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Under the post Does anyone know if there are any rules for Materials refinement in Pathfinder & DnD type settings or similar?, there was a discussion in the comments about whether or not this counted as a "shopping for games" type of question (as described by this meta post: Are Game Recommendation Questions On Topic, Revisited).

To me, this did not sound at all like asking for what games had the given features. Rather, it seemed to be looking for specific instances of a type of rule in a "single" game system (single here referring to the fact that many people cross over material for 3.0, 3.5, and Pathfinder 1E).

It doesn't seem to be an opinion-based question asking for the best system to use; rather, it seems like a pure fact based closed form question. "Where in the system I am already playing in might I find rules for this concept?" doesn't sound like game shopping at all.

Thoughts?

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    \$\begingroup\$ There's also a quote in the shopping meta, "You can ask a more focused question like 'Does Roll20 do X, Y, and Z?'" which seems like it could be equivalent here to, "Does 3e/etc. contain material refinement rules?" \$\endgroup\$
    – brandon
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 18:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Another question that shows the odd place that content-identification is in. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 19:27

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Game-recommendation questions were closed because everyone kept just recommending their own personal favorite game system for every question, and didn’t back up those claims the way we needed them to be backed up.

Specifically, when the problem of everyone just recommending their favorite system was first discussed, the solution was to enforce Good Subjective, Bad Subjective by requiring answers to cite actual experience doing the specific thing asked for in the recommended system. That is, we would just get inundated with answers of the form “I’m sure my personal favorite system would be great for this because...” and that wasn’t good enough. Our first step was to try enforce it through moderation tools.

It didn’t work. We still got bad answers, almost exclusively. Hence the revisit.

In short, while in theory we could have provided answers rooted in expert opinion (i.e. educated and backed-up, Good Subjective), what we actually got in practice was answers rooted in personal opinion (i.e. just a feeling, no real basis, Bad Subjective). Moderation tools (and moderator effort) just wasn’t up to the task of preventing bad answers to these questions, and/or there just weren’t enough people qualified to give good answers.

But that situation has zero similarity to this question. What’s specifically absent here is the recommendation—the querent wants to know if there are any such subsystems, not asking for any opinions on which to use. That could be a problematic list question, if there were tons and tons of them, or it was open-ended, or we expected the list to just keep growing over time. But none of those apply to a game that’s nearing 20 years obsolete.

The reasons for banning game-rec apply only to game-rec, and that’s the only thing the site has ever had consensus on.

There was a large discussion in which the community reluctantly agreed that game-recommendation had to be made off-topic, because of all these problems.

In response, the ♦ moderators of the time declared all recommendation questions off-topic. There was never any discussion of this, there was never any consensus built for this, and there was a major fight over it on the topic of tool recommendations. In the end, the ♦ moderators of the time simply declared “we are the moderators, and this is what we have decided.”

This was not, to put it mildly, how the system was supposed to work. This was not, to put it mildly, a good time for the site. No one on the site should be giving that “policy” the breadth it claimed; it was claimed illegitimately.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Ouch. I'm only now starting to branch of from my home stack exchange of math.stackexchange.com, and there our only real discussions on meta are about how much original content a poster should have before we help. Thanks for the history! \$\endgroup\$
    – Alan
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 20:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Making a compromise: the digression about recommendation questions network wide has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil Mod
    Commented Dec 15, 2022 at 12:49
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Does there exist official D&D 3.5 rules for refining materials?

This is not a shopping question.

Does there exist official Pathfinder rules for refining materials?

This is not a shopping question.

While my specific goal is to find D&D and Pathfinder specific materials... "Compatible" materials / rule systems are also acceptable.

This is a shopping question. This sentence from the question makes it into a shopping question. Any and every third party or homebrew ruleset with relevant content is an answer to this part of the question. I think this falls afoul of what BESW is talking in response to the question Can we ask about the existence of a game?:

To my dismay, I think "Does X exist?" is usually a very poor fit for our site. I'm not advocating a blanket ban, but they should be looked at carefully because they often fail to meet existing site definitions of Good Questions. This sort of question tends to suffer from not explaining the problem the querent is trying to solve; I'll talk about why that makes 'em hard to answer in a way the site will find useful, and how there's an existing solution to this problem when it arises.

If I don't give an example to support an answer of "yes," then most affirmative answers to this sort of question wind up being just a terse unadorned "Yes, X exists." That's not the quality of information this site wants to accumulate. Answers should provide support for their conclusions; we frown on "left as an exercise for the reader" implications.

However! If I do give an example to support an answer of "yes," then it quickly becomes indistinguishable from a recommendation that doesn't explain about why that particular thing is being recommended. Each answer mentioning a different example can be equally right and the voting breaks down.

The scope of the question, as it is written, is too broad, and amounts to seeking recommendations for third party or homebrew rulesets to use if official rules don't exist (which they don't). Remove that last line from the question, and it's a rather straightforward "does system have rules for thing?", which is something we've handled before.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Even if I posit your point as true (Not sure about that yet, going to have to think it over), would it not be of more value to include the actual problematic part in a comment to the OP? As in: "Remove the compatible system line and the question becomes good" is far more useful feedback then "This question isn't allowed for this shopping rule, that one has to work through a logical maze to consider" \$\endgroup\$
    – Alan
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 20:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Alan Certainly. It took further reflection for me to get there. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 20:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ A specific set of rules compatible with a particular game is not, of itself, a request for a game. Everything you have quoted is specific to game recommendations, which this was not a request for even if we ignore the part where it’s not actually a request for recommendations, either. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 21:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan So as long as a question is not asking for recommendations for an entire game, it is on topic? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 21:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Yes, as far as actual Meta consensus is concerned; that is the only thing that the site actually agreed is off-topic. Tool recommendations maybe though the entire discussion of that was tainted. Nothing beyond those two things has ever even been discussed. And I see absolutely no reason to expect this question to run into any of the problems either of those had. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 21:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that “how do I solve this social problem” is almost universally asking for a recommended solution. If you truly believed that every recommendation request was off topic, you should be VTCing nearly everything in the problem-player tag. (And others too) \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Commented Dec 15, 2022 at 4:45

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