So recently there was a negative blog post about RPG.SE. One negative blog post isn't a big deal perhaps, but I think it raises a good point.

Okay! Ahhh...see here...D&D 4.0, D&D 4.0, D&D 4.0...Dogs in the Vin- no...D&D 4.0, D&D 4.0, D&D 4-- AHA! Call of Cthu-- no, that's got plenty of answers already. D&D 4.0, D&D--OOH! HEY! AD&D 1st Ed. question! ...

all the baby seems to say is, "4.0, 4.0, 4.0."

We have an awful bias toward D&D 4e. The tag counts at time of writing are something like:

  • dnd-4.0 298
  • dnd (the generic tag) 95
  • dnd-3.5 65
  • system-recommendation 47
  • ...
  • pathfinder 26
  • ...
  • adnd-1.0 24
  • ...
  • gumshoe 16

I realize Dungeons and Dragons is the most played RPG in the world, but the slant is not as severe as we see on our site, where the next most active system tag is with all of 16 questions.

I think our site will have a more healthy ecosystem with more experts if we can cover more games. How do we do that? How do we bring in all the questions about Mage, or Call of Cuthulhu, and Death Watch?

In short, how do we live up to our FAQ that says

Role-playing Games Stack Exchange is for players and gamemasters of tabletop role-playing games. If you play or run Dungeons & Dragons, Shadowrun, World of Darkness, or any of the thousands of other pen-and-paper RPGs, then you're in the right place to ask your question!

Thanks to mxyzplk for bringing this up.

I think its something inherent to the culture of D&D, and 4E especially, to ask questions that have concrete, verifiable answers. It's hard to think of questions for a game like Mage that don't go CW immediately, as each Storyteller is going to approach the tenets of the game differently. – Jadasc Dec 8 '10 at 14:28
Also: since it just occurred to me to ask, why is it that a voted-up question only accrues 5 rep, while a voted-up answer accrues 10? Good questions seem to me to be as much of a boon to the site as good answers, as this question indicates. – Jadasc Dec 8 '10 at 14:52
@Jadasc The rep system is consistent across the system. Other sites (ie: StackOverflow, ServerFault, SuperUser) have the exact opposite problem TONS of question (often low quality) and relatively few experts. They're bigger than we are, so they set the rep standard. – C. Ross Dec 8 '10 at 15:09
@Jadasc Important Reputation Rule Changes. – C. Ross Dec 8 '10 at 15:11
@Jadasc CW is no longer a dumping ground for questions that require opinions. Most do, even on the technical SEs. Any question that can be answered with "here's how I did it in my game" is legit and every system has those. – mxyzplk Dec 8 '10 at 19:48
Dr. Rotwang seems to think that my "system matters" answer in the con-man question was due to me being a D&D 4E player. In fact, I play all kinds of games, including Mentzer Basic D&D (in an alarmingly Old School style). I just believe that you can say that a game is good at X or bad at X. This is the criteria we use to decide if we like playing different games. You could play a tactical combat game with Toon, but it's not good at it. Likewise, you could play a confidence game campaign with AD&D, but it's not good at it. – Adam Dray Dec 8 '10 at 21:11
Regardless of the CW bit, I think Jadasc's first comments has a good point. The later editions of D&D do lend themselves particularly well to "hard-edged" questions. By contrast, if someone posted a question about the differences in rule changes between 3rd and 6th edition CoC, my immediate reaction would be one of complete indifference. These are not the questions CoC players need to worry about. They worry far more about how easy or difficult it was to obtain a ship's manifest in 1926. – Dave Hallett Dec 8 '10 at 22:36
Actually, Adam, no -- I don't think that. – Dr Rotwang Dec 10 '10 at 2:32
Sorry about that. What's the connection then? – Adam Dray Dec 10 '10 at 2:55
I agree, stop coming everyday once I figured there was only DnD 4e stuff and everything else seams to get ignored or very low chance of an up-vote. – David Allan Finch Jan 5 '11 at 17:43

14 Answers 14

We need to attract communities. That's a hard thing to do. But we need to encourage various communities - indie gamers, Paranoia gamers, LARPers, Scandanavian freeformers - to ask questions here.

Here are some suggestions. They are rather provocative, but I think they're important, so bear with me.

Be more welcoming

This site can be argumentative. Elsewhere in this thread, there's an extremely heated argument, in which one person dismisses another's argument with "F**k this". Earlier today, a moderator suggested that someone who wanted to leave the site was saying "Waaah, I'm taking my ball and going home".

Comments like this will put people off joining. Indie game forums, for example, are often polite and respectful. Arguments will, I think, dissuade indie gamers from joining.

The moderators can make this site more welcoming. They could, for example, edit argumentative comments. At the moment, however, they are more likely to be argumentative themselves. (In other ways, I think they do a great job, but they do promote the argumentative nature of the site).

Make the site useful for their questions

Different gamers ask different questions. Indie gamers ask questions about publishing. LARPers ask questionsa about costuming. Cthulhu gamers ask questions about history.

To encourage these groups, we need to encourage their questions. At the moment, we don't do this.

