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Admittedly a bit slower that we’d have preferred (our bad), this is a continuance of rule intent discussion. (See why I’m avoiding saying revisit below).

As a brief summary, questions asking for designer intent were banned for seemingly inevitably leading to speculative answers. As that discussion was framed towards how to save the question group, a separate canonical post was made (and later added to FAQ). It was originally posted declaration style and accrued 17 votes before being split into more proper Q&A style. With time an opposing answer was posted which accrued slightly higher score than the accepted answer (29/-11 vs 30/-16). And the original question where the decision was intended to be had higher scores (44/-11 for accepted answer, no real opposing answer) but was closed (pointing to the canon Q&A). So votes have ended up a bit of a mess, pointing to the need to revisit.

However, there is another point which needs to be brought up at the same time, which leads me to not call it just a revisit. The question type was originally deemed off topic in response to a specific problem, which was that explicitly asking for designers reasons for specific rules lead to rampant speculation (required increased moderation). However, with time it seems sometimes any possibility that designer reasons could be relevant caused closure or at least close votes. And there’s a bit of a thing with History of Gaming questions.

As a highlight, it seemed sometimes the mere use of the word “why” would be enough to garner close votes. Why thus getting read as “why was this designed this way” as opposed to “what does this achieve within the system”. This suggests we need a bit of back to basics together, and agreement on how to read and evaluate questions for this particular concern. And this back to basics is useful as part of (or preceding) the revisit because we need clarity in what we’re considering the topicality of.

I’ll note that we don’t have a specific closure reason for designer reasons. This leads to questions either being closed as “opinion based” or “off-topic” with a custom reason (usually whichever got cast first). A consequence of this is that asker feedback is either conflicting or highly dependent on comments explaining things well. A custom close reason might be a good reason to explain the off topic reason better to both askers and close voters. Whether to ask for an additional slot or to rework some of our existing reasons is probably best left for its own discussion, as might well the full scope of the wording, but I’d like to offer it to answers here.

Outcomes for this discussion

With the aim of clarity, I’d like to give guidance towards the intended scope of discussion. This is not intended as extra rules for the discussion.

  • We’re open to the possibility of unbanning designer reasons. Such an answer should include the guidance for such questions and answers so they can be answered and curated properly. See the previous discussions for the issues that do come with the question type.
  • We’re open to refocusing the actual practice to the actual issue. This would be keeping the question type off-topic, but hopefully reducing the collateral. An answer should more clearly identify the problematic question type, and give good guidance for how to navigate around this.
    Since the current state of the FAQ is a bit messy, it would be good for answers to give at least an outline for what the new FAQ should cover. (The existing “how can I ask instead meta is quite good for this/may be a good starting point/include)
  • We’re open to expanding the scope of designer reasons. Such an answer should clearly identify the problems for which the expanded scope is needed, which questions need to be made off topic and an outline for ongoing guidance. Though, I’m mostly including this for completeness, I have very little expectation that it is the prevailing opinion.

†: This is the moderators speaking as moderators on behalf of the community. As much as possible we'd like for this to be read as the community or the discussion being open for these possibilities and that this discussion not being an exercise in convincing the moderators.

\$\endgroup\$
5
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note: you can use the [designer-reasons] tag to find many questions that would be affected by a change. \$\endgroup\$
    – Laurel
    Feb 21 at 23:02
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Laurel fyi you can write [tag:designer-reasons] in comments and here for an easy link :) there's also [meta-tag:featured] etc for meta site tags \$\endgroup\$ Feb 21 at 23:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ We had the same problem with the word should a few years ago which you identify as the problem with the word why - which tells me that we may have a few trigger happy close voters who get triggered by a single word. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22 at 17:21
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast To be fair, the asking words (why, should, what, where, etc.) tend to do a lot of heavy lifting in the framing of a question and it's a bit snappier I suppose to focus the discussion/correction on a single word. It's possible there's something to address in the use of heuristics like that, but I can't say I know how to usefully go about it so for now we can deal with them when we see it (seemingly) going wrong. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil Mod
    Feb 22 at 18:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil What bothers me about that is the behavior of some of our community ... but I'm not going to further derail this well crafted post/question. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22 at 21:46

6 Answers 6

26
\$\begingroup\$

On this one, I think it actually should be up to ♦ mods

Obviously, having a ♦ doesn’t allow the elected moderators to dictate site policy; it never has, and it never should. I, for one, am still very salty about the times when a ♦ has overridden the community, and I don’t think I’m alone in that: community consensus is crucial to the site. If the rules were changed so that elected moderators dictated policy, I’d probably leave.

