I just stumbled upon this (subjectively very interesting) question: Which alternative methods of choosing a starting player actually WORK?

As far as I can tell, the question is mainly what's being asked in the title, and at no point does it actually ask for suggestions on better methods. In fact, the only extensions of the question I can see are this line further down:

Are these rules mostly just there to be cute - and quickly ignored - or should be follow them religiously?

As a corollary question, are there any games that vary the starting player by means other than pure randomness? [...] Also, are there any games that have rules for fairly assigning seating order [...]?

About every single one of the upvoted answers (including the accepted answer) do not seem to answer the question stated in the title whatsoever, and exclusively address the corollary question quoted above (which, to my understanding, makes little sense without having an answer to the main question first). All of these answers seem to be answering the nonexistant question of "Can you name another method any game uses to determine a starting player?".

Now, this seems like a rather common thing to happen on StackExchange-style sites, and there are mechanisms for it, such as voting to delete answers, and downvoting. However, none of these answers seem to have even gotten a significant number of downvotes (the highest count on the top ten answers is 1 downvote at the time of writing). From that I can only assume that the userbase (I dare not say community) has decided that these answers are useful, even though they do not answer the question.

As for the accepted answer, it follows the template of "posting a method rather than an answer" as well, but adds this line:

It is the best of both worlds.

Now that technically answers the question, although in an objectively rather unsatisfactory way, as it is not providing any hint of debate in favor of what's being suggested, nor does it really express that this method works... it sounds more like "it also isn't great, but the best you can get".

Going by my understanding of the StackExchange principles, I'd proceed to downvote pretty much every answer, vote to delete some of them, and perhaps research a little on my own to be able to provide a good answer to the original question - but at least going by majority vote, I seem to be vastly outnumbered in that thinking. Am I missing something here? What is going on? And, to loop back to my original question - am I supposed to view these answers as useful, simply because quite evidently (going by user input), they are?

4 Answers 4


For what it's worth... I consider the real question to be defined by the body of the post, and the title to be just a summary. Ideally they should be consistent with each other, but if there's any ambiguity about what's actually being asked, I take the body of the post as authoritative. So as I see it, the real question is primarily this:

...are any of these actually superior, on a long-term basis, to just choosing at random?

and secondarily this:

Are these rules mostly just there to be cute - and quickly ignored - or should be follow them religiously?

Asking two questions in the same post is not great, of course, but that's a whole separate issue.

Anyway, looking at it from this perspective, a lot of the answers describe alternate methods of choosing a starting player and list some advantages of those methods. By listing advantages, they are answering the first part of the question. They're anecdotal answers, sure, but if you expect a proper study or statistical analysis or something like that, you'd be waiting forever. In a case like this, anecdotes are probably as good as you're going to get. Given that, I don't think it makes much sense to consider these answers unacceptable.

More generally, based on my experience on this and other SE sites, I'd suggest that posting answers that don't answer the question is not (or, should not be) acceptable, but we should assume good faith on the part of answerers. If it's at all plausible that the person posting legitimately and reasonably thought they were answering the question, that should be good enough to keep it from being deleted outright as a non-answer. Of course, if you think an answer doesn't actually answer the question, that makes it not useful, which is precisely the listed criterion for downvoting, so as far as I'm concerned, go ahead and downvote away. You can also leave a comment on the answer pointing out something that you think other people should consider when casting their own votes. If, after all that, other people still disagree with you and think the answer is useful enough for them to upvote it... well, there's really nothing else you can do at that point, so you might as well just go with it.


Simply put I think they are answering the question by talking about alternate methods of choosing a starting player that work for them. In the end if a starting method works or not really comes down to opinion as there are methods that work for some groups and don't work for others.


It's worth considering that the title of the question was edited fairly recently, well after most answers to the question where posted. This gives the appearance that answers aren't answering the question, but in reality they WERE answering the question at the time.

Expecting the authors of answers to come back and edit their answers when a question is changed 11 years later might be a bit much.


As I also said in this Meta Stack Exchange answer,

Titles are a reference label, a brief description of the question so it can be found by later searches; they do not form the whole question, or even a relevant part of it.

The body of the question is where the question must be asked. If that happens to include identical text as the title, good! It means the title will be very particular, making it easier to see what the rest of the body might involve.

The title is not the question and the question is not the title.

I strongly disagree that a person honestly believing they've attempted to answer a question makes it so. Either they have addressed the facts and context provided and have provided a resolution to the query made, or they haven't.

Making that judgement is up to each reader, and it may be more or less objective to do so, but "I really thought that's what it wanted" is not enough to make a post become an answer to a question, any more than it being technically marked in an Answer box does.

If you think a post in the Answer box does not (attempt to) resolve the query, flag it as Not An Answer. If you think it is unhelpful, and you probably should, if you think it's not answering the relevant question, downvote it.

If you think the question is intended to seek something that is not explicitly requested, such as by implying it only or by interpreting the text in that way, you can suggest an edit to make that intent explicit, as long as it does not invalidate any existing answers or actively change the intent of the question, such as it may be identifiable.

  • 1
    I would disagree with you on the not an answer flag. Just because an answer is given that may not be what the person asking the question wants doesn't mean it isn't an answer. In the case of the linked question even the accepted answer was questioned as answering the question which the OP accepted showing it was at least helpful if not answering the question.
    – Joe W
    Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 12:09
  • 1
    Then, I don't think you've understood what I said, and someone accepting an answer doesn't mean it actually does.
    – Nij
    Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 20:59

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