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Someone asked a question about the D&D 3.5e spell Mage's Magnificent Mansion, which can be found under that name in the online SRD. An edit was then requested to change the name to Morkenkainen's Magnificent Mansion; the name under which the spell can be found in the Player's Handbook.

I have no idea which of the two would be better/prefered here and would like to hear what others would think is better.

Link: Dispelling Mage’s Magnificent Mansion

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Would the better option have been to add or re-tag d20-system? Happy to rollback. \$\endgroup\$ – sadaqah Jan 18 '15 at 23:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ To potential editors: Let's wait a few days for this question to resolve before deciding what to do about editing the question to use one term or the other. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 19 '15 at 6:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think it matters either. I imagine the name differs due to the name Mordenkainen being a part of their intellectual property (Greyhawk especially) and the Open Gaming License nature of SRD. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Jan 19 '15 at 6:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've created the [language] tag for this question and another related one. I'm not sure if there's a better tag; [terminology] didn't feel right. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 19 '15 at 23:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just going to apologize here for stirring up this storm with that edit. \$\endgroup\$ – Javelin Jan 20 '15 at 3:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ruut That's exactly why the SRD doesn't use Mordenkainen: it's labelled Product Identity by D&D 3.5e's copy of the OGL. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 20 '15 at 20:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Javelin That's fine; we've learned stuff here and so have you. And this 'storm' is just a community that's very active on meta. :) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 21 '15 at 6:53
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I don’t think it matters; the names are distinctly similar enough that it’s unlikely to cause confusion, particularly with those who have even a passing familiarity with the SRD. I definitely don’t think it’s warranted to edit someone else’s question to make that change; I would have rejected that change if I’d seen it in the review queue.

For the sake of those with zero familiarity, though, I tend to try to just keep things consistent. If someone asks a question about Mordenkainen’s magnificent mansion, I won’t have my answer randomly talk about mage’s magnificent mansion – I imagine that would be confusing for some readers. And vice versa, of course – if the question uses mage’s magnificent mansion, then so will I.

When asking a question, I’d probably use the SRD name, just because it’s easier to remember how to spell most of the time...

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 This is more or less the same as British vs American English; it's a style choice where all choices are 'correct' and changes from one to another aren't valid. (Except if they're creating consistency, which is important.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 18 '15 at 22:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ a) "Search Engine Optimisation", b) d20 SRD ≠ D&D 3.5e: -1 \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 19 '15 at 5:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ a) A good point; not convinced it's a good enough point, b) utterly unrealistic statement, no matter what Wizards originally said; your general attempts to discredit the SRD are noted, and ignored. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 19 '15 at 16:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I don't give it more credit than its due. And you forgot to say "zing." \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 19 '15 at 17:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm going to accept this answer. I think sticking with whatever term the original asker uses, and using it consistently in replies, is the clearest way to go. (And if I'm out of line here, let me know :P) \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Jan 22 '15 at 14:47
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An edit should not replace OP's language unless that language is wrong or unclear. As @KRyan and @doppelgreener have pointed out, neither was the case with linked question.

The best option when something as specific as spell names are "distinctly similar" may be to use a footnote. Another option would be to add a parenthetical reference of the alternate directly following the first in-text use of the term. In these ways, searches for either term will return the appropriate results. This is not a requirement, but a best practice.

With the linked question, no change would be made to the title, but the first sentence would read either:

... if somebody tried to dispel Mage's Magnificent Mansion1 ...

  1. Called Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion in the PHB

or

... if somebody tried to dispel Mage's Magnificent Mansion (called Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion in the PHB) ...

Vice-versa with SRD if OP used the book term.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan what about people searching for "Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion" either in or outside of SE? Won't this fail to return the Q&A? People have to be able to find what they're looking for. \$\endgroup\$ – sadaqah Jan 19 '15 at 0:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a good point that I'd missed... but I'm not convinced it's enough to justify the ugly result. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 19 '15 at 0:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ For the record we've got plenty of questions addressing both types: searching for mage's disjunction, mage's mansion, and mordenkainen's whatever all turn up plenty of results. I agree this would impact clarity if done exactly this way, but could be done well in some cases (e.g. right here). \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 19 '15 at 0:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ I feel like that’s a lot to expect of new users, and a lot of work for the rest of us if we have to update every question like this. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 19 '15 at 2:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I don't think it needs to be a requirement; rather, the best way to handle it when the situation comes up (i.e., if remembered when approving edits). \$\endgroup\$ – sadaqah Jan 19 '15 at 3:00
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The first rule should be respect and consistency, just like in the american versus british english debate:

Respect the querent's language and try to maintain it.

Beyond that, edits which only edit the proper nouns of the question are insufficient and bad.

For answers, consistency with the querent's jargon is important, but if you want to mention the alternate wording (especially if it's a gotcha when searching) that's fine. It may be worth a comment asking a respondent to update their language to match the querent's if the differences are incomprehensible.

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If it's a question about D&D 3.5e and they've used an incomplete reference from another source, it's legitimate to edit the question to use the names that appear in the actual game. Conversely, if they specifically ask about the SRD, then it's appropriate to alter any references to D&D 3.5e material to match what's actually in the SRD.

Dungeons & Dragons v3.5 and the d20 System Reference Document are two different things — the former is a roleplaying game, the latter is a 3rd-party designers' reference document that is deliberately altered and incomplete, with spell names in particular being deliberately shortened or altered to remove product identity.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The d20 SRD is also a heavily-referenced document for 3.5e players that gets used regularly here (see these two searches: mage's mansion and mage's disjunction vs usage of the term Mordenkainen's \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 19 '15 at 6:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Have to agree with Doppelgreener; if I'm behind my computer and I were to ask a 3.5e question, I would link to the SRD for it. I don't consider them two different things at all from a player's perspective. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Jan 19 '15 at 13:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Erik Well of course—it's a reference and we can use it as such. That has nothing to do with how we decide policy on which name is canonical. I'm saying that the actual game is the canon, and the SRD is a shadow cast by the real game. Certainly, if there was a contradiction in RAW between them, we would never say that the SRD has precedence over the actual game. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 19 '15 at 16:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I consider the actual game being played by the asker to be the only real game, and both the book and the SRD to be suggestions on how to play it. I don't give either priority over the other. Maybe that's just me, though. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Jan 20 '15 at 7:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Erik The Lumpley Principle, yes. But they can't ask us questions about that game, because it exists only during play among their group. When people come here and ask how a game works, they are asking us about the text, not the Lumpley-Principle instance of the game, so "the real game" in the sense you want to use there is not applicable to this meta question. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 20 '15 at 20:53

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