The idea of Good Subjective questions and answers is core to how Stack Exchange works and is essentially what allows RPG.se to exist. We have this Q&A that sets the broad outline for how that idea manifests itself and generally how we moderate it:

Answering Subjective Questions

The blog post Good Subjective, Bad Subjective is the gold standard for understanding how to make good on topic answers to subjective questions. The heart of it is using the Back It Up! principle, which states that you should only answer based on:

  • Something that happened to you personally
  • Something you can back up with a reference

Here, "happened to you personally" means real play experience. We understand that some people believe that given their wide experience in games they think they can tell someone the right technique or system or solution to use for their particular need even though they haven't done it themselves - but when everyone does that, it leads to opinion-laden chaos. "Good Subjective" is constructive and is based on experience and expertise. "Bad Subjective" is speculative and is based on conjecture and opinion. Speculative answers will be downvoted, commented on ("Back It Up!"), and/or deleted.

Recently, however, we have noticed more and more friction about how moderation around subjective answers is handled. Users, both old and new are noticing changing norms on the site in how the GSBS principles are being moderated or enforced by the community or diamond moderators, and some disagreements surrounding this enforcement have arisen.

Given that we are in the process of getting a new post notice that we can specifically use for subjective answers, and given some of you raised objection over this issue there, we figured now would be a good time to hear from the community and see if any kind of course correction in how we are handling such posts is needed.

So, we want to hear from you: how are we doing here and how can we do better? If there are course corrections for the community and/or diamond moderators to make, what are they?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm a little unclear as to how this is different than the How do we ask and answer subjective questions and What are the citation expectations of answers?, It feels like those are the metas about how we want things done. Is this acknowledging that those are the goals, but questioning if we should actually moderate and hold ourselves to them? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 9 '19 at 13:57
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Our principles are highly supported, but we've noticed multiple times frustrated feedback on how they're enforced. There seems to be a gap between principles and enforcement that we're trying to identify so that we (community and/or diamond moderators) can better understand what's going on and self-correct as necessary. I gather some feel there has been a shift in when it's asked for but I don't have a clear picture of what they feel that shift is. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 9 '19 at 14:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Makes sense :) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 9 '19 at 14:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ How is that mod flag-note project going? I offered a suggestion, but I am not sure if you are happy, or not happy, with it. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 15 '19 at 20:43

The purpose of GS/BS is to enable meaningful voting behaviors. That’s it: to make sure that the Stack Exchange system actually works, actually filters out noise and highlights strong signals. Can an expert judge the quality of this answer and how well it will likely help those who have the question? Or is impossible to judge because it’s just an expression of preference (which might suggest something wrong with the question, but is a bad answer in any event), or because it’s baseless speculation, or because it’s armchair hypotheticals? Then downvote, request for more back-up to the claims made, and sure, put a post notice.

But the friction isn’t from such answers. The friction comes from people getting pedantic about how people enable meaningful voting. It’s unnecessary, and more than sometimes, it’s rude. If an answer thoroughly details how to handle a situation, it is not truly necessary to end it with “and yes, I have done this myself.” Answers that come from experience and expertise are generally pretty easy to distinguish from answers that don’t. Ultimately, take a step back and just ask yourself, does an answer convince you that it’s coming from a place of knowledge and that this recommendation is a strong and useful solution? If so, upvote, if no, downvote, and if you have some confusion—you can downvote for being confused by an answer, answers should be clear—ask for clarification. Make suggestions, offer constructive criticism.

