This post is now outdated. See the revisit instead: Revisit: ‘5e’ as sufficient system statement

As a community we have a long established policy of not guessing game systems. In cases where the game system is unclear we require question askers to clarify, before answering their questions.

This is a policy that I support, and is more generally well supported among longer-term site users.

However, in recent weeks (and possibly before that), one particular aspect of the enforcement of this policy has led to disagreement between a number of very experienced site users - including those who are normally staunch proponents of our 'never guess the system' policy.

Specifically, there have been a number of instances where a new user has identified their game system as '5e', in the body or title of their question and not added a system tag.

A couple of examples can be found here (check the edit histories - some explanatory comments have been deleted):

Can I use a bonus action to ready an action?
How many opportunity attacks can you make per turn before becoming exhausted?

(These questions are both from the last fortnight, any other examples are welcomed.)

There have been two competing responses from experienced site users to these sorts of posts:

  1. D&D 5th edition is commonly referred to by its players as simply '5e' - it was your clear intention here to name that specific system, I will add the appropriate system tag for you and we can get your question answered.

  2. There are hundreds of RPGs in the world and many of them may have a fifth edition. Please be more explicit, are you playing the fifth edition of D&D? Until you clarify the system your question should be closed to avoid the possibility of it accumulating wrong answers.

In an attempt to resolve this community disagreement, and avoid future edit rollbacks, what should our response be to these kind of questions, going forward?

Should '5e' be considered a clear enough statement of system, such that it doesn't require further clarification under our 'never guess the game system' policy?

FWIW, I tried in this question to not position myself on either side of the debate - let me know if you think I failed in that respect and I'll try and adjust accordingly.


I think we should be OK interpreting “5e” as “D&D 5e” when the question is also talking about D&D-isms. (If they're talking about things that don't sound like D&D 5e, like talking about hackers, we should not guess.)

There are other games with a 5e, but their players tend to be acutely aware they're not the only RPG and not the only 5th edition RPG, so they'll say what their game is.

D&D players are the ones who have an observed tendency to forget or not know that other games exist, or get asked about on this site, or have a fifth edition. This means if someone says just “5e” and they're talking about monks or fighters or warlocks, they'll reliably be talking about D&D 5e. I honestly can't think of a time this hasn't been true.

Our super strict “don't guess the system” guidelines were created during a time when guessing was almost always wrong, and we had a disaster once a week or so: high frequency × lots of trouble = tons of trouble.

In this situation, almost zero × lots of trouble = almost no trouble, maybe once in a blue moon.

We shouldn't just guess though: tell them “Hey, we're sure you mean D&D 5e here, so we've edited that onto the question. If you didn't mean that please let us know and we'll adjust.” When we're wrong we do damage control: we revise the question, remove the answers, ask someone to create a new D&D 5e-specific question to house them, and people repost their answers over there, and the original question continues on with its correct game. I expect this won't happen even once a year.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Interesting take: could you flesh out what you think about open/close status during the time between an edut+query being made and a response from OP? \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Aug 1 '19 at 17:24
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 In the scenario they're asking about D&D-isms and say "5e", I would not see a need to close, if that's what you're asking — we make a judgement call and leave the comment I mentioned in the last paragraph. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Aug 2 '19 at 9:54
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Honestly, and regardless of my answer, I agree with your take on this and I feel that you have captured some of what thedarkwanderer was getting at in the comments that got removed to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 2 '19 at 14:57
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The issue I have with this answer is that we're making a major edit based on an assumption when we can just wait for the querent to confirm. As V2 stated in their answer, half the reason for such a strict policy is to help new users learn the system. We also don't edit a question to what we think the question is when the original question is unclear, we want the querent to do that for their benefit as well as our own. If a querent states in their question or the comments 'D&D 5e', there's a basis for the tag edit, otherwise we're just guessing and the new user isn't learning. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Aug 2 '19 at 23:38
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical Given my writing above I don't consider it a “major edit”. I think we've lost track of the fact that we drew a hard line on that rule because of the circumstances at the time, and those circumstances have changed, so we're drawing the hard line only because it's what we've been doing. I don't think we'd draw that hard line nowadays if we were coming at this fresh. It's rare that we force a user to fix mistakes themselves—plenty of other cases we help with case-by-case edits and let the person learn by watching and from our comments—and we don't have to do it this way. [1/2] \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Aug 7 '19 at 13:41
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Or put differently—we came up with that rule when all assumptions were almost certainly going to be bad. When people argued about it we (community + moderators) dug our heels in deeper, re-drew the line harder, and came up with additional reasons to never edit in order to get those people to just do what we're saying to do. Our initial reasons are less of an issue now, but the added justifications are sticking around despite being in conflict with how we behave in other cases—we're often happy to fix mistakes and make reasonable assumptions to improve a person's post for them. [2/2] \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Aug 7 '19 at 14:29

