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My very first question on this site was edited to remove the edition from the question title. OK, not a big deal either way, but I guess I can see how stylistically it's a little more polished to not have it. But, when trying to avoid that just now, d7 added it back in.

Now, I'm sure there's a valid reason for both edits... but is there an agreed-upon standard that I'm missing here?

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The problem with “modern” in that title is that it isn't clear what it means now, and isn't future-proof — twenty years from now that question will exist here or in a database of “RPG Knowledge” somewhere, and it won't make any sense. We write for posterity here, so questions should be evergreen.

It's also overcorrecting for the tag-in-title problem. Normally, we avoid putting “tags” in titles, but that refers to specifically artificially adding tags to titles and writing things like “How do I frob the fibitzer? [The Dark Eye]” or “In Paranoia, how can I earn a higher clearance?”:

Should I use tags in titles?

You should not force a tag into your title. Because the tags appear below the question and tags are indexed by search engines along with the content of your question, you can trust that other people will be able to find your question based on tags they follow or search for. Additionally, tags appear on the question page, so other people will take them into account when answering your question.

Avoid inserting tags into titles in any of the following formats:

  • [tag]: [question title]
  • [question title] -- [tag] [tag] [tag]
  • [question title] in [tag]
  • [tag] [tag] [question title] [tag] [tag] [tag]
  • [tag] [tag] [tag] [tag] [tag] [tag] [tag] [tag]

The only time you should use tags in your title is when they are organic to the conversational tone of the title.

That last sentence is important though! Things that match our tags do belong in the title when it's the most natural way to write the title. So in the case of your question, “Is there a modern equivalent of the e6 variant style?” is overcorrecting by avoiding even mentioning the game system, rather than merely avoiding slapping tags into the title. “Is there a D&D 5e equivalent of the e6 variant style?” is organic and clear, and doesn't unnecessarily force a tag into the title — it naturally belongs there.

To demonstrate by argument ad absurdum, removing “D&D 5e” from the title by force is like removing “e6” (also a tag) from the title: forced and unnatural, and possibly resulting in something like “Is there a modern way to maintain the sweet spot of of power?”, which would be contorted, unclear in the question list, and nearly impossible to search for later.

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Should questions include System/Setting in title if tagged with system/setting? holds our current thinking on why it's preferable to omit system from titles. (And I include a link to that meta in the "edit summary" whenever I peel a system off of someone's post, and encourage you, Dear Reader, to do the same.)

To answer your question: when should the system/edition be in the title?

I've only needed to do that when it's really cumbersome/confusing to write a title that doesn't have the system in the title. For example, say I wish to ask "Can I backstab a creature with no back?" in D&D2e. But we've already got "Can I backstab a creature with no back?" for 1e.

I could rewrite my title to say "Can I backstab a creature that lacks the named anatomy?" Or "My target has no back, can I still backstab it?" Or "Can I really backstab a creature with no back?" to avoid the title-crash. But in my opinion, this is where "Can I backstab a creature with no back in 2e?" makes fine sense as a title.

The other use I've seen (though I don't think I've had occasion to use) is when asking a question that really is about the system. "Why does $SYSTEM use only d12s?" or "Why did $SYSTEM2 drop $THING_I_LOVE from $SYSTEM1?" Clearly, in those cases omitting system would lead to inferior titles: "Why only d12s?" or "Why drop $THING_I_LOVE?"

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