Please read before you vote! (Do not upvote just because you think this is a good question.)

Simple question, big implications!

These questions have proved fairly popular on this site. However some of them get closed. Is it possible for us to come to agreement at this time as to whether they should be allowed at all?

If the answer is affirmative, then we can follow up with further meta questions attempting to define which kinds of questions should be allowed and if they should be community wiki'd or not.

I urge everyone to read Grace Note's essay "Handling game recommendations - how can we solve these two problems of quality?" on the topic over at gaming.stackexchange.com. I don't think I can come close to doing the topic as much justice as just pointing y'all at that post! The site's are quite similar in the type and style of questions so I believe we can reference that essay directly.

Please vote this question:

  • Up - If you feel game recommendations should be allowed here in some way
  • Down - If you feel that no game recommendation questions should be allowed. On meta, this will have no effect on anyone's reputation.

Of course, feel free to provide other answers and comments. This is a big topic! If anyone would like to email me directly to provide feedback, use havoc@boldo.com.

========EDIT=========

Ok, this vote is over. Thank you all for participating. We will be allowing recommendation questions. However, the SE team and long time mods from other sites have reminding me that these questions must conform to the guidelines set forth in the Good Subjective/Bad Subjective blog post.

  1. Great subjective questions inspire answers that explain "why" and "how"
  2. Great subjective questions tend to have long, not short, answers.
  3. Great subjective questions have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone.
  4. great subjective questions invite sharing experiences over opinions
  5. Great subjective questions insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references
  6. Great subjective questions are more than just mindless social fun

Please join me in encouraging questions that meet the qualifications for "Good Subjective". You can do any or all of the following (depending on rep) as you feel correct for the particular question.

  • Comment on questions that are Bad Subjective encouraging the submitter to improve the question (Please be polite, especially for new users)
  • Flag the post for moderator attention
  • Vote it down (please remember to revisit occasionally to see if it has been improved)

A question is ultimately judged upon it's answers (see #1, #2, #4 in particular). For me, if the majority of a question's answers are short (1-2 sentences), the question most likely needs to be improved.

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I've mentioned this question as a system message on the main site to draw more attention to it. –  LittleBobbyTables Dec 6 '10 at 0:34
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@LittleBobbyTables Random note: You can use HTML in system messages, so you could just link straight here: We are currently taking a vote on the topic &quot;<a href="http://meta.boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/298">Should we allow game recommendations</a>&quot; on the meta site; please take a look and vote appropriately! –  Michael Mrozek Dec 6 '10 at 15:03
    
@Michael Mrozek -- It's strange, I tried that earlier and the tags came out all garbled, or not at all, but your sample text worked just fine. Thanks for pointing that out! –  LittleBobbyTables Dec 6 '10 at 16:44
    
It's pretty weird to use question votes as a polling system. Why not just let people vote on the question normally, and votes on answers will show how people feel about the points in those answers? –  Michael Mrozek Dec 6 '10 at 20:21
    
@Michael - it is one way to ensure that each person gets one vote. Having multiple answers can split vote counts. Also, some people will downvote opposing answers while others will not thus skewing the results (IMHO). –  Pat Ludwig Dec 6 '10 at 20:26
    
@Pat True; I like to hope people wouldn't do that (it seems to work ok on meta.SO) –  Michael Mrozek Dec 6 '10 at 20:29
    
I am for allowing this, with some stipulations. I don't think that "dated" questions ("What's the best game coming out this year?") are much help when the date is past, but I do think that a question like "I enjoy XXX, are there other games like it?" should be disallowed. –  My Turn Yet Dec 7 '10 at 17:28
    
@ALL: Sorry about the YES/NO posts. I got confused... –  Kempeth Dec 8 '10 at 7:42
    
@Kempeth, no worries, I deleted them just to clear 'em out. –  Pat Ludwig Dec 9 '10 at 3:57
    
I know this is going to sound hostile (it's not meant as such), but "who put you in charge?" By which authority can you make the decision that "We will be allowing recommendation questions"? You can't do it as a moderator, and you can't do it based on 15 upvotes. A "question" like this seems to abuse the SE platform. It'd be a lot more conventional to ask the question, and allow people to answer and up/downvote the answers, until some kind of consensus emerged, rather than this attempt at an anonymous vote –  jalf Feb 4 '11 at 2:46
    
