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Back when I joined RPGSE, I of course noticed how big the D&D demographic is here. And at first I thought, 'Hey, I can just Ignore all the AD&D tags and Watch tags of my games and everyone has fun without negatively impacting the other'. However, then I noticed that there are effects whose source is the D&D5 demographic, but which actually or potentially affect other demographics, to a large extent due to the way RPGSE is set up as a single 'pond' in which everyone swims. Examples of effects that I can clearly remember recently:

  • Pushes to table policies which are inspired by the D&D5 experience, but are meant to influence the whole site, including demographics which are not D&D5 (e.g. assuming/guessing a system when one is not specified, shutting down questions about reasons/reasoning behind a given design choice of a system etc.)
  • Newcomers getting the impression that this SE is dedicated to a single family of systems, and thus being more inclined to seek answers elsewhere (in a way this effect can be self-perpetuating even when nobody does anything wrong).
  • Differences in relative-per-tag reputation vs. absolute reputation, meaning that the top 10 members who are active in a 'big' tag will quickly attain moderator privileges, while even the top member of a 'small' tag who answers every new question will still take a long, long while to unlock significant privileges.
  • People answering questions not by describing the way things are/done/etc., but by describing how they aren't this-or-that-D&D-expectation.
  • I'm inclined to believe that there are other similar effects which I either forgot or didn't notice yet; feel free to add to the list.

Now, I must say that from what I've seen, the community mostly reacted favourably to the objections of small-fandom members when objections were brought up. And yet it looks like an unconscious 'pressure' that still exists.

Given the above observations, my question is how can the quality of SE life of small-fandom members be protected from being accidentally diminished by broad generalisations of politics? How can newbie misunderstandings like the one above be avoided (especially since they can only be corrected personally after a newbie creates an account, which may not happen at all for someone who makes the wrong conclusion early)? How can the relative-vs-absolute reputation discrepancy be accounted for - can RPGSE be 'federalised' or something like that? What other things could be done for these concerns?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/7278/… \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Dec 27 '18 at 15:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your inclusion of “shutting down questions about reasons/reasoning behind a given design choice of a system” as something to blame D&D for is not borne out by the voting on the relevant discussion. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 28 '18 at 13:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just a note, but the policy of requiring explicit declaration of the game/system being played seems to me an example of a change which 1) didn't really originate from 5e and 2) actually helps in teaching new users that we aren't D&D.se so I really don't get why this is included as an example of an issue here. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jan 1 at 21:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose The policy for explicit declaration is fine. But at some point I found people arguing for assuming D&D5e when not stated explicitly. That was what the example was about. Maybe my wording was unclear. \$\endgroup\$ – vicky_molokh Jan 1 at 22:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ I rarely even read RPG.SE anymore, because I definitely got the feeling "It's becoming almost all D&D-specific rules questions." What changed? I don't recall there ever being a huge number of system-specific non-D&D questions, so the decline I perceive is presumably in system-agnostic questions. I can see two main reasons. 1: Group dynamics, etc. questions. Because they're so generic, maybe the easy/likely ones have all been asked already. 2: The ban on system recommendation questions. Think about it -- those two categories make up much of the discussion on most generic RPG forums. \$\endgroup\$ – Tristan Klassen Jan 3 at 0:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @vicky_molokh If people are commenting that a question without a game specified should be assumed to be D&D, please flag the comment. We should not be assuming D&D by default, and by flagging it you can help mods smack the wrists of those who are doing harm to the site. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 21 at 18:26
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Be the small-games advocate on-stack you want to see on-stack

D&D is overwhelmingly represented on the site, but I don't believe it's a result of any artificial mechanism to monopolize the stack for D&D. It's more a combination of:

  • the actual larger audience for D&D - if you look at a general-audience convention like GenCon, D&D&Pathfinder outnumbers the next most popular system 10 to 1
  • a disproportionate frequency of questions about D&D by the average D&D player; among other reasons, D&D is a mass-market RPG and more D&D players are first-time players who have no community to turn to for answers

So:

  • be a voice in discussions on meta, otherwise people with "the average experience" will predominantly weight D&D
  • if you refer players of your preferred systems to the site, mention how they can filter by tags and ignore D&D
  • if answering a question from your preferred systems, or heck, even seeing a D&D question, sparks an idea for a Q&A combo in your preferred system, jump on that sucker
  • if people are taking their D&D experience and being Dunning-Kruger experts in a question about your preferred systems, downvote them and comment about how it doesn't look like their answer is about the system in the question
  • if a fairly new user (like, hand-wave new) tries to answer a question about your preferred system like it's a D&D question, do the usual "welcome to the site take the tour" bit and also mention that this site discusses a lot of systems, not just D&D, and you can tell by the system tags what system a question is about.