Yes. Pragmatically, the system known in wide circles as 5e is D&D 5e

It is correct that there are many different systems that have a fifth edition. However, D&D is the most widely known TTRPG and in recent times has gained wide exposure through the netflix series stranger things as well as youtube/twitch streaming (critical role and many others). This has led to a large influx from people new to the hobby.

Accepting the common/colloquial use of 5e for D&D 5e is a good way to improve newbie friendliness for rpg.se

  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ As a counter, I'd also say that many people who play 5e also just say that they play D&D. Saying that isn't enough to know it's 5e, either. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Aug 1 '19 at 14:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sure, but wouldn’t you agree that 5e without any further context us by far most likely to mean D&D 5e? I would assume that people who know that there are many different rulesets would generally specify more clearly what ruleset they mean. \$\endgroup\$ – Mala Aug 1 '19 at 14:10
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ That's what we're discussing here :) People may not be aware of multiple rulesets, either and we try and not make assumptions here. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Aug 1 '19 at 14:12
  • 12
    \$\begingroup\$ It is overwhelmingly likely that an unadorned "5e" means "D&D 5e", to the point that trying to guard against the risk of being wrong about that does seem ridiculous - but there are still good reasons for strictly enforcing this policy in these cases anyway, as explored in other answers. \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer Aug 1 '19 at 14:28
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ "Improve newbie friendliness" is, I think, a compelling motive. My problem is that while you or I may find it overly-frictional to treat new users this way, I'm not sure I know what they think. I wish this discussion had some feedback along the lines or "I asked my first question last month, I received this treatment, here's how it came across to me...." (Free 200-pt. bounty to any user who finds some existing comments in that vein!) \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Aug 1 '19 at 17:23
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 I wish I'd copied it, but there was a comment under a deleted answer from a new user that went "with this kind of gate keeping, I'll not come back" happened with the last few weeks. If you can with mod tools search comments and use gatekeeping or gatekeeping as a search term, I think it will pop up. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 2 '19 at 14:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 I think that both sevensided and I had responded to the answerer in one form or another to try and cajole them into working with the system a bit better (Granted, this is about an answer not a question ...) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 2 '19 at 14:47
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ "Accepting the common/colloquial use of 5e for D&D 5e is a good way to improve newbie friendliness for RPG.SE" Could you please elaborate on this statement? To be specific: how does this improve newbie friendliness, and why is this a good way of doing so? Right now it reads as an unsupported opinion, and on top of that: I don't really see how "explaining to new users that other non-D&D 5e games exist and thus the use of specific tags is encouraged to avoid confusion" is unfriendly. \$\endgroup\$ – Vadruk Aug 3 '19 at 7:10
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ It's unfriendly because it feels punishing to be told a post is wrong simply because the common name for something was used, especially when it's overwhelmingly likely that it was understood correctly. \$\endgroup\$ – Mala Aug 5 '19 at 10:10
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ This is the correct answer. The term "5e" is a specific abbreviation for D&D, and not the normal term used for other fifth editions. It is essentially unambiguous. Telling people they are wrong over pedantic matters does not generally encourage them to do better, but to go elsewhere. There is a reason why the extremely Lawful character, regardless of moral alignment, is generally a very prickly character that is hard to get along with, with the rules constantly getting in the way. It's why Lawful Good Paladins are often Lawful Assholes. \$\endgroup\$ – trlkly Aug 5 '19 at 19:18

Get clarification first / promote better engagement with new users

One of the advantages of asking the question "What game/system/edition are you playing?" and waiting to get that answer is that we treat whomever asks the question as a person (which IMO is important for the new user experience) and engage with them in discourse in the process of helping them write a good question. While our help center has 'how to write a good question' guidance, it is apparent that this is not resorted to very often by new users.

