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We, the elected moderators, wanted to take a minute to check in and see how the community feels like things are going on the site.

This community check-in has been done for the last few years (skipping 2020), and it was very helpful. As such, we'd like to share our thoughts and also get your feedback on what is going well and what we could improve. The process is modelled heavily on last year’s, but for everyone’s benefit:

How this specific Q&A is run so that we get good value out of it

One clear premise per answer

  1. We'll post some of the things we've done/observations we have/things we think still need improvement. Please share your thoughts as well! Make sure to note whether you think the thing you’re writing about is an improvement, a problem, or some mix of the two (one person might see the same change as bad that you see as good, or vice versa)...

  2. Post only one kind of thing per answer, so that when people upvote/downvote based on whether they agree or not, it's more clearly actionable. If you write an essay about 4 different things, it's not going to be clear what part(s) people agree or disagree with and thus it becomes difficult to act on that feedback. You can, of course, contribute multiple answers.

  3. Upvote or downvote the answers based on your agreement with whether you see that thing happening and whether you concur with the answer's premise (that it's good or it's a problem). (In other words, if someone says "We get too many questions about unicorns and I hate them," you would upvote if you agree, and downvote if either you don't think we get too many questions about unicorns or if you don't hate them.)

No long comment threads

  1. This post isn't the place to workshop solutions - if a particular problem gets a lot of votes, we should open a new meta question to do justice to that issue. Solutions hidden in a comment thread on one of these answers can not be clearly vetted and voted on, so they will tend to remain undone.

  2. If you disagree with an answer, use your vote, but limit comment usage. Consider that it’s possible to disagree with an answer’s take, but that it’s possible the issue should still be discussed in full.

  3. If appropriate, give your own answer, though having multiple answers on the same issue here is mostly gonna be hard to follow. If the answer would just be disagreeing with another answer, the effort would probably be better placed towards a dedicated meta.

As usual, the Code of Conduct, which we’d still like to summarise as Be Nice, applies to meta as well as the main site.

You may strongly disagree with other users or with the mods or whoever, but we trust that you can find ways to express what you like or don't like without being hostile or insulting to others. Focus on actions, rather than characterising people, and that extends how how those actions are characterised.

While we may have thoughts on things to bring up, in the interest of actually getting this started they're not gonna be here right away (read: we didn't want to delay this further in order to get those written). Hopefully others have noticed them too, and can beat us to it as well as bring up things we haven't picked up on.

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5 Answers 5

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The repeal of the "Don't Guess the System" policy has been exceedingly successful.

The Don't Guess the System Policy was repealed on September 3rd, 2021. The process was relatively free of controversy - no proposal for maintaining the policy was made, and the highest scoring proposal for repeal is currently scored at +65/-5: a landslide. In the time since, we have handled numerous questions with an unspecified system upon posting, my estimate based on poking around with SEDE is that we have handled somewhere in the realm of 80-100 questions that did not specify the game system. Under the old policy, all of these would have been closed prior to the OP themselves clarifying the system. Instead, most of these were able to get tagged and answered without ever having to go to closure review (I've added twenty-something system tags myself). We did recently have some discussion over the closure of one such question, but things were resolved in a timely manner, as is usually the case.

Overall, I would say the repeal has been a great success.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ the (felt) 10-ish questions that were still closed were exceedingly bad as far as I noticed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    yesterday
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D&D and Pathfinder questions continue to comprise nearly 90% of our questions.

Year D&D PF Total D&D % PF % D&D+PF
2016 2756 948 4499 61.3% 21.1% 82.3%
2017 3566 1300 5664 63.0% 23.0% 85.9%
2018 4717 862 6257 75.4% 13.8% 89.2%
2019 4705 765 6246 75.3% 12.2% 87.6%
2020 3616 507 4622 78.2% 11.0% 89.2%
2021 2272 496 3094 73.4% 16.0% 89.5%
2022 663 110 870 76.2% 12.6% 88.9%

As you can see, the proportion of questions related to D&D and Pathfinder games is remarkably consistent at just under 90% of our questions.

