I answered from personal experience on this question.

Got two downvotes in ten minutes.

I've been seeing this a lot recently -- seemingly anything with a 5e tag, but that's nearly all the questions I've seen over the past few months that I think I can answer. I can understand it when it's rules related, but the question linked above really should have "system-agnostic" instead of 5e; there's nothing in it related to any kind of game rules (other than a system played with a grid of some kind).

As you can see from my rep, I've had good answers in the past. Have I just forgotten how to answer, have the standards changed (other than the strong increase in "be nice" which I don't believe I've violated), have I got multiple serial downvoters, or is something else happening?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Could you include more examples of answers where you think this happened? \$\endgroup\$ – Sdjz Jul 2 '19 at 12:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not offhand -- apparently deleted answers don't show in my answers list on my profile. \$\endgroup\$ – Zeiss Ikon Jul 2 '19 at 13:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your most recently deleted As (not including the one in your Q) are 1 2 3 4 \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jul 2 '19 at 14:28

The site has become stricter about unsupported answers, and your answers are largely unsupported.

Please note all this is not to criticize you, but to explain what's going on so you can adapt to it.

Reviewing your recent deleted and undeleted answers, the vast majority are simply stated as "Do this/this is the answer-fact." Use name cards. Leave your GM. Eliminate Wish from access by mortals. Sell six bullets for a copper. Use a session 0. Your AC is 18.

But in very few of these cases (deleted or undeleted, upvoted or downvoted) are the answers backed up per What are the citation expectations of answers on RPG Stack Exchange?.

In fact, even worse, in some cases it's clear you definitely don't have that experience, like the session 0 recommendation when someone asked you "have you done this" you replied "no, and I can't even put myself in the shoes of an inexperienced GM since it's been 20 years since I was one." Then what grounds do you have to recommend it? Hearsay?

This is all a warning sign of Bad Subjective answers - ones you thought up but are not grounded in either the rules (flatfooted in 5e, nonexistent rogue feats in 5e) or in experience. We don't like answers that "sound good" but may not actually be a good idea; that runs the risk of actually hurting the person asking questions.

The fix here is to only answer questions you have experience with (game system wise or situation wise), and explain how it's worked for you. This doesn't have to be "pages and pages" but should have another couple sentences.

Here's an example, your most highly upvoted recent answer, How can I get people to remember my character's gender?. It probably should have downvotes, and it probably doesn't because enough people have seen this/it's worked for them that they are just mentally editing in the experience rather than looking for it in the answer. I mean, it's a good technique, it's one I have used and agree with - but the answer itself doesn't help someone know whether this is just a crazy idea that's in reality a terrible practice that hasn't worked for people.

If you haven't used name cards, then this answer should be deleted. No one should be "making up" answers on this site, we don't do brainstorming/idea generation here, that's what forums are for.

If you have, it doesn't take much to add a couple sentences of times you've done this or seen it done and how it helped. "I went to a convention recently and everyone made index card name tents with name, profession, and a gender symbol and it helped everyone keep it straight even coming into a new set of PCs cold." <- would be my personal example, in this case at Chupacabracon playing Call of Cthulhu.

I get how it's a little confusing, because some of your unsupported answers are getting upvotes and so there's not a clear correlation between your upvoted/remaining versus downvoted/deleted answers in terms of backing up. But all answers need some kind of backup besides "I said so."

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that the OP has gone and added citation information to the linked gender answer and thus I have gone and upvoted it! \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jul 10 '19 at 19:55

The GS/BS norms have changed of late

Your answers are not "suddenly, this bad." You have been a quality contributor for a good long while.

I've been watching this thing that you mention for the past six months. My general trigger is comments, as well as discussions on meta, though I occasionally see discussions on this in chat. No, I am not going to link to about 500+ comments to support this answer. (And to make that demand nearly impossible, most of them are now opaque to me due to being gone and me not being a diamond mod).

Without getting into an academic discussion of formal norms and informal norms, this site operates with a variety of informal norms. What you are seeing is that an informal norm about what constitutes 'back it up' has moved its center of mass based on the user group on this site that cares enough to speak up ... speaking up. Informal norms in a group will often change when the membership of a group changes.

  • The trend I am seeing is a demand on the answer writer to be more detailed in their citation of relevant at table experience. In other words, the point you make in this comment

    So, bottom line, if I can't spend an hour on a long, hyper-detailed answer, I'm better not answering at all. Point taken.

    is answered: yes. That seems to be becoming the new norm. (But it's not a policy).

    We've had another meta recently about GS/BS where we raised the question, collectively on meta, on whether GS/BS still fits the site. There also seems to have arisen a disagreement on what constitutes support of the subjective kind. Related metas are here, and here, and also here:

The squeaky wheel gets the most attention. Human behavior, 101. Whether this is a good change, a bad one, or somewhere in between is beyond this format's tools to judge. It is what it is.

