My answer to this question was deleted. Another answer, similar to mine (no actual experience w/ Harry Potter setting, experience w/ campaign similar to the one described), remains.

What's the difference? If I add a bunch of links to HP implementations that I haven't actually tried (as the surviving answer does), is that really it?

I'm surprised at this point to find my game-rec answer under fire. I took the criteria one-by-one and have actual play experience, noted what would probably need work, and generally felt like it was a solid answer - and so did several upvoters.

So is it really a bunch of links that's at issue here or am I really missing something crucial?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ As the surviving answer to this question, I would also be interested in the mod view on this. I have come close to deleting my answer a couple of times because I feel that it is tenuous in showing specific experience of running a Harry Potter game. I guess I'd like to know the extent to which just meeting the criteria specified in the question is sufficient as opposed to meeting those criteria whilst having done the exact thing the question is asking \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    May 25, 2015 at 8:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, as a mod we've considered deleting it a couple times too. So far it's been just convincing enough to stay our trigger fingers. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    May 25, 2015 at 13:04
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Well, I think I'll probably just let this one go, because my direct experience doesn't cover it and the HP-specific stuff I can find (indirect experience) is largely too school-oriented to really help. I guess I was just surprised. It's not like I don't know how to do a game-rec answer... \$\endgroup\$
    – gomad
    May 25, 2015 at 13:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @gomad This was a good thing to ask about, and thank you for taking it well. \$\endgroup\$ May 25, 2015 at 16:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ If it matters, both answers were very helpful to me as the querent. \$\endgroup\$
    – DuckTapeAl
    May 26, 2015 at 4:27

2 Answers 2


It's absolutely crucial that game-rec questions draw on experience (your own or someone else's) with the querent's criteria. In your answer I see your experience with DFRPG, but no mention of having used DFRPG for Harry Potter games. That's really important, because otherwise your answer--no matter how accurate or useful--is hard to differentiate from unsupported speculation.

The other answer appears to provide specific links to using Savage Worlds for Harry Potter games and cites personal experience with games that share specific elements with that concept; I haven't looked at the links closely, but it passes the smell test. It might be a terrible answer (if so it's deserving of downvotes), but it's a supported answer and so it's not coming under the axe for deletion.

That's the difference. Experience doesn't have to come from the answerer, but someone's experience with the actual solution being recommended (not only with the system, but with using the system in that particular way) has to be cited: otherwise we're just dealing with speculation. Hard experience on this site has shown that's not enough. Game-rec questions need to have experience-based support.

This is important because otherwise game-rec answers are subjective enough that they regularly fall through the Stack's ability to sort them usefully. Most Stack sites have banned these questions entirely, but RPG.SE has (through years of experience) come up with a set of living criteria which let us still offer this service. They're linked at the bottom of every question with the tag, and in the tag's wiki.

Game-rec questions on RPG.SE are on a permanent probation period, pending the time when they're more trouble than the value they provide. We routinely flag and delete answers to game-rec questions which violate the strict criteria, because they're all that lets us still field this kind of question at all. They get un-deleted as soon as they're edited to make that experience component explicit.

If you feel your experience meets these requirements, it should be fairly simple to edit it to make that more clear. If your actual play experience is not specifically with using DFRPG to run Harry Potter, you need to connect the dots for us very carefully on how you're using it to support the recommendation. Once you do, just flag it for a moderator's attention to get re-opened.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree that these are borderline cases, but it does seem to me that, if "personal experience with games that share specific elements with [Harry Potter]" is what's enough to keep Wibbs's answer on topic, then it should be trivial for gomad to also cite similar experience with such games -- specifically, with the default Dresden Files setting, which shares at least as many features with HP (modern day, mixed magic and technology, dark-ish tone, etc.) as what Wibbs describes. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 1, 2015 at 20:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @IlmariKaronen Then he can do that, and if it's supported properly (he has to actually make the case that the experience transfers), get the question undeleted. Whether it's "trivial" to do or not, it can't be left as an exercise for the voter to infer. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Jun 1, 2015 at 20:35

What Makes A Good Game-Rec Answer

As we have said many times in our guidance on game-rec questions, they (like all subjective Q&A on the site) need to adhere to core SE guidance on Good Subjective, Bad Subjective. The most crucial part of this is how you support your answer with Back It Up!.

Back It Up! means that your answers must be based on either:

  • Something that happened to you personally
  • Something you can back up with a reference

We don't want your opinion. Or your judgement, preference, belief, rumor, or suspicion. We want your, or someone else's, expertise. This means you ran a Harry Potter game, or something really darn close to the OP's spec, or you have references to info from people that have done so.

