This answer (now deleted) was added to a question that is now closed because the system wasn't detailed by the querent. In it, the user first attempts a system-agnostic answer, and then gives the answer guessing that it is a D&D 5e question. Is this ok?

We have guidance about guessing the system identity in tags, but not answers as far as I can tell. Is it against policy or bad practice to attempt system-agnostic answers to questions whose system has not been specified?

In the comments to the answer in question, the user specified their reasoning for placing such an answer:

The first paragraph provides a system agnostic answer and is unlikely to be improved if the OP were to provide a specific system. The second paragraph provides an answer for the system most frequently asked about by new players and members. AsSwearingOakTree is a new user, we are admonished to be friendly and courteous, and this is the way I feel most aligns with the new CoC. I'll eat a few downvotes if it provides the best experience for a new user.

Do we feel that this kind of answer is helpful to a new user? Is it friendlier?


2 Answers 2


Yes, it is bad practice.

In the end the answer poster tried to answer a clearly terrible and under-specced question. They should know better and that how you get spells is totally game dependent, and should also know not to guess game systems. This is already covered in What to do when an edit guesses the system being used rather than waiting for the querent to clarify?1

As a result, their answer got downvoted and then deleted by other site members, as it should. I mean, I guess it's a cosmic question whether it's "bad", but if you don't like getting downvoted and deleted, then yes, it's bad.

It's "friendly" to get the question poster to clarify their question so they get a good answer. The new SE guidance on rudeness does NOT alter anything about site SOP in terms of how we handle questions and answers, and we are not throwing out the usual ground rules because it's not "huggy enough." I see this tenor coming up in several areas and I want to be clear that this is not what it means and not how this site/mod team are taking it. With new users we should take extra time to explain and be polite, but we are NOT eliminating all the usual SE best practices in the process.

1 The linked discussion is obsolete, but left here to preserve the original thought. The most up-to-date guidance concerning posts that do not specify the system can be found here: What should I do when a question does not specify the game system being used?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll publicly second the last paragraph and put it this way: my understanding is that the CoC is intended and written to better encapsulate and describe already existing best practices. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Aug 28, 2018 at 1:36

It’s technically okay. We don’t need to do “hard” interventions to prevent it or make policy about it.

I wouldn’t recommend it though, and I’d recommend against attempting such answers. It almost always makes for a bad answer (and therefore is unhelpful or even harmful to the asker), and I’d expect voting to reflect that. It’s fair to do “soft” interventions to encourage answerers to avoid this fate or correct their choice after the fact.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Would you consider deleting the post to be a "hard" intervention? \$\endgroup\$
    – cpcodes
    Aug 27, 2018 at 21:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @cpcodes I’d consider a mod deleting the post to be a “hard” intervention. I’d consider comments or votes that persuaded a self-deletion (whether successful or not) to be a “soft” intervention. (See hard power vs. soft power at Wikipedia for the analogy I’m using.) \$\endgroup\$ Aug 27, 2018 at 23:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ What about community deletion? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 31, 2018 at 12:00

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