has two purposes right now:

  • "this question is about the rules as written"
  • "answer must obey special rules"

The latter makes it a meta tag. Meta tags are never, in the long run, a good idea. But tags are for describing what questions are about, and doesn't need to have that second purpose.

There's a simple solution then: kill the special rules attached to with fire, to save it from being a meta tag.

Putting pressure on answer content to suit the question is what votes are for, and we were foolish to try to legislate what is supposed to be already taken care of by the core mechanic of the site.

Before it's brought up — no, is not a counter-example that shows that can have special rules and work.

The special rules for game-rec don't attempt to replace voting and "this is off-topic" delete votes. It has special rules because otherwise those questions are banned. RAW questions aren't banned without their special rules, they don't need them to be permitted here. That lack of corresponding situations is why is not a valid model to look to for how to handle the tag.

is a meta tag. We normally burn meta tags with fire, but we can save it, by reversing what we did to it that made it into a meta-tag monster. A few minutes ago I was writing a proposal to burninate it, and I found myself writing that we would need to find a replacement because it's valid to ask questions about RAW, and aboutness is my sacred yardstick for measuring the non-meta-ness of a tag. And I realised that is the very tag we would naturally want to replace itself with.

So isn't a meta tag, but we've made it into one by turning it into a tag that dictates what answers should say. It's a good tag that doesn't deserve burninating; we have to save it from the inevitable death that comes to all meta tags.

We should save it because it's valuable to a huge community we serve.

We should save it because it legitimately describes many of our questions.

We should save it because people have shown that they want to use it and that's how our tag folksonomy is supposed to work.

We should save it because questions about RAW are on-topic and we need a tag for those.

We should save it.

It should not be a meta tag. We are undermining all its good work and value by making it a meta tag. We're grown-ups, we can handle people answering questions tagged with answers that don't respect the tag. We can use our votes, including delete votes. We can use our words.

We don't need a site policy to make those answers go away. We really don't need a site policy that doesn't even work and wastes so much of our energy and time in divisive arguments about how to fix a problem we've inflicted on ourselves.

Vote with me to set free from the special rules that are weighing it down. Let it do its job in tandem with the voting system. We're competent people here, we can handle telling people with votes and comments that they've made a mistake by ignoring the tag. And sometimes, we might find, that a question tagged gets a really good answer that challenges the frame with a non-RAW solution. The way we expect the site to work.

We need . We don't need policy on how it's used or how its answered.

Current discussion context that's obvious now but will be harder to find as this meta ages:

