When I visit SO or Workplace.SE, I see the voting as a feedback what to improve. I can see that when I put work into my post and have knowledge on the subject I get positive votes, when I make mistakes or are hasty, I get negative votes. Workplace.SE, as a more adult-oriented site has way better feedback mechanism, because people actually leave comments upon downvoting.

RPG.SE feels like a bunch of youths, that either like what you said, or not. This site does not convey a feeling that what you said is somehow helpful or not, but rather if you are in the "in-crowd" or not. If random passer-bys like what you said, irrespective of the actual content.

Take this question as an example:

A single answer was upvoted 4 times. It keeps to the points and does not mention any real experience.

The other answers were downvoted. Probably because of @mxyzplk game recommendation comment.

My answer was downvoted twice.

But fact is, apart from the actual game recommended, my answer looks 1:1 like the answer that was upvoted 4 times, yet it was not upvoted once, but instead downvoted twice. Someone must have found it not only lacking real experience, but even found it worse than all others lacking it. Without any comment on how to improve it.

This leaves a feeling of helplessness. I don't know what to do. Can I improve? How? By recommending a game people like better?

Currently, this site does not feel like Stack Exchange quality, it feels like random votings.

  • 10
    \$\begingroup\$ Just a heads up, that game recs comment is site policy for those questions, it's something we agreed on here on meta and if people don't meet that then their answers should per that policy be downvoted. Generally if people downvote because people aren't meeting the site's guidelines which are clearly stated in the question, then there really isn't a need for a comment indicating why. It should be obvious. \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    Mar 1, 2014 at 18:07
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ So tell me why the downvoting is only on my post? Why did I get two downvotes and a perfect copy of my post got no downvotes, but 4 upvotes? I don't question the downvotes per se, I question the fact that the voting is so random. When I look at the post with upvotes and my post, what would you learn from the difference? What would you improve? \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Mar 1, 2014 at 18:13
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ The downvoting isn't only on your post. It's on all of them. With your rep, you just can't see them. Game recs is a site policy as wax eagle said. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    Mar 1, 2014 at 18:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @wraith808 The post recommending Apocalypse World has +5/-0, at the time of my writing it had +4/-0. Are there any hidden modifiers to that? Where would I see that downvote you are talking about? \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Mar 1, 2014 at 18:16
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ There are no negative votes to that particular question, because it follows the rules. All of the others have -tive votes. That's why I didn't get why you think you're being piled on. If you can see the +/- (sorry... I assumed you couldn't since you were discussing that point and the others obviously have -tive votes) then you can see them also. No other mods. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    Mar 1, 2014 at 18:20
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @wraith808 Can you explain how it follows the recommendation rules? I could find no indicator that the poster had played this game ever before. At least no more than in my post. \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Mar 1, 2014 at 18:27
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It is not in a separate section- I think most of the better questions don't include a section on personal gameplay- its evident in the answer. I can't explain it any more clearly than that- I know not exactly helpful in that regard; which is one of the reasons when confronted with this, I had the same response- I'll add some stupid section if it's more important than my response. As I stopped looking at it personally, I began to understand. Stop taking it personally, and trying to find fault with what people are saying, and look at the response with new eyes, and it might help. It did me. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    Mar 1, 2014 at 18:48
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ This is an interesting Meta question, but you've got it completely mixed up with the effects of our game-rec policy. Unless you can remove that example and bring in an example of voting that is not overwhelmingly controlled by policy issues, you're not going to get very good feedback here for what you're talking about. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 1, 2014 at 18:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie - I think that we sort of cleared that up in my answer below, and I was able to answer based on his real question. I think the question should be cleaned up to more clearly reflect this, but as I haven't edited questions on meta before, I'm hesitant to try to clean it up. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    Mar 1, 2014 at 18:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @wraith808 Yes, and very well responded, too. I still think it would be more effective to discuss a different example though, where the stuff about how we generally judge answers good or bad or neutral can be looked at in isolation from the voting patterns of game-rec answers. Because yes, there is a point about subjectivity to look at, and we do vote based on our agreement with someone's analysis. In this case though it's ironically confused with popularity contests because of our anti-pop-contest rec policy. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 1, 2014 at 19:08
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @nvoight I'm fascinated and feeling a little hollow at the fact that this meta thread exists. I hate the fact that you feel (or felt) helpless, and that I was somehow causal to that. \$\endgroup\$
    – As If
    Mar 6, 2014 at 8:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ ...I agree with you that up/downvoting works differently here than on other SE sites, but I'm not sure that means it's screwed up. I'm still totally confused by it, to be honest. I just answer what I can to the best of my ability, and move on. Here's a question that I think is related: meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/3170/… \$\endgroup\$
    – As If
    Mar 6, 2014 at 8:40

3 Answers 3


I didn't downvote your answer but...

