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It's true that many questions about RPGs will be questions about rules. How should we use the rules tag?

Prompted by this rules question. The “rules” tag was added because it's a question directly about the rules of a game. Another participant removed the tag. To avoid a tag-edit ping-pong, I'm bringing it to Meta to discuss.

So, what are examples of questions that should have the rules tag, and perhaps more importantly, what are examples of questions that should not have the rules tag even though they're close to the line?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Would [mechanics] be a clearer, more limited alternative to [rules]? \$\endgroup\$ – Bryant Sep 7 '10 at 3:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ I still think it would be way to overused. Any tag that has more than 50% of posts being tagged with it loses the ability to give intelligence. Might as well tag everything with rpg. \$\endgroup\$ – anon186 Sep 7 '10 at 13:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ As a matter of record: the rules tag was burninated and blacklisted in September 2014. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Feb 2 '16 at 6:43
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[rules] is a meta tag that should be deleted. It serves no useful purpose as questions about RPGs are very frequently about rules and the answer space should be obvious from the question.

(Note that this is what has already happened - rules, ruleset, mechanics, etc. have all been deleted, just adding this answer here for posterity since the question popped back up to active.)

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I think we should start this way: Replace rules with ruleset, restrict it to only questions that talk about entire rulesets, and then see if there is a hole in our tags later that is sensibly filled by a rules tag. A tag like rules is likely to explode if it's not narrowly defined, but it will be easy to add later if such a narrow definition presents itself, and with no loss to the functionality of the site.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I can live with a narrower tag, it basically clarifies what I answered below and avoids confusion. \$\endgroup\$ – anon186 Sep 7 '10 at 19:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ The question "rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/2379/…" strikes me as imminently approprate for the ruleset tag \$\endgroup\$ – anon186 Sep 7 '10 at 21:24
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I think rules questions are questions about the rules -- e.g., "What tests can Nature (Mouse) be substituted for?" "Keeping dice after giving in Dogs in the Vineyard" "Beyond hit points: injury in D&D". All these are specific questions about how the rules work or how to make up new rules.

Since games are defined by rules plus setting, you could interpret 90% of the questions as rules questions. For example, "How can I balance the darkness of Dark Heresy with the humor without getting too goofy?" could be a rules question, and the answer I liked best includes a house rule suggestion (the bit about operant conditioning). However, the primary focus of the question was GMing techniques rather than the rules of the game. With a more restrictive definition, I think we'd hit around 50% of questions currently.

If we define the [rules] tag that way, is it a useful tag? I sort of feel like it is. If I'm interested in looking for techniques rather than rules, I can mark [rules] as an uninteresting tag. Or vice versa.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Why the down votes? Comments speak better than down votes, and don't cost you any reputation. \$\endgroup\$ – bignose Sep 7 '10 at 0:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Down votes function as, well, votes so we can tell which proposals are more popular, right? And down votes here don't affect rep, if I'm reading the FAQ correctly. I'd prefer that people just up-vote the answer they like, since it saves people who prefer one strongly from having to go down-vote everything else, but that's just my opinion. \$\endgroup\$ – Bryant Sep 7 '10 at 0:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, and belatedly: it's important for people to feel comfortable just downvoting. There's no obligation to explain yourself; the anonymity of a simple downvote helps prevent peer pressure. \$\endgroup\$ – Bryant Sep 7 '10 at 3:04
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The rules tag should be used incredibly sparingly as most questions on here will be about one or another rules in a game. If used everytime a rules question is asked it quickly becomes a useless tag. If it must be used than it should be used for questions about the body of rules as a whole. For example, I find a post like "What are the mechanical implications of Dungeons & Dragons Essentials?" a reasonable enough use of the tag as it applies to an entire set of rules changes and not one subset.

My rule of thumb is if the question is about a specific rule it doesn't need the rule tag, the tag for the game and maybe a tag for the subset action (combat, magic, loot being some I've seen used). If the question applies to an entire rules set (perhaps comparing and contrasting them) then it should get the rules tag.

To be valuable the rules tag needs to be a subset and not the norm.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I find the example question you show to be better described by a (hypothetical) ruleset tag. \$\endgroup\$ – bignose Sep 7 '10 at 0:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Into synonyms there. Rules or ruleset. \$\endgroup\$ – anon186 Sep 7 '10 at 0:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's my point, though. rules and ruleset have different meanings, and can be different tags for that reason. \$\endgroup\$ – bignose Sep 7 '10 at 1:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ In either case, it should seldom be used - it's like using a [programming] tag on stack overflow. You don't, because it's goofily vague. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Sep 7 '10 at 3:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ I immediately thought of ruleset too. When talking about entire rulesets, the ruleset tag would seem apropos, no? I suspect the rules tag may have no use here, if we had a ruleset tag. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 7 '10 at 18:57
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Questions that are entirely about the rules of a game deserve the rules tag.

If a question is about the whole ruleset of a game, then ruleset seems an appropriate tag for that.

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