# Voluntary banners for game-rec answers

I have an idea to improve our answers to questions, and I'm presenting it here as an optional, voluntary practice that community members might wish to adopt: voluntary banners at the top of answers indicating how the post adheres to our game-rec guidelines.

I propose these two, one for each way a recommendation can be backed up with experience:

• This recommendation for [item name] cites my own experience using it for the purpose in the question.

• This recommendation for [item name] cites someone else's experience using it for the purpose in the question.

Answers could include one of these (without the list bullet) at the very top of the answer, with the part in square brackets replaced with whatever the rest of the answer is recommending. Such a banner would look like this in a real answer post.

(I don't think we need any rules for “validating” the usage of these banners. I think our collective judgement of individual answers will take care of that organically, as usual.)

# Rationale

There are a few interlocking reasons to why I think such a simple and voluntary action could significantly improve our game-rec answers:

1. Voluntarily reading, choosing, and applying one of these forces oneself to think explicitly about how one's answer fits within the game-rec guidelines. Psychologically speaking, it's hard to choose one of these and then self-justify submitting an answer that doesn't quite follow the banner.

Thus, this voluntary practice will ever-so-slightly improve the answers by users who choose to use it (possibly resulting in getting more votes).

2. It makes it easier for readers (voters) to know what to expect from the answer, making it easier to absorb what follows. (This would be similar to how academic writing practice includes a thesis statement.) Voters who can more easily absorb an answer are more likely to properly consider it, which leads to more voting. People like (and upvote) clear answers they can grasp sooner more than ones that are hard to follow.

Thus, answers that have banners and fulfill their banners will receive positive reinforcement for following the game-rec guidelines, while answers that don't match their banners won't be well-received, reinforcing truth in advertising.

3. Those who voluntarily adopt these banners in their answers will, just by example, make others think about how they are considering answering the question. This is especially valuable for new users who skip reading the game-rec banner on the question. People will see these concise statements of how these questions should be answered and imitate it. If answerers never read the game-rec guidelines, but do follow the statements in one of these banners, they'd be fulfilling the game-rec guidelines rather well.

Thus, the practice is likely to both spread and to serve as in-place, hands-on education to everyone else jumping in to recommend something, improving our game-rec answers further.

## Why voluntary?

Because game-rec has enough rules and we don't want to weigh it down with more. And because, ultimately, people following the game-rec guidelines is a matter of site culture rather than enforcement, because enforcement is never perfect, and becomes even less effective when site culture isn't quite aligned with it.

Self-selected optional banners is a way to remind ourselves about what is important in game-rec answers, and provides a visible indication of our site's culture that can spread and involve new users much more effectively than expecting people to voluntarily read a pageful of yet more site rules. Each use of such a banner would reinforce in oneself how game-rec should be answered, and reinforces it in every passing reader.

# Templates

For easy copying and pasting:

• Own experience:

> This recommendation for **[item name]** cites
> **my own experience** using it for the purpose in the question.

• Another's experience:

> This recommendation for **[item name]** cites
> **someone else's experience** using it for the purpose in the question.


## Can I change the wording?

I don't see why not. These are completely voluntary and, if adopted, would be completely community-driven. Having a standard format is a good place to start, but they're not meant to be straightjackets for answers either.

If you keep in mind the game-rec guidelines and the opinion of voters reading your banner and question, it should work just fine. I see no danger of gaming alterations, since banners that are questionable in their adherence to the game-rec guidelines would likely attract downvotes anyway. So, I don't see any reason why the banner can't be worded a bit differently to adjust for corner cases that these three don't fit perfectly.

These are just suggestions too, and better banners might solidify through community use and become the de facto standard instead.

• This is a good thought but... Users who know about this and would do it, would not need to stop and think about answering a game-rec question, because they would answer it along the guidelines anyways. Those who don't add this themselves cant have other users edit it into their question even if it is an answer that follows the guidelines (editors are not mind readers), and those who answer against the guidelines will have their answers mercilessly downvoted or deleted anyways. It is just contributing to the heat death of the universe. Our current ugly system actually works, in other words. – Tritium21 Jul 12 '15 at 10:16
• @Tritium21 If the banners get used, they get seen by people who don’t come to meta and it gives them a clue into how game-rec works. – KRyan Jul 12 '15 at 13:07
• @Tritium21 You'd think so, but if I wanted to call people out I could link you to very many game-rec answers that did't follow the guidelines at all until being reminded to do it right. Even I have fallen into that self-inflicted trap. The self-reminding effect of such a banner is for us regulars too, very much so. – SevenSidedDie Jul 12 '15 at 17:00
• I edited one of my own answers to show the banner as a "live" example to link to in this post. Incidentally, choosing one was hard—very few of my game-rec answers are proper enough to put one of these banners on without knowing immediately that they don't deserve having it. It was exactly the kind of eye-opening effect I was hoping for… even if now I feel that I have an obligation to go delete a bunch of my game-rec answers for being crap. – SevenSidedDie Jul 15 '15 at 21:30
• Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – mxyzplk Jul 24 '15 at 2:37

This answer refers to a banner now removed from the suggestion. I now support these banners wholeheartedly.

