I see this question being asked about actual podcasts of games and want to ask if there are any podcasts with x criteria. Is this regarded as off-topic or will it be otherwise closed due to some other failing (too broad, subjective)?

If so, how can I post a good enough question for a recommendation of a podcast?

  • \$\begingroup\$ As an update, I thought a lot about the question I was about to ask and determined it to be too broad. Luckily, I found some old (ADND 2e) source books I could use so I haven't really felt the need to ask the question any more. \$\endgroup\$ – daze413 Feb 2 '16 at 5:09

General recommendations for podcasts are, being shopping questions, off topic.

However, like tool-recs, some of the questions asking for recommendations for podcasts of type X are really trying to solve an underlying problem which we could help with if we knew about it. These kinds of questions can often be rewritten to be about the underlying issue, or in some rare cases will be fine without rewriting because the underlying issue is already plain.

An example of the latter is Actual Play of Don't Rest Your Head one-shot exemplar: this question's underlying problem is clearly “I don't get how DRYH works/fits together in play.” Now, this could be rewritten to be something like “how do I figure out how DRYH works”, and possibly it would be better helped that way — but I rather doubt it. Pragmatically the answer is going to be some type of “observe other people playing it,” and given DRYH's niche appeal making attending a live demo close to impossible, there really is only one kind of answer possible: pointing to a session recording or summary.

But the exception also demonstrates the principle: general podcast recommendation requests that lack a visible underlying problem can't be answered except with a laundry list of podcasts. These suggestions will be based on no more than guesses at their usefulness for the asker (because we don't know what problem they're supposed to be solving!) and the answer author's personal tastes. A set of answers like that defeats the purpose of using RPG.se instead of a forum because the voting will just be noise, and beyond being an ineffective use of the site, the sharp uptick in noise degrades the signal-to-noise ratio that the site's coding and rules revolve around protecting.

Conclusion: How to ask for podcasts

So if you want to ask for podcasts that satisfy criteria X, the best way to ensure the survival of the question is to reorient to focus on explaining what problem you have (which inspired the desire for recommendations) instead, and leave the request for podcasts as a tangential mention: that you were thinking maybe a podcast would help you. Then the question's problem would be clear, and answerers would be free to answer with all their expert knowledge, podcast related or not, instead of just being a hive mind container to extract web links from (which is what a discussion forum and other social media excels at). As a bonus, mentioning that you think a podcast might solve the problem — assuming you've explained the problem in general already — can help give readers a bit more insight into your experience of the problem and possibly improve answers thereby, even if they don't end up being links to podcasts.

  • \$\begingroup\$ should a question such as you have suggested be tagged with [session-summaries] and/or [podcast]? \$\endgroup\$ – daze413 Jan 1 '16 at 0:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @daze413 Questions should avoid using tags to indicate what might be the answer, and stick to tagging for just the problem itself. So what tags would be called for would depend on the problem at hand. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 1 '16 at 0:32

Yes, they're on topic. They need to cover an actual RPG-related problem, which will usually mean you're requesting actual play examples. Those are covered in , and are valuable teaching instruments in learning how a game actually gets played, or how certain parts get handled. Podcasts in general also get covered in .

(If you're just looking for a cool podcast to listen to, it'll be closed as primarily opinion based because that's not what we're here for, but that should come as no surprise.)

There hasn't been much major problem with them yet making them need to be off-topic. We only rule things off topic when a significant amount of historical evidence shows they're non-viable. With only 17 questions between the podcast & session-summaries tags, we've hardly tried them out yet. Until then, we just close problematic instances for our standard applicable reasons, if they apply.

  • Session summaries were discussed recently in Can there be a good use for [session-summaries]? and found to have merit, in fact.
  • They match the second of three patterns in Q&A is hard: let's go shopping. The second version's problematic primarily because of quick obsolescence, but that's not an issue here. Meanwhile, we accept many questions fitting that pattern: character builds (especially for games like D&D 5e and Pathfinder that still have new material being released regularly, which do face obsolescence issues), and requests for online resources such as character sheets.
  • Our referendum on game-recs, and the close reason that came from it, doesn't establish other kinds of recommendations (online resources or not) as off topic. The mods intended the discussion to represent community opinion on all recommendations, but the community doesn't agree such a discussion took place, thinking it specifically covered our draconian rules applied to s and maybe adventure-recs (see users' reactions: in 1 and all responses; 2, 3a/3b, 4, 5). Using our referendum on game-recs to suggest we've already discussed the topicality of all recommendations is disingenuous and acting as if the discussion is more complete than it actually was; this is our opportunity to discuss podcast recs.

