The Worldbuilding metastack has a "Sandbox for Proposed Questions" where questions can be workshopped after a fashion to get them into a form where they will be less likely to be closed for opinion, inclarity, et cetera.

More than in any of the other stacks I participate in, I see questions here put on-hold or closed, but with Rule Zero of RPGs being essentially universally in effect, questions here are inherently more likely to provoke discussion and opinion - and even though there's a wealth of fanac out there on the web, there's always going to be something new that nobody's thought of. With question after question marked "[on hold]" or "[closed]", it presents a rather forbidding vista; how can I fit my question into the guidelines?

I think perhaps we need a sandbox, or to relax the constraint on discussion and/or opinion - there are good questions that simply can't be rewritten to avoid them, like this one, which can be sort-of answered if one views it less as How should I play my character? and more This homebrew career is incomplete. How can I develop rules to complete this missing aspect? - and figuring out if that's really what the querent wants answered is exactly what workshopping/sandboxing it should be for.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm going to trivially answer the "is there?" part: no, we currently don't have one. Editing that out, so this post can stand as our "should we have?" Q&A. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Commented Aug 5, 2017 at 23:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hey guys, remember that upvotes on discussion questions/answers might be taken out of context as support for a particular position. So, like, be careful about upvoting this to increase visibility and mark it as a valuable discussion cause that might lead to sudden implementation of the suggestion being discussed. I know the help center says that's not supposed to happen except on feature request questions, but we've had trouble with that happening in the past and we haven't made any real changes to keep it from happening again, so just be aware. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 1:16

2 Answers 2



We already have three ways to workshop questions in use, in increasing order of complexity/escalation.

  1. Comments on the question. This works in 90% of cases where the OP bothers to engage at all.
  2. Site chat. This works for the really confused and newbies.
  3. Opening meta questions when it's a real sticky one. This works for more advanced users seeking to ask a tricky question. The tag contains examples.

We don't need a fourth. Firstly, because it only helps if the user is sophisticated enough to find the sandbox (so the "but they're new but don't have rep to come into chat" - the only real gap in the above 3 - isn't a high percentage play). And secondly, because it's not our job to make every question workable. If someone has a question so unworkable that 1-3 above don't work - they need to stop and not ask it until they've engaged more with the site to focus their thoughts. Or get some rest, or whatever. We do get questions asked that are incoherent and the OP eventually admits they were "sleep deprived" or "drunk" or "didn't have time to write properly"... Those are THEIR problems not OUR problem. If they don't have enough rep to get into chat, maybe they should participate in the site a little before asking. Remember, we optimize for pearls, not sand. So while I understand wanting to help people with their questions, we believe that meeting them more than halfway teaches people to be help vampires and doesn't make them a good participant on this site.

In fact, this question was opened - with good intent to help, I understand - but spurred by a question from a user who has asked a long, long series of incoherent questions on this site, all closed and/or deleted, under 6 different usernames because they also aren't sophisticated enough to log in. That's exactly the kind of questions we don't need to do even more work to engage with - that user's unteachable.

I understand Worldbuilding has one, but Worldbuilding is quite an experiment that has just about nothing to do with the SO format. It might as well just be a forum with up/downvotes like reddit (though with a Be Nice rule, so better...). We adhere to all the usual Good Subjective/Bad Subjective and other standard SO quality guidelines here so really don't have anything in common with what's effectively a brainstormy format. If someone wants to make "RPG Brainstorm Stack Exchange" feel free, I'll be happy to not visit it, since I already belong to a bunch of forums.

