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I'd like to encourage more diverse questions. Our user base lately feels like its shrunk considerably while the world of Graphic Design has and continues to grow. As does the number of visitors to StackExchange's network.

With this in mind I'd like to encourage more diverse questions. Motion Graphics, 3D Graphics, Digital Painting, Illustrating, Advertising, Web Animation. All of these and so much more are topics that are on-topic here as long as its a good question.

Software support are not on topic, for 2D, 3D, animation or anything else.

How can we make it clear to our own members and to the rest of the stack exchange community that we are open to these topics?

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I'd like to propose a few things to start with:

  1. Upvote questions from these other tags even if you don't necessarily know the topic at hand. It's easy to ignore topics you don't know about but upvoting shows the community and users that they are welcome here. You can generally read a question even on a topic you don't understand and at least be able to determine if its a good question.

  2. I would like to make a Meta at least on Blender and possible Stackexchange to invite their members that want to ask questions not related to Blender; that meets our requirements; to feel welcomed to ask here.

  3. I'd also like to create some new tags to show our support as new members cannot create tags. There's been some discussion recently about the effectiveness of broad tags; which probably should go. Such as meanwhile for 3D we have... , which isn't even well defined.

I've created a chatroom to discuss other areas, tags people would like to see, and growing the GraphicDesign StackExchange: Improving GDSE Chatroom

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  • The most effective way to encourage more diverse questions is to increase traffic.
  • The only way to increase traffic is to attract it via SEO and promotion.

I appreciate the ongoing efforts to curate the scope of the site, but I've come to agree with the sentiment that it is narrowing the potential of the site and choking out potential users. In my opinion it's because GDSE still hasn't matured fully and fulfilled the potential we all think it has, and that's because we haven't bumped up the traffic for a sustained period of time.

It is really a number game at this stage, and the numbers that matter have remained largely unchanged for over 2 years.

February 2015

GDSE February 2015 Stats

April 2017

GDSE April 2017 Stats

Whilst the amount of users has more than doubled and questions have nearly doubled, the amount of visits and questions per day remain largely unchanged.

Increasing traffic is the best option for increasing the diversity here.

2 years ago I posted a very basic question based purely on keyword analysis I'd done with Google's tool. Since then it's brought in over 200,000 views. I'm absolutely certain that we can increase the traffic substantially with a number of basic questions that answer commonly searched for queries.


On a different note:

We've done competitions and individual activities before and they are fun, but I don't think we've done a complex community project. I think that would be cool and potentially highly promotional. I'm willing to chip in my design and development skills if others are in and we can all agree on an awesome and ambitious project.

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Dom makes a good point about traffic. I agree in principle, but I don't think the problem is as simple as that. We have comparable traffic to (or more than) some very healthy SE sites; the problem is that most of that traffic is drive-by users that ask crappy questions and don't come back... What we need is more active users that stick around and ask good questions.

So I think we need to focus on two things...

  1. Improving the scope and quality of the questions asked now, by the users we already have.

    A lot of users are frustrated with the quality of questions we get and we've tried to fight this by limiting the scope of question, changing custom off-topic close reasons etc. I don't think that's worked, at least not significantly in the long term... We're always going to get crappy questions, so instead of focusing on fighting the crap, we need to focus on consistently getting more good high quality questions.

    If the ratio of "good" vs "crappy" questions improves then that's what users will see and that's what we'll get more of.

    We need to vote more too... Vote up good quality question and downvote bad ones. Questions with a low enough score are hidden from the homepage, so really crappy questions won't be seen by most users if they're downvoted enough and upvoting good quality questions shows users exactly what kind of content we do want.

  2. Getting new active users

    Promoting the site within Stack Exchange is a good idea. We can use Community ads and meta posts on other sites; we need to figure on which sites this would actually be worth doing and how best to do this though... I mean we don't want to poach the "My Adobe is broke" questions from Super User...

So, with all of that in mind, let's try...

