This is a revisit of Is '5e' a clear enough statement of game system by a question asker?, which has for a while been cited as part of the Never Guess the System policy, specifically to the end that simply including ‘5e’ is not sufficient information to determine that the question is about D&D 5e.

However, votes have trickled in over time, changing what the top-voted answer(s) to that Q&A are. There are two problems here, which require resolving:

  1. The meta guidance/policy isn’t reflective of current praxis, including how that meta gets cited; and
  2. As one side would have much more motivation to go back to that meta and vote, it is hard to trust it as community consensus.

Thus, as much as we might prefer not to have a discussion on this again, we need a revisit.

The perceived outcomes to this meta are either to uphold our current praxis (of not accepting ‘5e’ as sufficient), or to confirm a change in community opinion.

There’s a sidenote here about ‘closing’ meta discussions and locking in consensus to mitigate some of what has happened here. This is something we sometimes do, but there’s no set time after which that should happen, and thus very easy for that to slip. If there is such a meta discussion where it seems warranted – both consensus formed and useful to indicate such – we welcome a nudge to that end, either in chat or as a custom flag.

Post Status as of 14 December 2020

Over a month after this meta was posted the top answer is Thomas Markov's at +62/-9 and the second answer is KorvinStarmast's at +25/-5. Given these two answers present very similar views and there are no competing answers with similar support we can consider this community consensus.

Going forward '5e' should be considered sufficient statement of the system to be D&D 5e, provided there is also supporting context information.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is this about questions where the only evidence that it's D&D 5e is the term "5e" (which generally seems to be rare) - or about questions where the only explicit statement of system/edition is the term "5e" (whether or not there's other evidence in the question, such as quotes/page numbers from the book(s) or other system-related information)? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Mod Nov 12 '20 at 3:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast Both—the “other evidence” you describe is categorically not considered valid evidence by the existing policy and it is exceedingly inappropriate to re-open that discussion yet again at this point in time. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 12 '20 at 3:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ I was moreso encouraging the scope of the question to be explicitly stated in the question itself :) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Mod Nov 12 '20 at 9:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can I suggest updating this question? There's a duality on this topic: there's questions that say "5e" and express no other details, and then there's questions that say "5e" and make numerous distinct statements that correlate with D&D, varying from stating multiple unique classes and features, to quoting passages from D&D books. The original question didn't make this distinction, but this question—and answers—really ought to address the way this can vary. After all, the answer I wrote to the original made this distinction, that 5e wasn't enough but 5e plus lots of D&D-isms could be. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Nov 12 '20 at 13:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener (Just running this by you before updating with it) I would think the former question type falls into the same category as questions which seem to incorrectly include unrelated system tags. We handle those perfectly fine as "normal" unclear. So I would think "change" answers here would propose to accept "5e" as a statement of system, but also give guidance for how to handle questions which then seem to state a system, but be unclear about it. ... \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Mod Nov 14 '20 at 1:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ ... I've given these thoughts on the relevant answers below, and my reason for applying this frame is the machinations around the Never Guess the System Policy and to make it clear (because Policy needs to be clear) how this interacts with that. I don't think this addition would actually change or invalidate any of the current answers, but hopefully clarify what the outcome of this discussion will be (and which will be implemented into the canonical NGtS Policy writeup). \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Mod Nov 14 '20 at 1:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ One alternate solution may be to tag it with any and all candidate systems, then allow experts from those systems to remove the tags if they find they don't fit (eg if a question appears to be ambiguously 5e or PF, tag both then someone who knows more may come along and say "oh PF doesn't have that feature" and remove the PF tag). \$\endgroup\$ – user-024673 Nov 17 '20 at 6:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @user-024673 You can post a new (or undelete) an answer to answer the question. Comments aren’t the place for that. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Nov 17 '20 at 6:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Meta is a bit more lose than main site, it's just a point to think about not a whole answer. I can post it as an answer but I don't think there's much value in that. \$\endgroup\$ – user-024673 Nov 17 '20 at 6:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @user-024673 That suggestion just sounds like the worst of all worlds. Even ignoring how the process around adding "candidate" tags would work, if a question is tagged with multiple systems without an explanation we generally just close it as unclear because it is. I can't see any value to adding such a dance. As for answering in comments, yes meta is different, though the underlying ideas still apply. It would need to be an answer to be fully considered (ie. voted on), but I'm opting not to delete it myself for now unless there are other comments which need the light. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Mod Nov 17 '20 at 12:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ The user consensus for this question seems to me (based on votes below) to be overwhelmingly one-sided. At what point is it considered enough to include this as an exception in the current policy definition? \$\endgroup\$ – smbailey Nov 23 '20 at 21:33
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hard data would be helpful: given that we're talking about having rules for how to use the site, I'm strongly in favor of only having the rules that are necessary, or at least clearly beneficial. Is it necessary to have a "don't guess the system" policy? Yes, without one it was a shitshow. Is it necessary to have a "5e doesn't count as specifying the system" policy? Not sure - but it seems like someone handy with the data explorer should be able to tell us if it's ever actually happened that someone said "I'm playing 5e", but meant 5th edition of some other system, and it causd problems. \$\endgroup\$ – SirTechSpec Nov 23 '20 at 22:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ pseudocode might look something like SELECT * FROM questions WHERE (question_text CONTAINS '5e' OR question_text CONTAINS '5th edition') AND tags !CONTAINS 'dnd-5e' AND tag_edit_history CONTAINS 'dnd-5e' (yes I know that's not even good SQL, my point is "was anything that said '5e' in the question ever tagged dnd-5e then later untagged?") \$\endgroup\$ – SirTechSpec Nov 23 '20 at 23:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SirTechSpec The '5e' falls out as an ambiguity of the don't guess policy because it is used as a shorthand for D&D 5e. And while data may have some use, between deleted questions, edits, and the other systems which use "5e" getting any kind of reliable data becomes really difficult and is probably better explored in a separate space (eg. chat) to these comments. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Mod Nov 23 '20 at 23:28