As someone who's worked the score for a year and would still be in four digits if not for the occasional D&D byblow, I can't really speak to concerns there, other than to say that I came in expecting a marathon.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for saying much better some of the thoughts that were kicking around in my head. tips cap \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Dec 27 '18 at 23:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for point #3, especially. I am absolutely merciless about purging D&D-ism answers from non-D&D questions. It's the right thing to do. \$\endgroup\$ – Alex P Dec 28 '18 at 0:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ By what reasoning do you say DnD is not disproportionately represented? \$\endgroup\$ – kviiri Jan 2 at 10:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @kviiri It's a mass-market RPG system with a lot of players and the questions reflect that number, rather than being a coordinated attempt to dominate the site. If you look at, say, the GenCon events schedule, you'll see D&D (and Pathfinder) outnumbering other RPGs 10-to-1. \$\endgroup\$ – Glazius Jan 2 at 17:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Glazius - Still, without some proper mathematical evaluation, it might be a little premature to say that D&D is not disproportionately represented. \$\endgroup\$ – Obie 2.0 Jan 5 at 17:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Obie2.0 It’s not possible to get the numbers needed for accurate math. Despite that, we can observe that D&D is the most popular game to play, so it’s roughly proportional that it’s the most asked about here. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 5 at 20:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't forget that D&D has several editions, each of which has thousands of pages of content. Smaller RPGs are just flat out simpler, so there is less to have questions about. \$\endgroup\$ – Joel Harmon Feb 22 at 3:22
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  1. Ask questions about non-D&D games you're interested in
  2. Answer questions about non-D&D games you're interested in
  3. Contribute answers without "D&D bias" to more general questions as well, noting that different games have different approaches (I do this)

There's no value, and SE central won't support I'm sure, 20-question fragment SEs for low volume games. And even if they did, D&D players would show up there too because the chance someone playing another game is also steeped in D&D is high.

I find that we're still the best place for focused Q&A on non-D&D games; I ask and answer questions on them myself and I tend to get good answers. Since that's the goal of the site, I find that well enough - we're not a "fandom" really, there's a bit of community formation here but that's not the goal of the site. High quality Q&A is.

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Lobby to restore game recommendation questions

Yes, that is something that you can do. No, it won't be easy. Change never is.

How to improve/maintain the quality-of-life of small fandoms in the face of a dominant big fandom on an open Stack Exchange?

Game recommendation questions had a difficult time, and eventually died. One of the Great Features of Game Rec Questions when we still had them was how often non-main stream, or even just non-D&D, games would crop up in an answer. This would lead me to look up those games and see if there was one I was interested in. The ripple effect of that could lead to more questions from more users of more other games.

I have noticed a significant reduction of exposure to other games since that final decision was made (the meta on that explained why). I am not the only one who noticed. If you can convince the community that restoring game recommendation questions is a sound policy, then greater exposure to other games will follow.

Yeah, it's a long shot, and we've always been at war with Eastasia.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Game rec here was actually really good - though I understood the decision to kill it, it basically drove me off the site as an active contributor - I don't play D&D. We did the job a helluva lot better than reddit, where we field the same "wut rpg 4 <insert video game here>?" question it seems like twice a day - the SE format keeps good answers viable and visible far longer and allows updates to be made as systems are released and / or understood. \$\endgroup\$ – gomad Jan 9 at 21:56
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The best thing you can do is be the change you want to see

Encourage the people who you interact with on RPG.SE to play those other games.

In those cases where your encouragement is successful, the chances are that people new to a given game will have questions, and they already know where to ask for good answers to them. There is at least one high rep user here who does just that. (Drop by RPG.SE chat on any given day and see BESW's latest offerings).

Elevator pitch as a tool to sow the seeds of success

This is a great opportunity for you to refine or craft an elevator pitch aimed at an on line audience. Pick two or three games that you want to spread the word about (dare I say evangelize?) that you love to play. Refine your pitch. Spread the good word.

