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DNDBeyond is Wizards of the Coast's official 5e digital support site/tool. It contains a rules compendium, monster listings, spell and item descriptions, and space for homebrew spells/items/races/feats/&c.

Many old(er) questions do not link to DNDBeyond, as it didn't exist at the time. We have affirmed that it's perfectly fine to link to DNDBeyond in questions, generally noting that its non-SRD content is behind no more of a paywall than the printed products themselves.

Recently some editors have been making good-faith edits to add DNDBeyond links where there were none before. That hadn't caught my eye until someone pointed out to me that the texts that made their way into DNDBeyond don't always perfectly match printed texts. [I don't have any examples at hand: readers please feel free to add a few examples.]

Should we be adding DNDBeyond links to questions where the author didn't include them?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ While I'm not presently aware of any D&DB citations that are different than print, I do know that the SRD (even the official pdf) has a few places where its content differs from the 'rulebook' version, such as the Sword of Sharpness. Is it possible that the mentioned disparity was from something along those lines, comparing the SRD from D&DB to the 'official' version in a rulebook? (Also, tangentially relevant to the topic at hand: Is D&D Beyond an official rules source?) \$\endgroup\$ – CTWind Jul 20 '18 at 1:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the only cases where DNDBeyond differs from print is when something has been changed in errata... Or potentially those edge-cases where the SRD differs from the book. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 20 '18 at 2:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've posted elsewhere (rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/a/7702/28927) my feelings on this matter. A page reference or a D&D beyond citation each have validity, and if one is present, the other need not be added. \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Jul 20 '18 at 5:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think that the claim of differences in the text online should either be substantiated or removed. As a heavy user of both text and online, I don't recall ever seeing a difference between the two (which is not evidence that there is none, but I'd be interested to see it proven). Moreover, it may actually be better to remove it entirely since, if there were differences, that should lead us to discuss DnDB's worthiness as a trusted rules source in general not just in the case of old questions. Without examples I think the question is a bit unclear. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jul 20 '18 at 13:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Here is a substantiation of differences (this came up last week). For the spell wall of ice, the online version states, "You create a wall of ice on a solid surface within range." The PHB our GM has does not include the "on a solid surface" clause, allowing him to cast the spell in mid-air around a flying PC. This is a substantitive change to the spell. \$\endgroup\$ – Greenstone Walker Apr 15 at 23:09
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The point of editing (particularly of somebody else's post) should be to make things clearer. I don't think the specifics, of whether it's adding a link to D&D Beyond, or adding a page number, or whatever, is really the question here. If editing is adding an irrelevant detail then it's probably unnecessary, though I don't see as it does any harm other than perhaps bumping an old post that probably didn't need to be bumped. If editing makes it clearer what the post is trying to say by providing a reference for what the author was looking at, then it's probably helpful and that's the whole purpose of editing.

I think it's important that any prospective editors, though, be absolutely certain that what they're doing is providing a reference for what the author was looking at and not just trying to hyperlink every rules reference on the site. Editing needs to be looked at on an individual basis: All problems with the post should be addressed at once, and it's important to realize that what the author was looking at may not be what the current version in D&D Beyond says. I know that at times I've been quite confused when reading a question (like this one) where I couldn't figure out why it was being asked because the answer was quite obvious to me, but it turns out that my copy of the book had been updated with the answer and the question was from before that updated printing.

So, if an edit makes a post clearer (which could be done by adding references to D&D Beyond or by rephrasing a confusing sentence) then it's probably helpful, and if it doesn't make a post clearer then it isn't. But I don't think that the guiding principle here is really anything specific to adding D&D Beyond links.

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Adding links to DNDBeyond has the potential to make a question somewhat nonsensical. We have a lot of questions where the answer was "that wording was ambiguous/confusing, here's the errata". If a question of that variety has a link to DNDBeyond in it, with its updated wording, someone reading the question may end up going "the answer is right there in the question, what is this question even about?"

Is this a major problem? Not really. But it does represent a larger issue, which is: We shouldn't be editing old posts carelessly. We have a lot of questions and answers which turn on a single word, so unless you're certain that you're not changing the meaning of something, you should probably leave it alone.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have an example of a Q&A where adding the DNDbeyond link made it nonsensical? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 20 '18 at 13:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't really agree with this argument. When has a link/citation ever made a question more confusing? We get plenty of questions already whose answers are obvious from a reading of the text, sometimes even the text OP themselves quotes. I see no difference between an answer being obvious from quoted material and an answer being obvious from linked material. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jul 20 '18 at 13:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose For one example, What is the range of Deflect Missiles? could become very confusing for a reader if it included this D&D Beyond link. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 20 '18 at 17:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie OK that is fair. I see more what miniman was getting at. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jul 20 '18 at 17:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I'm not sure I understand with that example. Linking to dndbeyond there doesn't make sense because they aren't citing DNDbeyond. They are citing the errata. Changing it to dndbeyond would be changing the answer itself and not just including a link. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 20 '18 at 18:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Not in the answer, in the question. :) If the question was edited to include that link, it would be confusing. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 20 '18 at 18:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie D'oh! I wonder if this means we should talk about adding sources to questions vs adding an additional source link if it's already provided in an answer (or even a question.) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 20 '18 at 18:40
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In general, I would suggest not editing a lot of old posts this way, for the following reasons:

  1. Editing old questions would bump them on the front page.
    • This would see unnecessary new answers to old already-answered questions; "thread necromancy", as they call it on forums.
    • It would clutter the front page with questions that don't need answering.
  2. D&D Beyond links are mainly of use to askers/answerers of new, currently open questions who benefit from the ability to quickly and easily verify information (perhaps in a book they don't own) before answering or accepting. While links may still be of use to readers for convenience, I'm not sure it's worth a high number of bumped threads.
  3. I'd be concerned that users would expend a lot of effort modifying old posts for XP rather than asking/answering questions.
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    \$\begingroup\$ On #1: we'd prefer stuff get edited anyway, but managed in volume to not overwhelm the front page. We do not have "necromancy" on this site as something frowned upon since we consider questions to be timeless; rather there are badges for it (necromancer, archaeologist & others). The front page isn't for questions that need answering, it's for questions that have recent activity (for any reason, including something just received an edit that ought to have peer review). \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jul 27 '18 at 13:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, “necromancy” is not only fine here but considered good. I agree strongly on #2 though, that’s a good analysis of temporal utility. #3 I’m not sure is too much a concern: only suggested edits are worth rep, so few users could edit with that motive, and even then, it’s part of the intended process of learning what’s considered a good edit to suggest less-than-perfect edits. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 27 '18 at 16:00

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