What really happened to (social) sound design? I mean no offence, but when this was known as social sound design, it was mainly a Q&A fora for film TV and games sound design.

Now it has turned into something different. Almost a general sound and music Q&A fora. In my very humble opinion the noise level has increased a lot, with a lot of beginner questions, synth programming questions and music related questions.

I have nothing against any of those subjects at all, it's just that I feel the site has lost quite a bit of its charm, and also it takes to much time to weed out the stuff I'm not interested in.

I realise I may not be in the majority here... Just writing what I think.

  • I notice on SO that poor questions get down voted by the community. I'm new here but I think that community convention is the best model of "clean up" as it employs the site functions as the means of moderation; the ability to vote on posts can really limit weak questions and arrogant answers. – Chris Bolseng Mar 12 '14 at 2:19
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    I really don't want to spend time on down voting what I think is non relevant questions. That is not what I think down voting is supposed to be used for. And since at the moment this is a mix of earlier fora it's often not the writers fault that it shows up here. And neither are they inappropriate questions as such. It's just that I don't find them very interesting or rewarding. And it's not very nice to down vote some none else's opinion. I down vote when I consider something inaccurate, plain stupid or if there are personal attacks or advertising. – ErikG Mar 12 '14 at 6:33
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    Tags. Tags are awesome. They let you filter out the stuff you're interested in. – TRiG Mar 15 '14 at 2:14
  • Sweet jusus... Tell me how you build and keep a USER COMMUNITY using tags? And when folks choose to use different tags for similar questions (it's not a blck and white world) then how do you know? – ErikG Mar 15 '14 at 6:43
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    Tags are simple - there are whole communities around tags on the bigger SE sites. And you (and mods) educate folks as to what tags are appropriate. It is very easy. – Rory Alsop Mar 17 '14 at 23:31

12 Answers 12


Let me start by assuring you that the original Social Sound Design forum which we all came to love and trust is as intact as ever. The community of amateurs, enthusiasts and professionals that made it strong is still contributing questions and answers (albeit at a slower pace than it used to), plus we have new people joining everyday who also have a passion for sound, in all of its many forms.

As a moderator I have watched SSD transition from what it was into what it has become. Not all of the changes have been positive, as a few of our most active members have made clear in their comments, and some have even chosen to stop participating, which I think is a huge loss for our community. My hope is that they reconsider and that we all "step up" our own contributions, because that's what made the original SSD so incredibly awesome in the first place. For example, I loved that people who had a passion for film sound design would ask questions and, viola, the people who actually created those soundtracks would reply and answer! What a resource! And the same goes for people who love field recording, experimental music, theatrical sound, etc. For every person who has a desire for knowledge there is at least one more that has the experience and willingness to give an answer or an opinion.

Our forum becoming part of Stack Exchange has brought not only new members but also a merging of other forums, some of which we as SSDers may not be that interested in. Personally, I want to spend my time here reading about sound design and what others are doing that can broaden my horizons and challenge the way that I think and create. I assume that most of you feel the same way. However, the flip side is that the moderators and managers of this new site have spent a lot of time and energy merging the old SSD with some of their existing forums. I've been in touch with them regarding the growing pains we've all been witness to, and they as a group want to hear your feedback and make adjustments for the betterment of the forum. We should respect their efforts and give constructive criticism rather than battling against them. If you want this forum to focus more specifically on sound design and less on technical questions, I suggest you make your desires known to the moderators of this forum (myself included).

We've all worked hard to make this an incredibly valuable knowledge base, one which I don't think is rivaled anywhere on the Internet. I know I have too much time invested here to just let it die off, plus I am constantly referring back to old questions for insight and inspiration. So, let's keep contributing and keep it growing!

