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I think we have a bit of a problem with designer reason questions on the site.

A little history: designer-reasons questions were our attempt to save "what is this rule for" questions. Those were being answered entirely with rank opinion and causing those questions to be closed as opinion-based. The logic was that the only way to actually know what a rule is for is either direct designer commentary, or extrapolation from clear textual evidence. Otherwise it's all effectively guessing. However, as with game-recommendation questions, the set of rules we've built around these to try to maintain them is not being effectively upheld by the community.

We have 10 Meta questions about designer reasoning questions: https://rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/designer-reasons

And we have 66 of them on the main site: https://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/designer-reasons

That's an about 15% "Need to take it to Meta" ratio.

More and more, we're having to delete answers, close questions, protect questions, take it to meta, delete long comment threads, and so on for these questions. On the last 10 designer-reasons questions, there are 10 total deleted answers. Most require editing to clarify "NO SPECULATION," add the tag, correct people asking "can I speculate" in comments... For some reason, these questions are providing a extremely disproportionate amount of required moderation and intervention as compared to normal questions.

We've gone over the "right way" to answer designer intent questions a bunch on meta and we've been trying to just set good examples with questions in the hope that the community in general will start doing the right thing (both in using them right and in using their rep-powers to effectively moderate issues with them).

This isn't happening.

Last time "it didn't happen" in this way we had to get rid of game-recommendation questions. We aren't going to heavily mod-police any specific type of questions regularly; it makes users sad and burns our limited pool of effort. If a kind of question is going to be a problem on average, we'll just ax it instead.

Does anyone have any ideas (besides "keep doing what we've been doing") to make "Why is this rule the way it is" questions from pulling disproportionately subjective answers?

I'm afraid some of the problem is that some of them are legit inquiry, and others are "I don't like this rule justify it to me." I can't figure out a way to sift the two apart (though I know them when I see them) and it's the latter that are most problematic. Or the third category that inherits a bit from both, which is "this rule seems different in this new edition, but surely it's not! Tell me it's not!"

In the end, unless you're designing a game or house-ruling something and wondering about its balance, I'm not sure what actual, practical problem these questions help people solve - and that's coming out in the answers.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm at a loss too and don't have any good answers for how to handle these better. I just wanted to say that, because a lack of mod-written answers forthcoming might make this look like a Mod Team question when it isn't. I'll be reading though — I'm hopeful for a better outcome. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 23 '18 at 23:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ In my experience trying to answer designer-reasons questions, at least for 5e, I've found that there are actually very few instances where designers give any sort of intent. Could we perhaps make a "canonical" question compiling these interviews/articles, and point people to that question? I'm not sure how it'd work out in the SE format, though. \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire Apr 24 '18 at 0:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Icyfire while it's not a crazy idea on its face, I suspect it's not feasible. It'd require people trolling through thousands of tweets, re-listening to all their podcast segments, never mind the hundred-or-so design articles from late 4e/Next days. And still we'd miss that thing they said in a twitch stream, or in a product announcement, or at a con panel.... I despair of pulling together something "good enough" to call canonical. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Apr 24 '18 at 2:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think that makes it a crazy idea on its face. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Apr 24 '18 at 2:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think a good part of the problem is that for dnd-5e (most popular tag around here) a decent amount of the unanswered questions is tagged as designer-reasons. This means people want to answer them, even though they don't have an answer, at least not in the way we expect them to answer. A disclaimer within the question (not in the comments) saying something on the lines "Answers saying 'there is no quote' or not providing a quote will not be accepted (meaning deleted)" might help. \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Apr 24 '18 at 5:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HellSaint That has been done in many cases actually, but it doesn't seem to help from what I have seen. The fireproof question had that disclaimer put up, but I believe it still got plenty of argument and guessing answers after that. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Apr 24 '18 at 17:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ I liken these to a movie script writer, the movie was fine and entertaining but knowing that Lucas got the idea for scene 3 from the pattern he saw in his Rice Krispies the morning his cat was smothered by pancakes is not relavent to the enjoyment of the movie, it might be cool trivia but hardly necessary. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Apr 24 '18 at 19:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ So what about History-of-Gaming? \$\endgroup\$ – Jason_c_o Apr 28 '18 at 7:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you believe those questions are causing a problem please start a separate meta on it. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Apr 28 '18 at 11:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk not explicitly, which is why I didn't. It just seemed the logic applied to those as well. (There's no problem to be solved.) That's why I didn't start another meta. \$\endgroup\$ – Jason_c_o Apr 28 '18 at 17:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jason_c_o, we address things here on Meta to the degree they are producing actual problems that need addressing. (It's not coincidentally similar to "real questions solve problems"). I do agree with you that some history-of-gaming questions fall into the pointless trivia area and I hate them personally as a result. However, the community seems to disagree with me (rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2928/…) and they're not frequent or causing disruption the way these are, so neither I nor anyone else are pressing the point. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Apr 28 '18 at 18:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Of course, that was 2013 when the community was still backing other pretty poor decisions that they've reversed since, so it may be worth reinvestigating... Not enough of an issue right now for me to spearhead that however. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Apr 28 '18 at 18:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ OK, given that pretty much all answers are of the tenor "ban 'em", I think we can consider that policy, with a little more work to do around what related formats are valid. I'll write up what I think is a consensus opinion and post it as an answer too. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Apr 28 '18 at 18:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is it possible to automatically protect designer intent questions? \$\endgroup\$ – fectin - free Monica Apr 30 '18 at 2:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ No, it’s not. We don’t have any automation functionality not stock across SEs and that’s not a feature. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Apr 30 '18 at 2:32
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Designer reasoning questions should be banned.

