I've been looking through the tag, and it looks to me like it's not a particularly useful tag. Here are my thoughts:

  • The tag is not specific enough, as it doesn't say much about the question.. Saying that it has something to do with the GM doesn't really help anyone in looking for questions. Additionally, as far as metadata goes, this isn't that great.
  • The presence of tags like , , , , , , etc. obsolete the tag.

The second point obviously needs a bit of justification. So, here goes.

What are the community's thoughts on this? Should we begin (slowly) retagging these questions where appropriate, or should we keep the tag?

Does this tag have a purpose I'm not seeing?

(Quick note: I've read this question and I think this needs significant revisiting. I don't think a synonym will cut it, in this case.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow, please excuse my horrible, horrible grammar errors. Apparently my Midnight Brain does not like grammar as much as I'd hoped. \$\endgroup\$
    – user8248
    Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 8:06
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Can you find any questions that you think are good examples of the tag? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 10:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Brian I've been looking for about fifteen minutes, and I'm having trouble finding a good question with just [gm]. I found this one, but I think the [gm] tag is still too broad for this question. I just don't know what to retag it with. \$\endgroup\$
    – user8248
    Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 18:37
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Honestly, the gm tag doesn't fit, but the remaining tags fit well enough that it doesn't need that one. \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    Commented Nov 18, 2013 at 11:00
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Kill it with fire. \$\endgroup\$
    – okeefe
    Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 19:29

4 Answers 4



I don't think the tag has any real value, and I think burnination would be useful. The more specific "gm"-based tags will show up when someone starts typing gm into the tag field, which right now are often ignored because there's . With that tag gone, people will more often stop and consider the more specific tags the interface suggests to them.

The only drawback is that currently synonyms to , to catch people who use the D&D-derived term. People typing dm aren't going to get any of our gm-tags suggested to them. Fortunately, there are only six relevant* tags that contain gm, so we can easily set up synonyms for their dm equivalent. (Big credit goes to Ellesedil for suggesting this when I was staring too hard at the trees to see the forest.)

* I'm not counting because "DM" doesn't ever see use in that term/meaning.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ other option -> blacklist both tags. \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 14:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @waxeagle For [gm] that makes sense. For [dm], then they won't find our tags when typing dm though, and if they just give up on adding a dm-type tag we may lose intended metadata. We will probably tell what was meant from the body, but then we're still doing retagging work. I don't think retagging work is avoidable so long as we have no usable tags that contain dm. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 18:08
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Or... create a set of dm-* synonyms for all of the gm-* tags? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 21:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ellesedil *face-palm* Right, yes! Clearly I'm unable to see the easy, obvious solution. There aren't many gm- tags, so it won't be a pain to make synonyms from their dm- equivalent. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 21:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep. There's only 9 tags with "gm" in them, including the plain "gm". A couple of those aren't in the scope of the question, but I'd argue we should probably have some "dm" synonyms for them anyway seeing as there aren't many. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 22:49

So, here's my plan for dealing with this:

There should only ever be a couple of these at the top of the list at any time. We don't want to flood the front page and active tab with old questions. As such, I'm making a goal to edit two of these questions every day. No more, no less. This should be enough to get the job done, but (hopefully) not enough to irritate anyone.

However, there are 160+ questions with . So, this would take ~100 days to complete. In order to expedite this process, the following questions do not need editing:

  • Questions with the that do not need any other GM-type tags
  • Questions with that are properly tagged with other, more specific GM-style tags

In other words, we don't need to remove from questions if removal is all we would be doing. That can be done all at once without bumping through burnination, should we decide to do so.

This should significantly limit the amount of work to be done. Yay.

