A few months ago, we had two communities; the sound enthusiasts on our site for audio and video production, and the community that had been flourishing on Sound Design. The two seemed like, and are, a natural fit for one another in one place and so far things have been working out quite well.
Originally, I was worried that our more conditioned users would find the somewhat subjective and broad questions on Sound Design and, due to how we've conditioned them to strive for a high signal to noise resource, close questions that the Sound Design community felt were serving them well.
As with all of my predictions, the opposite has happened, and this is broadly due to us not taking a bit of time to hash out what kinds of questions we should entertain here.
We envisioned the combined Sound Design site as a great resource for people that are:
- Designing sound, both amateur and professionally
- Working on endeavors that go into designing sound, such as:
- Configuring and using recording equipment
- Effects and post processing
- Mastering / production
- Acoustics, to achieve desired effects or quality
- Other things I'm probably forgetting, but you get the gist
The current help center topic guideline currently says:
of interest to at least one other person interested in sound design
... this needs to be narrowed down quite a bit. The main topic of this site is Sound Design, which encompasses many skills where someone can be at an expert level and able to answer questions. We need to talk about where the bar for on-topic (and in the spirit of the very open and friendly original topic guideline) falls in the realm of interesting to someone working in sound design.
To be clear, there's nothing wrong with the question that I've linked, but think about it in the context of other sites, and how it might be asked:
- Cooking - If I put all of these ingredients in a bowl, I'll get a cake?
- Stack Overflow - All of these files compile to one executable file?
It's just far too broad and doesn't state something one hopes to actually accomplish. A good start to a minimum bar is a requirement to clearly specify what you're trying to actually do, and the results you hope to achieve. Beginner questions should be fine, but they've got to give us a good indication of what they're trying to accomplish. For instance?
Does a compressor deal with someone suddenly screaming into a mic?
How can I use a compressor to normalize output levels when I've got sources that tend to randomly quadruple in volume?
I'm using a [brand] compressor with [other setup], but I can't get it to clip where I want. Here's how I have it set up, what did I miss?
... much better.
You can extrapolate that example to other things, such as questions involving Pro Tools, field recorders, etc.
What I've stated is only an example to help get the discussion moving, and I believe this is something we're going to need to make several passes on in order to perfect. The result of this should be a more refined scope, after which, we can have additional discussions to fine tune the various points that we establish.
It's important that we get input from as many folks as possible. Use answers, as many as you'd like, to bring up certain questions you feel are problematic and why. Give any thought as to how you think they could be made to fit better, or if we should consider placing them out of scope.
At the end of this, once I've consolidated everyone's input, we'll have the following things:
- Better guidance in the help center page (which mods can edit)
- A draft of several custom close reasons, should we see a clear need to add some
- The beginning of a consensus when it comes to scope.
I can't reiterate enough how important it is for everyone to feel good about this - this is a process that we normally undertake during a private beta period, but it works just as well later on. We're talking about things going forward, once we've gotten things tweaked and everyone is content, we can consider looking at older questions, but I'm more inclined to leave those alone until good reason surfaces to address them individually.
Let the discussion begin and remember, we're all here to make this resource as informational, friendly and fantastic as possible. There are a few discussions of individual questions here on meta, I'm hoping to consolidate discussion here, and ideally get something in place within a week or so.