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    \$\begingroup\$ One major concern I have with the RAW tag is that it can't be used solo on a question. generally when that's the case it's a marker of a problematic tag. \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Dec 4 '14 at 18:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @waxeagle That's true... Wait! Maybe it isn't? I think a question about the community culture around RAW would stand on its own and be on-topic. Such a thing would be at the edges of our subject such that a badly written one would be off topic, but I don't think that means a well-written, on-topic question about the RAW phenomenon itself is impossible. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 4 '14 at 18:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just thought of a wild possibility: RAW-ness is integral to some questions. It's intimately tied to the game being played. And in some analyses, the game being played when RAW is required, vs when rulings are the order of the day, is almost a completely different game. And, RAW culture is quite game-specific. Imagine for a moment if we had [dnd-3.5e-raw] or [dnd-4e-strict]... \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 4 '14 at 19:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I've actually strongly considered writing such a Q&A (with [rules-as-written] as the only tag), since I think a lot of people badly misunderstand why RAW questions get asked in the first place, and what value those who are interested in them place on them. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 4 '14 at 19:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Exactly! A self-answer about RAW culture is totally a valid question here, and could in theory bear just [rules-as-written]. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 4 '14 at 19:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Can I vote in you to President? \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Dec 4 '14 at 19:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think an exception for this one instance is actually valuable. Valid answers on this site are a bit different than other sites because a good answer could be one that completely ignores the rules of the system the question is about, which is unacceptable for most other sites and would be flaggable. I made a comment as such on @KRyan's answer which helps explain the distinction. \$\endgroup\$ – Ellesedil Dec 8 '14 at 19:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is a tag that can't be used alone justified, in cases where it saves you supporting a DND-RAW tag, a GURPS-RAW tag, a Storyteller-RAW tag (the mind boggles) etc? Even if "playing to the rules" is actually or almost useless in the absence of knowing what game you're playing, it'd be a common modifier to other tags because it corresponds to a common and recognisable playing style. \$\endgroup\$ – Steve Jessop Dec 11 '14 at 19:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SteveJessop In practice it's not a common modifier at all, as the RAW tag gets used almost exclusively with D&D. Check out the related tags in the tag's sidebar: only WOD (3% of questions) and DFRPG (1%) have every also gotten the tag, while 96% are D&D+PF's. Boggling is not a danger. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 11 '14 at 19:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie: well OK, I chose my examples badly, but it gets used with several different flavours of D&D including Pathfinder :-) \$\endgroup\$ – Steve Jessop Dec 11 '14 at 19:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SteveJessop What I'm unclear on is what kind of difficulty supporting a [*-raw] tag for each of those games would cause. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 11 '14 at 19:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie: Just the non-obviousness of the tag, I suppose. Similarly it would be weird to have a whole bunch of [*-spells] tags on the basis that questions about spells (a) are usually about a particular game, not spells in general and (b) being about [spell]s in general but not [magic] in general is a pretty small niche for a question to hit. I suppose really I'm casting FUD on the "can it be used alone?" rule of thumb for tags, especially since "what game/version?" and "what aspect of play?" are somewhat orthogonal concerns. \$\endgroup\$ – Steve Jessop Dec 11 '14 at 19:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ .. tbh I thought "[*-raw]" was a straw man, I'm surprised you want me to rubbish it instead of you (and everyone) immediately feeling it's a rubbish idea ;-) In short, though, I strongly suspect but don't know for sure that such hierarchical tags would be hard to use, and impossible for non-regulars. So I wouldn't want [spells] or [raw] to be assessed on the "use alone" basis. \$\endgroup\$ – Steve Jessop Dec 11 '14 at 19:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SteveJessop I see what you mean. We do accept that [spells] is super-useful, and I don't immediately see how it could be used alone, so maybe it's a meta tag but that's okay... That's good food for thought. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 11 '14 at 19:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ I’m really displeased with the way that the RAW tag can act as a trap for newbies, like here. That is not an awesome answer in any case, but it seriously bugs me that newbies need to read a tag wiki to avoid this land mine. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Dec 18 '14 at 3:07

It doesn’t have special rules.

A question defines a topic. Answers are required to stay on that topic (or stray only after addressing the question on-topic). RAW questions are no different in this regard.

The only reason that RAW is perceived to have special rules is because a lot of people want to ignore the topic of RAW questions, and post non-RAW answers, and then are upset when those answers get down-voted or deleted. They are upset and feel that it must be because the RAW tag is special. They want to encode this perceived specialness in the tag wiki, because they feel “burned” because they didn’t understand the question in the first place.