Here are some answers on how to focus an elevator pitch for an RPG

Aside:

You want to federalize RPG.SE? Hmm, seems an unproductive line of attack.

  1. this isn't politics SE, and
  2. I don't think that's compatible with the SE model.

    I'll be interested to see other responses to that thought in your question.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You can do that among your little circle of friends and fellow roleplayers, but how do you encourage people on RPG.SE to try other games, and how do you tell passerbys and browsing people that this SE isn't D&D.SE given the fact that you often have 100% of the question you see when first happening upon the site be about D&D in it's various forms? \$\endgroup\$ – Sava Dec 27 '18 at 17:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Sava I have already done that one in comments: how do you tell passerbys and browsing people that this SE isn't D&D.SE Two out of three times the person never popped in again, and on another occasion I think the account got cancelled but as i am not a Diamond mod I am not sure. In one case the question was self deleted . \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Dec 27 '18 at 17:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure what comments you are referring to... Unless the italicized sentence in your comment above was supposed to be a link to another question? \$\endgroup\$ – Sava Dec 27 '18 at 17:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Sava I was replying to your words in your comment that I italicized, and nothing else. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Dec 27 '18 at 17:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, ok, my mistake, I misunderstood what you meant. \$\endgroup\$ – Sava Dec 27 '18 at 17:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Sava no worries, I am sure I could have been clearer. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Dec 27 '18 at 17:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast 'Just preach more and get a bigger fandom' seems to be tangential to the main thrust of the question, which is about what to do while the fandom is small. \$\endgroup\$ – vicky_molokh Dec 27 '18 at 18:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @vicky_molokh The answer to that is grow the fandom \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Dec 27 '18 at 23:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Maybe I should rephrase. Realistically, growing the fandom to a size that can compete with the D&D fandom would take decades, and that's assuming a successful at all. Meanwhile, the issues above won't go away until that happens. Also, even if one fandom grows, there will always be smaller fandoms on RPGSE. And they will keep facing the same issues. \$\endgroup\$ – vicky_molokh Dec 28 '18 at 7:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @vicky_molokh suggest you read this. And suggest you offer an answer to your question, since you think it's a problem to be solved. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Dec 29 '18 at 3:30
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What We can do

The issues you bring up are valid and concerning. I find it interesting that most of the answers to it are focused on what you, the OP, can do rather than what this community can do together or what can change systemically. You have posted that you and other players of non-D&D systems feel trivialized and less influential, and what answers have you gotten? That you should be more influential!

This question and the answers you've received are a microcosm of some of the issues you bring up, i.e. the site is by default D&D material and all other systems' users must make a disproportionate effort just to partake in normal activity on the site.

So what can we do?

  1. Create a [not-D&D] tag. This is easy. Somebody please do it.

  2. Everybody: when you see questions about non-D&D systems click on them and upvote them. Unless it is clearly a poorly worded question there's no reason not to upvote it. Give rep to the Non-D&D users just for being here and adding diversity to this stack. We need it.

  3. Everybody: Read the answers to these same non-D&D questions and upvote deserving answers. If the question is well worded and has good citations anyone should be able to determine its validity and upvote it, regardless of expertise. If you can't make an informed upvote, don't upvote at all.

  4. Everybody: When asking questions that are not specific to D&D (they may be about dice rolling, role playing, GMing, player issues, group dynamics, etc) keep unnecessary D&D references and tags out of the question.

Explanations:

  1. The [not-D&D] tag will both make the intention of the site clear: we allow, welcome and facilitate questions about non-D&D material; and it will make the sorting of non-D&D material easy for those who choose to follow the tag.

  2. Even just 20 regular users taking the effort to tag non-D&D material can have an impact on the tag-relative reputation concern brought up in the question and help even out the rep that is awarded.