This early engagement supports a point that @Carcer makes in his comment under V2's answer; it allows us to coach/teach new users on how to best use the site.

A much more compelling argument about being extremely strict about policy here is that this is about teaching the querent how to use the site properly.

5e with contextual clues: that's a bit less clear

For the example question where the comment stream ran a bit off the rails, I was able to see the same in-question contextual clues that @thedarkwanderer did (above and beyond the word 5e). Both @doppelgreener and @SevenSidedDie have written answers that are reasonable that include this consideration. But if we are asking about agreeing on a policy, then I have to agree with the larger policy point that both @Rubiksmoose(in chat) and @V2blast(in the above answer) have made.

We serve our site's functioning better by engaging with the new users to clarify system rather than guessing. One benefit is: we don't confuse answerers. Another benefit: we engage with new users directly and help "bring them on board" the site as better users by coaching/teaching.

How we engage, and the tone we use in our comments and various "help piles" will inform how welcoming, or not, our response is received.

Bottom Line: No, other games have 5e so 5e in the text doesn't suffice

As V2Blast points out in his answer

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Can I suggest the use of a comma in your bottom line? “No other games have 5e” and “No, other games have 5e” are very much opposite statements, and the first couple of times I read it, I parsed it as “No (as V2Blast points out) other games have 5e” which is the first one. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Aug 1 '19 at 15:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Yeah, that was a mess, wasn't it? changed. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 1 '19 at 15:30
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Fantastic. Although on closer inspection that's not actually the bottom line anymore.... ;) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Aug 1 '19 at 15:31
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener OK, I'll put that last bit into a spoiler. :-) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 1 '19 at 15:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sneaky and works. :) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Aug 1 '19 at 15:58
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ But does it teach them about the site? Or does it discourage them from posting here, because they feel they're being punished for a technicality? Is 5e really ambiguous? Because the only place I've ever heard that abbreviation is in reference to D&D. No one else abbreviates "edition" with a lowercase e attached to the number. Pointless distinctions are often a matter of gatekeeping, which makes people feel unwelcome--as was stated by previous posters. \$\endgroup\$ – trlkly Aug 5 '19 at 19:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ In the actual game, rules lawyers are decried as putting the rules above having fun, generally speaking. They interrupt play and don't acknowledge the GM as the controller of the game. It seems odd to me that rules lawyering is pushed so hard here, when so many know how bad it feels when they play the games. It inherently feels unfriendly and unwelcoming. \$\endgroup\$ – trlkly Aug 5 '19 at 19:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @trlkly I don't disagree with you, see my points under the answers by doppelgreener and SevenSidedDie. This answer was formulated to capture the details of a discussion I had with BESW and Carcer in chat regarding the question that raised this issue. Had I not done this, I suspect Carcer might have in time. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 5 '19 at 19:30
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @trlkly I am able to see the up and down votes on Mala's answer. 14 up and 11 down, so there is quite a divergence of opinion on this point. doppels is at +10, -8, and sevens is as +4, -4 at the moment. This one is +18 -4. V2 is +23 , -8. Thanks for raising the points you make, have you considered writing your own answer? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 5 '19 at 19:31

No, doing so causes actual harm to our site

First I will state the obvious reasons that have been mostly stated by others:

Multiple systems have a 5th edition

D&D is not the only game to have reached a 5th edition. It isn't even the only game that is currently on 5th edition.