But this is a special case.

Specifically, designer-intent questions are on-topic, answerable, back-up-able, and at least occasionally of interest. Moreover—as I’ve discussed in more detail in another answer—the ban on designer-intent questions has been overinterpreted by some users as a ban on a much broader swath of questions, leading to arguments and bad feelings.

The only reason we banned designer-intent questions in the first place was ♦ moderator overload.

That was it, the ♦ moderators at the time brought up a rash of designer-intent questions that hit HNQ, and lead to a ton of speculative answers getting upvoted, no matter how hard the question tried to emphasize that answers had to be backed up. It led to the ♦ having to delete high-rated answers, which is never a good thing, and a lot of the questions got closed anyway just because they were attracting too many problems, no matter how good the question itself was. This situation also caused bad feelings and arguments. The ♦ moderators didn’t want to be put in the middle of it, and the community agreed.

So if the current ♦ moderators are amenable to allowing designer-intent questions, then I think we should unban them. If the current ♦ mods want to go into the backlog and history and determine that the situation isn’t one they want to re-open, I still accept that: designer-intent questions aren’t crucially important, and those that are useful can often be edited into acceptable questions even with the ban in place. (This doesn’t happen far too often, but that’s a separate concern.)

I would say, though, that the community is vastly more moderation-focused than it was at the time, and also, the ban on designer-intent questions has had far more negative outcomes than I, for one, expected when I voted for it the first time. Also, ♦ moderators can now remove a question from HNQ—that was a feature that wasn’t available to ♦ moderators when the ban was put in place. If the ♦ moderators are OK with it, I definitely think we should unban them, and I don’t think we need any special policies around them—I think it would be appropriate to just treat them as we treat any other question, as long as ♦ moderators are up for that. If not, well, like I’ve been saying, I have another answer about that.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the low HNQ issue being a root cause. Matches my memory as well. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22 at 17:22
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I think this is a pretty good take overall, I too feel comfortable letting the mods make the call here. However, it does not address one of S_E's concerns from the post, "Such an answer should include the guidance for such questions and answers so they can be answered and curated properly." What direction can you give for handling this? Is it "mods make the call, mods make the guidance", or something like "mods make the call, then ask the community to construct the guidance", or something else? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22 at 17:23
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov My proposal is that there not be any special rules. Just treat them as topical questions. If they specifically invite speculation, are unclear, too broad, etc. etc., treat them accordingly, like any other question. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Feb 22 at 19:10
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think anyone is asking for special policies or rules for them, S_E is asking for helpful guidance we can point to for making good questions and answers of this kind, just as we have for other types of questions. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22 at 19:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ For example, with homebrew reviews, we have this guidance. When someone asks a homebrew review question that just presents features bare bones, we can say "Check out our guidance for homebrew review, it would be helpful for answers if you could include some of the additional details discussed there." Or for unsupported answers, we can leave a comment suggesting improvements based on our guidance for supporting answers. These guidance posts aren't rules or policies, but they help give direction to posts that need some direction. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22 at 19:46
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov “Can this question be answered well within our format?” is the only guiding question I think anyone should ever have interfacing in any way with any question on this site. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Feb 22 at 19:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think that's essentially what Someone_Evil is looking for here - "Can this question be answered well within our format? Yes, here is how: ...". \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22 at 20:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov I don’t believe that’s so, and moreover, I’m staunchly opposed to us having any such post. I do not want, or think we should have, anything that smacks of “this is how you must write such a question.” Already we have explicit cases of “here are some ideas for making your question the best it can be” that people are treating as “this is how you must write such a question,” and it’s hard to imagine a more deleterious situation. I am definitely not in favor of adding more fuel to the fire. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Feb 22 at 20:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ I haven't really seen any of that in many months, I was probably the chief offender there for a while, and I quit doing it thanks to some counsel from you and doppel on the matter. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22 at 21:06
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov You definitely were the chief offender, but you weren’t alone. I can’t say I’ve specifically noted a continuation of that behavior in recent months, so you may be right (but then, I didn’t notice a reduction either; I can’t actually recall the last homebrew-review question that caught my eye). But I also just don’t really know what you’re looking for here. Don’t invite people to speculate; consider reminding them that they shouldn’t do so. Maybe include an explicit list of acceptable sources. But that could go for any question on the site. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Feb 22 at 21:22
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Another useful point in support of this answer is that mods now have the ability to easily remove a question from the HNQ list. If we suspect that will cause issues for a certain question we can get in early before the answers pile up. That tool didn't exist when these questions were first banned. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin Mod
    Feb 22 at 23:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @linksassin Perhaps deserves more highlighting, but I do have that in there. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Feb 23 at 2:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Since this answer is delegating the decision to the mod team, providing details around guidance becomes moot (or implicitly also delegated). Part of the intent was for a decision to allow the question type would come with guidance and a promise for the community to uphold our general standards (which should be sufficient). And depending on what we decide, it's quite possible any needed guidance would be much more directed at close voters than askers. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil Mod
    Feb 23 at 13:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Addl note about HNQ, I believe it was also reworked so questions could only be on it for 3 days tops as opposed to staying on there for a week (weeks?). That should mean the scope of any HNQ-caused messes be smaller, but perhaps end up being more frequent? \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil Mod
    Feb 23 at 13:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil My idea here was more, if the moderators only feel comfortable with allowing designer-intent questions in some qualified manner and want to state rules for that, then yes. But only if that’s the difference between “this is acceptable to us” and “this is too much of a burden for ♦ moderators.” If you just think some kind of guidelines would be a good idea, but they aren’t necessary, then I think that should still be up to the community. (And I, for one, would prefer not having any.) \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Feb 23 at 20:00
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What Is Needed Is Both A Clarification Of Guidelines....

