The question Computer Scrabble UI & communication protocol? is a gray area on this site.

If this type of questions are about how to use algorithms to programm AI, then it should be cover on the faq that we allow it. In this question, OP is asking about a protocol to communicate his AI with a board. So is not related to the game itself, is more related to a particular algorithm.

Maybe we can add info to the faq that we allow questions that ask about how to build a particular AI (e.g.: should my AI check first this movement or that one? what could be the best move in this case?) and not allow a particular implementation of the AI (how would you add an algorithm in C# to know which building buy on XX?).

Could be that this type of questions are in fact strategic questions?

Or should we also allow implementation Questions about AI design?

EDIT: I'm don't know about this questions. I think we should explicit allow or disallow this type of question, just to attract this type of guys or not. IMHO if we can gather people that has tech knowledge (using VASSAL or other) could be a nice thing, but I fear that will confuse first time users. Unless we explicit explain that we cover games and also they computer representation, only if a real board game exists.

  • I think you're making a dangerous conflagration of "new users" vs "casual users". A new user to the site might be an expert AI programmer, game designer, or what not. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 6:28

5 Answers 5


This question should absolutely be on-topic. Here's why. The best we can hope to do with a Stack Exchange site is to build a community. The thing the site is 'about' is what brings us together. So, if the question involves one of the most popular board games of all time, it is obviously on topic. It might not be a good question, or violate any of the other SE guidelines, but the one thing is cannot be is off-topic.

There will always be plenty of places to find overlaps between stack exchange sites, just like in the real world there are overlaps between the interests of different communities. A question should not be thought of as belonging to only one community or another. It should be thought of as being about different things and the different things it is about matter in terms of which communities would be interested. This question is about both Programming and Scrabble, thus should definitely have a home on both sites.

  • 2
    You need to also consider where you are most likely to get a GOOD answer to a question. You can call a question on topic, but that means nothing if there isn't the required knowledge base to answer the question.
    – CaulynDarr
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 11:31
  • 1
    @CaulynDarr In this case, I think you're actually going to get a better answer here than on (for instance) Stack Overflow. Because expert-level Scrabble players are more likely to know the answer than expert-level programmers.
    – Alex P
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 15:52
  • @AlexP which is why I called the question out as on topic in my answer. Though, I think for the most part the category of Game AI is off topic.
    – CaulynDarr
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 16:41
  • @CaulynDarr True! Sorry to have implied otherwise.
    – Alex P
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 17:06
  • I will accept this answer, since everybody is puzzled about this or nobody cares.
    – gbianchi
    Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 2:18
  • 1
    Just because a question involves a topic that is welcome here does not mean it is welcome as well - that would render almost all questions eligible for any site. I agree that some questions may be on topic on multiple sites, but we need to be somewhat strict in the clearer cases.
    – mafu
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 17:19

I think the linked question is on-topic if just barely. He's not asking how to program a scrabble engine, just if there is an accepted protocol to link scrabble engines with scrabble UI's. While it's a technical question, I don't think there's another SE that can better answer it. A dedicated scrabble player just might know the answer(and one did).

As for questions about programming AIs in general, I don't think those should be on topic. It's a very complicated technical field better served by a SE that handles mathematics or computer science concepts.

I think someone can ask questions about optimal strategy choices that would help inform the creation of a game playing AI, but any of the particular implementation details would not be a good fit here.

  • What about VASSAL implementation question? those will fit here??? there is a thin line between this question and one about how to do X on VASSAL...
    – gbianchi
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 13:35
  • I think VASSAL questions would be too specific and not useful for the majority of users here. It would be like asking how to cut gaming pieces out of wood with a jig-saw. Yeah, it's kind of related to gaming, but you'd find the woodworking SE to be a better resource. The VASSAL forums and wiki would be a better resource for working with VASSAL.
    – CaulynDarr
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 13:56

There has been a lot of discussion about this topic. The question in question relates to a welcome game, but it's also about programming - gray area.

My take is that computer questions are on topic if they

  1. Involve the same mechanics as the board game and
  2. Do not relate only to the computer implementation

Condition 2 is clearly violated here, so I would tend to vote against this question.

Gamedev on the other hand seems like a perfect home. In fact, condition 2 seems to be the distinguishing factor between the two sites.

However, by making the question more precise and useful for the whole audience, it can become a very good question on BCG.

For instance, with some basic work already done, you could ask about a specific strategic aspect of the game that is important to the AI you're designing.


I'd love to read about and answer questions about board game AIs.

  • Would that in fact be strategic question or more related to "build" them?
    – gbianchi
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 13:32

I think this question would fall somewhere between Arqade https://gaming.stackexchange.com/, because it involves an electronic game, and GameDev https://gamedev.stackexchange.com/, because the answer could involve modding the game.

However, since Arqade is more strict about closing slightly off-topics questions, I'd move it GameDev.

  • Does the accepted answer move with it? It'd be a shame if it doesn't...
    – Atav32
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 2:47
  • It doesn't involve an arcade game. The game is a table game, the implementation in this case is on a PC, but you can almost play any game with anything. The point here if this type of question are valid here or not.
    – gbianchi
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 3:24

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