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We should split up and make it just be for actual recommendations of games. This has come up before, but hear me out, because we only need to create one extra tag to offload all the other stuff in it that isn't recommendations of games, and we're using the tag weirdly to avoid something that isn't actually a problem after all. And the new tag isn't , which belongs in a bonfire.

Recent history

A while ago, in Has [system-recommendation] grown too big for its britches?, the idea came up to have a general recommendation tag. That wasn't a good idea. The heavily supported idea was to have some individual *-recommendation tags. mxyzplk wasn't keen on having a whole set of recommendation tags, which is pretty reasonable!

Thus game-rec became the general shopping tag to avoid having a bunch of different recommendation tags.

The issue is though, the tag is weird and confusingly wielded, as SevenSidedDie points out.

"Game recommendation" is meant to be read as either a recommendations of games to play or recommendations for stuff to use with a game.

...No, it's not ideal semantically, but the whole issue of recommendations is full of compromises.

Tags should be transparent in how they should be used, but we tag things that aren't recommendations of games with this tag. Theoretically it's our generic shopping tag, but we also have at least one category of questions we don't tag with game-rec, despite being recommendations for stuff to use in games: questions about props and craft. (And that's fine.)

The compromise (of using the confusing tag) isn't even necessary

I went through the most recently active 200 game recommendations. If you exclude [published-adventures] from the search, the last 200 active questions covers all game-rec questions back to the beginning of 2012. Based on those, is used only in two consistent and regular ways:

... And that's it! We also have 10 outliers in these 200:

  • Four questions that are actual campaign recommendations, without just asking for an RPG to play that fits a setting.
  • Two rules recommendations: 1 2. Rules recommendations usually don't come with the game-rec tag, and that's generally a good thing because the answer doesn't necessarily involve a new product. Consider our questions for: naval rules, aerial rules, mass combat rules, etc.
  • A tools rec: 3. Out of the 77 tools questions, many of which involve recommendations, only five open questions including that one also use the game-rec tag. One of these is an adventure recommendation. The remaining four seem to be breaking convention: the overwhelming majority of tools recommendations don't use game-rec, and these aren't asking for game recommendations.
  • Three questions asking for comparison between three games: 4 5 6. There's no recommendation happening here, and we don't use game-rec for our other system comparison questions. #7 might be a legitimate and run-of-the-mill game rec question, but I'm not sure - either way, it either fits the typical expected use of the game-rec tag, or doesn't need it at all.

(removed from this list: formerly numbered 2 3 5, which are perfectly OK run-of-the-mill game recs at a second look)

What's my point?

Almost every question in the tag is either a recommendation for a game, or for an adventure. Of the ten outliers, the six numbered ones belong to pre-existing well established categories of questions which typically do not need or use this tag, and so these six are breaking convention in using it.

Thus, we use our tag weirdly to avoid creating the following tags:

And possibly , considering those four campaign setting recommendation questions. However, I'm not convinced these warrant their own tag, nor do they warrant overcomplicating the game-rec tag. We have multiple well established categories of questions that involve recommendations but do not need or use a recommendation tag — I've mentioned two of them (rules and tools). At a cursory look through the questions in the campaign setting tag, we already have at least a couple of campaign setting recommendation questions which do not use the game-rec tag.

In 2012, we were heavily in support of *-recommendation tags. And there's only one (possibly two) tags that we need to create. So let's just create it - for a class of questions we've had all along - and make our game-rec tag specific to actual recommendations of games and drop this weird published-adventure/game-rec combo convention.

We can also have a permanent banner directly addressing games in a non-vague sense, because the game-rec tag will actually be about only one thing, instead of two.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Fully agree. I've always favoured this approach, but I never gathered the data to show that it would be simple. Thank you for doing it! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 27 '14 at 16:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ What real problem is this change solving? And many of those "shouldn't be using" questions you cite should be, they are asking for game, game system, or other game product recommendations... \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Feb 28 '14 at 1:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Four are "help me with these rules, are there systems I can learn from" questions (generally not game-rec), three are game comparisons, one is about character sheets. #5 is at a second glance a proper game rec. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Feb 28 '14 at 1:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ I thought I made the real problem clear. We have a tag used in a weird and confusing way. It is not being used the way tags should be used. It doesn't communicate well, and communications around the tag are weird because of this. Instead of this we can have two tags that are actually mean exactly what they appear to mean, and we previously have avoided having it that way because of problems that on closer inspection don't exist. Is that clear? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Feb 28 '14 at 1:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, and: the way involving two tags is strongly supported. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Feb 28 '14 at 3:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ But you see, 1, 2, etc. are recs - in fact, more on point for our old system-recommendation tag. I'm concerned your plan here basically discounts other legit uses of rec to make everything fit into those two boxes. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Feb 28 '14 at 13:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk if they're game recommendations, they're game recommendations, otherwise, they're like the other questions we have asking for rules, which typically don't use the game-rec tag and get along fine without it - i.e. those questions using the game-rec tag are not typical of that sort of question, so it's not a legit use of the tag for that kind of question, unless they're just run-of-the-mill game recommendations. Which is my point: we don't use it that way anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Feb 28 '14 at 13:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ They are basically "supplement recommendations." "Hey, what's a good mass combat supplement for 4e?" "Hey, what's a good LARP combat system?" They aren't for an entire game system but are definitely "shopping questions" and need to conform to the same guidance as all recs. [product-recommendation] is starting to sound better to me. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Mar 1 '14 at 3:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk In the past we've told people just asking for rules to not ask it as a game rec, but if they're legitimate as questions asking for games, they're legitimate game recommendation questions and fit under the game rec tag as it sounds like it should be used. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Mar 1 '14 at 3:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Meanwhile questions asking for rules - e.g. aerial or naval systems for D&D, advice on how to run large fights - have never needed recommendation tags, as typically the solution doesn't need a product specifically (but a product can be part of an answer). I'm not sure product recommendation is necessary, but if you think that is the solution I would urge you to post it as an answer so the community can weigh in. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Mar 1 '14 at 3:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Agreed, and I would also rename the original game-recommandation as system-recommandation. "Game" is an awfully broad term \$\endgroup\$ – Cristol.GdM Mar 7 '14 at 18:01
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Support.

