Most of the community here is in agreement that "How do I do X basic thing in Program?" questions are not what we're here for. (The line between "basic" and "moderate" is blurry, but that's for dancing angels to work out.)

But I hate to see a front page full of [on hold] and [closed] questions from new users who then never return because we've closed the door on them so sharply, even if the closure is legitimate by our standards.

So my question for the mods, and the community at large, is can we in fact create the Graphic Design Software Support stack which these newbies are desperate for, so that we can migrate those questions rather than just kicking them out? This way users who might be interested in doing tech support can do so, and GDSE can be cleared out to focus on actual design questions, or at least more advanced How-to questions. (I can't rule those out — half of my questions here are how-tos!)

I mean, can anyone just go over to Area51 and propose something? I admit I'm not particularly knowledgeable in how the rest of the SE network operates.

  • 4
    Sounds good to me. We should be aware, though, that this might mean a significant decrease in activity for GD.SE. I also wonder about the overlapping, not just with us but with superuser as well. Lots of sites overlap, but it might be argued that this stack already exists (SU). Still, if enough people show interest this wouldn't be a problem!
    – Yisela
    May 4, 2015 at 17:09
  • The biggest overlap is with Super User for sure. Trying a new proposal can't hurt though! May 4, 2015 at 17:40
  • @Yisela Yes, I've thought about that myself. But either we change our scope here to allow for software support or we admit that our user base isn't all that broad. May 4, 2015 at 18:19
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    @MarkMussler Super User is terribly intimidating, and very wide in focus. Given all the activity here, I would say it wouldn't be hard at all to have a stack which is more narrowly tailored to GD software. May 4, 2015 at 18:21
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    I think on the whole it would just be a subset of SuperUser.com -- not sure if that's a good or bad thing. Users post here because they happen to be using the software in a design scenario but all the questions do fit superuser (if they are good quality).
    – Scott
    May 4, 2015 at 18:29
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    Note i'm not weighing in in either direction, really. I am concerned it may cause more confusion for users... "I want to create a dog in ApplicationX... so which site do I post on? It's creating, but it's also software specific." As opposed to the confusion that already exists regarding tech support vs. design. On the other hand, it may help users who clearly need "My Adobe be broke" support. So, it may add an additional tier of confusion.
    – Scott
    May 4, 2015 at 19:12
  • @Scott I think if GDSWS existed, then both we and SuperUser could migrate appropriate questions there. So even if someone did post "my Adobe be broke" on Super User, SU would just send it to GDSWS. May 4, 2015 at 21:25
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    @Scott I don't know about you, but I'm VTCing 10 to 15 questions a day which are "tech support and should be migrated to Super User." So instead of sending these poor lost lambs into the maw of Super User, why not set up a stack just for them? There is clearly, achingly a need. May 4, 2015 at 21:26
  • Lauren, I'm honestly not for or opposed either way. Yes I think the plethora of [on hold] is not a great thing. But I kind of also agree with @GiantCowFilms' answer below. I'm really torn here. Is there value in a "I can't be bothered to use help files" stack?? Sure everyone starts somewhere. Is that something my time would be worth? Probably not.
    – Scott
    May 4, 2015 at 23:21
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    @LaurenIpsum I invited the Photography Exchange to weigh-in as they have a decent number of questions on software as well: meta.photo.stackexchange.com/questions/4759/…
    – Ryan
    May 5, 2015 at 14:51

5 Answers 5


This is a tough one. Ideally, graphic designers who have software questions should ask that here. But we do seem to get a lot of non graphic designers who are simply too lazy to google a photoshop tutorial.

The problem with the latter is that having a site just for that is pointless. No one wants to hang around a SE site answering lazy questions.

So I would vote no, we do not need a separate GD software site. Keep software questions here. Keep the good ones open, keep closing the lazy ones.

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    Very clearly put :D (I have much to learn) May 8, 2015 at 16:15

Stack Exchange is not a home for poorly asked or not very useful questions (Useful to only one person, to specific, Hlps plz), ever. The questions put on hold here are put on hold because they are below the Stack Exchange level. I'm not talking too simple or anything, I'm talking plain bad. The simple ones are fine here and have the home. The closed questions on GD.SE are not closed for lack of a home, they are closed for lack of worth.

