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To quote part of KRyan's most-upvoted answer about the current policy (that was added in a later edit):

[...] we could allow system tags to be edited in without the OP’s input after a Meta discussion agrees that the situation is “safe” to edit. [...]

This is also my understanding after reading another of KRyan's answers to a recent Q&A of mine; that once a question has been taken to meta, and the community has concluded that a question is clearly D&D 5e (it's always D&D 5e questions that get the policy's attention), it's then OK to add the tag without OP's confirmation. The problem is guessing by yourself; deducing it within meta with community consensus is alright.

However, based on this recent meta question about a mainsite question that clearly 100% can only be D&D 5e, there are many upvotes and downvotes on many of the answers, implying that the community (at least, those who voted on those answers) is very split about this particular aspect of the policy.

So my question to the community is: is this part of the policy or isn't it? Is it OK to edit in the system tag without getting confirmation from the OP after it's gone through Meta and been agreed upon?


Just to be clear: this is not a question about whether this is a good idea or not, but clarification on whether this is part of the policy or not. Since we don't actually have a place where the exact details on the policy as it exists today are specified, I'm just trying to understand what the policy actually is, since there are conflicting opinions about it and no definitive source of answers.


(I think it should be part of the policy, but then, I'm against the policy anyway, at least the part about not adding it in when it's obvious, but clearly those against the policy have been overruled, hence why I'm putting this out to the community and keeping my opinion out of this).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Actually, it's just occurred to me that maybe the split votes on those answers weren't due to people disagreeing on that aspect of the policy, but maybe that they simply disagree with the policy at all, so me noticing that the community was split might have been a little inaccurate; or rather, they are split, but for a reason different to the one I assumed. In which case, this question might be a bit of a red herring... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 27 at 14:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ I’m voting to close this question because it was asked on a faulty premise, and is now becoming a controversial topic that I did not intend; I think this is better off closed. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 28 at 15:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not clear on what the faulty premise was, is it the one from your previous comment? If so, I'm not sure that the premise is integral to the question, and the controversial nature of the topic is all the more reason to discuss and resolve it. \$\endgroup\$ – gszavae Jul 29 at 6:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @gsz Yes, the faulty premise was the one from my previous comment. As for this whole "controversial nature" thing, I basically opened a can of worms that I didn't realise I was opening, and now wish to put the can down and back away, as so not to further tangle with a certain user who has a tendancy to be rather aggressive and confrontational when it comes to this topic. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 29 at 6:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I can understand wanting to back away, but unfortunately worms don't go back into cans. I think this issue really needs to be resolved, and for that to happen we need discussion. With regard to aggressive and confrontational posts, best to flag and hope for the best. AFAIK we have a "be nice" policy here, and you should not have to tolerate that kind of behaviour. \$\endgroup\$ – gszavae Jul 29 at 6:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @gszavae Sadly, I do not believe this can ever be resolved, not through any discussions. At this point, it feels like trying to get two different religions to agree on which one is the "true" religion. One side believes that the policy is fundamentally broken, and the other believes that it is the only way forward. How to reconcile such extreme opinions that won't budge is beyond me, perhaps beyond anyone... I feel like we are doomed to continue arguing about it in meta forever, with each side just as tired of it as the other, thinking "if only that other side would just back down..." \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 29 at 8:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ KRyan has now edited their answer to the re-revisit in a way that makes this question, well, wrong? The premise/cause of this question no longer exists so I believe it should remain closed \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Jul 29 at 14:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 I agree; I regret asking this question, all it's done is stir up the hornet's nest \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 29 at 14:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS To be honest, I think the hornets were already pretty stirred up. You just happened to be the most recent unlucky chap to walk by and get stung. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jul 29 at 14:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose Well, I think I'm done with being stung. Given the current state of things in meta, I'm going to take a big step away from it. It's not worth the toll it's having on my mental health. I'll still check in with the main RPG.SE site, but I deem meta, and anything related to seeing a decent conclusion to this policy war, to be a lost cause. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 30 at 13:05
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No, the ability to ask questions about a topic on Meta is not part of any policy.

Meta posts will always be able to decide individual cases

This didn't become a new part of the policy following KRyan's suggestion; it has always been part of the policy. Creating a meta post to propose something, reaching community consensus, and then acting on it is a fundamental part of the site.

If a user feels strongly enough about an issue (a question without a system in this case) to create a meta post about it, then they are encouraged to do so. The community then acts on whatever consensus is reached in that meta post. This includes clarifying the system on a question without input from the OP, if that is what the community chooses to do.

Any policy that says otherwise is undermining the role of meta. Meta is a place for discussion and reaching solutions based on community consensus. No policy should attempt to curtail or control what topics that discussion can be used for. The community is empowered to act upon any consensus reached in meta, regardless of how sweeping or drastic the change.

