The site can't get out of beta until we get our questions per day count up significantly.

We need some legitimate way to drive up questions. We could spam lots of questions we already know the answers too, but that's not going to help the site in the long run.

We need to find a way to get gamers to come here when a new edition or game comes out.

Any thoughts?

  • Personally I care about increasing the activity on the site; coming of out beta would just be a nice side benefit. :) Jun 13, 2012 at 23:56
  • 9
    Spamming a lot of questions we know answers to won't help in the long run, as you say, but adding questions we can answer for games that are under-represented might increase the chances that someone who has a question about those games asks it here. If I had a question about some game and couldn't find any reference to it on the site, I'd be reluctant to ask, thinking it might be a waste of time...
    – Johno
    Jun 14, 2012 at 10:50

9 Answers 9


Get a greater variety of users, playing a greater variety of games?

We have a steady trickle of MTG questions because that's a complex game (with constant new content) that generates consistent rules questions -- it helps that the rules are robust enough that we can actually answer those questions, too. It's not the only game like that. But we don't have many questions about minis wargames (for which there are many rulesets, with unique rules and strategy concerns -- not to mention that questions about prepping game materials are totally on-topic!) and other card games (L5R, Pokemon, Yugioh, the various "LCGs," the recent Netrunner reboot, &c.). But we don't seem to have many users actively posting on those topics. My best guess is that it's because, as a community, we're not actively playing those games? But someone is, somewhere.

How do you grow that user base? I don't know. It's not something that we can fake, really. I think there's a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem, where it's hard to encourage any dedicated fans of (e.g.) L5R to post here unless there's already strong L5R content to make it worth their while.

(In many ways, RPGs SE had it easier, because it looks like they were able to hit their content quota just with D&D3/4 questions, and the rest is icing -- that kinda shows when you look at their front page, though.)

  • 1
    To encourage greater variety of games, I think we could be more proactive about encouraging questions on new games. Pat and a few other people are very encouraging to new users but I've noticed that when I post a first question on a totally new game, it tends to have few views, few votes, few comments, etc. (Cosmic Encounter and Vinci). Perhaps if we put more effort into viewing these questions (to get view count up), voting on (the quality of) these questions, that could help even if it's a game you haven't played.
    – Joe Golton
    Jun 14, 2012 at 14:27
  • @JoeGolton Good observation. I posted a kinda obscure question on RPG.SE and got no answers. But the upvotes at least made me inclined to check back more often.
    – Alex P
    Jun 14, 2012 at 14:46
  • 2
    @JoeGolton. We should use bounties to keep those kind of questions alive and entice people to go find answers.
    – CaulynDarr
    Jun 14, 2012 at 15:07

I can't seem to find a blog for this site. I think it'd be a great way to drive traffic for new game releases and such. Something we try to do at the IT Security SE to help keep the blog alive, is a "Question of the Week" post - do a write-up of an interesting question and its answers (not necessarily one from the past week) every week.


The fundamental "problem" with board games (at least so far as this Q&A site is concerned) is that unlike video games or RPGs, the majority of board (and card) games are designed with the principle of simplicity in mind. This makes them awesome for picking up and playing, but it also means that most rules questions either are answered by reading the manual for a few minutes — we don't want to boost our counts with "general reference" questions — or, if the situation is not covered in the manual, are not objectively answerable.

Often the only real difference between a regular player who has read the rulebook and a "rules expert" is just that the expert also knows where to find the official FAQ and/or errata, or a more up-to-date version of the rulebook itself. Short of getting one of the actual game designers/developers on here to answer questions, we have a rather limited supply of canonical documentation to work with.

Such questions obviously have their place on this site, and will continue to do so for as long as the site exists, but in and of themselves they are not enough for this site to reach the critical questions-asked mass to become successful.

Which begs the questions: What makes a board-and-card-games expert better than normal people, and what would said normal people want to ask said board-and-card-games expert that they can't just ask someone else?

The obvious (to me) feature that separates many BCG experts from the laymen isn't the fact that they know the rules to any particular game very well — as mentioned above, anyone can do that without much difficulty — but rather that they know a lot of games very well. The questions that this type of expert would thrive at, where the layman would falter, would be any questions which tap into this breadth of understanding.

