NOTE: This thread was initiated in 2011. There have been some more recent discussion about scope (here, here, here and here). If you want to discuss an area not covered by those, please open a new question :)


There are generally two ways to get an increased number of users, either find new users, or do a scope increase. I'd like to ask, do you guys think it'd be worth it to increase the scope of this site somewhat? I don't know exactly what kinds of topics we might consider, but maybe someone out there has some good ideas. The most obvious is to allow any photoshop like questions, but I'm sure there's more out there.

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I was just coming here to ask. :) On photo.stackexchange.com we often get "how do I do such-and-such with photoshop" questions which are not really related to photography. Should we send those questions here, or to superuser.com ? –  mattdm Jan 29 '11 at 16:29
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@mattdm: I'd say here, see meta.graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/83/… –  PearsonArtPhoto Jan 29 '11 at 16:48
    
Increase in what way? Do you have specific ideas? –  Pekka 웃 Jan 31 '11 at 11:00
    
But I agree with the basic idea. Graphics.SE is struggling, and needs to grow bigger to get traction. –  Pekka 웃 Jan 31 '11 at 11:11
    
Does anyone know if anything more has been done about this? Is a new question/topic in order to formulate next steps? –  Philip Regan Feb 8 '11 at 18:08
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8 Answers 8

up vote 14 down vote accepted

UPDATE: Discussion on this topic is happening on Area51. Please join the conversation there. http://discuss.area51.stackexchange.com/q/374/6313


Disclaimer: this might be inflamitory, if it is: I'm sorry. Just know I'm not trying to offend anyone.

I think Graphic Design is a much too narrow scope. I didn't think it would be when i joined but after participating for a few weeks now, i find the questions have most boiled down too "how do you do this in photoshop". We are more than this. But i think we are feeling limited by the site's scope.

I've been re-reading Joel Spolsky's musings on the 'right size' for a stack exchange site. His basic instinct is something along the lines of:

"the right size might be somewhere around the size of a university department."

He points to Maths stackexchange as a successful example despite (or maybe because of) the broad range of mathmatical topics discussed there. After all, even if it doesn't directly target your area of expertise, many of us enjoy seeing questions, even loosely, related to our area of expertise.

With that in mind, most Universities i know don't have a graphic design department. They have a 'design' department. At the two major Universities near me that includes

  • fashion design
  • industrial design
  • graphic design
  • photographic design
  • spacial (interior) design
  • textile design
  • illustration
  • visual communication
  • digital media
  • culture and context

Now maybe not all of these are a good fit, and after all photographic already has the successful Photo Stackexchange. But reading that list, I feel we should make these moves:

  1. Merge with similar proposals. UI, Fonts and Typography, Comic (any others?)
  2. Re-brand under the banner design.stackexchange. We aim to make the site 'design' orientated. Not fix-my-computer-problems orientated (superuser)
  3. Widen the scope considerably. Include fashion/textile, industrial design and some sociology type sciences (as they apply to design)
  4. Introduce high level tags for various design discplines. And retag all current questions with "graphic design"

NB: I'm making this a community wiki so we can define the best moves to make together. With that in mind if you agree with the premise but disagree with the steps please up-vote and leave a comment.

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Well put, very good points and I like the action plan. The only thing I'm unsure about is the UI proposal, because it contains way more than just design questions and I'm unsure whether they would fit even if the scope were broadened to "Design". The design questions from UI would almost certainly all fit on GD, but the rest? Hmmm. But definitely worth speaking with them about. –  Pekka 웃 Feb 1 '11 at 7:54
    
@Pekka, thanks :). Do you have some experience with UI.stack? Could you post some examples of some of the tricky questions. I found this one: ui.stackexchange.com/q/3243, but in my mind that would still work for a design orientated site. –  JamesHenare Feb 1 '11 at 9:33
    
@Jaips no, no experience. From a quick glance at the home page, I find these problematic: Bread crumbs · WPF Linq editor · Likert scale But I do agree that a majority is well suitable, more than I initially thought. –  Pekka 웃 Feb 1 '11 at 9:37
    
Browsing through the most popular tags on UI stack; i feel they just about all relate to design, with a strong bent towards web design and mobile application design –  JamesHenare Feb 1 '11 at 9:48
    
@Pekka, ah i do see what you mean, i think i don't really have a problem with those types of questions, though i understand this is a very subjective area ;) –  JamesHenare Feb 1 '11 at 9:52
    
