I've just asked a question over on the Adobe Photoshop General Discussion board about saving designs out at various sizes. My first thought was to post it here, but then I remembered the threads on meta lamenting the proportion of posts on GD.SE just asking for specific help with specific tools, so I posted it over on the Adobe forum instead. That's left me with a two questions.

  1. Do we want How do I do X in Photoshop? questions posted on GD.SE?

  2. If we do is it bad form to cross-post to Adobe's own forums too?

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My 2c -- I think these questions are (usually) okay, but it becomes a problem when these types of questions are the only thing being asked for long stretches of a time. However, this is but one user's opinion. –  Aarthi Nov 5 '12 at 0:14

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I've been here for just over two months now, and I like those types of questions because they fit the format better, they help me to learn new things, they provide some lower-hanging fruit to get some rep, and they draw a more diverse variety of people to the site.

I tried asking questions for the scope expansion project and it's way harder to do questions that aren't "how do I do x in y". And I like this site's setup way better than Adobe's, so I'd personally rather not have two sites/accounts/systems when I can have one.

However, it's my impression that most people who ask Photoshop how to questions are programmers who need a quick answer and then leave, never to return. I don't know if that makes for a healthy site...it wouldn't matter as much if it didn't make up such a big portion of the questions.

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Thanks Brendan, all interesting points and "some lower-hanging fruit to get some rep" is something I'd not considered. –  dumbledad Nov 6 '12 at 8:45

I think how-to questions are an important part of GD.SE. Often there are many ways to a solution and reading through different approaches one can learn a thing or two. because for the QA it might be a specific solution, for everyone else it's all about the process and workflow.

However, and this is where I agree with Brendan, currently they often tend to be quick fixes which does not provide a challenge, which I feel is a big motivation to answer questions. But it's not all black and white, I have answered questions that can be summed up with RTFM and very simple ones that only need one mouse-click, but were still somewhat challenging or at least the information wasn't readily available. And I have often seen it that other people than the QA thanked someone for an answer simply because it was useful or interesting to them, even when the original question was already answered satisfyingly. And this is important (to me) comunity wise. Exchange of ideas, workflow and know-how. Often more than answering specific questions.

So now we have some "bad ones", but what makes them bad and how would we want them instead?

I personally feel most frustrated when the question is so specific that I feel there is a overlying problem/task which is not part of the question, which makes it so hard to answer. I am of course capable of answering the question, but I often wonder if the solution fits the problem at all. Like it is all on a need-to-know basis for the designer. Which discredits the people you are asking for help. Let me try to outline this with an example. Recently I answered "where to put the menue on a website". While I tried to give insight on how to tackle the problem, I felt the only answers suitable would be "why?" and "it depends". Because there wasn't enough information to give a more detailed answer on the actual problem. Now the QA might have expected an answer like "left" or "top". But that could be highly unsatisfying to the person giving the answer and most likely unsuitable for QAs specific problem. Why? Because it's a design-o-mat question. Just like "What's a nice font?" or "good colors for websites?". Ka-ching, design-o-mat has produced (1) answer. That's just not how creative problemsolving works. Or how community works.

How to encourage people to ask questions with a bit more insight on the actual problem I unfortunately do not know. We can vote, we can encourage them in comments to add infos (I have noticed they get closed a lot faster recently). But yes, like Brendan said, if they don't return, there is no point.

tl;dr

Yes we need them, and like always, we need to focus on the "good ones". With voting, ecouraging and with answering.

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It's a fine line.

"How to get over this hurdle I'm experiencing."

is quite different than...

"What are the exact steps to do this..."

I'm not a fan of those wanting a complete tutorial just because they ask. And, as others have pointed out, Google can handle those.

My general response is "What have you tired".. if nothing.. then it's not worth my time to do it for you.

I love solving problems. Design or technical or how to as they relate to design. If a problem is presented, then those are the questions I'm eager to see answers for. And, to a great degree, I'll try and solve the problem myself.

While some issues are non-problems and merely due to user inexperience, there have been some challenging questions here. That question on texture in Photoshop comes to mind. It caused me to explore many options and although I eventually ended up writing a basic tutorial for how to achieve textures, it was not the goal. The goal was to solve a specific problem.

I do not see "I'm not an expert. Show me how to do this." as a problem question. It's a "Show me because I'm too lazy to figure it out" question.

This is purely my opinion and I realize everyone has their own scale for what is a "problem" and what is a "show me" question.

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It really wouldn't make sense to rule out Photoshop tech questions when so much of what goes on here is about tech. I could easily see that sort of limitation making it difficult to answer a question here without referring a person to another site for part of the solution.

That said, I will not be answering Photoshop questions: There's enough tutorials out there to fill the Library of Congress! ;)

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