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Right now, it’s pretty common to have both and on a question, or and .1 In cases such as these, it’s not always clear if the tags are a union (“either-or-or-both”) or an intersection (“only-in-both”).

Personally, I tend to interpret it as:

  • If it’s a “how do the rules work?” question, the tags are being used as an intersection: the querent wants to know how the rules work in both systems (assuming they are the same, since in these related systems they often are, but a good answer should double-check that and discuss any differences if there are any)

  • If it’s a “how do I do this within these systems?” question, the tags are being used as a union: any material from either system is acceptable. These still run into problems when the same material is used in both systems (e.g. a recent question tagged was asking about options for a paladin, and I finished my answer only to go back and comment asking “Wait, which paladin are you using?” – I got lucky that time and it was the paladin I’d based my answer on, but it could easily have gone the other way).

I do feel that most users here have similar heuristics, and I do think it mostly goes pretty well. I’m not sure there really is a problem. But I also figure it’s worth a discussion, since there definitely have been times when there was confusion about this and it caused headaches. Should we expect questions with multiple system tags to each define how we are to treat things that differ between them?

  1. Since D&D 3.5 is supposed to include everything in 3.0 excepting those bits it explicitly updated and changed, in that case part of this question is already answered for us (and often makes the 3.0 tag superfluous).
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  • \$\begingroup\$ I could swear we've had relevant previous meta discussions that should be linked to, but I haven't found them yet. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 8 '15 at 15:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Previous related discussion: Pathfinder & D&D 3.5 TagsAre some 3.5 and Pathfinder questions inherently too broad? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 8 '15 at 18:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Ah, I’d forgotten the former. The latter was... not a particularly useful discussion, IMO. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 8 '15 at 19:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ "I’m not sure there really is a problem." That would be correct. I don't think that there is one. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 10 '15 at 23:42
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Yes, if the question lacks clarity enough to be a problem

Questions should always be clarified if there is doubt as to what they mean. Especially when it's possible that the asker is misunderstanding how to use the tags, or is mistaken in an assumption that both do/can apply to their question, it is very useful to get an explicit explanation of why they are tagging for two different games.

Quoting myself, we have a normative expectation that the substance of a question will support the tags, and not vice versa:

Tags should always be adjusted to suit the question actually asked. When someone tags with [two systems] and it's not 100% clear why from the text of the question, we'll comment to ask them to clarify what they were thinking when they added that tag.

There are pragmatic exceptions of course — we don't stick to the letter of needing tags to appear in the question content when there's no lack of clarity, because avoiding unnecessary noise on a question (in the form of comments, closures, whatever) is also important. For example, we allow single-system questions to elide their system from the body of the question when the tags communicate it fully, because that causes no problems. Similarly we can allow dual-system tagging to pass unchallenged when it's abundantly clear what those tags mean for the substance of the question.

Should we be more pro-active in seeking that clarity? If we're having any problems with a lack of clarity as to the intent of dual-tagging, yes. If it's just a desire for purity of principle though, then no — we don't have a practical need to more pro-actively clarify questions that aren't causing trouble or concealing a misunderstanding. As a principle to follow, we should intervene when it notably improves signal more than it causes noise.

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