The tag has been a really contentious issue here. We have highly debated questions related to the RAW tag's usage (What's it for?, Changing the approach, Keep it?, Rename it?), but not one regarding the RAW tag's Info page, itself.

If we're happy with the current iteration, then this question's answer is 'yes, leave it alone.'

If, however, the answer is 'no, it's not right' or even 'kinda, but...', then what's the best tag wiki we can make?

A good tag wiki should be intuitive so that both New Users and Long-Time Users get good use out of it. Make sure you have a complete tag wiki in your answer, plus a (maximum 460 character) excerpt, which appears at the top of the Tag page and in the hover-over popup.

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    \$\begingroup\$ There was a previous Q specifically about the tag wiki, rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/6067/… \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 20:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ If I may quote someone ... I think the current usage of the RAW tag is not sufficiently a problem to merit this amount of debate, let alone impose some other onerous solution. "some people use a tag wrong, sometimes!" C'est la vie (someone said) Dec 3 '14 at 23:12 I will again ask: What Has Changed In The Interim? I will also ask: What Needs to be Fixed? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 3, 2017 at 22:40

5 Answers 5


Yes, I am satisfied.

  1. For new users, the chances of any of them (informed by my own experience) to put deep thought into which tag to use is nil. Thus, as new users do or don't use tags correctly, many of us who moderate as the community does will add or subtract tags, this one included, in order to help as we assist new users in various ways.
  2. For moderately experienced users the tag wiki, if they've gotten feedback that their tag usage was off, or they see the tag removed in the course of various edits, probably won't evoke a strong reaction one way or the other and but they may use tags (this one included) with a tad more care.
  3. To the experienced users, it'll get used correctly with that tag's guidance as written.

Motive for change

  • To the small number of people who look at tags for the sake of tags, and tagging as an art form (it's the internet, and tagging is an area of expertise) I wonder:
    • How happy we need to make the perfectionists?
    • What is the point of diminishing returns?
      • This (tagging) expertise has value because good tagging helps search, good searches help users ask good questions that aren't dupes, and to make good posts in general. (This from my own experience on this site and other internet sites, not just SE sites).

Provisional Conclusion

The perfect is sometimes the enemy of the good. It's working well enough, and the wiki explains well enough how this tag ought to be used. There is no need to fix what isn't broken.

Why this answer

A year ago I offered to do some research on tag usage, and collect data, and in good faith I began to do so. The tension/animosity was bothering me since it was not accompanied by data. I discovered, as I concluded my second of 12 batches for analysis, that two very experienced users on differing sides of the disagreement had no use for my efforts. When a volunteer is told (in effect) "Screw you, I don't need your input" it puts a damper on the motivation to volunteer. I thus stopped wasting my time.

This tag in and of itself is not worth the amount of time and wind that has been expended upon it over the past four years.


There is better use of our time, as RPG.SE community leaders and supporters, in our various collective efforts that are aimed at keeping this site good. So let's spend our time a bit more wisely.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "This tag in and of itself is not worth the amount of time and WIND that has been expended upon it over the past four years." Thank you for saying that. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 4, 2017 at 14:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have to say, though: given the amount of effort spent on the tag, I wonder if it's just that I don't understand something important about it. RAW-lovers and -haters alike, please consider this an open invitation to educate me on what you think I'd need to know. (Though not in these comments, I suppose. Chat's a decent place to start, and if it gets big we can dedicate a room to it so the transcript's all in one place.) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 0:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 The trouble with the tag currently is that it isn't very “self-serve”, in that it's often misunderstood and misapplied by new question-askers. Tags are intended to be mostly self-explanatory, and most work well in that regard. This one is a bit of an outlier in that it's misapplied more often than properly applied, because many askers treat is as a synonym of [rules]. That's a problem — but a minor one. And as Korvin points out, perfect is the enemy of good. :) (And it's a minor problem not solvable with a better wiki anyway.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 5, 2017 at 15:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ That last part is what sticks out to me: if changes to the wiki aren't reasonably expected to change the troublesome behavior, then I'm inclined to just let the wiki be edited or not by users as any other tag. And only if that turns contentious, then a meta like this would be necessary. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 16:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Gentle reminder in light of some deleted comments: This discussion needs to leave reasonable room for all comers to share their perspective so that we can see what kind of stuff we might want to consider in revising the tag wiki. It is not OK to protest someone trying to share their input, or try to intimidate them out of it or shut them out. This is just a discussion about potentially revising a tag wiki, and I'm not going to permit fights to break out here. (This reminder is directed at more than one person.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 6, 2017 at 23:58

"Yes, leave it alone."