Let experts make expert decisions.

This is the whole point of Stack Exchange. The entire model is people who know what they're talking about answering questions. People come here to ask questions because they expect someone here is equipped to solve their problem.

As linksassin admitted:

Sure, in 99% of cases we may be right.

Then we should let our experts be right. 99% of the time, we are adequately equipped to solve the user's problem.

What is really our objective?

Solving the querent's problem. This should be our primary objective. Using the site and learning how to most clearly communicate questions should be a secondary, or even tertiary, objective of ours. By saying, "we cannot answer your question until you learn how to use tags, even though everyone knows what system you're playing", we are putting problem solving in the back seat and setting site mechanics as our primary objective for new users. We should never tell a new user that our problem with their lack of tags is more important than the problem they bring to the table. But that is exactly what we are doing when we know what they're talking about but artificially hold up the problem solving process because they didn't explicitly state what system they are playing.

We can teach asking better questions without artificially obstructing our primary objective.

We can teach users how to use the site and ask better questions without putting problem solving on hold. This should be obvious. When we know what a user is asking about, we can both answer their question and teach them about the site. This is what comments are for. This keeps our objectives properly aligned. We focus an answering their question and secondarily engage them on how to ask better questions and use site mechanics.

Readers decide if answers provide valuable information.

This is the solution to the 1%. The 1% of times someone is wrong about their system guess will be sorted out by readers' votes. Even when it is so unclear in a question what system is being played, answers can be made sufficiently clear to still be useful. If a question says "I'm playing 5e" and it could be D&D or Shadowrun, answers can easily enough state which game the answer pertains to. If OP never clarifies, both answers provide valuable information to future readers. If OP does come back to clarify, the answer for the wrong system will be downvoted or deleted. This is just the site functioning as intended.

A necessary distinction.

To be clear, I'm not advocating for a wild west editing policy. There is a clear distinction between "5e question with vague context" and "5e questions with uniquely D&D vocabulary". But I'm not going to reinvent the wheel explaining it to you. I stand on the shoulders of giants, so to speak: Doppelgreener explained this perfectly in her response to the meta we are now revisiting:

I think we should be OK interpreting “5e” as “D&D 5e” when the question is also talking about D&D-isms. (If they're talking about things that don't sound like D&D 5e, like talking about hackers, we should not guess.)

There are other games with a 5e, but their players tend to be acutely aware they're not the only RPG and not the only 5th edition RPG, so they'll say what their game is.

