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Coming from this question what to put on the main help center page, the suggestion is to have a (relativly short) list with important meta questions to help introduce new (and network) users to our site and our practises. This question is for determining which questions to put on, which may include writing new Q&As specifically for that purpose.

Some notes on how this should work:

  • One suggestion per answer. Make it clear what topic is covered and ideally how you'd see it worded on the list. If you are suggesting a new Q&A be created for the purpose, give a brief summary of what it should contain. Also give a brief reason for why it should be included.

  • Upvote suggestions you think should be on, downvote on those you don't, and if there's unaired aspect point it out in the comments, but as there will be multiple answers I suggest we keep discussion lengths to a minimum.

  • We'll not give a hard score requirement for which questions are included or not, but will use our judgement. The same goes for ordering, but we'll likely want them order by importance as indicated by votes. (Basically, if there's something that just makes more sense to put earlier, or later we'll do that).

  • If there are multiple suggestions on the same topic we'll default to the highest voted one, or combine the suggestions if appropriate.

  • The last item will be to our FAQ index, so no need to include that as a suggestion

On future process

There's no current plan for a continuous process once this is completed, so once this has been acted upon further refinements should be done using a separate . If it's sufficiently minor, say I make a spelling error somewhere, just point it out to me or another mod somewhere.


The suggestions which got sufficient support have now been added to the help center as their new Q&As. If you have new suggestions (or thing one of the below should get more attention) please post it as new feature request as described above.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Should answers proposing a new Q&A explicitly note that they're doing so? Or is it just sufficient to suggest/explain the topic to be covered, and then we review whether there exists a relevant meta post on the topic already? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 20 at 22:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast I mean, if an answer suggests a new Q&A (which it should do clearly) and we already have one, that seems like a fine thing for a comment to point out and then for the suggestion to be adjusted. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Jul 20 at 22:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ Mainly I'm thinking of something like NathanS's "Answers are for answers, not comments" answer - it doesn't mention whether there's been an attempt to check whether an existing Q&A exists. (...I suppose all of the answers that don't explicitly point to an existing meta are basically saying "make a new meta Q&A for this, unless one already exists". Saying they've looked to see if such a meta exists and found none might just save us some time searching to verify that, I suppose. :P) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 20 at 22:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast Hmm... part of that might be carry-over from how they were suggested on the other q (I added some direction on this for workability, I'll nudge to get that accounted for) \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Jul 20 at 22:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you considering making this an faq or is that too ambitious? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 17 at 1:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast If you see the last paragraph here, I don't believe metas work for continuous processes (any new suggestions here simply wont get the attention for it to be useful). This is more working out the initial batch, and if we find we need additions those can be handled separately, as they come up. I don't see much reason adding a process-meta to the FAQ. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Aug 17 at 7:08

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"Closed" doesn't mean "banned forever", but more like "work in progress"

"Closed" can seem rather final to users who are more used to forums, so explaining to them that it's more like a "work in progress" state and that the community can reopen any closed question might help to make it feel less final, and therefore more likely to engage and work with us to get it into a more on-topic state.

I propose we create a new meta Q&A that explains to new users what closed does and does not mean, why their question was closed, and what they can do to get it open again, if that's even necessary or desirable.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm surprised, and pleased, that this answer is currently as popular as the "specifying the game system" answer (which was always going to be one of the most highly voted answers, and rightly so); I do feel strongly about new users understanding what closed really means on this site... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 21 at 8:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ Do we really need a new Q&A, or would linking to the build-in help article on it be sufficient? (it's already pinned under "Asking") \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Jul 26 at 18:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll admit, I didn't know that page existed. However, and I may be in the minority on this, but I think we could benefit from having a meta written on this in a way that's more RPG-centric rather than the generic help page. Also, I'd want the "work in progress" angle to be emphasised more than the help page does. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 26 at 19:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've taken the liberty to write up the suggested Q&A. Feel free to make additions, suggestions, or revisions if I failed to address something. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Aug 12 at 21:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil Thanks; my only feedback on it would be to emphasise the temporary nature of the closure in the answer, perhaps as a top-most title? So that a new user looking at that meta Q&A will immediately see something like "Question closures are not permanent" in big black letters, and will be intrigued to learn more about what they can do to "reverse it". \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Aug 13 at 8:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil Yeah, that's the sort of thing I was thinking of. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Aug 13 at 12:49
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On specifying the game system

This might be one of the more crucial things for us to inform new users about. However, our current meta's aren't written with the asker in mind, so I propose we create a question to cover that and how to do it (and have done so). Suggested wording on the help page:

The answer to that question would then cover the reasons why, eg. that they don't want to give a wrong answer, many games share terms so without it being explicitly stated it's hard to know, and that we have a policy to never guess the system (for these reasons). It would then explain how to do it, how to find tags, what to do when you can't find the tag, etc.

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Answers are for answers, not comments

The flip side of answering in comments, it might be good to explain to new users why answers should answer the question and not be more like comments, addressing other answers or just providing some tangential point.

I see this a lot with new users, a lot of what comes through the Late Answers and Low Quality Posts review queues are of this nature, so having something explain why this isn't how RPG.SE works might be worth putting in place.

