As you all probably know, gaming questions have long been off-topic on SuperUser. This has included questions limited to consoles, even though they are technically "computers". I generally agree with this limitation of the scope. There's a corner-case that should be allowed in my opinion, however: Using the console as a PC.

Currently, Gaming is struggling with whether to allow console-as-PC questions. In that discussion Mark Trapp brings up a valid point:

The question isn't about the PS3, it's about installing Firefox (not a game, not a game-specific utility) on the PS3. The PS3 is the setting, the problem is installing Firefox.

In contrast, Linux is a PC OS and Firefox for Linux is PC software. The setting is the PS3, a console, but it's the PS3 as a PC. It's just another box with a logo stamped on it. Is installing and using Linux on a PS3 different from installing and using it on a Mac in any meaningful way? The details differ, but only superficially; it's the same task for the same purpose with the same end result: Linux running on a personal computer.

Ivo Flipse says:

Just because there's no alternative place to ask a question on Stack Exchange doesn't mean we should start allowing them. We can't be everything to everyone.

I think this is a silly argument. Super User already has the relevant expertise (installing a PC OS on varied hardware, getting Firefox to work in such environments). We'd keep being the same thing, to slightly more people ;)

It seems that AskUbuntu takes these questions while it hasn't really come up on Unix & Linux. While you could argue that the particular question I'm using as an example should then just be pushed to AskUbuntu, I don't think that's good reasoning. Linux questions are still on-topic here despite those sites and a little overlap is fine; if we reject this question, it should be for another reason. And of course, you can install Windows on your PS3 as well; this is the site for Windows questions.

Kronos gave a great answer to "How is the term “Computer” defined on Super User?", in part:

[T]here are many definitions/opinions to be found on the net, but what really matters in this situation is how the Super User community defines computers. To be honest I think that most of us can figure this out by ourselves without having to pin it down to specific details[....]

In my opinion, [gaming consoles] are not allowed on Super User for either the reason that they belong on a better suited site elsewhere in Stack Exchange, or just simply don't belong due to lack of 'conformity' with other content allowed[.]

I totally agree with this, but rather than banning consoles completely I see a different solution: Only ban what doesn't "conform". Ban gaming, the PS3's native OS, the PlayStation store, whatever else. But allow the questions that are limited to PS3-as-PC; for example, installing Linux or Windows on a PS3. Banning otherwise valid questions purely because of Sony's intent for the platform doesn't make sense to me. Super Users regularly get creative with their use of PC hardware and software, and the manufacturer's intent is irrelevant. There's no reason to treat these questions as somehow "tainted" and unworthy based on the name on the plastic.

In summary:

  • PC OSes are on-topic
  • PC software is on-topic
  • General-purpose computing hardware used for running a PC OS and PC software is a PC

Given the above, should we really discriminate against the PS3 in this PC context just because it's also recognizable as a gaming console?

I say no.

  • Your analogy to hackintoshes is based on a false premise that the existence of unclosed hackintosh questions means they're allowed. We actually do not allow questions specifically about creating hackintosh machines. – nhinkle Dec 5 '11 at 22:05
  • I've changed my analogy, since the specific example was easily substituted for. The logic is the same. – Flimbus Akimbo Dec 5 '11 at 22:17
  • also see meta.superuser.com/questions/3306/… - question was sort of asked for similar reasons originally. In addition... how DO you install windows on a PS3? – Journeyman Geek Dec 6 '11 at 0:34
  • 2
    I'm in support of this one. If we define a computer by what it enables the user to do (my current understanding), using some subsidized, somewhat exotic hardware to run a regular OS and programs is clearly on topic here. // A counter-argument could be made with jailbroken iPads. Not sure about that one, though. – Daniel Beck Dec 6 '11 at 5:00

In this case, we actually can ignore the console factor - We're talking about installing Firefox on a specific operating system. We really don't need to mention it's a PS3, but to mention that it's a PowerPC processor.

With the recent trend of installing a second operating system on a PS3, these questions would be allowed, as long as it isn't to do with fixing the PS3, or using software within the PS3 (Playstation store, Home, etc.)

So overall, questions about computer software will be on topic and fine. We will always be open to questions about the Operating System and its Software, but likely not open to the PS3's hardware and Sony's system.

  • Exactly, great. I hope everyone else feels the same way :). I'm more on the fence about the hardware (where do you stop? drivers?) but that's not as important to me. – Flimbus Akimbo Dec 5 '11 at 21:47

Does this even matter? I mean, how many questions like this can there possibly be?

That said, if it is being used as a "regular" personal computer (Linux, Mac, or Windows) and has "regular" PC software installed on it, I can't see the harm.

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