There are a good number of questions, especially from users new to the site, that get closed as too broad or opinion-based. This is a post we can link them to for more guidance than what comments can reasonably provide, and more focused than "read the help center". Feel free and add answers/tips of your own below.
Hello and welcome to RPG.SE. If your question was placed on hold for being "too broad," "unclear," or "opinion-based," don't fear - a little rework can probably get you the answers you need. As a focused Q&A site, we we believe that Real Questions Have Answers - while on forums, throwing out a topic and letting the posts roll in is OK, our philosophy is different, expecting someone to be more clear about what they want so people can help them very directly. Therefore we encourage community members with enough reputation and moderators to vote to put questions temporarily on hold to get clarified well before we start answering them. We have a large number of very experienced gamers here that want to help you with your problem, but the first step is respecting their time by making a question clear so that they can answer it effectively.
Let's look at the help center definitions of these three close reasons.
unclear what you're asking - sometimes we need more information in order to help solve your problem
Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking.
Edit your post to be more specific about what you're looking for, and be sure to address any concerns that other users brought up in the comments.
too broad - if your question could be answered by an entire book, or has many valid answers, it's probably too broad for our format
There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow down the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.
primarily opinion-based - discussions focused on diverse opinions are great, but they just don't fit our format well.
Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than on facts, references, or specific expertise.
Question = Problem
Why might this be? First, you probably want to look at the kinds of questions that are not good to ask here on RPG.SE (well, any SE really). You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face.
Don't ask questions where:
- every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite ______?”
- your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers: “I use ______ for ______, what do you use?”
- there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”
- you are asking an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ______ happened?”
- your question is just a rant in disguise: “______ sucks, am I right?”
Too Broad/Unclear What You're Asking
These two reasons are often used interchangeably. If your writing is just totally incoherent then it'll pull unclear votes, if it just isn't clearly scoped it might pull too broad or unclear votes from community members.
Incoherence - if your question isn't using enough in the way of English sentences and providing information where someone can answer, your question will be put on hold. Specify (and tag) what game you're playing, what exactly your issue is and what you want in an answer. Some of our new questions fall into this category - "Cleric question (no RPG specified)" is unanswerable, as is something we can't even read. You don't have to give your whole life story (and shouldn't), but if someone who doesn't know you and your situation can't read the question and understand what you're even asking, then it'll be closed for clarification on your part. Don't worry, questions can be reopened quickly. Note that "Oh i was really tired" is not a good excuse, if you're not thinking straight for whatever reason you're probably not going to be asking clearly, take a nap first.
A common question formulation here that is a variation on the standard "Don't Ask" questions is "what's a good way to do X?" There are a lot of "good" ways. What do you mean by "good?" If you want help, you have to put in some work too; explain what attributes you want out of an answer.
Keep in mind:
There are thousands of role-playing games. Maybe you have only heard of D&D and this is a surprise to you, but there are many games and they all work very, very differently. Asking about "how paladins work, you know, in all games" is an eye-roller, since paladins feature in only about 5% of the games in existence. See also How to deal with questions that just don't understand the scope of the RPG landscape?. For newer players, keep in mind even implementations of specific things across the 40 years of D&D versions is very, very different. To get this kind of question reopened, it helps to consider what problem you really have that you're trying to solve and focus down on it.
There are many different kinds of playstyles and play assumptions. There is no "right" one, just ones with pros and cons that appeal to different people. See also Can we affirm that RPG.SE embraces a plurality of playstyles?. You may be new enough that you don't even know that you have "a narrativist approach" or whatever, so to save a question being put on hold for this reason you need to state more about you and your group's preferences around the item at hand (for example - we play strictly by the book, or we prefer the GM to make up stuff that's entertaining, or we have a hot button about no PC should ever be under mental control...) Other people do not necessarily share these opinions so to get useful help you should state your assumptions.
So for example, "what's a good way of handling character death" is a closable question. There's a hundred ways, equally valid. What specific problem are you having? (The time spent for a player sitting out? The narrative consistency of your campaign with character turnover?) What have you tried and how did that work out with your group?
So "what's a good way of handling character death" has turned into these much more specific and useful questions here:
- What's the best way to kill a character in a way that is memorable, and treated with respect by players?
- How do I not cheapen death, while also respecting my players' time?
- (in fact there's a whole character-death tag with 55 questions in it).
If your problem is "I have a player playing a paladin and he's bugging the other players being a stick-in-the-mud and it's causing bad feelings" - that's a good question! Overthinking it and instead asking "well how have paladins been handled across D&D versions" is a bad question - both by the rules, and because it's a lot less likely to actually help you! Ask about your problem specifically. That overcomes most scoping issues.
Brainstorming Is Too Broad
We don't do "idea generation" or "brainstorm" questions; these are too broad. "I want a monk like Iron Fist build it for me," or "homebrew me a cool sword," or "what are some things I could have on my encounter table" are unbounded list questions, with no way to determine what's a better answer than any other except for a popularity contest (and therefore also opinion-based, since you probably asked for for best, coolest, or just "more ideas").
You can ask questions that aren't 100% objective, we're not just "RPG Rules Stack Exchange," but if you do then you and especially answerers are expected to follow the guidance in Good Subjective, Bad Subjective and answer from experience. Shopping questions about "what game is good for X" have been banned because they have a lot of trouble staying within these lines, for example. "Ideas on how to handle X" are not useful to you or anyone - "How you have handled X and how it worked out" is useful. You want answers people have used and tested, not a brainstorm. It can be hard to tell them apart in answers, but the former is immensely more valuable to you.
With what you've learned from reading this question and the Good Subjective article, check out the answers to What Kinds Of Alignment Questions Are On Topic? and it should make sense. "Is X a good act" is the kind of question that can never be on topic, unless it is specifically laid out in a game text. For a question to be answerable here, it needs either an objective answer or an answer that can share experience, but anything that is asking for opinion, guesses, speculation, etc. is not.
But I Don't Want To Narrow It Down
There are two kinds of endgames here.
First, it's sometimes a misinterpretation of these rules that questions can only be about specific sub-items and not just looking for high level/newbie guidance. But a tightly scoped question about "where do I even get started with X" is totally fine, for example I'm at a loss with “Dungeons and Dragons.” How does one play it, anyway? Our guidance on character build questions is instructive in that it says that good questions are probably either "how do I get started" or "I have a very specific choice to make" but are probably bad if they are in the middle of "let's talk through every single possible option." So it's possible your question is this type and just needs clarification. Keep in mind the "too broad" type - no one is going to explain the entire D&D combat system to you here, that question will get closed, but "The D&D combat system confuses me how do I go about learning it" is a valid overview question. This is also a good example of asking about your PROBLEM (I am having trouble learning the D&D combat system) and not an assumed answer (How do I houserule to make the D&D combat system simpler, Can you explain the entire D&D combat system to me...)
If it's not, and it's just plain one of the kinds of questions we don't allow here - that's OK. It is not RPG.SE's intention to be appropriate for every kind of discourse. We want a very high signal to noise site where someone can come with a specific issue they are having in a real game and get high quality answers with either objective or experiential validation. In that case, try a forum, see I've been told my question is better suited to a forum, but where should I go?