Be mindful to enforce our normal quality standards on question seeding
When the D&D Next Playtest started, we saw brand new territory open up to ask questions nobody had asked yet. And there was a points incentive to ask them! This lead to a gold rush of sorts, which was fine, but the collapse in quality that happened was not fine: Why Are Our 5e Questions Terrible?
By far our primary issue was “read this text back to me” style questions: someone indicates new material and asks us to explain it. Crucially the question describes no actual problem understanding the text. Such a question is essentially just an invitation to copy+paste/rephrase the material. These questions are answered, frequently self-answered, exactly that way.
Normally we wouldn't accept these questions. If you ask how something works without expressing any particular problem and it seems pretty plain and clear to us, we'll close your question as needing details/clarity, and ask you to explain what research you've done and/or what trouble you're actually having here. But when it came to playtest material we seemingly waived this quality bar completely for a long time, allowing no end of questions that had no real, actual problem anyone faced.
Essentially there's what I'd characterise as the Points Siren happening: we get so excited to ask and answer new questions because we can get Points for it, and in the process the Points Siren has us waive our better judgement and lower all our usual quality standards until the site's languishing in low-quality material. (Something something metaphor about being dashed against the rocks something something.)
The solution is to resist the Points Siren and apply our quality standards as normal in spite of it. That means:
- Constrain your questions about the new material to actual problems you're actually having: things you don't understand, things you're having trouble with in play. Don't ask “read this material back to me” style questions no matter how tempted you are.
- As readers, be judicious about the questions you see about the new edition. You can answer this new question and maybe get some points or updoot people, but does this question actually pass our usual quality bars? Is there a real problem they're actually having here? If this question was asked about an older edition (pretend it makes sense in context), would we accept it?
There's other issues to be mindful of too. For example, a recurring theme was impossible questions, like “How does the Sorcerer work?” when the Sorcerer did not exist yet in the material being asked about. These were essentially a user's efforts to get their foot in the door very early because it'd be inevitably asked later in some form. Thankfully the Points Siren didn't cause us trouble here and we correctly determined each time that these questions needed to be closed and left for when they could actually be answered. It'll be a thing, but it'll be a thing we'll resolve as it comes up.