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    For me the problem is that instead of focusing on Sound Design, which is what made SSD so amazing, the forum now seems to be "Sound". Ever day there are questions being ported from other stack exchange topics which, to me, aren't relevant here. By that I mean a lot of the technical questions on interfaces, different DAWs (one in particular...), how to Mic instruments, etc. I think a separate forum is needed for all these questions. Maybe it could be called audio engineering? I'm sure that will equally ruffle a few feathers :P – Joseph Dutaillis Mar 12 '14 at 5:39
  • completely agree. the root of the problem seems to be the generic "sound" based questions that are being sent over here from other stack exchange forums. – Rene Mar 12 '14 at 12:57
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    I am in contact with Jay offline and will continue to be - from our last conversation I'm quite sure that he and I have precisely the same goals. I'm also available to anyone that has thoughts on how things are going here, feel free to email me (address in my profile). – Tim Post Mar 12 '14 at 17:14
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    I just posted this thought to another thread but I feel I may have stumbled upon an answer for us. In trying to decide if something is on topic or appropriate for this forum, in the context of the question, one should ask "who would be the BEST person to answer this question?" If the answer is "a sound designer", we have a winner! – Joseph Dutaillis Mar 12 '14 at 23:47
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    Good to hear from you on this, @Jay. – Steve Urban Mar 15 '14 at 1:34
  • @Jay do you still believe your statement to be true? You don't mind that 8 out of 10 questions have no relevance to the original focus of SSD? – user49 Mar 17 '14 at 21:22
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    @timprebble, I do mind! My frustration at the flood of non-SD related questions is definitely is growing by the hour, so you and I are of like minds there. But rather than signing off and giving up I'm choosing to encourage our "legacy" members to contribute, contribute, contribute in order to turn the tide back to content we really care about. I believe that our SSD community is (mostly) intact and still has expertise to share and topics to discuss. If that doesn't work, all I can do is petition the moderators for a complete reversal of the merge or just quit the forum. I'd rather not quit. – Jay Jennings Mar 17 '14 at 21:46
  • @JayJennings In a way I agree, in another I don't… The problem is that filtering using tags limits search results. So sure I could limit my searches to… eh what? sound design? No, as a lot of synth folks tag their synth questions with sound design, so that is not an option. A new type of tag? What would that be? And a new tag would ONLY work if every old SSD user ALWAYS tagged their stuff with it. That is not likely to happen. – ErikG Mar 18 '14 at 8:42

I'm Tim Post, a community manager for Stack Exchange, and the person that handled bringing Social Sound Design to the Stack Exchange network, along with merging our existing Audio community into this site.

Nothing is currently carved in stone, Social Sound Design didn't go anywhere

Please have a look at some of the topics on this, the 'meta' site, where Stack Exchange sites come to discuss things that affect the site that they're running collectively. I'd also like to apologize for the fact that you've found the experience to be a bit jilting, unexpected and unprecedented. We did put rather conspicuous notifications at the top of the site a week before, during and after the merge - but that didn't exactly help you if you hadn't been to the site recently. We learned a bit from that.

Social Sound Design is still here, just joined by the members of our Sound community. There's a lot more of us, things may seem a little strange, but what you're seeing boils down to growing pains that we're working hard to resolve.

I recently raised the issue of what the scope of the site should include now that we're a larger community - and I'd really love to have your input there. We've agreed so far that some of the questions probably aren't that great for Sound Design (or, great at all, really) and we're now having discussions of how we can help folks write questions that are equally interesting, or at least not off-putting, to everyone now participating on the site.

You have additional tools on this new platform

After we finish setting the bar for questions, iron out our topic guidance that new users see (on the old site, it was very vague - "of interest to anyone interested in sound") and reach a broader consensus, we'll probably also have advanced quite a bit in the cleaning up of tags. This opens some interesting possibilities:

  • The front page of the site will be orders of magnitude more interesting to you, the much more advanced Stack Exchange 2.0 system is very good at getting questions that are surely to interest you in front of you.

  • Tag filtering (highlighting / hiding) questions by certain tags is now much easier, much smarter, and the perfect way to drown out questions that aren't likely to interest you.

Please, bear with us, this is going to take a little bit of time

I'm on this site (mostly this meta site) daily looking for opportunities to help make this process go more smoothly, answer questions people have and work on the many janitorial tasks that remain ahead of us. I'm also in close contact with all of the site moderators, including the original Social Sound Design moderators such as Jay.

I'm not going to let a site you loved become a site you wish to leave because of this transition, but I'm asking for your patience and a bit of time to let me do my job. Everyone here is united in wanting a fantastic resource for Sound Design, and broader topics related to sound in general - but not things that drive experts away.

We need your input, we need your participation, and I'm very happy to have it now. Please stay with us, help guide us, and I think we'll emerge from this with something spectacular.

I can also be reached directly via email, my address is in my profile on all Stack Exchange sites.

