# The site's availability to newcomers seems startlingly low

I'm new to this site and to RPG Stackexchange where I have been spending my time so far. I only have a moderate experience with DND and most of my friends have none. I've been looking for a reliable site to ask DND questions for months and when I stumbled onto this site I thought it was a godsend. However, upon joining, I've been having a little difficulty getting what I want out there as a newcomer.

1. The tour and question guide give very general rules on how to write your questions, despite requiring them to be specific themselves.

2. you cannot reply to a moderators editing or deletion of your comment, and no private message system is available to speak to them about it.

3. Very little advice is forthcoming on how to improve your questions. They often get put on hold or removed with no explanation of how to fix them besides "make it specific and follow the rules". If you don't know how to do this... there aren't really any ways to to make progress in the right direction.

4. Most people joining this site are going to have questions and want to answer other peoples questions in an attempt to help them. Your answers and questions getting deleted and then resulting in a question ban make it incredibly hard to improve your own abilities. If someone's answer isn't quite as good as someone else's, downvoting and deletion are a lot more punishing for attempting to help someone than if someone were trolling or being of no help at all.

Is there any way to reduce the barrier of entry on such a useful site that seems so unfriendly to new faces?

• I'm not able to provide an answer that does justice at the moment, but I do want to thank you for bringing this up thoughtfully and calmly with us. Newbies do experience collisions with Stack culture sometimes, and RPG.SE's version of it, especially considering how differently it works to other systems it resembles (like forums). – doppelgreener Sep 25 '15 at 0:53
• Part of the problem is that most people in the RPG community are used to typical forums -- and the Stack is very different, both mechanically (comments are designed to be transient, vs. Qs and As which are permanent), and culturally (we don't like leaving trash questions around because they attract trash answers) – Shalvenay Sep 25 '15 at 0:54
• I didn't want to come off as rude or upset, because I love this site and the answers are incredibly well thought out and detailed. They've already helped me in a ton of ways with my campaigns, I just wanted to say something since it seems to have been brought up so shyly in the past. – Nemenia Sep 25 '15 at 1:01
• See also meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/5141/… and the new-users tag in general. – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Sep 25 '15 at 1:30
• @mxyzplk im aware of that, but the problem there, similar to here, is that nothing was addressed or solved. People talked about it... didnt do anything about it. And a few of my points weren't addressed at all. – Nemenia Sep 25 '15 at 2:15
• @Nemenia In your EDIT, you've said "comment" in several places where I think you mean "question" or "answer". – doppelgreener Sep 25 '15 at 3:14
• Although it may matter a little less here on meta it's worth letting you know now; there's no need to signal your edits, we have an easily accessible edit history and it just creates clutter. – Purple Monkey Sep 25 '15 at 4:01
• Got it. Thanks. Will fix those – Nemenia Sep 25 '15 at 5:27
• – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Sep 25 '15 at 12:52
• I already commented on how "helpful" that is in the question @mxyzplk – Nemenia Sep 25 '15 at 14:17
• On the help center itself or that FAQ'ed, featured Q&A that expands on it for new users? – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Sep 25 '15 at 14:29
• meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/q/5726/23970 chronicles (after a fashion) a big faux pas I made early on (a month ago) and different responses that resonated through RPG.SE and meta. All through it I remember feeling very much like those involved wanted (a) what was best for the site and (b) to educate/acculturate me. I hope the closure, comments/feedback, editing, and reopening of your question's been as productive an experience as my debacle was for me. – nitsua60 Sep 26 '15 at 0:02
• Hostile? Yes, in some ways it is. When I arrived here, I found the site climate to be hostile to new users, particular the inability to reply to a comment when someone made a comment until "x" rep was earned. (As you figured out, that is what Meta is for, and the Chat). That hasn't changed, nor has the tendency for some users to (1) not say why on a downvote, nor (2) provide "this would help your question" points. Some folks added comments to early answers -- "x" would improve your answer" and a few still do. That helped, but this varies among the user population. – KorvinStarmast Sep 26 '15 at 16:13
• Chat is also a good place to ask general meta questions. You can even summon mods, i think. It's been a good help to me when I need a general opinion on how this site operates, and the chat system allows people to respond to you hours later, and you will be notified of such a response. – Premier Bromanov Oct 23 '15 at 18:30

RPG.SE can be daunting to a newcomer especially one with expectations set by forums, Reddit, etc. To address your points in order...

1. The tour and help center by their nature can only give general guidance. It's expected that a new user might read some other questions on the site and learn by example what a good question looks like. It's really the only way to do it - imagine if we tried to provide "question templates" and 100 pages of requirements documentation on how to write a question, would that really help?

2. You can reply - either in a comment on your question/answer, or, as you have correctly detected, here on Meta, in public. SE does not and will never have a PM system because issues are for the entire community, not just mods. We all share powers here, and the more rep you have the more powers you have - there are very few powers the three diamond mods have that high rep users don't. Discussion of moderation is not something to "talk privately about" with a mod - because it's not personal. It's users and/or mods trying to keep the site great.

3. Sometimes there's more advice given unsolicited and sometimes there's not. Feel free and ask. I know I personally don't always have the time to do so and I need to place on hold and run, trusting that the rest of the community will fill the gap. And you have to understand, a lot of the time a new user will post something pretty incoherent and then never return, never seeing or responding to the litany of helpers, so sometimes we kinda wait for a user to show interest in bothering to improve before really piling on.

