We have separate tags for and .

I don't especially like this, for several reasons.

  1. It's kinda making an assumption about the problem that may not be warranted. Sure, sometimes one person is the problem, but sometimes you've got an issue where several people are responsible, or the asker could accept an answer that indicates that they themselves were the problem or that no one is particularly to blame. Tags that only really unambiguously apply after a question has been definitively answered are... not very good tags.

  2. It's loaded language. Saying that someone is a "problem player" or "problem GM" is making the gaming problem a the identity of a person rather than just their behavior.

  3. (Minor) I feel like these are making structural assumptions about the game that don't fit all games.

How about instead?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I honestly think that all problem GM and problem player questions and answers come down to either a misunderstanding/disagreement over rule 0 and the social contract in general OR that its down to a person(s) being a douche in general. Thus defining the role of the person is irrelevant to the tag and can be mentioned in question. \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Aslan Smith Jul 3 '13 at 16:11
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Can you find examples on the site where this is a problem? \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross Jul 3 '13 at 16:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @C.Ross This question brought up the issue. It's tagged with both because it's a problem with how the player asking it is being treated by both the players and the GM. \$\endgroup\$ – Alex P Jul 3 '13 at 16:25
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @AlexP Tagging the question as both seems to work just fine? I just don't see the problem. \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross Jul 3 '13 at 16:34
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Note (for reference and discussion) that we have [social], which serves a related role but is more general than the ground covered by the proposed [group-problems] tag. We also have [group-conflict], but that appears to be used to mean in-game conflict, not real-people-group-conflict. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 4 '13 at 1:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie group-conflict is a synonym for group-dynamics, which does pertain to the players, not the party. If we agree on a merged tag, I suggest making it (group-conflict) a synonym of that tag instead. \$\endgroup\$ – MrLemon Jul 22 '14 at 9:23

I agree, it's been bothering me too.

The language is passive-aggressive, in addition to your first two points. I do think that "not all games do it that way" isn't a very solid reason for changing a tag --because then we'd have to trash too. But as you say, that's a minor reason.

I suggest .

It'll come up when they start to type in one of the other tags, and it avoids any implication of number, role, or identity.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I like that problem-at-the-table moves it away from placing blame on 1 or more persons in particular. \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Aslan Smith Jul 3 '13 at 16:09
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ I don't actually think that [problem-player] and [problem-gm] are problem tags, but I like [problem-at-the-table] way more! We could synonym both previous tags to it, so anyone tagging with [problem-player] or [problem-gm] will automatically get the innocent-until-proven-guilty [problem-at-the-table] tag instead. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 4 '13 at 0:55
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ I think this change removes clarity for questionable political correctness benefit. Sometimes people are a GM having issues with their play group, sometimes they're a player having trouble either with their group or their GM. Sure, maybe the problem's them... But "problem-at-the-table?" that's a wishy-washy thing that describes 50% of the questions on this SE and removes information on the dynamic. May as well say "problem." \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jul 5 '13 at 16:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ What about just [social-problem] to indicate his is a problem between the members of the group instead of between characters in the game? \$\endgroup\$ – gomad Jul 7 '13 at 16:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ How about [problem-behaviour]? Since it's the behaviour of the player/GM. [problem-at-the-table] has a great ring to it, but is a bit of a euphemism and if taken at face value (e.g. by new users) is far too broad. \$\endgroup\$ – StuperUser Jul 9 '13 at 15:38
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ If there wasn't a problem-at-the-table, they presumably wouldn't be asking a question on rpg.se. I think it's too broad. \$\endgroup\$ – okeefe Jul 12 '13 at 5:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ The problem with "problem-player" is that it has a connotation that the player is a problem and doing something wrong, when often times it's just a disagreement with no right/wrong answer. The tag tries to assign blame. \$\endgroup\$ – Tridus Oct 4 '13 at 14:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ I just fail to see any real problem that's being solved here, and I think we're talking about removing common sense tags people use all the time with artifical constructed tags they will just be confused by. I don't support a change at this time. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Nov 21 '13 at 5:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk I think this should be an answer instead of a comment. It's clear that my suggestion never made it into practice, and newer suggestions have been made since, so your comment here won't get the visibility it should. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Nov 21 '13 at 5:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk Here's a problem it would (help) to solve. The "I'm being picked on" questions would be instantly improved just a little bit by having the "my GM is the problem" tag morph into "there is a problem in our group dynamic" tag. It's a minor benefit, but two birds with one stone is always worth considering. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 21 '13 at 9:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Even just expanding the tags to [problem-with-a-player] and [problem-with-the-GM] would eliminate the accusatory nature of the tags. \$\endgroup\$ – Wesley Obenshain Jul 18 '14 at 0:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ While I do see the issue, [problem-at-the-table] does describe much more than [problem-players] and [problem-gm], doesn't sound good (IMO), and most importantly, I think is unintuitive in terms of tagging questions. \$\endgroup\$ – MrLemon Jul 22 '14 at 9:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I came up with an idea for a merger tag, due to discussion in another meta, that I think isn't overly broad and can't be accused of being "wishy-washy", while avoiding assuming number, role, or identity even more than this. I suggest |group-conflict| as a more natural replacement tag. What do you think? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 2 '14 at 17:51

To follow up to BESW's answer, how about a merged tag?