If someone just googled the question, found a system they’ve never played, and see that it’s described as fitting the question, that doesn’t seem like a good answer. It might be the start of a good answer (for instance, you might be able to find campaign archives or, or find others outside the site who have played it), but I don’t think we want to suggest that “I can’t vouch for the validity of the claims, but they say System X does this” is a good game-rec answer.

I can’t recall having seen this sort of answer to a game-rec question, so it’s not a problem we currently have, and I suppose those who actually read Meta will probably be able to use it judiciously (since I’m also sure there are cases where that banner could apply to a good answer), but ultimately I don’t like the idea and think it may lead to users who found this meta, and thought it gave them the A-OK to answer game-recs with something like this.

• This is an objection to existing game-rec rules. I don't see its relevance here. – SevenSidedDie Jul 12 '15 at 16:57
• @SevenSidedDie I disagree, I checked them before I answered here. The existing rules even explicitly label just googling for systems as a terrible answer. The rules are seem very adamant that you must be able to cite experience, yours or someone else's. Marketing material is not that, and just because the developers intended that a game be good for something doesn’t necessarily mean it actually is – our rules seem to very much want someone who can say something actually is good. If the existing rules allow such an answer, they are very unclear on that point, but I do not think they do. – KRyan Jul 12 '15 at 17:12
• I really do not understand what's at issue here. Are you suggesting that I'm proposing something that changes the guidelines? That is not the intent, so if so, indicating how would be useful. – SevenSidedDie Jul 12 '15 at 17:13
• @SevenSidedDie Yes, I think the third banner represents a new form of answer previously disallowed for game-rec questions. It does not, I think, accurately represent the existing rules for those, and an answer under that banner would, by those rules, be not-an-answer and deleted. – KRyan Jul 12 '15 at 17:15
• Citing designer experience is OK as much as anyone else's. It's just really hard to do in a way that exactly matches game-rec questions that aren't closable as too-broad, so it doesn't happen often. (Citing anyone's experience via Google such that it matches exactly is just generally hard, and we don't see it often at all.) Given that, can I take this as more of an objection to its wording, or to calling attention to the possibility, maybe? – SevenSidedDie Jul 12 '15 at 17:28
• @SevenSidedDie you get to unilaterally decide what is kosher? I think you are wrong. I have read the relevant meta and see no support for your position. – KRyan Jul 12 '15 at 17:29
• Them's fighting words! Put 'er up... or not. Just chill. If you disagree, that's cool. I'm not autocrating at you or whatever's getting your back up. – SevenSidedDie Jul 12 '15 at 17:34
• Judging by the details of your answer here, would you say that swapping "testing experience" for "intent" would satisfy your objection? Is that the crux of the objection? – SevenSidedDie Jul 12 '15 at 17:38
• @SevenSidedDie yeah, something like that would be fine. I was mostly responding to "intent" - intent isn't good enough, we want success – KRyan Jul 12 '15 at 20:00
• I agree removing the intent banner was a good decision - as far as intent goes, I could suggest D&D for a no-combat no-magic political espionage game, and deadEarth and FATAL for various things. – doppelgreener Jul 13 '15 at 2:20
• While still remaining generally opposed to the idea... if it were to go forward... there really only needs to be one banner. There is no need to have two different banners that are only a few words different. The ideas can be combine into one banner. – Tritium21 Jul 13 '15 at 5:02
• @Tritium21 Well really it's just the one banner where you fill in: [my own and/or someone else's] experience. – doppelgreener Jul 13 '15 at 14:13
• @Tritium21 It's a UX thing. Pick-lists are more effective at stimulating thought along specific desired lines than fill-in-the-blank. In the banners, fill-in-the-blank is reserved for things that really are up to the user of the banner, while the few different words are there to suggest that "no, really, there are only two reasons you should have to be writing a game-rec answer". – SevenSidedDie Jul 14 '15 at 16:14
• @Tritium21 Nobody said drop down lists. (Pick list also means a list you pick from, such as a bullet point list above.) And UX always exists, even if it's just people reading this question. Each question and answer is its own interface with its own user experience. – doppelgreener Jul 14 '15 at 21:32
• @Tritium21 I have no idea what your objection is, but I do know it has nothing to do with my answer. The appropriate venue for your own opinion on this is your own answer, where you can articulate exactly what you foresee as a problem, people can respond, and your position can garner support. – KRyan Jul 14 '15 at 22:15

This is against the culture of Stack Exchange, and should be stopped.

This, by being a voluntary process only discoverable by being an active user on meta, prejudices the voting pool, and the querent who we are trying to help, against otherwise good answers from new users or those simply ignorant of meta. It adds a visual cue that 'This is the answer to look at, and those lacking this are worthless'.