But don’t waste everyone’s time with “This all seems like great advice that really would help in this situation, but you have to explicitly say you’ve actually done this.” That isn’t improving the site. And yes, that sentiment is precisely the kind of thing I feel like I am seeing more and more often.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I was going to post a very similar answer to this myself, but the only other rule I really know is the 'don't guess the system' rule, and since that works on absolutes I am not sure if guessing experience would fly. I do agree though that it is pretty obvious when someone is talking from experience, \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Oct 9 '19 at 18:29
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri The “don’t guess the system” rule is absolute because it causes a huge mess when people guess wrong, and because we want users to come back and edit their question to be clearer—because we want them to learn to be clearer. Truly under-supported answers rarely get many votes (outside of problematic speculative questions that hit HNQ, anyway), and so there is vastly less need for active moderation. Little else on this site is or should be so absolute; Be Nice is the only other one to come to mind. Game-rec used to have special rules but that tag’s been banned. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 9 '19 at 18:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ I will take your word for that, have an upvote :) \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Oct 9 '19 at 18:35
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ Something I've been thinking I missed in the citation expectations meta is that it should be clear from reading it the user has experience, and sometimes, that's evident without explicit citation of "here's how this has worked out in practice." It's hard to sift truth from truthiness sometimes but we've historically considered this scenario okay. This happens a lot in Fate questions, you can tell when someone's handled a comparable situation because they're able to get into the grit of a situation the way someone operating on theory can't. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 9 '19 at 23:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener This seems to showcase a disconnect between what is actually accepted as evidence and what is theoretically accepted as evidence. Not needing to completely explicitly state your own experience seems like a helpful thing to include somewhere. \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Oct 9 '19 at 23:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 Why? It’s not stated in the GS/BS article that it is necessary to completely state your own experience. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 9 '19 at 23:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan "our requirement that all posts are to be backed up" from here \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Oct 9 '19 at 23:59
  • 10
    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 AAaaaaaaaaaarghh this is why these discussions are so infuriating. “Backed up” does not mean “experience.” Experience is one way to back up an answer, and in many cases it’s the best or even only way to do so, but yes, answers have to be backed up, no, personal experience is not and never has been the only way to do so. That quote doesn’t mean what you’ve apparently been led to believe. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 10 '19 at 0:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Apologies then, I've at least outlined the causes of my confusion here but perhaps the confusion has just been wholly misplaced (rendering my linked question unnecessary) \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Oct 10 '19 at 0:03
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan you also said it yourself "But don’t waste everyone’s time with “This all seems like great advice that really would help in this situation, but you have to explicitly say you’ve actually done this.”" this implies people do that, and ask people for explicit statements or experience. Which is entirely my point above. There is a disconnect somewhere between what should be expected (implicit OR explicit support) and what is expected (explicit support only). What the GS/BS guidelines say is this somewhat unclear to me, so I asked my question above. Apologies if that was unclear. \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Oct 10 '19 at 5:21
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ I read "This all seems like great advice that really would help in this situation, but you have to explicitly say you’ve actually done this", and can't help but think: what's to stop people bypassing this, if it were to be enforced, by simply lying and claiming they have when they haven't? In that case, we'd still have to look at the merit of the actual answer beyond their claim that they've done it in real life. This is why I agree that enforcing such a thing is nonsense, and that voting up/down answers that aren't/are crap is better than trying to prove that they aren't crap via policy. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Oct 22 '19 at 15:08
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS I agree. Backing up advice or answers with unverifiable experience is a silly practice. \$\endgroup\$ – JRodge01 Oct 22 '19 at 17:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ It’s largely the difference between answers saying “here is how to approach this” and “here is the specific action you should take”, especially with respect to game content. Generalized expertise is both obvious and sufficient in the first kind of answer, but the second kind needs much more specific back-up (which usually only could come from empirical test) \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Nov 20 '19 at 16:02

Good subjective bad subjective is sufficient for a good answer, but not necessary.

I find getting prodded on the issue unpleasant

As detailed in a previous answer about this issue. At least a few others find it unpleasant as well.

Some examples of good answers that don't explicitly certify personal experience

Good answer without attesting personal experience:

GM Considerations for a Human Barbarian Toddler PC

The answer is essentially, "here's something to try and stuff to watch out for", but does not include that the answerer has done something similar or experienced something similar. It's a great answer without personal experience support explicitly stated.

Good answer without attesting personal experience citing questions that have good answers that do not attest personal experience

Can the dungeon master have a player character?