We've seen this with Cthulhuesque history questions. Even after long discussions, it's still unclear whether they're welcome on the site. In a recent thread, a relatively new user was asked to provide explicit links to a game. Yet, elsewhere in meta, we seemed to have concluded that historical questions were fine.

Hence, there are rather mixed messages. Unsurprisingly, then, we don't get many questions, apart from those about D&D, which has a large following.

+1 I enjoy playing here well enough, but why the average CoC gamer would want to ask a question here when they could get more and better answers at the Y-S board, probably more quickly, I have no idea. And that's without the added irritation of someone asking them whether their question is really legitimate. – Dave Hallett Dec 17 '10 at 20:42
Related to point #2, there really needs to be a clear standard we can point to. If the standard is "questions useful to a CoC Keeper are off limits", fine, but individuals don't know one way or the other, so you get random challenges and votes to close on stuff that (I thought) had been hashed out in meta already and given the green light. It is a minor annoyance but, to the point of this post, it is unwelcoming. – Jmstar Dec 18 '10 at 15:05

Ask questions about other games. That's really all there is to it. The more questions asked about the game, the more people who play that game will be drawn to the site.

Of course, as noted, D&D has a particular intersection of being both monstrously popular and extremely system-focused. This site will always have a strong bias towards the latest version of D&D.

This is true, but it's rather circular. How do we get more questions about other games? Ask questions about other games. Sure, but there's a wider question of how we attract people to the site to ask those questions. – Graham Dec 9 '10 at 0:01
@Graham Yeah, I probably phrased that in the least helpful way possible :) The point is, presumeably the people who want to see more D&D content play RPGs other than D&D themselves. Go out of your way to think about how you're playing, and share those questions with the site. I'm working on doing that with 7th Sea, and I've gotten pretty good answers so far. – AceCalhoon Dec 9 '10 at 2:07
I've sort of despaired at asking questions, because things that are genuinely useful to me are likely to get voted down by people who don't understand their utility. – Jmstar Dec 10 '10 at 15:48
@Jmstar ??? All of the questions in your profile have a positive net score. – AceCalhoon Dec 10 '10 at 15:55
I was primarily asking questions to see how the system worked. The stuff that would actually be useful to me falls into the "when did America get telephone service?" variety. – Jmstar Dec 11 '10 at 3:17
@Jmstar Does that mean that you don't have questions about RPGs specifically, but have lots of questions about things that aren't about RPGs but are really about topics that help you run your games? Unfortunately, that might just mean that RPG SE isn't a great tool for you. Unfortunate for you, because you won't get a lot of value out of it. Unfortunate for us, because you have a lot of knowledge to share with us. – Adam Dray Dec 11 '10 at 18:18
I'd guess that, for Jason (and me), "When did America get telephone service?" is a question about RPGs. (We've been through this a few times. Opinions differ.) – Graham Dec 12 '10 at 1:28
Adam, I continue to completely not understand the dichotomy you and others espouse here. It seems completely arbitrary, and the success or failure of nearly identical threads seems to back me up on this. I just don't get it. – Jmstar Dec 12 '10 at 3:07
It's a fight I'm not fighting any more. Have at it. – Adam Dray Dec 17 '10 at 2:08
The question appears to be: "Is this an RPG SE, or an RPG system SE?" I think (and I suspect Graham and Jmstar do too) that this is an RPG SE. Others, looking through this lens, seem to me to think of it as an RPG-system SE. "When did America get the telephone" doesn't fit into the latter, but it does into the former. Food for thought? – SevenSidedDie Dec 17 '10 at 9:16
It's not even that. To me, there are ever-widening concentric circles. At the middle, there's stuff that is CLEARLY about RPGs: questions about the rules and so on. The surrounding circles are things like play advice, what games to play with your kids, designing games, and how to make a Cthulhu campaign work for your group. Way on the outside are questions that just happen to be useful if you're running a certain kind of game. <continued> – Adam Dray Dec 17 '10 at 12:43
Asking when America got the telephone feels like me asking about the best fonts to use, or how to write a program for the Droid. Sure, there's a gaming tie in for each (the fonts are for a game book; the Droid program is a dice roller), but it's not obvious, and the degree of connection has crossed a critical threshold for me. – Adam Dray Dec 17 '10 at 12:45
And really, I'm just explaining now. This isn't a fight I'm fighting anywhere. I'm not downvoting those questions. I'm not voting to close those questions. – Adam Dray Dec 17 '10 at 12:46
@Adam: It's just questions about game settings. Either we can ask both when America got the the phone, and in what year construction began on Castle Greyhawk, or we can't reasonably ask either thing. In both cases I'd prefer questions that asked for resources rather than single facts, but they are unavoidably equivalent. If you'd rather we didn't have questions about RPG settings at all, fair enough. But many others will disagree, I think. What's not reasonable is to privilege only fictional game settings. – Dave Hallett Dec 17 '10 at 20:25

It's very easy, apparently, to take my blog post out of context. One of my cardinal rules, stated elsewhere in my blog, is that I don't talk smack unless it's really deserved.

I'm not interested in, have not played, and cannot comment upon the 4th edition of D&D. Thus, upon seeing a proliferation of questions about said game, I find that I can't really help. I found myself plowing past piles and mounds of questions to which I can contribute nothing, in search of something with which I could help -- and I really didn't find much.

My point was: Everybody's talkin' 'bout stuff I can't talk about.

I feel powerless, unable to really help. That's just the way it is; no helping it.

I will admit that being voted down for presenting a possible answer that wasn't apparently welcome left a bad taste in my mouth, especially when I was sincerely trying to help by presenting a different light under which to look at AD&D and answering from experience, having once felt the same way about AD&D's supposed inadequacy for certain in-game activities. But that's the nature of the internet -- it's the nature of humanity, really. No helping that, either. That's why I said (in metaphor) that I could ignore that, but I was still left with all these 4.0 questions that I can't help with, and only a few other questions which I might be able to answer.

Filtering tags and so on helps -- to a point. I now see questions that I can address more quickly, but they are not great in number. Still, it's something, and I pitch in where I can.

The fact is that 4.0 is The New Hotness. I am still down with the Old-And-Busted.

|shrug| What can ya do?

PS I'm cross-posting this to my blog, where it also belongs.

+1 for clarifying things. – Adam Dray Dec 10 '10 at 2:57
Not sure if this is obvious, but you can flag specific tags as being utterly uninteresting to you. I can't help anybody with anything D&D related, so my list of D&D tags I don't want to see is a mile long. The filtered result is more relevant to me. – Jmstar Dec 10 '10 at 15:43
@jmstar -- Yessir, I've done just that. Thanks! – Dr Rotwang Dec 10 '10 at 16:06
@Jmstar: I believe wildcards work in your interesting tags so an ignore tag *dnd* should cover most of them – yhw42 Dec 10 '10 at 18:45
That's good to know! Thanks. – Jmstar Dec 11 '10 at 3:13
Presenting things in a different light isn't always seen well, here. It often leads to downvotes. It's a difficulty with the Stack Exchange structure, I think: when people don't agree with something, they vote it down, which means that minority viewpoints get downvoted. – Graham Dec 11 '10 at 13:11
Yeah, I've given answers that got like 10 upvotes and 6 downvotes, so I know I'm treading on religious territory. I don't take it personally. – Adam Dray Dec 11 '10 at 18:15
@Graham: That sounds kind of...kind of counter-productive, really. – Dr Rotwang Dec 12 '10 at 1:39
Is there much of a difference between thinking something isn't a good answer and "people don't agree with something"? Isn't downvoting basically saying you don't agree with something? Isn't the voting structure meant to sort out popular and unpopular viewpoints? An answer can have a net-positive score as a minority viewpoint, not be the best-rated answer, but still add value to the site as a minority viewpoint. – Adam Dray Dec 17 '10 at 2:11
There is to me, Adam. Sometimes, I upvote things because I think they're a useful contribution, even though I don't agree with them.(To me, the structure sorts out good and bad answers, which is subtly different to popular and unpopular viewpoints.) – Graham Dec 17 '10 at 19:54
The way the site is structured definitely gives an incentive not to offer answers that you know are valid but many people will think are wrong. In my first few days here, I refrained from offering a couple of those, because I didn't want to risk the rep loss. Can't think what they were right now, but if I remember I'll let you know. – Dave Hallett Dec 17 '10 at 20:12

I'm not as discouraged as Dr Rotwang, even though I have a more limited set of gaming expertise. But if you want to stop people arriving, thinking "it's all 4e", and leaving, then I think there should be a clearer route to discovering how to hide tags, etc. Maybe a link saying something like "I don't see anything here I know how to answer!" could take people to a page on how to customise your view.

As it stands, the 4e players have not only the largest community (fair enough) and a natural tendency to hard-edged questions (ditto) but also the easiest learning curve in terms of making the site work for them (seems unnecessary).

And BTW, a small programming thing: it would be better if the number of questions displayed per page was after hiding questions, not before. A bit harder to implement, but would be sharper.

Much harder to implement, unfortunately. Currently, it's all done client-side. Changing that to being done server-side (or a mix, using AJAX techniques to pull more questions to "fill in" the ones hidden by the client-side code) would be a significant amount of work. – SevenSidedDie Dec 17 '10 at 9:05
@Seven: Ah, client-side filters. Yes, I see the problem. Oh well, hiding all those tags and then setting a large number of questions per pages works well enough. Thanks for the info. – Dave Hallett Dec 17 '10 at 20:08
And as a data point to my answer, I'm currently hiding about 60% of questions, with 50 questions set per page. It works fine for me. Yes, it presents a slower-moving site. But so what? It's not like it takes me very long to check in. I spend more time trying to work out whether there's anything interesting in meta! – Dave Hallett Dec 17 '10 at 23:28

The problem I have is that my thinky questions about Ars Magica have mostly been met by indifferent silence. I (despite the number of 4e answers I have) mainly run Ars Magica. But the questions I have for that game... are either self-answerable or really difficult questions that usually involve philosophy.

I'd love to ask those questions, but it doesn't feel like there's any positive feedback when I have in the past.


Larger problem.