But the tag isn’t special. Posting “Well, I don’t know the rules, but this has worked really well for my games in the past,” which would otherwise be an acceptable answer, is off-topic for such a question, and should be downvoted and/or deleted exactly the same way as “Well, I don’t know anything about 5e, but in 4e we did this and it was awesome,” in a question tagged 5e should be. Posting “the rule says this,” when it does not, in fact, say that, should be downvoted just as “5e does this,” when they’re actually describing a 4e concept should be downvoted.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Like I said, that was added after people got upset by being “burned” by downvoted and/or deleted answers that were off-topic. If you want to remove that line, I suspect that’s fine, but I suspect we’ll start hearing about “getting burned” again. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 4 '14 at 18:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Aside from the change to the tag wiki, what change in behavior are you proposing? \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 4 '14 at 18:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm proposing that we stop treating it specially. (If you're not already, then good; that might be why you're not seeing a problem, because you just might not be part of the problem.) Specifically, aggressive mod-deletes of answers should probably be scaled back. Let the downvoting and non-mod delete votes do the job there. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 4 '14 at 18:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ I suspect we won't hear much about getting burned anymore once this is overturned, because we've all had this exciting adventure together and have learned a very special lesson. New people will complain, sure, but we're here to say, sorry, the votes disagree that this is useful on this question, and that's how the site's supposed to work. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 4 '14 at 18:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I do fear that, just as there are a fair number of people who want to ignore the topic for their own answers, will also do so for their voting. That is part of the reason I have aggressively flagged non-answers as such. The majority here is not interested in RAW, which makes me worry about them voting by their own preferences rather than by how well an answer addresses the question actually asked (i.e. including the setting of the topic to the domain of the RAW). \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 4 '14 at 18:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie "I have no interest in what the rules say, here's what I say," is in no way, shape, or form even attempting to answer the question, if the question is "What do the rules say about this?" \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 4 '14 at 19:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Great, that's a good example. That? That does not qualify for the not-an-answer flag, because SE design and policy is that not-an-answer flags are invalid when an answer is merely incorrect. Incorrectness is for downvoting. It being deleted due to the pressure of assertions that it isn't an answer is exactly the kind of losing-our-way problem I'm getting at. Our use of the site tools is getting sloppy and causing damage. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 4 '14 at 20:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I strongly disagree that the flag was inappropriate. The question literally and explicitly said they did not want an answer along those lines and that was completely ignored. That's not merely incorrect, that is answering the question you want to answer rather than the question that was asked, and that has no business on this site. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 4 '14 at 20:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Zero use" is defined network-wide as only for downvoting. There is, by design, no overlap with the not-an-answer flag. Your use is explicitly invalid, as explained by the people who run the network. As someone who respects rules as written, I think you should stop and consider that. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 4 '14 at 20:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ See also the linked, closed-as-duplicate meta.SE question, that exactly covers what you're talking about: flagging a question because it seems to answer related but different question that you think the answering user just prefers to answer. That flag was declined, and this decline was affirmed as correct because it is still an attempt to answer this question. Albeit not how the asker would like. And then they're told that they're welcome to downvote instead. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 4 '14 at 20:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would like to affirm that we do not delete answers as "not an answer" just because they are in some deviation from the poster's intent. That's what voting is for. I delete answers that are totally and profoundly misguided, but one of our flag-decline reasons is "flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer" - there's a difference between "not an answer" (a comment or rant or discussion or question or confused irrelevance) vs. "an answer I don't like." \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Dec 4 '14 at 21:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would also suggest that y'all have maybe argued with each other enough for one day and should step away. Even for meta this is excessive and it's not just on meta. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Dec 4 '14 at 21:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan The difference is bigger than the 4E/5E difference. The answers should probably be treated the same way "D&D sux, play FATE instead" should be treated on Pathfinder rules clarification questions. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Dec 8 '14 at 6:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ We pretty much need some mechanism that makes it clear that a person is seeking RAW-only answers. If I ask a question about C# or Christianity on a different network, I'll receive answers that conform to the rules of those systems. No one is going to suggest that I modify the compiler or alter the base tenants of a world-wide religion. Yet on RPG, it is very acceptable for an answer to completely make something up. So, something needs to exist to enforce the idea of "I want to stick to the rules of the system." \$\endgroup\$ – Ellesedil Dec 8 '14 at 15:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not convinced. If I answered a C# syntax question on StackOverflow with, "Just write your own compiler that handles it", I shouldn't be surprised when it gets flagged as not an answer while it's being downvoted into oblivion. But StackOverflow doesn't need any other descriptors on questions to state that answers should work with an existing compiler because that's already the law of the land there. A D&D 4e question here could attract answers that invent new rules, so the way answers work on RPG are already fundamentally different than other networks. \$\endgroup\$ – Ellesedil Dec 8 '14 at 22:46

I'm all for healing it, but when we heal it, will there actually be a valuable tag left?