What we really need is more "game agnostic" type questions, which don't require knowledge of one particular game so much as a strong knowledge of games in general.

Off the top of my head, there are three major categories of questions which would really capitalize on the knowledge of a BCG expert:

  • General/abstract strategy
  • Game design and development
  • Game recommendations

(There are probably many more categories that aren't currently on the top of my head)

For this site to succeed, I feel we need to be cultivating these (properly scoped) types of questions, despite their tendency towards subjectivity. We'll just need to make sure the principles of good subjective are adhered to.

  • 1
    I think game-specific strategy questions also have a lot of room for "expert" answers.
    – Alex P
    Jun 14, 2012 at 13:29
  • 1
    Speaking more generally, I don't look at this as "this is the site with the experts, unlike those other sites." I look at it as "this is the site with a format that emphasizes longevity, searchability, and detail-oriented answers more than a forum, wiki, or whatever."
    – Alex P
    Jun 14, 2012 at 13:34
  • I think board games tend to have trouble producing a volume of questions since the rules don't change much. If a game has had the same rules for 10 years, there isn't new ground to cover. Miniature games represents a good opportunity because healthy ones tend to have new editions every few years and multiple codex style expansions in a year. We need to find a way to draw more miniature game players.
    – CaulynDarr
    Jun 14, 2012 at 15:09
  • @CaulynDarr Well, there are new board games coming out all the time, so dedicated board gamers could potentially be seeing new material every month. I agree with you that miniatures games are probably the biggest untapped vein of deep questions and answers.
    – Alex P
    Jun 14, 2012 at 15:45
  • @CaulynDarr There are a few games that despite being decades old are very complex and tend to generate an unending supply of questions. I'm thinking Bridge, Go, Chess, etc. But for whatever reason these question-rich games aren't getting much traction here.
    – Joe Golton
    Jun 14, 2012 at 22:32
  • @JoeGolton, I can't speak for the others, but the Chess questions at least are probably going to Chess.SE instead of here.
    – goldPseudo
    Jun 14, 2012 at 22:35
  • The problem might be due to a tag not existing for a game. If a game isn't listed in the tags, a new user cannot create the tag to ask the question (I don't think we have a work around for this). This might have people turn away immediately.
    – user1873
    Jun 16, 2012 at 17:42

Asking questions about games that you play will eventually up the site in Google rankings, which will entice other players to start coming here and doing the same.

Another point would be to try and make sure people give good answers. A simple "Go to this link (link)" isn't going to cut it. Quick answers are good to have, too.]

The basic strategy should be "Draw them here, keep them here." If the name starts triggering recognition, people are more likely to keep coming back. Maybe even make an account! The association with StackOverflow doesn't hurt, either.

I wonder, perhaps, if some kind of banner can be put up at Arqade, since the demographics overlap so heavily?


This isn't the first time the topic has come up, which makes sense, given how long we've been in beta. In November 2010, we talked a little bit about how to get our numbers up. One of the 15 "Top 7" questions is about how to promote the site.

And it's a problem that all beta sites deal with. Some just deal with it better ... and some have an easier time of it because of their audience. (Arqade, for example.) Either way, our goal has to be reaching a sustainable volume of good questions that can get us out of beta: if we seed questions, at some point we'll run out. If we lower the quality threshold, then even if we do get out of beta, we become just another site, with the added bonus of having to explain why these old questions were all closed while these new questions are allowed.

I think Alex has the right idea - more people asking more questions about more games. goldPseudo touches on some of the problem, that there are a lot of games that are designed not to bring up questions. (Chutes and Ladders, right?) But there are plenty of games that do bring up questions, as we've seen with MTG. We just need to tap those audiences (uh, not in a MTG sense), and that means pretty much the same thing it does for everyone else.

Individually, we can promote the site through social media, especially by posting questions that need answers. We probably all are connected to people who play games but aren't here yet, and maybe seeing a question they can answer will draw them here. We can remember to ask questions here when they come up while we're playing games ... but again, these should be good questions, not questions-for-the-sake-of-asking.

