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We get questions every day that need to be put on hold while we wait for a new querent to specify what game/edition they're playing. As of this writing I've seen three so far today--they get quickly closed, get a comment asking about system/edition, and reopened if OP specifies.

Currently when asking a question one finds, below the text of the question, the following field:

empty tag field with greyed-out suggestions

It's clear from this message that one must provide at least one tag, and the system rejects a submission without any tag. It's also clear that the suggestions have come from our list of tags. (There's a question on meta.se about where the example tags come from; it's not clear to me the answer's very authoritative.)

Can we make one of the suggested (greyed-out) tag suggestions be a system tag? I've got to assume it would help nudge people in the right direction if submnitting a question included the subtle hint that "tell me what game you're playing" might be helpful.


Part 2: the ugly truth. It's usually D&D/PF that's the problem. Should the "suggested" tag be one of the D&Ds? Is it 5e that's the worst offender, and should that be one of the provided suggestions? I ask because

  • I'm not good enough with SEDE to figure out which system tag--not that "system tag" is actually a thing in our software--tends to generate the most close-comment-edit-reopen cycles, and
  • I don't know user psychology enough to know if prompting toward the "worst offender" is most helpful--perhaps a near-neighbor is better?
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    \$\begingroup\$ Did we ever make any progress on this idea? Is it possible, from a technical standpoint, to customize our ask box to nudge users toward including the system their question is about? \$\endgroup\$ – Quadratic Wizard Jul 27 '18 at 16:35
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Something like this tag placeholder might work well:

tag which game you're playing, if any (such as: dnd-5e, world-of-darkness), max 5 tags

This requests the single most important thing to know: the game they're playing. The format has changed from the original since we're not just suggesting a bundle of random tags, we're suggesting a list from which they might pick just one.

In this format, two tags should be picked from two different groups:

  • the first tag is one of [dnd-5e], [pathfinder], [dnd-3.5e]
  • the second tag is one of [world-of-darkness], [savage-worlds], [fate]

These represent the three most popular game tags inside and outside the D&D family.

This setup conveys how we specifically tag D&D games (two thirds of the time, at least) and it conveys that we service a range of RPGs, both within and outside the D&D family of games.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I would replace 'if any' with 'if relevant', I think. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Jan 15 '18 at 23:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer I'd strongly prefer "if any": almost always (like >90% of the time) if a game's being played it's substantially relevant, and an over-correction here is preferable to an under-correction. When a game is specified but not ultimately relevant, it's harmless and fine. When a game isn't specified, it impairs answer quality or is a total show-stopper. In the scope of this question and considering the potential impact, I'd be absolutely fine with the over-correction. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 15 '18 at 23:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, until 2015-ish we had lots of people asking questions & deciding their game wasn't relevant & not mentioning it at all or burying it. (Revision 1 of this Q from 2014 is a great example: spoilers, the game was utterly important.) Nowadays burying that info is widely seen as counterproductive and I'm concerned "if relevant" would prompt that behaviour again. Picture: Q: "Hey how do I calculate damage for my sword? Game's not relevant I guess." // A: "It's on page X of the PHB." // Comment: "Oh, which Savage Worlds book is that?" \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 15 '18 at 23:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ >.< ok, yeah, let's avoid people doing that. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Jan 16 '18 at 6:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd even drop the "if any," and generically demand a system. I suspect it would be easier to handle the exceptions where it's misleading than the ones where it's omitted. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Jan 17 '18 at 1:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @fectin that's too far for me. We already have people who think every question needs a system tag (see the downvoted answer on this question). I don't want to encourage that sort of thinking. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Jan 17 '18 at 3:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer I wouldn't necessarily recommend requiring a system mechanically, or enforcing that requirement through moderation (user or diamond). But that is the first question on just about every post which isn't tagged with a system. And as we are collapsing down to a single-sentence instruction on tagging, my best guess is that including "if any" will produce initial tags that need work more often than omitting it. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Jan 17 '18 at 4:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin It's true that that's among the first comments on any question not tagged with a system. That's a problem, and, among questions that aren't a user's first question on the site, it's not usually a problem with the question. The culture that leads to that question being asked even when it makes absolutely no sense with respect to the question, sometimes as a tounge-in-cheek reprimand for asking something other than how to handle a specific in-play situation (along the lines of 'what problem are you trying to solve?' on a history question) , is not something I want to encourage. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Jan 17 '18 at 8:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Given the existing no-guess policy, might want to use an all caps "REQUIRED" in the placeholder text about the system tag. \$\endgroup\$ – GcL Sep 24 '18 at 14:39
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Another option is to provide guidance in the sidebar help box. Currently, it looks like this:

How to Ask

Is your question about role-playing games?

We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed.

Provide details. Share your research.

If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

                               visit the help center »  
                                         asking help »

Could a line be added to this box to the effect of

If your question is about a specific system or edition, be sure to tag it as such (dnd-5e, dungeons-and-dragons, pathfinder).

This could even be in the "How to Tag" sidebar box that appears when editing the Tags box. Or in both, with "How to Ask" indicating that you should choose tags - "Be sure to properly tag your question" and "How to Tag" having the plea for system and edition info.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If this isn't possible to change, we could make a community ad that's a PSA reminding people to say or tag which game they're asking about. Not everyone will be shown it since they rotate, and some who are shown it won't notice it, but it'll catch a percentage. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 13 '18 at 17:59
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Alternate solution: require a system or system agnostic tag

It seems like a decent solution would be to require a system tag or the system agnostic tag to any new post before allowing it to be submitted.

It seems that as long as we were able to have a group of tags of which at least one was required to be present to make a new post then it would largely solve the issue (albeit in a very blunt fashion).

However, I have no idea if such a thing is technically possible or viable in SE. Now that it is pointed out however, I do realize that this meta has a system just like I am talking about here.

A downside I just realized would be that, because tags would have to be manually assigned as system (and thus required), first questions about a particular system would be difficult to handle.

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    \$\begingroup\$ We have something resembling this in the system: meta requires one of the four primary meta tags (support, discussion, feature-request, or bug). However a lot of our questions are not about systems, and I don't want to force them to pick a "not-a-system" tag. But then, I am against the necessity of using system-agnostic to begin with. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 10 '18 at 14:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your downside's not a huge deal, IMO: it's really questions being asked about 5e, 3.5e, and PF that are the lion's share of the problem. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jan 10 '18 at 14:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ I was asked in chat about the issue I had with system-agnostic. My reasoning is here -- it starts out as an explanation of my personal issues with the existence of the system-agnostic tag, and is then followed with my concerns of the problem that comes out of making a system tag or system-agnostic mandatory for every question. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 10 '18 at 14:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this has its heart in the right place. But I'm also not in favour of forcing every question to have a system tag of some kind (even if it were technically viable): that just makes it a tag tax, and unnecessarily puts redundant tags on questions that don't need them. The idea is that not every question is about a system, so not every question needs a tag about system. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 10 '18 at 19:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie your last sentence there is key \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Jan 11 '18 at 16:05

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