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Taking a look at the tag , I wonder what benefit it brings to our community.
Here is how I see it being used in / questions:

"I want to get correct answers."
Here and here are questions that I think really don't need a specific "rules" tag at all. In fact 9 out of 11 of the questions I read look that way to me. The question is clear and concise enough that nobody would think to reply "sure, if your GM allows it!" The question is obviously asking for rules-as-written.

"I want to house-rule something."
What is the best way to prevent abuse of the gate spell? is an example of where is used to describe the process of house-ruling something, which is completely counter-intuitive to me. We have a tag, which may fit here better.

"I want to force the rules to my situation."
This recent question about "legally" trapping a character underwater is what piqued my interest in this tag. It seems prone to argument and rather specific to the exact scenario - the type of question I would expect to have a tag. I'm not sure how I feel about the question as a whole, let alone the tag use.


In fact, of all 22 questions with the tag, only this ONE is actually about rules-lawyering. The rest all use the tag to describe the question itself, or the answers they expect, rather than the content of the question.

Is this how we should use ? I would be in favor of removing the tag completely.

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I agree with a bunch of the other answers but I wanted to sum up my view:

  • Is the rules lawyering tag redundant? Maybe, but not necessarily. [rules-lawyering], used correctly, is a subset of [problem-players]. That doesn't mean we should get rid of it, so long as it is individually valuable to specify that particular kind of problem. (Note that [dnd-4e] is a subset of [dungeons-and-dragons]; we like subset tags just fine, so long as they're useful.)

  • Is it a meta tag? [rules-lawyering], as it is used in most of the examples, is a meta-tag, but that's misusing the tag: it's not saying the problem is about rules-lawyering, it's saying that they want us to engage in rules lawyering. The very definition of a meta-tagging. It should be removed from such questions, if we keep it.

  • Is it valuable? Whether it's valuable enough to keep as a specific kind of [problem-player] subject tag, I don't know, but (due to my disinterest in the subject) I'll leave to others to debate.

  • Is a RAW tag useful? Yes, I would use a [rules-as-written] tag: I'd add it to my ignore list. Others would likely add it to their favourites list. That would be useful! That's one of the metrics for whether a tag is a good fit for a site: whether it can be productively use to search or filter questions to fit your interests.

    It may be argued that it would be a meta-tag, but I think there's an argument for it to not be one: used on a question asking about the rules-as-written, that does describe the question content. It does imply that answers should be written a certain way... but then, so does tagging a question [dnd-4e] imply that answers should be written about 4e and not, say, Wushu. I think a RAW tag would be a content-description tag, not a meta-instruction tag. Just like giving a "well you could do it like 3e does..." answers to [dnd-4e]-tagged questions, answerers are still free to submit answers that don't fit inside the tags, if they think they have a worthy answer and are willing to risk the downvotes from those who disagree. It's possible for someone to ask about RAW and get a good answer that say, "There's no RAW, but you could houserule like so". If it's a content tag that describes what their problem is with that's kosher; it wouldn't be if it's a meta tag that decrees what answers are acceptable.

  • Are [rules-lawyering] and [rules-as-written] the same thing? No. There is room for both a [rules-as-written] content tag (for when the question is about a problem they're having while sticking to the RAW) and a [rules-lawyering] tag (for when the Q is about a problem with the activity of rules lawyering). They're not the same thing, so it's not an either-or question. Whether we need one or the other or not, they're distinct tags with independent merits.