So, it doesn’t matter what the consensus on KRyan’s answer is or isn’t; the community always has and will always have the ability to bring up issues like this on meta - and no answer/policy can take that away, consensus or no.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is inviting those who disagree with consensus to wear down opposition to a policy they don't like by holding constant debates on it. That is unfair to those who agree with the policy, forcing them to constantly repeat themselves to avoid their silence being taken as a change in consensus. This has happened here before and it is already starting to happen here. Of course people can raise any concerns—but when those concerns have already been addressed, the solution is to close as duplicate, not force everyone to hash out the same arguments again and again. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jul 28 at 15:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think my answer says something similar, but this one gets straight to the heart of the matter. Sorting things out is a form of engagemen that we encourage. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 28 at 15:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I think that my answer supports your answer and this answer, somewhat. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 28 at 15:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan We address here only whether someone's answer can restrict the ability of others to post new meta questions about a topic. We do not address whether they should or not as that is a whole other issue. But none of this precludes something being closed as a duplicate. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jul 28 at 15:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan As Rubik's says, the goal of this answer was to affirm that; 1, users can create metas for this purpose and 2, that actions can be taken based on the consensus from those metas. How those questions are handled and if they are a good idea is a separate topic. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Jul 28 at 15:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose and linksassin: Fair enough; I misunderstood. Though I do worry that others are likely to do so as well, and see this as an endorsement of this approach to performing an end-run on a policy they don’t like. As I said, we have had exactly that problem before, and are starting to see it with this topic as well. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jul 28 at 17:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @kryan I’ll vote to close as dupe along with you. FWIW, it’s a straw man being devised about “banning meta discussion” on the topic, no one said that - it’s more “please don’t if there’s no unique point,” which is fair. Downvoting and closing as dupe are the usual remedies for unfruitful meta use. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Jul 28 at 17:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk-SEstopbeingevil I'm not exactly sure who you're accusing of straw-manning here. We are making a very narrow point here about the inability of answers to dictate what can be taken to meta to discuss. That's it. We don't mention anything about the stuff you are talking about because it diverges wildly from what this meta was even theoretically asking about. If you can point to where we make literally any points about not duping something or "banning" anything then we can correct that. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jul 28 at 18:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Right. The second part of this answer, as well as your comments on this answer, seem to be arguing against a "policy" to "restrict others' ability to post to meta"... Which no one ever proposed. That's a strawman incorrectly derived from KRyan's answer, that just says "doing it is a waste of time," not that anyone will be disallowed from doing it. The first instance of the strawman was in the deleted comment thread on that answer (the heavy-handed question closing and comment deletion on Meta is a separate concerning topic) but was then carried through to this answer. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Jul 28 at 22:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ As a result, this answer is not answering the real question. No one can be banned from asking stuff on Meta, that's not an answer we need to help the community through this issue. The real question that should be answered is under what conditions does it make sense (and will be a question yielding good discussion, and stay open) and under what conditions does it not make sense (it'll get dv'ed/closed and generate argument) to post "no really what about THIS question can I system tag it" here on meta. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Jul 28 at 22:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk-SEstopbeingevil actually this answer was only partly in response to KRyan's answer but wasn't assuming any argument on his part (I don't, in fact, think that is what KRyan was originally suggesting). We were simply highlighting what we thought was an important point for the conversation. Feel free to contribute that answer if it gets reopened. As for the closure, after talking with OP, I agreed that the question should be closed and acted on it. Like you said in a recent answer, mods get a vote too. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jul 28 at 22:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk-SEstopbeingevil FWIW "under what conditions does it not make sense (it'll get dv'ed/closed and generate argument) to post "no really what about THIS question can I system tag it" here on meta." is a good question that should be answered. But I don't really think this answers the question as asked either. I do think it would be most appropriate in its own focused meta. Feel free to start that conversation. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jul 28 at 23:03
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Please let’s not.

The entire point of that section of my answer was that isn’t worth anyone’s time or effort. It would be “an approach,” that would avoid the biggest problems with “just editing,” but it still isn’t a good idea.

Why? Because there is absolutely no value in doing so. The entire Stack Exchange model is about amplifying signal over noise. For readers, that means that they can find good answers to their questions quickly, and feel confident in those answers. But it also applies to querents, answerers, editors, and moderators: it means focusing our time, effort, and attention on the best content.

Questions where the user hasn’t given us enough information to proceed, and who never bother to come back to clarify, are by definition some of the worst content. Let’s please, please, please not waste any more time, gnashing of teeth, or space on Meta discussing them.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What’s up with the comment deletion, that’s supposed to be for pretty escalated situations here on meta yeah? \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Jul 28 at 17:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk-SEstopbeingevil both comments were getting flags so we removed them. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jul 28 at 22:31
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A resource list of previous, related posts

FAQ post and revisits:


General Discussion:


Question-Specific Discussion:


Design, New User Experience, and Teaching the Policy:

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    \$\begingroup\$ We sure talk about this a lot. 😁 \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 28 at 12:40
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If a question is unclear, close it until the querent engages and clarifies

That was the MO when I stumbled across this site over 5 years ago.

Perhaps our problem - as beautifuly illustrated by @Medix2's list of meta Q&As on this topic - is that we have, as a community, forgotten the KISS principle.