D&D players are the ones who have an observed tendency to forget or not know that other games exist, or get asked about on this site, or have a fifth edition. This means if someone says just “5e” and they're talking about monks or fighters or warlocks, they'll reliably be talking about D&D 5e. I honestly can't think of a time this hasn't been true.

Our super strict “don't guess the system” guidelines were created during a time when guessing was almost always wrong, and we had a disaster once a week or so: high frequency × lots of trouble = tons of trouble.

In this situation, almost zero × lots of trouble = almost no trouble, maybe once in a blue moon.

We shouldn't just guess though: tell them “Hey, we're sure you mean D&D 5e here, so we've edited that onto the question. If you didn't mean that please let us know and we'll adjust.” When we're wrong we do damage control: we revise the question, remove the answers, ask someone to create a new D&D 5e-specific question to house them, and people repost their answers over there, and the original question continues on with its correct game. I expect this won't happen even once a year.

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    \$\begingroup\$ My concern with this is not with experts making expert decisions, it is allowing any user with edit privileges to make decisions that require expertise with no oversight or monitoring. If a non-expert answers a question the votes by actual experts will show it. If a non-expert incorrectly edits a post, it isn't immediately obvious without going into the edit history. There is no way to downvote an edit. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Mod Nov 12 '20 at 13:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @linksassin This happens all the time on all kinds of topics. People clarify questions and add or change details that could, if done wrong, cause answers to arrive that are not helpful. That doesn't happen well over 99% of the time, and the times it does happen we do appropriate damage control. I'll draw attention to the previous version of this question being fully for "5e alone isn't enough", but 5e plus many D&D-isms can often be abundantly clear. We need to engage in that distinction as we discuss this topic; focusing on "5e" alone is a little bit of a red herring. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Nov 12 '20 at 13:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree strongly with the intent of this question, but I think people may be hung up on guessing/inferring ('guessing' is a pejorative term, 'inferring' is what experts do) the system tag vs guessing/inferring the system. Is it worth considering some way of splitting the difference? Infer the system rather than editing the system tag? \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Nov 12 '20 at 16:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd also like to agree with one point in particular, and related subpoints: This really is a special case for D&D 5e specifically, because that is currently where the vast, vast majority of the drama seems to come from. It really does need to apply, not just to any old post, but to posts containing strong evidence of 5e. The only real problem that would loom on the horizon is if Pathfinder went to 5e before D&D went to 6e. That could cause problems. But that seems rather unlikely to occur just based on speed of revisions. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Nov 12 '20 at 16:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ So my position here is—and I think this is more than borne out by the actual question that has been raised here—that this discussion is, and must be, restricted to merely the question of “5e.” Because there hasn’t been any invitation to relitigate the wider question at this time. No, it doesn’t stand forever based off of a one-time vote. But it doesn’t get to be re-argued every time someone wants to, either. It has not been that long. It’s not appropriate to get into it again now. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 12 '20 at 18:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Coming in with this tact that people discussing this matter are illegitimate or abusing site democracy in any way is not appropriate. Using your personal exhaustion at the topic to attack others for engaging in it is also not appropriate. People are engaging in legitimate normal site processes, and behaving like this is (as someone else said) poisoning the well and stands to have a chilling effect on peoples' legitimate attempts to discuss the topic. What you're doing is not okay, and is extremely inappropriate. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Nov 12 '20 at 18:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think this proposal is suggesting anything with ramifications outside the "5e" scope. It suggests we can accept "5e" as the name for the system, but still use the same mechanisms we have when a question appears to be system confused. If a question is tagged with multiple system, or appear to be talking about concepts and terms outside their stated system, we ask for clarification and close. That's our normal processes and not part of any policy, because it doesn't need to be. The answer may benefit from clarifying this (assuming my read of it is correct). \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Mod Nov 12 '20 at 18:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil If the answer clearly stated that “5e”—alone—is sufficient as an explicit identification of “D&D 5e,” and that such a question should be edited without clarification from the OP and left open barring other issues with the question, then yes, I would agree that’s entirely within scope and a valid answer, albeit one I disagree with. But that doesn’t at all seem to be what’s being proposed. The proposal very much seems to be “‘5e’ is enough... if we combine it with an exception to the broader policy that isn’t being discussed in this question,” and that is what I object to. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 12 '20 at 18:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Having a concern about out of scope is valid, however please avoid accusing (intentionally or accidentally) others of doing so deliberately. It harms our ability to discuss things, just as much as anyone doing it (which I can't say I've seen much evidence for). I'll clean up a lot of the comments here now. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Mod Nov 12 '20 at 19:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Novak For what it is worth, I am sorry for heated comments that suggested, implied, or (if I let myself get that far; can’t quite recall) outright stated that you or anyone else had malicious intent here. My intent had been only to point out—neutrally—potential procedural problems I saw here, without inferring that anyone was intentionally seeking to cause those problems, for nefarious ends or otherwise. The tone of my responses did not maintain that intended neutrality, however, and for that I am sorry. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 17 '20 at 1:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan It's worth quite a bit, actually. Thank you. Let us put it behind us and speak no more of it. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Nov 17 '20 at 1:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ What is really our objective? I was told when I was first participating here that, originally, the objective of Stack Exchange sites is to create a valuable on line library of expert answers. The term "curated" was used a lot in these conversations. Solving a user's immediate problem was, it was explained to me, a necessary intermediate step along the path to fulfilling that purpose: building a searchable library of high value answers. (see also the old idea of optimizing for pearls rather than sand ...) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 21 '20 at 17:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Hello! In my 5e group, I have two elves and one orc players. And hell, they all want to play Samurai! Noone wants to take any spellcasting! Will that create any balance problems? Should I give them more currency to buy better items?" Is this Shadowrun or D&D 5e? :) \$\endgroup\$ – Baskakov_Dmitriy Nov 28 '20 at 23:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Baskakov_Dmitriy Idk, Id ask you to clarify. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Nov 28 '20 at 23:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ I will note that as the author of this answer, I am generally in favor of the current "don't guess the system" policy. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Dec 7 '20 at 19:37

