- Is there a list of rules I need to follow here?
- What are the site policies I need to know about?
2\$\begingroup\$ I've asked this question as part of the initiative to put something on the help center main page. As such, please read this from the point of view of a new user, and suggest improvements. I'm sure others have rattled this in their heads longer than me, and can words things out better :) \$\endgroup\$– Someone_Evil ModAug 16, 2020 at 15:19
On Rules, Policies, and Practices
Unlike a number of traditional forums and other places, RPG.SE (and other stacks) don’t really operate on a set fixture of hard rules (we have some, see below), we primarily operate on best practices. These practices are hard to articulate in completeness into words, so you won’t find a nice set of Q&A describing all of them. When you encounter one of these, work with and ask experienced users (e.g. in chat), and do your best to learn and understand. If you’re willing to learn, you’ll find lots of users willing to teach.
Our practices are formed from the stack goals – to create a high quality repository of knowledge and expertise in Q&A form – as they apply to the kind of questions relevant to RPGs. Additionally, they are informed from years of previous cases and discussions, usually being taught to new contributors by good examples, gentle nudges, guideline write-ups on meta and the occasional meta discussion sussing something out.
But what are the rules anyway?
The point at which we’re calling something a "rule" is mostly things which are built into the site and shared across all of Stack Exchange:
- Abide by the code of conduct.
- Don’t post spam. Disclose any affiliation you have with things you link to.
- Be respectful, and avoid foul language.
- Don’t answer in comments.†
- Use answers for answers only.
Rules are simple and generally have little room for disagreement. That doesn't mean we don't use human judgement in enforcing them, nor that we are unwilling to talk it out (though we'll often prefer that is done in chat or on meta so as to not clutter the comments).
We also have what we call policies
Policies are clearly established ways of doing or handling something, generally as an extension of practice and goals when we feel the practice needs to be crystallized. This is only done when best practices and guidelines prove themselves not sufficient. A policy is enacted by community consensus on meta, following discussions. The same process is used to remove a policy.
Most of these are about whether a question type is on-topic or not. These include: ‡
- Don’t link to pirated material.
- Wait 72 hours before iterating on a homebrew-review question.
(This list is probably not completely accurate, either because we’ve forgotten to update it, or that whether something is a “policy” is ambiguous. Work with the users, and suggest or update additions if something is missing.)
Disallowed question types
There are certain types of questions that are obviously RPG-related, but that we’ve collectively decided are not allowed on RPG.SE due to the recurring problems they tend to cause:
- Game-recommendation and tool-recommendation questions, and by extension other kinds of recommendation questions
- Questions asking for designer commentary and rule intent
- Certain kinds of questions about alignment
(This list is probably not completely accurate, either because we’ve forgotten to update it, or that whether something is a “policy” is ambiguous. Work with the users, and suggest or edit in additions if something is missing)
This list is also part of our FAQ, which also includes guidance for other question types.
†: Yes, we know not every site on the network enforces this as strictly as RPG.SE does.
‡: As historical reference, we used to have a policy called Don't Guess the System. See: Revisit III: Don’t Guess the System policy. It was perhaps most frequently discussed as a policy, you may often find it as such in older discussions etc., and is relevant to the term as it exists on RPG.SE.