@jalf - if you feel that I have done something inappropriate and have abused my moderator status then I urge you to email team@stackoverflow.com –  Pat Ludwig Feb 4 '11 at 3:32
    
@Pat: with this? Not at all. Your question here is in no way abuse. I'm just pointing out that questions on meta are really discussion points, not law. No single person can make the decision that "we will be allowing this". Community consensus decides what is allowed, and that can't be decided by a simple vote. Your using up/downvotes to vote for/against rec questions is something I'd consider unconventional and inefficient, but not "abuse". Editing a statement such as "We will be allowing recommendation questions" into a question is bogus. It's not right or wrong, it just has no authority. –  jalf Feb 4 '11 at 6:45
    
But it's not abuse, it's nothing to do with your moderator status, and nothing that should be reported. :) –  jalf Feb 4 '11 at 6:45
    
@jalf - you are incorrect in saying I have no authority though. One of the moderator powers is the ability to edit the FAQ which governs the site. Check out the Gaming FAQ where both shopping and game recommendations are disallowed. Or the cooking FAQ which explicitly bans recipe requests of any kind. Those decisions were all drawn from discussions, posts and yes, polls on their meta sites. Those policies are now "law" and enforced by the moderators. –  Pat Ludwig Feb 4 '11 at 7:13
    
@jalf - Our FAQ also has sections that I cannot edit and are policy for all SE sites, particularly the "What kind of questions should I not ask here?" section. Trying to moderate by those guidelines as well as the explicit wishes of this community to allow game recommendation questions is not easy. There appear to be many folks that feel that I and the other moderators are not very successful at this. If you have suggestions on how to bridge the gap, I'm happy to listen. –  Pat Ludwig Feb 4 '11 at 7:16
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6 Answers

I recently read the Stack Overflow blog post "Q&A is Hard, Let's Go Shopping!" and I think it's quite relevant to this discussion.

Let me provide an example that applies Jeff's thinking.

Example

Let's say I am shopping for board games and I really don't like the trading mechanic in games.

I could be really lazy and ask, "What games don't have a trading mechanic?". Or I could be kind of lazy and ask, "Are there any games like Settlers of Catan that don't involve trading?"

Let's imagine, instead, I try to solve the same question without seeking game recommendations. This opens up a whole lot of opportunities for good questions; here are a few examples:

  • "Do the Ticket to Ride series of games involve any trading? If so, which ones?"
  • "Does trading happen very often during a game of Settlers of Catan?"
  • "How can I make trading less important in Monopoly?"
  • "I don't like how much negotiating trades slows down a game. How can I speed things up?"
  • "How can I tell if a game involves lots of trading?"

My Point Is...

Game recommendation questions stop people from learning. By restricting game recommendation questions, we're likely to get more questions (and better ones). This is especially true if we provide some suggestions on how to replace a recommendation question with a better one.


Update

In the case that we allow game recommendations, the above principles are still applicable.

Although my argument is against recommendation questions, there are parts of it that shouldn't be thrown out if we decide to allow game recommendations. We can advise users (especially in the FAQ) that questions like the examples above are preferred over general recommendation questions, and link to guidelines on how to do so. This could encourage users to turn a question like "What are some good games to take camping?" into one like "How can I know whether or not it's sensible to take a game camping?", yet still allow questions like "What are some games similar to Agricola?".

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An excellent, well-thought-out answer in my opinion –  LittleBobbyTables Dec 7 '10 at 12:29
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Forbidding game rec questions will not produce more good questions. It will only produce more bad questions because people will try and weasel themselves through. –  Kempeth Dec 7 '10 at 15:08
    
@Kempeth: That's a good point, but I think that's why providing suggestions on how to replace a recommendation question with a better one is so important. I believe this will help those on the site who genuinely want this site to keep getting better, rather than try to work around the rules. I believe that kind of user is in the majority. –  Firefeather Dec 7 '10 at 16:02
    