Does the community agree with my approach? Anything which needs improving/obvious holes?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Sounds like a good plan. +1 \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 0:29
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Here's a search for questions with the 'gm' tag, but without a '*-gm' tag or a 'gm-*' tag. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 0:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep, working well! Thanks again! \$\endgroup\$
    – user8248
    Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 0:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you ready to do this? All changes and replacements have been done? \$\endgroup\$
    – C. Ross
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 16:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @C.Ross Well... yes and no... A while back, I did a couple dozen of them. However, there are still a lot of questions out there that could potentially use retagging. I'm going to leave this up to you guys, as I'm not sure where the balance point is between time/spam to retag and the benefit of retagging... \$\endgroup\$
    – user8248
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 16:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @C.Ross apologies for the double notification - If it's a satisfactory solution, I can go through the highest-voted questions over the next few days and retag those? \$\endgroup\$
    – user8248
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 16:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Emracool Sure, just @ me (here or in chat) and I'll burn it then. \$\endgroup\$
    – C. Ross
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 16:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @C.Ross The total number of questions is now down to 75, and the highest voted question is now at 11 votes. I'll pass this back to the moderators to make the final decision. I'll keep editing these questions at a rate of four per day until you three feel ready to burninate. Thanks again! \$\endgroup\$
    – user8248
    Commented May 5, 2014 at 6:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @C.Ross It looks like the number of questions matching this search has dwindled down to diminutive. It also looks like the tag itself is, too. Just an FYI? \$\endgroup\$
    – user8248
    Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 2:04

You know, maybe we shouldn't, after all.

It's been almost a year since this proposal to burninate was made, and we still have (as of this writing) 88 questions tagged with it, more than half of which don't have any other gm-related tag.

Yes, it's still a big mess, with many questions using the tag gratuitously, just because the asker happen to be a GM, or a GM is somehow otherwise tangentially involved. But so are the other gm-related tags, too, and we can't just burninate all of them.

(Well, technically, we could. I'm just saying that we probably shouldn't.)

Part of the reason why the tag hasn't gone away, and also why it's stayed a mess, is that it had a simply awful tag wiki excerpt that just defined what a GM is, but offered zero guidance on how and when to use the tag:

"The Game Master runs the game, including having final say over how actions are resolved. Also referred to as Dungeon Master (DM), Referee, Storyteller, Master of Ceremonies (MC) or other titles, depending on the game."

I just submitted an edit suggestion to improve it, so that it'd recommend using the tag only for questions about the role of a GM, not for any random rules / play-style / etc. questions that just happen to somehow involve a GM (usually as the person asking the question):

"Questions about the role of the Game Master (a.k.a. Dungeon Master (DM), Referee, Storyteller, Master of Ceremonies (MC), etc.) in a role-playing game."

(As usual, further improvements are welcome; it's called a tag wiki for a reason.)

As it happens, that was before I found out about the existence of this burnination proposal. The edit is currently pending was just approved as I write this, and I do believe that it's an improvement even if this tag is to be eventually deleted, as it should at least cut down on its rampant misuse.

However, it also seems to me that, with a more focused tag wiki, further cleanup of the worst misuses and enforcement of its proper scope for new questions, this would actually make a perfectly good tag.

Furthermore, having a general tag for questions about GM-ing would allow us to tidy up the current mess of tags like , , and .

In fact, there's now a proposal going on to burninate , and one of the arguments originally made in favor of its deletion (besides the fact that it's also a huge mess, and kind of meta by its definition) is that, when used properly, it's basically redundant to . (That proposal, which is now featured on the community bulletin, is actually how I came across the tag and, subsequently, this meta thread.) Meanwhile, the tag also has its share of problems, indeed not unlike those that have plagued this tag.

In fact, even at the risk of inviting downvotes by being too specific, let me present my own modest and tentative proposal for dealing with this mess of tags:

  • Keep as the general tag for questions about GM-ing. Remove it from any rules questions etc. where it's just used because the asker happens to be the GM.

  • Merge into ; when used properly, those tags are all but synonymous. (Yes, is arguably a bit more specific, but IMO not enough so to warrant two distinct tags.)

