A long while back, when I was first starting to get confident about asking questions on this site, I had a question I wanted to ask. However, I searched, and the question I wanted to ask already existed for quite some time, but it was [closed] because the querent had not specified the system even though it was very obvious it was D&D 5e.

I was a bit at a loss for what to do. Normally, one would just edit the question to fix the issues with it so it could be reopened. However, I was also aware of RPG SE's "don't guess the system" policy, which meant that it's not such a simple matter of adding the [dnd-5e] tag. I considered re-asking the question, just with the proper system tag. However, then I'd be asking a duplicate question, which usually end up getting closed.

I finally considered bringing up this issue on the meta, but as I was an inexperienced and new user, I did not feel confident to do so at the time, so I ended up moving on and leaving the question behind. However, today is a different story. Although the original question has been both lost to time and memory, I still believe this is an issue enough that would warrant some discussion.

So, because I did not ask then, I ask now: what's the proper way to handle this sort of thing?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just want to say that you are correct to come here with your confusion, and I'm glad you have done so. Great first Meta post! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 15:27

1 Answer 1


Re-ask the question with the appropriate system tag

(The following is a summary of what, as far as I can tell, should be done under the current policies and is neither my endorsement nor lack of endorsement for those policies; debates of them are best left in the various Metas more specifically about them)

Given the current policy to never add a system tag without complete and explicit mention of the system being used, you correctly concluded that editing the old question was not the right thing to do.

From there it certainly does seem weird that what should be done is ask effectively the exact same question with one small change, but this is nevertheless the correct thing to do.

Know that such a "re-asking" would/should not be closed as a duplicate. The new question would be asking something fundamentally different. Imagine two question with the title "What does X spell do when used on Y thing?" but about two different systems. Each would be quite the different question and similarly, your new question with an explicitly mentioned system would be quite different from one that had no system explicitly identified.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeap, emphasis on the should not be closed, as they are "different" systems. In general, I don't think a question will be closed as a duplicate of another question which is closed as unclear, unless the new question is equally unclear. \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 15:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HellSaint Ah yeah that's also true, we don't close questions as duplicates of closed questions, at least as far as I'm aware \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 15:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 It does sometimes happen, but it’s pretty rare. Never in a situation like the one described in this question. Usually it’s more “we could close this question for the same reason we closed the last one, but it’s more useful to mark it as a duplicate so we can clearly see how the two are tied together and the same reasons for closing apply.” \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 3:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ Another way to think of it is imagining it the other way around; if someone asks a question about a specific game, then later someone else asks basically the same question but does not specify the game, then we would close that second question as unclear, but we wouldn't close it as a duplicate of the first question (which did specify the game), even if it's blindingly obviously the same question about the same game. \$\endgroup\$
    – NathanS
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 9:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your new version of the question should probably link the existing one, just to save time for people who might go looking for duplicates and maybe not realize the missing system-tag problem if there are strong but not definitive indicators of what system it's about. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 14:43

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