"A gritty, fast, simple post-apocalyptic system"

I think you're kinda missing the elephant in the room: the question asked for a "post-apocalyptic" system and you only paid lip service to delivering on that.

Apocalypse World is a post-apocalyptic RPG through and through, with action rules, classes, and GM advice tailored to being the kind of thing it says on the tin. Thus, its big hurdle is meeting the other criteria, whereas it gets the "post-apocalyptic" largely for free.

Cyberpunk 2020 is, out of the box, not a game of this genre. That means there's a higher bar to actually getting to pass the requirements. You have to teach us how to make it a post-apocalyptic game, right there in your answer. Or at least provide some very, very good links! Otherwise you might as well just be pitching Your Favorite Game and saying "Oh, I dunno, make it work!"

Your entire contribution on how to make it work for the desired setting was:

If your setting is post-apocalyptic, pick an apocalypse of your choice to happen.


Cyberpunk 2020 is not an apocalypse game. For example it has no section on radiation, starvation or diseases.

In between, there's a whole paragraph about day jobs, hospitals, and government regulations restricting access to heavy equipment — this makes it feel like it's a generic recommendation you've kinda copy-pasted rather than anything tailored to the question.

Note how the Fate Core question got downvoted hard, too, for not saying anything substantial about "post-apocalyptic" play.

Experience in game-rec

So, the stuff above is compounded by the game-rec rules:

  • If I've played a "post-apocalyptic" game like Apocalypse World or Twilight 2000 at all, that's direct experience related to the question's goals. Just showing familiarity with the system and an understanding of how to apply its play procedures is a good sign that I'm not just pulling stuff out of your butt.

  • If I've played My Favorite Non-Apocalyptic System but I've never done a post-apocalyptic game with it, then, well, do I have relevant experience? Not really. So, ideally, I really should say something to show that I'm not just suggesting MFNAS because it's the best for everything while just handwaving my way past that annoying little "post-apocalyptic" requirement from my nice cushy armchair.

The point of asking for experience (does it actually work? hengh, that's a thorny question) isn't to create an arbitrary requirement to make me say "Oh, yes, I swear I did this for reals!" It's to discourage me from just spouting off something that sounds good but won't stand up to further scrutiny from actual play.

In your "edit", you added:

Let me say I played my share of "the world went to hell, try to survive" games in this system.

So, you have the experience! Share it! Highlight the most useful resources in the book, mention some play techniques, &c.


At first, your answer didn't convey real experience per our site guidelines. Then you added some, surrounded by verbiage about "the trolls of RPG.SE" and other hostile statements. I'm not sure why downvotes were difficult to understand. I'm also not sure how that behavior demonstrates maturity as opposed to the "bunch of youths." Since I've edited your answer to remove all the random attacks, most of the downvotes have evaporated.

If you want Stack Exchange quality, start by contributing it yourself.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The downvotes were before I added that. And I don't mind being voted down if the post was bad, I just don't understand why there is a post that is a perfect copy of mine, written at around the same time, which is not voted down, but instead got 4 positive votes. \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Mar 1, 2014 at 18:10
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ You could politely ask for feedback on the downvotes on your answer instead of lashing out, then. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Mar 1, 2014 at 18:12
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I did this the first two or three times without result and I did not expect it to magically work this time. Right now, every second post here I wonder why I would post here at all. This is a randomly hostile SE site. Sometimes people love you, sometimes they hate you. And the reason why is totally unknown and random. It's like a Facebook popularity contest, not how SE sites should work like. \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Mar 1, 2014 at 18:19
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ I've asked, and people have responded- and in other cases not. It's not a policy (something I've asked about before on meta, and there have been discussions). But it's not personal. Upvotes are related to content and composition- and downvotes are the same. People do tend to downvote a lot more when there is negative content, I've noticed. Just don't take it personally is my advice, and what has helped me. This site is for information, not making friends. Your rep shows that you can formulate very good responses, so keep that in mind and you should be fine. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    Mar 1, 2014 at 18:26

This particular example was a compromise on keeping game-recs. The alternative is to remove them altogether.

At one point, they were wiki'd, because they became an opinionated list rather than anything really useful that you can't find anywhere else.

If you really want to see the genesis of the question and the solutions, take a look at the following questions:

Has [system-recommendation] grown too big for its britches?