The [rules-as-written] tag evolved for classifying questions that:

  • were asking about the rules, or how something would work inside the rules
  • wanted answers to do some combination of: stick exclusively to the rules themselves, take the writing literally, make nothing up (no house rules or fiats), cite the rules, and so on.

At this point, the tag was fine, it was just describing the question.

However, at some point, a lot of people started using [rules-as-written] as a short-hand for their requirements, and stopped writing those requirements, which turned it into a meta-tag which implied rules on answers. To complicate the matter, we don't always agree on what those requirements are, and people stopped saying them explicitly.

So we have two options for dealing with this.

  • Don't let [rules-as-written] become a substitute for explaining RAW requirements. Questions still need to explain those requirements clearly, leaving no need for [rules-as-written] to imply anything extra. Then the tag returns to just describing the content of the question, and categorising questions that do that.
  • Make [rules-as-written] no longer be about the second bullet point. However, that will mean it's just for questions about the rules, which means it's the [rules] tag, which we don't need.
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hm. I'm not convinced on its face, but still, "Hm." \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 4 '14 at 22:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I did some rewriting to poke at the core of the issue. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Dec 4 '14 at 23:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ How is this any different from any system tag? There are loads of questions, with any given system tag, that do not indicate the system at all except through the system tag. And that’s not a problem. This entire line of reasoning is predicated on the as-yet-undemonstrated assumption that users are making mistakes. There is no evidence that they actually are in any significant quantity that I have seen. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 6 '14 at 2:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan This isn't about anyone making mistakes (I only mentioned that as an aside, and please note the emphasized might.). It's based on the idea tags shouldn't impose rules on answers, they're there to describe the question. I'm fine with system tags being in this weird situation; they're unambiguous shorthand for saying "I'm playing ..." before the same words in the question, and we get no gain out of making people repeat themselves doing that. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Dec 6 '14 at 4:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener And I consider the RAW tag equally unambiguous, and like I said, I haven’t seen any evidence that the hypothetical ambiguity is actually confusing anyone who applies the tag. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 6 '14 at 14:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener But your own comment states that the reason the tag is insufficient on its own to describe the context and requirements of the question, as a system tag would, is because the system tag is “unambiguous shorthand,” from which it follows that you claim that using the RAW tag as similar shorthand is ambiguous and therefore bad, and I disagree with that. And, disagreeing with that, I see no reason to support requiring redundant statements in the text when the tag itself will do. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 6 '14 at 14:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I agree, and furthermore, since home brew rules are supposed to be Good Subjective (thus disallowing random stuff you just made up) I see very little need for the tag. We should just be stricter about home brew rules. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Dec 7 '14 at 12:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Mmm. I'm thinking on this still. The RAW tag is in a weird spot for me, because it seems to get underused and I do think it has a degree of ambiguity (we agree on the general intent but not necessarily on the minutiae) -- and yet I think it is a valuable tag to have and a lot of people might not think to even say more than "I want RAW answers" and would find our asking them whether they need citations or not or so on to be silly. I think that despite its oddities I'm happy with it being the way it is, oddness and all. (But if we decide to change things, the above answer applies.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Dec 7 '14 at 13:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BraddSzonye The default state of a question on this site is neither RAW, nor inviting “homebrew.” Unless that changes and we define non-RAW as homebrew (won’t happen), the two tags aren’t opposites of one another, they’re separate things. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 7 '14 at 14:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan See Brian's recent statement on meta, linked from my answer. Answers that aren't drawn from objective sources like RAW must obey Good Subjective and thus must be vetted by actual gameplay experience. Ad hoc rulings are Bad Subjective. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Dec 7 '14 at 14:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BraddSzonye That is not at all the statement I get from that answer. I think your usage of either the term “homebrew” or “RAW” is different from mine... and I’m reasonably sure mine are the more common. Most people find a middle ground between RAW and homebrew, so to speak, where things are not strict-RAW but also not full on homebrew (which is very subjective but it’s still a common perception). \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 7 '14 at 14:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Regardless of what you call such rules, answers must either be objective or Good Subjective. If we actually follow that, what is the point of the RAW tag? \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Dec 7 '14 at 14:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Quite simply, it is a collection of questions about the rules as written, and therefore answers should be responding within that context. That generally means it is more objective than most questions on this site, but it is not the same objective or good subjective. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 18 '14 at 3:43

