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In this question, the asker tagged his question with . He also tagged it with and .

Is this contradictory or in some way contrary to the spirit of the tags in general? If so, it seems like we should enforce some kind of rule that a question with should have any system-specific tags removed. If not, then it's simply nice to know.

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The problem here is that wears a lot of different hats. has come to mean a lot of different things to different people at different times, and whether or not it can be combined with another tag depends on what happens to mean at the time.

to indicate a deep question

This is one of the few uses for s-a that even I can get behind. The idea is to have a single tag that someone can click on to quickly get a list of deep, soft, essay-type questions. "System-Agnostic" isn't a great name for a catch-all tag like that, but it's got historical precedent, folksonomy, etc.

For this use, will often mix with other system tags.

to invite non-rules discussion

Suppose you have a kind of soft question you need an answer to. You're using a specific system, and you'd accept something specific to that system. But you also kind of suspect that there's a more general answer and you'd be happy to accept that. So you throw on to say "hey, I'm okay with an answer that doesn't cite rules for this specific system."

I think it says kind of crappy things about us if we need to explicitly tag for this behavior. But maybe those things are true, and at any rate... People do this all the time.

For this use, will almost always be mixed with a system tag.

to refer to system-less, homebrew, and freeform

In very rare situations, s-a is used to refer to questions involving a system that hasn't been published. This is a bit of a misnomer, but folksonomy, etc.

For this use, will almost never mix with other system tags.

as top-level hierarchy

Some people consider s-a to be the top of this hierarchy:

In other words, a question that applies only to Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 gets only . A question that applies to Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 and Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition only gets tagged , a question that could apply to both Dungeons & Dragons and Vampire: the Masquerade only gets tagged .

This has always felt a bit redundant to me.

For this use, should not mix with system tags.

as completionism

Some people have the goal of tagging every question asked with a system. So what do you tag a question that isn't system-specific? .

For this use, will never mix with a system tag.

as totem against the people who play shudder that one system

The story goes that there's a barbarous horde of people playing one of the more popular systems (which one depends on who you ask). The theory is that these people will ignore the title, body, comments, system-tags, and answers to a question, but will immediately be turned aside if is invoked in the tags.

Heathens. Don't they know we're trying to talk about roleplaying games here?

Anyway, for this use should be able to combine with anything other than that one system.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Very good answer, leading to the question 'Should we try to separate some of these uses out, under different titles?' \$\endgroup\$ – TimLymington Jul 25 '13 at 14:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TimLymington Were RPG.SE my personal sandbox, I'd introduce "soft-question" and "home-system" (to include free-form) tags. Questions tagged exclusively system-agnostic after that introduction would get tagged "hat-of-eternal-shame" and closed (because all we can say about them is that they're not RPG-related). System-agnostic would then be purged. BUT... People really like System-Agnostic (even if they don't agree on what it's for). It's kind of a site mascot. \$\endgroup\$ – AceCalhoon Jul 25 '13 at 15:07
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If you're playing a specific game but asking for generic advice, I think it's reasonable to tag both and the specific game. That way, you indicate the desire for generic answers while also showing how it applies to the specific system (if appropriate).

This is quite similar to a recent discussion about when to use generic system tags like versus specific game tags like : Cross-system Fate tag protocol.

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Yes, they usually conflict. The questioner should choose one. In this case I'd say 3.5e is the most applicable.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Really? Interesting. I was thinking that system-agnostic was more applicable, since the question is very general and can apply to many different systems. I suppose I'd expect "3.5e" to be most applicable if it was a question about a particular spell or something. (Of course I may be biased, since I use the system-agnostic and gm tags to find interesting questions that I might be able to answer. If this only had 3.5e, I may have overlooked it.) \$\endgroup\$ – asteri Jul 15 '13 at 17:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ See Should I use a narrow system tag, or go broad if possible and use system-agnostic? - most of the time people should ask about their real problem, which is usually happening in one system, than trying to expand it artificially. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jul 15 '13 at 17:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah. Sometimes the problem can be generalised, but isn't starting general. Then it should have the system tag. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 16 '13 at 7:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Pick one or the other, but IMO System-Agnostic is (1) overused and (2) axiomatically the opposite of a specific system. \$\endgroup\$ – aramis Jul 18 '13 at 21:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @aramis I disagree on the second point: I see them simply as different parts of a spectrum of generality, and sometimes you care about both parts at the same time. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Jul 19 '13 at 8:33

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