I also like Pat's suggestion from the Top-7 question: work with cons when we can. Drawing questions from attendees themselves is a great idea, although we would have to emphasize that they won't necessarily get an immediate answer (i.e. we're not a replacement for GMs) even if we make more of an effort to watch for questions during cons.

If there is a smaller con in your area, you might be able to work with the mods and SE so that BCG can be represented there. (Larger cons probably require more advance planning and more work. I've been looking for an excuse to go to Gen Con, which is local to me, but as Pat points out, the ROI for us may not be worth it.) In a sense, game nights at home are baby cons: we can use those as an excuse to post questions here when they come up (again, real, high-quality questions, not things like "Can I move forward with a 4 in Sorry?"), and maybe get one or two new people to check out the site as well.

All that is really about time and effort. Anything else is just fool's gold: there is no point in getting out of beta if we do it as Yahoo Answers 2.


Stop being so deletionist and rigid.

Encourage questions which don't have just one right answer and are open to interpretation and debate.

Recognize that what will work for boardgames.se is not exactly the same thing that worked on stackoverflow.

  • 1
    Are we being deletionist and rigid? The closure rate on this site seems to be quite low (not that I want it to be higher).
    – Alex P
    Jun 13, 2012 at 21:36
  • @AlexP The closure rate might be low now, but that might also derive from the fact that we've already scared off anybody who wanted to ask subjective questions, and now only those of us who know the rules are left. It isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I'm sure we're lost at least several avid board gamers who came here, asked a subjective question that came from honest interest and desire to learn/participate (I like this game, what else can you recommend?), got it closed, and just left because their first experience with this site was terrible. Jun 13, 2012 at 23:34
  • @CrazyJugglerDrummer I take umbrage to the idea that you can't ask subjective questions here -- look at the strategy tag, for example! You're talking about recommendations, specifically.
    – Alex P
    Jun 13, 2012 at 23:40
  • SE sites aren't forums. Discussion does not work well on these sites, which is why few SE sites allow subjective questions, and why the ones that do struggle mightily with them. Sep 21, 2012 at 15:19
  • The converse though, is that BG.SE is currently a boring ghost town.
    – rrenaud
    Sep 21, 2012 at 15:21

Game recommendation questions were (are) so popular that I think it's worth brainstorming what kinds of templates could be used to solve some of the issues they bring up. I think there's an objective type of question here that is being completely ignored: an answer which is an objective (or nearly objective) list.

Example of non-game question: What towns that are within 4 miles of London, England?

The answer to this is objective, right?

Example of very objective game question: What games were made by EON before it went out of business? Please provide one game per answer with either a brief description of the game (this particular Q is low value because you can easily find the information elsewhere).

Now for one that has a little subjectivity creep in (and for which I actually want to know the answer!):

Which games are obviously Gateway Games, where gateway games are defined as . . . Please list one game per answer so the answer can be voted up (if it's a Gateway Game) or not voted if it's not a Gateway game.

I know that stack exchange mechanisms are not particularly well suited to this type of question, but if you can nail down a precise definition for "Gateway Games" (which was attempted here), then the answer to this is actually an objective list, just like the answer to towns within 4 miles of London. Not only that, the objective list would be roughly ordered by popularity and degree of adherence to the definition, which adds additional value.

I would love to see questions like this. Other examples:

Which wargames offer simulations on a squad level that are on par with Squad Leader?

Which games have had the largest influence on Game Design over the past 40 years? Please list one game per answer and describe the influences this game has had on the industry?

What games can be enjoyed at various levels of complexity, such that both a 6 year old and a game-loving adult parent might enjoy playing together? Candyland does not meet this criteria as it is boring for game-loving adults. Bridge neither because it is far too difficult to learn. Rat-A-Tat-Cat, Backgammon, and Checkers are good candidates for this list because they can be enjoyed immediately at a very simple level but actually have significant strategy components that can be mastered over time and are therefore of interest to game-loving adults. Please list one game per answer and provide some reasons for both the adult and the child to enjoy the game. If there is a way to handicap the game, please include that information (i.e. Checkers - adult can start with 1 or 2 pieces removed).

TLDR; Can we do a restricted form of Game Recommendations where the questions have answers that are lists that are objective or close to objective, because they adhere to well defined criteria?

  • 1
    boardgamegeek.com already does these kinds of lists and probably does them better. I think we want to have answers that aren't just basic lists of things. Answers should be things that require some expertise and analysis, not just things you can get from a Google search.
    – CaulynDarr
    Jun 14, 2012 at 15:06
  • @CaulynDarr I did google search for Gateway games. I saw some lists on BGG for Gateway games. I was not fully satisfied that I had pegged down the definition of a Gateway game and I did not think the quality of the list(s) on BGG were all that great. There's no voting per item so it's hard to get a feel for which games on the list really belong, and which don't. I'll post an experimental Q on our Board and Card Games stack in a few minutes to see if we get a better result than BGG (boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/68876/gateway-games).
    – Joe Golton
    Jun 14, 2012 at 15:17
  • I posted a sample question (one to which I genuinely want to know the answer) on Gateway Games: boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/7606/… I'd be quite happy to receive feedback on how I can modify to make it more suited to our site, and set up to produce a better answer than what can be found at BGG. @CaulynDarr
    – Joe Golton
    Jun 14, 2012 at 15:40
  • My experiment ran for only an hour or two before it was closed, as it was considered to be too much like a recommendation question. I actually think the word "recommendation" is a red herring and that a better way to state the community norm is: "Any question whose answer is a list or a solicitation of opinions is not welcome here." The "opinions" part was always obvious to me, but not the "list" part. So it's okay to ask for what defines a game as being a certain type of game, so long as a list (of more than a few examples just to illustrate) is not associated with the answer.
    – Joe Golton
    Jun 14, 2012 at 22:37
  • 1
    @JoeGolton I agree that each-answer-is-an-item lists are generally a bad idea, regardless of objectivity.
    – Alex P
    Jun 14, 2012 at 23:36
  • @CaulynDurr well if BGG is just overall better why not just use it instead then? You are working on a false assumption - that game recommendations made by an expert and a layman dont differ. I strongly disagree. An expert, for example game designer, knows what game elements make it good for certain types of players and their preferences, how game mechanics translate to game dynamics and experience, what makes a game a gateway game etc. He can intelligently make and argument for his answer. A layman doesnt even have a vocabulary to do so, he just says: it worked for me.
    – K.L.
    Nov 13, 2013 at 12:55

What about generating more broader not-for-a-specific-game question about games, something like: how a game should be to be considered like a worker placement game? or another one like: is stone age a worker placement game? why?.

At least we can do that with new games and encourage one or two quick questions about the mechanic.

What about "can somebody explain to me in a quick view the mechanic of that game?" or what about "how this (new game) is compared to this other game in the mechanic?". This last one is not a pool, is asking for facts.

This way we can attract people when looking for that game. And another type of question could be "Is the mechanic of X game on this online site exactly like the board game?". This one is easy answered reading the helps on the site usually, but could attract people too.

  • 2
    Questions should generate useful answers above all else. Exceptionally broad don't really do that.
    – CaulynDarr
    Jun 14, 2012 at 18:53
  • @CaulynDarr I was trying to reefer to games in general and not a specific game. see my edit.
    – gbianchi
    Jun 14, 2012 at 18:58

We could allow more subjective questions that relate to game recommendations because these are very common questions and produce more traffic than almost anything else on the site. They are also interesting and nearly 99.5% of the time produce answers that are very helpful. However, they are subjective (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!) and very often discussion/opinion based (Just looking at people replying to each other in comments gives makes my back tingle...), and thus are quickly burned at the stake and ejected from our community. If we allowed them, this site would soon degrade into total anarchy with subjective questions, the quality on all of the other questions would be destroyed, objective questions would get moved off the front page, and plenty of other unspeakable atrocities would occur. Just look at this pile of utterly terrible questions that make me sick my stomach if you want to see what I' m talking about...

That's why we should never, ever, ever let this happen, because the second we allow game recommendation questions this site will go downhill like crazy until it ends up being nothing but pictures of LOL CATZ that have nothing to do with board games at all. Thank goodness we're preventing all of that...

(Sorry for bringing up a topic that's already been flogged to death, but it was bound to come up in this context anyway ;)


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