I think any of the three paths laid out in the Question above are reasonable and I don't really have a preference between them. They all seem to lead to roughly the same place, and require roughly the same type of deliberation and refinement.

For lack of a better term, I'll borrow from existing terminology and refer to it as the good-designer-intent/bad-designer-intent question dichotomy.

To indulge in tautology for a moment, good designer intent questions are ones this stack can generally answer, while bad designer intent questions are ones we can't. To back off from that tautology, good designer intent questions are ones that fall within the realm of the expertise of the community. I don't think we'll ever get a sharp, bright-line answer (more on that below) but based on past experience and past discussions here, I think the following are at least a starting point:

  1. A rant disguised as a question ('This rule sucks! What was Gygax thinking?') is a bad designer intent question. It's arguably not even a question, even though it ends in a question mark.

  2. A designer intent question that is, or can reasonably be construed as a game balance question, or a question of mechanical interactions or unintended side effects, or a homebrew rules question ("Why does this rule exist? What happens if it goes away?") is probably/often going to be a good designer intent question. I don't take part in them often, but I suspect that the guidelines for homebrew rules questions might be a good place to look for guidelines insights.

  3. A question of designer intent that hinges on lore ("Why did the designers make elves so powerful and settle Dwarves only on these terrible plots of land?") are going to be at least as dicey as similar questions on the lore itself.

  4. A question of actual design intent-- a question that strongly expects a personalized answer in the form of "This person or persons at this company enacted this rule definitively for this purpose," is very likely to be a bad designer intent question.

I should note, here, the my confidence in these four points is not absolute, nor am I intentionally trying to limit consideration to these four categories-- this is what I have after thinking about this overnight. Further, I am pretty confident in my approach to the first two points; less so on the third and fourth: It is not impossible that answers exist in the form of interviews, podcasts, design documents, errata; it is not impossible that answers could be had, if the designers are still active and accessible, as is sometimes the case. (And for all of these reasons, I think that knowing where to find information is a form of expertise.) But it is definitely not impossible that there will be nothing but vacuum to draw on, outside the published texts themselves.

On the other hand, I also care much more about the first two points than the last two points.

...And A Cultural Shift

But I don't think a simple clarification of policy/guidelines is going to fix this problem. Looking back through the historical discussions on this specific issue, this sentiment pops up:

We can't seem to leave unanswerable questions unanswered.

Well, that may have been true then, and may be true now (although four years is an eternity in net-culture years.) But the corollary seems to be "We can't seem to stop turning policies or guidelines into straight-jackets."

This is, arguably, a systemic flaw in the stack system at large which can't fully be addressed here: As a community grows, the five votes necessary to close becomes a smaller and smaller fraction of the community at large. That is a double-edged sword, in that a growing community will see growth in the number of bad questions being posed, but also in that increasingly smaller fractions of activist vote-to-closers can really gum up the works.

