I feel that some of our users have taken the change in norms with subjective questions too far.

This comment is the last straw.

Any actual experience with allowing players to vote what can or cannot be killed? – {Mołot 22 mins ago}

It reflects a complete misunderstanding of the answer, and it misrepresents the text of the question in terms of addressing the actual problem. A GM and all of the other players see the game one way, and one player is trying to do something different that the other players do not agree with.

The problem in the question header, about "killing the unkillable," isn't the issue that needs to be solved. We have X-Y problem questions arise with some frequency. The problem is (1) getting the other player to stop being disruptive and (2) the GM's frustration with the same. As I see it, a GM needing to learn how to say No and to stick to their decision (and to apply basic small group consensus building) is what's at stake. And that snarky comment gets added under the answer that addresses the X-Y problem. I just discovered that the answer was accepted by the person asking the question - this lends support to my point that the text of the question lays out the problem, not the title. I now discover, a day later, that the querent changed their mind and chose another answer.

At some point, before deciding to throw that "Do you have expereience with {X}?" line out, I ask anyone pondering such a comment to think first, read the whole question, sum up the whole problem, and then look at the solution being offered to the problem.

I am not convinced that all of our users are going through that process before raising that objection in the past few months. (Though some certainly are).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Please don't take this as a critique of the issue you are trying to bring up, but I think this could do with a bit of focus and cleanup because it reads as rant-y right now to me. I personally would find it helpful if you could make it a bit clearer what you are asking us to weigh in on here specifically as there doesn't seem to be much of a question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 17:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose Yes, I am about fed up with this behavior. This user is not the only one, it's just that this is the last straw for me. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 17:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ I get it. I completely understand that you are frustrated from your question. More importantly, I'd like to help. What I don't get, is what you are asking of us. How can we help address this frustration? What kind of answers are you looking for? If this is simply a rant, there's nothing we can do to help and Meta is not the place for it. Help us to help you, and give this question something we can actually act on in an answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 17:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose I am asking our user base to be less snarky in comments. I am asking the user base to understand how to recognize a group dynamics problem, and not play this semantics game having to do with the title of a question when the text tells another story. I am asking the users to stop being sloppy, and to stop being mentally lazy. That's about enough for now, I am logging off. Talk to you tomorrow. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 17:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose Changed the title question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 21:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! I think this makes this heavily related to another question though: Should we be answering the question, or the question posed in the description? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 22:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with you on the larger subject (the pendulum on GSBS is precessing in a weird direction, lately) but not thinking this post is that helpful, and not yet having a fully formed solution to put forward myself. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 20:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Novak This question was written while in a bad mood, and quite frankly is not a best effort. Not A game material. Rubik pointed that out to me yesterday, and his critique of 'rant' was quite accurate. Not sure if it is worth trying to polish this turd as I may have poisoned my own well. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 20:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast yeah, I get it, I've been there. Whether you've poisoned the well or not, I obviously couldn't say. But despite both of us upholding GSBS on the recent "Undue Criticism" thread, I do see the same general issue. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 20:23

2 Answers 2


I get the frustration, but I'm not reading snark in that comment

The push for better subjective support definitely can ruffle feathers, but I'm not reading snark in that.

In fact, that section of your answer is a proposal for a specific course of action. And it's a course of action with potential consequences beyond resolving the situation. By creating an open vote like this, you may be alienating that player. You may end up alienating the DM. Adding support that talks about you having done this at a table and how it went really would be helpful, because there are potential pitfalls that could be addressed.

While I agree it could have been worded better, your answer would be improved to include support for that idea.

Snark shouldn't beget snark

The other issue here is your comment in return. You add a line at the end which could easily be construed by another party as snark.

(Was that comment really necessary, or is this becoming a reflex?)

I think the response may actually escalate the situation rather then deescalate. A better option may have been to point out what you were saying and how it wasn't a proposed course of action that needed support. This in turn would have been an opportunity to fine tune your answer so that others didn't see it as an idea without support.

Having said that, this is a very tricky situation due to site norms and where we are at this moment wanting more support for subjective responses. Parties on both sides are getting frustrated and we need to be more open to each other and what we can do to help make the site better.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast It has support for putting your foot down, but not for how an open vote could go. I didn't get the frame challenge aspect of this, but either way, if you're going to suggest a course of action (voting), you should add support for that course of action. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 17:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast I guess i'm confused. Do you feel like you didn't suggest a course of action so that doesn't need to be supported? Or that you feel like you shouldn't need to support this because you see at as a frame challenge? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 17:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast That was my read. If we are reading it incorrectly, can you explain how we should be reading it and why you aren't actually proposing that course of action that needs support? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 17:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not comparing the question to the body to the answer. I'm looking at your answer as a standalone. Your advice on standing ground is supported. Your advice on putting something like that up for a vote is not. If you remove the vote bit, this answer is great. If you're going to advocate with starting off with a vote, then you need to support that. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 18:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast And that's where the disagreement lies. You believe that it doesn't need support. Molot does - and I agree. This is a specific application of a common tool (voting), but it has direct consequences because the vote is used to specifically separate out a player. I think it's worth backing up that suggestion because it could result in real world bad feelings. Yes, that player may be causing those feelings as well, but just as responded to snark with snark isn't good, responding to bad feelings with more bad feelings isn't either. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 18:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have removed all comments here, and will return some time later to see what else is on offer. I have edited out that comment under the question with "is this a reflex" since you are correct about that tone not being helpful. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 18:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ That comment reads as snarky to me, for sure. “Vote on what can be killed?” Off to flag as rude. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 1:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Oddly enough (because I often tend to read snark where it isn't intended) I didn't read this comment as snarky. I did read it as misguided and very unhelpful because it was myopically focused. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 20:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Novak my snark assessment remains unchanged. A number of people engaged with me in comments under that reply. They talked to me. That comment was a drive by, and demonstrated no effort made to talk to, rather than at, the person they were commenting towards. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 10:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast I suppose it depends on your definition of snark. I see it generally as over sarcasm, snideness, or disrespect. Or a definition more personal to me, I see it also as a short pithy argument using the signs and forms of humor to bypass otherwise more critical or well-reasoned arguments. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 18:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Novak fair enough. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 18:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast I didn't see that here. I saw a myopically focused comment which seemed to be a drive-by-- both of which are elements that make me think of it as extremely unhelpful (verging on harmful) but not specifically as snark. (Sorry, this was always meant to be a 2-part comment and I got distracted by something.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 18:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Novak Copy all. Appreciate you engaging with me and sharing your insights. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 18:56

You’ve assumed that the comment is due to the commentor not reading or understanding the question nor your answer’s point.

I think the related question is 'should we be making comments without bothering to put any effort into the reading the question and the answer' ... but that's just my opinion. [1]

That’s not what I see happening. I see you two honestly disagreeing on what parts of an answer need support.

I have plenty of experience in dealing with small group dynamics, thank you. Try reading this part of the question, again: I tell them no and the rest of the group tells them it is impossible as well Whether or not a thing can be killed is not the problem that needs to be solved. See X-Y Problem, there are metas about it in plentitude. [2]

You’re saying that only the part of an answer that deals with the real problem needs to be supported.

But… that’s just not true.

All suggestions need support

If an answer is suggesting doing something, we want it to be supported.

Put another way: we don’t want unsupported suggestions. That’s the whole point of GS/BS.

Nowhere in the texts, principle, or practice of Back It Up and GS/BS do they say only suggestions meant as the main point need to be supported. Any course of action needs to be supported.

Your answer suggests two things:

  1. Have a vote, which will likely just be done to make a point.
  2. Put your foot down and insist.

Both are things the answer is suggesting the reader should do. Only (2) is given any support.

If (1) is so important to the real problem that it belongs in the answer, then it needs to be supported. If it’s not important enough to support with evidence that it’s a good and useful action, then the answer shouldn’t be suggesting anyone do it.