It ain't broke, don't fix it.

(Note that the question specifically called this out as an acceptable answer. It is the correct answer, so I'm giving it.)


This tag has been discussed many times before.

It's good, but like most things on the site, there may be room for improvement.

When I consider a situation where I want RAW responses, I want:

  • An answer that explains the rule as written.
  • An answer that mentions notable interactions between the question and rules it may commonly interact with.
  • An answer that highlights room for ambiguity, such as certain English phrasings that can have multiple meanings.
  • An answer that indicates if the rule does not actually function in its current form.

What I'm not interested in:

  • An answer that proposes alternate solutions/homebrew to the rules in question
  • An answer stating the intent is different than written*
  • An answer with opinions on the quality of the rule.

*Personally, I find references to the author/designer/publisher talking about the rule in question to be a great comment, perhaps not so much an answer.

Those are not complete lists, but merely some of the concerns I personally have for RAW situations. I do not intend for my personal concerns to be policy/the definition for the standard.

The current tag definition communicates the general idea of what RAW is and what it is used for. It lets the reader infer what the question is looking for. It indicates the question is looking for a particular type of response, but its presence doesn't enforce any special rules. It does indicate certain responses may conflict with other site rules.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Out of curiosity, if this is the proper answer for something tagged RAW... What is different for a non raw tagged answer? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 19:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch non-raw answer is something where I would consider educated-guesses, assumptions of intent, and 'If A and B, then C' to be permitted. RAW focuses on 'What does this mean precisely as written?' and a non-raw answer has more freedom. 'What does this mean?' \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 3, 2017 at 19:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ I may be too strict, but that sounds dangerously close to opinion. Maybe the tag shouldn't be for RAW, but for allowing non raw? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 19:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd love input from others with a vested interest in the RAW tag before we draw that conclusion. Also willing to discuss it over in our chat room. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 3, 2017 at 19:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ The point @NautArch makes is part of why the RAW tag is no longer being used to indicate how answers should(n't) be written. It's also inconsistent with what tags are for in the first place — in general, tags are for categorising question content, not for requesting answers follow special rules. (We tried that for a while anyway, but it didn't work.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 3, 2017 at 19:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I thought I addressed that in my response? It indicates what is being looked for in a response, but does not enforce special rules. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 3, 2017 at 20:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MadMAxJr (We chatted in chat, but for record): That's how we used to define the tag, by using these expectations as a nice rule of thumb for how to decide if the tag applied to a question. Unfortunately, the heuristic started being interpreted as rules the answers had to follow, and it resulted in lots of arguments in comments and became a huge energy pit for regular users and mods. So after a lot of angst on meta, we went back to tagging basics and focused on tagging only based on observables within questions. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 3, 2017 at 20:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Is the purpose of the tag to aid in search? Or, is that "a" purpose rather than "the" purpose? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 3, 2017 at 22:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Tags are to categorise questions by subject, so that they're grouped together with similar questions, which then has desirable knock-on effects. One effect is to make them easier to find, not only by search but also by the various ways it helps connect questions with relevant experts. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 3, 2017 at 23:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Is this tag fulfilling that function or not? Is this effort, once again prompted by a meta question, aimed at ensuring that function is fulfilled or is this effort aimed at improving how that function is fulfilled? If the latter, what are the metrics? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 4, 2017 at 0:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast This seems to be doing fine. Since the wiki's last revision, fewer retags have been necessary, leaving mostly only those new users who don't first read tag usage excerpts using it wrong at first. The wiki could probably use refinement, but it's not going to appreciably impact new-user tagging. Wiki refinement at this point would only really help clarity of expressing the current guidelines. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 4, 2017 at 0:45

As requested: I see the definition of Rules As Written as:

This is how the rules, alone, say that works.