This does not even take into account the additional laziness factor it will give answerers; An answer that gives no explanation of how a suggestion actually worked in reality will get a pass simply because of a bit of markdown syntax. To suggest otherwise proves that these are not needed - if you still have to show how something is based on yours own or second hand experiences, then whats the point of adding the visual syntax for that? It only serves to distract from the actual content.

We should be judging an answer based on the actual content of the post. This has a high chance of hurting that process.

We already have the tools to correct poor answers that would be caught by this procedure - comments and downvotes. If an answer does not show real world experience, then ask for that in a comment, and/or downvote the answer.

• And that's all I can argue right now, because my feelings are busy feeling, and it is not a good idea for me to continue this post in that condition. – Tritium21 Jul 15 '15 at 7:03
• I don't think voters would give an answer a pass just for having this sentence at the top. My expectation is that, if used lazily on an answer that doesn't fulfill the promise the banner makes—even if a few readers are lazy and upvote without fully reading it—it would get murdered by voters who do fully read it. I don't see this as a free pass to upvote land, so much as a way to remind the writer of their obligations, and afterwards serve as a useful thesis statement that materially (not artificially) improves the answer. Do you see it working out differently? – SevenSidedDie Jul 15 '15 at 15:34
• This is a very valid concern, but I am just not convinced that the behavior you are concerned about would actually occur. First of all, game-rec really does require you to read its special rules (which is, admittedly, counter to typical SE culture, but then typical SE culture does not allow shopping questions at all), so someone who hasn’t read meta at all is unlikely to answer such a question well. Secondly, other answers using the banner give a user who hasn’t read meta a clue that something special is going on. Third, this isn’t currently a problem. Worth revisiting if problems start. – KRyan Jul 15 '15 at 20:20
• @KRyan game-rec answers arn't a problem NOW. there is zero point in introducing something that has a VERY high risk of making it worse. – Tritium21 Jul 15 '15 at 22:23
• @Tritium21 You are wrong; game-rec answers are often problematic. I completely disagree with your assertion that this presents a very high risk. A risk, yes, but personally I consider it a rather low risk. – KRyan Jul 16 '15 at 2:41
• @KRyan No, there really isn't a problem. if an answer is bad, delete it. If the entire category is of question is a problem, then make it off topic. – Tritium21 Jul 16 '15 at 2:43
• @Tritium21 There would be no point in any meta discussion if that was considered “good enough.” We are here to improve the likelihood of good answers. These, I think, will help with that. – KRyan Jul 16 '15 at 2:44
• @KRyan This will make bad answers look like good answers. Thats all. This will do NOTHING else. – Tritium21 Jul 16 '15 at 2:45
• @Tritium21 I think you are wrong. I see considerable potential upside, and I don’t think anyone is going to upvote an answer purely because of the banner. – KRyan Jul 16 '15 at 2:47
• @KRyan Its the other way around. Good answers wont get recognition due to a lack of something only known to the in crowd. – Tritium21 Jul 16 '15 at 2:49
• Why would only the "in" crowd know about it? A large part of the point is that it would be easier for new users to pick up the right way to answer game-rec by observation. Right now the "in" crowd has exactly the advantage you're concerned about because we already know the game-rec guidelines. This is intended to level the playing field for new users. – SevenSidedDie Jul 16 '15 at 19:15
• @SevenSidedDie How? without making this mechanical (involving the devs), then the only way you KNOW TO DO THIS is to read THIS question. the fact the only the in crowd is commenting on this in the first place is the entire point. – Tritium21 Jul 17 '15 at 5:01
• @Tritium21 I've already answered that "how" in the post, point (3) under the Rationale heading. – SevenSidedDie Jul 17 '15 at 5:12
• @SevenSidedDie That's the problem. That will not work in this universe. See my answer for at least 2 ways that won't work. – Tritium21 Jul 17 '15 at 5:14
• You're making it sound like this is new policy I'm suggesting, when you compare it to the banner. (It's not.) Based on experience, people also don't read the banner, even regular users to refresh their memory, let alone new ones to learn it in the first place. So far your assertions that it won't work and that it would be unfair (which is it?) don't make sense to me. If you truly think that people can slap this on as "a little bit of syntax" while violating its semantics, I dont think there's anything I could say that would reassure you. You haven't convinced me to not do it on my own answers. – SevenSidedDie Jul 17 '15 at 5:39

Here's an optional add-on that people may wish to use if they want to include an explanatory link in a banner they use. This is provided down here rather than in the post above because it complicates the idea and may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's been requested.

This code added directly below the banner code will add a little [?] mark (with a "What's this?" tooltip) to the end of any banner's wording that links to this meta page:

> <sup>[[?]](https://rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/q/5639 "What’s this?")</sup>


Paste it below the code for whatever banner is being used, with no blank lines in between, and it will work as in this example (hover over the link to see the tooltip):

This recommendation for Sentient Blueberry Muffins: The Role-Playing Game cites my own experience using it for the purpose in the question. [?]