Recently there have been two questions that have created alot of attention that I thought I'd bring the discussion to meta instead of a comment trail, for ease of future use.

These two questions are Minor CSS issue and https://graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/843/trying-to-code-a-clean-shopping-cart-that-will-support-shipping-multiple-items-to . Most of the conversation happened on the first question.

The first one is a relatively minor amount of code, to make a specific design look. It's got enough of a design element that I'm not sure if it should be moved at first glance. I moved the second question to Stack Overflow, as it just seems like it's a much better fit there. That question, while it does have a bit of HTML layout involved, is much more of a code question than design.

There have been some interesting points that have been made in the comments, I'm not going to re-hash them out here. Let's try and figure out what we should do for these types of questions.

4 Answers 4


My proposal is to allow all of CSS-centric/HTML-inclusive questions to be asked for the time being and let the community decide by voting—but not by closing, but just voting the question up and down—seeing which questions gain traction and which wither, and updating the scope to match what works for the community. This comes with two caveats:

  • If a question is purely HTML (which means the developer is leaving all of the formatting up to the browser), or related at all to the backend of a website, then it should be migrated.
  • If the question is focused on CSS, then it should be allowed to stay and see if an answer is given.

Here's why:

As far as I'm concerned web design is always going to be a fuzzy area for GD because it draws in so many disciplines; CSS and HTML work in conjunction to create a design, although more of the design actually happens on the CSS these days and I don't think that is going to change.

I'm taking my cue from the Apple.SE site, where this came up about iOS questions related to how the App Store works. App Store questions aren't allowed on Stackoverflow or Programmers.SE, which leaves Apple.SE. They are not entirely out of scope for Apple.SE, but they also don't get much traction either. Occasionally there is the odd spike of questions, but then they all just sort of drift off, and the numbers on Apple.SE are high enough to support those unanswered questions.

Overall, I think all web design questions should be given a chance here because web design is arguably as important as print design and the two, oftentimes, go hand-in-hand with larger organizations. There are a lot of design issues that are applicable to both contexts.

All that being said, I think both actions—keeping the first and migrating the second—were the right thing to do.

As I said in my comments, the first question was something directly related to a design issue: the height of a drop shadow. I see no difference between that and asking a question about creating drop shadows in Photoshop. It can be easily argued that since CSS isn't always consistent between browsers that the first question should have been treated the same as the second question. It could very well be the answer is that it is a browser problem, but it doesn't change the fact that drop-shadows are design elements and the question should be allowed to stay.

The second question wasn't necessarily about a design issue per se, but more about creating a consistent layout across browsers. That's a much more technical discussion than just futzing with a drop-shadow because that gets into the vagaries of each of the browsers'.

Not much of answer, I know, but that would seem to me to be the StackExchange way of doing things. HTML/CSS design questions are very wide-ranging in scope, and I don't think this question is going to be answered here and now. More information is needed to sort this one out.

  • 1
    I was actually thinking exactly the same thing, that a simple CSS question is basically the same thing as doing something similar in photoshop. Still, I think your bolded quote at the beginning doesn't quite match the text in your statement, you might re-think that. Commented Feb 10, 2011 at 21:23
  • I guess I did wander a bit there. Fixed (I think). Commented Feb 10, 2011 at 21:37
  • 3
    My thoughts exactly. The community will reject or promote questions via voting. Though if the question doesn't receive an answer, is that also an indication that it is not a good fit for the community?
    – Hemi
    Commented Feb 10, 2011 at 22:19
  • 3
    I think a question with no answer would definitely be an indicator of appropriateness as well, but not the ultimate one (not that I think the vote count would be either). Commented Feb 11, 2011 at 4:02
  • I answered the first question as I knew the answer straight away, but I see it as a CSS question, the OP asked about Cross browser compatible code, and why the header is made shorter when the box-shadow css was addeed. There was no specifics to design in this, other than "I want a drop shadow like Twitter." I think if the question were more like "I want a drop shadow like Twitter on my header, how can I create that, CSS is preferred" then I think it should be moved to doctype.com. But that's just my 2c. :)
    – Kyle
    Commented Feb 11, 2011 at 8:15
  • Is doctype a stack v1.0 site? I didn't think you could migrate questions to these sites?
    – Hemi
    Commented Feb 11, 2011 at 22:28
  • 3
    Doctype is not a Stack site, not even an SE1.0 site. As far as CSS questions go, I think if it's purely styling related, then I think it's OK. As mentioned, it's no different from asking how to achieve a certain effect in Photoshop. (granted, there's browser compatibility involved)
    – Jin
    Commented Feb 13, 2011 at 19:30
  • I'd prefer active migrating rather than 'downvote to withering' as without the migrating, it may inadvertently encourage cross-posting.
    – DA01
    Commented May 16, 2011 at 16:21
  • If a designer/developer has a problem of the type "How do I realize my [design element] so it will be the same or acceptable across browsers?" then the question has to do with design and the techniques necessary to achieve it. That should stay in Design, regardless of the technical/markup niceties that might be involved in the solution. It would be an artificial and unhelpful distinction to migrate coding issues that are essential to the visual design of a project, just because they are code-intensive. Commented May 18, 2011 at 22:10

The stack* sites are becoming increasingly fragmented into minute sub-topics and, alas, I see no way around the overlap that's going to occur on many of these sites. A CSS question could be applicable to graphic design, user interface, stackoverflow, doctype, webmasters, programmers, etc. As such, we're probably stuck with the overlap. Maybe the sites will begin to merge back together into less segmented niches.


The thing is: I believe that every website designer should know a thing or two about HTML. A lot of smaller agencies have designers who do the HTML and CSS too. This holds especially true if you design outward from html-prototypes where you add grphics and visual adornment later on in the process.So alhough HTML is a pretty a technical subject it should be part of the designers toolbox.

I myself find that semantic HTML cannot always be deduced by looking at the design per se, so as a designer I would be willing to answer HTML questions (what is the real meaning of an element, what is it's function).

CSS is a little less on the techy side of design than HTML and is an important part of the design conversion and as such is wedged between HTML and design.

If there's no other platform on SE available to pose questions on this matter I feel it should be kept here. (Though it may be a niche subject).


Webmasters does not allow html/css questions. Doctype is not really part of the network, if you know what I mean...I am not sure if at user interface they allow them. In stack overflow,two problems: like in game dev, the huge number of programming centric questions make designers stay away or miss the questions there, or not even think they are allowed to take part there.

So I guess would be really good to include these here. Is part of making your design, or even showing a draft, in many cases, these days...

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