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The question Connecting Computer to GameCube Controller Port seemed at first glance to be on-topic for this forum, since it related to the Game Cube hardware and NintendoSpy, a program that reads/talks the controller protocol for NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, and GameCube.

However, as I investigated further to come up with an answer, the issues turned out to be entirely due to changes he'd chosen to make to the particular modern hardware he was using to link into the controller connection and its compatibility with NintendoSpy, and nothing to do with the GameCube itself. (NintendoSpy works fine with an Arduino, but he wants to substitute a different board. This is solved generically in the same way you'd solve the issue with any other program on a PC talking to an Arduino.)

Is this something we should vote to close because, though the author didn't know that his real problem was basically a generic one unrelated to retrocomputing, the answer turned out to be that? Or does the fact that NintendoSpy (clearly a retrocomputing-related program) happens to be involved make this an appropriate topic for this forum even though it would belong elsewhere if it were any other program?

  • @RyanfaeScotland Actually, I feel that does address my question (even if it's not sure to be the correct answer in this particular case). You seem to be saying, "Just becuase this answer is outside the retrocomputing domain doesn't mean that there aren't other answers that would be specifically in the domain, such as "use this other tool." I think you should turn this into an answer. – Curt J. Sampson Jul 25 at 4:29
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    Answer added, man it is nice to break out of the character limit. Just remember you asked for this! :D (removing my previous comments as they are now defunct.) – RyanfaeScotland Jul 25 at 12:26
  • Just reviewed the edit history of that question and noticed that it was actually you that took it up to the standard I'd deem on topic! Before that, yeah, it was leaning the wrong way! Good effort. :) – RyanfaeScotland Jul 25 at 14:52
  • @RyanfaeScotland I think it was on topic before, by your definition: he did say, "I am interested in getting my gamecube inputs to be on my computer," which is general enough. I was mainly just clarifying details of what he wanted to do that he'd left out or put only in a comment. BTW your answer was good, I hadn't really thought about the benefit leaving the question open for other answers that propose alternate means of achieving his end goal. – Curt J. Sampson Jul 25 at 18:22
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    Oh yes, I don't mean to say it wasn't on topic, just that there was more ambiguity there and it was straddling the line. Your edit pulled it firmly in. And cheers man, answer did shape up pretty well in the end. – RyanfaeScotland Jul 25 at 23:25
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There have been other discussions about the use of retro equipment in a modern environment.

The consensus of Are questions asking for modern hardware to interface with old hardware on topic? is that it is on-topic to ask about modern equipment that gets you using the old stuff.

This site is all about restoring and using retrocomputers. If it becomes necessary to link a retrocomputer to new equipment then I would say it is on-topic.

After all, we have questions like
How can you connect an Amiga 500/600/1000/2000 to a modern monitor?
to connect modern peripherals to old kit, and
Connecting Iomega Zip (parallel port) to modern PC
to connect old peripherals to modern kit.
You can easily find other examples.

You are right in that the question you have linked is about configuring modern kit to talk to old, but I would still keep such questions.

  • The first link is useful; thanks. I do feel that this question is different from the Amgia+monitor and ZIP drive to PC questions, however, since in this case the problem is not the connection to the GameCube (which is more or less correct) but with the connection between two modern devices (which I mentioned is better addressed in the Arduino forum or similar). I've edited the question to try to clarify this; let me know if this changes your answer. – Curt J. Sampson Jul 24 at 8:22
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    Yes, this question is different to the two I've linked but there are similarities. The Gamecube question is one of those difficult ones on the fringes of topicality where I would give it the benefit of the doubt. Let us see what others in the community think. – Chenmunka Jul 24 at 8:54
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In General

Whenever I read or write a question I tend to break it down into 3 parts:

  1. What is the core question that is being asked? - Typically this will be the title of the question but not always.

  2. What has the person tried to do so far to resolve it? - Typically the first few paragraphs of the question.

  3. What difficulties have they ran into with that approach? - Typically the last few paragraphs.

So long as the core question that is being asked is on topic then the Question as a whole is on topic.

The caveat I would add to this is that there is no reading between the lines for the core question. If what an asker is trying to do is on topic but the question they have asked is off topic then I'd treat it as off topic.

I know some people on other Stacks who also judge a Question's topic-ness by the Answers it receives, I think this is unfair and that a question should be judged on its own merits with perhaps guidance given to the OP on how to adjust the question to better attract the answers expected if it is getting lots of off topic ones.

In the example you gave

So, applying this logic to the example you gave:

  1. The Core Question: How do I connect my computer to my GameCube?
  2. The attempt so far: "I've spliced into the cable as described here in order to use NintendoSpy..."
  3. The difficulties: "However, most people do this by using Arduinos and I am not willing to spend any money on this project..."

So for me this question is on topic because connecting to old gaming hardware is on topic. The fact he has went on to explain an approach that requires re-writing code is irrelevant, it's just the explanation of what he has tried so far and what issues he is having, an answer to the question doesn't need to take that into account at all to be valid. However, had the core question been "How do I re-write this Arduino code to work on the Redboard?" (which could be a foreseeable follow up question) then that would be off-topic.

Your answer to the example

I think your answer is a great example of an on topic question having an off topic answer.

You explain to him the trouble with his approach and you offer 2 solutions to his core problem: replace the code or replace the board. An explanation of how to do these would be off topic so you point him in the direction of where they would be on topic. Perfect. Had you started explaining how to re-code it then you'd be verging into off topic territory - but I wouldn't hold your off topicness against the OP.

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