Guessing wrong is worse than waiting

Sure, in 99% of cases we may be right. But the 1 in 100 that we get wrong would cause more issue in total than simply asking a clarifying question. As I said in this answer, it costs us nothing to wait for OP to clarify. If they don't come back then they weren't going to use the answers anyway, no net loss.

Not guessing helps new users learn the system

By not guessing and prompting the OP to include the system tag, we teach the requirements for a good question on this site. This helps to prevent them from having this issue again in the future and in turn they can help teach it to others, helping to maintain our high standards.

A strict policy is easier to comprehend

As you have said in your own excellent post:

Our current policy is very clear, easy for new users to understand (even if they disagree with it) and relatively simple (if not always painless) to enforce.

Any alternative to this policy, however well intentioned (and perhaps both sensible and justifiable in the abstract), will be much less clear, more contentious and harder to enforce.

Now for a view that isn't included in the other answers:

Allowing this promotes the D&D-centric view of this site

We are rpg.se, not dnd.se and we want to remain that way. We have a history of D&D dominating our site. See Dungeons and Dragons is dominating the site in terms of page views for just one example. It is likely that our high proportion of D&D content is what leads to missing system tags on D&D 5e questions in the first place.

New users come to the site and see tags for various D&D editions and some other tags they don't know. Then mention 5e in their question assuming that is enough because, as far as they know, this site is only about D&D. By not assuming 5e = D&D 5e we might just be telling them for the first time that there are game system's besides D&D. That is an opportunity for new users to learn and expand their horizons that might otherwise be lost.

Additionally, on the occasions we are wrong we are harming the quality of life of smaller rpgs on this site. There is an excellent meta question (How to improve/maintain the quality-of-life of small fandoms in the face of a dominant big fandom on an open Stack Exchange?) that addresses this issue. I think it is important to keep that issue in mind when discussing policies like this.

In conclusion; no, 5e is not enough to add the tag, and it should never be.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Good point! The D&D-centricity issue is one that occurred to me but that I failed to mention in my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Mod Aug 2 '19 at 5:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why not have a dnd stack, then? \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Aug 3 '19 at 20:20
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ @nijineko what would be the benefit? We can already answer all d&d questions we just ask that they are tagged correctly. Having a dedicated stack would cut our user base for no net gain. I think there is a meta somewhere about us not wanting to be DND.se. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Mod Aug 4 '19 at 1:39
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @nijineko this is a similar issue that arises on arqade (Minecraft) and boardandcardgames (Magic: the Gathering); they may have instructive metas with their takes on it. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Aug 4 '19 at 3:23
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I would argue that the chances of being wrong are quite low. Other games have fifth editions, but the specific abbreviation 5e is something I've never seen in any other game or any other context. You don't use lowercase e attached to a number to mean "edition." If you type "5e" into Google, it's all about D&D fifth edition. That's just what it means. I see no reason not to assume the edition to get an ansewr out quickly, while telling the user that they need to tag properly in the future, and tell we somehow guessed wrong. Getting answers fast is how you keep users. \$\endgroup\$ – trlkly Aug 5 '19 at 19:32
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @trlkly Given the points you have made in this, and other, comments, please consider putting together a stand alone answer based on your reasoning/points. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 5 '19 at 19:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @trlkly: As Korvin said, you should leave your perspective as an answer (or simply upvote an existing answer if you think it already captures your perspective). Comments are generally intended for suggesting improvements to the answer or for asking for clarification, not for disagreeing - and you certainly shouldn't comment on every answer you disagree with simply to express that disagreement. Generally, opposing perspectives should be left as answers instead. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Mod Aug 6 '19 at 3:38
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "If they don't come back then they weren't going to use the answers anyway, no net loss." I have to say I don't like this line. Many new people (possibly shy people or young people) will come here, ask a question and be very much put off by us asking for what they see as obvious information, then never come back because it isn't worth the effort. Every person we fail to welcome into the community is a net loss. Also since most traffic is via google that means more than just the asker benefits from the answers, so that is another net loss. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Aug 14 '19 at 11:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, what is the actual harm if on that 100th question we take a very educated guess (How many 5th editions have bonus actions and opportunity attacks and various other D&D terms) and get some answers on a wrong system? Worst comes to worst they get deleted, and since answerers are usually more experience on the site than askers when the answers get deleted they are far more likely to understand. Yes it is a lot of effort answering sometimes, but the whole no loss thing really puzzles me. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Aug 14 '19 at 11:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri If we are leaving comments that put people off, then that is an issue. A polite request to clarify what system you are playing shouldn't do that though, and having a clear policy to point to should help them understand. I believe it is best to gently guide them on their first question then edit every question they ask. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Mod Aug 15 '19 at 4:59
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri I think it is worse to assume the system and edit/answer their question based on that assumption if we a wrong then if we had waited for them to clarify. Personally I would hate to have my post highjacked by an incorrect assumption far more than I would dislike a polite request for clarification. Guessing wastes the time of the answerers and editors who are working in good faith based on the edit. It also wastes the time of the moderators and the OP in flagging and cleaning up the post. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Mod Aug 15 '19 at 5:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's ok to not want to be D&D centric, but that doesn't mean we have to be D&D hostile. By not allowing common terminology (it's even common in our own community) we are purposefully creating difficulties for new users. I don't see anything productive about it, the optics aren't worth it. \$\endgroup\$ – user-024673 Aug 1 '20 at 0:41