@Jaips I don't have a problem with those questions as such either, but they don't fit the "Design" category and that makes is hard to define the site's scope. "Site for design related questions plus some non-design related User Interface testing questions" sounds like a bad definition even if everybody is fine with it. But this is something the UI people can judge better, this needs to be discussed with them –  Pekka 웃 Feb 1 '11 at 9:55
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I think you are absolutely right. Let's change the name of this site to just Design, and let it roll from there. It should give some life into this site, and will make for a better community overall:-) –  PearsonArtPhoto Feb 1 '11 at 18:41
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While I agree in principle with a broadening to 'design', would this include everything to do web design? A large proportion of the questions here are web related, and I'm fairly sure that most of the general Photoshop questions originate from a web design context too. (I am not entirely sure why there's not already a web design SE site; seems to have become uncomfortably split between SO, UI, GD and Webmasters) –  e100 Feb 1 '11 at 19:23
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@e100 I'd say not everything: HTML belongs on SO; web-mastery questions on Webmasters. I like the idea of changing the site's name and scope. How would this be done though? Would that have to be talked about with the team? –  Pekka 웃 Feb 1 '11 at 22:33
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+1 for this but with the caveat that we either make "How To" questions off-topic or make clear a how-to tag and line item in the FAQ to be able to separate these out. The inclusion of industrial design will bring in CAD and digital media (which can mean a lot of things) will bring in 3D applications. I'm not against "How To" questions per se, but I do think we need some hooks to ensure they are deftly managed so they don't completely overrun the site. –  Philip Regan Feb 2 '11 at 11:41
    
@Philip @Pearson @e100 added Area51 discussion discuss.area51.stackexchange.com/questions/374/… –  Pekka 웃 Feb 2 '11 at 16:22
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@Philip very good points. This process would need a lot of moderation to work out right. –  Pekka 웃 Feb 2 '11 at 16:23
    
+1 and a few comments: a) re UI questions: many branches of design do user testing, not just UI. b) I'd say including many design disciplines here is like many programming languages on SO. A design.SE user who does illustration is not interested in AutoCAD questions just like an SO user who does Java is not interested in C++ compiling questions - so they don't read them. But they all benefit from having a broad community contributing to general questions. I don't do industrial design but I'd be interested in an industrial designer's perspective on general design principles. –  user568458 Apr 3 '12 at 11:41
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I agree that something needs to be done, and that that "something" is looking at other proposals to extend the scope to.

However, while merging with the UI site would be interesting, looking at the questions I see on their front page, I'm not sure whether the sites are really compatible. There seem to be many user experience, testing, and technical questions that don't fit the "design" umbrella even under the most liberal definition. Don't get me wrong, I would like to see it happen, but I'm not sure whether it's possible.

Another idea that came to my mind was extending the scope to the "real world", i.e. drawing and painting, but that may already implicitly be part of the equation? I'm not sure how "graphic design" is defined but at the moment, I would be hesitant to ask hardware questions about pencils and brushes here.

What do you guys think?

Other, smaller proposals that might be interesting to reach out to:

... and then, there is the heretical thought of merging with the Audio / Video proposals into a big "Visual Media" site.

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I have started a discussion on Fonts & Typography asking what they think of the idea of a merge. –  Pekka 웃 Jan 31 '11 at 14:21
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+1 for Fonts and Typography. –  Philip Regan Jan 31 '11 at 19:32
    
Yea, merging with UI would definitely challenge the current definition, it probably couldn't still be "graphicdesign.stackexchange" though (and please don't call me a hertic) maybe thats what it needs. I suggest we all read blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/merging-season –  JamesHenare Feb 1 '11 at 4:51
    
@Jaips interesting link, thanks. According to those rules, Fonts & Typography would be a perfect match. UI, I'm not so sure: I wouldn't mind changing the site's name, but there is so much outside the design scope there... Worth a discussion with them –  Pekka 웃 Feb 1 '11 at 7:53
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I don't know how some of the more hard-core users would feel about it, but there's another group out of beta that's been struggling along in a related, but not identical, field. That of User Interface design. What would you guys think of merging with a group like that?

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-1, see my answer to this question. UI wants nothing to do with anyone. –  Philip Regan Feb 3 '11 at 20:29
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At this point, I would just leave out UI.SE and approach the rest about merging. The discussion in Area 51 linked by Jaips still has yet to get input from higher-level representation over at UI.SE, but other discussions on their meta brings me to the conclusion that they would rather stay independent of any non-UI-specific SE sites.

Please see:

I think it is safe to say that all of the UI/UX community is against merging (with anyone, really).

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Thanks @Philip, can you please link to the discussion on their meta? –  JamesHenare Feb 3 '11 at 22:23
    
@Jaips: Done. I don't entirely agree with their case, but there really isn't arguing with their sentiments. –  Philip Regan Feb 4 '11 at 5:10
    
agreed, feeling quite over it now –  JamesHenare Feb 4 '11 at 5:32
    
I'm a moderator pro tem on UI and the third highest ranked user, so I guess you could say I'm "higher level representation." I posted my thoughts in an answer to this question. discuss.area51.stackexchange.com/questions/374/… I'm sorry I didn't speak up sooner. –  Patrick McElhaney Feb 5 '11 at 4:27
    
@Patrick: Thanks for stepping in and offering your thoughts. –  Philip Regan Feb 5 '11 at 14:57
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I strongly felt this would happen, at the very beguinning (I indeed mentioned). I actually understand the fear of those wishing this site only to be related to design concepts. But it can, as I am seing the very worrying stats, easily end up in nothing due to the lack of afluence, questions, people.