The best part of this answer is that the answerer has not personally tried it, and wouldn't attempt it.

For perspective, I've been running games for over 25 years, and I do not feel confident that I could pull off a DMPC successfully, even with all that experience.

The answer is neither something that happened to them personally, and the references are to questions with answers that also do not refer to direct personal experience. They're great answers even though they don't satisfy the good subjective answer criteria:

  • Something that happened to you personally
  • Something you can back up with a reference

Some other good answers that do not meet the good subjective bad subjective criteria.

  • This answer advice on a homebrew hook-shot equipment.
  • This answer about avoiding playing a character that you don't like.
  • This answer on giving non-accusatory feedback to a DM.

I find the post notice particularly unappealing

Answer with example post notice

The comments requesting certifying personal experience with the threat of, "okay but your answer might get deleted..." to be sufficient to put me off answering questions as it is. The post label, to me, appears to be a sticker implying "this answer is bull****". I do not expect it will contribute significantly to better answers, but I do expect it will not be well received.

Misapplied Post Notice

Using a post notice is likely to result in it being misapplied or remaining after the body of the question not longer has the issue. At the time of writing, This answer has a gsbs post notice, yet states clearly:

...it's a problem that's, by my experience on similar issues, much better solved by discussion than by invoking in-universe means for punishment.

The post notice was:

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

Moderate moderately

The good subjective bad subjective guide is a way to craft a good answer. It is not the only way. Do not moderate as if it was.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm happy to remove that post notice — nobody's flagged the notice for removal and no message was left around why it was applied so I'm not clear on what was intended by it. (That's probably a missing part of the process around post notices; we don't get any ping to follow up once they're acted on, and users don't have a convenient way to escalate that.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 9 '19 at 15:37
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ As noted in the other questions, personal experience is not the only good subjective method of support, but your answer here seems focused on that. But putting that aside, if you don't believe that the current good subjective is necessary for a good answer, but that our answers here should be backed up, how do you suggest backing up answers? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 9 '19 at 17:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ What do you think about this suggestion \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 15 '19 at 16:09

I have been thinking about this issue for a long time, because it has irritated me for a long time. But I have not been aggressive about it (by my definition of aggressive, anyway-- your mileages may vary) because:

  • I do understand the desire, and agree in large part agree with the need, to prevent the site from degenerating into a freeform brainstorming environment, but also,
  • I do not yet have a comprehensive or a workable suggestion, let alone a suggestion I think is both, and
  • I don't like being the crazed iconoclast, burning things down without having something put to in their place.

But the subject has come up, because, at the time of this writing, the top "constructive" answer and the top "frame challenging" answer to this question are currently tied. And that, only because the frame challenge has a lot of downvotes on it, too. So with that said, let me at least try to articulate the nature of my irritation, in the hopes it sparks some good ideas.

The Anecdote Tax

I know that there is no formal requirement for experience to be in the form of anecdotes, and I know that there is no policy that experience MUST BE cited in the form of an anecdote. That said, that's the way it can come across in the aggregate. I don't think this can be in much dispute as a simple fact, since there is at least one case of self-deletion of a good (in my opinion) answer due to the perceived need to share enough details to constitute an anecdote.

Again, I understand that comments in that thread (now moved to chat) were not necessarily meant to say "Details and anecdote, or nothing!" but a neutral read of that thread tells me that nevertheless that is the overall impression that answerer got. That is why I made the comment I did (that GSBS answers do not require specific details or anecdotes) because I thought it would be detrimental for the site to see the answer deleted.

The Guidelines/Community Wiki Are Unclear

Two relevant quotes from the same source:

Not every claim you make will need citation. Many things we might say are common sense or common knowledge and nobody will request a citation for them.

And later:

This means when you provide a subjective solution you believe will resolve the situation, we expect that you cite analogous experience of how it has worked out in actual practice — your own experience or someone else's.