I'm just reporting facts here, I'll leave it to others to discuss the positives and negatives associated with these observations in their own answers.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm fine to have plenty of D&D questions... Is there some way of measuring views/votes etc. to gauge how welcoming the site is to non-D&D question askers? \$\endgroup\$ May 4 at 18:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AncientSwordRage I'm sure there is a way in SEDE, but that's outside of my wheelhouse. \$\endgroup\$ May 4 at 18:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's a relief to see the numbers have been holding steady. \$\endgroup\$ May 4 at 19:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Here's a per-year SEDE query for D&D vs. non Qs data.stackexchange.com/rpg/query/edit/1588304 and As data.stackexchange.com/rpg/query/edit/1588306 -- the takeaway: in 2021 we have about 8x as many D&D questions as non D&D and they get 12x as many views. Qs score a point higher when they're non-D&D and As score a point lower, but there are roughly as many answers per question for each. \$\endgroup\$
    – Glazius
    May 7 at 0:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thus far in 2022 we have 7x as many D&D vs. non-D&D questions with 15x as many views, and both Qs and As score a point higher when they're D&D. \$\endgroup\$
    – Glazius
    May 7 at 0:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Read "a point" as "10-15%" since scores average between 6 and 9. \$\endgroup\$
    – Glazius
    May 7 at 0:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Anecdotally, we seem pretty open to all RPGs. I know as someone 98% interested in D&D, I enjoy seeing the other questions, and often learn useful things. (Also, whoa. TIL of the existence of SEDE, available to end-users! I could go down that rabbit hole and NEVER come back.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    May 7 at 14:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jack You should expand that into an answer so I can upvote it. \$\endgroup\$ May 10 at 12:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd be interested in seeing what specific systems are most popular here, maybe like a top 10 list? (That'd get beyond the inevitable 5e - PF 1/2 - 3.5e topping the list, maybe not in that order). I don't know how to SEDE that though :( \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    May 10 at 17:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ESCE For all time, you could just check the popular tags page and see what the first ten system tags are. However, the drawback there is that it does not tell you anything about the stack as it is now. 4e is the 4th most used system tag, but has only had 11 questions asked this year. \$\endgroup\$ May 10 at 17:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ESCE Use this query to get top tags for a given year. \$\endgroup\$ May 10 at 18:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov thanks! That's very helpful!! \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    May 10 at 20:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ 10-ish percent non D&D systems does not feel very welcoming. Can we estimate the average score of a D&D compared to a non d&D question per year? \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    yesterday
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Activity is dwindling.

Users with the 25K privilege Access to Site Analytics can see for themselves: over the last five years (pulling a number out of my wool in order to ensure we're not overwhelmed by any signal unique to spring/summer of 2020) posts are down to about 1/3 of their previous volume, views are down to about 2/3 of their previous volume.

(Anyone with that privilege and an inclination to more-rigorously crunch/present the numbers, please feel free to edit ^^.)

Anecdotally: a few months back I started to run a game in an edition (and publisher) of Traveller that was new to me. When I had questions, rather than coming here--where Traveller volume is negligible--I went to the Traveller discord where hundreds of users are on any time I've dropped a question.

It makes me wonder if an age is passing....

