I have been a little leery of responding to system recommendation questions for a while now. Per my understanding of the FAQ, I only respond to them when I know my recommendation will be a solid fit for what the poster wants. That said, it is unlikely that just one system will meet the parameters of the question. This being the case, it has struck me from the beginning that a community wiki format should be standard for this type of question.

Recently this question was posted regarding an easy to learn and use fantasy system. I noted in the responses that one by Aramis on WEG D6 Fantasy got nudged in comments toward a format change to meet the standards of the FAQ, while one by Gomad did not. Comparing the two, it struck me that the one by Aramis was much closer to what we are calling for in the FAQ than Gomad's. As I am not as active in Meta, or the main board as most of you, I thought that I may have missed some discussion or shift in policy which could explain what we currently expect. As I would like to contribute more to the site, I feel it is long past time that I asked for clarification which none of the previous discussions or comments I have read really address.

What makes an appropriate answer to a system recommendation question? According to my understanding of the guidelines, the responses should be based on experience of the actual use the question addresses, with support of some kind (an actual play link, or personal experience using the system to do what the question poser inquires about) being a requirement. Suggestions based solely on opinion or from reading descriptions of a game are to be discouraged or no offered.

With this framework in mind I am confused about what makes a compound recommendation of three systems (one of which is unpublished, one of which has not been played, and all three of which need unspecified and unsourced hacks to fit the parameters of the question) more in line with policy than one which is based on actual play experience and is formatted to directly address the questioner's criteria? There are other examples around, but this one was fresh and easy to find.

Hopefully this question is on the minds of other people than myself. If I were a new user jumping in for the first time I know I would be thinking that mixed messages are being sent on this type of question and associated responses.

(A related question is should we be voting up answers which we know do not follow the guidelines, but that is addressed elsewhere.)


1 Answer 1


We have provided guidance for sys-rec questions and answers in Are game recommendation questions on topic?.

"Why did this one specific question not come out according to the way things are supposed to go" is usually unanswerable. Because no one bothered to challenge gomad on adding experience to his answer? Because when someone challenged aramis on his answer and he (incorrectly) pushed back on "not including personal experience" it caused people that would otherwise challenge unsupported answers to back off? Who knows?

In general we keep going back and looking at system-rec questions because the continuous battle to make people not answer them shittily is draining and maybe we should just get rid of them.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I went and added the appropriate comments to both answers - that's not supposed to be exclusively us mods' job, we'd prefer it if the community self policed. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 6:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Fair enough. Your frustration is evident, and I am glad to see I was not missing anything. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 9:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Answering sys-rec questions well (not to mention voting on and policing the answers) is turning out to require some pretty serious inside-baseball that we can't expect even of high-rep users, nevermind Jane Average answerer and voter. We're not seeing community uptake of the sys-rec guidelines that would make it self-sustaining. I fear that sys-rec might be naturally becoming off-topic despite any desire we have to redeem it and keep them. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 27, 2012 at 23:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, it seems that way. It would be a shame to lose the type of question, as it is such a fundamental one, but unless a significant portion of users can bridge the understanding gap, the result will continue to be dissatisfying. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 28, 2012 at 4:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Honestly, this kind of sounds like "this question is hard to answer so we ban it". Barring a question because it's difficult to answer isn't just contradictory, I would say it's anathema to StackExchange. How can anybody be expected to answer this question in any way if not on a site like this one? And what purpose does this site have if not to answer difficult questions? Yes, I agree there's a lot of sensitivity and personal experiences that color the responses, but there simply aren't a significant number of game design experts that frequent the site, IMO. \$\endgroup\$
    – Bacon Bits
    Commented Dec 29, 2012 at 4:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @baconbits read the linked discussion. Game-rec has been named on many other SEs because of the crap quality they draw. We have tried to allow them here with guidelines on how to make them constructive. (Read those too, they value subjectivity and don't require anyone to be a game designer.) Those guidelines are largely being ignored which is limiting our options. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Dec 29, 2012 at 22:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BaconBits Answering sys-rec questions isn't hard – it gets done successfully on forums like rpg.net every day. Answering them well in our format is hard, and it's hard in a "they bend/break/ignore the fundamentals of the SE system" way, not a "this is a question that requires specialised knowledge" way. SE is good for the latter, but questions that bring in too much opinion just don't work here. Asking "I'm implementing a custom HTML parser, what programming language should I use?" on SO doesn't work either, because every answer will just be someone's pet language. Same with sys-rec. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 6, 2013 at 5:42

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