We have had a number of questions lately asking what application was used for X (here and here for example). While it's true that getting the answer may help some people to make a choice, I have following objections to the question structure.

  • It is quite impossible to know from the result what application was used. Only asking the author will get the definitive answer.
  • It is the wrong question in a way. It does not matter one bit what application was used. But rather what application you know how to use and have some idea of how to do the same thing in it.
  • It contains the implied idea that it was done with one application. This may or may not be true. In 3D animation for example you often end up using at least 3 separate applications to begin with.

Also these seem to get the same answers over and over again. So can we make some effort to close these questions or do you guys see these as being like font identification questions?

Ammendum: Why do i take this up. I feel that these questions could be handled somewhat better as a general rule. I just dont want to be the only one that regularily handles them.

  • Aren't most of these types of questions closed as too broad already? What are you asking here? May 21, 2017 at 23:10
  • @ZachSaucier im establishing policy. And no they are not.
    – joojaa
    May 22, 2017 at 4:32
  • More examples can be found here, here, here, and many many more. Note that almost none get closed as too broad or non-answerable.
    – PieBie Mod
    May 22, 2017 at 8:38
  • Most of these even get answers from pretty hi-rep users.
    – PieBie Mod
    May 22, 2017 at 8:39
  • 2
    I sometimes wonder if you guys are looking for people to ask questions the exact right way or if you are looking to help someone... Yes, people are asking 'what software was used' but really they are asking 'I would like to be able to create this, please point me in a direction so I can start learning this.' Your third answer is exactly the kind of answer people need. Your second however, if I always work with MS paint, there is still no way for me to find out how to make 'x style animations'... Doesn't really help.
    – Summer
    May 22, 2017 at 9:16
  • No, the underlying issue is that these questioners are really inexperience and think they can replicate something they've seen once they have the right software which has The Magic Button™. If you're competent enough to replicate something, you don't have to ask about software.
    – PieBie Mod
    May 22, 2017 at 9:56
  • @JaneDoe1337 i dont really think it matters one bit. In essence no matter how one would answer the question it does not really help the as such. Because they may be too far away. I would gladly help people if they are ready to do what it takes.
    – joojaa
    May 22, 2017 at 13:12
  • In anycase you have to recognize that helping somebody does not come for free. The time somebody can use for answering could be used for something better. I mean i quit answering a question in favour of helping a student get her final project rendered. I could have done the other or not help either. But ultimately there is always a choice on the matter. Claiming we do not do this because we do not help is...
    – joojaa
    May 22, 2017 at 13:27
  • 4
    @JaneDoe1337 to be fair, discussing how to handle specific types of questions on meta is trying to help people... at the minute, a lot of these questions get downvoted and close voted, but pretty inconsistently. If we have can come to a consensus on how to handle these questions and what exactly a "good" question is, then we can help people to ask good questions that will get good answers... Ignoring that and just letting people ask vague unclear questions isn't helping anyone.
    – Cai
    May 22, 2017 at 14:27

3 Answers 3


I completely agree.

Your first point; the fact that it's mostly impossible to find out what software was actually used means that the OP is asking the wrong question. What they most likely want to know is what software they can use to create something similar...

In which case the question should be a

So I propose we...

  1. Edit the questions and tag appropriately ()
  2. Request more information from OP so that the question isn't too broad*. Otherwise...
  3. Close the questions as Too Broad.

*I think we also need some better guidelines for recommendation questions more generally... Right now, we have nothing specific to tell anyone what they need to add to their questions to make them narrow enough to be answerable. Software Recommendations have some quality guidelines for questions and answers which I think we should adopt and enforce here (or at least use as a base to craft our own guidelines).

  • You should add a suggestion for this fact.
    – joojaa
    May 22, 2017 at 14:42
  • @joojaa I shall
    – Cai
    May 22, 2017 at 17:19

I'm not an old member here so maybe my opinion is not that relevant. I also may not have a complete understanding of the long term purpose of this board. Is it quality or quantity preferred when it comes to the questions? I am also aware most good graphic design questions have already been answered, but I will say this regardless.

These software identification questions are too broad and should always be closed. Struggling to understand what the OP means and then posting a similarly broad answer just sounds too polite. It is everybody's job to do his own reseach, learn the tools and then come up with good questions that remain relevant in time.

I have also seen many many low quality posts in the font & style identification and a lot of tech support disguised as "graphic design" questions.

To avoid spending too much time on these subjective and/or low quality questions, I would say, when in doubt, close it.

I also think the 5 votes needed to close a question is too high. Many low quality questions remain open with 3 or 4 close votes. I suggest lowering this limit from 5 to 3 votes.

  • 1
    Length of membership is a poor indicator of relevance. Quality vs quantity of questions on the site depends on who you're asking :P May 28, 2017 at 13:33
  • As for changing the number of required close votes, that's not really possible on StackExchange sites May 28, 2017 at 13:34
  • 1
    Look at this one, 4 close votes, 3 downvotes, absolutely irrelevant and the thing is still there :) graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/92217
    – Lucian
    May 28, 2017 at 19:26
  • I wish it were possible as well :P May 28, 2017 at 21:48

The underlying issue with these kind of questions is that the questioner assumes that they will be able to replicate the artwork/logo/animation/... if they have the exact same software setup. As if the professionals have secret software with a Magic Button™ that will spit out exactly what they want.

If someone has to ask about software, they're nowhere near ready to replicate something awesome they've seen. In that case, it's of no use to direct them to the right software*, one needs to direct them to a book titled "Getting started with X" (where X is the discipline of choice).

My point is: these questions cannot be answered meaningfully. There's only two options:

  • Either you answer the actual question, but that will not fundamentally help the OP.

  • Or you answer the underlying question, but then the OP will just feel frustrated because that's not what they want to hear.

* The matter whether there is such a thing in the first place is another discussion.

  • Hmm... not sure I agree that they can't be answered. Just because the OP lacks the experience to know what they should be asking doesn't mean someone can't recommend software and what specific features and techniques to use in that software (with an addendum of "check out the book: 'Getting started with X'").
    – Cai
    May 22, 2017 at 11:54
  • OK, but then all answers would all be something like: "It's impossible to say for sure, but could be any (or any combination of) the following: SoftwareX, SoftwareY,softwareZ, or dozens of others. Your best bet would be to get in touch with the creator and ask. One thing we can tell you for sure: the creator is skilled and has years of experience. If you want to do something similar, check out these beginner resources: book, site1, site2."
    – PieBie Mod
    May 22, 2017 at 12:03
  • Sure, a list of software with not much else sucks... that's why I suggested treating them as software-recommendations and having some quality guidelines for for questions and answers. A much better answer would be something like "You could use Software A, which has features X, Y and Z. Use feature X for this and feature Y for that etc. Software A is free and available on these OS's x and y ... You can also check out these resources: ..."
    – Cai
    May 22, 2017 at 12:27
  • I agree with @Cai. Assuming all of the questions are of the Magic Button style means that we miss questions like the second one you linked to in your first comment to yesterday's original question. In that case, the questioner is clearly not asking for a Magic Button software, but is asking for direction as to how to keep moving forward with a particular skill that they are interested in. I think that is an interesting and relevant question for GD|SE to answer. But, as a fairly new user, I might be misunderstanding the point of this group.
    – magerber
    May 23, 2017 at 15:46
  • But even there, the user isn't actually asking about software. Quoting the user's own comment: "Well I'm not asking you to explain, but more to guide me to the tools/information I need to learn this?" So they're more asking for resources and starting points than mere software.
    – PieBie Mod
    May 23, 2017 at 15:51

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