The tag was recently discussed in this meta topic: burninate new-gm tag

The problem was identified thus: [new-gm] is not a meta tag, but it was predominantly used as one, describing the asker's skill level but not anything related to the question itself (i.e. these were questions any sort of GM might ask, and the kind even skilled GMs ask here from time to time). I did some burnination, and now we’ve gone from ~200 questions to 75. Of these, 53 are open.

However, I suspect we can do better than this tag. History has demonstrated it’s prone to being used as a meta tag, and it presently appears to cover a large variety of question types.

Is there some way to categorise these questions better? Is there one or more replacement tags we can use to divide up the content in this tag? Is there anything we should burninate further?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Commenting to remind everyone that this topic is still open for discussion, and a resolution would be very welcome. \$\endgroup\$
    – MrLemon
    Sep 25, 2014 at 13:33

3 Answers 3


Greener's categories need no new tags.

  • Someone being new to a game and being totally clueless about part of that game. That's a meta tag. It should instead be part of the question's text. Burn the tag, no replacement.
  • Someone looking to improve fundamental skills. We've got for that; it's not an exclusively expert-level tag. Replace universally.
  • Questions literally concerning a GM who is new. If his newness is the primary point of the question, is being used appropriately. If it's tangential, burninate it in favour of tags about the challenge he's facing (see points immediately above and below).
  • Requests for game recommendations for people who are new, or a GM who is new. This is a job for the tag, with an in-question criteria about newness, and maybe the tag.
  • \$\begingroup\$ #3 may not be a meta tag. Questions about a wizard get the wizard tag, questions about a problematic GM get the problem GM tag, questions about a new GM get the new GM tag (or so it seems). \$\endgroup\$ Sep 18, 2014 at 0:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener ....examples, please. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Sep 18, 2014 at 0:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/a/4893/1204 See the first category under 'Usage patterns', which has 6 questions (then there is a teaching question too) \$\endgroup\$ Sep 18, 2014 at 0:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hrm. I shall modify. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Sep 18, 2014 at 0:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ The trouble with the "fundamental skills" category is that the questions are most often about only some vague idea that GMs need skills of some kind, not actually about any particular skill, let alone specific techniques within the skill. We already see [gm-techniques] often misused to mean simply "I am the [gm]", when no actual technique is the subject of the question. I'm concerned that using it on "new GM doesn't know what they need to know" questions would exacerbate the existing scope creep of the tag. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 18, 2014 at 17:09

I think [new-gm] should be renamed

Specifically to , but before voting, read on (or skip to the end) for why I think it fixes the problems of .

Identifying the problem with [new-gm]

As long as we still have , it will get misused. And for some reason it's particularly hard to tell when it's misused, and since doubt leads to inaction, it will slowly spread and get us right back where we started. The tag needs a new name that leaves no doubt about whether it belongs on a given question or not.

An ideal tag is also one that a new user can use correctly every time; less ideal, but more practical to achieve, is a tag that gets used by new users correctly most of the time, and is clear to us when it's not.

is not even close to being usable correctly most of the time, and it's not obvious when it's misused. Keeping it and assigning it to one of the categories for correct usage will actually make that problem more acute. As well as using better tags for other categories now covered by , we should kill the tag by synonyming it to a new, better name that describes its category better, so it will stick out as misplaced when it's put on the wrong question because someone used and it was synonym-replaced.

Exploiting synonym replacement for easier cleanup

For an example, if we were going to use [gm-cultivation] as the replacement (not a great tag, just an example for sake of discussion, as it fits a "making new GMs" category of questions), it would apply to questions about teaching new GMs, how to encourage people to take up GMing, and the like. Someone who put on a question about "How do I write my first adventure?" would actually end up putting [gm-cultivation] on it instead—obviously wrong, and the lack of doubt making it easily fixed.

We should exploit that effect of synonyming to a more precise tag, to make cleanup easier after a question is posted. The rest of the tags to cover the categories now covered by should be similarly precise, so that they only ever get used when they really fit, instead of just when someone flails around typing in "GM..." and looking for some kind of "I am the [gm]" tag.

A bunch of tag ideas

What follows isn't a proposal, that's farther below; this is just showing my work, so if my specific proposal isn't popular, maybe the process will inspire better ideas.

The principle I focused on while brainstorming: Ideally, newness should be relegated to a detail in the question, with the actual tags describing something more concrete, like a goal, action, or process that's specific to being new but isn't newness itself. As newness is a subject judgement of quality, we can't judge when newness wears off, and tags work better when they represent something objective in the problem-question that can be pointed to clearly.

So some tag ideas, some overlapping and not necessarily dividing along the categories doppelgreener outlined, some too specific or too broad to be useful, some less serious than others, but presented to spark discussion around how to replace :

Most of these are admittedly not very good, but, well, that's brainstorming. We only need one or two gems to improve on , anyway.

A lot of these are redundant with . That's on purpose: right now, is a generically-named umbrella tag for many specific techniques, but maybe some of those techniques are actually widely-asked enough that they merit their own tags? We already have some tags like that, so there's precedent too: for one example, is clearly a GMing skill, but a big enough subject to merit its own tag. As a bonus, some of these decouple a supposed "GM technique" from the GM: is likewise a GM technique that's big enough to not be hidden under the umbrella, and bonus, it's not limited to GMs by the tag just like how introducing people to a system isn't necessarily done by a GM.