I've come to the conclusion that we should consider designer reasoning questions off-topic for the site. In brief, such questions do not have much value to the site, and there is precedent for banning developer intent questions. Additionally, the useful designer reasoning questions can be reformulated into acceptable balance questions.

Many designer reasoning questions are not about users' problems.

Our tour states,

Focus on questions about an actual problem you have faced. Include details about what you have tried and exactly what you are trying to do.

However, designer reasoning questions don't actually address DM/player issues. What actual problem does knowing why D&D's gorgon is a metal bull solve? A lot of these questions, like this one, appear to be aimed more at satisfying curiosity or settling a bet rather than dealing with a real problem.

As other rpg.meta questions have demonstrated (1,2,3,4), developers do not have any privileged status. If our aim is to address practical issues in playing RPGs, then developer intent is actually worthless; what really matters is what other people who have played the game have experienced. Developers might have some useful input through their playtesting, but there is often a disconnect between apparent intent and reality.

Useful designer reasoning questions can be reframed into on-topic questions.

A number of designer reasoning questions are secretly other kinds of questions, and can be rewritten as such. For instance, What is the rationale behind the comparatively low number of spells known for Sorcerers? can be reframed as, "Is it unbalanced to increase the number of spells known for Sorcerers?". Likewise, "What have designers said for why they made worn items fireproof? can be rewritten as, "Will making worn items flammable break my game?" (yes, it will).

These DMs are really asking about the practicality of homebrewed rules, which doesn't require a developer to weigh in. In fact, questions like these are probably better served by other DMs who have firsthand experience with similar homebrew rules. Unfortunately, their current formulation actually bans such answers.

In this way, many of the more borderline designer intent questions can be reframed into other topics. This question, about the wording of the rules, is a good example: it is a question about the rules that has some designer intent flavor, but is arguably not a designer intent question per se. Likewise, questions about game design can be asked that are about the game design itself, and not necessarily intent specifically.

Generally, then, it's asking about designer intent that's problematic here. I think it's fine for designer intent arguments to support answers, but not to form the basis of a question.

Banning intent questions has a precedent on Arqade.

The gaming stackexchange, Arqade, has banned questions centered on developer intent (1, 2, 3). The rationale given is,

The reason "Why did they design it that way?" is off-topic is because it can only be answered by the developers, either directly or indirectly. If a developer hasn't answered the question in the past then the only way the question can be answered is if they happen to be browsing Arqade and see the question.

Regardless of whether or not this rationale is compelling, Arqade seems to be doing quite well without developer intent questions. Therefore, I don't think that banning these questions will cause our site to burn down.

We can't seem to leave unanswerable questions unanswered.