Your question won't be too broad or primarily opinion-based by default, so unless it really is a close-worthy criteria, it could totally stay open. How to keep it open is a big question we can't answer fully, but it will help to remember there's a lot of podcasts and they're not all neatly gathered together in any one place. Otherwise, stick to business as usual: tell us the actual problem you're facing, ask us how to resolve it, say if there's anything specific you need from us. You may want to review existing questions to see what they did.

(Incidentally I've voted to close that question you linked because I feel that particular one is too broad, it's just arbitrarily requesting any sort of podcast collection.)


I'll borrow from the close menu here, specifically the "off-topic because" bit:

“Shopping” questions and other recommendation requests are off-topic, but can be asked on any one of a number of role-playing games discussion forums. For more information, see Are Game Recommendation Questions On Topic, Revisited.

If you want to find podcasts, a question about how to find podcasts could be on-topic, or you could just try a forum instead of this site.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The close reason is actually a bit misleading, because recommendation questions are not all off topic. See: anything about character building. Specifically, recommendations of games and adventures are off topic, and so too are tools. Podcasts was never covered nor banned. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Dec 28 '15 at 4:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Not all recommendations are off topic, but all shopping questions are. Character build questions don't fall into that category, but podcast recommendations do. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Dec 28 '15 at 4:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Podcast recommendations aren't shopping questions. No shopping is being made. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Dec 28 '15 at 4:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener "Shopping" has the scare quotes for that reason: it's not about money, it's about "recommend what thing I should get". It's the "should" that is inherently a problem of pure opinion, not that money or literal shopping is involved. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 28 '15 at 17:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Sure, and the off topic reason comes from a discussion that the community doesn't agree was about the scope the mods are taking it as agreement upon. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Dec 30 '15 at 5:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener If we want to discuss a framework in which other types of recommendations are made kosher at RPG.se we can do that, but it still must start from an understanding that it requires making an active, affirmative decision by the community. Just noting an absence of a specific ban isn't sufficient, since there is currently a network-wide ban on “shopping” questions in general. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 30 '15 at 6:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Are you talking about the Let's Go Shopping post? That one doesn't use scare quotes around Shopping, and actually refers to the purchase recommendations of real-life products sold in stores for money, and was discussing a SuperUser policy specifically. I'm not aware of any network-wide shopping question ban (with or without scare quotes), only that a lot of Stack sites have ruled a lot of specific types of recommendation off topic and that real-life product purchase recommendations are often banned and for good reasons. Could you point me to that policy? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Dec 30 '15 at 6:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener That blog post is explicitly network-wide. It starts from the lessons of SuperUser — revealing a class of problem questions — and expands them to the whole network. The fundamental principle is not about money or purchases — it's that answers to recommendations rot, and the kinds we can host are those that can be transformed into “how” questions which have answers that don't generally rot. Asking for podcasts (where there is lots of turnover and dead links over time) is an excellent example of the class of problem questions discussed by the post. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 31 '15 at 20:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Right. That blog post's about learning about a weakness in Stack Exchange, just like discussions about list questions, but it isn't a ban policy, and it is about shopping but not "shopping" recommendations. It is informative, and suggests we definitely should close a lot of things of this nature, but calling it a network-wide ban policy is not intellectually honest. Whether that should inform us to ban this topic is a good question, and in a lot of cases we might unspokenly decide "yes" until it comes up in meta (that's fine!), but it's not a ban-by-default declaration. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 1 '16 at 5:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener It's not intellectual dishonesty to simply disagree on the relevance of the post. The only sites that allow recommendations are those that have explicitly allowed them by developing controlled methods of allowing them; the default is that they are not allowed. We used to be one of those that had a way of allowing tightly-controlled recs, but we binned our methods to control them and the default ban reasserted itself. We could make new methods/framework/rules, but that proposal has yet to be made; much as I championed recs, I'm personally out of ideas on how to make it work here. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 1 '16 at 5:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie By intellectual honesty, I just mean by the idea of: call things by what they are. We can both agree it's a super informative blog post, at least, but I think we can also agree it doesn't go so far as to say "We declare all shopping questions are banned on all Stack Exchange sites." Right? So we can totally infer a ban policy from it, but it isn't one. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 1 '16 at 5:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener No, we can't agree on that. Neither my personal understanding of the post nor my observations of the network and Meta.SE agree with that. Edit: Keep in mind that SE in general is not a rule-based system, it's an experience-based system. If a post says "experience shows these kinds of questions simply don't work here", the inference that they don't work in our format is sufficient. We don't need an ex cathedra ban from the network devs; pointing out that recs are generall non-functional here is more than enough. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 1 '16 at 5:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener See edit. It doesn't need to, because that's now how SE works. Pointing out that X type of question is non-function is equivalent to a ban except where special efforts have been made to find a way to make them functional. Since we have not made them functional, they are banned. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 1 '16 at 5:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Uh, yeah, that's kinda what I mean. We infer a ban from the observation they don't work. The observation they don't work isn't a ban, and they're not laying down a ban rule in that blog post against all recommendation questions. This isn't me saying we should allow shopping questions here. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 1 '16 at 5:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Yeah, that's fair, I got a little off track myself, I haven't properly woken up yet & have been a bit out of it and not feeling 100%. What I'm trying to get at is this: the close reason for shopping questions, derived from discussion of a totally separate rec category which we agree is banned, isn't a reason for saying podcast recs are banned. If we interpret that shopping questions are banned by default, then this is a discussion about a specific exception, and saying "well they're banned by default" has nothing to do with whether the exception should be made or not. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 1 '16 at 5:45