And this is definitely something that we do here.

Just because it's not happening out of malice or bad faith doesn't mean it doesn't happen-- we founder on these rocks regularly.

This question itself acknowledges 'why' as a trigger word. The previous round of discussion had two answers recognizing that trigger or general overuse of the policy.

And this phenomenon is not limited to this issue:

We've gone around this tree with good-subjective/bad-subjective questions, where for a time we were turning the policy into an anecdote tax and every question that could remotely be considered subjective would gather comments insisting on the personal experience criterion, with ever-increasing narrowness and specificity.

And we've seen it show up in supported/unsupported questions, where some stances were taken that were so inflexible that they generated the following highly upvoted comments:

...The issue here is that you are interpreting a best-practice guide for "How to cite a good answer" as "How to enforce good answers" which was never the intent of that guidance. Perhaps it is time for a new guidance meta 'When should answers be deleted?"

and

...after reading through all this, I cannot tell if (1) you are voting to delete because you want to, and you believe the references you cite give you permission, or (2) you believe the references you cite require or obligate you to vote to delete, or (3) some other case I have not considered. Can you clarify your mindset on this?

I'm not trying to single anyone out or accuse anyone of bad faith, especially for things that took place almost half a year ago. To the contrary, my point is that this issue comes up time after time after time. It is not an issue with a single policy, or a single user. It is a community-generated issue. I'll say that again, louder:

It is a community-generated issue.

And unless the community starts thinking differently about policies and guidelines, we will end up here having another discussion that looks exactly like this in six months, nine months, twelve months.

It might be about this issue, if we don't "fix it" well enough. But if we do, it is my firm conviction based on years of lurking, participating in the main stack, and participating in meta, that we will as a community transfer our collective obsession with policy enforcement to some other policy.

So let me make the following points on that topic:

  1. We are experts, and I do not believe for a minute that the best use of anyone's expertise (diamond mods possibly excepted) is in turning policies and guidelines into finer and finer filters to apply to questions or answers.

  2. We are experts, and while experts make use of policies and guidelines to inform our responses, we do not need-- and it is counter-productive to seek-- policies that are mechanically precise and cover all situations without the need for critical thought and interpretation. That is, in fact, the very opposite of expertise itself! Clarification of policy is all well and good, and we could probably use a little here. But unless we change the way the community at large thinks about policies and guidelines, we will be right back here in a few months.

So I implore the community: Please, start thinking of your expertise as a way to generate good answers, and not as a way to just apply the VTC to another question or answer.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "I'm not trying to single anyone out" Look mom, I'm on TV! I'll own this - the comments you quote are in response to my ill-conceived understanding of what those guidelines were trying to do and how to use them. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22 at 21:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov fair enough-- I felt I had to link them because they were my best examples, but because I was not trying to beat on you specifically the best I could was put your name under ellipses. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Feb 22 at 21:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ No worries, the example is spot-on; I have since internalized the attitudes you're looking to encourage here, and am working on "being the change you want to see", so to speak, that you talk about in your Cultural Shift section. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22 at 21:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you put that last para in bold? The part that begins with "So I Implore the community ..." up to you. Also, we had a meta two or thread years ago with a question on the word 'should' that seems to be related and might be a useful reference. Here is a link \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22 at 21:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast I think I can do that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Feb 22 at 21:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Strong agree with most of this, but I disagree with your last bullet point on good-designer-intent/bad-designer-intent: such questions are difficult, because it is difficult to find an appropriate source to back up an answer to such questions, but they do leverage our expertise—because we’ll be able to identify those sources. Particularly with more historical questions, knowing if and where someone discussed their thinking behind something is definitely something one can, and many here do, have expertise in. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Feb 22 at 22:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I don't really disagree with what you wrote, but my sense is that those are also where a lot of the actual bad answers are coming from. I'm not sure, but that's my sense of it. That's why that one is the least strongly held opinion of anything I've written, and I value everyone's thoughts on it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Feb 22 at 22:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ I wish I could upvote this more, and not just because you quoted me. You have done a fantastic job of both answer the question here, and highlighting a topic we have been dancing around for far too long. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin Mod
    Feb 23 at 0:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer has already changed the way I use this site and my mindset completely. If nothing else comes of it, thank you. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Mar 1 at 15:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the analogue example of good/bad subjective. As long as an answer is backed up, I don't think these questions are bannable. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vylix
    Mar 2 at 8:04
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No need for a special policy, and good reasons to avoid one

I don’t think it’s worthwhile to debate any particular special policy for :

  • The original reasons for the ban on these questions is basically gone. Without those, there isn’t a compelling reason to have any special policy.
  • The original, very simple, blanket ban on has been misunderstood and misconstrued a lot, suggesting that we can’t even define well what we’re talking about.
  • Any refinement of the policy would be more nuanced, and thus harder to articulate and easier to misunderstand.

