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Safest modding practices

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I don't know what specifics to put in to googlefu the answer for this one; (I've been trying reddit / nexus as well)  If you were to list the modding process into a number of steps, for example,

Step 1  Install skyrim

Step 2  Install MO

Step 3 Install mods


etc;  How would you list said steps for the modding process?   So far I'm seeing it as (May be wrong, and I'm only entirely using the STEP guide + gamerpoets for reference) 

After steam, skyrim and pre-req's including MO are dealt with: 

1) Install mods.

2) follow mod specific instructions for said mods (If they require FNIS to be ran etc).

3) after all mods are installed, Merge patch. 

4) DSR reproccer patches.

5)Final step FNIS.  


Is merging via xEdit (TES5Edit) a requirement?  I've been having a ton of issues over a long span of time trying to mod my game and make it playable. At this point I just want to figure out what I'm doing wrong, and if somehow I'm botching the order of operations.

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I'm not sure how helpful an 'order of operations' is for modding.  The order in which you do things is important sometimes (much less with Mod Organizer) but it can't be generalized in the way you've attempted.  


If you like the look of the mods in STEP, then just follow that guide to a T and you will be fine.  If you want to add your own selection of mods on top, or begin to seriously alter what the guide does in any way...


There is SRLE Extended; Legacy of the Dragonborn which is more all-encompassing.


However if neither guide will satisfy your modding desires and you want to add or take things away still, then you need to know how to manage conflicts properly through MO and xEdit.  No procedure or steps or merge patch or bash patch or anything else will help much (depending at least on the mods you want to add).


In general, things like Bash Patch, DynDOLOD, FNIS, DSR, ASIS... these are all automated patchers of one sort or another, and should all be ran after all other mods are installed.  There is a specific order in which you want to run your patchers, as outlined in STEP / SRLEXLOTD, but again they will not solve all your problems.

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