Note: As of September 3rd, 2021, this policy has been removed

Following the results of Revisit III: Don’t Guess the System policy this policy is no longer in effect. New guidance pending.

When the question does not specify a system, but an educated guess can be made, other users often edit the tags themselves without waiting for the querent to confirm the system they are interested in.

Is this appropriate? If not, then is it OK to roll-back the edit and comment? At what point is it considered safe to make an educated guess?

Revisited in:


5 Answers 5


It's not appropriate to edit based on a guess. Make the OP clarify the question themselves.

Why? Because we're also trying to train new users on how to use the site. And worst case, you bait people into bad answers when you guess wrong.

If the OP never bothers to come back to clarify their question - then what good are answers going to do them anyway? Patience can be hard, but it is rewarding.

If someone else guesses at the tag, revert or flag it and explain why.

  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ That was what I thought - I just wanted to have something 'official' on meta that I could point back to if I get a roll-back queried \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Mar 23, 2017 at 18:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ I strongly disagree with this answer, for two reasons. The first reason is that telling a new poster that they need to take some particular simple action that we ourselves are perfectly capable of (such as editing in an edition tag when we're certain of its applicability) is patronizing and wastes time. The second is that no SE site is designed to benefit the asker primarily, so whether they benefit from answers is irrelevant. Questions and answers are for searchers, and should be edited accordingly, as long as they don't stray from the original intent. \$\endgroup\$
    – user17995
    Dec 26, 2017 at 0:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sadly the only three answers here agree. Consider submitting your own well-reasoned answer with an alternate conclusion, since a comment saying "I don't agree" doesn't help anything. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Dec 26, 2017 at 3:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk: (Just got linked back here and noticed that you left a comment presumably addressed to me but forgot to ping me in it.) I upvoted two of the existing answers, which, to my mind, give adequate weight to the importance of being correct without attempting a level of perfect certainty nowhere else seen in SE posting or editing, and without encouraging pointless and aggravating passive aggression. ("No, you have to edit it yourself. I won't move a finger even though I know exactly what to do and how to do it.") \$\endgroup\$
    – user17995
    Jun 12, 2018 at 6:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Consider that the OP may not be aware e.g. that there is more than one edition of Dungeons & Dragons. \$\endgroup\$
    – Apocalisp
    Jun 28, 2018 at 0:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @user17995 Relevant to your searcher-centric stance, I've asked this question: What to do if seeking the answer to an existing question that's been closed because the system wasn't specified? \$\endgroup\$
    – ZarHakkar
    Jul 12, 2020 at 15:18

Don't guess

It's up to the asker to tag the question with the correct system. In the case of a new community member who doesn't yet understand this responsibility, it's up to the community to determine from the asker the system in the question.

  • If you are absolutely certain of the unnamed system (having eliminated all other possibilities because of an achingly obvious tie to a particular system), then you can tag it, leave a comment to the asker that says you did, and recommend the asker change it if you're wrong.
  • If the asker names in chat or comments the unnamed system, you can go ahead and tag the question with the system on the asker's behalf. When you do and it's not obvious how you learned the information, you may want to alert the community in a comment as to how you know the tag's correct to assuage fears that you might be guessing.

In this question, originally the only system hints are that a rogue may or may not be two-weapon fighting with a quarterstaff and rapier. Thus this could've been a question or a question about one of a dozen other systems in which the same events could occur. Had it been tagged by a helpful community member without the asker's input and later revealed to be for , for instance, there would be lots of deleting of answers and sorrow.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I also consider the whole process highly instructive for newbies who come in assuming the only RPG is D&D and the only edition anyone talks about is the latest one. They don't specify anything, we insist we need to know their game and edition because we can't tell - that begins to say things about the RPG landscape we deal with here. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 16, 2016 at 18:32

It should be fine, if you're certain

Okay, this is an old stackexchange FAQ and unlikely to get any real attention, but to me, this rule seems needlessly punishing on new users, especially when the edit tool is perfectly capable of allowing users to help new users and then placing a comment to inform them.

For example, take this question. It was closed because of the lack of a system tag, even though it is obviously a question about fifth edition. Armor of Agathys is a Warlock spell in one, and exactly one, gaming system. In addition, their other question was also tagged 5e, so we know they're a fifth edition player. I added the 5e tag to help the new user and informed them in the comment, which would have allowed them to go "oh right, I forgot" and remember to do it themselves in the future.

Instead, the change was rolled back and the question was forced closed because they themselves didn't add the tag. This isn't a big deal in itself, we have closed questions all the time, but this feels needlessly petty. The idea that the original poster won't learn to use system tags correctly if somebody else helps them when they forget it once is ridiculous.

