This is regarding this question: How to handle player knowledge when they fumble a knowledge roll

As you can see from the revision history, SevenSidedDie and I disagree about whether this question should have the tag. Currently, it doesn't, and in fact has no system tag at all. The most recent revision states:

9 people disagree with the 4e tag, including the question-asker

which I presume refers to this comment and its 8 points, and the following one by the asker:

@Ernir: This question doesn't seem to be about the specific rules of fumbling, but more the general problem of player knowledge vs. character knowledge. OP should probably revise the question to clarify this. – Grubermensch Apr 16 at 15:33

it is dnd-4e :) yes i think the game setting is probably less relevant, i am more interested in player vs character – petex Apr 16 at 16:06

(though I fail to see how either of these have much to do with the dnd-4e tag, and the asker was the one who put it there in the first place)

So rather than debate this in comments or have an edit war I'm just going to ask here. Should this queston use the D&D 4e tag, or not?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ When in doubt, the question asker's wishes should be respected. As noted in my answer to the meta question covering this general issue, meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/a/3012/140. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Apr 20, 2014 at 17:17

2 Answers 2


Yes, it should.

The reason why I added the tag is pretty simple:

  • The asker is playing D&D 4e and asking about knowledge rolls.
  • We're trying to solve their specific problem. That's why they're here.
  • Knowledge rolls have their own mechanics, advice, and surrounding player attitudes in the D&D system.
  • There are also edition-specific rules, advice and attitudes regarding how knowledge rolls work.

Answers, therefore, should know the system and edition in case there's anything specific and relevant to leverage. By contrast, if an answer is made without D&D 4e specifics, it'll only help the asker to the extent it works in D&D 4e - if they don't work in D&D 4e, the answer will be unhelpful or, worse, misleading and harmful. So we need to be able to judge those answers in the D&D 4e context.

The exact system and edition were relevant to at least one answer which attempted to draw on edition-specific rules regarding the issue.

So there's gain for the asker in having a system tag, and potential loss of helpfulness to the asker in solving their issue if we don't have one.

Plus: they're playing D&D 4e. The tags are supposed to describe the content of the question. Why is this not tagged with D&D 4e?

I feel like this question has been actively messed up through removal of the system tag. I'm honestly surprised this has even happened, especially from a user with this level of experience with the system. Luckily, the question stated the edition, so answerers they could surmise the context, and it turned out okay.

There's prior discussion on the matter too.

Ultimately I'll point back to this: Should I use a narrow system tag, or go broad if possible and use system-agnostic? - which got both mxyzplk's agreement and various other peoples' support. (In fact, seeing how well supported this idea was is a major reason I took that question to meta.)

The central idea there being: always ask about your specific system to get a solution to your exact situation and problem. Only ask in a broader context if you're genuinely interested in having broader answers and they're useful to solving your problem. (I see no indication this is the case here, nor should someone be asking about resolving specific mechanics in a systemless context - we'd close the question as too broad!)

Further, whether other systems outside the asker's narrow scope can benefit is immaterial to how that question should be tagged: people playing one system can learn from another (we do not tag questions based on which other games the answers are also helpful for, that would be terrible) - if people playing other systems don't find sufficient help from this narrow question, they can go ask their own version within their own context.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Agreed. If you think your answer would benefit someone playing 4e, but you aren't familiar with 4e's rules, post it anyway with appropriate disclaimers and hand-waving. If you don't think your answer would help someone playing 4e, then why are you asking the poster to ruin their question? \$\endgroup\$
    – AceCalhoon
    Apr 20, 2014 at 15:42

The system shouldn't be in the tags. It should be mentioned in the body though.

The community has gone back and forth over system tags for a while, but the current consensus I'm aware of is that questions do not always need a system tag. As a rule of thumb, if the system is merely "background" information it doesn't go in the tags. That goes for any tag—if it's merely background context helpful for the answerers, but not what the question is about, then it doesn't go in the tags. At best, it gets mentioned in the question body.

In this case, the system is background information. The asker doesn't want or care about system-specific information, and is asking about the general concept of hidden rolls.

Our consensus on making questions narrower doesn't apply here

This isn't a matter of the original asker making the question artificially broad out of a misguided sense that it would help more people. The question they have simply is relevant to most RPGs, as it's about one specific detail of how people can handle rolls. The question is comprehensible and complete without system information—it's not "missing" their real problem behind an artificial broadening.

The concept of hidden information "leaking" into the metagame is a specific, narrow issue that we can have questions about, just like a question about how to play women as a man is a general concept applicable to many RPGs, but is itself a valid, narrow question without having to stick a system tag on it.

In fact, we have a community custom where, when people ask a generally-applicable question where it seems the system is merely secondary, we will advise them to remove any system tags so that the question gets wider viewing. This is exactly the sort of question were we would have done that if they had originally tagged it [dnd-4e].

So, this question is the inverse of the case in our narrow-question meta: if their (not-too-broad) question is naturally general, should the asker narrow it down to their specific system when possible? The answer is the same: no! The asker should ask the question they have.

This asker is already off the D&D 4e plantation

The asker has implemented fumbles in their game. People seem to really hate that fact, but the question isn't asking for people's opinions about that. People seem to really, really want to tell them they're doing it wrong—but they shouldn't, because the implementation of fumbles is presented in the question as a mere background fact, a given. And since they're already not playing 4e "right", the relevance of the [dnd-4e] tag is even weaker than normal.

They're not asking for us to pass judgement on that house rule, they're asking how to handle player knowledge when the player would know from the roll information their character wouldn't. A question that would be substantially unchanged without the fumbles, note. In fact, this is exactly what a high-voted answer did: passed judgement on the house-rule without even answering the actual question. That is a terrible failure of the SE system.

The asker didn't want it to be system-specific

The asker originally declined to put a system tag on it, on purpose. When asked, they said that the system isn't the important part of the question, the important part is the issue of character-player knowledge differences. They added the tag only afterward—but of course they did, because the comments were conveying the impression that it's a big damn deal and they'd done it wrong.

Based on the asker's own words identifying the core of the question, it might (at best) call for the tag. Though I don't think that's necessary either, since not every question on the site needs a system tag. Also, that would discourage mentioning D&D 4e in the answers, and we don't want that:

For helpful background context, the system deserves a mention in the body of the question. Answers can and should primarily address the general principle of how the GM should handle players gleaning "hidden" information based on seeing the roll—the core point of the question, the real problem they have—but adding 4e-specific implementation notes is a good bonus in an answer.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I think that the advice to un-system-tag broad questions "for more exposure" is more a symptom of problems in the community than an actual good practice. If we're having problems with bullying and excessive "D&D can't do that!" the answer is to deal with that, not run away from the tags in question. \$\endgroup\$
    – AceCalhoon
    Apr 20, 2014 at 18:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AceCalhoon That's a far distant second reason for doing it, as far as I've seen. Mostly it gets suggested because the question simply doesn't need the tag, and the suggestion is a gentle way of having the asker do the editing themselves, and in the process educate them about how to use our tag system. Most other sites have a "tag with EVERYTHING you can think of!" paradigm, but that's the opposite of our tagging paradigm. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 20, 2014 at 18:21

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