I just added the "Update" section. I saw how the vote is trending and figured that, by adding that section, I can hopefully ensure those ideas are still considered as a possible way to solve the core problem. I see some very good points in the arguments for allowing game recommendations, anyway. –  Firefeather Dec 10 '10 at 16:52
    
@LittleBobbyTables: This is a little late, but thank you! –  Firefeather Dec 10 '10 at 16:53
    
Without recommendation questions, how would I find to continue your example, "games like Settlers of Catan, but without the trading"? Should I simply visit Boardgamegeek, go through their top500 games, and for each one, make a question here asking about the game? You're right though, if rec questions are banned, there has to be a replacement. So what is it? If I want to find games such as those mentioned before, what do I do? What do I ask? Which games do I ask about, and how do I find out about them? –  jalf Feb 4 '11 at 2:49
    
@jalf I would say you would refer to a question like "How can I tell if a game involves lots of trading?" and perhaps learn that Boardgamegeek has a search by game mechanic. Do some searching through there, and perhaps find there's not much to help you see which of those games is similar to Settlers, and then ask your question. My point is that we should be able to expect a certain amount of effort to be put into a recommendation question before it's asked. –  Firefeather Feb 7 '11 at 16:07
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I personally am very much in favor of such questions. I however recognize the need for quality - and frequent lack thereof in these questions.

My reasons for allowing game recommendations:

  • Common need - As boardgamers we all share the desire to find new exciting games to play.
  • Rephrasing pointless - There is no way to around asking for recommendations if that is what you are looking for. No amount of "officially sanctioned" questions can replace the conciseness of a well phrased "game recommendation" question. Hoping that by banning such question will make users post lots of good "sanctioned" questions is illusory. A user who would not invest enough effort to ask a good "game rec" question will certainly not invest enough effort to ask X "sanctioned" questions instead. Not gonna happen...
  • Prolonged Usefulness - Unlike the fast paced world of video games or technical products a good boardgame will likely remain popular for years to come. Thus a good recommendation will remain valid far longer in our field.
  • Not disruptive - I've seen people argue that "too many" [what's that exactly?] game recommendation questions would disrupt the site. Stackoverflow has tens of thousands of tags to categorize its questions. No one over there needs all of them. From the perspective of a Java developer any question relating to .NET, Python, VB, PHP is essentially dead weight. Arguing that one single category of questions is disruptive is unrealistic when confronted with the huge success of StackOverflow.
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If we decide to allow recommendations to continue, I would want to see better quality answers than some of them we have been receiving lately. Not to single a user out, but in the "What are good games to play during a one-hour lunch break?", consider the following answer:

We've played Bang, Citadels, and Race for the Galaxy during our lunch break. Bang has the plus/minus of having people get removed from the game before the game ends.

It's a start, but it doesn't really tell me much about why the games are good to play during the lunch break. As it stands, I could just scan BGG, find games that have a play time of 60 minutes or less, and crank out answers. It should take more effort in these types of questions to get an upvote.

From what I have been seeing, recommendation questions seem like an easy way to get, and generate, a ton of upvotes with very little effort.

As it stands, I think we should either:

  • take Gaming.SE's lead, and disallow recommendation questions and close all currently-open recommendation questions, or
  • check with SE moderators and see if making these questions Community Wiki is appropriate or not

I prefer the first bullet point, since Community Wiki is a whole other can of worms that I rather just not touch.

There seems to be a general (and totally valid) frustration with our inconsistency in allowing/disallowing these questions, and for the site to truly flourish, we need to put this one to rest.

EDIT:

And before anyone else points it out - yes, I'm aware I have contributed to these types of questions by answering some of them. I have, however, had a change of heart in the last few days.

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I think most of us are guilty of contributing to recommendation questions! –  Pat Ludwig Dec 5 '10 at 19:10
    
Almost all of our top users have contributed to questions tagged recommendation. I'm 4th for all time on up-votes for recommendation questions: boardgames.stackexchange.com/tags/recommendations/topusers –  ICodeForCoffee Dec 7 '10 at 19:10
    
Gaming.SE's reasons for disallowing them are all true here, but the problem is, a good recommendation question is a lot more useful here than it would be at Gaming. A modern computer game pplayer can easily find out the current major releases with property 'X'. In board games that's trickier, and BGG doesn't always provide an easy path to the answer. –  Tynam Dec 9 '10 at 21:23
    
Another unfortunate issue with the example answer is that (in my opinion) the three games listed should be put into separate answers, even if the question was never marked Community Wiki. –  Firefeather Dec 10 '10 at 16:59
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Yes, we should allow them, but we should be more aggressive about encouraging good answers. In the example LittleBobbyTables cite, the answers actually has zero votes. It violated the principle of one-recommendation-per-answer. Is it possible to just remove answers like that?