IMHO, and as I understood would have been more practical since an initial moment, there should be allowed any question for just anything 2D graphic making. And keep the closing ratio low, as this highly discourage people in early stages , and don't come back after a closed question that would fall in a bit ambiguous area, according to site scope or description.

The way I see it, you will not loose questions about design theory being asked, or related to design concerns, in general. You will just be adding other questions, that as have been said here, are often of interest, even if not about 'pure' design.

Game Development Stack, in theory (though have been discussed) has a particular problem. It is allowed to answer graphic making questions (I have solved many, there) in relation to game art making. But curiously, their users are so much more of the programming nature that you get a question every once in a big while. The problem is, the users asking those do really need quite some help, but a user like me wont monitor those much as is hard to spot any among a ton of programming questions. (but their scope allows graphic content making questions)

These days, a lot of us need to do some work as well in html/css. And a lot have big troubles in the matter. Stack overflow is a bit bloated of other languages questions, and probably the css questions there go way deeper than what many designers do need when just mounting their design. Webmasters Stack Exchange would close those questions as well.(they actually have a huge field and questions daily, they have no problem). As you probably know, there are css/html job vacants more targeted to the person that also codes in php, javascript, rails, knows pretty well mysql matters, etc. And another profile that would be a designer able to at least mount a basic template of his/her design in html/css.(many of us do so as we want to have better control of the output)

The way I see it: We should allow anything "2D" graphic creation. Because I don't see this stopping design questions appear(specially if you keep the site's name, or a version of it), but more as the way we have to make the site survive...

About areas like sketching, etc, I am answering illustration, wacom tablets questions,etc, which might be not inside the scope (not sure), but come on, for many of us it would have been really useful to be aware of certain tips in some of these areas for our every day work.

There are a lot of computer users that need help in doing a graphic, or are just interested in getting clear a certain concept related to this wider scope, not necessarily even being aware of design per se (or even about what is actually design), but some of us would not mind (to each his own, stack sites are like this, there's different knowledge/expertise areas inside each site's supporting people) to eventually answer some basic questions in that line. The way I see it, we wont get the needed numbers otherwise...

Simply, there is no stack exchange to support this matters, not a single one. This kind of content is left out on all of them, but can be pretty well concentrated in a single site, more about design, and graphics making. (yep, that would mean allowing graphic softwares (and not only Photoshop) techniques, etc)

It is something I have been thinking for a while, not only about this site, but about the main issue for this big area, in all the sites. Grabbing all those users and questions that are not finding a place (and being bounced(often not fairly)) in so many sites, but all can be covered by graphic making (however you prefer to word it), obviously as secondary term to "graphic design" in the title or description...

Excuse the length of this, is noted I started holidays today ;)

EDIT: I certainly would include here as a possibility comics making questions. Probably media and audio would fit better in a successful VFX stack already out there. Which does not need the help of a merge, I think, but not sure. Also, 3D, while I'd love some stack about it (I have experience on design, 3D, comics, graphic making in general, html/css, so I like all these areas) , might as well be out of 2D graphic making scope... Obviously if there is quorum about it, you could make an enormous "media creation" site, which would allow audio, video, 3D. But that is probably carry it way too far...

EDIT 2: Might sound crazy, but I right now I see nothing wrong, and a lot of possibilities in converting it to "Graphic design and media creation". Indeed, proposing to merge with the incoming "3D Graphics Techniques and Software" might be a solution for both(or just opening the scope to 3D), as that one seems to not be taking off... I am pretty aware of the huge user base we'd get related to 3D graphics making... I don't know. There are many possibilities to not let the site end up here. Whatever the community chooses.

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Yes, to include 2D visual arts

As indicated by the discussions at Do you want to rename the site to "Art & Design"?, which are overwhelmingly in favour of including some notiong of "art" (limited to 2D art) in the site title, this would be acceptable to a large proportion of site users.

There is currently a 2D art and design proposal with a bunch of good proposed questions that could easily fit in this site, if it had an expanded scope. There is discussion of how that proposal relates to this beta at http://discuss.area51.stackexchange.com/questions/6142/why-this-proposal-is-not-a-duplicate-of-the-graphic-design-proposal

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I think there should be an amalgamation of a few stack sites. Think there is a massive overlap with both photography and audio-video production, particularly when many questions revolve around the Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop or After Effects respectively). Perhaps the physical camera/shooting video and photography questions should be it's own photography/videography site and the actual graphic portions of those sites should be included on graphic design (rebranded as just graphics).

Personally I think the scope of Stack Overflow is so large that having an umbrella site for all graphics, (both still and motion graphics) would be consistent with that.

Summarize:

  • Graphics - all graphic software or print related questions
  • Photo and Video - all physical shooting, lighting and hardware questions
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There are a few somewhat related topics, that might fit into this site. I'm not a graphic design wizard, but I'll post them up for the fun of it. The topics all fit under the banner of fine arts, drawing, painting, sketching, etc. It's not a completely related field, but there is some overlap with design. What do you think?

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