The primary guidance I've seen for these questions seems to be, "let unanswerable questions stay unanswered." This argument has some precedent (1,2,3), in meta, although some think unanswerable questions are bad (1, 2).

However, as @mxyzplk has demonstrated, we can't leave these unanswered. People keep trying to answer them with speculation, and they keep having to be deleted, which wastes everybody's time. While these questions might ideally be left alone, that has not played out in practice.

Conclusions

As much as I love getting reputation for just Googling things, I believe that we should close designer reasoning questions as off-topic. They don't bring much value to the site, and they cause a lot of controversy and hurt feelings. Any benefits of designer reasoning questions can most likely be retained by rewriting the question to be about balance or homebrew, and other sites have banned these questions without issue.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I have to agree with this. Designer reasoning questions seem to often be unanswerable, or some like the blowgun one are fishing for community support justifying a homebrew or house rule. That being said, I am really new to RPG.se and the blowgun Q was one of the first I ever tried to answer. I thought it was a simple question, and I thought quoting the explanation of martial weapons in the PHB would be a good answer since the PHB is written by the designers. Needless to say it wasn't. It was only after that experience that I realized that question was almost 6 mos old with no answers. \$\endgroup\$ – Duck Apr 24 '18 at 7:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ But because of the current treatment of Designer Reasons I had no clue what answers had been deleted. I didn't know if I was just regurgitating 6 month old trash. I think for this reason alone the treatment of them needs to change and Icyfire's solution is one that allows the questions to be asked in a way that makes them answerable in a relevant forum. \$\endgroup\$ – Duck Apr 24 '18 at 7:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Interesting, I didn’t know Arquade had banned them. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Apr 24 '18 at 12:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ At least one of the Designer Reason questions is an obvious oversight by the editor in the first place. It took Gygax many years to provide reasons and context for several things and this set of designers is a bit less forthcoming. Or if they do it is in the form of audio podcasts and Tweets instead of articles and magazine interviews. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Apr 24 '18 at 17:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Arquade has a valid reason to ban such questions: Arquade doesn't answer questions about designing video games; this stack answers questions about designing role-playing games. Knowing a designer's reason for doing something is a valid way to inform one's own design decisions. I admit many of these questions are Has the dumb designer justified this stupid rule? questions instead of the I'd like to change this. How will it affect my game? questions that are preferred, but there really is some room for designer reasons questions that are not stealth rants against the games. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 24 '18 at 18:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ There's also room for good game-rec questions, but if the community can't keep their act together on discerning them, the baby goes out with the bath-water. It happened to game-rec and it's coming on these unless we figure out a better way to curate them. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Apr 24 '18 at 18:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Duck I agree that player experience can be as valuable as designer intent with regard to pedestrian questions, but for serious pants-on-head crazy nonsense rules wanting to know why they exist according to the designers before you adopt them into your homebrew heartbreaker seems—to this user, anyway—a perfectly valid use of the tag. (I totally admit, by the way, that this validity is really niche and won't stop the Has the dumb designer justified this stupid rule? questions, but I also really don't like losing a site function I may use!) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 24 '18 at 18:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Duck that's not completely true, as with this question. We don't have exactly that answer to 5E edition, but we have for previous one, and we have some additional information on 5E. Adding both leads to a valid answer. The problem with your blowgun answer as far as I can see is that a blowgun does not require specialized training in our world (reason why the question exists, to start with), so you would need to get the developers to say that. \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Apr 24 '18 at 19:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think that there are other ways in which designer-reason questions might be reframed, rather than as balance questions. How to narrate the rule when it comes up, for example, how to integrate the rule into the broader context of the game (“this rule seems contradictory or out of place; am I missing something?”), and so on. Not all of those reframings are necessarily on topic either, and none of them is going to necessarily save every question, but I worry about having exactly one suggestion for reframing when others may be workable and more appropriate to a given question. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 24 '18 at 19:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ In fact, “am I missing something?” seems likely a very common impetus for asking these kinds of questions. That gets pretty woolly with respect to topicality and answerability itself, but we’ve received well-made suggestions in the past to try to treat designer-reasons questions that way. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 24 '18 at 19:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Duck the answerer is me by the way, and yes, I let it clear that a part was speculation and why the speculation was valid based on designer's comments. If you can justify how a blowgun needs more training than a crossbow or a shortbow in combat (as they are simple weapons), then the quote from PHB is enough - the designers' reason is that it does require specialized training. At least that is my opinion on that matter :P \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Apr 24 '18 at 19:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Post answers if you have suggestions. This is a bit much comment discussion even for meta. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Apr 24 '18 at 20:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I think you have the core of an answer in those comments. My gut feel is that it is likely better than the one I offered. Hope you are able to find the time for one. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 24 '18 at 21:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Your comments have some good points in them, and I'd like to see that fleshed out as an answer if you have the time. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 24 '18 at 21:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast I may do so, but it is honestly my preference for someone who honestly ascribes to that position to do so. Personally, I’ve long considered designer-reasons questions to be extremely low-value; I have no personal stake in trying to defend them. While I could do it as a devil’s advocate, that case would probably be better made by someone who actually personally agrees with it. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 24 '18 at 21:32
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Instead focus on: What problem are you trying to solve at the table?