This SE didn't used to have any qualms about closing a question if it needed improvement or clarity. It appears that the efforts being put into improving the new user experience (which I applaud in a general sense) may have swung the pendulum a bit too far in that the positive utility of closure until clarity is achieved has been assigned (in the perceptions of some users) to 'ungood new user experiences' when it should not have been.

Perhaps there is value it getting back to basics.

On a given question, if we must overthink it or if we must debate about it(this will happen from time to time), then Meta is the vehicle for that rather than comments under the question unless the principles in such a discussion are available to discuss it in RPGSE chat. That can sometimes provide a quick, real time resolution on "what do we do with this one?"

You ask about policy: I offer the above as "best practice."

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    \$\begingroup\$ So, "Does the community agree with the part of the “never guess” policy regarding asking meta first?" This is a question about clarifying what the policy actually is with regards to this aspect of it, but from my reading of this answer, it appears to be restating the core of the policy rather than the detail I'm asking about. Perhaps a better part of my question to emphasise is this: "So my question to the community is: is this part of the policy or isn't it?" \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 28 at 13:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS And I question the need to assert that we even need "a policy" so perhaps this is a bit of a frame challenge? As Medix illustrates in that answer, we may be overthinking this. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 28 at 14:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, ok, so this is a frame challenge on whether we need a policy. I can see how that does answer whether "is this part of the policy or not" by challenging whether it really need to be answered. Gotcha \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 28 at 14:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS I think we may have gotten pretty far into the weeds on this; I tried to take the "let's climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower" view and see if I saw anything? This is what I came up with. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 28 at 14:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Big agree on everything you said, but I'm not sure this is the place to discuss it. \$\endgroup\$ – gszavae Jul 29 at 3:05
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The community currently has no consensus on the policy

In the first thread you link the votes are:

  • +9 upvotes, -4 downvotes in favor of "The policy would not allow an individual poster to edit this question, but with Meta consensus, it seems near-perfectly safe and in keeping with the caution called for by the policy."
  • +11/-3 in favor of "[the] policy cannot apply here, as there is nothing to guess."
  • +3/-1 in favor of "the querent clearly had in their original post that they were playing 5e. That is really all the information we need and the tag can safely be added." (deleted)
  • +3/-2 in favor of "'5e' is still in my opinion a clear and unambiguous statement of system." (deleted)

In the second thread the votes are:

  • +14/-10 in favor of "there is enough contextual evidence that we can deduce the question is meant for D&D 5e."
  • +7/-7 in favor of "There is enough evidence to conclude that this question asks about the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons"
  • +6/-12 in favor of "No, the original post lacks strong evidence that explicitly points to a particular system." (deleted)

We can clearly see that most people are generally against the idea of "never guess", but there isn't even consensus as to what "never guess" means. Some people interpret "guess" to include logical deductions or analyzing evidence, other people do not.

Upvotes are not nuanced enough to deduce if the community agrees with or disagrees with a certain aspect of the policy. It is perhaps worth noting that policies never have to be followed and in this case, the current highly split policy (+56/-24 vs +50/-23 at the time of writing) is not supported by a good portion of meta users is on even shakier ground.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I believe this gets to the heart of the underlying issue here. We don't actually have a policy, not really, just various people's interpretations on what they think the policy is, and there's no "one true" place where it's formally defined, just various opinions and interpretations scattered throughout a dozen "revisit" meta Q&As. No wonder the community is split on this. I think having this formally defined and and kept up-to-date somewhere might be a the best thing to do to make it an actual policy, but I believe the community will still always be split on this policy... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 28 at 7:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ “We can clearly see that most people are generally against the idea of ‘never guess,’” is a preposterous conclusion of the available evidence. Even your cherry-picked evidence does not support that. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jul 28 at 12:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Whilst I am rather obviously against KRyan's overall stance on the policy (i.e. KRyan is for it, whereas I'm against it), I must agree that the part quoted in KRyan's above comment doesn't seem to match my impression of the community; it seems that most people do seem to agree with the policy, even though there are still plenty (though far from "most") who do not agree with it (like me). Given the votes on KRyan's above comment, I assume these correspond with your answers downvotes; which is a shame, because I really like this answer... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 28 at 13:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Cherry-picked? I quoted every answer in both threads. In the first thread, all 4 answers are contrary to the policy, in the second 2/3 are. I think it's a fair conclusion and I take offense to your drive by comment implying that I'm doing something unethical. \$\endgroup\$ – gszavae Jul 28 at 23:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS I think despite a very slight lead pro-policy in the policy thread, we consistently see an anti-policy lead in discussion threads, which is why I wrote down the stance and votes of every answer in the threads you linked. On the mainsite, most people follow the policy regardless of their agreement because there is an impression that "1 more upvote" makes a policy worth following, and heavy hitters like mods go a long way to enforcing it. \$\endgroup\$ – gszavae Jul 29 at 0:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ I just want to make it clear that I was trying to more politely restate what I thought KRyan was saying, because I like this answer and wanted to see some of those downvotes reversed. However, I in no way condone or agree with how rude and aggressive KRyan is currently being towards you and others at the moment about this topic. If you stand by your answer in it's current form, then I believe that it should remain as it is. It still has my upvote either way. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 29 at 6:25

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