So I know this site isn't a wiki site and probably not a good place to come for knowledge, but I don't know of any good wiki sites for gray area 5e (D&D 5th ed.) stuff and Google Search brings up this site constantly.

I've spent hours trying to dig through books to find answers and I often come here to try and find answers but occasionally no one has asked them yet. Or when some knowledgeable veteran has the right answer, it is in the comments sections without source.

So I then dig through pdf versions of books to find the source for the answer in the comments. Then I post the answer with references because if I spent that much time looking up the citation I don't want to have to do it again nor should others when enhancing their knowledge. Sadly moments later and inevitably others down vote my referenced and quoted answers despite the comment and I started from having numerous up votes as an unofficial answer without reference.

Yes I know there can be formatting improvements which day by day I am still trying to learn after having gone through the "welcome" pages. I do appreciate the few good ones like SevenSidedDie who do explain to me ways to improve (although I haven't figured out how to message him on here yet to say it explicitly).

This is frustrating as the satisfaction I get from finding the answer is off-set by others non-constructively criticizing the work I've done to help others like myself learn something we didn't previously know. Has anyone else ever experienced this or felt this way?

I'm the newcomer here so can someone please leave helpful comments as to why this is? I'm sure this too will be down-voted shortly, even though I really want to know if formatting is more important than content for initial up or down votes. I've given up hope of having useful and cited information ever get up votes initially, but am hoping to hold onto motivation to keep learning the formatting style preferred on this site as I know there are a few gurus of 5e knowledge here.

P.S. No existing tags for "formatting", "Community", etc. that I can find. Is meta talk allowed about 5e (and other games) but not this site?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Meta discussion about the site itself takes place on [meta]. When this question gets migrated there, you should probably provide some examples of the phenomenon you're discussing in order to help people understand the problem. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 6:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MikeQ: I think this answer got a few downvotes earlier that I'm guessing were partially because of the bare URLs in the text and possibly the caps lock in the header; both issues have been addressed by edits and it looks like some upvotes canceled those early downvotes out. This answer got downvoted but I think it has nothing to do with formatting and everything to do with the original phrasing of the answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 6:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is your question about answers in general, or about our opinions on why your particular answers were downvoted? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 6:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is something I have seen with questions being asked on the forum that make a mistake I've started calling "Block Syndrome" where someone very new to the site on their first few questions don't have it formatted in a way or written in a way where it can get answered. (I've been real bad about this XD) but with time it gets better its just inevitable that without readable or appeasing format questions or answers will be unclear. And even more so inevitable that new people experience it in some form or another. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 8:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Unrelated to your core question here, I'll ask that if you do see answers-in-comments please flag them for moderator attention. Those should be nuked. Comments aren't for answers, and we don't even want old examples of that behavior around to teach newer users bad habits. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 14:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ When you say “comment” in this question, do you mean answer posts, or comment posts? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 16:48

3 Answers 3


Well, of course upvotes are at anyone's discretion, they can upvote because they like your clever use of headers.

However, you are making a false dichotomy between "format" and "content." If someone posts a question or answer that is not readable, then it's not good content, regardless of the research the poster put into it.

Let's look at your Qs and As.

Do arrows from the Swift Quiver spell bypass resistances/immunity to non-magical weapons? - started out by being "related information" but not answering the question. We require answers to be answers here, a common mistake of new folks more used to forums, but has nothing to do with format. Your capping of Magical Weapon was corrected, but that wasn't the big problem.

Can a Beast Master ranger armor their animal companion with barding? - no downvotes or issues here, but again, you are not focusing on answering the question, you're mainly delivering another "but here's something else to keep in mind" like the one above. It does give a cursory answer to the question but nothing that would drive people to a question from 2014 with an accepted answer to shower you with upvotes.

Do Nondetection and Invisibility protect you from True Seeing? - coherence isn't formatting. You went through many revisions here - after a couple, that does begin to exhaust voters and they're unlikely to come back to reverse their downvote on the grounds that maybe edit #10 finally worked.

Is there any way to get melee to-hit bonuses as high as ranged to-hit bonuses? - your answer doesn't really even answer your own question, except for an unsupported "no" followed by links and references to something that doesn't answer the question.

You've come across a core value of the site - we expect answers to answer the question. If they are "but did you think of this," "related information", etc., they can often save themselves from outright deletion for cause by adding a pro forma "yes" or "no" to answer the question, but if the answer doesn't actually back up its answer to the question asked, it will not be well received by the community.

Now let's look at your questions.

So the two attacks as bonus action from Swift Quiver can't bypass any sort of resistances? - a duplicate.

Is formatting more important than content on StackExchange answers for initial votes? - this question, migrated here.

Is there any way to get melee to-hit bonuses as high as ranged to-hit bonuses? - had a number of factual problems and actually wobbled back and forth on the question it was actually asking. It also got a big format edit from V2Blast, but that's not really relevant to how it was received.

So in conclusion - format has nothing to do with any of this. In some cases, clearly expressing yourself is, but mostly, you're at the core not answering the question that is posed.

Furthermore I think it's in very poor taste to refer to the comments you've gotten as non-constructive criticism, in general the comments have been very on target and you've edited your Q&As to fit and thanked people for that criticism. I've read all the comments, deleted and not, and don't see anything nonconstructive in them.


First, see mxyzplk's answer, which addresses the feedback to the questions and answers you've posted so far on the site.

Second, RPG.SE can be confusing to newer users, so it may help to address some potential questions going forward. I've compiled these based on the content of your question here:

1. What kind of site is Roleplaying Games StackExchange (RPG.SE)?

The StackExchange network is for question-and-answer style posts. One user asks a question, and other users attempt to answer it. The network is divided into different sites based on topic, and RPG.SE is for question-and-answer posts about tabletop roleplaying games.

It's not a forum, because the posts are not meant for extended discussion or non-answers. The site doesn't have private messaging, although we have a chat room for follow-up discussions and conversations.

RPG.SE isn't a wiki either, because it's not meant as a comprehensive reference for any particular tabletop system. However, by having many many questions and answers available, this site is meant to build a knowledge base that anyone can use to look up questions they may have about tabletop RPGs.

2. How to interpret feedback on a post?

When a user posts a question or answer, the other site users have liberty to upvote or downvote. In theory, upvotes and downvotes express community feedback on the quality of a post, whether that means the post is well-researched or well-written. However, a downvote can mean anything from "I think this answer is badly written" to "I think this response doesn't answer the question" to "I just enjoy downvoting".

That said, if a post receives many downvotes and some comments as to why, it may help to read the feedback and learn from it. Since this is a Q&A site and not a forum, responses that don't answer the question are often poorly received.

Users may also vote to close a question (or put it on hold) if the problem can't be answered according to site standards. Unlike downvotes, this doesn't necessarily reflect the quality of a question, but rather that the question is too broad or unclear or off-topic to be answered on this site.

3. Is it okay to post a new answer to an old question that has an answer?

Sometimes we have outdated answers, often when the question asks about a specific system that changed since the answer was accepted. For example, when errata or an expansion book is published, the question may potentially have a new answer.

Conversely, if the accepted answer sufficiently addresses the question, and a newer response would not provide a better answer, then a newer answer may be unnecessary. Such answers may seem redundant and typically receive negative feedback.

4. Should answers contain quotes of relevant rules?

Absolutely! Since questions often ask about system rules interactions, it is expected that answers cite the relevant rules appropriately. Typically, answers that don't back up their claims are poorly received.

Due to the nature of licenses and intellectual property in tabletop RPG publications, our citation policy gets fuzzy if too much licensed material is quoted. We don't want RPG.SE to become an unlicensed source of published rules, so copypasting large blocks of text from the rules may be frowned upon. Generally it's recommended that answers either paraphrase source material, or quote the minimum parts of relevant source material that they need to support any claims in the answer.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I would have to go digging for the actual quote, but one of the creators of SO once said that one of the broader goals of SO is to force programmers to learn how to write in a way that actually communicates well. This presumably extends to the broader SE community. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage Mod
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 18:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage I must admit that my communication is wayyyy a lot better after I participate in StackExchange sites. I learned how to communicate a problem to my coworkers and peers in a clear way, although now I must work out how to not come out as too straightforward. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vylix
    Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 3:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is everyone just going to ignore the irony (or actually, perhaps antiirony) that this answer, with numbered bullets and headers has fewer votes than mxy's answer, that's just paragraphs and links? \$\endgroup\$
    – goodguy5
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 17:27

Sometimes a good comment is a bad answer

First of all, to answer your stated question: both content and formatting are things which can add to (or subtract from) the quality of a post. They are both things that will help an answer be correct, clear, and convincing: if an answer is all three, it is more likely to be well received (in the form of upvotes). It isn't really possible to claim that between formatting and content one is "more important" than another, because a complete failure of either will make the other irrelevant (if people can't understand you it doesn't matter that you're right, and if you're wrong and unconvincing it doesn't matter that you're clear).

That being said, you mentioned something in your question that could be causing you problems. You mentioned that (bold added):

others down vote my referenced and quoted answers despite the comment and I started from having numerous up votes as an unofficial answer without reference.

It sounds like you started with a well received comment (which is what I assume you meant by "unofficial answer"), but when you created an answer based on that comment the answer was poorly received. I can understand how that would be confusing: the information is completely the same, why would it be well received once and poorly received another time?

The problem is that comments and answers have fundamentally different purposes on this site. As has been stated elsewhere:

Brian Ballsun-Stanton: Comments are for a brief request for clarification or improvement.

Miniman: Comments are for providing feedback ... which allows questioners or answerers to improve their question or answer.

Comments on a question might be pointing out a minor mistake (which doesn't make the question invalid, but should be changed for clarity or accuracy), and a comment on an answer might be suggesting that a small detail be added to make the answer more complete. These could be excellent comments, doing exactly what comments should do.

However if you created an answer which did these things, it might be poorly received. An answer needs to be correct, clear, and convincing, but it also has to be an answer. If you convincingly, clearly, and correctly support a point which doesn't answer the original question, you may be downvoted.

The same way that answers should not be given in comments, comments (even good and well received ones) can make bad (and poorly received) answers.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I would like to welcome our new contributor (that little tag is under your name) and will remain mystified at how the system assigned you that label. (Life's a funny old thing ...) . Nice answer, as usual. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 22:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast The newness tracker seems to count meta as a separate site from main. Probably sensible to do it that way, but it does look odd sometimes. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 22:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Given how many nice answers I've read from Gandalfmeansme over the past few years, I did a double take when I saw that. Thanks for the explanation. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 23:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast I suspect SevenSidedDie is correct. Although I've been on the main site for a while, I believe this is my first contribution to the meta. Thank you, by the way, for your kind words. It comes as high praise to me, because I very much enjoy your work on rpg.stackexchange as well. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 2, 2019 at 2:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ I’d say you could safely say that good comments are always bad answers. If they were a good answer, they should be an answer—and answers in comments are bad. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Apr 17, 2022 at 18:10

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