Are game recommendation questions on topic?

As one of the vocal mods on that thread, mxyzplk is very stringent on keeping people on point in that regard.

After some correspondence in the comments, I understand where you are coming from a bit more. I can't speak to everyone, but I did upvote the AW comment, and did not upvote yours, so I can speak to my reasoning.

The points in question from the question were

  1. Rules Light
  2. Non-Heroic
  3. Not d20
  4. Flexible and Fluid combat system
  5. Modern setting without anything weird.

First, to get to your supposition that the games are the same:

Apocalypse World and Cyberpunk are indications of two different eras in game design. That rough middle patch between Roll-playing and role-playing, and the new Story game renaissance. Based on that alone, from my experience playing, they are totally different creatures.

In terms of tone, Cyberpunk is more of restricted by its audience, and the fact that it was very popular commercially at one time. So it's edge is dulled, just like Shadowrun. It hints at an edge, but doesn't really have it.

In terms of interaction between the players and with the environment, in Cyberpunk most of it is artificial and at the whim of the GM. In AW, the whole game is exactly about this point.

To move on to the requirements for the question:

Cyberpunk is not rules-light, and doesn't have a flexible and fluid combat system.

This is my opinion, and informs my decision to upvote/downvote/novote. It is where RPG.SE is different from SO and some other quantitative sites (though it comes up there too, which is the reason for the Code Review SE). Unless you're talking about RAW, a lot of things to deal with game philosophies and views are based on opinion and experience. And that's ok IMO.

What we end up with in regards to upvotes and downvotes in those cases is a cross section of experiences and views on systems- which is what these questions are in the end for. I'd never downvote an opinion. My only reason for a downvote on this type of question are if you violate a rule. Even then, I rare use my downvotes, preferring instead to comment. On questions like this, because I disagree with the experience rule being an absolute ruler, I rarely downvote for not including experience, but instead upvote for it, using the downvote only in the case where someone lists a game and does nothing else.

I hope that helps. As I said in the comments on another question, your rep indicates that a good group of people here think that your contributions are valuable. Just don't take downvotes personally- that has helped me a lot.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you focus too much on the downvote. I'm downvoted because I did something wrong, ok. But how does it come that of two basically identically posts (Apocalypse World and Cyberpunk are about as identical copies as it gets when two people write it at the same time) one is voted "good" (+4, no downvotes), while one is voted "bad, better delete it" (no positives, 2 negatives). You can say "well, that's the community", but that's my point: this community does not vote like other SE sites. They do not vote for quality of the post (both are identical, whether good or bad), but for whatever else \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Mar 1, 2014 at 18:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt - Ah... if that is your point, I can relate why I upvoted that AW question, and did not upvote yours- perhaps that will help. I'll integrate it into my answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    Mar 1, 2014 at 18:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the lengthy answer. That clears up a lot of my questions. It would have been really nice if you had remarked this as a comment to my original post when you upvoted the other, because at that time I was looking at it wondering why there were random votes coming in. \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Mar 1, 2014 at 19:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, and also, Apocalypse World more self-answers "have you used this for a post-apocalyptic game" whereas "CP" or "Dread" or any other system not specifically associated with that genre does not. That may have been some of the cause of the discrepancy. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Mar 1, 2014 at 22:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt It sounds like you think downvoting leads to deletion. Deleting answers is a separate process from downvoting, and they are used for different purposes. Downvoting does not indicate that people think your answer should be deleted. An answer with downvotes is not automatically in danger of deletion, because that would be counter to the site's policies and purpose. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Mar 1, 2014 at 22:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BESW No, I'm perfectly clear about post deletion on SE sites. But I think the reputation system implies that anything you get net negative rep from is a clear sign that the community does not want it. Why else would you get net engative rep from it. It basically says: "to get positive rep, delete this crap". To me, "-6" reputation sends the message that the community thinks it would be better off without it alltogether. \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Mar 1, 2014 at 23:00
  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ I know that feeling, but what it really means is "there's something wrong with it, fix it." -- I've had posts where the whole thing was wrong with it, and yes, if you delete it yourself the negative rep goes away. I've had another where I missed something important and changed it and then it became positive, as seems to have been the case with your question. I sort of get your frustration about the first post being upvoted more than yours, but that's a different question to yours getting downvoted, yes? In my experience downvotes are quite structured, and yes, upvotes are somewhat subjective. \$\endgroup\$
    – Julix
    Mar 2, 2014 at 3:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt - It didn't happen at that point because I didn't understand your question at that point. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    Mar 3, 2014 at 21:58

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