When a rule looks weird or feels out of whack, a lot of different questions arise, one of which is "what were they thinking?"

"What they were thinking" doesn't matter in our RPG.SE context. I will quote @BESW for a good idea of why "we are here" on this stack:

We aren't here on the Stack to read the rulebooks to people. We're here to help people learn how to synthesize the mechanics, the non-mechanical text, the social context, our personal experience, the learning of the broader community, to apply all that to a particular real-life problem someone's having and find a solution for it

We need to get the question pointed at the problem to solve so that play at the table isn't impeded by a given rule or decision, rather than being pointed at discomfort with a given design decision.

To save them, close them until they are edited

We have a variety of question classes that require a bit of tweaking to meet SE standards. That is a feature of this site, not a bug. We have a whole community to aid and assist question askers with the asking of questions.

The issues that evoke designer reasons are often related to how a rule plays out, a perceived mismatch in tone or style, a feeling of "we didn't used to do it that way" and even a clash with play at a given table. The direction of the edit assistance is to arrive at a question aimed at a problem that needs solving.

Some of these questions are thinly disguised rants

Close these as opinion based. (Which in some cases is being done).

As an aside: if enough design decisions make people not enjoy the "feel" of a game, the option to play others games is happily available, but that doesn't strike me as where should go with answers to question like this.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Edited into what though? It sounds like you're suggesting they need to take a different form — what form do they need to take instead? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 24 '18 at 17:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Even questions with the tag and "I want designer reasons" in them aren't getting it though, so this sounds a lot like "do what we're doing now." \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Apr 24 '18 at 17:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast What's going on for me in reading this answer is that you seem to be saying they should be edited (into something different), but you're not saying what different thing they should be edited into. If there is a different way these questions can be handled, different more workable forms they should be transformed into, great! But this doesn't seem to be saying what those are. Mxy is concerned that our current practices aren't working well. If this is just "edit them so they're clear they're asking for designer reasons" then as Mxy says, that's what happens already. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 24 '18 at 18:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener What I am trying to get at is the edit direction needs to be toward a problem that the asker is trying to solve. Hmm. Need to try again. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 24 '18 at 20:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk "Do what we are doing now" is not what I am after, so I obviously need to make an other edit in terms of clarity. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 24 '18 at 20:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Ok, cool, I thought that might be what you were getting at. (Could do with being clearer yeah.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 24 '18 at 20:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I have tried again, but if it's still muddy, let me know. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 24 '18 at 20:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast I swapped the first and second sections around to say first what you suggest these questions need to do instead, and second, the action we take to get them there. "Close them until they're edited" as a leading statement was sort of leaving an "into what?" up in the air, and the lede was buried in the second section. Does this look OK? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 24 '18 at 20:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener OK, thanks for the assist, I cleaned up a little of the flabby prose, your reorganize idea was a good one. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 24 '18 at 20:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm reading that designer-reasons questions should be closed until they turn into a different kind of on-topic question. Are you advocating a ban on designer-reasons questions also? \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire Apr 24 '18 at 22:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ This reminds me of a meta answer I think SSD posted a while back about another tag which I'll paraphrase as "stop using a tag to be lazy when writing questions; present your problem well and you won't need to tell answerers how to answer." But I can't find it now. (And, of course, I may be mis-attributing it or even making it up!) \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Apr 25 '18 at 3:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Icyfire While I up voted your answer, I am not sure if banning the tag or the question is the best way forward. I am open to understanding what form or what cases of this question class are OK (like we do with charop) and am happy to let things stew for a bit. We don't need to have this solved today. Let the stack work ... \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 25 '18 at 11:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ This! This is the answer. Designer intent questions can serve an important purpose: They allow a user to ask "How am I supposed to understand this rule in context" by asking for more context. I mean, you can't ask "What is RAI" or "How should I interpret this in-setting" because those questions are subjective , but we need to have some way of asking "what is this rule for?" because games are complicated beasts and not understanding what purpose a rule serves can make all the difference between a game that runs smoothly and intuitively and a weird mechanic that feels clunky and artificial. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Apr 27 '18 at 22:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe Why can't people just ask, "what is this rule for?" directly? \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire Apr 28 '18 at 5:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Icyfire because all the answers are then purely people's opinions and are not helpful. It's why we tried out the designer-reasons restriction in the first place, to try to save "what is this rule for" questions that were wallowing hopelessly in subjectivity. I've added some historical context to the question. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Apr 28 '18 at 18:28
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Speaking as someone who asked one of them, I think the best way forward is to let 'em burn.

