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Hello Retrocomputing enthusiasts, I'm Robotnik, an Arqade (Gaming SE) moderator.

Arqade's community is currently in a bit of a re-invigoration effort, and a part of that is improving our FAQs and help articles to better help users get answers to their questions.

We're currently in the process of building an FAQ about places to go for 'Identify this game' questions (the ones based only on the asker's description of the game, which are off-topic on Arqade). Here's the FAQ in question:

My game identification question was closed as off-topic. Where can I ask for help instead?

I know that Retrocomputing supports some level of game identification, for older games on retro computers, arcade machines, and retro consoles. My questions are:

  • What is allowed vs not allowed with regards to 'Identify this' questions on Retrocomputing?
  • Would you like to be featured on Arqade's FAQ? - and if so:
  • Do you have guidelines that potential askers should take note of before asking 'Identify This Game' questions here?

As requested for context, here's a bit of an overview of Game Identification on Arqade, what we support, and why.

What does Arqade support?

Identify This Game (in all forms) used to be allowed on Arqade. However, a distinction was made to separate two types of 'Game Identification':

  1. The asker remembers a game, and describes it from their memory.
  2. The asker sees a game (such as in a TV show, or news article etc), and can provide some sort of evidence to point to.

The first type of question was made off-topic. Why? Here are some of the commonly cited reasons:

  • New users would disappear after asking
    We call this a 'drive-by' user.
  • Compounding the above: only the asker could definitively say an answer was correct
    So a lot of our questions were left hanging in limbo
  • Community voting on answers was mostly meaningless
    In cases where multiple answers were provided, the community would tend to vote based on game popularity rather than 'correctness'.
  • Plus they were hard to answer because a lot of asker's memories were inaccurate
    Askers have misremembered key information like the platform, characters, colours, and even conflated features from two or more games.

On the other hand, the second type of question remained on-topic for us. Here's why:

  • No reliance on the asker sticking around or providing more information
  • Other community members could determine if an answer was correct (and vote accordingly)
  • No reliance on imperfect memories - there's no room for interpretation when pointing to an episode of breaking bad and asking what game a character is playing.

This is just a summary of a very hotly contested discussion that spans many meta discussions and chat histories. If you're interested in the full story, here's our game identification tag on meta, and some highlights include this discussion about allowing evidence-based identification, and our FAQ Post: What are the requirements for asking a game identification question?

Why did we face these problems?

Personally I think it's a number of different factors: an overwhelming number of ITG questions being asked, the (generally younger) demographic the site caters to, even the feature-set of Stack Exchange at the time the discussions were happening. We faced a large swathe of low quality questions from drive-by users, and we lacked stuff like custom close reasons and review queues which have made site curation a lot easier over the years.


So what's in it for Retrocomputing?

Saying all the above, you'd think that ITG on Arqade was all bad, which wasn't the case. The reason that banning memory-based identifications was so controversial on Arqade, is that there were a lot of gems hidden among the muck. The ITG questions where users interacted with us and had a vested interest in finding an answer, were the good, well maintained and well received ones.

Those are the users we're trying to cater to with our new FAQ; where Retrocomputing could be of help to people. After all - the sort of people that take the time to read our FAQ are the users that ask the 'good' types of ITG, and it's those people we'd like to send your way. What do you think?

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    Welcome, and thanks for thinking of us! I think it would be helpful if you posted an answer giving the arguments, as you see them, for putting any particular game identification questions on Retrocomputing rather than Arquade. For example, your link indicates that identification questions lacking a screenshot/video are off-topic; why was that rule introduced and why would we not want to emulate that rule in Retrocomputing? (This is not an attempt to argue the rule, just to understand the no doubt good reasoning behind it.) – Curt J. Sampson Jul 31 at 5:29
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    By the way, this Arquade meta question says that identifying games is completely off topic for Arquade. Is this still correct? – Curt J. Sampson Jul 31 at 6:05
  • Hi @Curt! - That's a good question, I'll edit to explain in more detail, but to summarise it's been quite a contentious discussion spanning years at this point - this meta would probably be the best place to start reading - it's the beginning of the 'exception' to our Game Ident ban (which has morphed into what we support today): Arqade only supports game identification based on pictures, video etc, because those questions can be verified as correct by independent third parties (not just the asker). :-) – Robotnik Jul 31 at 6:43
  • Your "Here is a thing..." meta is very enlightening. Two suggestions: 1) Edit this question to describe here and link to further detail on Arquade's current policy on "identify-this-..." questions so that here at RC we understand the background and so your (extremely!) valuable experience can contribute to our planning. 2) Add another update to the head of the post I linked above to describe the real current situation. – Curt J. Sampson Jul 31 at 7:02
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    The existing answers aren't exhaustive; there are more options. If you find yourself disagreeing with them, but upvoting the question, please write your own! – wizzwizz4 Jul 31 at 14:50
  • @Curt - I have added a (quite abridged) version of our policy discussions where we settled our Game Ident rules spanning the years 2010-2013, I hope this helps with your site's own discussions :). (Oh, and Arqade doesn't have a 'u'. It's ArQAde as in Q&A. Our old logo showed this better I think...) – Robotnik Aug 1 at 6:13
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    Excellent update, and that clarifies a lot of things, as well as giving me more to think about. And yeah, my brain knows that "Arqade" doesn't have a "u", but often my fingers are done typing it with a "u" before they get the message. :-) – Curt J. Sampson Aug 1 at 7:25
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Arquade should not suggest Retrocomputing as a good place for game identification requests.

