As a relative noob to the site and RPGing, I just wanted to gather suggestions of where noobs with basic questions about RPG mechanics or rules (which aren't considered "expert" but are valid questions) should be directed (online)? Is chat an appropriate venue? Are there SRD options for all/most of the games represented on this site? I realize this is a topic of some controversy on the site, but I think it is a valid concern. We were all noobs at one point, and trying to learn the game in isolation is harder than some of us perhaps remember ...
1\$\begingroup\$ FYI downvotes don't count against you on meta. That said, good question. \$\endgroup\$– C. RossJul 17, 2012 at 12:39
This question varies by game; there's a hundred places. But I don't think that's the real question here. On a normal forum the response to questions like this is likely to be more hostile than here on SE, where we discourage RTFM/LMGTFY answers. Isn't the question more about how to learn a game?
And meta isn't the right place to ask the question. "Teach a man to fish" questions like How do I get started playing Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition by myself? are perfectly fine and I would encourage more of them, and/or better answers to those that exist (that one's a bit neglected).
I'd like someone to start a new question like "I have read the D&D PHB but am still having trouble grasping some of the basics, how can I learn more?" and have noted that in various comments, but no one's done it.
1\$\begingroup\$ Perhaps we should better distinguish between "simple" or "novice" questions and "RTPHB" questions. I think our stance is that if your question indicates you didn't read the rules at all, or do the most basic of Googling, it's probably not right for the site. We certainly accept novice questions here. \$\endgroup\$– C. RossJul 17, 2012 at 12:41
\$\begingroup\$ Fine enough :) I don't mind starting such a question ... with full credit to you. \$\endgroup\$– CatJul 17, 2012 at 12:41
\$\begingroup\$ Yeah, "simple" questions are fine, just not "super basic questions that 99% of people grasp immediately from reading the book." I think it's more of a matter of efficient learning. If watching 10 minutes of an actual play video podcast is going to answer your first 200 questions, please do that instead of burdening us with them. \$\endgroup\$– mxyzplkJul 17, 2012 at 12:44
\$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk And respect for the content owners. We don't want to reproduce the PHB or equivalent resources here. \$\endgroup\$– C. RossJul 17, 2012 at 12:45
In my view (mostly based on my experience with Board and Card Games), the issue isn't "expert" vs. "basic".
Something like "Why does D&D have the Take 10 rule and how do you apply it?" is a beginner question. But it's totally a legit question for the site.
I think the big distinction here is whether a question is, erm, well-formed and well-suited to the format. Because Stack Exchange organizes "threads" around a single question and a small set of answers, ephemeral, chatty questions don't work in the Stack Exchange format. That's because these sorts of questions are really conversation-starters, and SE Q&A assumes that the initial question will fully encompass the core issue that you're having. If you can articulate a question in those terms, I think it's fair game, even if it's a "newbie" question; if you can't, I think it's a sign that your question isn't clear enough in your own mind to produce fruitful answers.
So, what can you do with ephemeral, chatty questions? Take them to Chat! Talking about them is likely to get you an immediate answer (for trivial issues) or at least help you refine it to the point that it is a Stack Exchange question.