  • \$\begingroup\$ OK, I wasn't aware of the user's history (and probably couldn't have become aware without becoming a community moderator [which doesn't happen; I don't have the time]); I was just going by the question itself. I'm not sure I'd characterise the 'provoking' question as 'incoherent', though I would agree that it lacks sufficient context to discern actual intent or to provide an answer for the simplest/most straightforward interpretation as written ("I want numbers to charge for this service"). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 15:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll grant your methods 1 and 2 (commenting and chat) for workshopping questions where the querent is willing to be involved; I question, to some extent, the validity of 3 (coming to meta) - the impression I've gotten from other stacks and the various stack guideline pages is that meta is more for stack issues - "Is this the right way for this stack to be working?" - than it is for specific-question issues - "How should I ask this question?". \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 15:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ I do realize that Worldbuilding is a bit different from other stacks, but I also think that RPG has more in common with WorldBuilding than it does with e.g., SuperUser, or Music, or English Language, or Travel, or Workplace, or et cetera. It's for that reason that I 'seized on' the Sandbox idea for here. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 15:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ I strongly disagree we are more like WB, and we don't want to be imo. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 17:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ And people use meta here for tricky question workshopping when needed. Look around for examples. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 17:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk so one of the things suggested by the "sandbox" model is that it makes it a lot easier to find those examples. (They're scattered around here with very few distinguishing features, right now.) To my mind that's what tagging's for, not one gargantuan/sprawling post. Any thoughts on a tag that would work? [workshop] perhaps? \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 22:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ How about "bah"? Or the existing specific-question. I certainly don't think we need to encourage more workshopping than is currently happening so I favor no changes. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 22:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Interesting--the "specific question" tag guidance does have the "guidance sought" bit; I'd have never thought to tag "specific question" when discussing a mainsite question that doesn't yet exist, but there's no reason not to, I suppose. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 22:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well I would argue it's in poor taste to start here - those other methods should really be escalations in order. Usually you should just ask on the mainsite, deal with close votes and comments normally, etc. the only questions that should start here are ones more experienced folks think will be problematic (e.g. What is RAW)... I don't want every poster with OCD to start their question here. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 1:58

For reference, I'm just going to reproduce wholesale a comment-discussion on the matter. It doesn't in any way answer the question, but I think it's useful background to collect into a place it can be found.

This came from a meta question workshopping a mainsite question; in the body of the meta Q OP noted "there's no official sandbox for RPGSE, so I'm hoping it's cool to get my question refined here."

Just for reference, it's definitely cool to workshop the question via its own meta question. – nitsua60♦ Jun 23 at 20:06

I was browsing through the site a bit and saw this post. For reference if you think a Sandbox might be a good idea on RPG.SE you can look at other sites such as WorldBuilding. Though it's not without problems and we are currently rethinking. CC @nitsua60 – Secespitus Jun 27 at 8:26

@Secespitus I just created and threw a [sandbox] tag onto this question: it seems to me that something like that hits a lot of the functional requirements described in WB (collects them all together, makes them easy to follow) without engendering some of the difficulties (lots of manual work to maintain list with links and delete "graduated" answers to maintain visibility, won't suffer auto-protection). I wonder if tags of [sandbox] and [sandbox-graduated] might be the solution over there? – nitsua60♦ Jun 27 at 14:32

Hmm... come to think of it, a [sandbox] tag might be problematic here, as it's a play-mode that gets mentioned a lot so might create confusion. Will have to ponder.... – nitsua60♦ Jun 27 at 14:37

@nitsua60 Monica already suggested something that in this discussion (inspired by shog9). If you ask me it introduces the problem that you don't have one post that you can link (or you make a different meta post that introduces user to search for a tag...) and it's more difficult to keep track of. I also think it's too big in the sense that some people will write big elaborate answers as suggestions and reading everything when you want to help new users is demanding more time from helpers. – Secespitus Jun 27 at 14:38

@nitsua60 But we are currently rethinking our Sandbox model. So yeah, it might work. I will regularly check back on how RPG handles it. Might be interesting to see. It currently looks like there is no "perfect" solution. PPCG uses a Sandbox like ours and just removed auto-protection from the whole Meta Site. As far as I can tell they are pretty happy. Maths uses something they call a Sandbox, but that's mainly for writing long answers that take time and having a place to dump them while working on them. So quite a bit different from our definition of "Sandbox". – Secespitus Jun 27 at 14:41

I think for RPG the sandbox is to just ask it on main site. If it's not quite up to snuff, it'll get closed, we'll work on it in comments and revisions, and then it'll get reopened. ☺️ – doppelgreener♦ Jun 27 at 15:43

@doppelgreener If I can interject a newbie's opinion here; I know to seasoned vets getting a question closed is nothing, but for newer guys it's pretty alarming. I'd much rather workshop in "private" - here in meta where votes don't affect my overall status - than endure downvotes from well meaning citizens that can majorly impact my ability to do things on this site. It just feels friendlier to work on meta first. – Alex Jun 27 at 17:14

@Alex Thanks for offering that up, that's some useful perspective. – doppelgreener♦ Jun 27 at 17:15

Links and upvote counts lost in translation, so it might be worth looking at the original comment-thread. Full disclosure: I have not pondered as I said I should--my bad =(

  • \$\begingroup\$ I really don't understand why this is getting any upvotes, never mind many upvotes... Anyone care to explain? \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 23:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ You have a diamond next to your name. Drive-by upvoting is real :( Plus, your first sentence says 'this is useful, but I disclaim responsibility for answering the question' which is, like, a super-recipe for inattentive upvote attraction. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 1:11

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