Per a previous answer: only if 5e doesn't occur in a vacuum

If there are sufficient contextual clues to determine "5e of what?" such that a player of the game and that edition can clearly recognize them - then "5e" has communicated what it needs to (and adding the tag becomes helpful).

If 5e is referred to and no contextual clues are available (as I discussed in the linked answer) this leaves the whole community guessing and we are better off closing, and then engaging with the user to clarify what game it is that they are asking about.

If this meta is an effort to make a policy based on the question and the title, it seems to me that the policy is based on an untruth: that the 5e is referred to (when it is D&D 5e that the person is asking about) when they don't also leave sufficient contextual clues for someone reasonably expert in the system to identify that.
It isn't that simple.
Sometimes there are clues, sometimes there are not.
There is more than the variable "5e" in this equation.

A rule, or an If/Then statement, isn't the end all and be all. It isn't as simple as an on/off switch.

The question comes across to me as an assertion that because we have a divided bucket of opinions that somehow raising this (yet again) will finally get the consensus that has remained elusive. I am not sure that's correct. We might just be picking at a scab.

How to think through this when you encounter such a question:

  1. If there are sufficient contexual clues, it's not a problem, no need to close, 5e tells you enough add the tag if it is missing.

  2. If there aren't sufficient contexual clues, close and get clarification.

    But Korvin, what are sufficient contextual clues?

  • If you have to ask that then you aren't expert enough (see again what I address in the linked answer) so it would be best to skip that question and leave it to someone who knows enough. I sure skip a lot of PF questions in review queues, since I have no basis for making a call. A few years back I asked some questions for clarity in comments in some game systems I am not familiar with, and realized eventually that I was better off just letting those who are good at that system add assistance, or not, and just leave it alone.