Thus, there is simultaneously no need for a special policy, and a high likelihood of causing problems. Combining “little chance of doing good” with “high chance of doing harm” yields pretty guaranteed “more harm than good.”

The original purpose of banning is gone

My primary answer suggests that the ♦ moderators should be the ultimate arbiters of how true this is, but for myself, it certainly seems true to me:

  • The ♦ moderators have expressed openness to re-allowing .
  • The community moderation is much stronger than it was, leaving less on ♦ moderators.
  • HNQ only applies for a few days instead of a week or more.
  • ♦ moderators have an option to remove a question from HNQ that they didn’t have before.

All of this suggests that speculative answers are unlikely to get problematically upvoted by visitors coming via HNQ. That was the whole reason why we ever even discussed in the first place. If that had never been true, it probably would never have even come up. Now that it’s no longer true, things should revert to that default.

The existing blanket ban already gets misunderstood.

Already, with the blanket, “everything looks like a nail” policy, we have enormous disagreements about which questions we’re even talking about. There have been serious debates as to whether was, or should be, silently included in the ban, because some portions of the community don’t see a distinction between that and . Even with the Meta consensus firmly on the side of seeing a distinction, and espousing the continued topicality of questions, we routinely see comments and close votes that seem, to me as someone who was there for the initial problems that led to the ban, patently absurd on their face.

I don’t have a good solution to this. No, I’ll go beyond that—I don’t think there is a good solution to this. I wrote the answers to a lot of the Meta discussions about whether things should be closed per the ban, but it hasn’t helped, and quite frankly I never claimed to be able to offer any hard-and-fast definition. This policy has always been “I’ll know it when I see it” and that’s not really great for, ya know, policy.

It would take an enormous amount of work to try to debate a meaningful hard-line definition, and I’m all-but-certain that effort would be wasted because it would most likely end in failure to come up with one. Per the above, that level of effort isn’t warranted.

A more-nuanced policy would be even more complicated

Going beyond black-and-white banning of some set of questions, and getting into shades of gray among that set, amplifies the above problems immensely. It also massively complicates the policy’s stated response: no longer are we necessarily talking about the simple “just close it,” we’re talking about having a more nuanced response. That would be hard. Much harder than what we’ve already attempted, and largely done poorly at. Just as we can’t well define where the line is, we can’t well define the various shades in play, nor the appropriate response to each.

And again, there’s no compelling reason to do so.

In the end, is just like any other tag

A question inviting speculation—about designer intent or any other subject—is a bad question, and should be edited and/or closed. Thinly-disguised rants don’t become good questions just because we’d be unbanning . Etc. and so on. I’m not suggesting—no one is suggesting—that become a get-out-of-jail-free card. Just that it no longer be “go directly to jail, do not collect $200” as it has been. This is about a reversion to our norm.

We don’t have special policies for the overwhelming majority of topics. In fact, with banned, burninated, and an elimination of our special policy about editing system tags, I’m not sure we have any. And that’s a good thing. I supported special policies in some or all of those cases, and might personally feel some of them are still worthy of special exceptions, but it’s unquestionable that it’s a very nice state of affairs to avoid having any. And that’s what this proposal would accomplish.

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4
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your framing about "special policies" is odd - that game recs (tool recs, and some alignment) questions are banned are special policies, and so is our policy regarding piracy, and those are good policies. Since you make a good case here, you might also want to answer the request to provide guidance on what makes a good designer-intent question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Mar 22 at 19:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu A good designer-intent question is a good question that happens to be about designers’ intentions, nothing more and nothing less. That is the entire point of this answer, we do not need more than that and there are very good reasons to avoid having more than that. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Mar 22 at 20:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Would you say that what makes a good lore question good is exactly the same that makes a good character optimisation question good, which would be exactly the same that makes a good homebrew-review question a good question? If so, then sure, a good thing is good — I don't think that would be a satisfying answer, but certainly not wrong. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Mar 22 at 21:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu The same general principles apply. Beyond that, it’s a mistake to try to pin down specifics. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Mar 22 at 22:16
0
\$\begingroup\$

Let us not only talk about rule intent, but about question closing too!