"Yeah, we could help you, but we won't" seems patronizing to me, and it results in perfectly answerable questions being closed. Other stackexchanges don't use this logic, because a good question with a missing tag is still a good question, and it can help other people even if the original poster never comes back.

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ The absolutist stance that Questions not tagged with a system by the asker will remain closed until they are is an outgrowth of this later Meta discussion. Were this answer posted there, it might receive more attention. (Sadly, however, given the current chilling climate, I suspect it'll receive more bad attention than good.) \$\endgroup\$ Nov 14, 2018 at 14:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Point of order, we don't care if they tagged it, we just care that they said what the edition was. Title is fine, body is fine. I've tagged before based on someone saying they're playing an adventure that was made for D&D 5e, despite not saying they were playing D&D 5e as such. However I do not agree that the referenced question is "obviously" 5e, and I support the rollback conducted there. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 14, 2018 at 19:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, FYI, Armor of Agathys was a Warlock power in 4e. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Nov 14, 2018 at 21:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan even if there was a "chilling climate" (something I don't see any evidence for), wouldn't comments like this just make it worse? Why discourage someone from posting it in another place? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 14, 2018 at 21:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose In this Meta discussion, the second answer suggests that it may be possible to ascertain a system without the asker clarifying; in the other Meta discussion, the earliest that suggestion is made is fourth. Times have changed since this Meta was posted. And, while it may not seem like it, I was actually encouraging—not discouraging—that this be posted in that other Meta where it might receive more attention. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 14, 2018 at 21:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I really am curious how this comes across as chilling. Surely the stack has changed in many ways and will continue to do so, but saying chilling implies to me that people are suppressing other voices which would be alarming and if you do see this happening I would hope you would bring it up in someplace besides a comment. Maybe you meant something else, but you saying that certainly alarmed me. (I would note that 11/12 answers on that meta have positive scores which indicates to me the presence of healthy discussion.) \$\endgroup\$ Nov 14, 2018 at 21:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose I meant chilling climate in such a way as to convey the worsening attitude toward this idea only. That is, this Meta discussion from Mar. 2017 that w're on right now is friendlier toward and more accepting of the possibility that maybe — maybe — an expert can help a new user tag that new user's question than that Sept. 2018 Meta discussion. Seriously, look at the title of this answer and consider what the downvotes may mean: No, it's not fine to help a user tag a question even if you are certain of what the tag should be. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 14, 2018 at 22:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Ah ok that makes a bit more sense. I thought you may have meant on the whole. I like to think that we are much cooler on this idea because we have learned from past mistakes and are wiser than the stack was then. As for the downvotes, the fact that the answer makes their own case against their answer probably has something to do with it. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 14, 2018 at 22:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose I'd like to think that, too, but I'd also like to think that with such a massive influx of new experts, the site'd be wise enough to figure out what folks are talking about pretty easily if some poor forgetful soul omits a tag! :-) And that comment above that should refute this answer's entire premise? It itself ignores the tags the asker put on the original question: that of spells not powers. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 14, 2018 at 22:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan well it's clear we have different views on the matter so we'll just let that lie and not let this devolve into an argument. We'd just be repeating points that have been made many times before anyways. I appreciate your response though, thanks for clarifying. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 14, 2018 at 22:28

We shouldn't guess the system when editing or tagging — we should make the author clarify.

  • We could guess wrong. Lots of games and editions share similar verbiage. If we guess wrong, we're not helping the querent, and we'll have a significant mess to clean up if/when they correct us.

  • Sometimes their clarification will show us a problem we weren't aware was there. Every now and then, the reason someone doesn't understand so-and-so material in their published adventure is because it's made for D&D 3e and they're playing D&D 5e (and they both just say "Dungeons & Dragons" on the title, so they never figure this out), and their incompatibility is the whole reason the querent's getting so confused. A recent question was likely caused by this, but we never got clarification.

  • We expect people to be clear about the game they're playing, and it's good to teach them that they need to do this themselves.

Yes, roll back and comment.

There's only 2–3 occasions in the whole time I've been here where I haven't rolled back such an edit, and they were exceptional, and on each occasion I pinged the editor in comments to suggest they do not do this in the future.


Interact with the querent (person asking the question)

The usual way to approach the issue of "the correct tag" is to ask a question in the comments under the question which edition (or what other "thing that might warrant a tag) the question is about or is focused on.

Once the response to that comment is given:

If the person asking the question hasn't added the tag, then you can add the tag yourself.

If you do add a tag based on guesswork, which occasionally happens, make a comment under the question and ask the querent if you got the tag right.

I do something similar after an edit: make a comment asking the querent "Did that edit fit/work/preserve your intended question?" Interaction is good.


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