This is oversimplifying things, but every day I find myself having thousands of questions, which usually fall into one of these categories:

  1. Trivial questions: Stuff that I've probably done before, but I'm just too lazy to remember. I ask google, and the first result shows my answer. This accounts for the vast majority of my questions, and certainly have no merit in being asked here.

  2. Intermediate questions: Questions that arise whenever something doesn't work as I expect it to. The majority of the time, looking for the cause of the problem, reading the documentation, debugging and the like solve my problem. If after trying a lot, I haven't found a solution, I end up asking, and after a while of trying a bit more, I find the solution, so I answer my own question. I probably should not even create those questions in the first time, and the lack of interest (upvotes) seem to agree with this.

  3. Tough questions: This is the stuff that really makes me think, and where I think I actually need help. However, this is usually too specific, and asking it will help nobody else, because nobody has my exact same problem. So I try to remove the details as much as I can, and end up with a question as generic as I can, like this, this and this. But by removing all the context to make the question generic and useful to other people, I end up dumbing it down, and end up attracting controversy instead of answers. I also fail at making it into a better question, which the extreme lack of upvotes reflect.

So what I now have is a bunch of questions that not only created some useless controversy, but also don't have any useful solutions, and end up wasting both my time and that of the people who answer them and that of the people who may come with a similar question only to find no useful answers.

This is of course not the fault of the people who helpfully try to answer my questions, but my fault by asking bad questions. I try to bring only what I consider to be the most interesting questions, that other people may also have, but I'm pathetically failing at it. Of course, my accept ratio stands at a solid 0%, but I can't accept something that doesn't answer the question, nor can I delete the question.

I would like to know of the expert askers in here, how do you find a balance to ask questions that are both helpful to you and other people, while also attracting useful answers.

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3 Answers 3

The important point to understand, I think, is that StackExchange sites are archived Q&A repositories, not simply Come-Here-To-Get-Help sites.

That is, questions and answers are preserved here in perpetuity to serve those who visit the site in the future, and we only want questions and answers which will be useful to those future visitors. This is why "debug my code for me" questions are typically closed as "too localised"; nobody else is ever going to need an answer about how to fix that particular bit of buggy code.

A simple criteria you can use to determine what questions to post to this site, and what questions to post elsewhere is just this: If you think it's likely that someone else will want to ask the same question here someday, and an absolute answer which applies to everyone can be provided, then absolutely post the question here (after searching to check whether someone has asked the same question here before). If you think it likely that you're the only one who will benefit from the question, or if the 'correct' answer would be different for different people, then a discussion forum or our chat would be a better place to ask -- they're transient discussion mediums which are designed to facilitate personal interactions and assistance. :)

In some cases you can modify a question which is about personal advice just for you, and rewrite it into a question which applies to everyone (often a structure like "What factors influence the choice of whether someone should (A) or (B)?" can be used for this purpose). If you can formulate your question in this way, rather than as "I'm (personal details), should I do (A) or (B)?" then absolutely do so. Make the question apply to everyone, and you'll normally be fine. :)

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Yes, but this is precisely the problem I exposed in point 3 up there. After I generalize my question as much as I can, and I turn it into an interesting question that other people may also have, I post it and end up attracting controversy. Should I have not posted the questions in the first place? Should I have asked my original ultra-specific question instead? –  Panda Pajama Jan 29 '13 at 2:49
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Of the three questions you linked in point 3, all are upvoted, all have been given answers, and none has attracted any close votes. I guess I'm just not seeing the controversies that you are. –  Trevor Powell Jan 29 '13 at 3:28
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Your 3 questions have problems for different reasons.

1) It's an interesting question and not a bad one but if there was an answer it would likely be of a complexity that would require a paper to be written about it, and yet is of zero practical use considering most people will either rotate the sprites in Photoshop or accept the graphics hardware's native filtering.

2) This blend question didn't really attract controversy; it just attracted one person who disagreed with the premise of the question. I disagreed with that person's answer, but I don't have a better one to supply. Not every good question has someone here that can answer it. Most people never have a use for anything other than the traditional blending mode and occasionally additive blending. You also have to accept that some people here on GD.SE can be quite brusque with their replies, and don't take it personally.

3) This question is too vague. You removed the extraneous text about your personal situation etc. but it was still too vague, because there are many of different types of online game and many aspects you could want to prototype. You've assumed there must be some sort of tool for your problem, but there isn't. There's just hard work and a lot of reading to do.

Remember this site is heavily focused on clearly answerable questions. Not every question is clearly answerable, and that doesn't make it a bad question, just one unsuitable for this site. In such cases, you might consider forums like Gamedev.net or TigSource.com, or even post on the Gamedev subReddit.

