We've discussed this before, but I think it's time to put the final nail in the coffin of Game Recommendation questions.

Take a look at the tag. The most recent stuff is first. Look for the items marked [closed]. You can see that all recent ones have been closed. Since August, none have survived. The recent open questions tagged with recommendations should probably be retagged, as they are using the term "recommendations" in a different way.

There hasn't been a lot of pushback during this time despite what some would surely call heavy-handed moderation. The big question is "How is our traffic?" Is the site growing?

YES

Traffic doubled from 9/1 to mid December. Christmas bumped us up again, we are now running at 3x of September's rate. I don't think we'll hold onto all of that bump in the short term, but Christmas did introduce a good number of people to the site for sure!

Board & Card Games is currently the fourth most traffic'd StackExchange Beta site! and is getting more traffic than two previously launched sites. This has been a great few months and I don't want to lose the progress.

While I wouldn't state that the rec game policy change is solely responsible, I believe it is a big part. Now I think we should formalize it. Update the FAQ, close the rest and move forward.

Why aren't Game Recommendation questions desirable for a Q and A site?

They seem so harmless, people love them, everybody can participate, let's enjoy them, right? They're awesome questions .... for a forum.

This is a Q & A site, Real Questions have Answers! Game Recommendation questions are asking for individual items or games, not really answers. People can earn a lot of rep just by being the first to mention a popular game. After all Dominion is probably a great answer for most any question that starts with "What's a good game for ...?" Folks then vote for the answer which says Dominion because they know it and agree that it's a good game for the purpose. There doesn't need to be any substance to the answer. Nothing is learned, no experience needs to be shared.

Votes should indicate quality.

Too many answers

It doesn't take an expert to recommend a game, anyone can do it. And will. Game rec questions can quickly grow to many answers. After a certain point, any new answer has virtually no shot at rising above the existing answers no matter how good it is. We can't expect folks to pick out the diamond in the rough when it's the 15th answer on a page. A great question will have upwards of 5 answers that we can evaluate and vote between.

They attract more recommendation questions

When people see these questions they think that they are allowed and acceptable here. We can't really fault them for this. Let's clean things up so that we avoid that confusion.

If you've read this far, thank you for your attention! I should note that we would be far from the only StackExchange site to make this decision. Sites that I know of that prohibit shopping or game-req questions include.

  • SuperUser
  • Gaming
  • SciFi
  • Fitness & Nutrition
  • Andriod
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In the case of this particular question, which is so specific I can't imagine that there are many answers--but I'm sure there are some--would it work if instead of asking for recommendations it asked simply if any other games exist meeting this criteria? –  Gregor Jan 5 '12 at 19:36
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@shujaa - for me the answer would be no. I imagine the answer for any reasonable set of criteria is "Yes there is such a game" There's a ton of games out there! Next someone will say, "don't forget YYY, also ZZZ is close - you should try that". I see recommendations as a slippery slope. By far the easiest line to draw is "No recommendations" Once you put some exceptions in there, the line gets blurry and arguments will ensue and we end up right back where we started. –  Pat Ludwig Jan 5 '12 at 20:13
    
You've got me pretty well convinced. Related: do you know if there's a way to withdraw a vote to re-open? –  Gregor Jan 5 '12 at 20:27
    
@shujaa - not that I'm aware of, but they do expire (like close votes) after 4 days or so. –  Pat Ludwig Jan 5 '12 at 20:29
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I think we're looking at the wrong aspect here. Any question that solicits too many answers is because it's too general. We should close questions that are too general, which would include many rec questions. However, consider this counter-example: "What board games can be played and enjoyed with both my seeing children and my blind son?" I can't think of any off the top of my head, but there may be some. The specificity of this question is what should allow it to survive. –  Neal Tibrewala Jan 7 '12 at 20:46
    
