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I've noticed the tag on a few questions (it's up to 11, at the time of this posting). It has no tag info/wiki, so it's not obvious what exactly it's meant to be used for. The questions basically seem to be divided into two broad categories, with a few questions that don't fit neatly in either category.

The first category includes questions about out-of-game psychology, i.e. the "psychology behind gaming". Such questions include:

The other main category of questions seems to ask about the in-game "psychology" of a character themselves. Such questions include:

Finally, there are one or two questions where it's simply unclear to me why exactly this tag's on the question, such as:

Overall, it doesn't seem to me that there's a clear focus of what exactly the tag is about or meant to be used for. I assume this is the reason that the tag is added to such totally different questions.


What is the tag meant to be used for? Can we add a tag wiki/info to clarify what kinds of questions should have the tag?

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    \$\begingroup\$ The only other meta question I found related to psychology was this one: "Are questions about group dynamics/psychology on topic?", which seems to mainly ask whether a specific proposed question is within RPG.SE's scope, not about this tag. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 11 '19 at 5:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ If it's not clear what this tag is for, and it's only used on a handful of questions, is it one that should be considered for burnination? As it stands, it doesn't seem to be adding that much value... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Oct 14 '19 at 12:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS I thought the policy is that if it doesn't cause a problem, leave it alone and let the folksonomy sort itself out? (Also, I'll maybe have an answer to this question later. Maybe.) \$\endgroup\$ – vicky_molokh- unsilence Monica Oct 14 '19 at 14:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @vicky_molokh I would argue that it's total lack of consensus on definition and it's inconsistent use is a problem, but I'm willing to be convinced otherwise... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Oct 14 '19 at 15:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, apparently I can't use apostrophes properly! Its vs. it's always gets me unless I stop and think about it... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Oct 15 '19 at 9:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS Policy seems to consistently be favouring letting the folksonomy sort itself out, and only intervening when there's an active problem. Human exception-handlers, only break glass in emergencies, let the community grow its own tag base &c. \$\endgroup\$ – vicky_molokh- unsilence Monica Oct 15 '19 at 9:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @vicky_molokh On the other hand, this meta has been raised, so someone perceives a possible problem. Even with your suggested tag description in your answer (which is pretty broad for a tag), some of these questions still don't fit that, so it seems that, as it stands, lots of people have lots of different opinions on what this tag means. That cause enough to at least take the tag off of some questions, if not remove the tag entirely. As for which... we'll see what the community decides (so far it's literally just us two contributing to this meta - I'd like to see what others think...) \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Oct 15 '19 at 9:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Some games might have a psychology subsystem. Burning empires springs to mind, but maybe also some other scifi games. \$\endgroup\$ – Tommi Oct 17 '19 at 13:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Thanuir I'm not sure how burnination works exactly, but if none of the questions tagged so far are of the sort that you are describing, hopefully someone can "recreate" the tag again when such a question (where a psychology subsystem is relevant for that game) is asked, and it can be given a more specific tag description related to that subsystem at the time. In other words, I don't think we want to preempt a use for this tag that it doesn't currently have, but that shouldn't stop us from having such a tag in the future at the point where it becomes relevant. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Oct 17 '19 at 13:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS: Yes, "burnination" is just sort of an informal term for removing the tag from the questions it's on; "blacklisting" is what would prevent it from being recreated (which I don't think anyone's suggesting - we only do that for tags that are recurring problems). \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 17 '19 at 19:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast Ah, thanks for that differentiation. Yes, definitely not suggesting blacklisting! If it's simply removed, then as I said above, we can reintroduce it if a system actually has a related mechanic or something. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Oct 18 '19 at 7:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS: It's been acted on now. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Dec 20 '19 at 4:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the ping :) \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Dec 20 '19 at 8:40
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The tag is honestly probably not that useful to us and should be burninated.

It originated with a question actually asking about the practice of psychological therapy. That question was based on some significant misinformation. Arguably it's actually completely off topic: answering it takes knowledge about the practice of psychological therapy, not knowledge about tabletop RPGs.

The second-up (Role-playing within role-playing) I've just now closed as too broad. It's not a specific answerable question, it's a sweeping discussion starter that belongs on a forum.

Beyond that ... these are just questions about the interactive effects of game design and social options. Those things necessarily always involve how people will receive and respond to things, but we don't need the tag for that.


We've opted to burninate the psychology tag. At the time of doing so it was on the following questions:

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As can be seen from the sample questions, this is a tag applied to where psychological expertise is relevant, and/or where psychology is a topic of discussion. Such expertise and topic of course may be applied both to discussions of characters (in-game level) and of players and the GM (at-table level).

This is similar to how applies to the subject of passage of time both in-game and at the table.

I'm adding this to the wiki, hoping to get it approved:

For questions concerned with the psychology of characters (in the game world) or players and GMs (at the table).


For questions concerned with the psychology or relying on psychological expertise. This covers issues of both:

  • in-game psychology of characters, such as properly developing the inner world of a character, making in-character decisions internally correctly and not just superficially plausible-looking, understanding how a character with given characteristics would behave in a given situation, &c.
  • at-table psychology of players and GMs, such as whether some kinds of events would produce undesired psychological effects, use of tabletop role-playing games in mainstream psychology, understanding of motivation behind certain player or GM actions, &c.

Questions using this tag are expected to contain enough detail to make it clear whether in-game or at-table psychology is being asked about.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't agree with this position; time is something where the passage of time in and out of game can be compared, but the psychology of a person sitting at the table is a whole different topic (likely off-topic at RPG.SE - there is a Psychology SE, after all) to the psychology of characters, which I think comes under roleplaying rather than needing it's own tag to analyse the psychology of fictional characters. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Oct 15 '19 at 8:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, I really think things should be mulled over in meta for a while rather than immediately trying to edit this into the tags before it's been properly discussed and agreed upon (if this is the community's consensus, regardless of what I think, I'd approve such tag edits, but for now I think it's a bit hasty and presumptuous). \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Oct 15 '19 at 8:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS You say they're likely off-topic, yet the community consensus around the examples of such questions seems to be positive, with open questions and 9 to 50ish net upvotes. Similarly, we don't banish party dynamics questions to Interpersonal or the like, because they all rely very heavily on RPG expertise despite 'interdisciplinary'. \$\endgroup\$ – vicky_molokh- unsilence Monica Oct 15 '19 at 9:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd say there's a difference between discussing interpersonal issues at the table with trying to psychoanalyse your fellow players, or applying actual psychology expertise. I'm not seeing how psychology expertise is relevant to discussing most of the questions V2Blast linked, and if it were, that such questions are still on topic for the expertise we offer here. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Oct 15 '19 at 9:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ How is applied psychology expertise not relevant? Clearly people didn't mean the tag to be restricted to academic psychology, as the question seem more interested in the applied sort. \$\endgroup\$ – vicky_molokh- unsilence Monica Oct 15 '19 at 9:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd still argue that it goes against the "what did you do to solve this problem" experience that we tend to require for interpersonal problems, rather than speculative armchair theories. And expecting people to have expertise in applied psychology still seems to be moving away from RPGs to my mind. Anyway, I think we could go back and forth like this forever - I've stated some concerns, and I'll let the community decide whether they agree with me or decide I'm talking nonsense. The point I feel most strongly about is that the tag edits should be held off until we have a community consensus. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Oct 15 '19 at 9:27

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