Thoughts on that list

  • [learning-to-gm]

    The best tag in there, I think. It describes all but one or two questions in the list of "gold" that I identified in my answer to "burninate new-gm tag". It has, I think, a pretty clear division from , in that once you're asking about GM techniques, you're no longer asking the puppy-stage "GMing, how do I even?" questions anymore, so [learning-to-gm] and should be exclusive of each other. (Basically, if someone puts [learning-to-gm] on a question, but to accurately describe the question it should really be [learning-to-gm-better], then it's a mistag and should probably be replaced with .) It also, with a bit of a stretch, covers teaching GMing, in that the asker's target is learning-to-GM; then maybe [teaching-gming] and/or [gm-mentoring] could be useful synonyms.

  • [learning-rpgs]

    Similar to [learning-to-gm], it covers a bunch of our questions (not those I've highlighted in the "gold" list, but still some of the best in currently). It would be very useful for us for finding all those diversely-titled and -tagged questions about "I'm new to this, what the heck?" when we need to find the right duplicate for the inevitable re-asks. It would probably get self-tagged on new questions often enough even by the super-novice users who'd ask such questions. And best, it really narrowly fits a category sketched out by the existence of those questions, which otherwise don't really have great tags on them right now. It wouldn't be a widely-applied tag, but it's nicely precise and good for searchability.

  • [group-communication]

    I'm not sure this actually solves much of our tagging issues, but it's a tag that I think we could use. There are a number of questions that are "How do I talk to the GM/players about not liking the game/doing something/etc." that I notice in right now that are fundamentally just "how to communicate". That suggests that a "how to communicate" tag would be of use. Also, some of our [problem-*] questions might fall under it, chipping away at another set of problematic tags.

  • [gm-fundamentals]

    This one has grown on me since doppelgreener suggested it in burninate new-gm tag. It is the topic of many of the questions, after all. I think it has one of the problems that does though: where is the line between a fundamental and something in ? We'd likely see it over-applied, and doubt would prevent tag cleanup, leading to scope creep and back to square one. I still like it though, I'm just not sure how to make it work.

  • [changing-gms], [group-management]

    We have a number of questions about GM rotation or making the transition between an old and new GM within a continuous campaign or group, and I've never been happy with our tagging options for them. They're not really as that covers group interpersonal dynamics, they're not even when the reason is a problem GM (because that's just question motive, not question subject), they're usually not as it's rarely really about the individual GM's skills. is almost a uselessly broad tag, but I guess would describe these questions. These questions are specifically about how to swap GMs or generally about how to organise and manage the gaming group, which are subjects we don't really have any fitting tags for.

    It's such a small category of questions that I'm lukewarm about bothering with a tag for them, but it's a loose thread that jumped out at me again as I reviewed questions while brainstorming.

  • [rpg-concepts]

    Though I think this tag would fit some questions super-well, I also think it would get way overused and also tread on the toes of fairly often.

Proposal redux

We should kill by replacing it and making it a synonym. I think is a suitable replacement, because it describes a concrete process rather than a subjective quality, and has a sharp boundary with .

This doesn't solve the swapping-GMs or learning-RPGs question tagging, but it covers and collects together an awful lot of the remaining "gold" questions, and the rest can mostly scatter to other tags like , , sometimes , or just a question's existing tags minus . Swapping-GMs and learning-RPGs questions are a small enough problem that I think that letting them be a bit muddy for a while longer won't hurt (and what to do with them will probably be clearer after we've finished dealing with anyway).

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure the learning-to-gm tag does share a sharp boundary with GM techniques, because a lot of those are about learning something. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 18, 2014 at 22:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener The proposal is that we define them as non-overlapping. So learning to GM at all is [learning-to-gm], and any question that has enough knowledge to be seeking more specific techniques is [gm-techniques]. That means [learning-to-gm] will cover few questions, but it will be more useful for that fact. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 19, 2014 at 1:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Should [group-communication] be shortened to just [communication]? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 19, 2014 at 7:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener That would make more sense, yes! :) \$\endgroup\$ Sep 19, 2014 at 14:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Except that in most cases, [gm-techniques] is still asking to learn how to solve some problem, and lots of things in [learning-to-gm] would also be relevant techniques. These honestly sound more like [novice-gm] and [experienced-gm] to me. I don't think it helps over what we have now a whole lot. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tridus
    Oct 9, 2014 at 11:44

The way it currently seems to me is that questions fall into these categories, but I’m not sure how I’d tag these categories:

  • Someone being new to a game and being totally clueless about part of that game.
  • Someone looking to improve fundamental skills.
  • Questions literally concerning a GM who is new.
  • Requests for game recommendations for people who are new, or a GM who is new.

(It previously also covered questions which requested tutorials/introductions to a game or a mechanic, which have been retagged .)

Is there some way these can/should be tagged?

I found a succinct test of meta-tag-ness on Puzzling.SE that is very relevant to the conundrum of where [new-gm] applies:

Exactly the same question asked by someone who [is in a different position] wouldn't have this tag.

Whilst we work out what to do about this tag, it may be worthwhile considering that the valid usages of [new-gm] are the ones where exactly the same question, asked by anyone, would still have that tag.

... And I think by that text, only the questions literally concerning a GM who is new pass. So we need to remove or replace [new-gm] in every other context.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This bit on meta-tag-ness is a nice litmus test. I think that sort of idea is why I'm drawn to something else for the totally-clueless and fundamental-skills cases. I could see someone asking about fundamental skills regardless of position (e.g. "I have to teach the basics and I've forgotten what I didn't know when I started, what is the [basic stuff]"), so a tag should be for the content: fundamental what-is-RPing and what-is-GMing material. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 9, 2014 at 15:41

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