In my opinion, questions related to troubleshooting a system or software on that system would be off topic here.

For example this question: Is there a way to make Photoshop CS6 work with touchscreen monitors? refers to how to make software behave differently. It has absolutely nothing to do with design or anything remotely connected to design. I voted to close and commented. It is my opinion that allowing this question also allows "My mouse is sticking, how to I unstick it?" Simply because a computer or piece of software is used in design does not make a question design related.

Then I see this question: https://graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/18759/my-keyboard-shortcut-for-canvas-size-is-broken Which is exactly the same type of question, Yet it was migrated to SuperUser.

Both questions are about trouble shooting software, and not solving a design issue.

I think allowing software troubleshooting questions will merely balloon the "help me my Adobe doesn't work" questions here and will quickly make this site not about design.

So what criteria is used to determine what is a superuser question and what isn't?

As the above example show.. there are clearly no defined standards.

3 Answers 3


Let me start off by saying it's not my job as moderator to decide what is or isn't off topic, it's the community's. Anyway, here's why I migrated the one but not the other:

My keyboard shortcut for Canvas Size is broken

I asked in a comment if changing the shortcut (temporarily) resolved the issued. Since yardarrat confirmed that a different shortcut worked fine, it was my assumption that some other program was interfering with the shortcut.

Since it could be just about anything, yadarrat wasn't really looking to solve a Photoshop problem. I asked the Super User mods if the question would be better for them; they approved the migration and off it went.

Is there a way to make photoshop CS6 work with touchscreens monitors?

Yes, I agree with you. This would probably be better off at Super User. Why did I not try and migrate it? I did! The problem was that moss has already posted it over at Super User a few days prior, so that would be pointless. Since it was (in my opinion) mildly related to graphic design, I chose not to close it and let the community decide.

Since my vote is binding, I try to vote to close as little as possible. As I said earlier, what is on or off topic is not my decision here. If I see a question with 3 or 4 close votes an I agree that it will be closed, then I'll act. Other than that, I will only vote to close in extreme cases.

✝By the way, cross-site posting is rather frowned upon at SE

  • I can't help but think the correct thing to do with the touch question would be to then close it and link to the question at SuperUser. It absolutely does not fit the format here and will do far more harm if left open. I realize it's a community opinion to close topics, but there are only 6 of us here for the "core" community and what, 3, 4, are moderators? Doesn't the site mandate at least indicate when moderators should just take action rather than waiting for the community?
    – Scott
    Jun 13, 2013 at 2:22
  • 2
    RE: Mandating - sort of, not really. From A Theory of Moderation: "Keep the site reasonably on topic by closing, migrating, or removing blatantly off-topic questions". Moderators decide whether something is actively bad for the community. When it's borderline it's up to the community to actually do something about it. Since there was contention in the comments, I stayed out of it.
    – JohnB
    Jun 13, 2013 at 2:52
  • 4
    You bring up a good point. We could use some more community involvement. We have 2.5 pages of users who possess enough reputation to vote, but there is definitely a small core group who actually do so. Also, you're absolutely doing the right thing by bringing this up in meta so that we can have more of a definitive guideline. It's good to be able to refer back to a community discussion for scope definition.
    – JohnB
    Jun 13, 2013 at 2:56

I personally didn't see the touchscreen question terribly off-topic, and that's why I answered it. I did not interpret it as troubleshooting a system question. For me it read: "Why can't I use a touchscreen with CS6?" (and I thought it would make a good seo question as well).

We have had, however, a very short discussion on the relevance of the tag (I think it was in chat). I felt this question was quite related to some other ones we've seen before, like these:

Maybe we should re-float that discussion. How broad should our be? What do we include? Also, about troubleshooting. I agree "My shortcut is not working" might be a program issue, but how about this question? I'm afraid trying to draw a line here might just be a bit tricky.

  • 1
    I see tools as on topic. If you are seeking methods to work in design, that seems on-topic. I guess I just see tools as wildly different than "My Adobe Be Broke" questions.
    – Scott
    Jun 13, 2013 at 2:50
  • As to the shortcuts question you linked to.. why I think that IS on topic... it's asking about how to work on a design, how to get something done rather than asking how to fix a software configuration issue or solve a system conflict issue. Sort of like... "What pencils are best for mock-ups?" -- perfectly on-topic. But "How do I sharpen my pencil?" -- completely off-topic.
    – Scott
    Jun 13, 2013 at 3:00

I agree that allowing software questions severely dillutes the discussion around actual graphic design.

However, questions such as how to format something tricky in inDesign, which is a software clearly used predominately by designers or printers seems extremely related.

How to achieve X effect in photoshop, is pretty related, but opening doors to hobbiest photoshoppers and questions like How to apply grunge texture over logo, which seems like it's merely a person who's never touched photoshop. This question may have professional intentions behind it, but it seems like the person asking isn't a graphic designer, or at best is a student just starting out.

Either way, it doesn't seem productive, or condusive to a conversation about design.

Stackoverflow, clearly the most successful of the stackexchange, doesn't exist as the textbook for starting out in web development, or tutorials on how to build your first website. It works as a Q&A site, that provokes discussion around programming and thus retains some value to web professionals.

Clearly we still have a pretty small user base, and cracking down on basic software questions will reduce a lot of the activity, but it will also make this place more valuable to professionals, and leed to more returning users who asks or answer mostly questions about design.

That said, some tricky thing with inDesign or color adjustments for printing seem pretty on topic, but, and I'm only really talking about the very basic questions here, photoshop questions like the one I've linked to above aren't useful to anyone except the user asking the question. Things like how a clipping mask or layers work are things you learn by googling. The stackexchange sites serve best as a place to ask experts in given topics questions that aren't answered by a quick google search.

Albeit, I did answer the question I linked to..

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