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    \$\begingroup\$ As I stated - there is one question I saw which used [rules-lawyering] not as a meta tag. If it's worth keeping for that one question, that's fine, but I agree it should be removed from the other 21 regardless, replacing with [raw] selectively. \$\endgroup\$ – dlras2 Jun 21 '13 at 18:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DanRasmussen Yeah, we agree there. I think [problem-players] would be enough, but we will get people looking for a rules-lawyer tag, so maybe keep it? Or maybe just synonym it? But again, I'll leave it's value up to others who are more invested in thinking carefully about it. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 21 '13 at 18:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Actually, synonym-ing it would be a really good idea, I think. People would understand immediately that they were misusing the tag if they wanted us to rules-lawyer, but we changed the tag to problem-players. \$\endgroup\$ – dlras2 Jun 21 '13 at 18:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm going to accept this answer to the top, because I think it nicely and succinctly sums up both my view and thew views of the top-voted answers. \$\endgroup\$ – dlras2 Jun 21 '13 at 19:34
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So, we discussed and got rid of the [rules] tag - What should the “rules” tag include?

Then we discussed and got rid of the [mechanics] tag - Is the [mechanics] tag useful or a problem?

Now this has arisen. I think people are trying to use it to designate "I want a rules-only - aka RAW - answer, not common sense or rulings or whatever." Perhaps a [rules-as-written] tag would fill that gap. But in the end, that is a meta tag. When we did away with the rules and mechanics tags. the general reasoning was "we don't want do that," those are bad tags by SE tag theory guidelines.

For rules-lawyering as describing a subset of problem-players, I'm not sure that carries a lot of additional value and it's not really how that tag is being used right now. It is somewhat valuable in describing a question about "a situation where I am trying to rules lawyer with my GM/players to find a loophole to screw them into something," which while I find that personally abhorrent as a playstyle is a technically correct use of tagging. So I'd suggest we keep [rules-lawyering] and give it a tag wiki that explains that context.

In the end I think if you want a "rulesy" answer, or a "rules as written" answer or whatever - you should just describe that in your question, as is usual for anything else you'd otherwise be tempted to use a meta tag for.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think I agree - I actually suggested a RAW tag in my initial wording but ended up editing it out. It also has a less pedantic, nit-picky connotation, at least to me. Asking "what are the rules-as-written" seems much friendlier than "rules-lawyering." \$\endgroup\$ – dlras2 Jun 20 '13 at 1:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, [rules-as-written] has the benefit of making askers think a little bit more (maybe.) That is, most questions are about rules, but I believe most people understand that rules-as-written has a more specific connotation. \$\endgroup\$ – dlras2 Jun 20 '13 at 1:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, Rules Lawyering has massive negative connotations to many players, and I wonder whether it tends to colour the answers that questions tagged with it get... \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Jun 20 '13 at 12:18
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This was originally a comment to @mxyzplk’s answer, which I mostly agree with, but it got too long and probably deserved its own answer:

Echoing mxyzplk’s suggestion of and the commentary suggesting that “rules lawyering” has massive negative connotations, I must agree. I actually would have thought of as a subset of – i.e. I've got this guy who is constantly badgering me with “but the rules say!” – but I don't think we need a tag for that (and ultimately the and tags worry me a little simply because they are so judgmental and obviously biased against whoever isn't the person asking the question). I definitely agree that “rules as written” is a more appropriate term.

However, I have two concerns with this.

Meta Tag?

The first is that might be a “meta tag,” which, as I understand things, are characterized by attempting to shape the answers, and are considered a bad thing. Personally, I’m not entirely convinced that meta tags are bad, but then I’m not super-involved in tagging and don’t really know the details. In any event, I think that there definitely can be a need for users to request that answers be by “rules as written” – either to satiate a legalistic DM or player, or to try to maintain consistency (e.g. to avoid a situation where your personal houserule response turns out to contradict official material that ends up forcing you to change yet more rules), so I support but I thought meta-ness warranted discussion now.

“Rules as _____” tags

I also have some concerns that this might lead to tags like or – these terms are frequently used in RPG forum debates (or, at least, in D&D forum debates), but I personally detest them because they are overused or inappropriately used.

In the case of “rules as intended,” they are often used as an invalid argument from authority – “my opinion is better than yours because clearly my interpretation is what the authors intended!” and are also frequently absolutely impossible for most of us to realistically answer – the only people who really know what was intended are the authors themselves, and unless they have made external comments on particular rules, it’s unlikely that one can provide any real evidence that a particular interpretation is intended. This tends to lead to unsolvable arguments and I would foresee a lot of such questions ending in either no real answers, or in bickering.