They're a hassle for the mods, they end up being a hassle for the people who ask them, and I presume it's annoying to answer them thinking it's simple and then have it deleted. And after all that, what does the site (and the querent) get out of it? Generally either nothing or an answer that is, at its core, just a link to somewhere that has the actual answer.

There are exceptions, of course, but as evidenced by the existence of this very meta question, they are the exceptions, rather than the reverse. On the whole, I think this is another example of something this site just doesn't do very well, and that's ok.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 from someone who also asked one of those and immediately felt a bit dirty afterward. \$\endgroup\$ – kviiri Apr 25 '18 at 8:32
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Designer-reasons questions should be off-topic.

An RPG expert isn't substantially more capable of answering a designer-reasons question than a non-RPG expert, because all either of them is going to do is Google until they can find the right blog or tweet or interview. Answering doesn't really require RPG expertise so much as skill with phrasing search queries, plus a dash of luck in being the first to find the right quote, if one even exists. If there appears to be no such quote, you can't prove that anyway, rendering it unanswerable.

In addition, this isn't much different than asking the community to read the book to you, except in this case the book is Google and the entire book is self-indexing.

You could easily ask a designer-reasons question of a person who knows nothing about RPG's and they could find the answer for you with a browser and a few minutes of their time.

I think these sorts of questions are off-topic. The tag should include a warning, and questions like this should be held until they are edited to be on-topic.

It's up to the person asking the question to decide whether it's worth the effort for them to rephrase the question into an on-topic form. If they're desperately in search of an actual statement from a designer, then maybe SE isn't the venue to fulfill that need.

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In my opinion the designer-reasons tag does not add enough value to RPG.SE in its current form to warrant the amount of oversight it seems to require to meet restrictions it imparts on the answers.

Because of this I decided to put together some pro's and con's for a couple options that could be considered. This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list but I thought it would be a good place to start collecting ideas for direct comparison.

If anybody wants to add more pros and cons to the ideas I had or have other possible solutions you think should be considered, feel free to add them or comment so someone who who can edit my post or I can.

Some possible solutions are:


1. Remove the tag altogether.

The justification for this would be; most questions asked in designer-reasons can be reframed in a way that can meet the needs of the asker, without having an actual quote on the subject from the designer.
Pros:
This would remove the tedious oversight that the tag is creating.
Cons:
Those people who really truly need a designer quote because (insert reason here) can't specify that.
I don't think this is the best option but it is an option

