You ever do some innocuous, simple thing that resulted in a sermon of sorts pouring out of the person you were sitting next to? Ever get the feeling that they might have had something bottled up, and you just provided a convenient outlet? Yeah, this is one of those things.

A new user found Sound Design and like many others, didn't realize that many of our sites frown on subjective questions. I want to be clear, some sites frown on these for very good reasons, including:

  • They tend to overtake the site, while harder questions go unanswered because everyone is busy giving their opinion or anecdote
  • They tend to attract a great many answers, which defeats certain utility aspects of our system. You find a question while searching, you find a few good answers, you generally solve your problem. Five pages of answers gets too close to 'forum' territory for us.
  • They can skew the reputation system a bit, since questions seeking opinions or anecdotes are easily understood, thus answered with easily understandable answers that people feel very comfortable voting on.
  • They can become spam targets, but I'm beginning to digress.

Stack Overflow had a major problem with this. Programmers nearly went under water due to this and other beta sites have struggled with this quite a bit. On the flip side, some sites do amazingly well with subjective questions .. Parenting, The Workplace, and others.

When I first evaluated Social Sound Design prior to bringing them on to the Stack Exchange 2.0 platform, I noticed that they had some softer, and rather open ended questions. However, none of my fears about them were coming true on the site. They weren't overtaking things, folks still go down to plenty of business to get their jobs done. They didn't attract a lot of answers, and most of the answers were of reasonably high quality. They saw moderately higher voting activity, but you don't see people with 5 gold badges that only answered one technically challenging question.

In short, what they were doing was - and can continue to - work for them and all that want to participate here until and if it becomes a problem. Don't try to solve the problems that other sites have until it becomes clear that you've got (or are clearly getting) the same set of symptoms that they did.

Even if we found that things need to be reeled in later down the road, this site is not going to be anywhere close to the scale of Stack Overflow at the time we had to take the actions that we did there.

You're 100% free to use your votes precisely how you wish, and I wouldn't dream of instructing you to do otherwise. I'm just asking, perhaps pleading a bit, try to keep an open mind. Sound Design is a very special case, remember that these folks existed on an island all their own completely decoupled from the network for years - and they were kicking it.

Worry about this site, and this site's policy - which includes helping to shape it. We may eventually have big city problems, and those aren't horrible problems to have, but let's not solve them until they become much closer to reality than they currently are.

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    thanks tim! as an 'old' SSD user I feel that two communities need to get to know each other, like neighbours. And this post is just what we need, a look from a 'neutral' and 'distant' perspective. I appreciate all your work on our input and hopefully we can soon look forward (instead of back to SSD good ol' times) to a lively site. Mar 20, 2014 at 16:57
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    thanks for your hard work Tim. I think the forum could work, probably in a new direction as oppose to the old ones we were accustomed to. I still vote for a name change though. The kind of topics coming up are really detrimental to the work that has gone into crediting the term 'sound design'.
    – user6513
    Mar 21, 2014 at 5:49

2 Answers 2


I've been pretty quiet lately as life has taken me in new directions. For those that don't know, I'm Andrew and started Social Sound Design. My goal with SSD was to create a great space and resource for sound designers to learn and share deep knowledge of this discipline. A great deal of passion was the drive to finding the right people at the early stages (you guys!) and the right platform to make it happen (Stack Exchange). Very quickly it became an amazing resource and a real gem - one of those places we call home. Seeing a lot of you unhappy with our new home and leaving makes me really sad and we need to find a way to make it great again. If you loved SSD and/or AVP, then please stick with this change because you can trust that everyone has the very best at heart and will go out of their way to make it work :-)

I also want to say that Stack Exchange provides for free a powerful ecosystem that is ad-free, has amazing support, almost 100% uptime, resources (like Tim!), great tools and features, updates, etc. And we, to some extent, need to fit in this framework - even if it's in our own way. The original SSD would not have been possible without SE. With that said, the very reason we kept going as SSD (separate from the network) for so long is because Stack Exchange aspired to the quality of the community we had built, even if this meant a looser style that catered for personal opinions, experience, philosophy, and the design process. In sound design, as with any creative endeavor, there's not always a clear cut answer and in our case it's on one side technical and on the other creative and artistic with both extremes (and everything in between) wanting answers and questions. That's a pretty wide spectrum, but moving forward, there's no doubt in my mind that sound design should remain the overarching topic that binds it all!

Thanks for that, @Tim! I totally agree. And thanks for all the awesome work you're doing to make this work. It's not just Tim, but everyone involved (people from SE, Jay, the moderators and all those participating in the discussion). The bottom line is that we all care a ton and want sound.SE to resonate with us at a personal level and as a community.

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    He has returned! ;) thanks for restating that sound design is the topic! Mar 21, 2014 at 9:42

Stack Exchange is telling me this question is subjective and is likely to be closed. Well, it certainly is subjective and that's why I'm asking others opinions on the topic.

I think the user was puzzled about why this warning was being shown. The main point of my comment (and I accept that it may not have come across this way, and that it is my fault that I failed to communicate this properly: I am not attempting to deflect blame) was to explain why that warning was being shown. I was not attemting to lay down some sort of law.

The comment was

  1. An explanation of why this weird warning sign was coming up.
  2. Advice which I think would probably make the question more focussed and more effective.

Once again, I appreciate that it didn't come across that way, and I apologise for my failure to put adequate thought into how my words would be percieved.

I do think that the complaint about the warning sign should be edited out of the question. Meta-discussion should happen on Meta.

  • hey my man. you don't need to apologize to me for anything. In the same, I'm not offering an apology for placing the quoted comment in the question. I made the statement in an attempt to acknowledge that it was a purposefully subjective question and hoped it would not get tossed.
    – user7731
    Mar 20, 2014 at 21:01
  • I'm new to the way SE does things, and I'm used to the way SSD was so there was an obvious conflict of interest. When I saw the message pop up I only assumed that there was an algorithm working so I acknowledged it, again in hopes that a human would not kill the thread. It also offered an opportuniyty for many SSD folks to stress the importance of subjectivity in our community. I personally don't like the heavy moderating going on here even with very direct Q&A. It's like a bunch of hall monitors in junior high ;)
    – user7731
    Mar 20, 2014 at 21:02
  • Not every answer is going to be a master piece, offer a complete, correct and concise answer, but that does not mean it is without merit or in need of someone jumping on them for adding to the conversation.
    – user7731
    Mar 20, 2014 at 21:03
  • Many times, someone has already handled a question rather well but others can add their bits of offerings as well, and as a whole, the board is healthier, conversation stronger, shared knowledge more deep. Criticizing users on their technique or quality of a response only runs them off from sharing. It's counter productive.
    – user7731
    Mar 20, 2014 at 21:07
  • You didn't do anything wrong TRiG, you did exactly what we've been training users through our examples to do. We uh, might have overdid that a bit when it comes to young / beta sites. And as I noted, it was just the example that led me to write something about it. Other examples weren't nearly as constructive and helpful. Anyway, please don't feel as if you did anything wrong, and I wasn't making an example out of it anywhere beyond that just happened to be the easiest example to show.
    – Tim Post
    Mar 21, 2014 at 16:25

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