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Regarding question 1: If, as you claim, everybody uses hardware filtering, I would have expected answers mentioning this, including relevant experience, and a few examples. I honestly thought this was a straightfoward question that had already been solved, and any self-respecting graphics programmer would know the answer to. But the question itself gathered so little interest that I would prefer to delete it. –  Panda Pajama Jan 31 '13 at 5:36
    
Regarding question 2: I don't mind answers that disagree with the original question. Sometimes you are looking at the problem from the wrong angle, and you need somebody to tell this to you, but the answer provided is just mean and not helpful at all, as it basically says "get lost noob, learn something before even asking", and doesn't even provide alternative points of view. Of course, everybody agrees with him (the answer and his comments are upvoted, while mine aren't), so he is probably right. Once again, my fault for asking the wrong question. –  Panda Pajama Jan 31 '13 at 5:43
    
Regarding question 3: I originally included the text because it provided context (I can, and have written online games, but writing an online game and prototyping one have very different non-functional requirements). Everybody, including yourself right now seem to have misinterpreted my question as "Hi, I've never programmed but I want to write WoW clone plz give me teh codes". I think the question is very specific asking for technical tips that simplify prototyping, but everybody seems to disagree. So once again, wrong question on my part. –  Panda Pajama Jan 31 '13 at 5:49
    
In conclusion, all of these have the same pattern. I wrote bad questions, and caused inconveniences, and made people (including yourself right now) waste a lot of time. I want to fix this, and that's why I created this meta-question. Asking good questions is difficult. Much more difficult than I had thought. I am having a lot of trouble asking good questions, and would like to get some hints on how to ask good questions that people can identify with, and then provide interesting and constructive good answers. –  Panda Pajama Jan 31 '13 at 5:55
    
Re: Q1: You misjudged the way people use graphics. But the question itself was interesting, which is why it got 8 votes and an honest attempt at answering it. Deleting questions because they don't get enough interest is sort of against the ethos of the site. It's the quality of the question that counts, and this one is a good question, just not as relevant as you believed. –  Kylotan Jan 31 '13 at 13:36
    
Re: Q2: As already stated above, I disagree with the answer there but don't have a better one. If it were a bad question it wouldn't have 5 upvotes. –  Kylotan Jan 31 '13 at 13:38
    
Re: Q3: the context wasn't really relevant, sorry. And no, I haven't interpreted your question in the way you suggest at all, nor is there anything in what I wrote to suggest that. What I have suggested however is that you made several incorrect assumptions (eg. that networking is something fairly standardisable, that a tool would exist for testing it) which mean you won't get the answer you were hoping for. –  Kylotan Jan 31 '13 at 13:43
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Please don't be offended, but it sounds like you have a bit of negative self-image going on here. You want to delete a question just because it's not had much interest, as if it's an embarrassment not to be more popular. You're assuming 'everybody' agrees with a harsh answer to your question and that therefore you asked the wrong question and are at 'fault'. And you think that everybody is judging you because you didn't know much about networking, or that you're somehow inconveniencing people. The first step is to stop worrying so much about bits of text on the internet. –  Kylotan Jan 31 '13 at 13:48
    
Ultimately your questions aren't bad - you just think they are. Not every good question is answerable: I have a few myself over on Stack Overflow. Just accept that and move on. –  Kylotan Jan 31 '13 at 13:51
    
I'd have them deleted because I think they don't add anything to the site. They're just noise and have caused inconveniences and made people waste their time. As I understand these sites, you guys are aiming for nothing but the best questions ans answers, and anything that isn't either up to the standards, nor leading to it doesn't belong here. You either shape up or get out. And I don't think I'm doing really good. –  Panda Pajama Jan 31 '13 at 14:53
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You're being excessively self-deprecating. The community and the moderators are the judges of question quality. Your questions have an average of 4 upvotes each, which appears to be above average. Don't worry about it. –  Kylotan Jan 31 '13 at 18:59
    
Multiple Positive Upvotes means that someone (groups of someone) feel as though your content is adding something of value to the site. Please continue contributing! –  Noctrine Jan 31 '13 at 22:24
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First of all, chill out.

The questions you ask about game dev will get better as you learn more about game dev.

There is nothing wrong with asking a question and having it closed! Not a big deal. A learning process. As you ask more questions and see responses, you're going to find out what this particular community likes to answer (yes, there is an "it's not you, it's them" somewhere in here).

If your question isn't getting upvotes, that does not mean it is not a good question. It just means no one who saw it can relate to it or answer it.

The highest voted questions are basically the ones that everyone can relate to and everyone feels needs a good answer: "What are good games to “earn your wings” with? [closed]", "fixed time step vs variable".

Asking these questions is sort of luck of the draw - you can into the problem and thought to ask it first.

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Thank you very much for your feedback. Unfortunately your answer does not address any of the points in my question, and is not related to what I am asking (who said anything about closed questions?) Are you sure this answer is for this question? –  Panda Pajama Feb 3 '13 at 18:28
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