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With the current events we're all dealing with, we have a lot of folks transitioning from face-to-face gaming to virtual.

Playing virtually is not new to our community nor is it new to many many people, but these questions about how to do so seem like they may not be appropriate for our platform.

But maybe they are! Either way, I think we need to figure out if these questions are really on-topic for us here. I know we all want to help, and many of us have great experience here, but ultimately, how someone sets up their [virtual] table and what tools work for them seem inherently opinion-based or that these are shopping requests (even they they kinda aren't.)

The problem I see is that many of the questions are very generic and broad. Effectively variations of "How do I play a role-playing game online." Which is akin to "How do I play a role-playing game in real life?"

Or, it's asking about which tools to use or are best, which are more like "shopping" or opinion-based.

However, the need right now is big and should we be treating these questions without our usual rigor? I mostly don't want questions getting shut down because of the way we do things I'd we can actually help. But these do seem off-topic in a normal situation.

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    \$\begingroup\$ First thing I did was go ahead and slap the online-roleplaying tag on to the last couple, so at least they might be easy for people to find. Had to stumble my way through virtual-tabletop and remote before getting there; we might need a little cleanup in the virtual aisle =) \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Mar 22 at 19:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ I will say that academia.se seems a leader among stacks in this particular scenario. They've made a meta whose answers collect a lot of resources that the site already had, and a lot of off-site ones, to make it easy for close-voters to say "this doesn't quite work, but here's all the assembled wisdom we could find on the issue." I'd love to see if a half-dozen or so RPGSEers felt like pulling something like that together. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Mar 22 at 19:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ If we handle specific questions about (say) anydice and complicated die rolling situations (i.e, about uses of specific tools for gaming) it seems we should be able to handle specific questions about virtual gaming tools, too. However, I'm seeing a lot of questions that I mentally flag (possibly wrongly?) as Quora style fishing expeditions: "What are some ways to improve Task X with Tool Y?" I like Quora, too, but we're not Quora. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Mar 22 at 21:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the best approach is to take a broad view on content (i.e., virtual tools) so as to be of service, while still maintaining standards about the type of questions we'll answer (i.e., too broad, unfocused, etc). And above all, as this whole thing unfolds, we may have to revisit the topic here in meta several times. For a LOT OF US in different parts of the world, this is going to be very high stress for a pretty long time. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Mar 22 at 21:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ As a coda, I expect the amount of real world expertise in this topic is not zero even right now, and will rapidly rise in the next two weeks. This is just based on seeing what my personal friends around the world are doing. Let's actually share that expertise to the extent we can in our format. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Mar 22 at 21:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ What actual problem is happening that we need to resolve here? Please make it clear with concrete examples of what is happening on mainsite so that we are equipped to address the practical reality rather than theory; assume we haven't seen what you're seeing. Questions about virtual tabletops have been on topic for years (online-roleplaying, roll20, fantasy-grounds), as are questions about group dynamics, organisation, planning, etc, so I am not sure why this would be off topic. Are we getting a lot of these questions? Is community moderation breaking down around them? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Mar 22 at 22:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ To be clear, these are all genuine questions, from me, to you. I haven't seen or heard of a major breakdown happening, but I've been out of the loop for the past few days, so maybe something's happening I'm not aware of. If there is a new situation emerging then this meta Q should definitely be accessible to people who are not entirely across it yet. (After all, "complete awareness of everything happening on mainsite at all times" can't be a reasonable bar of requirement for participation in rpg.meta.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Mar 22 at 23:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener in the last couple of days, in particular, we've gotten a bunch of questions about transitioning to online that are (rightly) closed as too broad. They're along the lines of "I'm doing this because of coronavirus, what should I expect?" Or "what're things I need to be aware of?" Community members are closing them and commenting helpfully, but I suspect that some (incl. me) are wishing we could provide commentary more helpful to the immediate situation than the usual "try a forum [meta list of forums] or Role-playing Games Chat, we'd love to help!" \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Mar 22 at 23:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ I endorse the idea ( @nitsua60 ) of trying to create a meta or other temporary reference for people to use. But I feel bad about my endorsement because I don't use the tools and therefore Can Not Help-- I am endorsing other peoples' labor, which just feels slimy to me. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Mar 22 at 23:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ And I suppose also relevant main Q which just hit 10k views: Tools/techniques for optimal tabletop gaming with one remote user and mentioned in that one: What tools or strategies have you found useful when not all players can be in the same physical space? [closed] \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Mar 23 at 0:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Novak (crosses fingers and hopes nobody notices I was doing the same thing) \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Mar 23 at 2:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Having posted Strategies for effectively running a temporary online game, I have to admit that it's a bit foggy where the line is between appropriate and inappropriate. The question itself has been closed and also reopened suggesting community uncertainty. There are a fair amount of up votes suggesting value, but also a fair number of comments suggesting it needs to be more focused but without any specific guidance as to how to do that. \$\endgroup\$ – Avilyn Mar 23 at 16:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Avilyn Honestly, that's why I put this up. This is going to be a common problem. The issue is we do better when there's an actual problem to solve and not someone trying to get ahead of potential problems. But in this case, we're trying to figure out a way to help that's generally outside of our process. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Mar 23 at 16:23
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I dropped it as a comment, and then in chat, but really it should be an answer. Be warned: I'm suggesting we do a little bit of work, at the same time as I'm overloaded with some wfh/homeschooling things and don't know that I'll actually be able to help out!