If we are to create a new meta Q&A for this subject, I would imagine that it would want to explain to new users the sorts of things we typically try to explain to them in comments beneath their "answers that are not answers":

  • how and why RPG.SE differs from a forum and is more like a Q&A site;
  • how comments in answers don't answer the question and therefore don't follow that Q&A pattern;
  • how the purpose of RPG.SE is to create a library of knowledge that comment-answers don't contribute to;
  • that using answers to ask new questions also breaks the Q&A model and that they should create a new "thread" for their question;
  • how "me too" comment-answers don't answer the question and also break the Q&A model;
  • that answers that either add to other answers or even try to argue with other answers don't make sense if those answers are deleted for any reason, or if voting changes the order of the answers so their comment-answer (which was probably written with the assumption that the answers are in a static order like in forums) doesn't make sense;
  • any other reasons I've missed as to why using answers to make comments is a bad idea.

It might be that we already have a page in the help center that already explains a lot of this, but the how to answer page doesn't really contain much of the above. Maybe it's in a different help page? In which case, this new Q&A might instead want to compile that information rather than having it hidden or scattered about in obscure places in the help center.

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We are an edit happy community

To try to avoid situations like this one, it might be worth having something here to explain how here at RPG.SE, we tend to edit posts into shape, so new users who might be rather attached to "their" post should perhaps not take it personally; it's just what we do here.

Users who are not used to such an "edit happy" culture might benefit from something explaining this, and why it's useful or desirable here at RPG.SE.

A meta Q&A written for this purpose would likely want to include an explanation of what RPG.SE is all about, that it's not just about them getting their answer now (although editing their question into shape does help them get an answer now), but that editing their question or answer into a more readable state helps future users, since we want RPG.SE to be a repository of knowledge.

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Answer in comments

This is a problem that shows up quite often, especially when a question makes it to HNQ. Should users refrain from answers (or partial answers) in comments?

When users don't have the time or complete necessary knowledge to provide an answer, they often provide "insights" or "guidelines" as partial answers in the comments to the question.

Personally, my second most used flag is, I think, "Answer in comments" (the most used being "No longer needed").

The suggestion would be something like

Please refrain from answering in comments. The comment will be deleted shortly after. You can check Should users refrain from answers (or partial answers) in comments? for the reasons.

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On our rules, policies and practices

Ok, this is more outside the box, but RPG.SE (and most stacks AFAIK) differ from forums in that rather than having a set list of rules to follow (or be sent into the shadow realm), we operate primarily on practices which leave a lot to user judgement. This is a hard thing to get to grips with, and usually is only really explained when you ask your first meta question trying to establish a firm rule about a certain thing (I know I did), and some of those go ugly (I'm glad mine didn't somehow).

If there is a good write-up on this anywhere on the network, no-one linked it to me as far as I can remember. Unless someone can find such a write-up I propose we create our own, and put it on the help center page. Proposed entry on that page:

That question would cover the nature of rules and policies, and more importantly practices, why that works better, that we understand it's harder to pick up, and that we ask for patience and willingness to learn; if you're willing to learn, we are more than willing to explain to the best of our ability.

It would also list, or attempt to list our "rules" and policies, which mostly boils down to (and I welcome additions of things I've forgotten) don't post spam (+disclose any affiliation), Be Nice (and the rest of CoC which doesn't include that phrase any more), don't link to piracy, don't answer in comments, and don't guess the game system in edits or answers. It should probably also include some kind of link our set of on-topic defining policies, as those are mostly hard defines rules.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Would this also include our off-topic "trap" questions, such as "don't ask designer-reasons/tool-recommendations/etc questions"? \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 29 at 7:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS That seems like a good thing for the Q&A to list, because those are (kinda) part of our site specific policies. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Jul 29 at 11:26
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Don't signal your edits

If new users are more used to forums where it's common to say "EDIT: Blah blah" instead of just making the edit, it might be good to point them in this direction to explain why that's not necessary.

I don't know if it would literally just be a link to this: Don't signal your edits in text
Or whether we'd write a new one more aimed at new users, but although we can just edit their "EDIT: " out, it would be better if they could see something that explained why it's not necessary or desirable to do so here at RPG.SE, and why people keep editing it away when they do.

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Our "Don't guess the system" policy

We revisit it often and I believe the most up-to-date meta question is this one: Re-revisiting the "don't guess the system" policy

I guess we would have to update the page yearly as we revisit the policy, but nonetheless, it is a reason questions are often closed and discussions are often started, and even edit and close/reopen wars.

We have a few meta questions that talk about "please indicate the system you are playing" and where to put such information, indicating our users want this information to be put somewhere, and a link to this Q&A should be sufficiently explanatory on why it is important to indicate the system, implying you should put it when making a question, and, more important to me, could avoid the many arguments about the policy that show up in comments now and then, as well as the edit wars mentioned previously.