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    \$\begingroup\$ For myself, I'm finding it easier to ask how my GM would rule it directly than asking the community here. You could always ask and self-answer those Traveller questions, if o ever pick up the game I don't want to have to hunt through a Discord for that . \$\endgroup\$ May 10 at 23:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Along the lines of what @AncientSwordRage has suggested - filtering through forums or discord chats to find an answer, let alone the answer you need seems terrifying to me. I come here because I know what to expect - worst case scenario; I find 4 different posts dancing around the concept I'm trying to answer, but not quite hitting the nail on the head, so I ask it myself. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben
    May 10 at 23:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ I should have been clearer: I don't trawl the Traveller discord for answers, I pop in and ask a simple question, get a few people chiming in within tens of minutes, and have met all my needs that way. (I'm sure it helps that Traveller is a very well-established franchise. Then again, I'd be shocked if the Storyteller or PbtA or FATE discords weren't similarly friendly and active.) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    May 10 at 23:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes but for the next person asking the same question; they would have to do the trawling; that's where this site comes in handy \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben
    May 10 at 23:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ben Both this site and Discord have search functions. Discords often even have channels exclusively for rules questions, so searches can be limited quite well. That said, searching through Discord would likely be more difficult due to one thing: a lack of tags \$\endgroup\$ May 11 at 0:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ The edition that created an explosion around the time you and I joined up is reaching it's mid life crisis (5.5e is lurking, eh?) and we have accumulated a decent library of asked and answered questions. Which means that the intent of this stack is being met: useful answers are already there rather than being crafted. But there are also other venues where similar discourse goes on. When this site started, Discord (among others) was nowhere near as robust as it is now. Also massively jealous that you get to play Traveller. 😮 \$\endgroup\$ May 11 at 2:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast By decent library, you mean over 20,000 questions :P \$\endgroup\$ May 11 at 13:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Yes, though I am not sure if dupes are counted inside of that number or are excluded from it. \$\endgroup\$ May 11 at 13:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast We have 17,236 non-closed, non-locked D&D 5e questions right now. \$\endgroup\$ May 11 at 13:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ I personally stopped using the stack as much as I did after the whole situation with one of the mods of Workplace a while ago. It made me rather upset at how Stack Exchange as a company handled things, and made me lose faith in the site in general. Now I just pop in here every now and then. \$\endgroup\$
    – T. Sar
    May 13 at 17:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've not been around long enough to know, could this be related to how strict we are in regulating participation? For example, I could see that with 17K answered questions, it may be quite a bit harder to ask one that has not been answered before now, and may lead to a lot of first time querants having an unpleasant experience when they try. Do we have statistics on the ratio of posed to closed questions over time, or on how likely people are to participate after their early questions get closed? \$\endgroup\$ May 14 at 16:53
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Rule intent questions?

It is a bit disappointing how long it has taken to get a verdict on rule intent questions. The scores settled on the meta over two months ago, with votes currently sitting at an overwhelmingly positive +27/-1 in favor of "On this one, I think it actually should be up to ♦ mods". A month ago, in this comment linksassin stated:

we are in favour of seeing them return in some form but haven't reached a consensus on what that will look like,

indicating some level of general agreement about the direction to go. This comment was on this post, How can I ask a good designer intent question?, which was closed, with myself and doppelgreener providing close reasons in comments:

I’m voting to close this question because for now, designer intent questions are off topic, so the only answer to this question is “you can’t”. The mods have said nothing about permitting these questions again, so we should wait until they make that decision and hear what they have to say about it before we try to write guidance. – Thomas Markov Mar 22 at 22:22

I agree this is a little premature to ask. They're not allowed right now so this is jumping the gun; if they stay gone then no guidance is relevant and the effort is wasted. Moreover the nature of their return will inform how we handle this kind of discussion. KRyan's argued that "designer intent" is not even well-defined in our current community operation. Will we deprecate its use as a concept? The way forward for how we even frame approaching this issue again is yet to be fully determined, whether by the mods or anyone else. Mods might lead that discussion but we should have it first. – doppelgreener Mar 23 at 3:13

Linksassin's comment from above continues:

However I'm not opposed to the existence of this question, an answer guiding what the community feels a good 'designer intent' question looks like may help shape how we approach this moving forward. It would also keep us accountable to actually getting this done.

I went on to suggest that meta was already slow enough, and that we shouldn't wait on guidance to take shape before making a ruling on rule intent questions; link responded:

Didn't mean to imply that we would wait on this meta, sorry if it came across that way. I meant that the community (if it wanted to) could use this meta to get started on creating the guidance which will be required while we are still dragging out feet trying to get organised. Basically, we will keep moving forward, if someone makes a good answer here we might take that into account but it (hopefully) won't change the timeline either way.