For a long time Arquade has had issues with game identification requests. I don't know if your policy now is really the best one (you may not even know!), but what you've settled on is based on long experience with actual problems raised by these requests, trying various strategies to deal with those, and analyzing their upsides and downsides.

Relevant to this are three ways that Retrocomputing is similar to and different from Arquade:

  1. We are both StackExchange sites, and thus have many of the same issues with on-topic questions, same differences as compared to other Internet sites, and so on.

  2. Your user base is much larger than ours (about ten times the size when counting only users with 200+ rep), but still small enough that it's Retrocomputing may well grow to your size over time. Thus, while we may not have some of the quantity issues you now have, we should be prepared for them to arise and make use of knowledge you've gained from dealing with these.

  3. "Knowledge of games" is basically the entire topic of Arquade, whereas it's only a small (though popular!) part of the wide domain of Retrocomputing.

  4. A larger percentage of our direct source material has been lost or is hard to access simply due to its age.

Based on the information you've provided, and particularly reading through this thread, it seems to me that you've decided that Arqade is not really a good place to be asking questions where the questioner is giving evidence based only on memory and cannot point to any concrete documentation of the thing he's asking about. I think that this probably extends to SEs generally. ("The memories of the asker are not valid source material for identification questions" particularly resonated with me, because I—and I think all of us—have plenty of experience with how fallable memory can be. Here we certainly value answers pointing to historical sources much more than answers only from memory.)

Now we haven't seen the problems you've seen (or at least not to the extent you've seen them), but I believe that the reasons for this are mostly situational rather than a property of any core difference between Arqade and Retrocomputing. First, being one tenth your size, it seems logical we're only going to have one tenth the pain generated by certain kinds of questions. Second, we tend to be a bit more forgiving about relying on memory when actual source material can't be found simply due to the source material being harder (or impossible) to access.

Neither of these preclude the problems you have had from arising here. That tells me we should start considering the problems you've seen and the solutions you've come up with. However, these solutions also have their downsides due to essential differences between our two SEs; in particular, acquiring documentation (such as a screenshot of a game) can be much more difficult for questions in our area. (Screenshots of games from the Apple I are not exactly as common as screenshots from modern games.)

So my proposal is as follows:

  1. We should not at this time introduce the kind of restrictions on questions that Arqade has because we're not (yet) experiencing the problems those were meant to solve, and so there's no point in paying the cost of those restrictions.
  2. We should keep in mind the problems that Arqade has experienced and try to prepare plans for dealing with them should they arise here.
  3. We should certainly not send to Retrocomputing people with gaming questions unsuitable for Arqade because of Arqade's carefully-developed policies. That's likely just to bring to Retrocomputing the same problems Arqade has had.
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There is a long-standing maxim regarding question migration. "Don't migrate crap". That would apply in this case, particularly your first, 'I remember...', group of qustions.

Identification questions are contentious on SE sites, look at the soul searching on TV&M. But I think they can be useful. As you say, we already have several well-received examples.

Just bear in mind what constitutes retro.

I would vote yes, let your members know of us. I don't think we would we swamped with a flood of such questions.

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    I agree that it wouldn't be a 'swamping' of questions, and we'd absolutely want to make sure that any user went in with full knowledge of what to expect over here. On 'what constitutes retro' - What's the cutoff point for a computing device, console or OS to be considered retro? I think it'd be great to link something in the FAQ answer that states that explicitly. – Robotnik Aug 1 at 11:24
  • @robotnik, yes we'd have to set a link to what constitutes retro. Perhaps we need to review our FAQs. – Chenmunka Aug 1 at 11:31
  • I don't think we'd be swamped with a flood of such questions, either, but your "yes" vote seems to be contrary to your first paragraph, since my understanding of the question is that they are suggesting other places specifically to post the "I remember..." questions that are not suitable for Arqade. (Or maybe I'm just a bit confused here.) – Curt J. Sampson Aug 2 at 7:25
  • @Chenmunka The scope tag is a good place to start, and if you come to any conclusions about it it'd be great if you could revise help/on-topic to actually attempt to refer to the consensus. – wizzwizz4 Aug 2 at 20:08
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I am not, in principle, opposed to ITG questions on this site provided they are about retro games. I don't agree that a question is bad just because it's hard to answer definitively. I do not think such questions should be off topic for this site.