  • Burninate as a pseudo-meta-tag (or mod-merge it into ). As typically used, it's essentially synonymous with + "I'm a newbie," and even when not used so, it IMO still adds no significant value over just using , assuming both are cleaned up, anyway.

    (This is probably the most controversial part of the proposal, so let me explicitly note that it's also an optional one. If the community feels that we really need a separate tag, then let's keep it; it'll be a bit redundant and meta-ish, but no more than it currently is.)

  • Leave , and as they are for now. Yes, has its, well, problems, but those are probably beyond the scope of this proposal. The others are, IMO, pretty much OK as they are.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Per my answer above, I still don't think that [gm] has real value, since we don't need a general-GMing tag and we actually do want more specific tags like [gm-techniques] or [gm-preparation] or [campaign-development] (no "gm" in it!) to be used instead. And I do think it is harmful in that it interferes with users self-tagging properly. That harm, plus lack of value, plus value in burninating it to remove its harm, means my opinion remains the same. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 30, 2014 at 21:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie: We're always going to have at least one catch-all GMing tag anyway, because GMing questions are on topic, should be tagged, and will always include some that don't fall under any more specific tag, no matter how many of those we create. Currently, we have two: gm and gm-techniques (because, honestly, anything you do or don't do can be a "technique"). That's a duplication we should fix, one way or another; that said, I'm open to the argument that gm-techniques might be less likely to be misused for questions where being a GM is just a distraction. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 13:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ps. @SevenSidedDie: Just out of curiosity, how would you tag this question? Despite what I wrote above, I find it an uncomfortable fit for gm-techniques, since "following the rules" doesn't really seem to deserve the name "technique", and none of our other gm-* tags seem to fit. I guess it could just be tagged dungeon-world with no other tags; I suppose that's a valid position, if you really feel that it being about GMing is not, per se, something worth tagging. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 13:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ We don't need a catch-all tag, we need tags for specific things, else they're not useful. We don't need a "players" catch-all tag for the same reason. [gm-techniques] is supposed to be for specific techniques, not for general "GMing". That question should just have [dungeon-world] on it: questions about GM-side mechanics don't need a [gm] tag just like they don't need a [player] tag for player-side mechanics. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 19:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie: As someone who has [gm*] (and [new-gm], [world-building], [rpg-theory], [gaming-style], [system-agnostic] and [sandbox]) in my favorite tags list, I do sort of personally beg to differ on the utility of being able to distinguish GM and player questions by tag. Granted, that's mostly because I have very little interest in the "How does this rule work?" questions that make up, IME, about 90% of the "player-side" questions here (and a smaller fraction of the GM-side one). What I actually wish is that we had a [rules] tag, since then I could just ignore it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 21:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's actually why more specific tags are what we need. Not every GM wants to read everything that would be tagged as [gm], some will want to read [campaign-development] and ignore [encounter-design], or some other combination. A catch-all interferes with that. The DW question above is a rules question, for example, so for your needs it's right to not have a catch-all GM tag on it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 22:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ ...which kind of goes to show that no tagging system is perfect for everyone, because I do find that question somewhat interesting despite it being a rules question. Not so much for its actual content, mind you, but for making me go "hmm, that's an interesting mechanic, maybe I should try DW sometime." Anyway, I guess we might as well agree to disagree; the (sort of) nice thing about tagging systems is that it doesn't really matter much. They're never perfect, but they sort of work no matter what you do, or don't. (Just look at SO!) We've lived with [gm] so far; we can live without it, too. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 23:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I tend to agree with this; we're kinda just using gm-techniques instead of gm in some kind of attempt to clarify you shouldn't use gm just because you are one or were talking to one... \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 3:06

I've burninated away the few dozen uses of this tag. Nowadays with our more developed tagging taxonomy we had no shortage of more preferable tags. The only questions I felt might still deserve the tag in some sense were closed, which I don't think is worth keeping the tag around for: How do DM's avoid burning out? and How to make the GMs job easier?

trogdor: this tag has been BURNINATED


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