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Specifically, this one: How should I handle the rest of my party, who believe all Necromancy must be evil?

There is no other rpg system that I am aware of that uses those terms - '9th level' 'wizard' 'necromancy being automatically evil' 'Good, Evil, Neutral' 'Alignments' 'knowledge skill' 'ranks' - that I am aware of except for Dungeons and Dragons. Even if it isn't, the chance of it being DnD are incredibly high. Enough to go with the probability in terms of answering.

The issue being raised is the exact same in both versions of dungeons and dragons that use those terms - pathfinder and 3.5. It is slightly different in 4e, perhaps, but unlikely to be enough so that it changes an answer significantly.

Why is this question put on hold by a moderator (when users are upvoting it), instead of the tag being added? In the unlikely event of it being for some unrelated game system, as long as the question is not a duplicate (there's a couple it's close to, but none that address that specific issue), those answers can then be migrated to a new question created by one of the answerers if they wish to remain relevant. In the far more likely event that it is 3.5 DnD or Pathfinder, the question can be answered immediately.

If a user creates an account, asks a question, and then the question is closed by mod due to an incredibly minor nitpick, how likely are they to keep using the site? Probably: Not Very.

How likely are they to keep using the site if someone modifies their question with clearly stated best intentions, and it gets answers? Probably: Much more likely.

It's bad for the site adding users - it creates a culture of nitpicking rather than sharing information - and it's just rude. It's a classic perfectionist behaviour and almost completely negative to shoot someone down for a minor fault instead of ignoring or repairing it and addressing the broader thrust of the issue.

So why is this occurring? I see this happen a lot, this is just an especially egregrious example. If a question can be fixed to be something useful, it should - why shouldn't it?

This is literally a question of adding a single tag or working out that obviously the system being used is 3.5 or pathfinder, and the answer is the same in both.

'Why do you think putting a question on hold is bad?'

People can't answer it, it falls off the front page, the user feels chastised, and often if they come back a while later and update the question not enough people will look at an 'on hold' question to bother voting to reopen.

For someone with little investment in the site, why would they persevere? It probably takes less effort to simply ask the question somewhere else - and so they will.

And rpg.se has one less useful answered question, and one less user.

'This is irrelevant, as we can't fix it, only the OP knows the system'

To highest accuracy, sure. But there is a very easy guess as to the system, because he uses LOTS of rules terms from one of two - pathfinder or dnd 3.5. They are also the most asked about systems on the site, by a lot. And the terms he used don't appear in any other single RPG I am aware of - and that is a lot of RPGs.

So it can be fixed, to an acceptable degree of accuracy, and from there answered. There are a lot of questions that get put on hold that are like this. Some of them are questions never asked before or since on the site, that could have useful information in the answers.

So some questions are on hold, surely people don't care that much

When a question is closed, there is usually a bunch of comments saying 'your question is wrong' - sometimes with advice on how to fix it, sometimes not. To someone who asked that question, that is going to be read as a bunch of people saying 'you suck' - a crowd shouting them down. Worse, when a question is put on hold it also often accumulates downvotes - even if the issue is fixable - leading to further 'I logged onto the site, asked a question, and got shouted at and told I suck - i'm leaving'.

A question being put on hold seems to often be confused for a question being a bad question. Add the behaviour of bandwagonning and you end up with a number of downvotes that I am at a loss to explain.

Something which exacerbates this: Mods deleting comments suggesting re-opening the question

The few times I have voted to reopen a question, and then commented with why I voted to reopen a question, that comment has usually been deleted. So have any other comments regarding re-opening. So the user comes back to their question, finds no answers, a little official box saying their question is on hold because they suck, and a bunch of comments saying they suck, and often, a big '-5' next to their question.

Is that an incentive to fix it? No. Only negative feedback = poor response in low engagement activities like contributing to a website for the first time. This is a terrible way to greet new users, especially since the way the rules for asking questions is enforced is quite finicky, the help center is approximately 50,000 words not organized in a newbie-friendly manner, the 'tour' is extremely unclear about how harshly the rules are enforced and 'you're wrong' is pretty much the first time new users will have the opportunity to realize that this community has decided on very specific standards for whatever reason, and some will simply assume instead that it is full of assholes.

Which, to be fair, working from the information they have been handed - intensely negative response for unclear reasons - is not an unreasonable assumption.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is part of an ongoing discussion about tags, so here are some other meta posts for historical context: What are tags for?; Should the dnd3e tag cover all third edition, or just 3.0?; How Should We Tag D&D Versions?. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Sep 24 '14 at 5:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Regarding initial impressions of new users, exploding their inbox with pointless arguments against mods is the absolute worst thing that can be done. \$\endgroup\$ – Magician Sep 24 '14 at 5:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't know if I'm missing something, but "On hold - needs more info" doesn't sound like "Closed" to me. \$\endgroup\$ – Adeptus Sep 24 '14 at 5:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Really? Because from all the accounts with a single closed question and no further activity, i'd say that's incorrect. Not that arguments are a good thing - but saying 'no, you are wrong and bad' and removing the reason they came to the site - to get a question answered - sounds a lot worse. \$\endgroup\$ – user2754 Sep 24 '14 at 5:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ People can't answer it, it falls off the front page, the user feels chastised, and often if they come back a while later and update the question not enough people will look at an 'on hold' question to bother voting to reopen. \$\endgroup\$ – user2754 Sep 24 '14 at 5:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ I have seen fewer questions that I was aware of, that were put on hold, be reopened than were abandoned. I am not arguing that it's impossible to re-open a new question, I am arguing, at risk of a No True Scotsman, that most people won't bother and that some of these questions don't need to be put on hold. \$\endgroup\$ – user2754 Sep 24 '14 at 5:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ This three-year-old meta question might also be relevant to the discussion. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Sep 24 '14 at 5:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JackLesnie May I humbly suggest that if they "won't bother" they aren't the sort of users we're looking for? \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross Sep 24 '14 at 11:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Lots of people look at "on hold" questions after they're update: they're put into the review queues and a flag is lit up on users' dashboards so that they'll look. And some users go hunting for those held/closed questions, just to see how they're doing. We have no lack of eyes on them. As for abandoned held questions: like every user-generated-content sites, we get drivebys too. We don't care about enticing drivebys to stay. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 26 '14 at 21:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ related: should we guess at system...? \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 May 22 '18 at 12:35
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Thanks for asking this, it's a good issue to get out there, because I know it bothers people a great deal.

