I think our guidelines do a good job of addressing how to formulate a question so that it's a good fit for the Stack Exchange format. However, I'm wondering if they are good guidelines for "critiques" themselves. There is definitely a compatibility problem in my opinion between the way the system works and what critiques typically entail. I especially see problems with the good examples we provide:
Your question must be phrased in such a way that answers can be
objectively voted on by the community. Keep in mind specifically what
kind of critique feedback you are looking for.
Good Example: "Is this type size too small to be read?"
Bad Example: "How does this font look?"
Good Example: "Is there enough contrast between the blue and the green?"
Bad Example: "Are the colors okay?"
Good Example: "Is there enough white space in the logo so it's easily identifiable?"
Bad Example: "Can you tell what it is?"
Good Example: "Does the piece convey an air of playfulness and excitement?"
Bad Example: "What impression do you get?"
I don't have answers at this point but here are the problems I see with those:
Who is more likely to post for a critique of their work?
I've rarely seen long-standing members ask for a critique in a question here. I doubt professionals would post their work for a critique on a public site as it lacks confidentiality. And if images and links were later removed, we would end up with a bunch of non-sense and rot.
If I am a novice posting on this site, I have a pretty big barrier to overcome just by learning the ropes of the site and the community (learning about and gaining access to the Looking Glass).
I mainly see an issue in how we request questions to be worded. I've dealt with novices extensively and I can assure that most novices would not be able to word a question like this. All good examples suggest that the OP already know where a problem may lie. In this case, they likely already know the answer or have formed some kind of idea on how they could fix it.
I think we need to be really careful about labelling questions as lazy or low-effort just based on how generic their question is if someone made an account, and wrote a post to read what a whole community of people has to say to pick their work apart. That requires some guts!
What should a critique answer provide?
Another issue is that pointing the question on a specific aspect of the work might obfuscate more important problems. For example, if an OP asks about the better type/icon ratio in a logo but their icon full of gradients and drop shadows, there would really be limited value to sticking to their question and not addressing the more general issue of the work. Critiquing a work requires to examine multiple variables and seeing how well they manage to accomplish the desired outcome.
If we require the OP to stick to one variable, should we also require of answers to stay on-topic and not tackle the other variables?
A striking example: (there are plenty of others out there)
Here we have a relatively new OP who has managed to make the most of our guidelines in a string of questions, which I found quite impressive. But not all of the answers are actually addressing the actual question, and we can see that the OP is impressed, voters are impressed. So I ask you, what's the point of our current guidelines, if nobody follows them? I'm not saying people are being disobedient, but I think guidelines should be fairly easy to follow and not necessarily feel contrived.
If we truly want to give askers (and viewers) the means to improve their skills, it's important to explain why we suggest the things we suggest when writing an answer. While "Do X." possibly solves the asker's issue, "Do X because it addresses " walks the asker (and viewers) through how we reason as graphic designers and is more likely to be useful to model behavior in the future (or teaching a man how to fish instead of giving him the fish, if you will).
The information that should be supplied changes depending on the question...
The kind of information needed to answer a critique question depends on a multitude of factors.
Target audience and communication objective
We don't require the OP to post details about their target audience/desired outcome. Without knowing the target audience, most current good examples read as opinion-based and would be more useful if formulated in a more generic sense (e.g. How can I convey an air of playfulness and excitement in X type of piece?" "How can I tell if a type size is too small to be read?" etc.). I think that would be one point that could be improved in our current guidelines.
Brand guidelines / display environment
This question which fits our current criteria, shows that for certain types of work, we also need to be made aware of branding guidelines and where the work will be displayed. Our current guidelines do not address this type of scenario.
...because design problems are often wicked problems
The main issue with design and the SE format is that a lot of design problems share common traits with wicked problems, a term coined by design theorist Horst Rittel.
- There is no definitive formulation of a wicked problem.
- Wicked problems have no stopping rule.
- Solutions to wicked problems are not true-or-false, but better or worse.
- There is no immediate and no ultimate test of a solution to a wicked problem.
- Every solution to a wicked problem is a "one-shot operation"; because there is no opportunity to learn by trial and error, every
attempt counts significantly.
- Wicked problems do not have an enumerable (or an exhaustively describable) set of potential solutions, nor is there a well-described
set of permissible operations that may be incorporated into the plan.
- Every wicked problem is essentially unique.
- Every wicked problem can be considered to be a symptom of another problem.
- The existence of a discrepancy representing a wicked problem can be explained in numerous ways. The choice of explanation determines
the nature of the problem's resolution.
- The social planner has no right to be wrong (i.e., planners are liable for the consequences of the actions they generate). Source:
The Looking Glass
I think the room is a really interesting initiative for critiques. However, as it stands, it's underused and I'm not sure we are likely to see improvement.
- Like Andrew T. mentioned in a comment, there is a 20 reputation
requirement to post there.
- A lot of people don't use chat on this platform so there is just a
lot less visibility overall.
- If it did get used, it would soon become messy if 3-4 questions were
handled at the same time.
- Moreover, contributing to the Looking Glass does not translate into
an acknowledgment of some sort (no "points") so there is less
incentive for members to help people there.
- And last, we haven't really investigated the effect of the CC-SA-BY license on what gets posted in the Looking Glass and there should be a big disclaimer about this somewhere.
What can we do to improve how this resource is used? Do we need to try something different?
Critiques on a body of work
Occasionally we get a question that asks something along the lines of "What do I have to learn to do X better?" or something related to someone's overall work.
I had asked a question on meta here, upvoted but not answered, so maybe this is a good occasion to tackle this as well. Should we allow critiques on a body of work to help asker's define which areas of their skills need to be improved?