  • "I'm not going to let a site you loved become a site you wish to leave because of this transition, but I'm asking for your patience and a bit of time to let me do my job. " … erm, i personally already wish to leave, i click through to the site by habit, not because i expect to find something interesting on it. and also, the migration has been going on for a while now, so not sure there is any time left, as you can see i'm not alone in my feelings.. it's not the tools, it was the content, and that's gone in relation to the noise. – georgi Mar 12 '14 at 20:41
  • I still go here to, in the hope of stumbling into something interesting. And im sure i miss out on a lot of goodies as the noise floor is so high. I would also like to say that mixing the old SSD user group with other general sound user groups is a bad concept and should be back-pedalled if possible. – ErikG Mar 12 '14 at 21:01
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    As an experienced user of the Stack Exchange network, It seems to me that audio is the red-headed stepchild of Stack Exchange. First, audio is merged with video, creating the AVP site. Now it's been split off, into a somewhat hostile community that has a justifiably upset userbase that wants to close questions that were previously clearly on-topic. I respectfully suggest that Stack Exchange needs to address this situation on a cultural level, making peace between users from SSD and AVP. – Goodbye Stack Exchange Mar 14 '14 at 1:07
  • ... and, as I dig into meta here, it seems you're already working on this. – Goodbye Stack Exchange Mar 14 '14 at 1:20
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    Thanks for the info, Tim. Growing pains indeed. This link (blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective) was posted in another thread, and it's one of the fundamental differences between our two communities. SSD thrived on the subjective questions. We were never about the tech. We use the tech to create narrative experiences, and you can't discuss art without subjectivity. That combined with what has seemed like some excessive policing of existing posts are really what has bothered me most about the migration. – Shaun Farley Mar 15 '14 at 15:05
  • Yes, Shaun. If THAT statement is what drives SE as a entity, then perhaps it's not a good home for SSD. – ErikG Mar 16 '14 at 10:06
  • @ShaunFarley That is a rather old post, back in the days of questions like "What is your favorite programming cartoon" taking over sites - or other examples of basically mindless fun. Every community is different - and some topics are just inherently subjective. I have also re-opened a few questions that the community closed, and I'm continuing to guide people to keep open minds and favor discussion before action during this state of the transition. – Tim Post Mar 17 '14 at 2:58

I'll reiterate what I stated in a reply above - I think that some of the questions that came over from audio for video and some of the music questions that were migrated over were very off topic with regards to what SSD was before.

combine the new look, new controls, and sprinkle in a few questions that really didn't belong here and what you get is a general feel that this place isn't of the quality that it used to be. It doesn't even take that many off topic questions to reinforce this general feeling.

That feeling discourages users from asking high level questions like we had before, because we're less confident that the guys who don't know how to setup a PA are going to be of any help to us here.

that's at least how I've felt anyway.

The reality is that a lot of people that enjoyed this site will go away for a while. I'll try to start posting more on-topic questions here in the future instead of just complaining about the others. We'll see how that goes.


I think it is important to keep in mind that the same can be said about the Audio Production side of Audio-Video Production. It is important to remember that this wasn't simply a move from off SE to on SE, it was the combination of two distinct communities, and thus some change is to be expected.

There was an equally vibrant and active Audio-Video production site on Stack Exchange and this new site is a combination of the Audio Production portions of AVP and the Social Sound Design community. As such, it is natural that there is a broadening of scope and some growing pains as the community reaches a new equilibrium.

It is equally uncomfortable for those from the AVP community who have been thrust in to a site that is now far more sound design related, but while change is painful, it is still a net gain. We now have a broader base of knowledge to pull from and with using favorite and ignored tags, you can filter the content you are interested in.

We have more people asking questions, more people answering them and overall I'm confident we will be better off in the long run as long as we can handle the clash of cultures.

To do that, it will take everyone working together to make this new, unique community in to something stronger, bigger and better than either community was before. Change is painful, but it can also be good. We need to work out what we are as a community now and move forward and I hope people who called either Social Sound Design or Audio-Video Production home will stick around to see what we can become.

In the end, the new community may not fit some people, and that will be unfortunate, but I think it allows for a bigger community overall to be formed that can benefit more people and be an even greater resource than either site was capable of being by itself.