That both does (or nearly does) mandate detailed anecdotes, and also brushes aside the need to do so. I cut off the first quote for effect, so let me quote the whole thing here, with what I believe to be a serious problem highlighted:

Not every claim you make will need citation. Many things we might say are common sense or common knowledge and nobody will request a citation for them. For many things, however, nobody should have to take our word for it that what's being said is true; we need to show it is. If someone requests citation it's probably needed—revise your post to add that citation.

The bolded text is what is trying to reconcile these two completely contradictory approaches, and I think it is fundamentally flawed. I see no reason to automatically assume that every request for citation is a good and necessary request. All it takes is one user who makes it his mission to ask for detail and citation on every perceived GSBS question and/or answer to collapse this Solomonic attempt to have the best of both worlds into the worst of one world.

An Improper Focus On Noise Vs Signal, And On Mechanics-Like Policies

The purpose, I've gleaned from past reading here in meta, is to put a preponderance of effort (seemingly, all of it) on filtering noise-- noisy questions, noisy answers, noisy comments-- from signal. (System working as intended!) And the tendency that I have seen is a desire for perfect policies.

I'd like to suggest, without a chapter-length MathJAX-augmented dissertation, that the former is wrong-headed, when taken to extremes and that we are nearing the extremes now; and that the latter is futile. We'll end up with less valuable signal-- enough less to be detrimental to the site. I cite as evidence the situation above.

A Proposal, If I must

Maybe we can be a little slower on the trigger in insisting on detailed anecdotal references.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Kudos, by the way, to @Rubiksmoose and any other diamond mods as applicable for taking the discontent seriously. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Oct 10 '19 at 0:08
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! This has been an issue that has been nagging at me for quite a while. I probably should have written this a while ago. We always try to take objections to heart and to act to understand and fix them, and if we are ever failing to do that I hope y'all will let us know! \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Mod Oct 10 '19 at 13:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ I only wish what I wrote were more coherent. Alas. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Oct 10 '19 at 15:16

Don't 'enforce it' but do recommend it

I really like it when I see a question end with a link to the good subjective / bad subjective post (indeed I find links to 'how to stackexchange good' content are brilliant), and have seen some really good answers which have clearly benefited from that advice.

Equally I have seen answers which don't cite any evidence, but show a clear understanding of the problem and are answered more from life experience than anything else (And I think that is fine).

So I would suggest 'this answer could be improved by following this advice: link' rather than any veiled 'do what we say or your post may be deleted' threat, and let the voting system deal with the answers as they stand (as is the solution for other quality issues).

What I would NOT like to see is any action that leads to lower quality answers, and would willingly sacrifice all the good but not cited answers in exchange if it came to that. I wasn't around when the 'rule' was first agreed, so I don't know how bad things were or how effective it has been.

I added a suggested moderator notice on the other thread to cover this option.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ If we don't enforce backing up good subjective, then are you suggesting that good subjective answers don't actually need to be backed up? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 9 '19 at 17:58
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This is more of a devil's advocate attempt at making a middle ground argument which is to suggest that the voting system is used to decide if the answer is good enough, rather than enforcing this specific standard \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Oct 9 '19 at 18:16
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ TO play the devil's advocate to that...should we also not enforce backing up objective answers and let the votes sort it out? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 9 '19 at 18:19
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I think the difference is that objective answers usually have something concrete to reference (A rule for example) and a reference works to validate that, but experience is hard to reference and impossible to validate. I know this because 100% of the people I have spoken to away from this site agree with me. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Oct 9 '19 at 18:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch and since I feel guilty for the sarcasm in the previous comment, this comment is an apology in case I offended! \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Oct 9 '19 at 18:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hahaha :) No offense at all! \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 9 '19 at 18:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ So is your recommendation to post a comment asking about support, but don't go so far as to put up a post notice? WOuld you recommend linking to Metas about how to support to give guidance? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 9 '19 at 18:27
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ In my uneducated mind a notice is just an easy way for a mod to make a comment, so if a notice makes life easier on the mods then by all means use a notice, but not one that talks about enforcement. I have made a suggestion in the other thread and added that to my answer. If I am wrong about the purpose of notices, then I might either suggest a comment or retract my answer depending on how wrong I am! \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Oct 9 '19 at 18:31
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I am in agreement that 'enforce' is probably a tough thing, but promote is likely a better word (i've changed my title in my answer accordingly.) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 9 '19 at 18:36

Back to Stack Basics

  1. GSBS guidelines: we have those already.

  2. Encourage "back it up" with a link to those guidelines.

    This is never a bad idea. Some authors will upgrade their answers, some will not. The post notice that is in work should also help in raising awareness of the better ways to answer GS/BS questions.

  3. Let the votes work. If the author won't back it up, don't pester the author about it. Whomever left the comment has reminded the author of a "best practice" and that suffices. Better answers will tend to get more votes.

  4. Let the votes work. On a Stack Exchange, the votes are supposed to stack answers from best to least-best by number of votes. This latest crusade versus GS/BS looks to me like an attempt to indirectly micromanage votes, and voters, before the fact. Let the voters vote. Leaving the initial "please support this answer" comment visible will help voters, IMO.

  5. If now and again a not great answer moves up the stack, that's not a problem. Other stacks run into this now and again. (There was a famous example on SO that I read a few years back where a wrong answer had like 200 votes. It happens, but it's rare). Let the votes do the stacking.

  6. Use flags. They are a tool. For an answer that is just plain bad or utterly unsupported, flag it for mod attention so that it gets into the review queue as "low quality" or whatever. We have plenty of folks who get into the review queue (me included). Our community mod are generally effective. So, alert that community mod effort with a flag.

  7. There isn't an easy button, but there is a suite of tools. Let's use them all.

    This latest effort of "give me another rule" looks to me like another vain quest for an Easy Button.

Don't Chase Exceptions

Chasing exceptions is what Deming called "tampering" and is a great way to make bad policy and bad "corrections" to a given process. I learned this the hard way in a number of real life organizational change efforts. I have been on the receiving end of this, and on the policy writing end of this. It stinks no matter what end of the stick you are holding.

This is a revision of a previous answer.

After a productive discussion with NautArch in chat this morning, it occurs to me that this answer applies here as well as its original location.


We should promote our requirements for Good Subjective support

I very much understand that this is a hot-button issue, but I am also a strong believer in why we should be backing up subjective responses.

While I do understand that many folks here have a lot of experience that they can bring to an answer, there remains a difference between generating ideas from experience and providing supported answers to help guide someone with an issue.

In the past, I have submitted answers that aren't supported and were well received. But as I spent more time on the site, I came to understand the purpose of why we should still support our ideas.

I believe that while we can come up with good ideas from our experience, we should hold ourselves to a higher standard and be able to provide better direction to folks asking questions. Even when I was in consulting and I worked at a place where there was a lot of institutional knowledge and experience, we were still required to back up our recommendations.

This is the same thing here. If we're going to suggest a course of action, we should be able to speak to it beyond the idea. Providing feedback on how the recommendation had went for us (or how we've seen it used) bridges the gap between an idea suggestion and an idea recommendation. I don't want to give unsupported recommendations because I think it's less valuable. It's much more valuable to provide both a recommendation and information on how it went. THis helps identify potential pitfalls as well as just the idea, which I believe improves the quality of our answers and our site.

But mostly, stackexchange does have direction on supporting good subjective. I guess we can opt not to enforce or encourage it, but there's excellent reasons for doing so and I don't see this as something we should just ignore and pretend doesn't exist.

So how do we back things up?

For those who do not agree with the recommendations on supporting good subjective as discussed in previous metas, what is the recommendation for how to support?

I am all for looking at something fresh, but the complaints I seem to read are that they don't agree with the current good subjective supports. I have yet to see a recommendation on other support options and would very much like to see that.

It's not all about personal experience

Personal experience as a form of good subjective support is one piece of it. But nowhere discussed has it been the only - but that is what a lot of folks see it as. This answer covers very well that various forms of good subjective support that have been discussed and personal experience is one of those, but not the only one.

