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