We've had various discussions about the FAQ and the scope of GD.SE. Based on the feedback and what's been voted up, specifically this one about idea gathering, this one about better defining, this one about "ultra-simple" questions and this one about who we are talking to, I'm putting the following up for consideration. In a week or so I would like to schedule a chat cast to round out the discussion and settle on a final version.

Any and all suggestions are welcome!

Here is the proposal:

Graphic Design is for 2D design professionals, students, and enthusiasts. This includes people without a formal design background faced with the need to "be their own designer" or to work with designers in a professional capacity.

Ask your question here when you face a specific graphic design problem that can be specifically answered. This includes questions about:

  • Graphic arts theory and history
  • Design, typography and visual communication principles and fundamentals
  • Design techniques, whether with digital or traditional media and tools
  • Practical issues related to the business of design (“How do I handle this client request?”)
  • Web design
  • Layout and printing, including press, digital and grande format printing
  • Illustration
  • Digital media (video, motion graphics, digital displays)

but not:

  • "How to" questions about basic functions of application software (“How do I save a jpeg in Photoshop?”)
  • Brainstorming or idea gathering (“I’m looking for ideas for a logo”)
  • Technical questions related to 3D software
  • Technical questions related to video production
  • Web site architecture and back-end development (HTML markup, javascript, server-side issues)
  • Landscaping, interior design or architecture

Ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page; they will be closed by the community.

Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book or online course that answers your question, you’re asking too much.


Asking for a design critique is okay, if your question is specific (“The eye trail in this layout should be A to B to C, but no matter what I do it seems to go B to A to C. How would I fix that?”). General, vague or entirely subjective questions (“What do you think of this design?”) are not acceptable.

  • Excellent! Can I request specifically that we alter a specific sentence? :)
    – Farray
    Commented Mar 3, 2012 at 5:37
  • For sure. That's why it has the "discussion" tag. :) Commented Mar 3, 2012 at 6:29
  • Any thoughts on using the "System Message" banner on the main site to promote this question in the lead-up to setting a chat-cast date? May be useful to remind everyone that this section (and specifically this question) exists.
    – Farray
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 16:38
  • I've been thinking about that, especially since so far there are exactly two people involved in this conversation. Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 19:31

3 Answers 3



  • Replace "Technical questions related to 3D software" and "Technical questions related to video production" with something like "Technical questions about the production of a completed design (e.g. video production, printing, rendering). This site is for creating production quality designs, not sending finished designs to press". If we try to cover all the specifics we'll need a list a million and one items long, this covers everything from generative art (composing a balanced, attractive design: yes. Configuring your server to produce it: no), to screen printing (make a design work in limited colours: yes. What type of frame to use: no), to interactive data visualisations (how much complexity is too much in a design: yes. How to pull data from this type of data source: no) etc etc

  • The 2D bit in "Graphic Design is for 2D design professionals" seems like it's asking to become anachronistic. More and more people work in both 2D and 3D, including many members of this site. Several years ago, it might have seemed normal to define a site like this as either print or web, and many years before that, as vector or raster, but today these would seem odd since so many people work in both. It seems to be a direction the industry is heading that it is becoming increasingly normal for 2D designers to have and use tools like ZBrush and Blender and to switch between 2D and 3D like switching between vector and raster. There are better ways to keep out questions about rendering and OpenGL - in fact, almost all questions of this type would be covered by the above "production" point.

  • And when I say "2D designers" I of course mean people with a typical design background... It's funny how cultural divides like this become so entrenched in our thinking. Commented Mar 9, 2012 at 11:38
  • 1
    Good points. I've never been entirely comfortable with the 2D/3D separation, which seems both artificial and increasingly obsolescent (especially considering Photoshop now does 3D and video, and After Effects has long had the ability to work in a three-axis space). Motion graphics is very much a part of the field. Your "front end, not back end" distinction is very on point. Commented Mar 9, 2012 at 20:29

I'd like to see some bullets about Visual Data Representations and Generative Art added. I'm thinking


  • Asking how a data representation was created
  • Critiquing a data representation for its effectiveness and clarity
  • Specific questions regarding the availability and use of applications to this end (same as we have tons of questions about Gimp, Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator...)
  • Video representations seem to be covered in the FAQ already so it should follow it would also be allowed via Generative Art.

Not Allowed

  • Questions primarily asking about the formulating and working with statistics prior to any graphical phase
  • Questions getting into programming Interactivity

What do you all think?

