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The current tag description says:

A character in an RPG whose decisions and actions are handled by the game-master or a designated assistant. An initialism that stands for "non-player character."

However, this is a description of the NPC term, not the tag. It answers a question "what is an NPC", not "what is the tag for".

Compare this with the majority of tags, like the tag:

Questions about becoming or tutoring a game master

Clearly this description is about what is the tag for.

So, what should we write in the NPC tag description? What is this tag for?

I was browsing through highest voted 'npc' questions and saw a few examples when the tag is used presumably excessively:

"Any questions about any situations where NPC are significantly involved" seems too broad.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Context of this question for those less familiar with tag curation intricacies: the description you see when you hover over a tag (or in the tag autocomplete dropdown) is the “usage guidance”, sometimes also called the tag wiki excerpt, and is less about defining the tag, more about telling you how & when to use it. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Aug 25 '18 at 21:00
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The tag description isn’t great, but that’s a side effect of the tag being mostly self-explanatory: it hasn’t needed to be great to get used.

Like any tag, regardless whether the tag description is any good, it’s for describing the subject of a question — so when NPCs are the main thing. It’s not just for when NPCs are involved at all. That would be overtagging.

So these would use it:

  • “Do NPCs gain XP?”
  • “Players hate my NPCs, what am I doing wrong?”
  • “How can I RP two NPCs arguing without boring the players?”

But these probably wouldn’t:

  • “The PCs are murdering everyone they meet”
  • “How can my rogue start a thieves guild?”
  • “What skill is used for haggling?”

The description might lack guidance, but general tagging guidance applies (and mostly makes it not a problem): tag for the subject of the problem rather than incidental details, and the tags will mostly turn out right.

That doesn’t mean the description can’t be improved, but it does mean it’s not going to cause problems with every question mentioning NPCs being “technically” taggable with it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So, how it can be improved? (should I ask a new question for this?) \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Aug 26 '18 at 9:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor Well, it should say how to use it. It’s just not a priority, because it’s already being used right — how to use it right isn’t unusual or counter-intuitive. So it just takes someone making it say the obvious usage, just for completeness. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 26 '18 at 17:51
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I've very slightly edited the tag usage guidance to focus on its intended usage rather than just on the definition of "NPC":

For questions about NPCs (non-player characters). NPC refers to any character in an RPG whose decisions and actions are handled by the game master (or a designated assistant) rather than by a player.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Isn't "questions about NPCs" basically the same as "any questions about any situations where NPC are significantly involved"? \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Aug 26 '18 at 20:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Basically, because that's what the tag's meant for. People shouldn't tag questions that incidentally mention NPCs with it, but if the question is mainly about NPCs in some way, it's an appropriate tag. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Aug 26 '18 at 20:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Isn't this too broad? What is "questions about NPCs"? Why we have a special tag for this? We don't have a special tag for "questions about PCs", for example. There is little to no mechanical difference between PCs and NPCs in many systems. The main difference is the fact that NPCs are played by the game master, and we already have multiple "gm-" tags. In fact, many "npc" questions also have the "gm-techniques" tag. Is the "npc" tag redundant, isn't it? \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Aug 26 '18 at 20:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor Why would we get rid of it? Not everything about GMing is about NPCs: not perfectly overlapping means they’re not the same, so they can’t be redundant. So, destroying the tag would destroy database organisation data. We need to have very good reasons before even considering such a thing, and I don’t see any positive purpose being suggested, or any problem it would fix. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 27 '18 at 2:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor related meta: rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/a/5937/23970 \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Aug 27 '18 at 4:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ The tag is a perfect tag for the site. Leave it alone. Adding "questions about" to the tag wiki is fine if completely unnecessary, but further fiddling with the tag in the complete absence of any actual problem is very undesirable and a waste of everyone's time. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Aug 28 '18 at 0:45
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It’s for questions about NPCs? I think you are way overthinking this, we don’t need drool poof wording in our tags that always starts with “questions about...”, that’s obvious. For a tag about an abbreviation, defining the actual term is useful. We don’t need to be prescriptive about the tags use unless it’s become a problem.

Frankly, dopple’s turn of phrase “tag curation intricacies” turns me off. Tags are meant to be obvious and simple, added by anyone, applies to questions by anyone, tag wikis and edits to them submitted by most. Fretting over tags on meta should be restricted to when there’s an actual functional problem that has arisen, and I fail to see where anyone has trouble with tagging their questions about NPCs with npc. They may overtag sometimes, but that is an issue with every generously scoped tag.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I've suggested an edit to the tag info to just rephrase it to focus on its (fairly straightforward) intended usage, rather than just the definition of NPC. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Aug 26 '18 at 2:23

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