A lot of the times we close a question for being unclear, it's because it's missing a system tag. I would guess that's the case for over half of our closed-as-unclear questions. With this in mind, could we have a separate close reason for it?

The biggest advantage of a separate close reason would be being more explicit to the new users of the site - the ones who need explicit instructions far more than us others. It would also serve as a visible reminder for other users to include the system tag and flag questions missing them.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Declined because we can't actually do this. We can only add custom off-topic reasons but off-topic isn't appropriate for this situation. If one day we can add a custom unclear reasons we can revisit this. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 10 '19 at 14:07

There are two downsides, one technical and one communicative.

The technical issue is that we've used up our allotted number of custom close reasons: we get three, and we currently have board/card game, video game playing/dev, and shopping reasons as ours. It's in theory possible to petition the SE devs to give us a fourth, but in practice it's only granted if we can show dire need.

The communications issue is that these close reasons aren't entirely custom — they are all hardcoded to say that the question has been put on hold for being off topic. That sends mixed signals to the post author, possibly mixed enough to defeat the purpose of having a custom message attached.

To overcome these issues we would have to show that there is overwhelming need and that a custom reason would substantially solve the problem.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Out of curiosity, why is there a notice for board and card games and a distinct, separate notice for video games? Could these be folded into a lone notice saying, like, This is not a question about tabletop role-playing games; please ask this question on X or Y instead? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 17 '17 at 13:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Partly for historical reasons, and partly for space reasons — the video game one we have now was originally two separate ones (one each for video game playing directing people to Arqade, and for video game dev directing people to GameDev.se), but was merged to make room for the shopping reason. The trouble now is that fitting all the text and links into the combined VG one made it barely fit into the character limit; I don't think we would be able to combine the BG one with it and still have room for the supporting links. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 17 '17 at 14:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was unaware of the character limit on the notices. That's a fine reason. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 17 '17 at 14:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan And an excellent question! I'm not sure it's even documented anywhere that's visible without a diamond, and it's easy to forget what is and isn't obvious about our site's features. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 17 '17 at 14:59

Coming back to this issue, I believe we need a custom on-hold message for questions with a missing system tag. Two years later, it's one of our most common issues and perhaps the most common single reason why new questions are closed.

As I described in Can we add a "please tag your system" on-hold message?, a new user unfamiliar with the system tagging rules asked a question without stating their rules system, and it was put on hold. However, the user was given a generic on-hold message:

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.

The user saw the on-hold message responded by giving more information, but didn't tag the system. Nothing in the prominent on-hold message or the How to Ask page asked the player which system they were using, and site rules forbid inferring it. A helpful user did give the generic welcome message and included a request for system tag, but this went unnoticed by the user, perhaps due a tendency to bury tag requests within a generic welcome message.

We have separate custom messages for closing off-topic questions about board/card games and video games, but I rarely see anyone make this mistake nowadays. In these situations, as I understand it, we could instead just move the question to the relevant RPG.SE site.

Considerably more common is new RPG players, unfamiliar with the tag requirements, asking questions (usually about the latest edition of D&D) only to receive discouraging close votes and downvotes. We should communicate the site's needs as quickly and effectively as possible to help these new users get their question re-opened.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree, combining the two specific referrals into a general referral reason with a cultural caveat of post a comment suggesting where they ask (if the question doesn't get migrated) can handle this and one of the most common reasons we VTC a question is its about a multi-edition system that the edition really matters. \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Aslan Smith Oct 10 '19 at 19:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ "perhaps due a tendency to bury tag requests within a generic welcome message." Maybe cutting back on the generic welcome messages would help? Personally I've always felt like they're kind of condescending anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – John Montgomery Oct 14 '19 at 17:49

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