Focusing solely on that and assuming it's the requirement or gold standard for good subjective is doing how we can look at good subjective support as a whole a disservice.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I think this answer fundamentally misunderstands the friction. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 9 '19 at 17:53
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I don't think I do. I even cited that I've written well received answers that weren't supported and that I wouldn't do that now after understanding why it's important. I do honestly believe that backing up subjective answers makes our stack better and we should be actively trying to promote doing so. I do understand that others think just having experience is enough to recommend ideas, but I don't agree that doing so meets our standards. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 9 '19 at 17:56
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ No one is claiming that answers should be allowed to be “not backed up,” they are claiming that “backing things up” is a broader concept than you imply with this answer. I strongly suspect that your own answers that you claim aren’t backed up actually are, since your answers are generally quite strong. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 9 '19 at 18:04
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Okay, but then how do you recommend we back them up if it isn't the things that have been discussed in the other meta questions? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 9 '19 at 18:04
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Can you vote? Can you understand the answer’s suggestions and judge whether they are helpful or not? Then it’s backed up. It’s that simple. That’s all it ever needs to be. Demanding anything more is pedantry. And I’m neither the first to say so nor is this the first time it’s been said. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 9 '19 at 18:07
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Honestly, using words like pedantry and being rude aren't helpful. But positive votes don't mean that the answer has been supported. It means people liked the answer/found it useful. If that's our measuring stick, then why do we need to support any answer? All answers can be whatever they want, no one should be prompted to support and we should just let the votes sort it out. That's not an unreasonable suggestion, but it does move us away from the desire to have well supported answers here. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 9 '19 at 18:09
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ We don’t need a meta discussion about how to back things up. We don’t need a list of ways to do it. We certainly don’t need any claim that any list is exhaustive. We don’t need to enable browbeating people with “the rules” when they find another way to back things up—and we really don’t need a meta discussion every time an answer is backed up in some other way. If you, personally, genuinely feel that an answer isn’t backed up, that its claims require more evidence than offered, vote and comment. But don’t point to meta saying “this isn’t what we discussed!” That’s not helpful. And it happens. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 9 '19 at 18:12
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan You are still avoiding my questions. I'm trying to honestly represent my viewpoint on this, including how it's changed over time and why (and why I've been a proponent of trying to get support added to subjective answers.) I have tried changing the language I use when requesting that, and I don't disagree that there is opportunity for improvement (which the mods seem to also be attempting via the post notice.) But I see two paths here: 1)Stop asking for answers to be supported if there is no support or 2)improve how we ask. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 9 '19 at 18:16
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ If there is a third option of redefining good subjective support, I'm open to that as well - but I haven't yet seen that. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 9 '19 at 18:16
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ (As for “pedantry,” my position is that there has been an increase in the amount of pointing to GS/BS and most often to the idea of “personal experience” as a requisite to an answer as a matter of form, rather than function. “Pedantry” is, per OED, “excessive concern with minor rules and details,” and when someone sees an answer they think is good but demands “yes I have personally done this” be appended, that’s excessive concern with minor details of the rules. “Pedantry” applies. I am not labeling any particular comment as pedantic nor am I claiming all comments about backing it up are.) \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 9 '19 at 18:19
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I am not answering your question—because it’s not a question to be answered on meta. The SE model is intentionally decentralized. Your votes, your comments. Make them as and how you like, but do it because you think there is actually a problem—an actual claim you want to see more support for because you have doubts about it, or because you think novices might, or whatever—not because someone failed to use one of the “meta approved” forms of backing it up. There is no such thing and never should be. Which is why I will not give you any and will not support any call to discuss such a thing. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 9 '19 at 18:22
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan How to support isn't a question to be answered on meta? That seems like it IS the place for it (and has been previously.) But I guess we're going to have to agree to disagree. I've tried to support my views in my answer and review how I've changed and why. If you disagree, that's fine. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 9 '19 at 18:26
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Asking me a question but “agreeing to disagree” are a bit contradictory, no? Anyway, it’s not a question for meta because it’s never going to be reasonable to judge backing it up in any way that isn’t ad hoc. There’s can’t be an exhaustive list. So it’s pointless to discuss ways to back things up on meta, because what works and what doesn’t is so vastly dependent on the particular answer and situation. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 9 '19 at 18:36
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ (If someone wanted a meta discussion of a particular answer, that’d be far less pointless, though I’d personally be dubious of the need in the overwhelming majority of cases. But at least that’s a situation where you can discuss something concrete, and meta is certainly a better place than comments if there’s disagreement. But most of the time, the voters should be trusted, and implicitly bringing it up on meta suggests that you potentially asking moderators to overrule voters—a fraught choice to be certain. I think the need for that would be very rare.) \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 9 '19 at 18:39
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ In the GSBS article, it highlights the purpose behind the rule was a board where every question and answer was subjective. It nowhere mentions that each and every post must adhere to this rule. This sentence sums up the most important idea for me: "they’re attempting to mold and shape their inherently subjective Q&A; into something constructive, informative and helpful." If a subjective answer is constructive to discussion, is informative to the general reader, and is helpful to the question answer, then in my opinion, its a good answer. Backing doesn't matter to fill those criteria. \$\endgroup\$ – JRodge01 Oct 9 '19 at 21:32

