The conceit of this site is that it provides expert, or the best, answers. It's hard to have the best answer if you have an incomplete question. Putting aside the frame challenge and comments that eventually disappear, or get deleted ...

This post is but one example of many that has me gritting my teeth on how the questions get answered at this site. (I expect this is a challenge for any "voting site" and will one day read the SE member's book on that topic.)

Problem statement

Any of us who may offer an answer on a group dynamics topic only have one side of the story to use as the basis for an answer.

When a person (me included) asks a question and it involves group dynamics, the default problem is that we only get one person's side of the story from which to attempt to arrive at a most excellent answer.

I have seen in both comments and in answers signs that some responders recognize this, but I have seen far more answers (I am now at ~700 pages of q and a reviewed of 850ish) that provide a canned or favorite response to a problem presented by one person from a group of people regarding what boils down to friction in expectations and interpersonal interactions.

This bothers me enough to ask about it. None of the RPGE "powers that be" nor the SE "powers that be" wish for this venue to turn into an interactive forum type of site.

The question I'd like to see answered is:

While staying within the constraints of the SE format: are there tags, links, old discussions, or community derived tools that reflect my concern and thus guidance to that flaw in the model?

What is the flaw? We only get one side of the story yet try to provide a "best answer" with incomplete information.

We don't get the whole story when a "problem player" or "group dynamics" or "styles are in conflict" question gets asked.

Fortunately, some folks who answer do point to style differences, GNS concepts, and the critical issue of communication in any problem resolution. Unfortunately, I've seen the canned answers get a lot of up votes

RL "incomplete story" that contributes to why this bugs me
I have served on two jury's. The most disturbing thing this has taught me is how a jury does NOT get the whole story. Never. Both the defense and the prosecution work to only tell the jury a part of the story. Lawyers are hard working, smart, and motivated to succeed. So, the jury does not get the whole story. On the last jury where I served, the judge visited with us afterwards before we returned to our normal lives. When asked something by one of my fellow jurors, she shared some facts that could not be introduced into evidence.

Sometimes, when a jury doesn't have the whole story, the jury can arrive at a "wrong answer" and either convict the wrong person or not convict one who has committed a crime.

This site provides an unregulated jury, at best.

Question repeated:
While staying within the constraints of the SE format: are there tags, links, old discussions, or tools that reflect my concern and thus guidance to that flaw in the model?

Full disclosure: I am sure I have been guilty of this already at least once. It was the linked post, and @thatgirldm's reply (which I liked a lot, including the diva point) that got the gears churning.

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ As you note, the format limits the ability to do a back and forth to get better feedback. On the old Forge forums we ended up developing an informal, but consistent pattern of asking - who are the people playing (ages, relationships to each other, as gamers, as friends, etc.) what system, any relevant house rules, etc. and the usual "Did you talk to each other? What came of it?" While you don't get 100% of the story, if someone is being significantly biased, they usually reveal it in the followup responses. \$\endgroup\$
    – user9935
    Jul 19, 2015 at 21:32
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Over on another site, we're dealing with the issue of how to handle people asking "Tell me that I'm right" type questions, which are pretty easy to pick out as bad questions since the person clearly already had decided upon their answer... \$\endgroup\$
    – user9935
    Jul 19, 2015 at 21:34

2 Answers 2


I tend to agree, actually, that this is a problem. We are here to solve problems - but a lot of the time, when the stated problems is "someone else is an idiot!" the problem is likely at least 50% with the poster themselves. This can be glaringly obvious (Power player is a problem. Any fix?) or not.

You are probably also referring to How do you deal with a player slowing the group because of excessive RP? where the lead answer, I actually initially downvoted and worked with the poster because based on the questioner's clearly biased viewpoint, they were labeling the "problem-player" a "diva" and putting a lot of blame/shame on them. Which might be justified but might not be. The worst of the language was cleaned up but you are (correctly IMO) reacting to the remaining bias in it. And here's why that's not useful - these things are often just personality, playstyle, etc. conflicts where one person isn't "right" or "wrong." If the solution to a problem is "go tell them they are bad people doing bad things" is that really going to solve any social problem IRL? No, it's not.

This isn't Reddit. We can do better than that. Posts here, if they are just to get "internet validation," are not a real question. They are here to solve their IRL problem, and so they need to also learn how to express themselves constructively and see two sides to an issue (admittedly a hard thing to learn from a post if you haven't already).

I recently posted Dissatisfied with problem-player questions where this issue is part of my general dissatisfaction with these kinds of questions. I definitely support us coming up with some better formulation for problem-X questions that helps to mitigate that many of them are just rants about "hey this dude is a goon, right?" and the answers are "yes from your description clearly they are a goon, tell them to shape up or kick them/leave."

  • \$\begingroup\$ When a problem arises that leads someone to seek third party help, I am reminded of the "Can this marriage be saved?" trope/meme. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 16, 2015 at 13:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ 'labeling the "problem-player" a "diva" and putting a lot of blame/shame on them. Which might be justified but might not be.' Yes, some questions go over the top denigrating the subject of the problem. (E.g. see rev 2). It's never useful, rarely justified. We need our questions to contain a semblance of calm and respect, and not be an exercise in verbal abuse. (A rule of thumb might be: "if you actually showed this to whoever you're talking about, would they nod along and read quietly, or would they be shaking in anger at you?") \$\endgroup\$ Jul 23, 2015 at 3:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppel: great guideline for "how to ask a better question" (two thumbs up). As I look at both of these two answers, my question on "what tools" may be asking for something that we can't formalize? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 24, 2015 at 11:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ As the poster of the answer referred to here, I do agree that blaming/shaming is a problem! But IMO - and in the case of this answer in particular - the answerer may not realize how their tone is coming across. I absolutely didn't intend to blame/shame, and after mxyzplk pointed out my tone problem, I did my best to fix it (and know to watch for it in the future). In those cases, I think the existing tools - downvotes, comments, and chat - do help correct overly-biased answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – thatgirldm
    Jul 24, 2015 at 17:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Whoops, missed accepting the answer I preferred. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 12, 2017 at 22:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Side note: the most answered solution is actually "Talk to the player"/"Talk it out", sometimes with a "Cut losses" as a possible outcome. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Nov 12, 2018 at 12:14

The comparison to a jury is misleading at best.

We are not judges, juries, or otherwise in control of the fate of any persons. We do not need to be fair. No-one will be unjustly incarcerated due to our limited acces to ineffable Truth. We have a limited ability to cause errors, because we can only advise, not enforce our conclusions. A real, intelligent human being who knows their situation well considers any advice we give, and acts on it or not, possibly with modifications or unique inspirations, under their own discretion and discernment of the facts. All we provide is perspective, concepts, and knowledge.

So. We don't need the whole story.

All we need is one person and their problem. We are here to help solve problems, not render verdicts. We can give them advice for how they might proceed, knowing that we're speaking to only one person in a dynamic. If we can help them navigate their problem, even a little, we have served them and our site's purpose.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's also worth noting that if an answer did only consider one side of the situation, I would consider it poor and probably vote it down \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Jul 16, 2015 at 14:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree here. All answers are implicitly preceded by, "Given what you've told us..." Yes, an excellent answer will include some consideration of alternate viewpoints... PROBABLY. Bias is not necessarily bad, though. We all have it, all the time, or we couldn't give advice--just facts. IMO, YMMV, IANAL, and all other relevant acronyms we all presume on the interwebs. \$\endgroup\$
    – Smithers
    Jul 16, 2015 at 20:00

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