The suggestion is:

If you see a question closed due to lacking the system it is playing, and the question does not explicitly mention the system anywhere in its text or title, please do not add the tag, no matter how obvious you think the system is from the question. Check our policy for explanations at Re-revisiting the "don't guess the system" policy.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps just worth reading, this answer suggest exactly not including that because: "that’s a meta thing that isn’t relevant to the typical new poster—read, one who is there to ask their own question." \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Jul 20 at 17:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 I will edit and clarify my answer here: I am actually more interested in telling people to not add the tag, so we can avoid the edit wars. The new posters are collateral "damage" of my suggestion. \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Jul 20 at 17:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ A Q&A detailing our current practice (that can be updated as needed) has been made here: What is the “Don’t Guess the System” policy? (It's not linked from the main help center page at the moment, though.) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast 8 hours ago
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Expect Frame Challenges

Too many metas to list: https://rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/search?q=frame+challenge

Sometimes people will answer by targeting what they see as the problem behind your question rather than directly addressing the question you did ask. We call that a Frame Challenge and sometimes it can be better than a direct answer. Sometimes not.

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Encouraging users not to accept straight away

This one might be a bit more controversial, and I don't think it matters too much, but based on the accepted answer to this Q&A: Should we encourage users to wait 24 hours before accepting an answer?, it might help to encourage deeper engagement rather than hit-and-run users who we never see again.

This should probably be rewritten as a new Q&A aimed at new users, rather than using that above linked Q&A, since that answer clearly isn't written for new users, it's written for us more experienced users. This is assuming we want to include this at all, because we don't want to imply that it's a rule that users have to follow, and is just to encourage deeper engagement rather than imposing a rule on them.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It wouldn't surpise me if this one ends up as one of the the most downvoted suggestions, but I'm not that bothered about the popularity of this suggestion, and if this were someone else's answer, I'm not sure I'd upvote it myself (in fact, I may even downvote it!) but I wanted to include everything that was included in my answer to the previous question that Someone_Evil asked. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 20 at 18:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, this one is kinda subjective and not exactly a policy or something necessary. As the meta states, it's just an encouragement, but actually explaining that may be hard. Like "hey please don't accept an answer too soon, but do it if you really want to". Also, take in mind that our most common questions are 5e rule questions. It's quite unlikely that once a good/correct answer has been given, a new, better answer will show up for these questions. \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Jul 20 at 18:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't agree with the second half of your comment; I've seen better answers turn up after the first answer does, even if both are correct. In fact, I've seen you do this loads, where you expand on the points raised by the first answer to provide a more "complete" answer. (Which is fine, by the way, I'm just surprised to read a comment of yours say that, given what I've observed). However, my initial comment was just to point out that I don't "believe" in this answer much, but felt I "should" give this answer just so that all of my original brainstorm suggestions were included in this Q&A. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 20 at 19:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ That may be surprising because you see me doing that in a handful of questions (usually because I think the original answer somehow missed an important point of confusion for the querent, say, some rule baggage from older editions), but you don't see how many questions I don't answer because the answer is already good haha. Either way I digress. \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Jul 20 at 19:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's true, it's not like you answer everything. It might even be a bias of mine because I think when you first appeared on my radar, as it were, it was due to such answers, so I've associated you in my head with "late but more complete" answers. But I just wanted to point out that at least some questions benefit from "not the first answer" answers. But yes, we are definitely digressing! :) \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 20 at 19:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm downvoting this in part because I disagree, but mostly because I think the help space should be used categorically for help for site problems people would be having, whereas this is ... not that? I wouldn't even want the "it's fine to accept something asap" because of this. It's not the spot for it. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jul 20 at 22:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Totally cool with that reasoning; like I said, I don't even necessarily agree with this, but since it was part of my original brainstorming of suggestions on my answer to the previous question, I thought I'd include it anyway and let voters "speak" for themselves (rather than me "speak" for them by choosing to exclude this suggestion). I fully expect that this won't be a popular suggestion and won't make it onto the list... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 20 at 22:16
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Our "Don't guess the system" policy, but easier to maintain

This is similar to my other answer, but the suggestion is done in an easier way to maintain.

If you see a question closed due to not specifying the game system, but you think the game system can be added with the information provided in the question, see how to proceed at Re-revisiting the "don't guess the system" policy.

The idea here is to make the text flexible to a changing policy, which may or may not get loosened.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure I'd point people to our re-revisiting the policy meta for any learning value. That was a debate space, but it's not a place with much guidance for users trying to navigate our systems. I agree with the spirit of "if you see this happen to you or someone else, here's needs to happen and what you can do (if anything)" though. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jul 20 at 22:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I have put the link to that meta as the one more recent about the topic. I would gladly accept it to be a new meta question instead, or the original don't guess Q&A. \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Jul 20 at 22:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Right, the fact we don't currently have something to point people to that's fully up to date is a little bit of a complication. We could for now simply indicate that we'll be waiting for the author of the question to clarify what game and edition they're playing, but we'd already be requesting that in comments pretty clearly! \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jul 20 at 22:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Copying my comment below your other answer here as well: A Q&A detailing our current practice (that can be updated as needed) has been made here: What is the “Don’t Guess the System” policy? (It's not linked from the main help center page at the moment, though.) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast 8 hours ago

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