2. Allow answers that use designer published sources but aren't direct designer responses to the question.
The justification for this would be that it allows the do or die people mentioned above a medium to request designer quotes but it doesn't restrict answers to direct quotes from the designers specific to the subject matter.
Pros:
More freedom to actually convey any information at all about the question if a direct designer quote is not available.
Cons:
Askers may never get an answer that satisfies if there is not a quote that satisfies them.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, on 1., it's not the tag per se that's a problem. Tags are just a descriptor, it's the kind of question that's the problem. We could certainly put a warning in the designer-reasons tag wiki saying "best not do this" but it doesn't mean you should ask that kind of question without the tag... \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Apr 25 '18 at 0:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ On #2, we certainly allow other sources of designer reasoning than a direct quote. If someone asked "why do a sword and an axe do the same damage in Feng Shui" and someone pulled out a Robin Laws sidebar that says "We went for simplicity in the game so didn't focus on fine differentiation in damage" - that's totally fine. But that's not what we get, we get "I think the designer thought X because I think X and I am a good noodle." \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Apr 25 '18 at 0:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think your con #1 misses a point: people who really need a designer statement for $REASONS can still get them... if they actually explain their problem well. In other words, if they present the actual problem they're having and a designer statement would be helpful, I'm sure some answerer is going to come along and provide it and voters can judge whether that was more useful than non-designer-based answers, and the site goes on. This thing where the querent lays out restrictions on answers seems (to me) to be where the problems tend to start. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Apr 25 '18 at 3:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ As the asker of the contentious blowgun question (which, since you posted an answer, I've become more and more aware of how it is, in fact, just an "I dont' like this rule, justify it to me" question and have now voted to close it as opinion-based accordingly), I wanted to point out that, in a comment on another answer here, you said "...but I can't show that the specialized training of the blowgun is more extensive than the training necessary for a [short]bow. Is that what makes my answer invalid?". Invalid might be a bit strong, but yes, this was the reason I rejected your answer; just FYI. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Apr 27 '18 at 15:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Generally speaking, though, I agree with your answer (#1 in particular, though #2 if people want to keep the tag anyway) and the others here that argue for this tag (or at least, what the tag has become) being a problem that needs to be addressed, especially since I've contributed to this problem :( Basically deleting answers for not containing specific quotes is too strong, so I've realised, so relaxing that "rule" at the very least is probably the way to go. If the asker doesn't feel that the answers answer the question (as in my blowgun question), they can just "not accept the answer". \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Apr 27 '18 at 15:10
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Treat these questions similarly to Charop questions

The meta brain trust was able to arrive at a nicely organized "how to write a charop question" meta that helps a lot in getting the charop style of questions to fit SE format, or be closed. It ended up being a community wiki sort of answer, that has three examples of charop, and points to the kind that work well on RPG.SE. This answer is placed to collect the proposals to break down, and clearly define the various designer intent / what's behind this / was this a mistake style of questions in order to clearly identify which kind of this question class can be asked well enough to fit the SE format, and which ones need to be closed.

The following is a list of the different types of designer-intent questions, and how they should be dealt with.

  1. Rants: These are not questions, and should be closed.
    • Was this a mistake?: These are either more polite rants, or rules clarification questions.
    • I don't like this rule, justify it to me: These are also a type of rant. While we can explain the practical functionality of rules, the designer-intent aspect of these questions usually are usually critical of the designer.
  2. Homebrew fiddling: We can easily handle homebrew questions--developer intent is not necessarily relevant to the success of a homebrew.
  3. this rule seems different in this new edition, but surely it's not! Tell me it's not!: This is a rules clarification question.

Designer intent questions are off-topic, but your question might be on-topic.

The site prefers questions that marshal its users' expertise. A question asking only about doesn't marshal that expertise. Further, the site's users have no special way to communicate with game designers. Essentially, a question tagged asks the site's users to duplicate research that's already been done or should've been done prior to posing the question.

With that in mind, many questions are about modifying or understanding existing rules, which is something we can address. Examine carefully the question's premise to see if the question is actually one of the following:

  1. "Why did the designers make this terrible rule?"
    An alternative question that is better suited to the site is
    What impact will it have on the game if this rule is changed?
    Keep in mind that the site frowns upon rants disguised as questions.
  2. "Is this rule's outcome intended by the game's designers?"
    An alternative question that is better suited to the site is
    Have I been using this rule correctly? or
    Is there a different way to implement this rule that yields superior results?

If the only way a question can be answered is with the words of the games designers, then that question should be posed to the game's designers directly. If only the designer's words will answer the question satisfactorily, the site's users can't answer the question; the designer must instead.