All site questions should do this. Subjective "what should I do with a drunk player?" kind of questions are just as in need of GS/BS - "what you would do" no one cares. "What you have done and how it worked out" we care. But with game-recs, we have to be more draconian in its enforcement, because something about them makes hordes of people want to answer with their favorite systems. Which is understandable, there's a lot of semi-generic systems out there. So every game-rec regardless of requirements tends to get the identical suite of "GURPS! FATE! Savage Worlds! Etc!" answers, because those systems are flexible and their players are sure it'll work for the target scenario as well.

What Do We Do About Bad Game-Rec Answers

So what we usually do in escalation order when we see a game-rec question not being Good Subjectived is, as needed:

  1. Put on the game-rec notice
  2. Put a comment on the question reminding people about the requirements
  3. Put a comment on all answers not obviously GS reminding people of the requirements
  4. Delete the most egregious GS violating answers
  5. Delete the rest of the answers not obviously GS
  6. Close the question as irredeemable

This One Specific Question, Why One Answer Was Quashed And Not The Other

We have gotten to about stage 5 on this one. It's a time consuming and frankly boring process, so each time it brings up "do we need more game-rec restrictions" or "should we ban it like all the other Stacks." So do everyone a favor and keep it clearly Good Subjective.

In this case, mods deleted your answer because though it struck in the right vague direction, really only said "you can do dark fantasy with FATE, and I've done it" but that a lot of the more Harry Potter distinct stuff was "probably doable." That falls just short of the line. The answer that remained - well, it wasn't good at the start, but the edits got it to the other side of the line, which is "you can do dark fantasy with Savage Worlds, and I've done it," and as for the Harry Potter part "here's people who have done it, here's references." That brings it across the goal line of Back It Up!.

Back It Up! is deliberately a high bar. There are a lot of forums where you can go post "System for Setting: Harry Potter!" and get a huge batch of noisy crap suggestions (Google that string for proof). We want answers that are provably correct, and with subjective questions provable means not a logic exercise, but an exercise in experience.

For a game-rec, the kinds of answers that meet the bar are:

  1. There's a game you have used for that specific thing. Slam dunk.

  2. There's a game that explicitly says it does that - but you still need some familiarity with it. I can say "I've seen Redhurst Academy of Magic in game stores and it claims to be Harry Potter-y" - but since I don't know if it hits the OP's more detailed criteria, it's still not good. Like for the DBZ question, the DBZ game (if not specifically called out in the question) would be a good answer if the answerer had played it, or at least a similar R.Talsorian anime Fuzion game.

  3. There's a game you have used for something very close to that. This is a judgement call. "I used it for a Babylon 5 game with that same feel and you're asking for Space: Above and Beyond, but that's minimal adaptation, just starfury = little space marine ships, etc." is probably OK. "I used it for Babylon 5, you want Star Trek, I'm sure it would be fine you just add in a bunch of near-magic technology and you're good" is less OK. Your answer hits right in here - the spell system is as core to HP as the technobabble is to Star Trek, and I don't think "modern dark fantasy" is close enough per se without having evidence it can support the specific magical system Potter revolves around.

Why Other Game-Rec Answers Somewhere Else On The Site May Be Bad But Not Yet Quashed

An addendum to answer more specifically why a specific other bad game-rec answer on this or other questions hasn't been corrected or deleted.

While it may of course seem like your friendly diamond mods are omniscient, it's not quite the case. We try to rely on you the community to detect and act on poor questions and answers before we have to, and bring such bad content to our attention. We don't actually consider it our job to read every single question and answer on the site - we participate as we feel moved, and otherwise wait for flags and stuff to bring things to our attention.

So as for "why hasn't answer X been similarly quashed without mercy," the answer may be:

  1. It's actually a good answer in our opinion
  2. We've seen it, and have commented hoping it will improve and are giving it some reprieve time
  3. We've seen it, and since the shouts of "those darn mods are always abusing their power and enforcing site rules" are too loud that week, are waiting for community members to act on it via comments, edits, delete votes, etc. (none of which are reserved for diamond mods)
  4. (Most likely) We haven't seen it, and no one's bothered to flag it for us or otherwise act on it.

If you want to ask us "why haven't you done something about answer X," and you haven't commented on or flagged or VtD'ed that answer for being bad, you should as the kids say "check yourself before you wreck yourself" and consider using those mechanisms.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's the "or something really darn close to the OP's spec" that I think was the wrinkle here. The HP in the title is, I thought, a red herring based on what the actual specs detailed in the question were. \$\endgroup\$
    – gomad
    May 25, 2015 at 14:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's possible as well. You can always frame-challenge it. I think the specific way Potterverse magic works is the real distinguishing wrinkle. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    May 25, 2015 at 14:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Cool. Thanks guys. \$\endgroup\$
    – gomad
    May 25, 2015 at 15:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ So based on this, don't all the answers to the recent question about tactical basketball need to be deleted too? \$\endgroup\$
    – gomad
    May 26, 2015 at 20:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @gomad maybe. See addendum. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    May 26, 2015 at 23:25

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