I recently wanted to ask a question to see if something was possible RAW in any published RPG systems. It was eventually put on hold as Off Topic - Game Recommendation, and I proceeded to try to edit it into a stackable format. What I ended up with could be distilled to:
Are there any X that are Y?
As you can see, this format only wants a confirmation (yes/no), though it would be implicit (and in my case explicit) that an example would qualify such an answer, in much the same way as someone's experience might qualify a homebrewing answer as "good subjective".
After some effort there and some research here (including asking how I might fix it) I found out lots.
There are discussions on what exactly should be disallowed as shopping or game recommendation all over this meta, including here, here and here. That last one actually points to the line in the help center asking guide that says:
If you're looking for a game mechanic or technique that does thing X, ask for how to do X, not for "games that have X". Asking for a game, or a list of games, is a game recommendation question, which are off-topic.
Which is starting to get close, but still is focused on a specific system (or list of them, which is also a list question) as the answer, rather than a simple confirmation.
This discussion was frequently referenced to me, but all I could find was:
In many cases, however, instead of asking a shopping question (which game system/online tabletop/psionic subsystem/etc "is best"), you can ask a more focused question
Which would seem to suggest my question was fine, as it was pretty clearly a more focused question. There are actually whole heaps of other similar questions that haven't been closed, and similar meta questions where others have been similarly confused.
What should be considered off topic, and why?
It was in the comments to my meta question that I discovered what was actually going on - KRyan told me:
So, in my experience, here’s how this would go: you ask if there are any systems that do this, and you’re very specific and exact about what you want. And it turns out that no system does it, or at least no system anyone knows. But people don’t just leave it unanswered (which they should). No, they start supplying “the best answer they can think of.” Which is their own personal opinion of the game system that’d be most amenable to such a thing. Nevermind that you required it be explicitly in the rules-as-written, they’ll give you something that doesn’t do that. At that point, we have a problem: people are submitting whatever answer they like, the actual question’s requirements be damned, and they’re getting voted on. Some of them are being rated quite positively, in fact—because people like the idea or like the system or whatever else, not because they’re good answers. And then the mods have to come in and clean up, and delete popular answers, and there is much gnashing of teeth—and you still don’t have an answer. That’s what keeps happening with these kinds of questions, and why we close them.
So it would seem that this is another situation like that lamented in the comments on Are Game Recommendations On Topic Revisited: "so 'this is why we can't have nice things' is now recorded for posterity" which is understandable.
However, if this is going to be the case, can we make it clear somewhere official (perhaps in the asking guide) that "Are there any X that are Y?" or even "Are there any Systems that are Y?" is also Off Topic as it shares some of the difficulties regarding (unfortunately) likely answers that don't actually answer the question and lower the quality of this site's content?