Deleted answers help page starts with the sentence:

Answers that do not fundamentally answer the question may be removed.

And goes on to give examples of non-answer answers.

Yet, deletion can also be performed when an answer does indeed answer the question, but it disagrees with the rpg.se site policies. Currently, this is not explicitly stated.

According to the help page, the only way that policy-infringement deletions can happen appears to be through the following rule:

Answers can also be deleted by the community. Moderators can delete any answer, and trusted community members can vote to delete answers scoring -1 or lower (3 votes will result in deletion).

But if we follow up and read about trusted community members, we find out that trusted members may vote to delete answers in the following cases:

  • The answer is extremely low quality: There is little to no scope for improvement
  • The answer doesn't attempt to answer the question; it may be a comment or a separate question altogether.

Note again that the deletion due to infringement of rpg.se site policies is still not covered.

Please note that when I mention rpg.se site policy, I am not talking about stack exchange policies, but the rules set over the years by rpg.se community themselves.

In summary, could we improve the deletion help page to make it clear that answers disagreeing with rpg.se site policies (the ones voted in by the community) can be deleted?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Could you provide some examples of RPG.SE policies that an answer could theoretically violate? Have people actually violated those policies, had their post deleted, and then been unsure why their post was deleted? \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Jun 5 '20 at 7:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2: An answer I wrote got deleted, that is how I found out. You have 10k+ reputation, so I believe you should be able to see it: Would Zorquan be a Unity domain patron? \$\endgroup\$ – ZwiQ Jun 5 '20 at 7:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ This does seem like a bit of an absence now that you point it out: "Answers may also be deleted if they break site policies that necessitate their removal" for example. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jun 5 '20 at 10:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppel Shouldn't that apply to any and all posts: answers, questions, comments, chat messages, etc...? \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Jun 5 '20 at 13:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 Yes, it would apply to those as well. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jun 5 '20 at 13:40

I think this slightly misunderstands why the answer was deleted.

(And, for the record, I'm not sure I agree with the deletion. But that's prejudiced by my friction with the "never tag the system" practice that was recently re-upheld by the community.)

Problem is, seems to me: your deletion is a bit of a bank-shot. It's not that RPGSE has a policy of deleting answers to questions lacking necessary system tags. It's that questions lacking necessary system tags will be closed, and experienced-enough users realize this, recognize that part of the purpose of closure is preventing answers, and uphold that even before the post's been closed.

Put another way, prevailing wisdom is that a question without system tag--no matter the amount of information that might draw an expert like you to conclude that you know the system--is prima facie unanswerable. Thus an answer is invalid, full stop.

In short, I don't think it was deleted for violating some RPGSE policy, despite what the commenter said. (We don't have any policy stating that answerers can't make whatever assumptions they want, after all!)

  • \$\begingroup\$ I actually did cast the final vote because of the logic outlined in this Meta. Though I may need to revisit the logic of that post... It was written during a time in which I was much more in favor of the "don't guess" policy. My thinking has somewhat shifted since then. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Mod Jun 5 '20 at 13:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose: Then won't you agree that this should be stated in the help page? The Meta you have linked "authorizes" deletion in a situation that is not covered in the help page. \$\endgroup\$ – ZwiQ Jun 5 '20 at 14:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZwiQ: Oh, I think I do agree that such a line might be helpful. I've never thought about it being necessary so I'm thinking it over. That comment was more so nitsua knew where I was coming from than any broader statement on the issue. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Mod Jun 5 '20 at 14:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am a somewhat experienced user, and I voted against closing the question, as did two other users if I am not mistaken. The question was clear and I provided a well-researched answer to it. There were other users who contributed to my answer and the question by editing it. The question was closed after all these. I beg you to read the question and find a single non d&d5e RPG which fits the information in it, and I will stand corrected. So the only reason for the question's closure is a strict adherence to system-in-tag policy, which leads to the deletion of the answer. \$\endgroup\$ – ZwiQ Jun 5 '20 at 15:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZwiQ: Regardless of how this comes out I do apologize for having to delete your answer, not because it was wrong as a matter of policy (thought I will certainly if it turns out this was the case), but because I think, no matter what, your answer (and the question) was a victim of a strict policy that we can't quite seem to shake on this site. We're always looking to improve and this policy has been a pretty constant friction point for the last few years. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Mod Jun 5 '20 at 17:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose: Glad to have diamond users who uphold the law, but also consider its impact for all the parties. You have erased the chip on my shoulder with your candid words. I am just requesting a clear warning for people to read, so that when their answers are deleted, they can avoid the feeling of being punished by individuals who disagree with them. \$\endgroup\$ – ZwiQ Jun 5 '20 at 20:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose that policy question might need to be revisited, since currently the two top voted answers are tied, and yet diametrically opposed to each other. Strictly enforcing a policy with no plurality of support is probably a source of friction in itself. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Jun 6 '20 at 8:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 I believe they were referring to this post \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Jun 6 '20 at 15:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 you appear to be absolutely correct--I missed the link in moose's first comment. Mah-bad! \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jun 6 '20 at 15:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Novak: I don't actually read those two posts as diametrically opposed. I actually see them as agreeing. Both advocate for downvoting the answer and deleting it if necessary. The only difference I see is a matter of emphasis between the two. But I totally agree that the question would be worth revisitng and I have been giving it a lot of thought. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Mod Jun 8 '20 at 17:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure if what I said makes sense so I'll try a summary: one answer suggests following a specific action (downvote and delete) the other suggests allowing the community to do whatever it wants \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Jun 9 '20 at 14:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2: Right. And I stand by the fact that I don't see those as diametrically opposed viewpoints. (Unless I'm missing something big here, which I could be! And happy to admit it if someone points it out.) \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Mod Jun 9 '20 at 14:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2: For example, for the post we are referring to, it had a -2 score and 2 community delete votes before I did anything to it. This indicates that the community (the very small slice that had interacted with the answer) was frowning upon the answer and leaning towards deletion. In this case, the answers seem to agree on the correct course of action. It was downvoted by the community and deleted. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Mod Jun 9 '20 at 14:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose Ah and so it did... Guess I should've checked the "vote summary" in the timeline, apologies on that then \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Jun 9 '20 at 15:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose, I think the answers, "Downvote and let the community deal with it," is pretty far away from "Don't answer." Maybe "diametrically opposed" is overstating the opposition, but downvoting implies the answer has a right to exist, and that the community will judge whether the inference was warranted; a policy of never answering implies that the answer should not exist at all. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Jun 11 '20 at 8:10

Answers that do not fundamentally answer the question may be removed.

If we do not know what the question is, answers cannot possibly answer it. Fundamentally, the question cannot be answered in such a state. Any answer to such a question is subject to deletion per this rule. There doesn’t need to be another one.

And this question was unclear: it did not have system/edition information in it. In that state, it was unanswerable. We cannot answer questions about rules without knowing what rules are being used. I don’t think that statement needs defending; it’s nearly tautological.

None of the above touches on site policy at all. Even in the absence of any site policy, I would vote to delete any answer on an unclear question, and any question that relies on rules but doesn’t have system/edition information is unclear. Not as a matter of policy, but as a matter of fact.

So even if site policy were different, I would still vote to delete your answer. If site policy were different, it would still be incorrect to answer the question in that state. The only change would be that if site policy were different, you might have edited the question—and then it could have been answered. But the edit should happen first. Answers should be written only for questions that are clear as they stand.

The site policy applies primarily to editing the question to include system/edition information, rather than answering, precisely because actually answering a question in an unclear state is already covered by far more fundamental and network-wide policy. The site policy is not an excuse for ignoring the general precept that questions must be clear before they can be answered.

I do not believe that any changes to the deletion policy page are necessary.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I might sound pedantic, but I have an argument with the following sentence of yours: "it did not have system/edition information in it". It had the information in the text, just not in the tag. I understand the sentence reflects how you see the situation, but it is not factually correct. Would you mind restating that sentence? \$\endgroup\$ – ZwiQ Jun 5 '20 at 14:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZwiQ It did not have system/edition information in the text; see the other Meta discussion on this question. “5e” does not mean “D&D 5e.” There are other systems with fifth editions. If the text had said “D&D 5e” then it would have been appropriate to edit the question to include that tag, and to answer it. But it did not. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 5 '20 at 14:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ The question had loads of system information in the text. It cites multiple D&D materials and concepts; that's system information. It's not conclusive in and of itself, and not enough to act on alone, but it's still information and it's fairly indicative. Combining that with the explicit statement of "5e" is a fairly clear indicator that it's a D&D 5e question, and that's consistent with the concepts the question is asking about. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jun 5 '20 at 14:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Fair, but the fact remains that the edit needs to happen before the answer. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 5 '20 at 15:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan: The question mentions, 2e Forgotten Realms, quotes a AD&D 2e FR book, giving the actual page numbers, gives a link to a webpage whose title is 'AuldDragon's AD&D Blog' and whose content is discussing 2e speciality priests, then goes on to say "we are playing by the book 5e", asking about a cleric domain from Unearthed Arcana. It is tagged, "unearthed-arcana", a tag whose current description is "For questions about Unearthed Arcana, Wizards of the Coast's column featuring draft-form, unfinalized new content published for playtesting for D&D 5e." How could it be any other game? \$\endgroup\$ – ZwiQ Jun 5 '20 at 20:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ZwiQ “The fact remains that the edit needs to happen before the answer.” \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 5 '20 at 20:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Agreed. Hence it is a policy-infringement-deletion. It is being deleted for being an answer before the tag edit, not because it is not a good-faith valid answer. \$\endgroup\$ – ZwiQ Jun 5 '20 at 22:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, it was an answer to a question other than the question that existed at the time the answer was posted. When the answer was posted, the question was unclear. Unclear questions cannot be answered. Any answer given for an unclear question, therefore, does not answer the question, by definition. And thus should be deleted. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 6 '20 at 0:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Am I missing something, or did the question as originally posted not have a tag ("unearthed-arcana") whose own text explicitly calls it out as D&D-5e? There is no ambiguity or lack of clarity here, only stubbornness \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Jun 6 '20 at 8:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Aside from that, experts infer, and ought to be allowed to infer. The conflation of 'guessing' with 'inference' is a real problem. They are not the same things. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Jun 6 '20 at 8:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Copying this over to here: @Novak The term "unearthed arcana" existed before dnd-5e, though the tag description refers exclusively to 5e. There is this related question, though it's a bit different: "What to do when encountering a non-system tag that describes a system?". But also in the past the UA tag was not considered evidence enough of a question being about dnd-5e \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Jun 6 '20 at 13:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also know that I'm just stating what's happened in the past and not that I agree with it. The difference between guessing and inferring is a lot of why I think "don't guess the system" should remove the word "guess" since the policy is actually a more strict "don't edit in the system tag unless the OP explicitly names the system in full. (Also tags like adventurers-league, dndbeyond, and unearthed-arcana are explicitly not enough, the system's name must be given directly and in full)" \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Jun 6 '20 at 13:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Novak The tag description on unearthed-arcana is incorrect and problematic. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 6 '20 at 14:04

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