  • Just as ActionScript, javascript, TeX or Postscript programming questions would be off-topic, so would questions regarding generative software. I love fractal generators, but while their output is certainly graphic, it's definitely not design. Same goes for any back end that automatically generates a visualization of a data set. The second of your bullet points is definitely valid for GD in the "does this design effectively [x]?" category. Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 18:45
  • At what point does design begin then to you? It's all dots on a screen regardless of whether you make them with a pen tool or saying dot(x,y). Its absolutely design though. Just because the tool is frequently a command line instead of a GUI that doesn't change it. Does it? We have numerous questions about Flash, HTML5, and web design in general - all of which are allowed in our current FAQ. I see no reason this should be the black sheep.
    – Ryan
    Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 19:00
  • If you'd like we can move to a Chat if this gets to be a lengthy discussion.
    – Ryan
    Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 19:01
  • It's a somewhat murky question, certainly. Design to me is visual. It usually begins with a drafting table or a sketchpad (even if on-screen). If I draw an infographic in Illustrator or InDesign, I'm designing. If I generate a chart programatically, the programming is not design, only the visual representation itself. HTML/PHP questions would be off-topic. CSS is mostly on-topic in that it's highly visual. Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 19:39
  • I agree HTML/PHP is not as visual but I would also say that CSS is less visual then Generative Art. In fact the first part of the Processing tutorial is to sketch away from the computer: processing.org/learning/anatomy and I agree and do this very thing. Take a diagram that someone made and wants a critique - you agree that it is okay to seek a critique of that nature. What if instead someone posts someone elses piece and asks how would this be made. Why would we allow one but not the other?
    – Ryan
    Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 20:22
  • My feeling is it would probably belong on stats.stackexchange.com in the case of someone looking for an appropriate data visualization application, mostly because I see pretty slim pickings for answers among the users here. Commented Mar 9, 2012 at 3:43
  • You know it would be one thing if you had a good reason - and I'd love to hear other's opinions to. But to say you don't welcome it primarily because our user base doesn't know it sounds like a terrible and frankly, defeatist view on where we want to go with this exchange.
    – Ryan
    Commented Mar 9, 2012 at 14:38
  • It's a matter of definition more than opinion: aiga.org/guide-whatisgraphicdesign. What you see as "defeatist" is actually a separation of what is graphic design from what isn't. Graphic designers don't work with the kind of data visualization software you're asking about, because it's not part of the field. This SE is for graphic designers. I don't know how to express it more simply. Commented Mar 9, 2012 at 20:22
  • Paragraph 2, first sentence: "or computer-generated images (pictures)" Paragraph 5, second sentence: "or graphically rendered in many different ways. Image-based design is employed when the designer determines that, in a particular case, a picture is indeed worth a thousand words." And then there are programs like Rensellaer Polytech which won't even look at a graphic design portfolio unless it incorporates interactivity or video. hass.rpi.edu/pl/emac
    – Ryan
    Commented Mar 9, 2012 at 20:59
  • First paragraph of your AIGA link is actually the strongest argument "But if you use any visual medium at all-if you make a poster; type a letter; create a business logo, a magazine ad, or an album cover; even make a computer printout-you are using a form of visual communication called graphic design." - ANY VISUAL MEDIUM AT ALL-you are using a form of visual communication called graphic design
    – Ryan
    Commented Mar 9, 2012 at 21:02
  • Rereading that last comment especially with the bold, it sounds a bit aggressive - it wasn't intended to be.
    – Ryan
    Commented Mar 9, 2012 at 23:16
  • Just saw this debate. Re "Graphic designers don't work with [Processing]": 1. I do. 2. Lots of designers do. Or is, say, Jer Thorp's Popular Science piece not graphic design? blog.blprnt.com/blog/blprnt/138-years-of-popular-science 3. I don't have the copy of Graphic Design: The New Basics to hand (book where I first heard of Processing) but it has lots of examples of Processing used as a design technique (as opposed to its other uses as an abstract art technique, data visualisation tool or tech toy). 4: Will all new, up&coming techniques need to prove design credentials to be allowed? Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 15:51
  • The last of those four points is the most important. Designers aren't exactly famous for liking narrow, inside-the-box, dogmatic thinking or arbitrary rules about what is and isn't allowed... I can't imagine myself coming back to a site where it feels like anything that doesn't fit some other guy's personal picture of Real Graphic Design will be abruptly shown the door. I doubt other designers will too. This site will dwindle and die if it's not as dynamic and open to new ideas as the discipline it is intended to represent. Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 15:57

I think the proposal is good and I'm up for the chat-cast.

Some thoughts on the proposal...

  1. I wish we had a more elegant solution to 3D questions... they aren't a good fit here, and they generally seem to be not a great fit on SU either. There was a A51 proposal but it died in Beta. I guess it's "not our problem", but I hate closing questions without having a good direction to point people in. This may not be solvable, but I'm throwing it out there in case others have some ideas.
  2. Maybe we could reword the "too broad" sentence. I think people see "could reasonably write a book on the subject" and think "...but a pro could sum that book up in 1 answer". I'll put some more thought into this later.
  3. One other thought is that we draw greater distinction in the 2 main lists. Many people seem to overlook the "but not about" distinction. Perhaps something simple like:

    We welcome questions about...

    • bullet 1
    • bullet n

    This is not the right place for...

    • bullet 1
    • bullet n


Is there a way (and do we want to) include language about templates/tutorial requests. We haven't had a ton of these lately, but there have been a few... would be nice to draw a specific distinction between "you may receive answers with mini tutorials in them" and "do not simply request us to write tutorials for you".

  • These are all great points. 3D I've left alone, mostly because I didn't want to change too much too quickly and wasn't certain what the original reasoning was. That said, I work in After Effects and Photoshop Extended with 3D and "2.5D", and these modes are becoming more useful for design work as workstations get more powerful. And 3D is coming soon to HTML, so this could be revisited. Your other two points are spot on. Now let's hope some other folks chime in here! Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 4:19
  • @AlanGilbertson Good point about 3D. I'm not opposed to it in the design workflow or with common designer tools (AI's pseudo-3D effects come to mind), but doubtful that we'll have good answers for pure render questions. Can refine this later...
    – Farray
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 16:35
  • More fodder for "good critique vs bad critique" definition. graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/6409/…
    – Farray
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 16:45
  • And a good example of the kind of question that has a fairly definitive answer to a specific design question (even though the question itself is somewhat poorly worded). Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 20:45
  • Ooh, just saw wording I like on RPG.SE. "it's not a question, it's a work request"
    – Farray
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 1:33
  • Related: meta.graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/202/…
    – Farray
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 20:52

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