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  • What I didn't say in my post to keep it brief is that this doesn't work. Trying to only encourage good Q's barely makes a difference. We need to increase all questions, and the good ones will increase proportionately. If we get 1 in 20, we'd get 2 in 40. 14 questions per day is paltry, so that's where efforts should be focused. – Dom Apr 19 '17 at 13:05
  • @Dom what do you mean "this doesn't work"? It works perfectly well on other sites. I'm not saying shouldn't try and get more traffic, but saying we shouldn't bother trying to ask better questions is absurd – Cai Apr 19 '17 at 13:17
  • Essentially, trying to increase the number of quality questions without increasing the number of questions overall is extremely difficult. We may be able to ask an extra 15 questions a week for a few months, but it's not going to make much difference to the overall health of the site. We'd be in a much better position if we were at 50 questions a day and 100k visitors, which can only be achieved quickly by targeting and attracting the audience with fairly basic but common questions. – Dom Apr 19 '17 at 13:26
  • The questions we all find interesting tend not to bring in much traffic. They often only reach a few thousand if they get onto the HNQ list. It's the simple questions that bring in the traffic, so we need to embrace them. – Dom Apr 19 '17 at 13:27
  • Well I completely disagree. We get a lot more traffic than a lot of much healthier sites. The whole thing of Stack Exchange is about quality and I'd much rather a smaller site with better questions than a bigger site with more crappy questions – Cai Apr 19 '17 at 13:35
  • If the site were healthy it would be growing, if it was growing those stats would have changed in the last 2 years and the community would be bigger. From what I can see, the community has gained less than 10 active members in 2 years and lost others. It is currently in stasis; if that's how the majority want it to remain, fair enough, but that's not very exciting for those of us who wanted to grow it into a top 10 SE site. – Dom Apr 19 '17 at 13:41
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    And I'm saying getting more crap questions isn't the way to make a healthy site.. it's a way to get a bigger crap site. The crap questions are exactly why people are leaving – Cai Apr 19 '17 at 13:43
  • I used to say the exact same thing, but it's been choking the site. Also 'crap' and 'basic' are far from the same thing. It's all about bringing in numbers. From the numbers, I'd guesstimate that we manage to retain about 1 in 1000 users that signs up. We could try to retain more (not a bad idea) but it's easier to just bring in more thousands. Once we have a large core community, efforts to drive quality questions will be significantly more effective. – Dom Apr 19 '17 at 13:52
  • I'm not making any distinction to what is and isn't "crap", but we are losing users because they're unhappy with the quality of Q&A so I'm proposing we do something about that. Just bringing in the numbers regardless of quality is directly against the whole ethos of Stack Exchange and not the kind of site I'd like – Cai Apr 19 '17 at 14:18
  • You're missing the point though. When a business first starts it's in the "startup" gear. That means it has to do various things to attract customers, for example, loss-making sales. Once it has attracted enough customers, it can switch gears and normalise and stop the unfavourable activities it was doing to attract customers - such as loss-making sales. The same applies to growing any system, including this one. GDSE has not attracted enough users to settle down and chug along in the way that your describing and others are advocating. – Dom Apr 19 '17 at 14:24
  • Also, you're talking about losing 5 out of 20 people. Yeah it's 25%, but there were only 20 people to begin with. Furthermore, if everyone can come around to the idea that we need to go through an unfavourable stage to achieve a feasible and realistic target, they may be happy to stick around and see it through. – Dom Apr 19 '17 at 14:26
  • @Dom I'm not sure the numbers agree with you. Come into the chatroom, it'll be easier to continue this discussion there - chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/57292/improving-gdse – Ryan Apr 19 '17 at 17:58
  • Saying we need a higher percentage of good questions and active users is all well and good but figuring out how to do so I feel is the main issue at hand – Zach Saucier Apr 20 '17 at 17:58
  • @Zach which was the idea behind the topic challenge. If people aren't happy with the scope or quality of questions then it seems to me the only way to fix that is to ask better questions themselves and/or suggest others do the same. – Cai Apr 20 '17 at 18:13
  • @Dom graphicdesign.meta.stackexchange.com/a/3140/23061 might interest you – Zach Saucier Apr 20 '17 at 18:15
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Ryan writes "I'd like to encourage more diverse questions." but what Ryan likes (sorry, please do not take it personally) is not important at all. Please respect every user and his or her needs. People like Stackexchange, so they come. Then one day they discover there is "Graphic Design" too, great! So they post their questions according to their needs. They do not make up questions or come here to please the veteran users but to get their problems solved. Encouragement means solving the real problems of real users, not having an amazing website which Ryan likes better.

Then I read: "Software support are not on topic, for 2D, 3D, animation or anything else."

You cannot easily get inspiration or creative ideas from a website, even one like this with competent peers. And having other users "do your work" is also frowned upon here.

But "software support" is for me a classic reason to get here for receiving or giving help. Because first I get creative but then I have to realize my ideas - and that is where most users need help.

Here is an example: Need a font size with fraction in Inkscape

I had an idea for some decoration and I had it all worked-out and almost finished and just got stuck with one not-obvious tiny technical detail. You can tag that software-support and delete it. But it was saving an idea I had almost realized/finished and which is now on the cover-page of an entire booklet-series and which our local readers so far find pretty.

From my experience with Stackexchange and several Wikipedias and Wictionaries: If you really want to ENCOURAGE anything, please do less deleting, less rules, less user-police. I do not believe that your servers or your disk-space are any problem. But any time you frustrate a (new) user about some rules or other crap, you have lost a lot of potential great ideas and answers for later. Bad questions without many votes nor answers automatically sink to the bottom of search-results I believe.

On OpenStreeMap there is one battle-cry by the real heros: Don't talk about it - get out and map! So here that would be: Less Meta, write more wonderful answers even for (new) users who are less competent than you are. That would be encouraging.

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    I've actually been one of the most vocal supporters of the less restriction mantra over the years on this community. But more importantly, I'd say you are part of this community - you can upvote the support questions you think are good, and vote to leave open ones that other members think should be closed, and take an active role in shaping this community. If more people did than you're right - we wouldn't need meta posts like this at all. – Ryan Apr 20 '17 at 13:00

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