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This site is several things as outlined in the Stack Exchange FAQ. However not all Stack Exchange sites are going to be alike due to differing subject matter. This means different sites will emphasize different aspects of Stack Exchange.

The Q&A style pioneered by Stack Overflow is an excellent fit for questions about game mechanics. But RPGs are more than just the game mechanics. The roleplaying side, for a lack of a better term, is very subjective and very fuzzy. Strictly adhering to the Stack Overflow Q&A Style is going to stilt discussion of this side of RPGs. Thus causing this site to fail to be a repository of expert knowledge about Roleplaying Games.

Also there is intense interest in the hobby itself. But it is not large enough to sustain a separate site. So questions about the history, industry and why things happened the way they will have to be domain of this site or they won't get discussed anywhere in the stack exchange system.

I seen a lot of comments reflecting what I call Stack Overflowism. This along with the excessive editing is driving users away. I believe this site needs to have expert knowledge about all things roleplaying. Not merely a Q&A site about mechanics. (Yes there is a little hyperbole there)

I suggest everybody take a step back. Read over a Theory of Moderation especially the part about "With a Light Hand". Leave other people's posts alone unless there some obvious technical mistake or the author meant that post to be extensively edited.

Loosen up about the subjective questions. And if the question is that badly phrased get a discussion going in comments with the author about how to fix it. But let the author fix it. If it spirals out of control deal with it then not before.

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I agree with the following points.

  • We have to be more subjective than Stack Overflow.
  • We need to gather experts.
  • We've gotten way too emotional about what's on the site.
  • Needless editing of other people's posts is disrespectful and needs to stop.

However, that said I think we do need to have limits. The point of this site is not so we can have another community for discussion. There are dozens of those. The point is to gather expert knowledge, and we do that here by questions and answers. I think that's our strength and we should stick to it. What does that mean?

  • If you want to have a discussion about something, it needs to be asked as a question.
    • If there's no question you can make out of it, it needs to go somewhere else.
  • Fuzzy questions are ok. I'm defining a fuzzy question as one where there are answers, but the "right" answer is entirely a matter of opinion. An example would be "What makes a good pitch for a new game?".
  • Thinly disguised blog posts aren't questions. Ten lines of rant followed by a sentence that just happens to have a question mark at the end does not a a question make.

Which brings me to my main point about what should be closed. We have a close vote for "Subjective and Argumentative". Some questions are troll bait, and I really don't think we should have them on the site. My trivial example is "Why is D&D better than Vampire the Masquerade" (or vice-versa if you prefer). This question while it might get a useful answer or two, is going to get a whole lot of not useful answers, and cause more trouble than it's worth.

We want a great site that attracts experts. That means that not every question (or pseudo question) is going to be valid, but that doesn't mean we have to hate fun.


Related:

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can people comment with their downvotes? \$\endgroup\$ – LeguRi Sep 23 '10 at 13:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Agreed about "Why is X better than Y?" being something we should frown on. I think "How does X differ from Y?" is more likely to produce useful answers, as it will attract answerers from both sides. \$\endgroup\$ – AceCalhoon Sep 23 '10 at 13:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would tend to agree a blanket questions of why X RPG Game is better than Y RPG Game should be closed. I am not willing to apply any simplistic rule to this. For example I feel that "Which RPG has the most realistic combat system?" is certainly a valid question despite it' subjective nature. As long it didn't devolve into a flamefest it should stand as it is a legitmate concern for gamers that they would seek advice on. That expert knowledge would contribute to better understanding. \$\endgroup\$ – RS Conley Sep 23 '10 at 14:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RSConley I'd say that "What systems focus on realistic combat?" (as a CW) would be a better phrasing of the question, but I don't think that "Which RPG has the most realistic combat system" is necessarily problematic. \$\endgroup\$ – AceCalhoon Sep 23 '10 at 14:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think lists are CW candidates. But I don't think that subjective questions are always CW. There are times where I want to award the person who comes up a solid well written answer to a fuzzy question. Which is why I didn't make Tabletop vs MMORPG a CW because of that, and why I didn't make realistic combat a CW. I want the upvotes and answer votes I give to reflect in the person's reputation because they wrote a clear, and thoughtful people and accordingly if they just give a rant I want the down vote to count. \$\endgroup\$ – RS Conley Sep 23 '10 at 14:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for writing this answer. I wanted to write pretty much exactly the same thing last night but didn't have the energy for it. It was great to come back this morning and see your answer which probably expresses my feelings better than I was going to! \$\endgroup\$ – Pat Ludwig Sep 23 '10 at 14:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RSConley One of the issues with non-CW for list questions is that it makes it very difficult to vote on answers. If I think that Cyberpunk is a great realistic system, but not The Riddle of Steel, how do I vote on Adam Dray's answer? If I feel that Cyberpunk is the absolute best realistic system ever, am I justified in posting it alone? Is the smaller answer better or worse? Also check out Viktor Haag's comments to that answer: he feels that his systems follow the same principles, and therefore hasn't listed them as a full answer. \$\endgroup\$ – AceCalhoon Sep 23 '10 at 15:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ If the answer is well written presents a lucid argument give them an upvote. It not like you have a limited quantity. In short give all answers a vote that you feel it worthy of a vote. \$\endgroup\$ – RS Conley Sep 23 '10 at 17:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RS Conley, technically we do have a limited quantity per day... :P \$\endgroup\$ – BBischof Sep 23 '10 at 18:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BBischof How often do you run out? \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross Sep 23 '10 at 21:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @C. Ross three or four times ever on all of the SO sites combined. \$\endgroup\$ – BBischof Sep 24 '10 at 2:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ I like editing. I mostly do "needless" editing of the copyediting/polishing variety, but I'm not sure if that's what you mean by "needless." Otherwise, I agree with this answer and would up-vote it. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 25 '10 at 4:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie No one objects to typo fixing, correction of grammar errors, or some needed formatting. What people object to is changing of word choice, pointless formatting, and repeated minor edits with no added value. Questions and answers don't need to be encyclopedia quality. \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross Sep 25 '10 at 13:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @C. Ross: Awesome, then we're on the same page! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 26 '10 at 9:35
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I agree. We need to not allow excessively subjective topics that are just noise, but a number of the closures have not fallen into that category for me. We don't want volume of Q&A just to have volume, we want knowledge. I think looking at the original trinity is instructive - sure, it's "objective programming questions" but there's plenty of subjective "how do I do this better" stuff.