Not by itself… but maybe when it’s clear

I see a lot of good reasons to make new askers engage more, and to use it as a teachable moment.

But practically? I think there are some questions where as a community we spend too much energy on this detail, for little or no gain. If there’s an opportunity to just get things done without causing problems, that’s worth considering. We only need to spend energy on actual problems.

I don’t think “5e” by itself is ever enough. But “5e” along with unambiguous question details about D&D 5e mechanics: that’s vanishingly unlikely to be anything else. I don’t think we’ve ever had such a question turn out to be anything else.

By all means, if they don’t even bother to mention a game at all, let them clarify. After all, we do want people to realise that they should identify their question’s basic topic from the start.

But if a question asks about “5e” warlocks casting eldritch blasts or a beastmaster using bonus actions in “5e”, I think they already have. We know what game it is. Maybe we should just mark it [dnd-5e] and let the wheels roll that little bit more smoothly.

If ever we get a question where that’s wrong, we can stop it again. But I don’t think we will.

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ We've seen "unambiguous" mechanics from one edition that turned out to be dandwiki homebrew for a different edition. The argument based on energy expended vs risk/benefit outcomes is good, but could also be argued the other way by saying that it's easier to adhere to a simple universal policy rather than adding an exception that one game gets special rules. I think the only thing making the wheels roll less smoothly is the argument that happens in the comment sections every time, and the simplest way to stop that is to have a single, universal policy--exceptions beget litigation. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Aug 2 '19 at 11:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ as a community we spend too much energy on this detail, for little or no gain. I think that's what thedarkwanderer was getting at in the comment kerfluffle under the question that triggered this. Regardless of my answer, I agree with your take on this. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 2 '19 at 14:43
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @BESW If we see questions about how many swift actions a 5e factotum can take, that would still get closed as unclear. If there are unambiguous D&D 5e mechanics in a question that says “5e” but they’re using 4e homebrew that isn’t mechanically mentioned, the existing policy won’t catch that any better or worse than this. Similarly if someone asks about “3.5” and mentions 5e mechanics because of confusion over homebrew, or mentions mechanics but no attempt to mention game, not even a number, an unclear close would happen regardless. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 2 '19 at 15:33

For context: I've ended up coming around on this subject in the time since posting this answer, as indicated in the mods' answer to Re-revisiting the “don't guess the system” policy, but I'm leaving this answer as-is so as not to invalidate others' votes and references to my answer. My current stance is more lenient than this; I think it's reasonable to use clear evidence that the question is about D&D (e.g. quotes/page numbers/references to something uniquely tied to D&D) in combination with a reference to "5e" to interpret that the question is about D&D 5e.

My original answer:

No; multiple systems have a 5th edition.

