# Is the [mechanics] tag useful or a problem?

The tag seems to get applied reflexively by askers to all sorts of questions that are unrelated apart from asking for clarifications. It does have a tag wiki and a few (7 as of now) followers, so maybe that indicates that at least a few people find it useful?

I noticed it just now as I was cleaning tags from questions. Unlike the almost-always-redundant tag though, seems to get used a lot. Is there a useful difference between them? Should be a synonym of ? Should we have a tag instead, or would that be too much a metatag?

It seems to me that lies in a grey area that lies between metatag-ness, redundancy, usefulness, and over-use.

I don't have an opinion, which is why I'm asking. It's a funny-looking tag to me—too funny-looking to be able to form a coherent opinion either way. Thoughts?

For reference, here is the original discussion of the [rules] tag. Arguments against the [rules] tag might be applicable here and vice versa.

• I know I tagged a question recently with rules on a question but I think that rules-clarification would have been a much better fit. – etank Jul 14 '12 at 21:37
• @etank No criticism implied (in case it was felt), since tagging policies is very much inside-baseball to a given SE. In fact, you get Internet Karma for showing up on meta so quickly! Most regular users don't come back here, let alone new users. :D – SevenSidedDie Jul 14 '12 at 21:44
• As a matter of record: the mechanics tag was blacklisted in September 2014. – doppelgreener Feb 2 '16 at 6:44

I don't think it's useful to have a mechanics tag. "mechanics" is really just a synonym for "rules" in the context of gaming. The vast majority of content on rpg.se probably qualifies as "game mechanics" content. If you want to tag questions about developing new games, or house rules, use other tags that are less ambigous. [house-rule] and [game-development] might be good ones to use.

• Agreed. I think splitting this into one tag for house rules and one tag for new game development would be the way to go; that gives us tags with names that clearly refer to specific usages, something [mechanics] doesn't do. – Oblivious Sage Jul 22 '12 at 16:05
• I did a quick survey of the 15 questions on page 1 of [mechanics]. About half of them - 8 - are actually official rules questions (which really don't need the tag), and another 1 is really [house-rule]. 2 are already [game-design] questions, and another 1 probably should be. The remaining 3 are really 'problem-solving' questions that had few or no answers actually about mechanics (Kitsuiko's Q about city building, for example). I suppose there's an argument for "[game-design-mechanics]" or "[game-design-systems]" to cover the game design Qs, but otherwise we should lose it. – Tynam Jul 28 '12 at 8:16

I would think that [mechanics] should properly only be used when developing mechanics for a game, not asking for any rules clarification. "Effects of using a 3d6 vs a 1d20 resolution mechanic" or "How to create a game mechanic that causes X..." Those are legit uses ([house-rule] assumes this isn't someone developing a mechanic for others to use...).

But no, it shouldn't be used for "Hey wait how do I use Feint?"

• To clarify: you're saying not only that [mechanics] shouldn't be for "Hey wait how do I use Feint?" type questions, but further that there shouldn't be any tag for that purpose. About right? – SevenSidedDie Jul 15 '12 at 3:42
• Correct. May as well tag it [question] or [rpg] for all the good that does. I can see the temptation to tag [mechanics] if you really do want a mechanical solution not advice or soft stuff on a question where people are likely to do that though I suppose. – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Jul 15 '12 at 14:10
• Isn't there just a game-design tag for that? – Alex P Jul 23 '12 at 16:10
• Less specific. Some locals' opinions to the contrary, a RPG is a lot more than game mechanics. – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Jul 23 '12 at 22:51
• @mxyzplk is right; the vast majority of questions tagged [mechanics] should just be tagged with the system the mechanics are wanted for. – Tynam Jul 28 '12 at 8:19

What about for system agnostic mechanics? That sounds a bit redundant, but I bookmarked this a while back. http://www.gnomestew.com/gming-advice/steal-this-trick-legends-token-and-bidding-system-for-social-encounters It's a mechanic that can be applied to any game and makes social skills more interesting. Were I to ask about it or other mechanics of the same class, I'd probably use the mechanics tag coupled with system agnostic.

• I think that sort of thing deserves a tag of its own, perhaps [portable-mechanics]? My reasoning is that the folksonomic meaning of [mechanics] is "how does this game rule work", and giving tags mixed meanings strikes me as a bad idea though I'm not sure what the official guidance on that is. – SevenSidedDie Jul 27 '12 at 17:20
• @SevenSidedDie I like the portable-mechanics tag and would prefer it in this use case. – valadil Jul 27 '12 at 17:43
• Then we can start using it! :-) – SevenSidedDie Jul 27 '12 at 17:51
• I'm not even convinced it needs that much; [system-agnostic] plus [game-design] seems to cover it. Certainly [mechanics] doesn't add anything to that. I don't like that the tag only seems useful when paired with another; that's an SE no-no. I suppose [system-agnostic-mechanics] is an option. – Tynam Jul 28 '12 at 7:57