This discussion is inspired by Magus Spell Scars. The question doesn't clearly state which system it uses in the text, which is normally a case of Don't guess the system. But the author tagged the question with , whose tag wiki excerpt reads:

Pathfinder class that blends martial prowess with spell casting, from the book Ultimate Magic.

This tag describes the system, even the book, that the question is about. In my opinion a tag that describes a system is a system-tag and should suffice to exclude all other options of what the question could be about.

If we don't trust users to correctly tag their questions with such a specific tag, why would be trust them when they use a more generic tag such as ?

The problem is that we are requiring everyone to tag their question with a system, but there is no clear definition of "system-tag". It seems to be "general tag about a system", which in my eyes makes the tag a bad tag.

What should we do in such a situation? Leave the question and ask the OP to choose from a narrow yet-to-define list of "system-tag"? Add the generic "system-tag" because the OP already defined a subset of the system that the question is about?

Or is this simply an example of a bad tag and we should either change the tag wiki to be more generic or change the tag name to be specifically about the system (for example: )?


We do what we've currently done: ask them to clarify what's going on. Another user and I have left comments asking them to clarify what game and edition they're playing or, if the game is MAGUS RPG, to clarify that. (In which case we'd replace that tag with to disambiguate it, and then reopen the question.)

I feel like you're focusing here too much on the tags, when your focus should be on having a clear question.

Some background on that: as a rule, tags are never supposed to add information not already present in the question. The reason why a tag is present should be self-evident from looking at the title and body of the question. We break this rule when it comes to people mentioning their system, because to us it's usually pretty clear what " How do I activate a magic wand?" means, and we don't need people to always also say "also I'm playing D&D 3.5e". The tag makes things clear enough.

Right now we've got someone making a Magus/Rogue character. They tagged it . It is remarkably likely the querent is not actually playing Magus, but instead playing something in the D&D family of games, and tagged Magus because they had to tag something. (It is very common for D&D players new to our site to leave off the D&D tag entirely, because of some mistaken assumption maybe it's the only game we service or all games are the same anyway.)

So on this...

If we don't trust users to correctly tag their questions with such a specific tag, why would be trust them when they use a more generic tag such as ?

... we do trust people, but in this situation, we can use our judgement to assess that something is almost certainly missing, that someone didn't specify their system and that it's safer to put it on hold and await confirmation.

The querent has just a few minutes ago clarified their system is Pathfinder, so the question has been reopened.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I am focusing on the tags because everyone is focusing on the tags. This is for example evident by this comment. People are not asking querents something like "Could you edit your question to mention what system you are playing?", they are saying "Add a system tag." without any clear indication about what system tags are. And when someone uses one people are still not satisfied, which is my problem with the situation. If the community wants system tags to be special they should be clearly defined. \$\endgroup\$ – Secespitus Jun 5 '18 at 13:53
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @Secespitus Then everyone's focusing a bit too much on tags. I don't ask people to add a tag specifying their system, for example; I just ask them to clarify what their system is. It was not clear, despite the presence of a tag that might have specified what game they were playing (and in hindsight, didn't). \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jun 5 '18 at 14:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ The only non-mod comment asking for clarification is still asking specifically for a tag, not an update of the question body and it's highly voted. That's a pretty clear signal to everyone who may come across the question especially with the strict way this Stack handles comments. \$\endgroup\$ – Secespitus Jun 5 '18 at 14:32

We shouldn't guess the system.

There are a couple of other cases where the tag specifies one system but people use it for another or where the tag specifies one system but could be used for another.

See the tag. The excerpt says D&D 5e and although all the questions using the tag are currently D&D 5e questions, unearthed arcana has been around for multiple previous editions so it's a tag that could be used with other system tags and shouldn't automatically indicate D&D 5e.

The tag is another example. While the excerpt says it's for the D&D 4e mechanic we have questions using it in relation to D&D 5e, Pathfinder, and D&D 3.5e.

The bottom-line is that questions that don't specify the system, either by using a system tag, a mention of the system in the question, or an afterthought comment, should be put on-hold with a comment asking which game/edition the question is about until the querent confirms which system they're asking about. And at the end of the day there's nothing wrong with that. To quote Mxyzplk from the linked question above:

If the OP never bothers to come back to clarify their question - then what good are answers going to do them anyway? Patience can be hard, but it is rewarding.

There is also the issue that users, especially new ones, don't always read the tag info - (and such related tags) being a good example since we still get shopping questions. So "trusting" a question using a tag that describes a system without an actual system tag isn't always reliable.

It should be noted that the tag was created 6 years ago and the last excerpt edit was close to 4 years ago. Stack Exchange has grown and changed a lot since then and even though the excerpt says Pathfinder and all the current questions using the tag are Pathfinder questions that still shouldn't be the "nail in the coffin" confirmation that the querent is, in fact, asking about Pathfinder. Nor should that be used as the system tag.


I don't think this is an issue of trusting users to tag things correctly. In this specific instance, this is a single bad tag confusing a new user. In the future, I think we should do the following when we encounter a question without a , but that has another tag that implies system:

  1. Ask the user to add a , and put the question on hold until the system is clarified.
  2. Investigate the tag that implies system to determine if it needs to be removed, made more generic, or otherwise improved to avoid having this confusion in the future without harming any of the past questions using the tag.

The current tagging model is quite good in my opinion. Having tags broken out into broad categories like , , and means we can have fewer tags that cover the same ground. If we were to start adding more granular tags, like or , the tags on the stack would be cluttered and a pain to use.

  • \$\begingroup\$ XYZ is a bad tag, let's fix it! \$\endgroup\$ – Trish Jun 6 '18 at 7:40

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