Software questions should have a home here, but they need to be good. Any graphic design software question worth being on this network should be and is topical here

What you're proposing here is a garbage bin for questions folks might look back on and wish they'd never asked, a compost heap. I understand this brutal treatment of new users can feel wasteful (throwing traffic away) and elitist, however this attitude is what made Stack Exchange great.

The people who are either skilled or persistent enough (me being the latter) to survive and rise in this system are the same people who made these sites great. The brutality of Stack Exchange is how quality is kept up.

Graphic Design supports tool how-tos, anything beneath the quality level here deserves no place in this knowledge database*.

Note: I was brutally treated on Stack Overflow (auto-post banned); however, I stuck around on the network and survived...

*Stack exchange is literally a massive data base containing the knowledge of thousands of professionals

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    "Survival of the fittest" is almost diametrically opposed to how I see Stack Exchange personally.
    – Dom
    May 4, 2015 at 22:41
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    @Dom some people should think that Stack Exchange ought to be nice, and that everyone is entitled to participate (I used to think that way to); however, every day I see more and more people come in without the skills or want to contribute effectively, and I have become more & more callous because I've realized if we let them stay, the quality here will plummet, and Stack Exchange will lose its sole. I'm sad, I wish all questions were worth of an answer, but reality is a bit more complicated. May 4, 2015 at 22:47
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    Just because a users question doesn't fit the model, it doesn't mean that user can't adapt. The whole point is making a knowledge base that's free for anyone to use.
    – Dom
    May 4, 2015 at 23:36
  • There is customarily a level of experience needed though Dom. Every question any user has will never work on any stack. There's a baseline which is customarily established for all stack sites. That base merely tells users "answers are otherwise easily obtainable".
    – Scott
    May 4, 2015 at 23:37
  • @Scott that level of experience can be obtained over time though. Directing such users to the right places is easy (a Google is even quicker than a comment). The same users will come back with good questions eventually, think long term. They'll never come back if they're treated badly, no matter how good they get at GD.
    – Dom
    May 4, 2015 at 23:54
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    @Dom I was treated badly and came back, yes we ought to be polite, and teach users, helping them grow, but we shouldn't make an entire new site for these inferior questions. They have no place here, we can help users who want to learn grow, but until they learn their posts have no place here. May 5, 2015 at 0:02
  • So let me ask, GiantCow and @Scott, right now we're closing or migrating these questions. If they get migrated to Super User, does SU shut them down? I genuinely don't know. If we boot them because GD is not the "right" stack, how does the "right" stack treat that kind of question? May 5, 2015 at 0:32
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    There's a marked difference between not allowing some question and "treating users badly" I don't think we ever treat anyone badly around here even if questions are closed. As for migration @LaurenIpsum if the question is a sound question - shows effort, is clear, not a duplicate, etc. - then migration is generally not a problem as I understand it. A mod would be in a better place to answer that though.
    – Scott
    May 5, 2015 at 0:36
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    For the record I got stomped on a few times at StackOverflow and Freelancing.se. That didn't really deter me in any way other than to ensure IF I asked or answered a question, it was asked in a thorough, effort-shown manner. All it did was prevent me for posting by-the-seat-of-my-pants questions or answers. If I feel I have a question, but fear it may not be up to SO standards... I search first and only after exhausting personal efforts will I post a question (showing my efforts). All it does is raise the level of user expectations, which is a good thing in my opinion.
    – Scott
    May 5, 2015 at 1:16
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    @Scott the "No soup for you!" can be taken unkindly by some when it's actually easy to soften the blow with a friendly comment. I'm not defending poor questions, I'm taking issue with "survival of the fittest". That's just a bad way to look at it, imo, and is likely to tarnish user interactions subconsciously. It has been edited out anyway, perhaps an unintended exaggeration, maybe a change of heart. Either way that was my point of interest.
    – Dom
    May 5, 2015 at 2:13
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    This is simply untrue: Stack Exchange is not a home for noob questions, ever. Aiming for high quality content is completely unrelated to what level of high-quality-content we welcome. I'm ill equipped to opine on what GD should allow, but answerable, useful beginner questions are 100% welcome on SE.
    – Jaydles
    May 5, 2015 at 14:21
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    As it happens, I share your doubt of the new site's prospects. Sites motivated by what some users on another site may not want rarely work. Again, I'm not the right person to know what the right line for this community is, but the easiest way to deal with useful basic questions is often... to just answer them. Which prevents them from being asked again (dupes) but without fighting over arbitrary lines with angry noobs. Not saying that's right here, but it's often effective.
    – Jaydles
    May 5, 2015 at 14:33
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    What you're essentially talking about are poorly asked questions, the experience of the person asking generally has very little to do with that. Stack Overflow does strongly push you to be a better communicator, I've met kernel wizards that couldn't write a coherent email. The tone of this really resonates with "get off my lawn", that's totally not what we're about, I don't think that's how you intended to come across. Communicating, it's hard :)
    – Tim Post
    May 5, 2015 at 14:36
  • 1
    @GiantCowFilms I made a tiny edit, taking into account that people do get better at this stuff, that's why I overhauled the question block system. Folks asked 2 or 3 whoppers, then figured it out, but they couldn't ask anymore. Hint, it's still effective, but not quite what most would call brutal anymore :) Tough love is good, making people feel horrible on top of desperate isn't, which is why I changed things.
    – Tim Post
    May 5, 2015 at 15:40
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    @LaurenIpsum Maybe you folks are trying to shed too much scope. If anyone doesn't want to answer them (at the cost of rep). go ahead, however I feel like I'd expect Photoshop and illustrator questions on a graphic design forum. May 6, 2015 at 13:33