There is no other rpg system that I am aware of that uses those terms - '9th level' 'wizard' 'necromancy being automatically evil' 'Good, Evil, Neutral' 'Alignments' 'knowledge skill' 'ranks' - that I am aware of except for Dungeons and Dragons. Even if it isn't, the chance of it being DnD are incredibly high. Enough to go with the probability in terms of answering.

The issue being raised is the exact same in both versions of dungeons and dragons that use those terms - pathfinder and 3.5. It is slightly different in 4e, perhaps, but unlikely to be enough so that it changes an answer significantly.

D&D 3.x, 4, and Pathfinder all immediately spring to mind. They don't handle this the same way, as with alignment issues the setting in use matters (hell, when it comes to animate dead being inherently evil, I'm not sure two DMs handle it the same way). Just guessing which one the user meant runs a significant risk of guessing wrong, and that'd waste the time of people putting answers in if the user comes back and edits the question to a different system.

If you're saying we should just attempt to answer everything even when we don't know that kind of detail... I don't agree.

It's bad for the site adding users - it creates a culture of nitpicking rather than sharing information - and it's just rude. It's a classic perfectionist behaviour and almost completely negative to shoot someone down for a minor fault instead of ignoring or repairing it and addressing the broader thrust of the issue.

The goal is not to shut someone down. The goal is to get the issue sorted out so they can get good answers.

For someone with little investment in the site, why would they persevere? It probably takes less effort to simply ask the question somewhere else - and so they will.

If there's no comments arguing with the moderators on the question, all the user has to do is show back up to look for answers, see a comment asking what system they're using, answer it, and they're back in business. The question is pretty popular, it'd be reopened very quickly if the tag issue was resolved.

People arguing with the moderators in comments on the issue creates a lot of noise for the user asking the question and makes it more difficult.

So it can be fixed, to an acceptable degree of accuracy, and from there answered.

I don't agree, and judging by the fact that it only has two reopen votes, I'm not alone. Questions get reopened after a mod closure often enough that it's not particularly unusual. That this isn't one of them despite the +7 on it is pretty telling.

A question being put on hold seems to often be confused for a question being a bad question. Add the behaviour of bandwagonning and you end up with a number of downvotes that I am at a loss to explain.

Yes, it can. I've felt that way too. At the moment, it's the best tool we have, though. If you can think of a better way to handle the situation (other than "guessing"), I'd be happy to use it instead.

The few times I have voted to reopen a question, and then commented with why I voted to reopen a question, that comment has usually been deleted. So have any other comments regarding re-opening. So the user comes back to their question, finds no answers, a little official box saying their question is on hold because they suck, and a bunch of comments saying they suck, and often, a big '-5' next to their question.

There's several things going on here. Comments being zealously deleted (or overzealously deleted, depending on your POV) is not a new issue, and I'm not sure there's a whole lot of agreement on what to do about it. I would contend that if the goal is to help a new user clarify a question, the ONLY comments on the question should be for that purpose.

Comments about why it should or shouldn't be open should be moved to meta, so we're not bogging someone down in stuff they likely don't know or care a whole lot about.

The user in this case has a big +7 and some new privileges, so I'd hope it's not that discouraging. If they really can't come back for long enough to tell us what system they're using, then I'm not sure they'd ever come back to see answers either.

Overall the new user experience could be better, but that means more than just "mods shouldn't close stuff". It also means us experienced users should guide the new user towards how to get their question answered, and not fill the thing up with comments arguing with the mods.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Responding to your last paragraph: Speaking from situations where an unclear question was not closed, and accumulated answers before being cleaned up, mods and user closing stuff can actually have a positive effect on the new user experience. That positive effect is mainly removing the negative effect of the mess and clean-up involved. Or maybe that's just mainly our own user experience (which is a valid experience to consider too). \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 25 '14 at 5:01
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The point, besides getting correct answers to an accurate question, is to teach the user how to use the site. "Please clarify what game system you're using" is not a high bar. If they are unable/unwilling to do that, then are they even going to come back to see the answers?

Frankly, we aren't interested in having every user on the Internet here. Those users are why everything from forums to Yahoo Answers are a hateful morass of incoherence. If that makes us elitist for requiring someone to have the basic capability of "using their words," then so be it.

And yes, comment threads on a question arguing with mod activities will be deleted. I'm not sure why you would expect it wouldn't. Take it to meta.

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