There are multiple games with a 5th edition, besides :

If the querent doesn't explicitly mention that they're playing D&D in addition to mentioning 5e, we'd be guessing to assume that "5e" means "D&D 5e". We can definitely surmise that it's D&D 5e, and we might even be right most of the time, but we can't know for sure that we're right - so it's a guess.

Guessing causes problems

To quote your own linked answer to the previous meta on guessing the system:

Our current policy is very clear, easy for new users to understand (even if they disagree with it) and relatively simple (if not always painless) to enforce.

Any alternative to this policy, however well intentioned (and perhaps both sensible and justifiable in the abstract), will be much less clear, more contentious and harder to enforce.


If we say that 'we'll only guess a system when we're 100% certain that we're right' there will still be rare occasions when the most experienced users turn out to have been wrong, despite all of the cues. The much bigger issue however, is that, if we legitimise guessing in any form, less experienced users will also be empowered to guess when they are '100% certain' and they may not be as well equipped to make such an assessment.

We're already in a position where new users occasionally guess systems inappropriately - but currently the response 'Sorry, we never guess systems here', while potentially annoying, is pretty clear. Saying instead 'Sorry, we do sometimes guess systems here but you should not have done so in this instance' is going to be much trickier to enforce in a way that people find to be consistent, fair and reasonable (and don't take personally).

  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ To be honest, the odds that someone who says they're playing "5e" means anything other than D&D 5e are vanishingly low, and it's a bit ridiculous to claim there's any significant deal of ambiguity in these cases. A much more compelling argument about being extremely strict about policy here is that this is about teaching the querent how to use the site properly. \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer Aug 1 '19 at 8:27
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ @Carcer: "Vanishingly low" is not "zero". Thus: it's still guessing. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Mod Aug 1 '19 at 8:27
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ @Carcer You're right that there are additional persuasive arguments for the policy. I hope to see them represented in additional answers. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Aug 1 '19 at 8:57
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @BESW one such answer now provided, thanks to Carcer's point here and our discussion in chat. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 1 '19 at 13:31
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast, You can never be 100% certain of anything in life. All of life has fuzzy lines. Even science runs on an unofficial 95% certainty requirement, not 100%. There must always be a cutoff below 100%. So what is needed is actual quantitative data. How many examples are there of users referring to 5e and not meaning D&D Fifth Edition? I have yet to find a single other RPG when searching "5e" on Google. \$\endgroup\$ – trlkly Aug 5 '19 at 19:45

'5e' unambiguously refers to Dungeons & Dragons (2014), as long as it's clear that's intended as a name

There are many systems that have a 5th edition. Sometimes new querents asking a question badly phrase their question like this:

Hi i was wondering if trolls can cast spells thx. [Edit]5th edition.

That's not clear. 5th edition may be being used to describe what edition of the system is being played, rather than naming the system itself. For example, it's possible the above question is being asked about Shadowrun rather than D&D.

Other times, new querents might ask a question like this:

We just started playing 5e and I wanted to have the party fight a troll that casts spells. Can trolls do that?

This question is still not great, but it's no longer unclear what game they are playing. 5e here is used as a name, and right now there is only one game called '5e'.

D&D-centrism is bad, and 5e centrism is worse! But this isn't the way to solve it

Our site's 5e centrism is out-of-hand, and a problem. For example, we recently had a new user get repeatedly harassed for asking properly tagged AD&D questions because somebody decided that frequent tag misuse is a good enough excuse to take questions in bad faith (for the record, it's not and that's offensive). Coming up with good solutions to our 5e-centrism problem would be a good thing to do. This is not that.

Passive-aggressively singling out 5e players for obtuse facetious BS as a barrier to site entry is not cool. It's Not Nice, which is a serious problem that should bear consideration, and it's not actually productive because we rely on common-sense judgements for pretty much the rest of our site's functionality so it basically reverse-trains new users into thinking about what our site policy can and can't do the exact wrong way. It's just mean-spirited, ineffective moderation and we should stop doing it.