After some thought.. here's my take....

What is "graphic design" if not problem solving in general??

To work or play as a designer you must have at least an entry level ability to solve problems. And that has nothing to do with experience levels. Even the youngest, newest, designer must be able to solve problems for themselves the same way they must understand measurement systems. If you don't know what an inch or pica or millimeter is, you can't be a designer. If you can't actively try and solve problems you encounter, you can't be a designer.

Lazy questions which show an inability to Google search or use the application help files do one clear thing to me... they show a complete lack of problem-solving abilities and a desire to have others do your work for you. Is that why everyone's here?

Bad questions are bad questions. MOST of the software or tech-support questions I see here are these lazy questions and that has always been my primary issue with them on the site.

On a personal level, I'd have no problem answering anything and everything someone asked of me. However, on a StackExchange site, if you can't even be bothered to spend 15 minutes trying to solve your own issue, you shouldn't be posting a question.

Looking at the proposal, all of the sample questions could easily be answered with 15 minutes of research and Google. None of those questions require a deep level understanding of the application or expert knowledge. The answers are easily found and steps or procedures clearly explained in application help files.

So... my inclination is the proposal would be, as others have stated, a "garbage bin" for lack-of-effort, easily answered, questions and ultimately no more valuable than any web site which currently displays the answers (of which there are many).

After some discussion in chat about on and off topic things I've come to some further realizations.

I do not think all tech support here is bad.

Much of it can be, but there are very valuable tech support issues which we should handle here. The difference primarily is when answers would provide technical knowledge as opposed to application troubleshooting.

This question stirred a discussion:
How to get consistent color in Photoshop when using the [Print Screen] command?

Now, is that tech support and off topic or on topic?

I feel it's on topic for some clear reasons:

  • Any answers would provide technical knowledge about how to calibrate a monitor or set color settings within Photoshop.
  • Any answers would provide information which would be valuable to hundreds of visitors, even if they were somewhat experienced.
  • Any answers would not need to be specific to a users hardware or configuration.

That being posted I agree that it is a tech support question. So I can see why it would possibly get close votes. But when a question would provide knowledge every designer may find valuable, there's still a lot of merit in the tech support question.

These types of tech support questions belong here and should be allowed to stay. The intent is to further knowledge needed in the graphic design field.

The Grey area

This question falls between what's above and below:
Why is Illustrator not making sublayers for each new path?