The utility of this, as others have said, is to have a baseline to compare other metrics against. RAW is free of balance constraints or intent. Effectively that's where I think the RAW info wiki should be focusing. The only part that anyone who's not familiar with the site will likely look is in the "Usage guidance (excerpt)" section, so it should be as complete as possible. Like this:

Questions about how the rules work when interpreted only as they are written, including errata, but without respect for balance, explanations, intent, or other factors outside the rules text itself. If using this tag to avoid house-rules, spell it out in the question. Unsupported opinion will be avoided without using this tag, since the site already expects answers to be based on more than opinion alone.

The rest of the info wiki is fine, but I'd change the last paragraph thus:


  • For questions seeking to avoid answers based on house-rule or opinion, simply also say so in the body of the question, don't just use this tag. Not everyone who will attempt an answer understands our tagging system, let alone that a tag might mean they should answer a certain way, so tags should not be used as a replacement for simply stating what you need from the answers. Answers at RPG.se are also expected to be based on more than mere opinion anyway, so no special efforts need to be made to prevent such answers.

This emphasizes that using the RAW tag is not only shorthand for no house-rules, and that unsupported opinion will already filter out, but still has use for anyone filtering for RAW questions and answers.


tag wiki workshop space

Wiki excerpt

Questions that are about the logical interactions of a game's rules under a strictly literal reading. Not for questions about normal clarifications of the written rules. Answering rules questions with house-rules and opinions will already be restricted by our site's rules.


Questions that are about the logical interactions and application of the game rules, when their written form is interpreted as strictly as possible, without reference to explanations or considerations outside of the rules texts.

Bringing in sources outside of game rules is not discouraged per se, but should only be attempted when certain it is a practical solution to the problem. Such attempts are “challenging the frame of the question” and best approached according to the guidelines of that meta post, to maximize the chance of being practically useful to the problem instead of merely off topic.

This tag is not a generic “I have a rules question” tag:

  • For questions looking for normal clarification of game rules, do not use this tag. Instead, use the tag named after the rules being asked about, e.g. or , and any other tag relevant to the subject of the rules, e.g. or .

  • For questions seeking to avoid answers based on house-rule or opinion, simply say so in the body of the question. Not everyone who will attempt an answer understands our tagging system, let alone that a tag might mean they should answer a certain way, so tags should not be used as a replacement for simply stating what you need from the answers. Answers at RPG.se are also expected to be based on more than mere opinion anyway, so no special efforts need to be made to prevent such answers.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is what we currently have. (I don't think it's as good as it could be.) This CW post may be a good place to tweak the wording and try out proposed changes. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 3, 2017 at 21:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Why are down votes accruing while we workshop this? When was the last time it was updated? During our last thrash, a number of people offered to revise/update this tag, but apparently didn't? If we can improve and get a solid consensus from people who use the tag a lot to sort/look for questions (I have not since I tried that data collection project) that's good. As mentioned before, is "don't fix what isn't broken" a reasonable position to take? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 3, 2017 at 21:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ I didn't downvote but the problem I see with this method is: how do we determine which iteration/edit is useful? If one user comes in, edits it to what they think it should be and it garners a few up/downvotes, then another user comes in, edits it to what they think it should be (possibly changing or removing previous user's edits) which gets voted upon, how do we determine what's actually useful or not? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 3, 2017 at 23:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ I didn't downvote (or upvote) but I don't understand the last bullet point in the full wiki entry: "For questions seeking to avoid answers based on house-rule or opinion, simply say so in the body of the question." Is that supposed to apply to (i.e., is that text supposed to be placed in) a question that has the RAW tag (as... emphasis?) or one that does not have the RAW tag? \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 1:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Novak I guess that sentence should have an “instead” on the end? That would be instead of using the [rules-as-written] tag. It's part of the “this tag is not…” list. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 4, 2017 at 2:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie that's what I thought, and why. The analysis by structure makes sense to me. But now I'm confused as to the difference between hypothetical Q1 with a RAW tag, and hypothetical Q2 without RAW tag but with "no house rules or opinions" rider clause. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 3:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ If someone had asked me to write a description for the tag, without already having seen that, my definition would have been an elaboration of, "No house rules, no opinions, no outside knowledge, just the rules as they are written." \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 4:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Novak That actually sounds like a compelling tag wiki to me. Want to post that for a response? (No pressure, but I think it's worthwhile personally.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 7, 2017 at 12:03

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