Specifically, are questions that specifically target the maximising of a specific character attribute value (at any cost or means) on-topic?

For example, for D&D3.5: "How to maximise a Wizard's effective Caster Level for the greatest number of spells, at character level 12?"

I think they would be on topic because they are specific and answerable, but also not because they can easily lead to one-upping answers?


2 Answers 2


I think ultimately they are on-topic—I certainly don’t think they cause any kind of problem that should lead to our deciding otherwise—but I would comment that Stack Exchange tends to not be a great format for performing optimization. The format works far better when an answer can point to and summarize the optimization work already done elsewhere. This is because an expert in the subject may easily be familiar with optimization work already done, and is in a good position to find and summarize it, but even a subject-matter expert here has no way of ensuring that a given approach is strictly optimal—as you say, there can always turn out to be another option to bump things up, or a better approach that hadn’t been considered. Optimization is often a collaborative, iterative process, and Stack Exchange doesn’t really do that very well.

Stack Exchange is, in this regard, far better at finding a good answer than it is at finding the best answer. That said, frequently a good answer is more useful—because finding the absolute best is hard. To block these questions on that basis would effectively be a matter of siding with the perfect against the good.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ This is a spot-on observation. We've had some excellent optimisation questions of the summary type, and some troubled ones of the novel-research type. (And ones in the middle that have also been fine.) Fortunately for the site, you're also right that we can figure out which of those a question is on the back end, after they've had a chance to do their thing well if they can, than worrying about it up-front. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 21:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Personally, I don’t really see that as troublesome per se. Somewhat less likely to be completely successful, but not really problematic. I don’t see situations like that ever being any kind of “risk” for overall site quality or noise ratios. I would have left it open, myself. It’s not perfect but I don’t really think it’s bad, either. (But I also have little interest in that particular question and am not really bothered by it being closed, either.) \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 21:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Another bonus this format has for this type of question is that people can add new answers and compete in a way to get a more optimized solution. as well as build on each answer with comments to make the answers better. Crowd sourcing the optimization on a specific numeric attribute given a specific constraint, and an assumed constraint (RAW) is a good way to parse what is an other wise overbearing amount of information that you find in games like DnD 3.5e \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 15:34

Given that there is a clear answer, it seems like these should be on-topic. One-upping is fine, because it will ultimately lead to the correct answer.

The question arises if there are multiple ways to do it and how to differentiate those that may devolve into opinion-based arguments.


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