Is this tech support? To me, yes. However, it's not really asking for application support. It's asking more about workflow support. Yes, the answer is simple, straight-forward, and merely takes some knowledge of the application settings. However, if you don't know what you don't know, where else can someone ask this? Why not allow some of these questions to remain. This question, although basic, clearly shows some thought behind it.

In fact I've even purposefully posted such rudimentary questions to have answers available: How do I apply a gradient across multiple objects in Illustrator?

This type of question is admittedly a very, very, very large grey area and I don't begin to try and define these with definitive boundaries.

Would they fit with the proposal? Probably, yes. But only if they show effort, are clear, and not duplicates, in which case they also fit here, don't they?

The Garbage Bin

By comparison, these closed questions are rightly closed:

Error opening EPS in GIMP 2.8



Why? Because these deal with error messages or hardware issues which are specific to the user's environment. Application error messages don't always elude to tech support issues, but they can be a large contributing factor for me. Error messages can elude to workflow problems which are not related to the host systems. Each question is unique and depending upon error messages, and my application understanding, I judge what i feel is accordingly.

So in summary, I feel this proposal is geared to handling these topics we are closing (the grey area or garbage bin). And seeing that, I can't understand how these types of off-topic tech support questions would make a valuable stack in itself.

I do think, at times, questions which fall under technical knowledge get unfair close votes. And I'm not claiming that I'm perfect by any means. This post is merely seeking to elaborate upon what I feel is on and off-topic and why a proposal for our closed questions may not be warranted.

  • 1
    Perhaps one issue we can potentially fix is the lack of understanding of design that inexperienced drive by users sometimes have. This site possesses so much educative knowledge, and new users could improve their skills substantially before ever asking a question, but it's almost impossible to find such posts without knowing exactly what they're looking for. If we compiled a list of questions as modules/lessons, going from basics to more advanced, I think we could help all parties involved.
    – Dom
    May 9, 2015 at 12:00
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    How would that differ from reviewing help files or any one of a million tutorial sites, Dom?
    – Scott
    May 9, 2015 at 17:39
  • Once they've accumulated all of the knowledge we've recommended, they'll be in a better position to ask questions. Learning GD as you go is quite difficult, and would be easier if one could quickly identify their known unknowns, instead of stumbling upon them by chance. Not having to browse 5 different websites for a decent explanation is one big plus imo.
    – Dom
    May 9, 2015 at 22:54
  • Dom, what you are suggesting is not a StackExchange site. In addition, your suggestion is generally the model for every tutorial site out there. It's not a unique idea and it is specifically why Stack sites are different.
    – Scott
    May 9, 2015 at 23:16
  • Do you have any thoughts on what to do with the poor questions then? There's no, "show more effort" CV reason May 10, 2015 at 18:16
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    @MarkMussler I down vote. That's why the buttons are there. Or if the question is purely asking for software support, I vote to close. I don't personally think there's an issue if poor questions are closed. It only shows that GD.SE expects a certain level of question.
    – Scott
    May 10, 2015 at 18:25
  • That might be worth adding to the answer itself :) May 10, 2015 at 18:30

I don't think SE needs a support stack just for Graphic Design. Instead of taking away or causing separation in what we have I think we need to, as a community, discuss some issues in hand.

I do not mind beginner questions and I do prefer more design based questions but my issue with new members is the lack of effort and it will always be that. Everyone has to learn and I get that but when someone comes and just asks how do I do X and says they haven't tried I feel it defeats the purpose of any stack site which is a place for professionals. Professionals, in my mind, will make any/all effort and document accordingly before proceeding with their questions, but when we get some people like "How do you make such a shape in photoshop?" I want to close this as broad because it would need a full blown tutorial and what areas are we really answering other than providing a tutorial. Does the new member need help, yes, but do they deserve it, no. So opening a new stack site still doesn't solve the problem and that this questions is flat out crap and in no way is professional.

Now would a new stack site work? Doubt it because the scope will be too close in similarity and we would battle the issue from people wondering what the difference is. We battle that now on what is considered software support and actually a design question. Even after posting to some meta questions new members have gotten annoyed and lashed out.

