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A question came up asking for recommendations and the most played card games so they would have an idea what to play. I edited the question to ask only what was most played because I didn't see how the motivation mattered.

The question was closed because "Questions asking for game recommendations are off-topic". I really don't see how that's valid. Even though that's the motivation behind the question, that question actually solicited data about board games, and this doesn't suffer the same problems (endless, opinion-based answers).

I would love to see more such questions about data about board games (especially if they include the research they've already done). I know that my local store and BGG provide data about sales and games played, and I find that useful.

Even if the ultimate goal of getting the data is to use the answer as a recommendation, am I mistaken in thinking seeking objective facts about board games is a good thing?

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    The question was closed as a game recommendation question before it was edited to remove the explicit request for recommendations. If you want to discuss the current form, or some more ideal form, great, but let's not mix that up with why it was closed, and let's not omit other reasons people had and noted. – Cascabel Feb 21 '18 at 5:13
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    If that's your question, then I think you're doing yourself a disservice by using this question as a test case. It has other issues, and so establishing that the overall category of questions is on topic doesn't mean we will reopen this question. – Cascabel Feb 21 '18 at 5:26
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    No, I did not add it. Your original question referred to it before I ever edited (I only added the link), and much of it was about the arguments people made for closing that specific question. I would strongly encourage you to take a step back at this point, because you have through the course of this process pushed uncomfortably far in misrepresenting others' actions and statements (not just mine) and shown a lack of willingness to listen to others (not just me). That's not good for you or your admirable goal of encouraging data-related questions. – Cascabel Feb 21 '18 at 5:54
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tl;dr Questions about data are on topic, but still subject to site standards, and this particular question likely falls short. The motivation matters insofar as it is necessary for us to understand what constitutes a good or bad answer from the OP's perspective, which is relevant for both editing to clarify and answering. If, on the other hand, the question is sufficiently clear and objective, to the point that motivation won't affect what constitutes a good or bad answer, we don't need to worry about the motivation underlying it.


I think that questions about data are a great category, and the site would benefit from having more of them, but they do need to be well-written. There should be a clear, specific question. If there's potential to get side-tracked into debates, that's a bad sign.

Unfortunately, this specific case seems dodgy. First off, it was asked as a recommendation question, where the OP would've pretty clearly been happy with answers about popular games, without a lot of solid data. Yes, that was edited out, but what's left is fairly vague. I think we would be better off starting from scratch, with an OP who's clearly looking for data, and writing a clearer question that's less likely to solicit opinions and debate.

For example, there's the question of what counts as a card game - are we including things like Magic, or just standard playing card games? Are we talking about time spent playing, in which case casino games will likely rank highly, or number of people who play/have played the game, in which games played at home will have more of a chance? Different countries play different games - is this a global question, a US question, or what?

And on top of all that, the OP clearly was interested in this for the purpose of discovering games to play, which means that however this all gets clarified, it needs to match the OP's preferences. This is where the motivation bit comes in: the only information we have to help refine the question is the fact that the OP wants to use it as recommendations, which makes it pretty impossible to clarify the question without either making a total guess or turning it right back into a recommendation question.

So if you, or anyone else, wants to go ask a clear, specific question asking for data about popularity of card games, awesome! It'll be on-topic, we won't close it as a game recommendations question, and it will be good for the site to have questions like that. On this point I think we're all pretty well agreed.

But this question hasn't gotten there yet, and we can't force it to, because some of that is up to the OP. Keeping it closed doesn't mean we won't ever take questions about data, it just applies to this particular question.


What about the original form of the question? It's a recommendation question. It said:

Recommendation, card game

Could you make me recommendations for card games? Whatever type it was. I just want to know what is most played at this time with respect to card games.

It's asking for recommendations for a set of games, with some criteria that aren't terribly clear or objective. It meets the literal definition of recommendation questions here, so it's off-topic. It was absolutely prone to turning into a poll (X is popular in this context, Y is popular in this other context, etc etc).

Yes, it could conceivably be salvaged into something that's no longer a recommendation question. The edits made are a start. But that doesn't change the fact that the original question absolutely solicited recommendations, and since it's not trivial to edit to avoid this (in large part due to the original motivation, as noted above), the voters were right to vote to close.