We have not resolved the original reasons for closure. Why exactly should we act as if this wasn't a Stack Exchange format?

Using this site comes with a steep and obscure learning curve, and whether we wordsmith and slightly-to-moderately improve the accessibility of specific reasoning doesn't change that fact.

A participant has to be willing to go through that sieve. They have to make their peace with the sieving process and the included limitations of what the stack does and does not cater to, compromise with it, or leave.

We should equip querents with suggestions so that they may rephrase their question. We shouldn't do that for them unless that teaches them adequately — participation always comes with collateral damage. We are willing to sacrifice, and nobody here has made a persuasive case on why we ought to treat this particular collateral damage differently.

If a question doesn't meet the eligibility criteria, the querent should rework it or take it elsewhere — such as our chat or the myriad places on the internet where different criteria are at work. We do not need to polish sand or highlight the odd allure of noise — we ought not to do either that is what we accept as a guiding principle of the Stack Exchange format.

I'd rather not see volunteers break their backs to accommodate solicitants, or for eager volunteers to pounce and transform questions so that they fit the mould while overconfidently guessing at the intent of the querent. This is a matter of mutual respect, and sometimes that means telling someone that their question is better suited to a different place (where what we consider "sand" here may sparkle).

Let us keep doing well what we do well, and let us fail and compromise and accept collateral damage where we have a proven track record that we don't do them well.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "We do not need to polish sand or highlight the odd allure of noise — we ought not to do either that is what we accept as a guiding principle of the StackExchange format." – Could you clarify what this sentence means? \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast StaffMod
    Mar 17 at 22:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am not understanding the relevance of anything you are saying. This is a discussion about topicality—it’s sort of presumed that the question otherwise meets our criteria, topic aside. If it didn’t, whether or not it was on topic would be a moot question. And if you are saying that a designer-intent question requires “transformation,” than you are saying they should be off-topic—in which case you should just say that, and nothing in this discussion would seem terribly relevant after that? \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Mar 17 at 23:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast Yes, we have a culture of transforming questions that are unclear to "a question that would work" to "save" a question where we shouldn't do that because the querent didn't meet the baseline of our format, and that doesn't work in favour of the querent and reflects poorly on the signal to noise ratio principle. We polish noisy questions that then generate internet points but don't solve the problem — and there is the context to designer intent — in a way that makes them formally acceptable. I don't think that we should continue to do that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Mar 18 at 8:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I'd prefer structures built on foundations instead of cloud-castles that ignore them, and yes you are exactly correct - a discussion without that would be moot. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Mar 18 at 10:33
-3
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For me, a question asking for a game holds little value.

It does not play into the strengths of our community. A good answer is nothing more than a block quote from some source, the only experience necessary to produce such answer is the knowledge of where to find it. It is absolute, no voting should theoretically be necessary. Either the one person said what they thought at the point in time, or they didn't. It also does not seem to be a practical question for an existing problem a person has. Stack Exchange was made to answer practical questions that an actual person needs an answer to. "What was the designer thinking" is not such a question. It's just idle curiosity. We all have it, but that doesn't mean it has a place on SE.

On the other hand, "why is that rule this way and what would happen if I changed it" in my eyes makes an excellent question. Assuming that is actually a question the person has because they have a problem with the original rule, then we have everything that SE is made to do: we have a real world problem of a real person that can be answered by subject matter experts using their experience. Maybe people did that and can share their findings. Or maybe there is a theoretical construct in the rules that makes if obviously unbalanced without even trying, just by playing through an example situation.

So, I am in favor of leaving game designer reasons out, because the question is just a resource request, not a request for experience from experts.