  3. Same as 2

  4. Making an effort to leave out D&D references and tags when they are not relevant makes for a more inclusive question and answer experience. In other words, just because your issue came up while playing D&D don't assume it's exclusive to D&D. And going a step further, really consider how it is relevant to all rpg systems. This is not simply an act of "good-will" towards minority rpg systems, it may actually provide you with better answers and greater variety of perspectives which you may not have initially considered.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I want to upvote the sentiment but have to downvote for two points being very contrary to how the site needs to operate: 1) a [not-dnd] tag is antithetical to what the tagging system is for and how it's designed to operate, and will have unintended consequences (1 e.g.: erasing the game's own tag from the HTML generated title for the page); 2) upvoting non-D&D questions may give them a bit of a boost to make up for their lack of audience and shouldn't cause problems, but upvoting answers indiscriminately is actively harmful to sort-best-to-top reason we have votes on answers at all. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 21 at 18:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie That makes a lot of sense about upvoting answers. I'll change the wording to align with the goals of the site. I'm not sure I understand what you're saying about the tag. Are you saying this would have a negative impact on RPG-SE showing up on web searches? Or that viewers will see it and think the site is not a D&D site at all? Both are definitely not desirable, but I still think there can be a tag that clearly delineates between D&D/non-D&D material. How does one go about suggesting this? \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Jan 21 at 19:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ A [not-D&D] tag on all non-D&D questions would make the site more D&D-centric, not less. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jan 21 at 20:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I just want my Fate questions to be Fate questions, defined by their relationship to Fate not by their relationship to D&D. I also don't want every non-D&D question to only have a tag space of 4 tags available. (I agree 100% with everything said by SevenSidedDie and Miniman.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 22 at 14:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ The title that appears in the browser bar/tab is first_tag - question_title, which is also how it’s listed in Google. The most popular tag is listed first. A [not-dnd] tag would become more popular than any non-D&D tag, making it the first on every non-D&D question. Currently a Q like this appears as “savage worlds - How can a PC ever die?”, but with a [not-dnd] tag widely used, it would instead show on Google as “not dnd - How can a PC ever die?”, making it less likely to show up in Savage Worlds search results. That’s just one side effect. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 22 at 23:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Voting on an answer that you don't even know is possible to implement because you don't know the system is pretty bad practices. \$\endgroup\$ – Glazius Jan 25 at 0:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @glazius agreed. That's why I don't suggest anyone should do that. A well stated answer will have proper citations and allow anyone who is even loosely familiar with a system to determine its validity. No one should up vote an answer about which they can't make an informed decision. I state that quite clearly in my response. \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Jan 25 at 3:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @sevensideddie ah yes. Perhaps there is more positive wording that could be used for a tag that indicates "non-D&D" content. Something along the lines of [small system rpg]. A positive tag could increase the reach of rpg-se and would avoid the pitfalls you mention. Alternatively, (I'm not familiar with how much access moderators or super-mods have to the site code, nor do I have much coding experience, only some html/css, but) could a [not-dnd] tag be excluded from those codes so a secondary tag is used instead? \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Jan 26 at 17:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ We don’t have any access to site code. (Changing code involves SE staff changing features for every site in the network.) We do have a couple of [feature-requests] asking for more control over how tags sort themselves though (most relevant to ordering is the first one): Make it possible for certain tags (like game tags) to always appear first; Can we color system tags to emphasize that they're different and "more meaningful"? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 26 at 17:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener tags are always a decision of inclusion and exclusion. We pick the best ones out of 100's. Adding one more won't change that. Additionally only 7 of the top 50 questions (on my browser) currently use all 5 tag slots. A full 0 (yes zero) of the questions you've asked on rpg-se use all 5 tag slots. This may not be as big an issue as you imagine it to be. Also the OP who, unlike yourself, appears to be exclusively engaged with non-D&D content has stated a much different experience and desire than you have. A desire to "even the playing field." I think that needs to be addressed. \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Jan 26 at 18:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ That I once had activity in D&D doesn't mean my opinions with regard to the games I currently play (exclusively non-D&D) null and void and irrelevant. And even if I had current activity with D&D, that would still not make those opnions null and void and irrelevant. Don't pull the content I engage with on the site out as a trump card, please. I maintain my stance: a [not-dnd] tag would be worse, and frankly, offensive in its D&D-centricity. Miniman described that well. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 26 at 19:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener The issue is not which games you play, it's which content you interact with on this site. You may not play D&D, but you can fully engage with questions about D&D. 2 of your top 3 tags are D&D. The OP can not and has a very different experience than you do on this site, and they have stated very clearly what the disadvantages are to that. Again, their issues need to be addressed with more than "here's how you can be a better user." It's a site issue not a user issue and that should be addressed. Also Miniman described nothing, they only made a statement. \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Jan 26 at 20:18

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