Talk:Rules lawyer

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Votes for deletion This article was nominated for deletion on 29 December 2005. The result of the discussion was keep. An archived record of this discussion can be found here.


Never likely to be more than a dicdef IMO. Listed on AfD. Andrewa 23:02, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

And how wrong I was! Another victory for AfD, the article is now far more than a dicdef. Andrewa 04:44, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
Andrewa - would you mind speaking in plain English? DigitalEnthusiast 19:52, 12 December 2006 (UTC)
Judging by the other items here, I'd say 'dicdef' means 'dictionary definition', while 'AfD' is the dreaded 'Articles for Deletion' list. Just as a clarification. --IL-Kuma 21:50, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

Assume good faith[edit]

I'm adding a link to the Wikipedia guideline of assuming good faith ( to it's talk page, actually ), which is what prompted the creation of this article. The word ruleslawyering shows up several times in the text, and until this point I had never heard it, learned it's meaning by context, and felt that if the word is being used, it needs to be explained somewhere. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by DigitalEnthusiast (talkcontribs) 19:56, 12 December 2006 (UTC).

Thanks DigitalEnthusiast, I appreciate the links, but we want to avoid self-references to Wikipedia from articlespace. There's already a link at the top in italics, which is the recommended way to deal with this. Quarl (talk) 2006-12-12 20:40Z

Gaming the system should not redirect to here[edit]

"Gaming the system" is not at all similar to rules lawyering. Gaming the system is doing something which would not naturally benefit you but which will because of an imperfect rule. Rules lawyering is the separate concept of harping on about a rule or set of rules. Someone who's gaming the system will usually keep quiet lest their abuse be spotted. A rules lawyer usually never shuts up and relies on the sanctity of unchanging rules to prevent their abuse from being effectively responded to. Gronky 14:39, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

"Dealing with rules lawyers" section[edit]

Does anyone have a DMG2 handy? Are the bullet points in this section just a lift from that book? If so, that section's a copyvio and should be removed. Percy Snoodle 15:02, 1 August 2007 (UTC)

Etymology reversed[edit]

The article says a variant of rules lawyer is sea lawyer, and then goes on to claim it probably derives from the programming term language lawyer.

I'd be very surprised if this was the case. Without researching it, I'd have thought sea lawyer (and barracks lawyer) came first, and language lawyer and rules lawyer to be the newer variants. Is there anyone with actual knowledge who can confirm? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:09, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

I second that - this is completely the wrong way round. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:21, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

I agree. Sea-lawyer is probably first. Yarr! (talk) 02:11, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

Dealing with...[edit]

Honestly, I don't think this kind of content has any place in an article. Wikipedia isn't a 101: How to - guide, it's an encyclopedia. There are plenty of other websites and resources that deal with this subject. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:19, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

Ditto. This section is too focused on D&D. Besides, the phrase sounds insulting to ("biased") rules lawyers. Rip it out. (talk) 06:23, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
I've removed the subtopic. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:30, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

Link to similar incidents not involving tabletop games[edit]

While reading the article for the History of baseball in the United States, I was struck by how the Merkle incident seemed to fit into this perfectly. This is a good example of rules lawyering from a certainly very different context. Would a section to add to this article discussing the confluence of rules lawyering in different contexts be appropriate? —Preceding unsigned comment added by DespicableJay (talkcontribs) 20:57, 14 July 2008 (UTC)

Is Rules-Lawyering connected to expertise?[edit]

"A rules lawyer is a player in a game who for whatever reason attempts to use an often encyclopedic knowledge of the rules of a subject to gain an advantage, to annoy or to ingratiate himself with other players, to amuse themselves in a round of banter with others, or to test a rule's solidity."

Is there necessarily any particular connection between great knowledge of the rules of something, and rules-lawyering? I'd certainly say there can be cases where that's not true.

Aside from that, the sentence is clumsy.

I also think the definition is bad. Rules-lawyering implies (to me, at least) adherence to the letter rather than spirit of the law, and it doesn't only apply to games. Finally, I don't see the merits of listing some minority motives.

I propose:

"A rules lawyer is a participant in a rules-based environment who attempts to use the letter of the law without reference to the intention, often in order to gain an advantage." (talk) 21:23, 17 June 2009 (UTC) Josh

  • I admit the sentence is clumsy, but read what Fine has to say about rules-lawyering. It often does come from some "expertise" with the system or some exhaustive knowledge of the ruleset. Protonk (talk) 23:03, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
Sometimes a "rules lawyer" can be pretty rules-dumb. Some are simply good at finding and exploiting rules that will benefit them, or impact other players and/or the DM negatively. They may not even know most of the rules particularly well. (talk) 23:03, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
That's true. I have no problem modifying the page to say as much, but we do need to stick close to the source material. If you want to make changes to the article, please go ahead. I'm happy for the help. Protonk (talk)
I was just speaking to be heard. ;) If we have some sources that say essentially what I just said, then we should definitely include that viewpoint in the article. (talk) 23:11, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
I don't think there's any need to worry about not referencing a claim that is not likely to be disputed and is obviously true. Unless someone wants to dispute the claim, I think we're in the clear. I can't read the reference, unfortunately, unless you know of an online copy :) (talk) 12:42, 18 June 2009 (UTC) Josh
Thanks for making the change. Seems good to me. Protonk (talk) 19:31, 3 July 2009 (UTC)


This should be merged with gaming the system. Kennercat (talk) 04:56, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

  • I disagree. This refers to a gaming style in role playing games, and the meaning would suffer in a merger. Protonk (talk) 05:23, 25 September 2009 (UTC)
Agree with Protonk; gaming the system is about more than just actual games. (talk) 12:23, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

Keep them separate. (talk) 22:10, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

Move to wiktionary?[edit]

This whole article looks to me like a definition of a (possibly slang) term. It's useful (I got here from Nomic) but is it encyclopedic? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:05, 16 December 2009 (UTC)

Maybe create something like wikt:Appendix:Glossary of U.S. Navy slang? Tijfo098 (talk) 07:29, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

I agree that the Wikipedia article should try to go a little beyond the mere defintion and speculation on the source of the word, which frankly fails WP:SYNT, because those sources don't speak of the context in this article. Tijfo098 (talk) 07:32, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

  • I'm biased, but I think it works fine as a wikipedia article. Protonk (talk) 15:02, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
I don't really think this is notable enough to deserve a Wikipedia article. Wiktionary would be better as it would make it easier to provide multiple definitions (it hardly has a purely consistent use) and the folks there tend to be more impartial about interpreting meaning from sources. Ranze (talk) 00:35, 25 October 2013 (UTC)


The reference after "without reference to the spirit" from 1983's "Shared Fantasy" article by Gary Fine, is this readable online somewhere? If we can't read it, how do we know whether or not this reference supports the claim made in the introduction? Should we really be presenting Fine's opinion as fact? I think it would be more proper to say "Fine defines it as" rather than imply that his opinion is everyone's opinion of what a rules lawyer is.

Part of the problem with such a definition too is that the "spirit" of the game is an intangible and subjective idea, so should we not note that who is considered a rules lawyer varies upon each player's idea of a game's purpose and how closely others live up to that perception? Ranze (talk) 00:35, 25 October 2013 (UTC)