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  • @ikegami Overall what I'm saying is that the process of turning this from a broad recommendation question into a specific question about data is not complete. Sure, maybe the literal "recommendation" part is gone. But the vagueness that leaves room for all kinds of things is still there. So, sure, maybe it's slightly more accurate to close it as unclear. But I don't think it's a terribly productive use of our time to discuss that and possibly change the close reason. And it was closed for being a recommendation question before that part was edited out. – Cascabel Feb 21 '18 at 5:10
  • @ikegami I've edited in some things to address the general question of whether data is on-topic (it is) and whether the motivation matters (roughly it does if it affects how to ask/answer). This specific question does still have issues, and I think that is important to note in an answer to your meta question, because it is asking about this specific question, and implying that if data requests are on topic then this question's closure is invalid - and that is not the case. – Cascabel Feb 21 '18 at 5:33
  • @ikegami It was closed as a recommendation question while the question contained "Could you make me recommendations for card games?" because that is a recommendation question. Yes, it narrowed it down by asking about popularity. That was not enough to stop it from being a recommendation question. Substantial edits are required to turn it into an objective, on-topic question, and the edits thus far only partially accomplish that. – Cascabel Feb 21 '18 at 5:34
  • @ikegami Could you make up your mind which you care about? The general idea of (sufficiently clear, specific) data questions? Or the original form of this question? – Cascabel Feb 21 '18 at 5:41
  • You said in your comment "Re "And it was closed for being a recommendation question before that part was edited out.", Yes. Why???" -- you do seem to be asking about that too. And yes, I have addressed the issue of motivation. In case you're having trouble finding it in the answer, the summary is that if the question is objective then it's all good, but once there's fuzziness, the motivation is how we figure out how to clear it up - and how people will decide what to answer before it's cleared up - so it unfortunately does matter. – Cascabel Feb 21 '18 at 5:48
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Even if the ultimate goal of getting the data is to use the answer as a recommendation, am I mistaken in thinking seeking objective facts about board games is a good thing?

I also think there is nothing wrong in that.

However, the problem here is how to guarantee that objectiveness. As that question is phrased, it could give space for many speculation or "hunches" on what are the most played games. Answers given should indicate some justification or evidence to support them (even more perhaps than other type of answers).

I think that, (1) those kind of questions could be allowed, but (2) this question needs a good edit to be worth it; it has no research effort at all, nor other details to tell it apart from a Google query.

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    Note that this specific case sounds like it's asking about games played with a deck of playing cards, which means no sales data, no manufacturing data, and so on. The only way to know would be surveys, which makes it even harder to guarantee objectiveness. – Cascabel Feb 20 '18 at 15:56
  • @Cascabel Yes, that is why OP has to give more information as to be able to frame or narrow down the search, for it to be objectively answerable. – DarkCygnus Feb 20 '18 at 15:57
  • Right, my point is that the most likely intent here is the one with the least hard data available (including home play, no per-game purchase) so even if it's clarified it's not the greatest example of a good objective data request - the examples of BGG and sales data in the question don't come into play. – Cascabel Feb 20 '18 at 16:23
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I would argue that if they really are looking for new card games then data showing which card game is the most played (or even top 5) will not reveal any new games since if they are popular enough to be the most played game then they are also popular enough to be well known.

I'm trying to discover new card games. What are the most played card game at this time?

If this question was more data oriented such as asking for most popular based on number of players, number of hands played, age of players, area of the world or something similar it could be an interesting question. But as it stands it is just asking for popular games with no criteria so different answers may all be correct based on what the person answering thought they meant by most popular.

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  • I don't see what the first half of your answer has to do with my question, and the second just repeats my question. Maybe you could indicate why you think the motivation behind asking the question is important in evaluating whether a question is on-topic or not. Questions that directly ask for recommendations are off-topic because they are subjective and elicit an open-ended list of answers, but questions requesting objective data don't suffer from that problem, even if the motivation is to find a game to play. So why do you think the motivation matters? – ikegami Feb 21 '18 at 4:28
  • @ikegami Because the question is literally asking for new games to play even after your edit to try and make it on topic. If it just had the second sentence then it wouldn't be a recommendation question as it would just be concerned with the most popular game and not a new game to play. – Joe W Feb 21 '18 at 12:41
  • Yes, we're all well aware of the motivations of the OP of that question. I didn't ask that. . Maybe you could indicate why you think the motivation behind asking the question is important in evaluating whether a question is on-topic or not – ikegami Feb 21 '18 at 16:06
  • @ikegami The motivation does matter when the question clearly states they are looking for new games which means they are asking for recommendations. – Joe W Feb 21 '18 at 22:12
  • "It does" is not enough of an answer (and certainly thoroughly unconvincing). I'd love to hear why you think it does. Keep in mind the existing Meta page on the subject say recommendations are good if asked in a way that solicit objective answers. Is this not such a question? – ikegami Feb 21 '18 at 22:34
  • Joe, to me it seems you're saying that this question doesn't actually solicit objective answers, it still obviously wants recommendations and asks in a vague enough way to solicit them. (That is, the recommendation-ness is actually part of the question, not just motivation.) Maybe all you need to do is edit to say something like that? – Cascabel Feb 21 '18 at 22:35
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    And as for how/why it solicits recommendations, I mean, look at it. "I'm trying to discover new card games. What are the most played card game at this time?" It doesn't even say data. It doesn't give any context. Someone can say "judging by the folks I've played with, the most popular games are X Y Z" and it'd be an answer. It's absolutely possible to make an objective data request here, but this question doesn't do that. – Cascabel Feb 21 '18 at 22:39
  • @Cascabel The problem I see if I was to edit it into what I considered a good question I think the question would have changed enough from what was originally asked to make it better to ask a new question. – Joe W Feb 21 '18 at 22:40
  • @JoeW I mean editing your answer here, not the main-site question :) – Cascabel Feb 21 '18 at 22:41

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