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In this recent answer, SSD stated the following:

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.

I've seen this practice play out like this a few times before:

  • Someone asks a question about handling X in their game of D&D #e, and give it the [dnd-#e] tag.
  • X is relevant to a broader category of RPGs, though the asker only really cares about solving their own situation. That's what they're here for, and it doesn't matter much to them whether X is relevant to a broader category.
  • Other community members, noticing that X is relevant to other D&D editions, suggest removal of the tag [dnd-#e] tag or remove it outright.

Is this something we should be doing?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Should I use a narrow system tag, or go broad if possible and use system-agnostic? \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Apr 21 '14 at 1:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not sure if it's a dupe, since SSD was saying in his answer this is a different issue. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 21 '14 at 3:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ That and this practice seems to be going with the opposite of the advice in that question, so it's worth calling out on its own. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 21 '14 at 3:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ No, you're just asking the same question for the third time. Yes, not everyone is abiding by the guidance, but having three questions on the exact same topic is just going to make that harder. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Apr 21 '14 at 3:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Third? What's the second? It isn't the meta question I'm linking to, since that's asking about a specific incident in order to avoid an edit war or comment argument. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 21 '14 at 3:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Go read my answer to that other meta question and tell me how it doesn't address these other two questions as well. I could cut and paste it into both. Asking the question in general and then about a specific question isn't really that useful. meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/a/3012/140 \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Apr 21 '14 at 3:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ That entire topic is only talking to people who aren't sure how to tag their own questions. I'm asking this to specifically address the attitude above, who, apparently, aren't addressed by the above question. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 21 '14 at 4:17
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I don't think we should be doing this. This kind of thing isn't a practice I participate in, and I think it's harmful to people seeking answers.

I feel removing the tag could remove valuable context that could benefit the asker. Even if the answer can be fairly generic, answers targeted to their specific edition's terminology and practices would probably be of the most help to them. The question and its answers should be totally targeted to [dnd-#e], and it should be tagged and categorised as such.

Meanwhile, the presence of the tag doesn't prevent players of other editions from learning from [dnd-#e]'s analogous situations, nor does it stop them asking their own question in their own edition should the existing question not solve their problem.

At the end of the day, we're here to solve peoples' specific problems. Their question, tags and answers should be focused entirely on the asker's system, regardless of whatever else X happens to be relevant to.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are any of these benefits only possible with a tag? To be clear, the dynamic being discussed doesn't involved removing every mention of the system from the question, or broadening it, only twiddling a SE mechanic. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 21 '14 at 6:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ If the question is entirely discussing D&D 4e, why would it not have the tag and be categorised under that system? At first, the question was left with no tag nor mention of the system, until I added it to the body. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 21 '14 at 6:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ And no, these benefits are not only possible with a tag. But the lack of a tag cues people to not speak in system-specific terms, which makes for less helpful answers. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 21 '14 at 7:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Entirely discussing 4e" and "mentions 4e in passing" have a very wide gap between them, but you appear to be arguing that anyone who avoids solidly 4e discussion should also stay away from the mere mentions too? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 21 '14 at 7:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Agreed. We don't add tags for every piece of relevant information. \$\endgroup\$ – Flamma Apr 22 '14 at 11:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie The ignore list isn't avoiding. The ignore list is the nuclear option. There are reasonable reasons to use it (e.g. you're short on time, or the site is getting flooded), but you're using a tool that also needs to serve zealots who want no mention of 4e on their site. Ignoring dnd-4e should, well, ignore 4e. \$\endgroup\$ – AceCalhoon Apr 22 '14 at 13:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AceCalhoon It's not: that's only hiding tags. If you don't hide ignored tags, they only get dimmed. Incidental mentions of a system in an otherwise general problem should not be hidden or dimmed, in any case. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 22 '14 at 15:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie That is good to know, thank you. I still disagree on the untagging, but I suspect this is an instance where we can each go our own way. \$\endgroup\$ – AceCalhoon Apr 22 '14 at 18:49
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There is no harm in having the tag, really

A question tagged will still show up in a search of that tag even if it is also tagged . Ditto it'll show up as a highlight even if you don't highlight .

Now, if you explicitly ignore-list , those questions will fall under the ignore list. So, in fact, I do exactly this, and part of why I do that (not just with Pathfinder) is that there are games dissimilar enough to my interests that questions they generate tend not to be relevant to my play. This includes questions about play advice as well as rules.

Tags shouldn't be critical to making sense of and scoping a question

A tag is a keyword or label that categorizes your question with other, similar questions. Using the right tags makes it easier for others to find and answer your question.

So, right there: tags are tools for categorizing questions. They are not the primary way of stating what your question is about (that is the title), nor are they the primary way to express your question and any supporting details (that's the question body).

Tags also aren't a special field for giving the question stats that you're not allowed to put elsewhere or anything. You can, in fact, say what system you are playing just in the question (and someone will come along and tag it later, to categorize it). It's okay to leave that out of the question body and lean on the tags, but I think we should do that as a matter of convenience rather than, like, a hard-and-fast policy that says certain things only ever go in tags.

The site has a decent search feature (it also shows up on Google very easily). The tags are just little bonus sticky labels to making browsing stuff more fun.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ To be clear, this is about questions that aren't actually about the system; where the asker has stuck it on just because that's what they happen to be playing. In those cases, is is harmless to have a general question erroneously caught by ignore tags? I ignore a few popular tags—that's why I consider over-tagging questions that aren't actually system-specific to be a problem, from experience. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 21 '14 at 6:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ SSD, if it's discussing D&D 4e and you have D&D 4e ignored, it should rightly be ignored by your tags. You're removing categorisations that should apply. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 21 '14 at 6:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JonathanHobbs That simply doesn't follow. The smallest whisper of 4e doesn't suddenly make a question off-limits. The question that sparked this has some very good answers that didn't require a special 4e lens to write. Sometimes it really just is mostly irrelevant background info. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 21 '14 at 7:18
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I may have an unusual perspective, because I have two of the biggest tags on my ignore list. The fluctuations of system tags on questions is therefore readily apparent from day to day.

My rule if thumb for any tag is:

Should this question be invisible to experts who hide this tag?

If yes then it should have the tag; if no then the tag should be removed.

I find that this both reflects the intended utility of tags, and also tends to closely match what a question is really about at its core. It also means that I never make the mistake of thinking that lazy tagging is OK.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That's a compelling way to think about it, and you've given me something to think about. And thank you - this is a large part of the reason I opened this question. I do not think you mad, and wanted to understand what was going on behind this practice. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 21 '14 at 7:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Intentionally retagging to circumvent someone's use of the ignore list seems counter-productive (both for the site, and users with the ignore list). \$\endgroup\$ – AceCalhoon Apr 21 '14 at 14:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AceCalhoon It's not to circumvent. Think about that rule of thumb for a moment: if some expert should be seeing this despite their ignore lists, then the question isn't really about what that tag means, is it? It means the tag doesn't describe the actual problem, which is what they're for. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 21 '14 at 21:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd give this +2 if I could. \$\endgroup\$ – Joe Apr 28 '14 at 5:21

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