However, I do have reservations with another Stack Exchange site advertising this one as being able to answer the ITG questions, particularly when that site has much higher traffic. Firstly, I think we might get swamped with ITG questions. Secondly, Arquade is a stack exchange site for asking questions about gaming. It's the obvious place to ask an ITG question. Frankly, I think ITG questions are legitimate questions about games and I don't know why you want to ban them just because they are a bit hard to answer.

So my vote would be no, please do not advertise this site as a good place to ask ITG questions just because you on the correct site to ask them don't like them.

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(What I've suggested in this answer pretty much can't be done, given Arqade's policies. I'm leaving this here for a moment for historical purposes, but it should be deleted whenever the time seems right.)


This is just my personal opinion as of the time of posting. It should be taken with a grain of salt and attention to this answer's vote count as I'm not actually very familiar with the past history of game identification requests on Retrocomputing SE (beyond reading them on rare occasions) and the problems, if any, they've caused.

Game identification requests should go to Arquade.

Reasons:

  1. Games are reguarly re-released on more modern platforms (via both porting and emulation), and so in at least some cases an identification can be made based by someone who's never played the game on a retro platform, or even an emulation of a retro platform. (This doesn't even require having played the game; simple familiarity with the catalogue of Good Old Games may well serve to answer a game identification question.)

  2. Games sometimes have sequels that exist only on more modern platforms, and information about the characters, setting or similar things may be identified by someone who's played the sequel but has never played the original.

  3. Arquade is a much larger community (roughly ten times the size if we look at relative numbers of users with more than 200 reputation). Further, it's focused strictly on games, as opposed to having many members whose areas of expertise does not include games (such as me). Both these strike me as increasing the chance that someone will get an answer on Arquade that they wouldn't get on Retrocomputing. (That said, I could well be wrong about this; it would be nice to have some actual evidence about this rather than just speculation.)

If this turns out to be agreed upon by both Arquade and Retrocomputing, it would be nice to be able to redirect explicitly in close votes (the Closing » Off-topic » Migration dialogue path). But it seems to me that this also might want to include a link in the commit about how to ask the question in Arquade, since they seem to have fairly different rules about and requirements for questions like this than we do (such as requiring a screenshot or video).

  • Migration paths appear when we graduate. We only need another 6½ questions per day in order to pass all the hard requirements for graduation, and I'm not meant to talk about what little I know about the confusing soft-graduation requirements, but it'll be a while before we're consistently getting ten high-quality questions every day. – wizzwizz4 Jul 31 at 17:48
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    @wizzwizz4 Uh, that seems to be answers per day, not questions per day. But thanks for that information. At any rate, it seems that Arqade really isn't the place for the kind of game identification questions we get here anyway, so it's seems moot. – Curt J. Sampson Jul 31 at 18:08
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    In case anybody's wondering what wizzwizz4 is talking about, it seems we can reasonably expect "graduation" of some sort even if we never meet the post requirement, as has already happened for some long-lived sites that have not yet met it. From that question, its answers and all the comments, it seems clear that the how graduation works is being entirely rethought. – Curt J. Sampson Aug 2 at 7:21
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While I do agree with most that has been said by Curt - in both of his answers (and more so on the first), I would like to grind it down to a major single point:

RC.SE is not about games - but games are a part of RC.SE

I always had considered Arqade the main forum for everything game related. And ITG questions are for sure more suited there - unless there's something very specific to make RC.SE the first choice (can't think of any right now). Since our scope is rather wide, IDG question may work and be received quite well, but it might as well be problematic. Games are not anything we do now or ever will focus on. As a result I would prefer that

RC.SE shold not named as a potential forum for ITG questions

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Alright. It's been a couple of weeks - so let's have a look at the outcome:

It sounds like there are some fundamental questions to sort out before Retrocomputing would be in a position to want Arqade to send Game Identification questions here:

  1. What constitutes 'retro' for Retrocomputing? - This seems to be a tough one to crack. Would you allow questions about the Playstation 2/Xbox era? What about the PS3/Xbox 360? What's the cutoff? Is it a static or moving cutoff hardware/software gets older?

  2. Does RC want Game Identification at all? - It seems a few people don't like Game Ident questions in general - does RC want to continue to support them at all?

  3. If they're on-topic, what guides or rules should potential askers read before posting? - If support remains for them to be on-topic, should askers follow some guides before posting here?


So where does this proposal stand? Well for now, I don't think it's a good idea to advertise RC until some of those questions above get solved, so with that in mind I won't create a 'Retrocomputing' entry on Arqade's Game Identification FAQ.

But that's ok! Thanks for all your input: I'm glad that this post has at the very least generated some interesting discussions for Retrocomputing to have, and in the future, if Retrocomputing does decide to want to add their name to the list, please feel free to add it yourselves, we'd be happy to have you :)

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