I've seen this cause confusion (hence that comment of mine you quoted), and ideally we would solve that confusion. Some problems are hard to solve at all, but this one takes a mere single tag to solve, and that's about as cheap as an ideal solution can possibly get.

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I've had a side thought, and rather than muddy the question by adding this to it, I'm proposing this in its own answer to be voted on independently. Please treat this as a separate stance to the question's, since I'm not so sure of this as I am on the question itself and it's a very different proposal.

Yes, make just about game recommendations. However, contrary to the question: let's not actually create other recommendation tags. I think there actually isn't a need for it. I'll explain.

Besides recommendations for games and published adventures, we have a bunch of other categories of recommendation questions on this site: tools, online resources, rules for X in your RPG system, mechanisms for X in your larp, props, character builds, publishing services, and campaign settings (four use the game-rec tag, three don't: 1 2 3). Some of these involve shopping, others don't.

Significantly, these other categories don't have their own recommendation tags - they just exist within other tags on the topic.

However... I think is a special case here, and I think that's why that tag even exists to begin with: unlike all these others, there isn't really another fitting tag for those questions to reside in! The tag was made redundant long ago, and a or tag would suffer the same fate. So game recommendations have some need for a recommendation tag of their own - but other kinds of recommendations don't.

Over time, game recommendation questions also got identified as an area prone to certain problems, so it was pretty useful to have that tag to flag them as needing special attention - and now it's probably getting a permanent banner with that guidance offered perpetually.

Are there negative ramifications to this?

I don't think so. We won't uniquely identify published adventure recommendations, but I'm not sure if there's a particular need to. They won't have a permanent banner on them either like game-rec tags will soon, not having their own tag and all. The rest of the existing recommendation categories will be unaffected.

We can still have a permanent banner on game-rec questions, though, which is the area that absolutely needs a message like that, given the propensity for people to say "Sure, my system can probably do that."

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I may be misreading, or maybe it's the cold medicine fogging me, but the impression I get is that you're saying adventure recs won't suffer the popularity contest problems that game/system recs do? That, unless we discover otherwise, we shouldn't assume that they're problems? That people will probably vote their fitness to the Q's criteria, instead of "hey I like that adventure"? Is that right? If so, yeah, I think you have a point. I don't think I've seen pop-voting on adventures, just as we haven't on charop builds, tool recs, or etc. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 1 '14 at 19:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes - adventure recommendation's main problem just seems to be people not expounding enough on why the adventure fits the question, but those answers don't get highly voted. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Mar 2 '14 at 0:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Disagree - there's plenty of people that talk out their butt about adventure recs, setting recs, etc. Same exact GS/BS issue. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Mar 2 '14 at 4:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ And I'm also seeing a lot of tool recommendations that should follow the same strictures, e.g. rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/20072/… \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Mar 16 '14 at 0:05
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The solution I'd support here is going to a [product-recommendation] tag which would be our shopping tag and carry along the guidance, and then be modified by type.

Because there's plenty of system-recs, setting-recs, adventure-recs, tool-recs, etc. out there. And they should all follow the same GS/BS rules.

Alternately, creating them all and retagging, which would be a little disruptive. Though tools might be able to go straight to tool-recommendation in most cases.

Another issue is that sometimes people are looking for a "system" - but sometimes they're really just looking for a "game," which is comprised of a system and a setting and maybe even other stuff. Not everyone is eager to mix and match.

I think part of my problem here is the general unwillingness of folks to understand that really, the GS/BS guidelines should apply to everything here and not just rec questions, but we have only been successful enforcing them within those bounds. Many of the [tools] answers are bad and should have better guidance applied, for example.

I guess in the end this isn't an answer, it's more a statement of how all the existing answers are unsatisfactory and thus I feel like inertia is the best approach given no brilliant solution. I don't want to do a retag and jacking up of the front page when it's not really going to solve the problem and we're just likely to redo it.

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