I know some aren't going to want to hear it but we should consider re-defining our scope. We addressed font-id questions, which caused us to go from 1 million a day to 1 about every other day. I will start working on closing all the and questions since it is clear from the meta post they are off-topic.

Overall we are just going to have to face the facts and that is if we want GD to flourish we are just going to have to take the very beginner questions and address them accordingly and encourage edits in a nice manner. That might be hard for some, because some people will not understand ad lash out at your comment and just want to argue, I get that, but you could look at it as working on your communication skills.

  • 1
    +1 for that last paragraph alone. Couldn't agree more.
    – Vincent
    May 7, 2015 at 13:54
  • What do communication skills have to do with graphic des...oh...right...good point! :) +1
    – DA01
    May 8, 2015 at 15:44

Okay, I've gone and done it.


If you like the idea, or at least you're not actively opposed to it :) , please follow it and submit some questions — I just grabbed some likely ones from the first four or five pages here.

If there isn't sufficient support, well, at least we tried and now we know.

  • 3
    I'm up voting here because you've followed through with it, however I can't support it for many reasons, the most notable being that about half, or more, of our questions are software questions. They attract the users in the first place, that go on to post the good questions. I was going to write an answer but there's a lot I want to say and I don't have time to formulate it well. One other thing is that we couldn't migrate to it until it graduated, which creates many questions about the limbo period until then.
    – Dom
    May 4, 2015 at 22:38
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    Wouldn't a tag like "software-basics" also do it? Those can be filtered and ignored.
    – KMSTR
    May 5, 2015 at 13:45
  • @Dom Following through with making a proposal doesn't justify upvoting, do you actually believe in this proposal. May 5, 2015 at 14:34
  • @KMSTR The community here doesn't want to be Adobe Support. I am suggesting that we create a stack for these questions which are otherwise okay, as those which have been migrated to SU have been almost all answered (and not closed for being poor quality). May 6, 2015 at 9:56
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    I understand that. Many here don't want to be font identifiers either, so there is a rule and a tag for that. Seems to work for most.
    – KMSTR
    May 6, 2015 at 9:57
  • @KMSTR Okay, but "font ID" questions are broad but shallow: "What font is this?" GS SW questions can be both broad and deep. There's the entire Adobe suite, GIMP, Inkscape, Quark, FrameMaker, I'm sure I'm missing a bunch. Again, the community here has decided they don't mind helping with the occasional well-written font question, but they don't want to be Adobe Support. May 6, 2015 at 10:00
  • I agree with you that we should not be Adobe support. Where do you think should how to questions go then? Here or to the support forum?
    – KMSTR
    May 6, 2015 at 10:04
  • @KMSTR The proposed Support forum. That's my entire point. May 6, 2015 at 10:05
  • All how-to? That's what I think might be a big overshooting.
    – KMSTR
    May 6, 2015 at 10:06
  • @KMSTR Basic to moderate how-to — right now, everything that we close for "This is a tech support question asking how to make technology work as advertised; either contact the manufacturer or go to SuperUser." I just think there are so many of these and SU has such churn that a stack focused on these questions might be useful. May 6, 2015 at 10:07
  • I see your point. I was just concerned about moving all.
    – KMSTR
    May 6, 2015 at 10:09
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    @LaurenIpsum I don't think much will be left of this site if its only theory questions. Software support is like broccoli (or any other detestable vegetable), It makes up the majority of your vitamins and nutrition (for the site that would be traffic and content), yet is not fun. Sadly, you still have to eat it. Theory questions are Cake, fun to answer, but eating only cake will make for a very unhealthy site. In short GD.SE still needs to answer software questions, doing otherwise would shed too much scope. May 9, 2015 at 2:16
  • @GiantCowFilms For the record, I personally would have no problem if GD expanded its scope to include software questions as on-topic. Many people here feel otherwise. May 9, 2015 at 10:57
  • GD has already expanded its scope for software questions (at least the good ones), since day 1. May 9, 2015 at 15:33
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    @Scott Ultimately my goal is not even to get that particular stack running as it is to stop the flood of closed questions from newbies cluttering the front page, driving them off. If you have a better solution, I am all ears. May 10, 2015 at 19:09

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