Yeah, that's more effort, but it seems to me an effort worth making.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 if not solely for "It isn't that simple. [...] There is more than the variable "5e" in this equation." which I felt the question, as originally phrased, sorely disregarded \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Nov 12 '20 at 18:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ If it’s not that simple, then your answer is no. This isn’t the place to discuss the broader policy about other evidence that might be considered. The current policy does not allow for any such exceptions, and in fact broadly denies that such exceptions are appropriate. We would have to change the broader policy to allow the proposal here to move forward, and doing so requires a dedicated place to discuss that policy—which we already have. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 12 '20 at 18:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan This isn’t the place to discuss the broader policy about other evidence that might be considered Well, I think that it is. That's an imbedded part of the problem and why consensus seems so darned hard to arrive at. And that's why I think we may be just picking at a scab. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 12 '20 at 18:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast It certainly should not be—because there are very likely people interested in that discussion who are not interested in the “5e” discussion. We cannot change that policy—even to add a specific exception relevant to this question—without their input, not when the current policy categorically denies the legitimacy of any exceptions. I really do not want to revisit that discussion, but if it’s revisited yet again it certainly needs to be in a discussion that is clearly about that and clearly indicates to browsers that there is a discussion about that policy happening. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 12 '20 at 18:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan OK, thanks for your feedback, I've nothing more to add. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 12 '20 at 18:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer seems very similar to Markov's, so I'll ask for the same clarification re. policy: This is suggesting that we accept "5e" as a nickname for D&D 5e, but that if a questions states "5e" but isn't clear that it is actually D&D 5e we close it as a normal, unclear question, no? It would be useful to have that in the clear, given the weight of policy. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Mod Nov 12 '20 at 19:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil I am not convinced that this even needs a policy; I have edited out a few points on that since they came off to one user as too snarky: on further review, Naut was right, it was snarky so I got rid of them. Since I dislike how some of the users of this site use the term "policy" as a bludgeon, beating the policy drum does nothing but pick at a scab. So I think that makes this answer, maybe, a little bit of a frame challenge. Let me allow this to gestate a bit before I consider further edits. Get back to you. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 12 '20 at 20:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Looks like my comment has gone missing, but yes I agreed with that - I'm just saying that from an expert asker's perspective someone who can't figure out the system even when it's obvious, or mistakes it for other systems that are extremely unlikely, is not going to be able to provide a good answer. \$\endgroup\$ – user-024673 Nov 13 '20 at 8:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user-024673 OK, I just removed my comment, it looked like we had crossed wires there. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 13 '20 at 13:05

I'm pretty much an outsider nowadays, so this is an outsiders perspective, with little to no regard to policy or how it should work:

The brand name "Cola" in my country is being used to describe any kind of drink that is brown, sugary and fizzling. If you order a "Cola" it is assumed you mean Coke. Once in a while a restaurant may not serve Coca-Cola and may give you a Pepsi instead. Most will ask "we only have Pepsi, is that okay". Some will not ask and just bring Pepsi and a small fraction of people will be upset by this.

But what we are doing here is akin to me ordering a "Cola" and the waiter saying "I'm so sorry sir I cannot take that order, I will have to call my manager." And then 20 minutes later the manager comes and says "I'm sorry sir, you were ambiguous, did you mean the soft drink that is produced by the Coca-Cola company that our menu lists as Coke? We take this very seriously here, please be precise, we cannot serve you a Coke if you are that sloppy in your order."

I'd be dumbfounded. I'd probably not even have waited for the manager, I mean come on, that's ridiculous.

90%+ of our front page is about DnD 5e, so asking a question about "5e" that has no indication that is isn't DnD 5e should be understood. Sure, if it talks about spaceships or shotguns or has any hint that it's not DnD they are talking about, then absolutely, ask for clarification. But if it's a question about the armor class of a a paladin, insisting to clarify this because there is a hypothetical other system out there somewhere that might apply too... that's like the manager in the Cola example. Way out of line for a normal person.

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    \$\begingroup\$ So, in this analogy, what's our equivalent of the wait staff saying "we only have Pepsi, is that okay?" It doesn't seem to me like we have options outside of "let me get the manager". \$\endgroup\$ – Glazius Nov 22 '20 at 17:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, if you suspect that what you serve actually isn't what was ordered, you can still ask. Feel free to write a comment and say "We would normally assume 5e means DnD 5e, but I have never heard of flying saucers in DnD, can you maybe clarify your game system please?" \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Nov 22 '20 at 17:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, but I don't have exclusive ownership of a question the way wait staff has exclusive ownership of a table. The only way to hold answers to a question is to lock it, and that's "let me get the manager", regardless of how simple the comment would be to respond to if two people were talking to each other. \$\endgroup\$ – Glazius Nov 22 '20 at 17:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ My whole point is that you shouldn't. Why would you hold other answers? There is no need to hold council when the person ordered "Cola". You assume you have a common understanding of what 5e means and move on. Can you show me even a single question here that mentioned "5e" and turned out to be a different system that in fact wasn't DnD 5e? Saying "sorry, I don't know what you mean" is just completely out of line with reality. \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Nov 22 '20 at 17:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ I get the analogy, but even in that case, the waitress does stop and ask (at least in my experience here in the states) to say "Is it okay if it's Pepsi and not Coke?" They never go and bring the Pepsi and then say something. Our pausing to verify is the same thing, no? It's not about asking for the manager, it is the waitress verifying before moving forward with bringing it. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Nov 23 '20 at 23:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ No, the waitress does not have to stop to ask. They say "Cola" and you serve Coke. I have yet to see an answer saying "You asked about 5e, sorry, we are out of that, I'll answer about Pathfinder". A 5e answer is in stock and we hide behind formalities instead of helping people. \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Nov 24 '20 at 6:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt I can think of literally zero times in my life where a waitress has not confirmed. But I guess your experience is different. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Nov 24 '20 at 13:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm reminded of a certain very frustrating bank experience. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Nov 28 '20 at 2:53