In rare cases there may be a question that demands a response from the game's designers. In such a case, that question must include an explanation for that necessity demonstrating that no matter how experienced a player of that game is, a player's justification will fall short.

Finally, answers for questions must contain direct citations from developer statements. Do not use this tag unless you want to intentionally restrict answers in this way.

However, this is so high a bar that I (@HeyICanChan) can't think of any examples.


Please help to build this answer

Edits to this answer are requested to improve it so that it is able to serve as the charop answer did in formulating a method to save the few designer intent questions that are worthy of saving, and give better points on which ones to close as "something we don't do well." The search @mxyxplk did shows that there are already some good ideas on how to handle some of the subsets of this general question class.

(Per @HeyICanChan's comment)

@Duck I agree that player experience can be as valuable as designer intent with regard to pedestrian questions, but for serious pants-on-head crazy nonsense rules wanting to know why they exist according to the designers before you adopt them into your homebrew heartbreaker seems—to this user, anyway—a perfectly valid use of the tag. (I totally admit, by the way, that this validity is really niche and won't stop the Has the dumb designer justified this stupid rule? questions, but I also really don't like losing a site function I may use!)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What does “(action)” here mean? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 25 '18 at 16:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I am leaving place holders in this answer for the brain trust on meta to help edit in/fill in, as was done on that charop answer I linked to. I am also not sure if I have gotten all of the categories right. This seems to me a case for a community wiki sort of approach, as I look at the various inputs from mxy's search in the question. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 25 '18 at 16:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ So this is suggesting going for something like: we can handle >>these kinds<< of designer reasoning questions, and not others, so if you can ask one of those ask it, otherwise can't service this request? If we can identify those forms of questions that are viable that could work pretty well. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 25 '18 at 16:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I am hoping that our collective wisdom can arrive at that, as was done with charop in the linked example. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 25 '18 at 18:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ I added what I'd started. After trying to compose an answer that would both address stealth rants against misunderstood or disliked rules and leave open the opportunity to ask these kinds of questions when they're appropriate, I realized the window of appropriateness is so small that I'm leaning toward ditching these questions altogether. (If I had a question that I thought fit in the ultrasmall window I was building, I'd ask it anyway, banned tag be damned.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 25 '18 at 19:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan heh, just don't use the tag. :) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 25 '18 at 19:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ The charop guidelines lay out the specific kinds of charop questions that are ok, but it kind of feels like these guidelines turn designer-reasoning questions into totally different kinds of questions altogether, namely rules interpretations or homebrew. In fact, I'd argue that removing any designer-reasoning elements from the example questions doesn't significantly affect the substance of the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire Apr 26 '18 at 0:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast, sorry if I offended you (I actually upvoted this answer). My understanding regarding this answer is that it's framed as "how to ask a designer intent question," whereas I'd argue it should be framed as "designer intent is off topic--ask these questions instead". I'm hesitant to reframe the answer so significantly, but I will give it a try. \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire Apr 26 '18 at 2:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Icyfire Ok, I'll delete that comment, I took your comment in the wrong voice. Sorry. I'd rather you reframe by adding your view on how this might be like that charop meta) but I also appreciate the sentiment (that has some momentum) based on your original answer. Plenty of folks seem to figure that this class of question may indeed be more trouble that it's worth. (Since I was sad that game rec died, I am willing to see us at least try on these, though I personally don't value this class as much as I did game rec). \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 26 '18 at 2:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Icyfire Thanks for the improvement. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 26 '18 at 11:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Icyfire Hmm, what about the answers that are from devs. We have some of those for some games. (now and again) The last one I recall was a couple of years ago, and I forget which game system that was. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 26 '18 at 16:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast We've established that answers from developers have to stand on their own, so I don't think they'll be too affected by this change. Plus, they're so rare, especially compared to how common designer-intent questions are, that I'm not sure they should carry too much weight. \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire Apr 27 '18 at 2:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, I think that answers can still use developer intent as support (i.e. Jeremy Crawford tweets). It's just that asking only for developer intent is problematic. \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire Apr 27 '18 at 2:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ooh, this is great - putting the focus squarely on the problems users are trying to address is exactly what we need to do. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Apr 28 '18 at 22:19

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