Looking at our closed questions - there's a number that don't in retrospect look to me like they should have been closed. There's more that were OK to close on being way too general, but I only see 1 or 2 ("Should a RPG be fun?") that I really think should be closed as subjective flame bait.

I think we should a) not mod-close, let the community close, unless it's CRITICAL - e.g. there's flags and crap urging us to take action and b) encourage the community to take it easy. Depending on how you define "subjective", every post on Stack Overflow is subjective - it's someone's opinion on a good logging tool, or how to best handle database cleanup. An opinion being involved doesn't make it subjective, having nothing but does. I think the real differentiator in practice is that if people really are making an answer it's a good question - if people are posting hundreds of comments in ghetto-discussion-forum style that means it's a subjective discussion.

And people are unused to the edit philosophy. On the one hand, there shouldn't be anything wrong with editing as long as it's not against the OP's wishes - I think the "RP edit mini-war" was the only case of that - but we should roll slow on it so that people can get over their initial fears. In the end, editing makes for a higher quality knowledge repo. But I agree we should go for "tell the OP to change it - then only change it yourself later." Exceptions for just plain typos and whatnot of course.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can people comment with their downvotes? \$\endgroup\$ – LeguRi Sep 23 '10 at 13:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ No but you can comment afterward and it is considered courteous do so. For example I would like to know the thinking behind the downvotes given to each answer. \$\endgroup\$ – RS Conley Sep 23 '10 at 14:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RS Conley - My meaning exactly ;) \$\endgroup\$ – LeguRi Sep 23 '10 at 14:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll note that there's been a lot of discussion about the importance of accepting anonymous down votes. It's important because people need to be able to down vote without fear of retaliation. Comments are courteous, but not commenting is not rude. \$\endgroup\$ – Bryant Sep 23 '10 at 15:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Bryant that is a good point and I support the concept. But there time when there are downvotes when I really would like to know. I suppose the solution then just outright ask "Why did I get downvoted." and if the poster feel like then they can reply (or not which is their right). \$\endgroup\$ – RS Conley Sep 23 '10 at 17:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think that's right, yeah. My default behavior, which I prefer, is to explain. \$\endgroup\$ – Bryant Sep 23 '10 at 20:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Bryant - I recognize that anonymous down-voting is necessary for any Stack Exchange site, but in this case we (as a community) are discussing what we want/need the site to be. In this case it's very necessary to explain a down-vote, especially when these answers are pretty long and there are a dozen things one could disagree with; I would argue that on a meta question like this one, down-voting without a comment is rude. (otherwise, I agree with you 100%) \$\endgroup\$ – LeguRi Sep 24 '10 at 14:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the importance of allowing anonymity is far more significant to the model than allowing us to know who disagrees with us. And let's be honest: it's much more about knowing who disagrees than it is about explanations. You can tell, because nobody ever suggests that people be allowed to comment on their downvotes anonymously. \$\endgroup\$ – Bryant Sep 24 '10 at 14:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Bryant - ... Why not allow downvote only with at least an anonymous comment? ;) Asking for anonymous down voting has actually become something of a stigma on meta; ask for it and you're in for some ridicule and closing. \$\endgroup\$ – LeguRi Sep 24 '10 at 15:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm with Bryan. Downvoting should be allowed, even encouraged. The more votes the merrier and the better the site will be. I would prefer to discourage folks asking for explanations of downvotes as I think even that will have a chilling effect and potentially alienate some people. \$\endgroup\$ – Pat Ludwig Sep 24 '10 at 15:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ All of those cites also make it really clear why we don't force people to explain their comments. \$\endgroup\$ – Bryant Sep 24 '10 at 16:39
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I think we should continue to push CW for questions that are looking to gather a list, or which are strictly subject (although I'm not sure where to draw the line on that second idea). People's voting behavior on that sort of question is a lot different from their voting behavior on other questions, and I think that needs to be recognized.

I DO think that we need to be a bit better about how we request CW status. It feels like we often vote to close while simultaneously leaving a terse "this should be CW" comment. Particularly for lower rep users (< 500), we should be using the term Community Wiki, and possibly pointing them in the direction of what they need to do (and mentioning why we think the post should be CW).

For posts that are unclear, or using broad terms, we should be asking for clarifications using examples. A comment like "What sort of roleplaying are you looking for? Immersion, acting, character simulation, social combat, etc.?" is probably more useful than directly criticizing choice of wording.

Finally, we should move away from long-form discussions in the comments section of questions. If you think a question is important for setting precedent, start a meta thread. Otherwise, let's try to do better about not belaboring the point.

It's okay if a couple of low quality questions make it into the site. Certainly much better than starting wars on a regular basis.

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