@NealTibrewala - assume there is one game that meets the criteria. If there is one, there is probably more. How do people rank the answers at that point? Votes should indicate the quality of the answer, not be a popularity contest for games. Questions where every answer is equally valid is not valid per our FAQ. –  Pat Ludwig Jan 7 '12 at 21:03
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@NealTibrewala - a better question would be along the lines of "How can I play games with both my seeing children and blind son?" Then (hopefully) you'd get answers from people who have gone through that situation and can give you some solid advice - including games that they were able to play with both kids. Maybe a few commenters would chime in with "Yes, I agree with this answer, we did the same things but also with game XXX, XXX". Same basic set of games from both questions, but the addition of the advice and tips makes all the difference –  Pat Ludwig Jan 7 '12 at 21:07

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I think they should be banned, mostly for the reasons you cite. I think we've gone through a similar situation on Gaming, as you can see in the FAQ entry there, with a longer explanation here.

It's very difficult to get a recommendation question to work in this format, and even if we manage to get one that does work, it then leads to a series of closed questions, frustrated users, and "Why was my X closed when Y is open?" questions on meta. Of course we'll get that to some degree with any type of question, simply because we're no different than any other online community in certain respects: we have standards which we expect all users to follow, and all internet sites experience a sort of entropy, in that their content will naturally tend to degrade over time, requiring constant effort to keep up quality.

It's certainly worthwhile to do that for cases where it's the question itself that needs help, but when the topic is also a problem area, we can end up spending a significant amount of mod and user time just to end up with well-written questions that still don't fit the Stack Exchange format. We can spend a lot of time talking about the differences between "what games are like X" and "what is the best game like X", for example, but that won't change the point of the question: tell me about a game like X.

And it's not as though we don't have a place where those questions can be asked. It's possible to have forum-like discussions in chat, and honestly, I think that's the best place for game-rec questions anyway. The best recommendations, in my opinion, come from people who a) know you well or b) know the type of game you're looking for well. Those attributes can be hard to identify in a Q&A format ... but they can be teased out with the back-and-forth nature of chat. (We also avoid the additional problem of extended discussion in comments: another area where it's hard to allow exceptions, because otherwise we spend a lot of time explaining the difference between an exception and a particular case.)

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+1 - Thanks for linking the discussion on video games - I find the logic there hard to argue with, and I don't see any distinction with our situation here either. –  ire_and_curses Jan 6 '12 at 3:44

Direct people placing recommendation questions onto the chat room unfortunately give the restrictions they couldn't place a question but someone could place it for them.

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This is what killed the site for me. Used to love to come here for recommendations. Now, I hardly log on.

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it is unfortunate that SE's Q&A format isn't designed to handle game recommendation questions. BGG is better suited for that, and this site is better suited for rules clairification. –  user1873 Jan 26 '13 at 14:05

I want to disagree with this statement.

I think a lot of people here are in factacting a bit too much like police officers, following the letter of the law and not its spirit. I can see how vaugue questions like "I like Settlers of Catan. What would be a good game to buy next" are basically a popularity poll and have little value, as we couldnt really rate answers.

But there are recommendation questions that make sense. I feel mine was one of them. I was very specific. I pinpointed the mechanics/game dynamics I disliked. I stated what do I consider a game similar to Eclipse. This leaves room for easy evaluation of answers suggesting some games as the solution of my problem. Does the game fix the issues I find in Eclipse? What mechanic is supposed to do that and how? Does the game fufill the requirements of being similar to Eclipse that I posted? The specificity of my question eliminates the answer flood problem - if there were so many games meeting my criteria, why would I even bother asking? Lets not ie to ourselves here - using the BGG mechanics search engine I had trouble finding games I know well and know percisely what mechanics they use. And im quite a tech savvy guy, being a programmer and all.

Cutting out the rules lawyering part, almost everything on the topic of boardgames is subjective. Some design solutions in a game may influence the gameplay experience of different individuals in different ways. Everything in a game depends on our perception. One might say Race for the Galaxy is solitaire, others might find a lot if indirect interaction in it. Can we objectively discuss design solutions used in the game? Not really.