And as for “rules as make sense,” the simple fact is that “common sense” is a myth and just about nothing is innately “sensible” to all people. It’s basically a normative statement made by someone who has absolutely no basis for that claim.

So I’d really prefer that a new tag does not cause precedent for or tags. The intent of such notions is that “we accept that the rules don’t always work and we want to hear other options that disregard or change the rules,” but my sense is that really, that is the default on this site. That is, after all, why a would be used at all: to indicate that for a particular question, unlike the norm, we are only interested in something that can be directly cited to particular rules text(s).

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    \$\begingroup\$ I very much agree, especially about the connotation that [rules-lawyering] is a subset of [problem-players]. [rules-as-written] is a meta tag, and I don't think it's necessary, but obviously people asking questions do. I think it's a good compromise, as long as - like you said - it's used as against the norm, rather than prompting a [rules-as-intended] tag. \$\endgroup\$ – dlras2 Jun 21 '13 at 17:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Agreed that a RAI or RAMS tag would be a terrible idea. We can easily cite sources for RAW, we can't generally cite sources for RAI or RAMS. That might make it appear superficially as if we endorse RAW over RAI, but it's not actually a statement of site politics, just a reality of our guidance for what makes good answers. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 21 '13 at 18:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ I actually always thought RAI was Rules-As-Interpreted, which would make a better tag but is still largely unnecessary since that's a description of pretty much every answer here that deals with rules at all. \$\endgroup\$ – Lunin Jun 26 '13 at 0:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Lunin I have occasionally seen people use RAI that way, but rarely. As you say, that's pretty much a description of every rule decision. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 26 '13 at 2:11
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From my brief skim of the questions, the common bond these questions have is, "I believe I have found a loophole or an exploit, but I want confirmation before I take advantage of it. Does this thing work the way I think it does?" Since looking for loopholes and exploits is commonly perceived as the behavior of a "rules lawyer," that's the tag these kind of queries get.

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You know, I have to admit that I came into this agreeing with you, but looking over the questions that used the tag I am in fact seeing a decent rationale for it. All of them are about "I have a player who is gaming the system to make themselves overly powerful/able/otherwise messing my stuff up. How do I stop them?". Given that a certain percentage of RPG players are into it for the tactical combat aspects as much as anything else, and given that "rules lawyering" is a known trope in RPG playing, I think this does in fact qualify for its own tag.

To your idea of commandeering the social-contract tag for this use, I don't know, man. It seems to me - and please bear in mind that as an RPG player I am way, way over on the "RP and tell stories" end of the spectrum and not at all on the "optimize your character and hack and slash" side - that when you include this tag with these kinds of problems, you're already asking people to provide you with a very specific kind of answer, in this case the "you should talk this over with your player and discuss what you both can do to achieve their character goals and your storyline" answer. Certainly this would be the route that I would go with, but there are a lot of players/GMs who play the game the way it is depicted in Knights of the Dinner Table - with an adversarial GM and players who are going to use every trick in the book to get one over on him. Telling this kind of GM or group to talk it out is pointless, along the lines of asking your opponents in Monopoly if they would please agree to not re-roll their dice on doubles.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I heavily disagree that "All of them are about 'I have a player who is gaming the system.'" Only one is that I saw, and I suggested house-rules instead, which is what they were asking for as a solution. And I suggested social-contract only for the single question specifically about rules-lawyering itself, which I believe (again - that single question) is mostly about. If you'd like to include more examples of "how do I stop them gaming the system" I would love to see which you believe fall under that category. \$\endgroup\$ – dlras2 Jun 20 '13 at 1:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think this discussion is going to go anywhere good, so sorry, I'm not going to be able to cite the ones I think fit my criteria. \$\endgroup\$ – NotVonKaiser Jun 20 '13 at 17:12

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