That's not to say our 'don't guess' policy needs to go away. We just need to do a better job of treating every system's community as justly as we can when adjudicating this policy-- we don't treat any other system the way we do 5e with this. For example, one of my favorite systems is Polaris. I've never had a question closed as unclear which system I was playing when asking about that, even though there is this other system which is literally named the same thing and which does not yet have a separate tag. If we treated my Polaris questions like we do 5e questions they would all have been closed until I specified not only that I was playing Polaris but also that game's ISBN. That's absurd. No expert on either system would ever confuse any of my questions for a question about the other system. Not 'probably wouldn't', wouldn't, hard stop.

If a ask a question that's obviously about Shadowrun and don't include an edition or system tag I don't get a patronizing formula-comment asking what system I'm playing and what edition as if that question made sense without already knowing I'm playing one of the very few systems where 'edition' is the right term and matters, I get the question closed as unclear and one person asking "Is this Shadowrun? Also what edition-- the Matrix rules vary a lot" or, if it's clear what edition, "Is this SR4?". That's what I should get on 5e questions; a closed question and an honest comment that tells me I need to confirm that I'm playing D&D 5e. If it's actually unclear, it's totally fine to ask. But pretending like you don't know when you totally do know is just being a jerk.

It's worth noting that the downsides of our bad behavior here are particularly intense for 5e. Wizards made the very-bad decision when releasing the game to hide the edition as much as possible in order to accomplish business objectives by misleading people. This has, predictably, lead to lots of new players who have no idea what edition they are playing and no idea how to find out because that is extremely non-trivial for the newest edition especially if an online community of experts is acting like it should be obvious.