It’s entirely reasonable to wonder if doing (1) in that specific way might perhaps impact the effectiveness of (2), or perhaps have side effects the answer is not sharing. It’s reasonable to ask for more information on that issue, to see how and whether that whole, combined approach has worked in experience, and what pitfalls the reader might beware in order to achieve success.

They’re not separable suggestions, when the answer itself ties them together.

That’s why all suggested courses of action in an answer are expected to be supported. Showing that all the suggestions in an answer actually work when used as described is the point of providing support. Not supporting a suggestion described in an answer will naturally attract requests to support it.

It’s just a fact that missing support will draw comments. It’s not something unusual. Nor is it something to take umbrage at. It’s something to accept as inherent to choosing not to support the advice.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The use of the tools of small group dynamics is something that anyone can and will do in a small group. I make that clear in the answer. I also provide a link to a Q&A dealing with conflict resolution tools. Voting is a standard conflict resolution tool, and you also seem to be missing the point. The GM already has the rest of the players on side. Were that not the case, the answer would have been quite different, had I bothered to answer at all. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 11:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I edited in another reference to the core issue being small group dynamics and the resolution of a disagreement. Thanks for your feedback. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 11:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast All the things you say I was already aware of; I’m not missing you’re point. I see your point, and I think you’re overlooking the substance of the objection from multiple people. Nobody is disputing that voting is a common tool; that’s not the point being sent, but you seem to think it is. What is being doubted is whether voting to make a passive-aggressive point is effective in that specific social dynamic. Is it? Have you tried it? If not, what makes you confident it won’t blow up the group? Share the source of your confidence in using voting in this rhetorical way. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 19:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your choice to label this as passive aggressive is personally insulting. Please don't go there. Using voting as a way to solve a social disagreement? In a small group? I"ve been doing that since Boy Scouts. Have we done that in a TTRPG? Yes. A lot. And in one case, our Traveller campaign died right there, on the spot. In most cases, consensus was reached and off we went. Done it in family settings? (Where are we going out to eat?) Yes. It is a trivially common social tool. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 19:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast You’re equivocating. Claiming experience with voting to make a decision is not claiming experience with using voting to prove someone wrong. Your comment does not assert that you have used it for the specific purpose you’re prescribing it for. You’re prescribing it for, specifically, demonstrating that the group is against the one person. That’s different from using voting to determine what the majority wants. Have you used voting for the specific argument-winning purpose here? Claims of knowing how to raise hands and count small numbers is not support for your post. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 19:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I appreciate that in your opinion, it's not a best practice. That's fine. I had a nice discussion with guildsbounty and I revised my answer a bit to check on if that player was aware of the problem they were causing first before pulling out the establish formal group norms methodology. I have seen that work and I have seen that not work. It really depends on the people involved... As does every single answer any of us write about social dynamics issues. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 19:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Again you’re missimg the point. Comments are not for disagreeing with a post and that’s not why you’re being asked to back up your post. Voting down is for disagreeing. The comments you’re objecting to receiving are not vote surrogates. They are asking you to follow GS/BS, and support that you have used voting for this unusual purpose. Have you? You still have not said specifically that you have, only that you have long experience with voting as a general tool. Have you used this screwdriver to open paint cans? Claims of using screwdrivers to drive screws are beside the point. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 19:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for that also, good day. This Meta was about snarky and half baked comments under an answer. You do not see it as I did, but a few other people did. So I guess nothing gets resolved in this meta. Which is also fine., \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 19:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you can’t take the feedback on a real problem with your posts, next time don’t rant about it on meta and blame in on people being illiterate. Just ignore it and let the post live on its merits. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 19:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Don’t blame it on people being lazy either. People don’t have to be lazy to see the hole in the post. This here is me being the opposite of lazy. Not understanding the point of a piece of criticism is no excuse for calling anyone lazy or any other name-calling, let alone to their face. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 19:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you assert that I did not understand Molot's comment, you are mistaken. If you think that I am calling you lazy, I am not, and if I have left that impression, then I apologize to you for that. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 19:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your efforts are not in vain. I edited it again (the thing on main) to capture something I put in a comment up there. Have a pint. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 20:29

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