Introductions are in order...

For those with Stack Exchange and AVP who don't know me, my name (and my handle) is Steve Urban. Hello. Sorry for my first question to be such a long post, but please, stick with me.

I was an active member of socialsounddesign.com within the first few months it came online 4 years ago. It was a fantastic site that catered to my needs as a sound editor & re-recording mixer for TV & Film far better than GearSlutz, the DUC, Creative Cow, JWSoundGroup, or any of the myriad of electronic musician/ bedroom producer forums. I hope that S.SE can continue to be that resource for me.

However, when SE ceased to license its IP to 3rd parties and merged multiple forums to sound.stackexchange it feels as though an executive decision was handed down from people who (understandably) don't quite comprehend what "sound design" encompasses. Perhaps our stack is not alone in this predicament, but hopefully we can find a way to sort through it and create a resource that's greater than the sum of its parts, so to speak.

The Issue

By my count, there are currently 114 stack exchange sites:

  • 43 are categorized under Technology
  • 32 are categorized under Culture/Recreation
  • 18 are categorized under Life/Arts
  • 13 are categorized under Science
  • 4 are categorized under Business
  • 3 are categorized under Professional
  • 1 is Uncategorized, this one

Perhaps we occupy our own special "Un-category" because "Sound Design" fits into so many of these categories. From the broadest of definitions it's a science, an art, & technology all at the same time. It has a special place in the world where it has an opportunity to inform & influence culture, while at the same time being a recreational hobby to untold thousands of people. For myself, and the vast majority of members from SSD, it is all of these while also being a profession and a business.

So by combining everything sound into "The Complete Compendiumâ„¢" means that what is firmly on-topic for me may be completely irrelevant for someone else and vice versa. That's why I find the recent string of meta conversations of what's on- and off-topic so confounding, irrational, and myopic. And, yes, I am including my own contributions in that.


On SSD I used the "Favorite Tags" column sparingly. I didn't see the need to sort through a lot of the "noise" of the site as most of what was considered off-topic rapidly got voted down or was quickly answered and shut down. Now, I see it as an essential way to sift through the list and find the posts that matter the most to me. But here's what I see as missing:

  1. 1 sub-genre tag on every question - These tags exist in multiple forms across the forum. They need to be cleaned up and every question must have one of these tags. This is not the be-all, end-all list of everything sound design. I see no problem adding more, nor do I see an issue with questions crossing multiple sub-genres in some circumstances. But I think that these broad categories would cover a good 90-95% of the questions asked. Each has their own idiosyncrasies in dealing with sound which should be considered when both asking and answering questions. It provides an instant background to the question, as well as a quick way to hack through the brush of what's on- and off-topic to the end-user. Which brings me to...

  2. Boolean favorites / multiple tags / refined searches - This was something that I always pined for on SSD, and may very well be a limitation of StackExchange. But, even in other stacks, this would be highly functional. Say I'd like to find questions about asset management in game audio before I craft my own. Whether I search for, or click tags for either "asset management" or "game audio", there's no way to further refine my search. I did find that boolean results can be created in rss feeds, but I'd rather search and refine on demand, as opposed to creating an rss feed every time I'd want to look up a topic. This makes me think this is possible, just not implemented. The ability to save these searches under my favorite tags would be marvelous.


I don't foresee this site becoming a Complete Compendium of sound design knowledge if we keep flagging each other's questions as off-topic. If we accept that "sound" or "sound design" is as broad a topic as it actually is, the easiest way I see to successfully navigate this site is through a basic system of sub-genres.

I've tagged this post as both a as well as a , because I'd like it to be both. So if you agree or disagree, vote accordingly, but please respond as well. I'd like to understand where the community stands on this. Also, as I stated, #2 may be a limitation of StackExchange. Perhaps some of you have insight into that, or a way that the site gets around it. But I think that the idea has merit in making the stack more functional by several orders of magnitude.

Thanks for your attention to the bitter end.

  • Well stated and I agree. This may very well smooth other the clash we're facing. i am certainly a contributing part to these issues at hand as well - and I don't enjoy it. Would rather focus on the community at hand. If sub genres are the key to solving that for now, so be it. Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 1:21
  • Steve, somehow this slipped by me - I'll get a proper answer here tomorrow. Sorry about the delay!
    – Tim Post
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 17:52
  • 1
    For your second point, I think the basic need is addressed with the or search operator. So you can use [game-audio] or [post-production] to get all questions tagged as either game-audio or post-production. Leaving out the or gives you questions with both tags. You can also add other search terms to narrow the results. We don't have saved searches just yet, however. Would that cover the feature request portion of the question? Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 23:54
  • Actually, Jon, that does help. Thank you for explaining that. I was unaware that including [ ] actually searches tags. I was only clicking on existing tags on posts or in the tag cloud. While I do think that both saved searches and the ability to lock your search to results only and further drill down would be beneficial, this is highly useful and appreciated. Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 4:56


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