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    I think the reason for the large amounts of discomfort is based in the fact that sound design and audio production for video are two ENTIRELY different topics. I have no idea why the two forums were merged. I'd vote to give AVP its own home - that seems like it would immediately relieve all of the tension that this merge has caused. These are two very different communities with two very different topics to discuss. – Rene Mar 12 '14 at 17:57
  • @Rene - The part that came over was Audio Production for Live Reinforcement and Studio. Video stuff should probably still be on Video production. The trick is that it's a hard line to draw what is video and what is live because they are so similar. If we want to push any audio related to video back to Video Production, I wouldn't be opposed. There is a gamut of things ranging from completely conceptual sound design, to how you record elements of sound for sound design, to how you do general recording, to how you do live recording, to how you do live, etc... Boundaries are tricky. – AJ Henderson Mar 12 '14 at 18:00
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    To me its still pretty simple. Live sound reinforcement is its own discipline with its own professionals that takes a lifetime to master and has absolutely zero to do with what sound design is. Live sound is not of interest to sound designers, and sound design is not of interest to live sound people. It's really not. that's the issue. – Rene Mar 12 '14 at 18:03
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    And designing a sound for a synth is not what the SSD meaning of sound design was meant to include. I really didnt think we needed a new general sound QA site, but an improvement of the existing niche QA site we had. The niche focus is what made it useful. Not the size. In general on the net it's rarely the size that is interesting for the users but the content and it's focus. – ErikG Mar 12 '14 at 21:07
  • "In the end, the new community may not fit some people" – user49 Mar 17 '14 at 21:24
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    this statement nails it for me - the merged communities feels like trying to read all of Gearslutz forum at once, when the ONLY reason I go to gearslutz is to read the POST forum. This is no longer relevant or specific to me - good luck with the new community – user49 Mar 17 '14 at 21:25

Just a thought: You could create a tag ("aesthetic" might work but there might be something that communicates better to newcomers) and use it to distinguish questions targeted toward this particular set of topics. It ought to work as well as tags on other Stack Exchange discussions... not perfectly, but sufficiently, especially if folks who care about it spend some reviewer time adding and removing the tag as appropriate.

It would leave you as a subcommunity within a larger community -- but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

  • But a tag id just a sort of text filter. – ErikG Mar 12 '14 at 5:48
  • I cant spell... A tag is just a sort of text filter. And personally I never give that much thought on how to tag or search for stuff uslng tags as that filters out questions like My own that havent been tagged in the best possible way. – ErikG Mar 12 '14 at 6:16
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    I use tags heavily on Stack Overflow to filter for the topics I most care about, and they work quite well for that purpose. Yes, it requires some discipline to use the tags and some assistance from others/reviewers to maintain the tags. But if the complaint is that you're seeing stuff you aren't as interested in and not finding the stuff you do want to see, tags are the best solution short of trying to migrate all the participants to another board. – keshlam Mar 12 '14 at 12:47

Yeah In my opinion it is great. It feels like SSD is getting bigger as a general "Audio Q&A". Maybe we we should implement some general Tag where you need to choose one when creating a question. Like SD for Film, SD for Games, SD for Music, Foley, Gear related and Other. So everyone can for example filter the questions he wants to see.

SSD could be even bigger in the sense of themes IMHO. Because there is no other "quality" and "self-controlled" audio Site. On other forums you often get wrong information on topics. Here, you get a vote down or comment if your answer is wrong, which is a great regulation and motivation for the answerer.

Good Day

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    the difference between "how do i make footsteps sound huge" and "how do i get a huge lead synth" is subtle but deep, and we're having trouble explaining it to the guys in charge who have let the nonsense in. sound design has always been incredibly specialised, a small area being paid deep attention to; to suggest that it needed to go bigger seems to be at the core of the problem. – georgi Mar 12 '14 at 20:48
  • And SD with regards to film, TV and games are very close, but SD for music is something entirely different. – ErikG Mar 12 '14 at 21:10
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    Thats interesting. In my sound design training, I learned how to manipulate and create sounds to give them a certain character. Like how can I make a flying car sound right? Being also a trained sound engineer I produced recorded and engineered some pop-music-bands. I think being skilled in sound design helped me a lot there, since the skills to give sounds characteristics is very useful for music. For example, how can I make a flying piano (if you know what I mean). So I agree on the whole music = notes, sd = sounds, but IMHO both areas are deeply connected and skills profit from each other. – Tobias Schmidt Mar 13 '14 at 6:21
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    Also I can't speak for the deep sound design georgi mentioned, since the sound design I do is 95% for TV advertisements, where I need rarely more than Foley, Swooshes/Sweeps, GUI sounds and sometimes Sounds for Futuristic products. On the other hand I am very skilled with Voice-overs, ADR and Vocals (Another strong similarity between Film and Music) and I am happy to give answers to those questions. – Tobias Schmidt Mar 13 '14 at 6:25
  • One last thing, I agree that too many people ask how to make Big House Room Drops. I think we should use the review feature more deeply to give remember the first posters to check the exiting questions. It really gets boring to tell every second question that its a mixture of distorted super saws and reverberated FM Plucks. ;D – Tobias Schmidt Mar 13 '14 at 6:29
  • What I meant with musical SD beeing different is that it is based on a totally different concept. Yes we can and should learn from each other, but it's rare that a beginner sound designer or a experienced on is looking for details how to hook up a USB mic with a PA, or what a ADSR envelope is. And if we can't get those types of comments out, I'd prefer to exclude the musical sound design altogether, even though it would mean missing a few good things now and then. – ErikG Mar 13 '14 at 17:00
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    maybe the site just needs a "heatsink" area for crap questions, "protools crashes" > DUC; "how do i make the sound from this tune" > that other forum; "what is the best microphone" > the one you have with you and recordinghacks; "how do I record roomtone" > ohai, welcome to sound design – georgi Mar 13 '14 at 21:09
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    So would it be possible to have a forced Tag in stackexchange? Than it could at least be sd for movie/games, sd for music, gear questions and other! This would solve the problems an needs of all! – Tobias Schmidt Mar 14 '14 at 7:38
  • Erik - neither group wants those 'how to hook up a USB mic' question. We are in agreement on this. If they pop up, flag them, or vote to close – Rory Alsop Mar 14 '14 at 10:28