Are podcast recommendations off topic?

Sadly, yes.

All recommendations are off topic, not some specifically enumerated list (well, you didn't mention GM screens...).

Historical reading:

The reason is the same reason for paid products, Web resources, tools, etc. Questions will tend to poorly define their criteria and generate a long list of soon to be outdated options (like the linked podcast req in the question). Or people will helpfully just "Google that for them." Or... All the other reasons.

Rec questions, also known as "shopping questions," are banned network-wide. We tried to allow them under limited cases. While the discussion was about "game recs," given our reasoning we allowed other kinds of recs under the banner of that experiment. But when that experiment failed because we couldn't do them well, that experiment ended, again the discussion was mostly about "game recs" but it applies whole cloth to all the recs brought in under that experiment's banner. Therefore "game recs" now banned means all recs banned. There aren't any meaningful changes when it's "but its an X-rec" that eliminates the issues with them.

So the answer is "no, same reason," and what can we do about it is "same thing." "What's the best way to learn Savage Worlds by watching people play it" could be legitimately answered with "Among other options watching podcasts, and here are two good SW APs I listen to..." But "I want a SW AP podcast" fits into the exact same req category and will have the exact same problems, in fact nearly identical to tools in that they tend to go dead more often.

You are trying to argue through false analogy that "well then anything where anyone is asked to give some opinion is banned." That's not true, it's requests for classes of off-site resources where there is no other more high quality answer possible than a list of one or more resources. "I want your recommendation, as in your expert opinion, on this character option" is not a "rec question" in this sense. Consider it a "resource recommendation" ban if that helps you.

We tried to allow curated rec questions. It didn't work. We're not going to then try to re-allow it in corner cases, it takes way too much work for the value.

Please note that shopping/rec questions are off topic Stack wide as a general policy - we allowed game-recs (which was left as a deliberately vague term instead of having "adventure-rec, setting-rec, etc. per a previous meta conversation) as an experiment, but once that experiment was ended there's nothing else rec-cy left on topic we need to explicitly remove. That was one umbrella exception and that umbrella's closed. We had to say that out loud in the tool-rec discussion, but don't really need to say it again for every *-rec discussion.