I'm a bit biased, since today I will be purchasing the LOTR board game and all three expansions from a co-worker, and I never would've been interested in cooperative games, especially this one, if it weren't for this question. As someone who has (I hope) benefited from recommendation questions, I'd like to see them stick around.

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How do we encourage good answers? And what do we do to non-good answers? Is it just through voting, or some other subjective measure? As it stands, there is a big grey area in the middle of the obviously good answers and the obviously bad ones for me. –  Pat Ludwig Dec 6 '10 at 20:35
    
That's a good point -- there is certainly a benefit from many of the recommendation questions. I'm not sure if it's a net benefit, though, and Pat's questions are a big issue. –  Firefeather Dec 10 '10 at 17:03
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How about migrating recommendation questions to meta and treat them like discussions? Meta is supposed to be for "discussion, support, and feature requests for this site". (This is the description for meta when you suggest a question be migrated to meta.) We recently migrated What's the best way to describe our hobby's games? over here to meta, and it got me thinking. I'm very hesitant to say we should be banning recommendation questions, but they have a lot of problems as we know. Perhaps by migrating them to meta, and encouraging future questions to be done on meta, we can retain them, while putting them somewhere more appropriate.

As an alternative, we could encourage people to ask for recommendations up on chat, but I think very few responses would be generated that way. What do you guys think?

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Meta is for discussions about the site, I don't see recommendation questions as discussion about the site, but rather discussions about games. I like the chat suggestion though. Our chat room never really took off and could use a kick start. –  Pat Ludwig Dec 7 '10 at 19:52
    
It would be a different middle ground then other stack exchange sites have taken if we put those questions on meta. Suggesting things go in chat could be tricky, but it still provide a forum for the topic. –  ICodeForCoffee Dec 7 '10 at 20:01
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we could even create a new chat room specifically for recommendations questions if needed. –  Pat Ludwig Dec 7 '10 at 20:12
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TBH I don't consider the chat to be a good place of this. I've always found it to be a confusing crossbreed between a forum and IRC. It may be difficult/unintuitive to handle multiple requests in parallel. –  Kempeth Dec 9 '10 at 9:59
    
@kempeth - chat isn't used by now, so feel free to try it out. I don't think multiple requests are going to be an issue right away! We can bookmark specific things for later followup as well. –  Pat Ludwig Dec 16 '10 at 20:17
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Yes, but the questions should be very specific, and community wiki.

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Questions can only be made community wiki by moderators. It is meant for the RARE situation where the community needs to make a lot of edits to a question. It is not meant as a flag merely to prevent reputation gain for otherwise inappropriate questions. –  bwarner Jun 10 '11 at 17:21
    
@bwarner, Yes, I have been involved with many CW questions on the SO Meta, and coined the term Community Wiki Police. My point is that it needs to be Community Wiki so that it can be easily edited. I had forgot about the loss of ability of anyone to make their questions Community Wiki, so it'll actually happen when we give it enough answers that it flips. –  Lance Roberts Jun 10 '11 at 20:41
    
Why would the community need to edit someone's request for a game reccomendation? –  bwarner Jun 10 '11 at 21:05
    
For completeness (and the usual editing reasons). I've edited quite a few game rec posts this last week. But you've actually got me wondering if we need a different status that can be applied to game-rec posts so that they're not used as rep-feeding mechanisms. –  Lance Roberts Jun 10 '11 at 21:34
    
I think reputation concerns were one of the main reasons that game-rec was killed on Gaming.stackexchange. Find 2 open-ended game-recs, suggest a generally popular game (like Agricola), get 50 upvotes on each (I like Agricola too!), and you're now in the top 50 users on the site. –  bwarner Jun 10 '11 at 21:43
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