Foreword: This post represents my view as a user not a moderator. It is largely a restatement of my view from the previous iteration of this meta.

Allowing '5e' as a statement of the system would be a detriment to our site

A brief summary of the reasons I believe it is a bad idea to allow this:

  • Multiple systems have a 5th edition

    D&D is not the only game to have reached a 5th edition. It isn't even the only game that is currently on 5th edition.

  • Guessing wrong is worse than waiting

    Sure, in 99% of cases we may be right. But the 1 in 100 that we get wrong would cause more issue in total than simply asking a clarifying question. As I said in this answer, it costs us nothing to wait for OP to clarify.

  • Not guessing helps new users learn the system

    By not guessing and prompting the OP to include the system tag, we teach the requirements for a good question on this site. This helps to prevent them from having this issue again in the future and in turn they can help teach it to others, helping to maintain our high standards.

  • A strict policy is easier to comprehend

    Tiggerous stated in a related meta:

    Our current policy is very clear, easy for new users to understand (even if they disagree with it) and relatively simple (if not always painless) to enforce.

    Any alternative to this policy, however well intentioned (and perhaps both sensible and justifiable in the abstract), will be much less clear, more contentious and harder to enforce.

  • Allowing this promotes the D&D-centric view of this site

    We are rpg.se, not dnd.se and we want to remain that way. We have a history of D&D dominating our site. See Dungeons and Dragons is dominating the site in terms of page views for just one example. It is likely that our high proportion of D&D content is what leads to missing system tags on D&D 5e questions in the first place.

    Additionally, on the occasions we are wrong we are harming the quality of life of smaller rpgs on this site. There is an excellent meta question that addresses this issue. I think it is important to keep that issue in mind when discussing policies like this.

  • Not all users are equally well versed in RPGs

    New users come to the site and see tags for various D&D editions and some other tags they don't know. Then mention 5e in their question assuming that is enough because, as far as they know, this site is only about D&D. By not assuming 5e = D&D 5e we might just be telling them for the first time that there are game system's besides D&D. That is an opportunity for new users to learn and expand their horizons that might otherwise be lost.

    We already have a problem where users assume questions are about D&D 5e when they are not. On a recent Pathfinder 1e question of mine a user posted a comment "oh thank you I actually missed that this question is not about dnd 5e. My bad". I'm not trying to shame users, simply showing that it is a simple mistake to make. You see a question that has lots of terms you know and you assume it is the system you know, I've been guilty of it too. Allowing users to edit this assumption in without confirmation from OP would enable users who are only familiar with D&D 5e to derail questions about many systems that share keywords or other similarities to D&D 5e.

In conclusion; no, 5e is not enough to add the tag, and it should never be.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @user-024673 This is about providing value to the users who don't use D&D 5e. The impact on the case that is wrong is much more significant than the impact on a users who was asked to identify the system. It's also providing value by avoiding arguments. We currently have a very clear line that is easy to support and reference. I think that provides value to all site users. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Mod Nov 12 '20 at 3:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Legislating for the 1% of times when our experts are wrong in choosing the system tag, actively frustrates the 99% of the time when they would be right and the querent's problem could be solved quicker. We have to remember that we are a Q&A site, and that our focus should be on solving people's problems. The aim of the not guessing the system policy is to avoid unnecessary timewasting on everyone's parts. If it was a case that we were wrong 50% of the time, then significant time would be wasted, and waiting for clarification would be worth it, but it's not. \$\endgroup\$ – illustro Nov 12 '20 at 20:29

Statistically, it's a clear enough statement, but to be fair, we should treat it as though it isn't.