To resolve this, I think two things need to happen:

  1. Remove the special rules from the tag that make it a meta-tag.
  2. Don't flag or down-vote answers that don't have citations if they aren't asked for.

While I absolutely agree that the special rules need to be burned, I think this also necessitates a change to our culture to reflect this. If we remove the rules from the tag, but continue to down-vote answers that don't have citations, even when citations aren't asked for, the problem will remain, only worse because now it's even less likely that a new user will know about this invisible rule.

To me, this goes back to the heart of Stack Exchange policy: Questions must be held to a high standard of quality and clarity in order to maintain a healthy group of experts that provide good answers. Right now, we're putting the onus on the answerer to know to add citations if the question being asked is about rules-as-written.

Instead, I say that we should put the onus on the questioner; they should be required to ask for citations if they think citations are needed. If someone asks a question that you think requires citations, but doesn't stipulate that, then you should edit that question to include this.

I would also say that not all RAW questions necessarily need citations. No other type of question universally requires this kind of rigor. As long as the answer is clear and useful without citations, then down-voting or flagging that answer is not helpful. If an answer could be improved by citations, then by all means edit them in. I expect that most good RAW answers will include citations anyways, but this should be considered an improvement to the answer, not a requirement for it to be considered valid.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I propose you edit this to remove your second bullet point. :) Because people can vote for whatever reasons they like, it's not something we have any grounds to make a policy about. People should be free to vote down if they think this answer should have citations, because that's how the system is design to organically identify answer quality. People are free to think that every answer to a RAW question should have citations, and vote down accordingly. Heck, people are free to think that every answer to a RAW question should include a picture of a chicken and vote down all that don't. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 4 '14 at 19:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Shorter me: If you're going to advocate letting the system work as intended (and I strongly agree with that!), you ought not undermine it by proposing people shouldn't let the system work as intended. :) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 4 '14 at 19:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ And, to address an issue I see in the current wording: I think a change is necessary, yes, but I think it's necessary because we've lost our way and we need to change back to how we're supposed to use the site. Asking questions to be specific is just normal quality-control stuff; as is relaxing our uptightness about RAW-question answers lacking cites. These things are supposed to be judged case-by-case, in the context of a post's substance quality or lack thereof. I think this answer could emphasise that eliminating blanket requirements on Qs and As is a return to original best practices. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 4 '14 at 19:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't see the citation thing as super-important, either way. The answer should be correct and should back up its correctness based on what the rules say, and it should source those rules, particularly in cases where different sources have different things to say. But sure, if the question-asker describes their understanding of the rules and the answer is just "yes, that's right" then whatever. Citing or not citing has not been a major issue in arguments over RAW answers. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 4 '14 at 19:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan To the contrary, requiring citations as you say, is the bone of contention. If you don't see that as a special rule, that's exactly the problem I'm identifying: it is a special rule, and we need to recognise that and step back. Answers should be judged individually, by individuals. There is no room in the SE way for meta to dictate to individuals how to judge answers via a habeus corpus built up on meta. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 4 '14 at 20:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I didn't mean to say that you can't down-vote for a lack of citations. I said that "RAW tag" + "No citations" does not automatically elicit a down-vote. As I mentioned, you can still down-vote if you think the answer is poor due to lack of a citation, but that should be because the answer is poor, not because it didn't follow the meta-rules of the RAW tag. \$\endgroup\$ – AgentPaper Dec 4 '14 at 20:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ "The answer should be correct and should back up its correctness based on what the rules say, and it should source those rules", as far as I can tell, is saying that citations are required. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 4 '14 at 20:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I didn't say a citation was required. I said that Back It Up! was required. Which, in context, has to be done by the rules, because any other source of backing it up would be irrelevant and off-topic. A citation clarifies dramatically which rule you are talking about, and generally any kind of complex or tricky question would be difficult to answer without it, but if an answer was well backed up and accurate, then it's a fine answer and should be upvoted. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 4 '14 at 20:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Exactly my problem: Back It Up! is not required. BIU's scope is limited to subjective answers, and extending it to cover rules questions is not supported by the community's acceptance of the Back It Up! aka GS/BS principle. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 4 '14 at 20:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Well, I am certainly going to downvote any answer that doesn't back up its claims. I don't think anyone should accept or upvote an answer to any question of the rules if the answer is simply asking you to take their word for it. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 4 '14 at 20:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Yeah, and you're welcome to, because that's what the downvote button is for: individual judgements of utility. Even super-wacky reasons for downvoting have been aired and historically accepted, because that's explicitly how the site is supposed to work. Your non-wacky reason there, that others happen to disagree with, is even more acceptable than those wacky ones. But how you think we collectively should vote has by intentional design no power or relevance. That's the beauty of SE: it harnesses disagreement for the greater good, via clever voting mechanics. :) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 4 '14 at 20:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AgentPaper Any comment on the suggestion to drop the second bullet point? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 6 '14 at 4:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie No. The hidden rule of "you must have citations" for the RAW tag is the crux of the problem, so breaking the culture of requiring citations, even when the question doesn't ask for them, is crucial to the solution. Removing the rule from the tag itself is one thing, but if we don't also remove it from our culture, nothing will have changed. \$\endgroup\$ – AgentPaper Dec 6 '14 at 5:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've edited my answer to hopefully better explain my position. \$\endgroup\$ – AgentPaper Dec 6 '14 at 5:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Besides all that about wording though; as I said above, downvoting for lacking cites is a perfectly fine thing for people to do. Flagging for it is invalid, but voting is precisely for expressing how well or poorly an answer meets your personal criteria, no matter how good or weird those criteria are. Harnessing people's personal judgement (and averaging it out to hide the outliers) is the heart and soul of Stackexchange. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 6 '14 at 5:29

We should not try to rehabilitate the tag. Instead, we should more aggressively enforce Good Subjective for home brew and house rules. If people are discouraged from posting arbitrary, ad hoc rules then there is much less need for the RAW tag for any reason. We are only supposed to post RAW, RAI, and fully vetted house rules in the first place.

Answers that focus on unvetted, ad hoc rules are Bad Subjective and should be treated as such. Regular users may downvote them or comment linking to the Good Subjective rules (either the general rules or Brian’s linked post). Simply following established SE policies here greatly reduces the need to demand RAW for rules clarification questions.

That narrows the scope for RAW questions to thought experiments and rants in disguise, the sorts of question where somebody points out an absurd or surprising implication of the rules as written, and asks if it’s really true. Such questions are popular but also a rough fit for SE.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This eliminates the ability of users to filter by, search for, favorite, or ignore the RAW tag and therefore questions using it. That would diminish the utility of the site for many. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 7 '14 at 14:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I don't agree that's a fact. On the contrary, it appears to be SE policy that meta tags like RAW are not only not critically useful, but instead something to be generally avoided. If you disagree, please support your claims in your own answer, because if you do have objective evidence for your position, it would be a useful answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Dec 7 '14 at 14:49

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