Stack exchange started as stackoverflow, and many of the faq's and rules are a modified copy of stackoverflows faq's and rules. While for SO they work fine, they are not the best choice for all topics. Take programmers SE! Take Role playing games beta! Take parenting SE! All these could be argued to be totally subjective, but they worked out their own sets of rules and they are functional!

I also disagree with @user1873 comment on how BGG is better suited for game recommendations. Well, for the ultra broad ones, like the "Settlers..." example i gave earlier, that might be true. But for qeustions that are concrete enough to have answers that can objectively be rated? I dont think so. Asking on BGG I'd have to dig through 200+ answers, most of which would be clueless, jokes or off-topic chatter. SE format would spare me that and leave me just the few best answers at the top, each a enclosed whole, not referring to what someone said 37 pages earlier in the topic.

As for the argumentation provided in the link to the Arcade SE site...

First, Repositories are often non-finite; many will continue to be updated as new information comes up. Building from that, Repositories also tend to be non-static; the other question classes have a far less frequent rate of change over time.

well guess what... Most questions on StackOverflow have exactly the same problem! With new technologies showing up at every corner, questions on how to deal with a specific problem will indeed raise a list of answers, each proposing the usage of the new, cool and shiny tool. As the tools proliferate, so will technically correct answers. Some will get outdated, others wont. Taking it all into account, we still see that StackOverflow is doing pretty well, right? And lots of other concerns about the "repository" thing look like problems with the answers not following any discipline, and not the questions being bad themselves.

There is no motivation to excel and be an expert in building Repositories here. Otherwise, these Repositories should be filled to the brim with pages upon pages of contributions. So we are really just providing a small subset of qualifying content, namely the subjectively and currently popular content. Including myself, there are many people who continue to state that game recommendations can be founded on knowledge and that there exists expertise, but these past two months have shown quite clearly that nobody seems to care about making a good quality repository that is founded on knowledge.

Sooo... we only accept questions that are easy to answer in the correct way instead of fighting to have good answers to all questions?

Also, I would like to point out that our field is quite different form computer games. In boardgames, you directly interact with the games inner workings, and its a LOT easier to intelligently discuss them. We can for example reasonably compare games of the same genere, while in computer games it would probably get reduced to "which game looks better or has a cooler storyline!"

I do agree that it is quite easy to wirte a bad recommendation question, but I feel there is a knee-jerk reaction to recommendation questions. Something like "So your looking for a game that... wait wiat. Alert! Alert! Vote close!".

I am fully aware I wont sway your opinions, but I wanted to express what I think and state my point of view.

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game recommendation questions require a lot of work for moderators/privileged users. Allowing them solicits lots of bad questions and bad answers. There can be good questions and bad questions can be salvaged through discussion about the actual concrete requirements. I think the RPG stack exchange community does this well, but it is not without great dedication from the high rep/mods of the community. Work/dedication the people of this community have decided they do not want to do or does not add enough value. Sorry your question got closed, it looked like it might have been a decent one. –  Colin D Nov 13 '13 at 14:01
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I agree that as recommendation questions go, yours was a good one. But I still think this isn't the place for it. On a BGG forum or Reddit's r/boardgames I bet you'll get a warm response and a lively discussion. –  Gregor Nov 13 '13 at 20:48
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I can't resist pointing out that after rephrasing your question to not ask for a recommendation, you received a thoughtful and excellent answer from @Pow-lan. His answer suggested house-rule tweaks to help with the learning stages and your perceived weaknesses of the game, while keeping the mechanics you enjoy about the game intact. In my opinion, this makes your question as it stands far superior to a simple recommendation question, which would have simply "given up" on an excellent game. –  ghoppe Nov 13 '13 at 23:01
    
@ghoppe touche! –  K.L. Nov 14 '13 at 8:01
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@K.L. Thanks for taking the time to post this. –  ire_and_curses Nov 20 '13 at 18:02

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