So do we need to reopen Akixkisu's question and move the discussion along as link suggested? Is there something we can do to help you guys move this one along?

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    \$\begingroup\$ If the mods aren't sure how to proceed but are generally in favour of bringing them back in some form, perhaps it would be appropriate for the mods to bring this back to the community: we want to proceed in this direction, here's what we've already determined, here's where we're stuck, how should we handle this together? That would bring us back to the kind of platform Akixkisu was aiming to provide, but one informed by the current state of affairs. I'd recommend this even if the mod team's no further than the decision to bring them back somehow; there's no shame in being stuck on this one. \$\endgroup\$ May 3 at 13:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Could we at least get a comment from a moderator here? It's been nine days since I posted this and none of the moderators felt compelled to acknowledge it with a comment, so my disappointment continues to grow. \$\endgroup\$ May 12 at 15:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov I would rather they took a month to reply than rushed a response. That said a "We're working on an reply" comment would work in the mean time \$\endgroup\$ May 12 at 16:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AncientSwordRage It’s been 75 days. They have already taken two and a half months to reply. \$\endgroup\$ May 12 at 16:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov I was solely referring to "It's been nine days since I posted this and none of the moderators ...". \$\endgroup\$ May 13 at 13:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ We are kicking around some thoughts on this topic. It had drifted towards the back burner due to some other issues that came up since the meta question on the topic, but this answer has pushed it back towards the top of our to-do list. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage Mod
    May 13 at 14:56
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As far as I can see, my reasons for no longer posting here have not changed. I come back every few weeks and up/down tick question or answers of interest to me, but can no longer see the point in actually using the site in any other way. There are better forums when if you ask a question you are not treated as some student that needs to learn how to ask a correct question. The fact that there was even rules about "having to specify the system" when someone might have wanted a general answer, or "asking about designer intent", is all part of the unfriendliness that I and others pointed out many years ago.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the feedback. Upvoting/Downvoting questions is still a valid and appreciated way of using the site, and the note that you don't see the point in using the site any other way is something I think as a site and community we should take on board. When you say "having to specify the system" do you mean the recently repealed "don't guess the system" policy or more the idea that a system tag is so key that one must be used? \$\endgroup\$ May 13 at 13:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree that "Asking about designer intent" is a tricky one. On the one hand we had too many speculative answers for D&D where the actual intent was super unclear. For other systems it's a useful concept! I wish we had an easy way around it \$\endgroup\$ May 13 at 13:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ If the question is "How do I kill my enemy?" then the answer for Traveller is quite different from D&D5e which is different from PPP where the answer is "You don't, you cuddle!" \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    May 13 at 20:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ I emphasize with this. My impression is that the bar for getting a question closed is too low. Between "Opinion Based", and "Need Focus" (even when similar open questions exist), it can be difficult to get a question posted if someone opts to oppose it, and it really feels quite arbitrary. Likewise, the bar for "Duplicate" seems very low. It may be that is all as intended and helps to make the site better. For me closure discussions although civil in tone, have been a majorly negative experience, and I can easily see someone give up and not return. \$\endgroup\$ May 14 at 16:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with the better forum part of this answer, but I don't think that this makes the stack any less valuable as a resource. The stack does some things very well, and in other areas, it is unusable. I think it is acceptable to require multiple tailored venues to get the desired feedback. The built in system doesn't always feel pleasant, but it delivers results and that is desirable. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    19 hours ago
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    \$\begingroup\$ I once went to Waffle House with my kid brother, and he insisted on ordering pancakes, which Waffle House obviously does not have. He was remarkably upset about this, and decided it was Waffle House's fault he was upset and that Waffle House needed to change. I think about this sometimes on the stack when I see users who come to the stack expecting an open ended discussion forum, when that's just not what this place is. \$\endgroup\$ 14 hours ago
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov the difference being that Waffle House didn't have 5-6 wait staff come up to your kid brother and say "We don't do pancakes!" all at once. At least I hope not. \$\endgroup\$ 13 hours ago

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