Answers should not always require backing.

In the GSBS article, it highlights the purpose behind the guideline was a board where every question was subjective and every answer was subjective (in regards to parenting). It nowhere mentions that each and every post must adhere to this rule, let alone every answer.

This sentence from the GSBS article sums up the most important idea for me:

they’re attempting to mold and shape their inherently subjective Q&A into something constructive, informative and helpful.

These three specific criteria are the measures by which the writer proposes an answer would be considered "good".

If a subjective answer is constructive to discussion, then it assists in building up a meaningful answer or route on how to get there. An answer that opens itself up to a discussion on how to employ a specific strategy, how to hook it into a story, or how to modify the answer to be applicable to the asker's specific situation is exactly what I envision from an RPG Q&A board.

If a subjective answer is informative to the general reader, then it contributes overall knowledge to someone interested enough to read both the question and the answer. General education is never a bad thing, especially for people learning a system but too shy to ask questions or otherwise contribute on the boards.

If a subjective answer is helpful to answer the question, then it stands by its own merits that it is useful to the question asker, which to me seems the most important. An objective answer that doesn't answer the question is akin to a useless answer, and an objective answer that doesn't address the subjective implications of a specific course of action misses the gaming aspect of this board.

This SE deals with creative interpersonal interactions.

This is not a hard science where the "best practice" is something codified by time and experience. Using our imagination and proposing things we haven't done before is sometimes the best answer. Proposals such as this inherently draw on our experience and mastery of the content, and we can apply completely different scenarios we've encountered in the past to the one at hand through inductive reasoning.

Backing personal experience is not needed.

We shouldn't have to exposit our gaming resumes when we answer a question subjectively that is backed by it. It wastes space and it isn't verifiable.

The first issue is that espousing personal experience is an unnecessary use of space. If you ask me a question, I can tell you I've ran into the same problem every week for the last 20 years and this is how I always resolve it or I can cut to the answer, but in the end, the answer to the question is the same.

This raises a second issue of verifiability. There is no professional organization that tracks a player's history and can support the claim of if they have personal experience. As with any credential someone places on their resume, if it can't be verified, you may as well not include it. No one who questions the audacity of my answer is going to be reaching out to my gaming group for references. They'll just downvote and move on.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ But when “we can apply completely different scenarios we've encountered in the past to the one at hand through inductive reasoning”, should that reasoning be written out as part of the answer? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 22 '19 at 23:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, that clarifies what your answer means. You might want to add that to it—right now the answer isn’t as clear as that comment about what you mean to say. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 23 '19 at 14:36

You must log in to answer this question.

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