I love podcasts, I hope this poster gets an answer somewhere, etc. I championed us trying to do recs and keep them on topic here. We as a community failed in that, which disappoints me too but it's water under the bridge and we need to move on.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I cannot support this interpretation. For all I knew, originally, this was about game-recs which needed draconian enforcement - just for actual games. That's a corner case among a great number of cases. Then it was apparently also tool-recs, which apparently also needed similar draconian enforcement and were implicitly covered by game-recs even though nobody ever brought that up. Now you're suggesting that all recommendations are off topic, every single one, even the ones where enforcement seemed no different to anywhere else, and suggesting these are edge cases. Those were edge cases. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Dec 28 '15 at 16:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you explain how a recommendation for X (podcasts, tools, dice, rent-a-Gm services, whatever else we can come up with) is different in nature and not suffering from the same issues as game-rec and tool-rec as explained in those metas? If so please add it to your answer, but your answer currently depends on "well they aren't because they haven't been listed explicitly," which I believe to be incorrect. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Dec 28 '15 at 16:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm kinda confused by the claim that session summary recommendations have always been off topic; the site's own behaviour under that tag seems to indicate otherwise. I'm not arguing whether they should be off-topic or not, just that I've never seen the site act like they are before. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Dec 29 '15 at 22:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ "We had to say that out loud in the tool-rec discussion, but don't really need to say it again for every *-rec discussion." Right, and that should have been said out loud in the original game-rec discussion. Given it was not, it's not acceptable to tout that discussion as our community's conclusive view on all recommendation questions. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Dec 30 '15 at 10:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's simple. All shopping questions are off topic stack exchange wide. We made an exception on rpg.se for "game-recs" where that did kinda allow whatever kind of item. Then we rescinded that exception, taking us back to the default state of "no recs." I'm sorry that you have another impression of those events, but that's the mods' viewpoint on them. Shopping q's are always by default off topic unless explicitly allowed, and unless there is some other question where we allowed podcast shopping q's outside the scope of the game-rec experiment this is a non starter. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Dec 30 '15 at 14:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk This is not me having "another impression of events" - this is multiple users on the site having a significant objection with how the mod team handled the game-rec discussion, and what you've decided to make it mean. The response here involves a lot of people being in objection to the mod team's behaviour over this, and there's plenty of evidence people were simply not on the same page as the moderators as far as understanding what the game-rec discussion would mean while it was ongoing. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Dec 30 '15 at 23:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk Please don't use sarcasm to dismiss genuine concern or confusion, and please don't mistake Greener's willingness to continue to engage on this issue despite your acrid condescension for his being the only person who thinks the issue was confused and the mods should at least acknowledge that it was mis-handled. Your attitude has shut people up, but not changed minds. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Dec 31 '15 at 0:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener What the game-rec discussion meant was the community's rejection of the principles we used to allow game-recs. We as mods — being the human exception-handlers — judged that hosting recs in general was incompatible with that stance regarding the old principles. The community endorsed the ditching of the principles, we by fiat applied the consequences of that. We have not seen any community movement to reclaim the old principles or establish new ones that would logically allow recs, and we're unmoved by any desire to have them sans a rationale that supports having them. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 31 '15 at 19:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Thank you; that's the first time you or mxyzplk have actually said that. To date it's been an assertion that game-rec was about all recs and so our discussion wasn't about the game-rec tag. So yes, we did vote on the game-rec tag's fate, and then the mods independently banned every other rec without our mandate. The problem is you've been pointing to the game-rec discussion saying that universal ban was our mandate; it wasn't and we didn't have a say. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 1 '16 at 4:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie So: if you want to ban all recs, just don't pretend we told you to do that - be honest and say it's your independent decision, and be open to your position being debated (rather than shutting people down with "you already voted on this {points to game-rec referendum}"). Pretending it was our mandate, and the shut-down tactic responses, have and will cause mod trust issues and have been breeding an unhealthy meta environment around the topic. (These issues make breaching the issue as a whole, such as establishing a new rationale, difficult.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 1 '16 at 4:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie This part of why we got here is worth arguing about: the matter of whether we told you we were prepared to ban everything. Like I've said: you've asserted "every rec" was the full scope of what we were discussing, when many of us didn't think so and thought it was affecting like 1-2 tags. Suggesting your-the-mods' independent decision was in fact the community's mandate is something you should not do, and is what will create mod trust issues. Go ahead and ban other things by inference! But don't imply it was our will, or we lose trust. Take credit for your own decision. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 1 '16 at 5:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ But they have been. Look, follow my logic. 1) By default recs are off topic per Stack wide rules. Podcast, game system, adventure, whatever. 2) We decided to allow game-recs on RPG.SE. In that discussion we just implicitly allowed other recs too, without saying them out loud. 3) That didn't work out and we had to disallow game-recs. That also implicitly took the other recs with it. Given the Stack Network wide shopping ban, we never had separate "tool recs on topic, podcast recs on topic" efforts. So one decision let them in, another let them out. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jan 1 '16 at 17:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Specifically? It'd be nice to see some sign the mods have recognised there was a problem and people can learn from it so things will be clearer in the future, instead of insisting it's all someone else's fault and nothing could have been done better--because that makes it likely these same miscommunications will come up again on other topics. (eg, maybe "it was implicit years ago so we'll leave it implicit now and expect the folks who joined the site in between to figure it out" isn't the best way to approach a significant policy discussion.) It's not policy so much as the community's trust. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Jan 3 '16 at 1:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ok, "we'll try to do better next time." As someone who had been in on all these discussions since the beginning, it frankly didn't occur to me to interpret the discussion in a different way, though I now can see how it could be lacking that context. What I don't understand is the continued frenzy after the historical context has been explained. We do (and did in this case imo) go to pains to try to explain context and link old metas and whatnot to help with that. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jan 3 '16 at 2:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you. Obv. I can't speak for others, but for me replacing "it didn't occur to me to see it that way, but I now can see how it could be" with "that's on you" is the core dilemma that's been challenging confidence & trust in the moderators from the start. I want to get past the mess w/o pretending it didn't happen; that'd just make it bubble up worse later. Hopefully we find a way to stop acting like 'us' vs 'them' b/c that'll rip the site apart. Knowing the mod team recognises the effort needed makes me a lot more confident in the site's future. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Jan 3 '16 at 7:32

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