It isn't fair that people who ask questions about industry-leading product Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition can get useful answers to their questions without even having to name their system, while people who play anything else, even if they correctly name and tag their system, get non-useful answers from people who assume any question they recognize D&D 5E terms in must be about D&D 5E.

People playing other systems can encounter scenarios where they want to put armor on in combat, or mitigate critical hits, or be a druid and turn into a blink dog.

And yes, the answers that assume those questions are about D&D 5E get downvoted with a quickness, but that's also kind of a problem, in that often those answers will get deleted and low-rep users viewing the question don't see deleted answers. (Or answers hidden because of very low score? Is that a thing too?) So it's just an empty question that they think they know the answer to, and then the original question gets another unhelpful answer and the respondent gets another tranche of downvotes.

It seems like a waste of time and opportunity to wait for some kind of explicit statement of "I am playing industry-leading product Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition" from the original poster, even if that's just adding it in as a tag to not break the conversational tone of the question, before a question is opened for answers. But I'm still in favor of doing it to establish the contrapositive; that is, if there's a question that's open for answers, and neither the title nor question body nor tags mention industry-leading product Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition, people can be sure it's not a question about industry-leading product Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition even if they don't know the system that it actually is about.

Because it also isn't fair to present people without much experience outside industry-leading product Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition with a front page full of questions where they can tell that some are definitely about D&D 5E, and some just seem like they might be about D&D 5E and other people have assumed they are and answered, and some seem like they're about D&D 5E but nobody's answered, and the way they're supposed to tell which ones are okay to assume and which ones aren't is... a volatile list of acceptable substitutions on the meta?

I can't read somebody else's mind who writes an answer, any more than I can read somebody else's mind who writes a question, but of the five people to swing and miss at those other system questions, one has continued giving answers. Just a couple, and they had a gold badge already.

Part of this unfairness is that we don't have a way to clearly specify the game system in a question. A proper noun could be any number of things in the big tent of industry-leading product Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition; a setting, a structured play environment, an unfamiliar game element. It's highly probable that a system tag for that proper noun exists, but does every system tag mention it's for a game system? There's no way otherwise to tell system tags from non-system tags.

The judgment of whether or not someone has specified a game system is left up to people who volunteer to flag and review. It's the best we can do for now, and I hope they have a good degree of awareness of what game systems are out there, but when they're making that decision I'd like to leave them a few clear guidelines rather than an arbitrarily-sized list of exceptions.

Because, lastly, it's not fair to the future. Industry-leading product Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition might not be industry-leading forever. As time stretches on, all human projects will dissolve and fail, and I'd rather maintain a clear identification policy than have to keep revisiting acceptable alternates for popular games as time goes on.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't feel this "it isn't fair" stance is a constructive one to take. If we're experiencing a specific observed issue, the existence of other specific observed issues doesn't mean we shouldn't try to resolve the issue we're looking at here. The issue of D&D-ish answers being given is recognised and one we already try our best to deal with applying defined solutions; it's a totally separate matter from the determination of what's a clear enough statement of system in this scenario we're discussing. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Nov 18 '20 at 2:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ To be fair, my answer is system neutral and applies to all systems with a 5e. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Nov 18 '20 at 3:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I have expanded the list of people it isn't fair to. I hope this is a little more constructive. \$\endgroup\$ – Glazius Nov 18 '20 at 5:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is already a very isolated issue, so the paragraph that starts with "Because it also isn't fair to present people without much experience..." seems entirely contrived and not representative of reality at all. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Nov 18 '20 at 17:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ You can support multiple positions, and hinge them all on "fair". For example: It's not fair for questions that are easily answerable to languish because of a policy intended to protect a small number of edge cases. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Nov 18 '20 at 22:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ To your last point, if D&D 5e becomes less popular, then by extension there will be less questions asked about it and 5e will become more ambiguous of a moniker. At that point, it may become more trouble than it's worth to assume 5e = D&D 5e, and we can revisit it then. Our aim should be to reduce friction on the site while answering users questions quickly and accurately. \$\endgroup\$ – illustro Nov 27 '20 at 11:40

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