Related note

A while back we ran into a collective disagreement, or lack of clarity, on what "primarily opinion based close reasons are" for those using the review queue to vote to close or reopen a question where POB was the major selection in the question triage process. As one might expect, the opinions on what constitutes "opinion based" varied.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You mention the "norms" have changed but you don't go in to how they have changed and what that means for answerers. I don't think you are incorrect but some more concrete explanation of how they have changed in your view might be good \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Jul 5 '19 at 8:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie OK, tangent removed. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 5 '19 at 15:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @linksassin Let me ponder on that. Putting a finger on that has the potential to create an argument in comments that I am not interested in having. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 5 '19 at 16:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @linksassin "and what that means for answerers." I have now. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 6 '19 at 1:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not entirely sure this is the same thing. With the Opinion-based issue there was a lack of clarity of about what made something opinion-based. And yes, that was a bit loose and...opinionated. But there seems to be a deeper rift here with regard to whether or not subjective answers need the support the site has said they do. But I do agree that the norms have changed over time here and that currently many vocal stackizens are pushing for well supported subjective answers. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 8 '19 at 20:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Similar but different, and what I noticed (based on how long I'd been participating in RGPSE is that it seemed sorta sudden when the POB closing flurry arose, and of course we had an ensuing meta discussion ... it seemed to me that an informal norm had changed and it took a bit of community discussion to handle that. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 8 '19 at 21:18

Recency Bias?

Looking at your most recent answers, you have very few downvotes with the exception of this answer.

I'm not sure if you're looking at different data, but the most recent answers doesn't seem to support your concern.

Having said that, a lot of your answers do seem to be without a lot of support for either objective or subjective answers. That may contribute to the downvotes and would be an immediate improvement to your answers if you can start backing them up.

After reviewing your recently deleted answers from this comment, my paragraph above still stands highlighting the problem of lack of support.

Improve, don't remove

Having reviewed your deleted answers and your recent still alive answers, I think the core problem is that you don't back them up with support.

You may want to consider adding the support detail to answers rather than just deleting them. You may not get the rep back, but remember you get more rep for upvotes than you lose with downvotes. And this can also help you improve your answer writing for when you first submit answers.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This might be a useful suggestion, except that I post from work -- work network blocks almost everything gaming related and I can't bring my books. That's why I've stopped trying to answer anything that calls for rules citations. \$\endgroup\$ – Zeiss Ikon Jul 2 '19 at 13:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon That's fair, but even subjective answers need support. You can read this meta to get a better idea of what's expected for those. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 2 '19 at 13:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ As I understand it, "I've done this and here's how it worked" is support for subjective answers. \$\endgroup\$ – Zeiss Ikon Jul 2 '19 at 13:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon It absolutely is, but you're not covering the "here's how it worked bit" clearly. In the question you link, you don't cover that at all. You just state that you've done it in the past. You didn't provide commentary on how it went. Did you like it? DId others players like it? Did they feel it was antagonistic to the players to force them to make maps (we've had questions about this)? Did they like the challenge? etc. See Mxy's answer and the difference at the end between answer 3 and 4. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 2 '19 at 13:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon Additionally, even if you support something it doesn't make you immune to downvotes. In this case, the user had already indicated that they were using marker boards and that they were having issues with it. You saying that you also used marker boards without indicating any change or further advice clearly didn't help solve the issue and may have been further cause for downvoting. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jul 2 '19 at 16:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I gave a specific technique for using markerboards in 3D situations. \$\endgroup\$ – Zeiss Ikon Jul 2 '19 at 16:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon You mentioned a technique (that may be what OP was currently doing), but you didn't go into details on how the use of that technique worked. That's the part that's missing from your answers. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 2 '19 at 16:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon you may have intended it that way, but you seem to have left out a lot of information that others needed in order to read it that way. I'm only saying what I observe from looking at the post. The answer is definitely salvageable if you wanted to add that information in. The important thing here is that you asked for us to look at your answers and assess what is causing you to acquire downvotes on them. We are attempting to help you figure that out and to help you learn from it. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jul 2 '19 at 16:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ So, bottom line, if I can't spend an hour on a long, hyper-detailed answer, I'm better not answering at all. Point taken. \$\endgroup\$ – Zeiss Ikon Jul 2 '19 at 17:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon No, we are saying that you should do a few specific things to your answers to improve them. None of which would require hours of time to do. But if you aren't willing to take this advice and try to learn from it and improve you can still keep answering, but I wouldn't expect the answers to be received any better than they currently are. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jul 2 '19 at 17:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ And, just so we are clear, you have plenty of upvoted recent answers that appear to be well-received. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jul 2 '19 at 17:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon That really wasn't my point and I'm sorry if it's come across like that. I'm not saying you need a hyper-detailed answer that will take you an hour. I think there's a happy medium here, but it does take some time to find. By adding some more information as to how what you suggest works and what you liked/didn't like, it would be a huge improvement and shouldn't be a high time cost to do so. I really hope to see you around here more and that your answers can get even better to further help the community. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 2 '19 at 17:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ The thing that puzzles me about this is - if Zeiss is suggesting that the asker use a particular technique, a technique that he's used himself ... then presumably he considers it to have worked well! Why would he be telling anyone else to use it if it had gone badly? \$\endgroup\$ – Errorsatz Aug 23 '19 at 0:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Errorsatz: Maybe a suggested technique causes other issues that OP might not be interested in. Perhaps there are potential pitfalls that it would help OP to know to watch out for. Perhaps the suggested technique is only applicable in certain cases, and OP needs to know that in order to know whether it's relevant to their case. Thus, it helps to know how the answerer's experience indicates the suggested technique will work to solve OP's problem. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Aug 23 '19 at 9:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Errorsatz As V2Blast said, hearing about how the experience went is the important part here. There are almost always both pros and cons about a solution and hearing about what worked and what didn't (or may not) is the difference between generating an idea and recommending a tested course of action. We can presume it's been tried, or we can ask folks for feedback on how it went. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Aug 23 '19 at 13:16

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