I totally agree with Jay here. The main reason for me to visit and contribute to SSD was helping other people and learning new things whilst doing that. As a visitor I could read amazing answers and thorough in depth responses to specific issues. Sound design issues i should add. With the sound.stackexchange transfer I find myself looking at the site almost daily and realize it has lost that specific appeal. We get a lot of questions from newbies and experts in any field concerning sound, this is a problem which we all see.

Now I can complain about this (and i have for a while) but now I'm thinking about the old SSD and how that grew into the little gem that it was. It wasn't perfect from the beginning (please correct if i'm wrong) and self moderation has helped it to become a great forum. So to some extend I think that we all should contribute more about sound design and help it get back to it's roots.

A question Tobias posted yesterday is a good start. Although primarily a workflow topic, it achieved exactly what I got from the old SSD, an insight into stuff I already think i know. I've been very busy lately and haven't had a lot of sound design questions but when I do, I will ask them here. In the meantime, I'll try and help to keep everything focussed, just for the sake of it.

  • Thank you! For the kind words! – Tobias Schmidt Mar 14 '14 at 14:22
  • While I disagree that "this is a problem which we all see" I agree with the rest of your post quite strongly. As long as the community sticks together, there is no reason that quality sound design questions should stop being a significant part of the site. – AJ Henderson Mar 18 '14 at 14:40
  • @AJ: sorry wasn't supposed to sound like i know what everyone thinks :) just a matter of speaking that was used poorly on my side :) – Arnoud Traa Mar 20 '14 at 17:00
  • @ArnoudTraa - yeah, I didn't really think you thought everyone thinks that, but I know when people get frustrated with something, it is easy to forget what one person doesn't like may be of benefit to another, so thought it was worth highlighting. – AJ Henderson Mar 20 '14 at 17:04

Some harsh words, but I agree. Some users put some effort into trying to get some of the old spirit back, but unfortunately it seems that it didn't work. Even though I still have SSD in my RSS feed i tend to check it less regular.

One thing to keep in mind though is that the users generate content and decide into what such a forum turns into. So maybe we should try to fill SSD with questions regarding film, tv, games sounddesign and related stuff again (also a reminder to myself)


Have to agree. We seem to have diluted the side of SSD that dealt with the aesthetic side of sound design, in favour for many, many, many more technical questions. There is clearly a need for these technical questions; however, many of them are fairly basic and probably not of much interest to those already experienced in the technical side. The danger is that the SSD community loses the uniqueness that it once had and ends up losing the contribution from those working in sound design. I'd rather not see this happen, but how do we as a "community" change it? Do we want to regain what has been lost?


Couldn't agree more. Is there some way we can filter this back to what it once was?


SSD was defined as: "Social Sound Design is a Q&A site for sound designers". Not about sound design, or subjects closely or perhaps somewhat minimally related to sound design, but FOR SOUND DESIGNERS. There's a big difference in those language wise very similar words.

  • Hi Erik, I agree that the focus should be on sound designers and not 'anyone interested in every singular aspect of sound'. But to be very honest, I don't see a lot of difference in reality. Of course there are examples, but there were a lot of questions on SSD that could also have been down voted or unanswered in the current situation. That's not to say you are wrong, I just think that things will get better soon if we keep 'sound design and it's practitioners' as a focus. – Arnoud Traa Mar 20 '14 at 17:04

I'd love to downvote but I lost my reputation when we switched to stackexchange. I resigned up with my facebook account :(

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    Contact us and I'm certain we'll be able to get things straightened out for you. – Tim Post Mar 12 '14 at 16:53

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