I seem to have been pulled in an edit war (or at least skirmish) on my question, and would like to understand the basic principles which may or may not be broken by it.

My question is interested in a strictly literal reading of the rules, and evaluation of the consequences thereof (specifically, the whether one build includes advantages over another under a literal reading of game mechanics related to them, which seems to produce a result contrary to rules as intended). My question includes a paragraph that states as much, a bit concisely:

I would like to understand the benefits of these drives in the rules as written, without resorting to rulings, hacks, fiat or the like. (If the rules are faulty, applying changes will be the next phase of tackling this issue.)

This seems to very closely match the principles of when a certain tag should be used:

[Questions which]

  • Are investigating, as a priority, literal interpretations of the rules, even if they lead to absurd situations.
  • Are not usefully answered solely by homebrew or house rules, or speculation of intent.


when their [rules'] written form is interpreted as strictly as possible, without reference to explanations or considerations outside of the rules texts

Similarly, I've been shown another highly supported answer on when to use it, and it includes characterisations such as these (not quoting the whole answer, obviously):

  • The rules are the only authoritative source of information. Authorial intent is not significant to a RAW study, nor is the experience of an individual in using the rules.
  • The rules are a shared objective experience. As each reader learns to recognise and account for her own observational biases, their understandings of the rules will become increasingly alike.
  • Justification is irrelevant. RAW is a tool for describing what the rules say. Its users may try to explain why the rules say certain things but this is not the goal or purpose of RAW.
  • Value judgements are irrelevant. RAW describes the rules, but offers no comment on their quality.

These all seem in line with the way what my question is like, what I'm asking etc. Obviously my note on the matter isn't as long and elaborate and omnienumerative as a metadiscussion. But it's still that sort of question - one not asking about rulings, not asking about interpreting things based on authorial intent, not seeking bending mechanics to the narrative. Because it's a question that seeks out the literal reading of the rules and the effects thereof.

And yet it gets edited to remove that specification, even though (the irony) that is contrary to my authorial intent and I have said as much.

Thus I have to ask: if all those are not criteria for a question being rules-literalist, then what are the criteria thereof? Asking around in chat so far only gave either vague answers, or answers that turned rules literalists into a caricature. If all those criteria are inaccurate, then perhaps the people who often use the RAW tag should edit their wiki? If they're not inaccurate, well, I'd like a confirmation from the experts of the tag. I would like to understand the general criteria and thus become able to apply them correctly to classify both this question and any subsequent ones (since apparently tag wiki criteria were deemed subordinate to other criteria).

Related tangent: Are Tag Criteria Descriptive or Prescriptive?


3 Answers 3


Recommendation: change your view of questions, edits, and ownership

It seemed to me that the tag itself is a collateral issue. There are so many metas already in place on that one tag - - that I don't see much value in duplicating that effort. I think there's something else going on with this meta question that I'd like to address. (So that makes this a little bit of a frame challenge). I further recommend that you put in the tag, here in meta, in a search, and review all of the meta posts already covering that tag. Yeah, all of them. I've done that. Not all of it is pleasant reading. It's been a topic of some interest, and some heated interaction, for some years.

Believe it or not, for all of the gamification and rep/point scoring on SE sites, we really are a collaborative effort style site. It's an unconventional way of going about things, to be sure, and it takes getting used to, but that's what makes it work.

What war?

What you described as an edit war1 is the site working as it is supposed to with a small problem that arises for any of us, potentially: either being too close to an issue, or not being as clear as we think we are being. As I mentioned earlier in chat, but what I probably need to add here, is:

  • It took me a while to learn on SE sites that once I posted a question, due to the editing norms on SE sites, I no longer owned it. It had become a kind of community property. When I began to see the edits and revisions as "let me help you make this question better for the community's sake," and I took a look at them through the lens of "did that make the question clearer or better?" I got less worried about edit wars, and in fact did not view an attempt attempt to revise or improve a question or answer was an edit war or other hostile act2.

As the Beatles' Ringo Starr might have sung it:

My rep gets high with a little help from my friends

Communication filters work both ways.

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we aren't as clear as we think we are being. The tone we bring to our engagement with others during such times can turn out well or not so well.

Most edits I don't worry about, though sometimes I roll them back because it doesn't feel right or the edit was from someone who had not grokked my point (at times due to me not being clear enough). That's why those tools are there. I'll offer this edit stream as an example. What I can't do is replicate the entire comment stream that accompanied it. There was quite a bit of back and forth.

The "continuous improvement process" at work in an unconventional manner.

When it clicked for me

I really noticed, or I guess I first bought into, how this process worked when I first began contributing at Christianity.SE. Nice folks like athanasiusofalex, Nathaniel, Caleb, Matt Gutting, LeeWoofendon and a couple of others worked with me to put both questions and answers into better shape. That experience helped to inform my understanding of how the same process was intended to work here, albeit for different subject matter.

1For completeness, the SO/SE definition: Edit warring is the confrontational use of edits to win a content dispute.

2Now, if I could just take the same view of comments, I'd get cranky less often ... work in progress there.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with your overall thrust here, but I really do think "edit war" is a roughly good way of describing what went down here. If you look at the edit history, SSD made the change, then the comments happened where SSD explained why, OP reverted the change regardless, then SSD reverted it back. Then OP opened this meta and reverted the tag a final time. That really is what we call an edit war. Two people disagreeing on how a post should be, not talking it out, but arguing through the edits themselves. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 2:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ In other words, the first change itself wasn't a "war" but the fact that they were fighting through the edit process back and forth made it so (IMO) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 2:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose I reviewed the same edits and I come to a different conclusion. Sometimes, the language we choose limits our ability to engage in a productive discussion. (Learned that from a marriage counselor). Indeed how we frame our position can be an obstacle. Hence my challenge of the frame. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 2:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ I definitely agree with that specifically, but I don't think this is an example of "the site working as it is supposed to". We aren't supposed to fight in the edits. We are supposed to discuss things briefly in the comments and then take things to meta if there are disagreements. Regardless of if you call it a war or not, the improvement that was attempted was certainly the way the site was intended to work, the way the dissent that followed was handled...not so much. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 2:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose Hmm, let me think about a rephrase then. I see what your objection is, but I need to ponder this a bit before I try to word smith it again. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 3:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ To me, "edit war" is any situation in which a change is made then unmade twice, and the situation is left without a definitive answer about which version is "correct" such that it may happen again. It signals a situation of discord which could get out of hand, and which needs escalation to mods or meta in order to resolve that it should be one way or the other so that the edits and/or rollbacks stop repeating. They're often not, you know, all out wars, but it's a handy term. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 12:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I respectfully disagree that it's a handy term - it is at best hyperbole. In my opinion, using that term and a mind set that prompts that choice is a step down a road toward more difficult resolution, not a less difficult one. See my point to rubik on how I believe that the terms we choose sometimes limit our ability to engage in productive discussion. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 12:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Ok, I understand. Food for thought... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 12:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't know if it's the origin of the term, but I first saw the term "edit war" on Wikipedia - where it's used to refer to one user making a change, another reverting it, and then a cycle of back and forth edits of this sort occurring. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 18:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast I am aware of that usage, but IMO choosing the use that term to describe (that thing) brings a connotation of hostility, perhaps intentional and perhaps not. I go back to 'sometimes the terms we use can create obstacles' ... but I am not dealing with a digital on/off thing here. I am dealing with that non digital thing which is communication between people by various means. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 18:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1. If you wanted to learn, you would have tried to learn from the diamond mod working on your question. But instead you kept reverting out of hand. This particular tag is not your problem, what Korvin has detailed is. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 0:47

The bolded part of your question is "What are the game-mechanical benefits of [game feature]?" The tag doesn't apply because your question doesn't seem to be about how the rules are written; it's fundamentally about analysis of how game systems interact in the absence of an explicit statement in the rules. You're asking for expert analysis of what appears to be a concept omitted from the rules.

Let's flip this around and assume the question were about the rules as written, so you add the tag and await answers that do nothing more than cite literal rules. Then either someone would answer with an explicit quote from the rules (unlikely given that you're asking the question to begin with) or the correct answer to the question would be "the rules don't explain the game-mechanical benefit" (which isn't very helpful and wouldn't actually answer the bolded question). So the assumption would be wrong. (Unless those are in fact the sorts of answers you're looking for, but in that case you have an XY problem.)

I'm not an expert in Fate Core, but in my RPG.SE experience your question does not merit the tag because you've either underestimated or misrepresented the intent of your own question. You seem to think that because you have the phrase "in the rules as written" in your final paragraph then that makes the question inviolably about the rules as written. I think the problem is that the final paragraph doesn't appear to match the bolded crux of your question. You're soliciting rules-as-written answers when you're actually requesting expert analysis informed by the official rules. Those aren't the same thing, and the tag is not equivalent to "without homebrew" or "official rules only please."

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hmm. Regarding your second paragraph: Someone telling 'hey, you overlooked Rule B on page XX, which interacts with Rule A on page YY, which results in engine 2 being better for actions so-and-so' would be helpful in my case. Likewise, a confirmation that there isn't a beneficial interaction without stepping outside the literal reading. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 20:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @vicky_molokh That still doesn't utilize the tag for that. The tag is for "this strict interpretation of the rules leads to this really not reasonable interaction - is that right?!" Asking purely about mechanics and how they work is just day to day what we do here. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 21:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Delta-oriented ships being outrun by thrust-oriented ships on interplanetary distances is certainly not reasonable from a RAI PoV, though I find it super non-obvious that absurdity must be provided rather than may as per ('even if' as per wording of criteria). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 7:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @vicky_molokh That may be true, but that's not what your question is about. You are asking about the benefits of a certain ship type. It may be tangentially related, but it's not the crux of your question and it can likely be answered without even referring to that possible absurdity. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 13:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I'm puzzled by how much emphasis you put on absurdity compared to its rather small role in the tag criteria as described/prescribed, and think that the question at a minimum is an edge case based on things described throughout the metas, including even your explanation (in part), but am now accepting the decision to remove the tag on that specific question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 13:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @vicky_molokh Fair enough, but in the case of your question it does seem like based on general site tag usage it isn't appropriate. I appreciate the concern and your openness to discussing it. This tag in particular is really tricky. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 13:15

Recent usage—that's not adequately reflected in the tag description of the tag—has seen the tag become appropriate only for questions that state clearly and unambiguously that the rules as they are on page or screen appear to lead either to an obvious and seemingly unsolvable contradiction or to outright absurdity.

To be clear, this is a summary of what I was told by another user who removed that tag when last I tagged a question , and that user's position was supported by a moderator. To be extra clear, I haven't since used the tag , and, further, I apologize that I can't find that question among those I've asked. (How can a user search his questions by who edited his questions?)

In sum, as your question puts forth neither textual contradiction nor textual absurdity, it's just a rules question, and there's no tag for that because the site's pretty much all rules question.

Note: The tag has undergone a host of changes since the site's inception. A vast number of Meta questions swirl around it. And, in the interest of full disclosure, this user, despite his silver badge for the tag has opted not to engage in further discussions about the tag. That effort, he's found, is better spent elsewhere.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting. That does rise the topic of whether rules define usage, or usage defines rules (if usage defines rules, then the way to change the rules is just to use it in a certain way). This may or may not be worth adding to my question, I'm not sure. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 19:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @vicky_molokh My understanding of the site's tagging structure is that it's what's know as an emergent taxonomy — tags are designed to change in meaning depending on their use. This tag's use, though, has been restricted because it's often misused as a synonym by those looking for the nonexistent (for good reason!) tag rules. In general, this means that while the site has gone through multiple contentious iterations of the RAW tag, it's meaning is likely to continue to change as time goes by. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 19:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @vicky_molokh My apologies for not reading the comment exchange on your question until a few moments ago! The only thing I'd add is that the issue might be that the RAW tag was perceived as being used to try to dictate what kind of answers should given (and tags can't do that) instead of being used to describe the question (which is what tags do). Whether or not that perception is accurate might be the real question here. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 20:03

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