In any case, I think the best thing we can do here is to treat 5e like any other system for this policy as much as possible. We should avoid guessing system tags in edits, but not in comments. We should accept commonly-used colloquialisms/abbreviations like 'SR5' or 'D&D 3.5' or '5e' or 'LotFP' or 'Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition' as names as long as they are clear and unambiguous and widely accepted. We should post honest comments that simultaneously respect the intelligence we assume of our querents because we give people the benefit of the doubt while also acknowledging their inexperience with the site.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ "right now there is only one game called '5e'" Not anymore \$\endgroup\$ – Pierre Cathé Aug 6 '19 at 9:41
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @PierreCathé That system is one week old (the Google document, the older of the two, was published on August 1st). While the title of the system in the manual is '5e' I am very much not convinced that is what a folksonomy will call it once one develops, particularly since doing so would be bad English-- 5 'e's or 5 Es would be much more natural. I'm reasonably confident no one will be confused, though-- that game is a joke-- literally, about making a game with the same name as 5e. If anything it supports my point \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Aug 6 '19 at 16:53
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ That notional two page game was created as a gag / joke based on this particular issue coming up in discussion about D&D 5e. A meta joke, if you like. You can find our discussion about that in RPG.SE chat; I was involved in the conversation, and made a few suggestions on what E's to use. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 6 '19 at 17:18
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "We should avoid guessing system tags in edits, but not in comments." I absolutely agree with this statement. Question containing "5e" should have a comment saying "Can you confirm you are playing DnD-5e? The best way to do this is by adding the tag." or similar. To me that is not guessing. Guessing is only when you make the edit based on that assumption. I don't believe we are singling out a 5e players with this policy. I think we are actively avoiding that. If we allowed questions with 5e to be tagged that would be making a special case we don't want. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Mod Aug 8 '19 at 0:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @linksassin That would be fine. Right now we don't do that, we say something like "What RPG are you playing, and what edition of that RPG? There are thousands, and they can be very different from each other." Which, is, like, completely off-base if the querent said "I am playing 5e". Adding tags to a question when a querent left them out isn't a special case. Not adding system tags to a question when a querent left them out is a special case, but it's worth the extra work. Adding system tags to a question when a querent left them out but the querent specified... \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Aug 8 '19 at 0:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ in the question body what system they are playing is a special case exception to that special case exception, but it is also worth the work and already exists for everything but 5e. No special case needs to be made for 5e. Or do you think it is guessing to add a 'FATE-2.0' tag to a question that left out that tag but says "I am playing FATE 2.0" at the end of the question body? Is there any way that asking "What system are you playing?" in that case isn't just being patronizing? \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Aug 8 '19 at 0:55
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ This question isn't about adding system tags to questions that only specify it in the body (which is fine). It is asking if 5e alone, with no reference to D&D is sufficient to add the tag. I don't believe it is. Personally, if I think they are playing 5e, I try say something like "can you confirm you are playing D&D 5e?" and then vote to close until they do. I have no issue with people guessing in comments, it is only edits that are the problem. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Mod Aug 8 '19 at 1:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @linksassin What else would the expression "We are playing 5e" mean? And 'no reference to D&D' is just because the question is phrased in a leading manner. The questions that inspired this meta didn't explicitly say 'dungeons and dragons' but one asked about actions and bonus actions and monks and the dodge action and one asked about 5e, the 5th edition of the game that Gary Gygax invented in the 70's, which was apparently unclear somehow. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Aug 8 '19 at 1:57
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "We are playing 5e" could mean you are playing the 5th edition of any game system. I don't believe it is good enough to distinguish the system. The gygax one I did ask about in chat at the time and it was only closed while we were discussing exactly that. The monk/bonus action one was correctly closed, they are not unique terms to D&D 5e and we should not be added the tag purely based on them. We should be commenting "can you confirm you are playing d&d 5e?" and closing until OP responds. A clear no exceptions policy is better than edit wars. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Mod Aug 8 '19 at 3:52
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @linksassin Do you have any examples of anyone using "We are playing 5e" on this site to mean a different game system? I mean, "We are playing the 5th edition of D&D" could mean any 5th edition of a game that happens to be similarly named -- perhaps the game which people actually call Chronopia, which happens to also be the 5th edition of Dragons & Demons. Of course, no one talks like that, but no one uses 5e as the name for a system that isn't Dungeons & Dragons (2014), either. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Aug 8 '19 at 8:11
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I don't need an example because that isn't the point. The voting on this meta is showing a pretty clear consensus. A clear policy of precisely naming the system is better, for all the reasons I state in my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Mod Aug 8 '19 at 13:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think what DarkWanderer is saying is that we can simply ask if it's D&D 5e and not ask the more general question. But I think we ask the more general just so we don't feel like we're making an assumption. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Aug 8 '19 at 14:06
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Personally, I do both - ask the question generally, but hint at what I assume is the intended system in the tag I use as an example. There's certainly nothing wrong with "guessing the system" if all you're doing is leaving a comment asking them to confirm whether that's the system. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Mod Aug 24 '19 at 4:55

Context is everything. While in the strictest sense, many games have "5th editions", D&D is the only game my entire gaming community calls "Fifth ed" verbatim to distinguish it as a self contained system.

If the question uses D&D language "In 5e, how many hp does a 10th level drow paladin need?" then I don't see it as a terrible sin. Shadowrun has a 5e and champions has a 5th edition, but I've only seen people address editions in those games while at those specific tables and games discussing editions.

Think of it like the "Ma Deuce" in the Army. The M2 is synonymous with a .50 BMG machinegun, even though many other things are designated M2.

It seems most appropriate then, that the "default" RPG for "5e" is D&D, while other RPGs are their title + edition where necessary. Clearly, if you are asking about guns, you need to add 5e D&D when discussing things like black powder or time travel, otherwise we might expect you to be talking about some mystery modern or scifi RPG.

So adding a label next to the 5e explicitly defines it as NOT D&D. 5e Shadowrun, for instance.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ If the OP is talking about Kakita in 5e or Hackers in 5e then it is not D&D. Assuming all 5e is D&D is just plain wrong. It's L5R 5e and SR5 respectively, and people refer to them as Fifth Edition, if it is clear they talk about these games. \$\endgroup\$ – Trish Aug 4 '19 at 16:51
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Ma Duece: heh, some nicknames are timeless. :) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 5 '19 at 12:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .