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In response to this discussion I've decided to open a new topic. I previously opened my own question here on Arqade Meta asking whether lore questions were considered on topic, and while I got my answer (that yes, they are on topic) there were a few things that made me feel like this issue warranted another visit with more explicit suggestions. Here's why:

  • People, including moderators and experienced users, seem to be confused or resistant to the idea that lore is an on-topic subject.
  • This issue has been discussed and debated on Meta many times before.
  • Nothing (as far as I know) has been done to rectify the confusion. In fact, the tag which once existed on this site was removed at some point.

My suggestion is to update the wording in the FAQ. Perhaps change "Plot and characters in games" to "Plot, characters and lore in games".

  • The post there doesn't literally mean that you should use the tag [game] or [game-series], but that you should use the tag of the game you are asking about and/or it's series tag (e.g. [half-life-2] or [half-life-series]). – murgatroid99 Mar 7 '16 at 16:55
  • @murgatroid99 Makes sense. I'll update my question. – JSideris Mar 7 '16 at 16:57
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    This is really two separate discussions. One saying we should update the FAQ, and another discussing the existence of lore tag. – Wipqozn Mar 7 '16 at 17:00
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    I don't see the utility of a lore tag. That a question is about lore rather than mechanics is going to be immediately obvious from the title in most cases, if you know the game, and the lore from one game has nothing in common with the lore from another, it would be a "meta" tag which are typically discouraged on SE sites. – TZHX Mar 7 '16 at 18:08
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    @TZHX Well in principal, no tags are required at all in order for the meaning behind a question to be apparent, even in the most extreme case you can always use a longer title to qualify a question. The reason for a lore tag is twofold: 1. it indicates to users that lore is a valid topic to ask about on the site, and 2. it classifies questions under lore so that they can be searched for by tag and so that you can see the number of lore questions someone has answered by visiting their profile. Kind of like how there is a tag for strategy. – JSideris Mar 7 '16 at 18:30
  • @TZHX Correction - there is no strategy tag (I could have sworn I saw one before). But there are other non-game-specific tags that many games have in common. For instance, cheats and achievements. – JSideris Mar 7 '16 at 18:54
  • We don't need a [lore] tag to show that lore is on topic, just like (as you just mentioned) we don't have a [strategy] tag, but strategy questions are on topic. And you say that we can use the tag to classify questions and categorize answers. But that's true of literally every possible tag; it doesn't provide a reason why this particular tag should exist. – murgatroid99 Mar 7 '16 at 18:58
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    @murgatroid99 Right now the process to finding out that lore is on topic seems to be to ask the question, receive a bunch of down votes and close requests, then go on meta to see whether it's on topic. At least that was my experience. – JSideris Mar 7 '16 at 19:09
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    I never said there wasn't a problem with how lore questions are currently handled; only that re-creating the [lore] tag is not the correct solution to that problem. – murgatroid99 Mar 7 '16 at 19:12
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    @murgatroid99 I agree. Not that a lore tag wouldn't help, but perhaps that's not the right reason to add one. Regardless, the relationship between tags like [lore] and [strategy] to [<game name>] on this site are like the relationship between tags like [parallel-computing] or [design-patterns] to [<programming language name>] on stack overflow. So I don't agree with TZHX's analysis that these tags are inconsistent with other SE sites. – JSideris Mar 7 '16 at 19:17
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    This brings us back around to the point Wipqozn made above: you want to make it clearer that lore questions are on topic, and that's fine. But bringing back the lore tag shouldn't be a part of that, and should be handled in a separate question. – murgatroid99 Mar 7 '16 at 19:22
  • @murgatroid99 Sure. I didn't expect to encounter so much resistance on that, so I'll move it to another topic once this issue is resolved. In the mean time I'll update my question. – JSideris Mar 7 '16 at 19:24
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    +1 Being able to point to the Tour/Help Centre rather than digging out the meta questions every time someone close votes as a 'lore' question would definitely improve the workflow. – Robotnik Mar 7 '16 at 20:44
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    @Robotnik This isn't just an issue with lore questions. We have a lot of off-topic subjects and no centralised list of them. – Studoku Mar 8 '16 at 1:03
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    That sounds like a fine idea. I can think of at least one rules lawyer around here that would be confounded by lore being officially endorsed in the "rules". – DCShannon Mar 8 '16 at 15:57
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I don't think we need to update the FAQ. If question about "plot and characters" being on-topic isn't going to stop close votes, I don't think adding the word "lore" in there is going to change anything. Most "lore" questions are actually about plot and characters anyway.

As others have mentioned in comments, I also don't think a tag will fix any problems people have with these questions and stop them from (usually incorrectly) casting close votes. As for downvotes, they're free to downvote as they wish, whether or not a category of question is on-topic. The only real utility I can see for a tag is that it would give those who wish to ignore such questions the ability to add it to their ignored tags.

In my experience, most of the close votes on lore questions aren't simply "because they're lore", but because they have other issues, like speculating wildly about why things are the way they are or what would happen if they were different. That's more or less what this entire meta question is about. And despite my answer on that having the most upvotes, the actual site policy seems to be "if it doesn't have an obvious answer, let's argue about whether or not it is answerable and have some close vote wars." Which is exactly what you occasionally see happen. The close votes usually are driven by either the "there is no answer, so this should be closed" argument1 or the "we don't know what the developer was thinking, so this is developer-intent" argument. Yes, most of the people making those arguments hate lore questions, but I think it's important to understand that they're (usually) not voting to close simply because the question is lore-related.

1 You might be saying "Woah, but that answer to that 'Should we close questions with no answer?' meta is overwhelmingly 'No, we shouldn't close them,'" but then you need to go check out this answer to a related meta, which is highly upvoted and written by a mod, which includes the point that we DO close such questions. This leads to a lot of ambiguity about how we actually handle them.

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    I can see why changing the FAQ to endorse lore is touching on a sensitive topic. There are some underlying community issues ingrained here that have been debated about long before I arrived. But I want to be clear that I'm not requesting an overhaul to the rules on what gets closed and what doesn't. There are only two consequences that are worth considering: 1. Will anyone benefit from this? Yes: for instance, new users will benefit by knowing lore questions are allowed up front (something that's otherwise not evident). 2. Will anyone suffer from an update? No: it's just one extra word. – JSideris Mar 10 '16 at 15:57
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    Let's save the lore tag discussion for another question. – JSideris Mar 10 '16 at 15:57
  • If it gets added to the FAQ, I won't be upset. I just don't think it will solve anything. – Sterno Mar 10 '16 at 19:30
  • Looking at the meta answers you contrasted at the end, the conclusions seem in full agreement to me. Maybe I'm missing something. – DCShannon Mar 18 '16 at 1:27
  • @DCShannon The 5th bullet point on this answer says it's okay to VTC if you know there is no answer (but that you should indeed be sure). The most highly voted answer (by a large margin) to the question of Do we close plot-explanation questions if the answer is 'there is no explanation'? is that we should not close them, but rather answer that they don't have an answer. – Sterno Mar 18 '16 at 2:00
  • To be clear, in case it was the part you are missing, the contradictory metas were about plot questions that don't have answers, not plot questions in general. And I'm not trying to argue one over the other right now. I've done that elsewhere. I'm trying to say that there are two highly voted meta posts that have conflicting answers about whether or not to VTC these, which seems like it gives people room to feel like the community has their back whichever way they go on it. – Sterno Mar 18 '16 at 2:01
  • That 5th bullet point doesn't even mention closing questions. It's about what knowledge is needed to vote or answer. – DCShannon Mar 18 '16 at 2:02
  • It's possible I misunderstood that meta, but based on discussions at the time I'm pretty sure "vote" in that context meant "vote to close", not "upvote/downvote". – Sterno Mar 18 '16 at 2:03
  • @Sterno That might explain it. – DCShannon Mar 18 '16 at 3:03

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