I am also in favor of allowing to ask "why" or "what would happen if I changed it", because that is the exact opposite: a request for experience of other users that have already done so and can report back their findings.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are "Why does X rule exist?" questions not also answered by block quotes from sources? If not, how are their answers not primarily opinion based and nothing more than conjecture about why a rule might exist? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22 at 12:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Exempt-Medic the point of the Q is that we seem to be overzealously interpreting any "why" question to be "what was the designer thinking" when we can instead use an analytical perspective - "what changes about the system if the rule doesn't exist or is different?" Questions that want to know a designer's thoughts are off-topic. Questions that want to understand the ramifications of a rule are on-topic. Both questions can be written "why does rule X exist" - so let's stop closing questions that can be reasonably answered the latter way just because someone might read them in the former. \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Feb 22 at 13:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Carcer If that is what nvoigt intended, then I'd like to see it expressed. I was genuinely confused because, as far as I could tell, they never said anything about an effort to reinterpret "Why?" questions. If what you've commented is what nvoigt meant in this answer, that's perfectly fine; I just do not see this answer stating that that is actually what they mean \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22 at 13:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ FWIW I don't think that designer-reasons questions have no value and do think that knowing where to find those answers is valid expertise that questions could draw on, as Praxiteles' answer to a previous meta describes well; the issue with these questions was never that they cannot produce high-value answers (because they can and have) but that they tend to attract so many bad answers that they required a disproportionate amount of moderation. (Maybe now the community is larger it wouldn't be an overwhelming amount anymore, but who knows.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Feb 22 at 13:25
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Exempt-Medic Here is one of my questions that asks "why" that was alleged to be a designer reasons question that clearly is not: Why does the Amulet of the Black Skull specify that you cannot use it to teleport to another plane of existence? Might be a good example of the kind of thing nvoigt is talking about here. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22 at 13:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Carcer It's worth noting that we probably should be closing "why" questions. If the asker is OK with "what is the impact on the game system of X" rather than "what were the designers thinking when they wrote X" then the question can be promptly cleaned up & reopened. That's technically what closing is for: temporarily blocking answers while we improve the question into an acceptable state. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage Mod
    Feb 22 at 13:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage Unless the question is clearly asking for a designer's reasons I think it's already in an answerable state and shouldn't be closed. Edit it to clarify, sure, but it doesn't need to be closed before that happens, if the only purpose of editing is to make sure we rule out designer-reasons answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Feb 22 at 13:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Carcer in a world with infinite moderation resources, absolutely. In practice, I think the word "Why" may be an attractive nuisance for bad answers and comments. \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Feb 22 at 16:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin You underestimate the extent of my lurking on the site. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22 at 17:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov I would note that of the three questions that Black Skull question originally asked, I objected to only the "why was it designed like this?" question - and since that has been removed by a recent edit, I have no objections to the remaining questions. If you think the edit still captures your intent, then I was just objecting to the original wording, which made it seem like a designer intent question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Feb 25 at 8:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ I wouldn't say I was 'triggered' by the use of 'why' in the title, but within the context of the question it did make it seem to me like you were actually asking why the magic item was designed the way it was. If you were asking only 'is this property redundant / is there a case in which it is not' - then at the very least stating it as a 'why' question was the source of misinterpretation on my part. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Feb 25 at 16:02
-4
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Who of us is the designers of the games we play?!

There are only very few in the community that actually design the games they play. BESW might be the only prolific one. Everyone else can only be guessing and clutching for clues on what the designer really wanted. As such, the biggest problem becomes apparent:

Designer Reasons attracts unsubstantiated answers

Unless the designers have said "Yea, I thought about this or that when designing X" or "I wanted to make a game that does this", there is no way to know. However, people just can't stop from attempting to answer questions... and then inject their own interpretation. Of course, it must have been Mr. G's cat that inspired him to make cats the most deadly creature for a commoner, right?! WRONG! That's just wishful thinking!

We are a StackExchange, we need to adhere to citation rules of some sort so we can claim that we are expert answers and unsubstantiated answers are BAD.

There is a tiny bit of gold in the Designer Reasons, but too much rubble!

Bad answers clog the Queue

If people write bad answers, especially ones that seem to resonate with people, then people need to flag those to get the dreaded "add citation" box. Which in turn means we load the mods. If they have to fight through tons of answers on DR questions and sift if that is unsubstantiated stuff told the writer from a friend who got it from his cousin who once had a dinner date with the girlfriend of the reporter that had a 2 minute phone interview of the designer... Then that is workload that is totally not needed when there is already enough work from people being rowdy or unkind in comments or just cleaning up after our comment streaks.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think I'm with you in principle, but I'm pretty confident your last paragraph is not a problem of any real substance. We're pretty low volume anyway, and I really don't think handling bad answers to these questions would present any real challenges to the mods or usual reviewers. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 2 at 19:34

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