4. It shouldn't make it hard. You can edit your own content, even deleted content, and flag for undeletion. On hold and deletion do NOT stop the learning process, they are part of it - only you giving up and stopping can make it the end of the story. Downvotes and deletion are not punishment but they are guidance.

In the end, there are 1000 sites that work on the principle of "post anything you want and only really egregious stuff will be edited or deleted or locked." We don't need 1001. The reason you can get such great, comprehensive answers to questions without all the noise is because we take the opposite approach to our format. That means that not everyone will be comfortable with the format - and that's OK.

As for the rep system, there's thousands of posts here and on Meta.SE discussing all of its ins and outs. But the bottom line is yes, we want people to prove they can ask and answer questions in the SE way before they get much in the way of other powers. How do we know you know what a good question is? How do we know you're going to make good edits, close/reopen for the right reasons? You earn that trust via site participation. You're new and what this rep dynamic is telling you is "you don't quite get it yet." Once you get the SE way a bit more, you'll get the abilities as well. So keep at it. It's not super easy and it can't and shouldn't be if we don't want to be just another 4chan/reddit/rpg.net/other place many of us can't stomach wading through when what we want is real gaming information for real gamers.

• I will reply to this later in the day. – Nemenia Sep 25 '15 at 14:27
• It may be worth adding that it's quite hard to hit the automated account blocks; and that reputation is asymmetrical (upvotes on Qs are worth 5× downvotes), so it's nearly impossible to not increase in rep while at all active. – SevenSidedDie Sep 25 '15 at 17:01
• You can edit your own content, even deleted content, and flag for undeletion. ...Except for deleted comments. – Dan Henderson Sep 25 '15 at 19:52
• Also, +1 for It's not super easy and it can't and shouldn't be. – Dan Henderson Sep 25 '15 at 19:54
• @DanHenderson Though if comments are being used properly, they won't contain anything too valuable to lose. – SevenSidedDie Sep 26 '15 at 1:29
• @SevenSidedDie True. – Dan Henderson Sep 26 '15 at 1:52
• @DanHenderson also, if your content is deleted by a mod, you cannot flag for undeletion, editing it has no purpose, and you cannot comment on it to the mod that did it. – Nemenia Sep 27 '15 at 4:42
• A few quick thoughts and I think I'll close this for now, as it's generated a decent bit of attention as is, and hopefully made my point. On your post: for 1. I agree, it would of course be outlandish to attempt to post dozens of examples, so general is required by necessity, but in that case, then people should remember the rules and be more gentle to questions that dont obey those guidelines right away. – Nemenia Sep 27 '15 at 4:48
• 2. You cannot reply if it has been deleted, and cannot reply to a moderators change of your question or it being put on hold, which leaves just this, which is a clumsy response at best since they get notification besides manually looking to find out that there is a problem at all. This feels very one sided. 3. This is very true, and I like this, but something to that effect being told at the outset, rather than after having to be questioned, would certainly improve peoples' attitudes towards the site when first joining. – Nemenia Sep 27 '15 at 4:51
• 4. As I've mentioned, and you no doubt noticed, changing your content after being put on hold or deleted does not guarantee or even promise any response whatsoever from the mod, who may not even notice. A few of my questions were answered while on hold for this reason. And for your ending thoughts, I agree whole heartedly that quality beats quantity in this situation, and for the most part like how things are run, I just wanted to draw attention to the issue as I saw it, which i have successfully done, and shall leave it from here to be improved upon in ways anyone sees fit. – Nemenia Sep 27 '15 at 4:52
• If you have changed a deleted/on hold question and want it brought to further attention, use the flagging system. You can edit (and I think comment?) on your own deleted content, and those with sufficient rep can see it. – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Sep 27 '15 at 6:56
• Also, people "should be" helpful, polite, and gentle," but they should not hesitate to close an unclear question out of politeness - that doesn't help anyone, it instead propagates bad behavior and confusion on both questioner and answerers' parts. – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Sep 27 '15 at 7:03
• @mxyzplk As the “younger” mod with more plain-user experience, I recall that adding comments to deleted posts is mod-only. – SevenSidedDie Sep 28 '15 at 6:05

What you observe has been a concern to the community at RPG.SE for some time. For a sampling of concerns about climate here, you can take a look at these meta discussions and see that there has been some effort to address this:

Based on the SE model, there is only so much that can be done.

A core problem is cultural. The base model, before the RPG site was added, is that of a flesh based sorting algorithm, or "whatever the crowd thinks is right, once the different answers are presented for consideration."

Reaching consensus is messy, particularly when opinions get tossed into the mix. If consensus is to work, inputs and options require expert or informed opinion, not just an opinion. SO/SE started in the programming world, with all of the cultural flaws that part of our world possesses.

The other point is: asking a good question that is answerable with a "best" choice is an art. There is, in this world, such a thing as a bad question, a stupid question, and in many cases a question that isn't presented in a way that a best answer can be recognized.

Don't worry, hang in there, and ask the best questions you can. Chances are, someone else has the same question. If you have an answer that you can support, either through experience or documentation, and logical presentation, it will attract support.