Since the issue isn't the identity of a player/GM or their role, but their intentional or unintentional destructive behaviour causing the issue that the question is being asked about.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It would also depend on the SO convention for UK/US spellings or having duplicate tags for behaviour/behavior? \$\endgroup\$ – StuperUser Jul 9 '13 at 15:46
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Presumably we could pick one spelling and have the other spelling aliased to it. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Jul 9 '13 at 17:37

A blameless tag that describes nothing but the fact there is stuff happening. Also, this better conveys the kind of problem these questions universally deal with: something disrupting the game and the social group.

Naturally: synonymize and to .


I disagree.

  1. The lack of existence of a problem-GM tag as opposed to a problem-players tag makes the same assumption that you imply exists by its existence. There is clearly a school of RPGing in which the GM stands as a sort of adversary against the players, the rules to be used are the RAW, and both "sides" adhere to them. While it's not my own ideal style of play, it certainly exists. It's not necessarily a style I prefer to play but I think the site does a disservice by denying its existence.

    This is kind of a tough point to "grok", I apologize, but the issue that I am getting at here is that to a large extent language speaks the people. In other words, if we don't have a term for something, it won't be used. To that end, what I fear is that by replacing "problem-GM/player" with problem-at-the-table", we will be obliquely cutting off responses from players in "it's my way or the highway" style games because they assume that since we don't even have a word for problem GMs they must not be a "thing".

  2. I understand your point here but I think a tag like "problem-behavior" doesn't necessarily get at the particular issue a lot of folks want to get at when they use the tags. For example:

    How to handle a 'power-GM'?

    To a new player, "problem-GM" in this case may as well mean "I have a problem with this particular GM". The player doesn't know if it's a behavior issue or if it's just how the game is played, and since the whole point of the site is to answer these kinds of questions, I think the current vocabulary is useful.

  3. People whose games of choice have structures which do not apply to certain tags can choose to ignore those tags. It is impossible to anti-ignore something, i.e. to choose a tag which does not exist because we have decided not to acknowledge the existence of that other structure.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I think your point 1 is a red herring. I don't want a problem-players tag. I want an "I have a problem" tag that doesn't presuppose what the root of the problem is or label people. Nothing about adversarial or competitive play makes it more necessary to assign blame for failing group dynamics. \$\endgroup\$ – Alex P Jul 3 '13 at 16:22
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I understand the point (and have been trying to explain where I differ with BESW for like half an hour). My point is that for people who play in the adversarial style the "problem-player" set of behaviors is a largely different set than the "problem-GM" set, and because of that the different tags have a meaning for existence. \$\endgroup\$ – NotVonKaiser Jul 3 '13 at 16:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I edited point #1 but it may have actually made it less clear. :P \$\endgroup\$ – NotVonKaiser Jul 3 '13 at 16:32
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think there would be any loss of meaning in a question if they chose [problem-player] tag and it automatically morphed into [problem-at-the-table]. If the question's body doesn't make it clear that they are having trouble with a player, the question isn't finished being written and tags are not supposed to substitute for proper problem descriptions. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 4 '13 at 0:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay, after I've had some time to process this: I definitely agree that people ought to be able to pick "problem-player" or "problem-gm" and find the appropriate tag. Is it important that these be first-class tags and not synonyms, though? Currently "problem-gm" is kind of a vestigial little thing. \$\endgroup\$ – Alex P Jul 5 '13 at 19:16
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ There's ~5 players to every GM so I'd expect there to be more issues with a player than with a GM just by the ratio... \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jul 10 '13 at 19:45

I just fail to see any real problem that's being solved here, and I think we're talking about removing common sense tags people use all the time with artificial constructed tags they will just be confused by. I don't support a change at this time.

Sure, someone who thinks the problem is their GM, the problem might actually be them - but that's not how they will be looking to ask the question, or to look for existing answers to their question. And in the end that's what tags are for, not to satisfy our own sense of politically correct taxonomy.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "Confused by" is kind of a moot point if you just create some tag synonyms. \$\endgroup\$ – Alex P Nov 21 '13 at 14:23
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Synonyms are no replacement for clear taxonomy in the first place. The existing tags are fine and all the proposed replacements are goofy and imprecise. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Nov 24 '13 at 6:15

In this newer meta I've suggested as our replacement tag for and .


  1. It doesn't label any person as a problem.
  2. It doesn't assume where the problem lies, which might be where the asker thinks it is and might not.
  3. It's really clear what it means.
  4. No judgement is implied; conflicts happen.

Compared to (the top-voted suggestion):

  • Both tags have the pro of (2)
  • is clearer by being unambiguous and specific, while may get mistagged on problems of any kind, because it only implies "the people there" is what the circumlocution "at the table" means.
  • is more intuitive to discover for new askers and easier to type for experienced users.
  • is better for (1), of not implying that maybe someone is the problem.
  • \$\begingroup\$ Con: Might get used to ask about in-game group fights. (Though we can also see how it goes and untag it.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 2 '14 at 22:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I thought if that one, but didn't consider it a con in practice. All our tags about out-of-game group stuff can be mistaken for being about in-game PC parties, and it seems to not happen much or at all in practice. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 2 '14 at 23:16

Make [problem-gm] a synonym of [problem-player] and then, maybe, rename [problem-player]. [problem-gm] questions always come down to RAW and behavioral/play-style questions. The thing is, the GM is just another player. A player with a different role and agenda, to be sure, but he is as reliant on the group to play the game as they are on him and I'm not really sure what purpose having the tag split actually serves.

Of course, such a merge might require more careful policing of the [problem-player] tag to ensure people aren't using it for the "This was a stupid decision; am I right?" questions.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .