We occasionally get questions which don’t specify which game system they are about, and which are about specific aspects of that game. Because the context and answers depend and vary with the system, and multiple systems include content by the same name, this means the system needs to be clarified for that system. Current praxis and policy is that the clarification must be made by the asker (in title, body, tag, comment, etc.).
This is first solidified here, upheld in 2018 and 2020; the policy as currently understood is summarized in this Q&A. This policy has been referred to in a few different ways, but for simplicity’s sake, let’s call it the Don’t Guess the System (DGtS) policy.
However, since the last revisit (in 2020) was active and was considered settled, ongoing votes on the answers changed the apparent consensus. (There’s discussion specific to that phenomenon here.) As a result, a revisit of the DGtS policy is warranted.
For everyone’s benefit, I’ll try to give a rundown of the other changes that have happened since the last revisit:
- Guidance was added to the “Ask a Question” page, encouraging users to specify what game system they are asking about.
- Similarly we made additions to the help center, including a link to the Q&A Why do I need to specify my game system, and how do I best do it?
- Several subparts to the policy have been refined:
- Questions that are about D&D Beyond can be taken as D&D 5e without asking the querent.
- If there is supporting contextual information, 5e can be taken as a shorthand for D&D 5e.
- And links to a system-/edition-specific toolset (reference pages, etc.) can also be taken as a statement of system.
Following the discussion at How shall we frame our upcoming revisit of the Don't Guess the System Policy?, this question will be closed for one week. This will prevent answers from being posted during that time, allowing all answers to be ready to post around the same time when the question is reopened. (While the answer to the linked Q&A says to lock the post, none of the lock options prevent posting answers without also preventing voting and commenting on the question. This seems like a better compromise.) We’ll give people 1 month after the question is reopened, then take a look at the votes on the answers here. If there’s a clear winner and voting appears to have stabilized, we’ll proceed with that course of action; otherwise, we will re-add the featured tag and look to see if there are any other actions we need to take.
With all that out of the way, how should we proceed with regard to the DGtS policy?
- Should we keep the overall policy as is?
- Should we replace the policy with less absolute guidance? If so, what should this be?
- Some kind of middle-ground approach, or something else not covered here?
(Don’t feel constrained to the listed options; we’re trying to be inclusive of every possible approach.)
Results as of September 3rd, 2021.
One month after opening this post to answers, Thomas Markov's answer is the top answer at +62/-5. It advocates for "Let experts make expert decisions", removing the policy and creating new guidance for users.
The other two answers (Pyrotechnical +29/-6 and nvoigt +30/-11) also advocate for removing the policy.
With no answers opposing the change and very positive votes in favour of the proposals this will form our policy (or lack thereof) moving forward.
Where to from here?
There are a number of posts that will require modifications, cleaning up or historical locks. The mod team have already started identifying these and will work to update them in accordance with this change. Give us time to make the changes, but if you feel we've missed something feel free to flag it with a custom message.
The community will need a new FAQ guidance question on how and when to make appropriate system edits. "Equip our experts with some community crafted guidance" as Thomas Markov puts it. This should be a collaborative effort to create the best guidance possible.
The guidance Q&A has been posted and it is ready for your input: What should I do when a question does not specify the game system being used?