Any time I post a question about any other system, may get answers, and I certainly don't get upvotes on it. Any time I post a question about D&D I get plenty of answers and plenty of upvotes. I try very hard to vote up non-D&D questions myself (along with D&D questions, because every question is sacred) but ... it's not much fun having a bunch of my questions (and only my questions) hanging out at 0 votes.

Would you find satisfaction in answering low-level/beginner questions about Ars Magica? Likewise, if there was an rpg.stackexchange blog would you be willing the write an Ars Magica 101 post so as to get community members asking those kinds of basic questions? – LeguRi Dec 10 '10 at 1:08
I would love to. – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Dec 10 '10 at 1:21
I think this is a key item. It all has to work in concert. It strikes me that it is much harder to create a question for a system in which you are well-versed than it is to answer one, and if there are no questions to answer, why should experienced players of other systems hang around? Answering oneself? Established users of the site, who are invested in its growth, will need to start investigating games that they do not play, and the sites that support those games. Invitations will need to be left asking people to come and address your ostensibly burning newbie questions~ – Runeslinger Apr 15 '11 at 12:45
I play Ars Magica... Go for it: ask away! – Sardathrion Oct 24 '11 at 8:50

The good news is that there are (based on your numbers) at least 400 questions on the site currently about non-dnd topics.

I hope the answer isn't to discourage D&D questions but rather to better foster communities around other tags as well.

Some folks don't even want to see D&D questions. For those people we need to make sure that they know:

  • about ignored tags
  • How to completely hide ignored tags(via your user prefs)
  • That there is a greasemonkey script to move your ignored tags to the bottom of the page

If someone takes those steps, they won't see hardly any D&D discussion at all.

Furthermore, I believe the basic premise of this question is flawed. Roughly half of all questions on this site deal with D&D in one form or another. Over half of all RPG dollars go to D&D or its derivatives (especially pathfinder). It is not surprising to me at all that D&D is the lions share of a general site. Take a look at the Interactive RPG map.

I certainly don't want less of D&D (I play and contribute myself after all). I want more of everything else. I think having more of non D&D games will even make it a better site for D&D. – C. Ross Dec 8 '10 at 16:14
As far as hiding D&D, I don't think that's the problem. I think the problem is that there isn't much for people who aren't interested in D&D to do. – C. Ross Dec 8 '10 at 17:04
OD&D, AD&D and AD&D2 I can help with. The others? Not so much. – Dr Rotwang Dec 10 '10 at 21:46
Here's the question: why not? I mean, obviously if it's a really rules specific question you might not know the answer, but if someone is asking about techniques or general procedures, why wouldn't you be able to help? – Peter Seckler Dec 15 '10 at 15:38
I'm more comfortable answering questions about the older games. 4E questions seemed to be more about the rules -- rules about which I know dingus. And my advice on general procedures and techniques usually boils down to "screw the rules, make it up", and that's not always the best answer to give. – Dr Rotwang Dec 16 '10 at 4:33
How often have you played or even read D&D 4e to know this for sure? Because I'm pretty sure you said "never" earlier. And in general, I think disregarding the rules sometimes is good advice. – Peter Seckler Dec 17 '10 at 0:35
@Peter - If you use @DrRotwang, he will get a notification about your comment. – Pat Ludwig Dec 17 '10 at 0:58
Even though he has a space in his name? – Adam Dray Dec 17 '10 at 2:12
@Ada - yes, you only need 3 letters actually, the notifier has a lot of short cuts. See – Pat Ludwig Dec 17 '10 at 2:23
Coolness. Thanks! – Adam Dray Dec 17 '10 at 3:18

Loosen the rules requiring unambiguous, precisely answerable, specific etc etc questions. Loosen them well.

RPGs are not programming languages. RPG questions/answers are not measurable as good/bad like programming and such questions/answers. Allow way, way more freedom and subjectivity. I'll go further: not only allow these. Foster them. We're talking creativity and gaming here (aren't we?), not "just" best practices for solving equations, technical and logical problems/bugs in a given framework/system/etc. (No disrespect for StackOverflow and the rest of the similar SE sites, I use them often as well... in my work. And that's a huge difference.)

Unless this site welcomes more subjective questions, imo it will remain the destination of a relatively small group interested mostly in rules-lawyering (no offense), as non-subjective, non-ambiguous, specific questions are hard to ask about other things than rules and game mechanics.

DnD has always been (imo again) a rules intensive system, and the overwhelming number of DnD4.0 questions on this site seems to support my current view of summed up (a bit haphazardly) above. Letting in more subjective games, topics and people would probably increase the number of non-DnD questions. (Letting in means refraining from closing and voting down such.)

Also, pls consider not calling members "experts". You might be a programming expert and a rules-expert, but I don't think "an expert creative storyteller" would paint anyone in a... respectable light, especially if you bestow the title upon yourself. Some people might grow to be called experts - by others. (And possibly not because of having answered a zillion minor questions about what page and paragraph of a rulebook answers an obscure game mechanics problem.)

Right, sorry for the rant. It's nothing personal and I didn't want to offend anyone. I respect all the different kinds of gamers - but to get this site going for real they'll all need to be present (invited and welcomed) here in a healthy balance. And the current approach to what is and what isn't an acceptable question about roleplaying games doesn't seem to help that.

What do you mean we don't accept subjective questions? "Dealing with players who try to run from everything?", "How do you reassure a parent who is worried about RPGs being unhealthy for their children?", "What to do when a player loses or forgets their character sheet?", "Best answer for people concerned about RPG activities being occult or dangerous?" I don't see us turning away subjective questions. I allow (and participate in) questions here that I would BURN WITH FIRE on other SE sites. That said, if it's not a question we don't allow it. What subjective questions are we turning away? – C. Ross Feb 11 '11 at 22:23
As a side note that comment is exactly the maximum size allowed. – C. Ross Feb 11 '11 at 22:24
I'm not saying there are no subjective questions. I'm saying they should be encouraged. 'Letting in more subjective games, topics and people would probably increase the number of non-DnD questions.' (Also, 'subjective' is just one factor. See, I'm the "who has the Star Wars license" guy, whose question was closed because it was 'too localized.' I'm talking about these things as well. Without a vengeance. :)) – OpaCitiZen Feb 11 '11 at 22:38
As a side note, I had to remove (via editing) italics from my reply comment, because they didn't show up. :-o Strange. – OpaCitiZen Feb 11 '11 at 22:40
See this recent answer by Robert Cartaino about possible pitfalls of lowering the quality bar for questions. – Pat Ludwig Feb 12 '11 at 14:36
If you see broadening the range of accepted topics as equal to "lowering the quality bar"... that's a problem, imo. Especially at a Q&A site dealing with a creative hobby whose most interesting 'problems' often reach well beyond rules and systems, into rather subjective areas, where expertise is hard to measure objectively, just like the quality of a question or an answer. Subjective does not necessarily mean lower quality. – OpaCitiZen Feb 12 '11 at 16:32

If you want to see more non-D&D-related questions, try giving good answers to the few non-D&D questions you do find.

I find that when I ask a question that gets some good answers, it drives me to ask more questions in the same vein. For example, if I've got a question about how to make maps for an adventure, and a question about D&D rules, and the only one that gets any good answers is about maps, I'll ask more questions like that.


Oooo! Crazy idea... but it depends on us either having a blog (do we get one once we're out of Beta, like or or starting one on our own.

If we only had a blog we could invite community members who are active in those struggling tags to write a little beginner's introduction to games which aren't DnD... those intro posts would give an opportunity to DnD gamers in the community (who read the blog) to ask basic low-level (but not completely moronic) question about games they haven't played yet (collectively referred to as "Games Which Are Not DnD").

Kind of like a "Game Which Is Not DnD" of the week!

Then at least we're attracting non-DnD gamers who enjoy teaching/explaining their game. Once they've fallen for our ruse and become community members they form the basis for attracting more people who play "Games Which Are Not DnD".

We could even encourage community members to play a one-shot session of the GWiNDnDotW (the perfect acronym to use for a tag) and have a weekly CW question where people share their experiences playing it for the first time.

Am I crazy?! (It should be noted that while this is littered with jokes, I am being serious; I think the idea has potential.)

Dude. Start one. A blog is the kind of thing that one person needs to take ownership of. If you think it'd be good, do it. – Graham Dec 9 '10 at 23:55
@Graham - I dunno; for this to work (towards the intended goal) the blog has to either be the official rpg.stackexchange blog or the community has to have enough interest to treat it as such, and read it regularly. With my answer holding only 1 vote (not even a down vote!) the community has no interest, and @C. Ross asked about blogs for Area 51 sites almost 6 months ago with no sign of it happening... – LeguRi Dec 10 '10 at 0:54
This is very doable now with site blogs for individual stacks. :D – Standback Nov 10 '11 at 13:56

I think the problem is beyond just "4e is popular, and there are more 4e questions." In the blog post in question, the person engaged with a 1e question but felt chased off by what could be considered hostile 4e-ey attitude within that question.

I would note also that some people want to play 4e in the same way they played earlier editions (roleplay, exploration) and that there are a lot of questions that could be answered well across edition. However, some of the answers to those questions as well are hostile to traditional D&D players, I will specifically cite the hiker spreading question. 4e is a ruleset and people come to it with different agendas, and though it does best support a "superheroes do tactical combat" approach we need to not crap on people that aren't doing that.

Sure, we can ask more non-4e questions, but I think we need to make behavior on non-4e questions and even 4e questions more friendly to people a) of other editions and b) of different RP approaches.

Believe it or not, on other forums people that play totally different games from one another often have shareable insights. On the technical SEs, same thing - I use Apache not lighttpd but I still might be able to contribute valuable knowledge to a question on compression or something. But if answers like that were met with "well if you embrace lighttpd then you certainly would never use it to do that" it would not go well.

(I assume you're referring to my answer in the hiker question.) Your idea of hostile is totally different than mine. I'll point to How to turn and AD&D thief into a con-man? question, where I basically told him that it was an awful idea, and then suggested a work-around anyway. He accepted that answer. Sometimes you can reject the question's frame and still provide a good answer. – Adam Dray Dec 8 '10 at 20:57
I think I need to make an important point, because it's coming up between you and me all over the place: I believe that system matters and that, sure, the GM can handwave anything but that doesn't mean a game is GOOD at doing stuff; having that belief and answering questions within that context is not me taking a "crap on people." It's me saying, "Hey, I know you want to figure out how to do X. I think you shouldn't do X at all, but have you considered Y?" – Adam Dray Dec 8 '10 at 21:05
@AdamDray Apparently other people disagree, cf. the blog post. It's my perspective that you are coming across as hostile and suggest you stop "rejecting question's frames." Your way of playing 4e isn't everyone's way, and continuing to insist it is makes you pretty unwelcoming. – mxyzplk Dec 8 '10 at 21:51
@AdamDray IMO saying "Hey, I know you want to figure out how to do X. I think you shouldn't do X at all, but have you considered Y?" is fine, for values of Y that are sufficiently close to X (especially if the question itself raises the possibility that X isn't the way to go), but saying "Don't do X" is terrible. I think your answer is fine now that you've added the skill check portion, but a bit long-winded given that someone has to make it through three full sections before encountering the useful part of the answer. – AceCalhoon Dec 8 '10 at 22:00
@AdamDray (Also, saying in bold, repeatedly, that the topic of the question isn't interesting appears inflammatory. You may not have meant it as such, but that was certainly my gut reaction on reading it) – AceCalhoon Dec 8 '10 at 22:01
Whereas I think it answered the question quite well :) – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Dec 8 '10 at 23:35
+1 - I have tried to encourage people to be warmer to new/low-rep users, and my opinions apply just as much to those at the bottom of the popular tags list. – LeguRi Dec 9 '10 at 1:24
Bold isn't shouting here. Bold is highlighting key points so you can communicate better and readers can skim the main points easily. Well-formatted posts get more upvotes, so I assume that means they communicate better than poorly formatted posts. – Adam Dray Dec 9 '10 at 1:56
@AdamDray -- I never meant to imply that you were shouting. Only that you were belittling the question by repeated use of the phrase uninteresting, and placing emphasis on it. – AceCalhoon Dec 9 '10 at 2:02
@Brian Naturally, you are the final arbiter of your own question. I had interpretted the question as "how do I implement (this) in 4e?" in which case Adam's answer was useless until four hours after he'd posted it (when he edited in the skill challenge portion, and it became quite a good answer to that question). But perhaps you were asking a somewhat different question than what I interpretted, in which case I apologize for any static I may have introduced. – AceCalhoon Dec 9 '10 at 2:05
Eh, no worries. I asked the question mainly cause I was interested if it was possible. The answer is pretty firmly "go find a simulationist game, if you're interested in that sort of stuff." But it was a "I wonder if anyone has dealt with this sort of thing" question. – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Dec 11 '10 at 0:49
@Brian I would consider that kind of answer to that kind of question to be a serious problem. But it's a really complex problem that's only tangentially related to this thread... So I'll post a separate thread if it's still bothering me in a week or two. – AceCalhoon Dec 12 '10 at 16:57

Smart Ass Answer

I think we get plenty of questions about other games. Yeah, there's a lot of D&D, for three reasons:

  1. Lots of people play D&D.
  2. Lots of people have questions about D&D.
  3. The D&D rules are vastly large in volume.

My smart-ass answer is, "People aren't as confused about how to play Dogs in the Vineyard. If you have questions about another game, however, ask and we'll answer."

More Serious Answer

Unfortunately, there's also a combination of the Rich Get Richer and Tragedy of the Commons going on. Because lots of people play D&D, questions about D&D get answered more than questions about other games. That drives off the non-D&D players. Before you know it, only D&D players will want ask and answer questions.

I think we have to make sure that every D&D question is a good one and downvote them if they're not. I think we have to upvote non-D&D questions enthusiastically and do our best to answer them and retain those people.

"Because lots of people play D&D, questions about D&D get answered more than questions about other games. That drives off the non-D&D players." This describes my relationship with this site perfectly. I don't do D&D. I haven't done D&D since before AD&D2 was released. I'm not interested in D&D. When I come here I either get flooded with D&D questions -- and especially D&D4 which I like LESS than the other D&Ds! -- or I get a mostly-empty list of questions that have been there for ages. I visit less and less often as a result. – JUST MY correct OPINION Dec 14 '10 at 6:31
I'm sorry but f^&# this. There should be no double standards. The questions should reflect what people are interested in regarding RPGS and that's it. – Peter Seckler Dec 14 '10 at 15:16
@Just - hide the tags you aren't interested in, then you can elect not to see hidden questions at all on your user profile. – Pat Ludwig Dec 15 '10 at 15:44
@Pat: Read the rest of what I said. The words are there for a reason. – JUST MY correct OPINION Dec 15 '10 at 23:13
@Just - ya, mine too hoss. Over half(27) of the latest 50 questions are not D&D related. How much more do ya want? – Pat Ludwig Dec 15 '10 at 23:26
Look, I'm not getting into this argument. I'm telling you here and now why I (and probably others, but I don't presume to speak for them) don't bother much with this place, despite really liking the concept. You can be "right" if you like and do nothing. If you choose to do so, please enjoy your D&D4 site with my (non-sarcastic) blessings. I have other resources for talking about RPGs. If, however, you actually want to grow this site out of being a D&D4 answer factory perhaps you want to listen to what's being said by those who don't partake. It's your site, your choice. – JUST MY correct OPINION Dec 15 '10 at 23:45
Voting down questions that may assist in answer a 4e questions and get voted down leaves bad impression anywhere, almost no one follow the if you vote down you explain. – IrqJD Jan 9 '11 at 2:43

The answer is, in part, to downvote and/or flag answers which are problematic, and whenever possible, get a reasonable answer up on non-D&D questions in a relatively reasonable time.

Further, upvote other systems' questions; only upvote D&D questions which are awesome, but upvote other systems questions at merely decent.

The other part is making non-D&D posters feel welcome.

It also wouldn't hurt to have sig-links on other BBS's, where that's permitted.

I'm not a fan of seeing D&D4 users discriminated against by having to hit a higher standard to get an upvote. – Pat Ludwig Dec 15 '10 at 15:43
Me neither, and I don't think the bulk of users are likely to do it, for obvious reasons. – Dave Hallett Dec 16 '10 at 10:10

The way to get more questions is awareness. If people know they can ask questions, they should ask them. If it isn't clear that you can ask a question about any RPG, then it should be. (I personally feel like it's clear).

But other than that: Let the ecosystem manage itself. If more people are asking about 4e, then that's simply the reality of what is going on. Answer those questions. If more people are asking about other systems, than answer those.

It isn't about us. An audience, presumably a representative one, is participating. You and your tastes may not be represented. Or they might be. But the whole point is that it isn't about making people's tastes for them, or asking fake questions, or making up questions you already know the answers to in order to promote games that you feel need more exposure. This is not meant to be a self-licking ice-cream cone or a marketing tool, is it?

I realize that some people find the existence of 4th Edition D&D itself personally hurtful, but that isn't (and shouldn't be) our concern. If we have people like that who are participating in this site (and I know we already do, I read your blogs) well, I can only say this: if you have no problem keeping your emotional issues with 4e separate then fine, but if you simply can't participate without bringing "I've been marginalized and need to strike back"-type politics into your answers, you should accept that this is not the kind of website you can (or should) take part in.

The fantasy of "I've been marginalized and thus any subversive thing I say about my perceived enemies is fair game" is a seductive one. It excuses any behavior. But it does not help anyone, and it is actively destructive to the ideals and goals of a project like this. Please remain above that.

-1: Peter, could you remove the ad hominem attacks? For example, you say that people you disagree with: "have problems keeping their emotional issues with 4E separate"; have "fantasies" of being marginalised; and "find the existence of 4E personally hurtful". Those seem, to me, like personal attacks, rather than a helpful answer to the question. – Graham Dec 14 '10 at 18:21
I said nothing of the sort. Read it carefully. It isn't about what I (or you, or anyone else) agree with, disagree with, like, dislike, or want desperately to promote to the unsuspecting masses..or to stop the unsuspecting masses from enjoying at any cost. I am only talking about keeping to the topic at hand (which I suggest is "answering questions about RPGs if you happen to know the answer") and not treating the entire project as an opportunity to promote things you want to see more of or negate things you want to see less of. That second thing has nothing to do with RPGs. Is this not clear? – Peter Seckler Dec 14 '10 at 18:48
-1 I agree this is ad hominem. And I've read it carefully, several times. If you were to stick to the issue under discussion, I would largely agree with you. – Dave Hallett Dec 15 '10 at 10:03
Ok. Well, answer this: Who is it an ad hominem against? It's about standards, not about any single person. – Peter Seckler Dec 15 '10 at 14:24
@Peter: The people you refer to whose blogs you say you have read. I have no idea who they are, but there's no point dragging them into this. Nothing in the original question says that 4e is a bad thing (unless you're reading a lot into "awful bias"). It just observes that it's proportionally over-represented at present. I tend to agree with you that this not a big problem and likely to be self-resolving in the long run. Your first two paragraphs are a sensible answer. The last two read like projection to me. The one in between is just a bit ranty! – Dave Hallett Dec 15 '10 at 21:41
If you can't name a hominem, you can't have an ad hominem, Dave. – Peter Seckler Dec 17 '10 at 0:38
Peter, you appear to be attacking people, rather than the comments they make. At the least, you seem to be inflaming the situation. If you edited your post to remove those aspects, I think your answer would be a useful contribution to the discussion. – Graham Dec 17 '10 at 0:51
I'm disappointed that this place is just being used by the same people everywhere in the same ways. It's about answering questions. Engaged players (not us, by the way, but people out in the wild somewhere) have these questions because they really want to know answers. They don't want subversive baiting about 4e, or to be sold some other game. They don't deserve to be forced to meet some special standard in order to help assuage the feelings of the guy who hasn't played a game in years. That is not important. The wrong people have wormed their way into the system, and that's just too bad. – Peter Seckler Dec 17 '10 at 1:36

Suggestion is allowing 3.5e DMs, and players to also answer the 4e questions (or at least attempt), without fear of crazy down votes. Chances are most of us had to convert from AD&D and many other games making out our own house rules, and learning to convert. If someone has not created a tag that specifically says dnd3.5e-dnd4-dnd4e something similar they should. Or Good at Converting even.

Also people in this beta community should consider having to explain ALL of their down-votes. Especially in a beta state because this the most hindering factor from keeping me personally as an active poster. When someone vote down explains why then I fix and they reverse that is a totally different story thats what I believe the system is intended for.

This also hesitant to post questions on 3.5e because most are so into 4e they dont even want to know what the 3.5e rules were, no seem to care, let alone have converted them up and could even assist me in that fashion. Why ask?

In my opinion how questions are answered needs to be altered in some fashion and this would encourage those with large amount of experience being constantly down-voted "this doesn't match the 4E tag." Why waste all that data experience....etc.

This even falls into other categories someone who has put for effort to incorporate something into dnd4 from a game thats isnt DND i want to fit that into my character I will want to play more.

Well, 3.5 players/DMs are cetainly welcome to answer 4e questions, as long as any rules components of their answer come from a 4e perspective. If you asked a question about 3.5, you wouldn't want someone to give you an answer that began with "the rules in 4e say to do...". It may not answer your question, and could potentially remove it from the unanswered questions list. – AceCalhoon Jan 10 '11 at 2:33
Do not take the negative reactions to 3.5 answers to 4e questions as a sign that people are actively trying to forget that 3.5 existed. 3.5 and pathfinder is one of the top non-4e subjects in our question database. If you have a question, try asking it... You might be pleasantly surprised. – AceCalhoon Jan 10 '11 at 2:35
To take this out of the context of RPGs, if I asked someone a question about French language grammar, and they told me the Spanish language grammar rules, I'm really not that much better off. Sure 3.5 and 4e have similarities, but they have a great number of differences, and so a 4e rules question isn't usefully answered by reference to the 3.5 rules. – Simon Withers Jan 11 '11 at 4:02
@Ace "Do not take the negative reactions..." - The point is that these negative reactions make the site a worse Q&A site for gamers. Information about the differences between 3.5 and 4e simply is relevant to 4e questions. These negative reactions are juvenile, and should be discouraged. – Alticamelus Jan 13 '11 at 9:43
@Alticamelus It is not so important that it needs to be brought up in questions which are clearly specific to 4e (any more than the rules differences between 3e and 4e need to be brought up in the Pathfinder questions). I personally wouldn't downvote such answers... But if you post an answer that fundamentally doesn't answer the question asked, a downvote is a reasonable thing to expect. Again, a 4e question being removed from the unanswered list for a 3e answer is clearly harmful (and vice versa). – AceCalhoon Jan 13 '11 at 21:30
@Alticamelus Also note that there are plenty of ways to post such information. For asides and notes, comments are available. I'd also consider it acceptable to post such answers if there aren't any quality 4e-specific answers... There's just an extra responsibility to make it clear that you have reason to believe that the 3e ruling could apply and why. And of course questions that are outside of pure rules are perfectly acceptable to answer from outside the system. – AceCalhoon Jan 13 '11 at 21:43
@Ace - The question pages aren't just for the questioner. If the qner doesn't want to know about what the SRD says, tough - plenty of other people will be, if the site thrives. – Alticamelus Jan 14 '11 at 11:08
@alticamelus Umm... That's exactly what the question pages are for. Jeff Atwood has stated numerous times that the point of SE is to get timely, high-quality, expert answers to your questions. I know that I wouldn't be happy if any of my 7th Sea questions were answered with advice on making a Move Silently check, as per the 4e PHB! :) – AceCalhoon Jan 14 '11 at 17:14
@alticamelus If a 4e question strikes you as really interesting from a 3e perspective (and it's a "hard" question where edition matters, like we've been discussing), then the "right" thing to do is to re-ask the question from a 3e perspective, not to hijack some other poor fellow's thread. If what you're after is the answer I believe there are posts on most meta sites about the etiquette of asking questions you know the answer to (short version: Go for it, but give other people an opportunity to answer). – AceCalhoon Jan 14 '11 at 17:18
@Ace 'the "right" thing to do is to re-ask': Yes, I can live with that. I'd understood that these sites were supposed to also be about building a quality resource, something between a forum and a wiki, but I could find a link for that. – Alticamelus Jan 14 '11 at 18:13
@Alticamelus Yeah, I think I've seen the posts you were talking about. The site, as a whole, IS supposed to be a comprehensive resource... But it's organized by questions and answers. Hence why I think the way to go is rewriting and reposting the question (or posting as a comment/edit). IMO, the "Not an answer" section of the new flagging system posted on the blog today points pretty clearly in the right direction: "This was posted as an answer, but it does not answer the question. It should probably be a comment, an edit, or another question." – AceCalhoon Jan 14 '11 at 18:26
@Alticamelus That said, I think that people have probably been a bit harsher than necessary on new users (who might not even be able to comment!) than was strictly necessary :( – AceCalhoon Jan 14 '11 at 18:28

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