new around here to speculate, but seeing this discussion leaves me wondering.

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I put one of the "long-tail" answers on that question, with apologies that anyone at all found that unpleasant.

I quite enjoy SE in general, and the question in question showed up in the sidebar so I answered it ... never having even heard of RCSE before. But being old enough to be a bit retro personally, I thought I'd chip in with a suggestion which answers the question and some reasoning about why it might be simpler for the students. Perhaps it doesn't add much (only one vote), but that's up to others.

The thing I like least, across all of SE, is narrow argument about on-topic and off-topic, it just seems fussy and legalistic. It's true there's some opinion blended into that question and its answers, but does it really matter? There is much good information in that question and its answers, which apparently has interested people in the general topic.

Sure, vote off a question about whether System A is better than System B and Because-I-Said-So answers as they drag the whole thing down. The occasional borderline question with some excellent answers doesn't.

Kind regards to all.

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