Post a "I need help quickly transitioning to online because of CoViD19/pandemic restrictions. Where do I go?" meta Q&A.

We have a local example, in I've been told my question is better suited to a forum, but where should I go?. It's probably the single meta post I link most often, and is our single most-viewed meta question.

We have a network example, in academia.se's I need help adapting my academic workflow to the COVID-19/coronavirus crisis – where do I start?. ← That's been super helpful to me, a teacher, quickly having to convert my spring classes to remote.

If we follow the academia model, it seems to me like we could make one answer a bunch of mainsite links to highly-voted questions, perhaps going from broad/general → more-specific issues, preferably with a bit of annotation as to how each was helpful to someone.

Another answer would be links to offsite resources, preferably with similar flow and annotations.

And a third should (I think) probably be "you might just need to talk it out and hear what others are doing" to validate/affirm people's worry about doing this, and to point them to forums and [chat].

That's ^^ probably not the only way to do it, just the first way that occurred to me. I'm throwing it out there to seed the ground, as it were.


Why do this?

This site is full of people who want to help other gamers. And the handful of overbroad/unfocused "I'm going online, what do I do?" questions we've gotten recently are likely the advance notice of a large wave coming. Right now I think it's right that we've closed those questions. And I would love it if, when closing questions like that, it were easy to also drop a comment-link that said "we can't really handle this as is for $reasons, but [here]'s a collection of a couple-dozen things we think could help. Happy gaming!"

Many people are looking to their normal gaming groups for a sense of normalcy in a turbulent time. Let's help them alleviate any anxiety associated with that. Others are coming to the hobby now; let's make that transition as easy as possible.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As we discussed in chat, this is a good way forward, and it is helpful. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Mar 23 at 18:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep, this seems like a good approach - a lot of the relevant questions exist already, but finding them is often a challenge, especially for new users. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Mar 23 at 19:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not entirely sure where to mention this but DnD Beyond put out an entire webpage on "New Player's Guide: How to Play D&D Online" as well as making two adventures available to all at no cost: "Frozen Sick" and "Wildemount Dark Star" \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Mar 24 at 16:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2: Note that "Frozen Sick" is one of the 4 official adventures from Explorer's Guide to Wildemount (and is also free on Roll20), whereas "Wildemount: Dark Star" is an unofficial adventure by James Haeck (like the "Encounters of the Week" posted on DDB). \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Mar 25 at 3:26

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