Possible Duplicates:
Where is the right stackexchange site to post photoshop questions (here or superuser) ?
Is this the appropriate place to ask questions about how to accomplish an effect in Photoshop when there is clearly no relation to photography?
What should we do with Photoshop questions?

It's long been the site policy that general photoshop questions are off-topic, and so are photo-manipulation questions which only happen to use a photograph as the base. I think generally, we've drawn the line like this: "how do I get a specific post-processing effect using software" questions have been considered on topic, while "how do I use a feature of a certain software package" questions not, even when that feature could be used in photo processing.

For example: Mist Photoshop CS5 Effect, Apply an overlay layer to a single layer, and then adjust the result of that?, and Photoshop Pen tool.

But we're really not consistent on this. Other times, Photoshop questions are asked and get decent answers. And, we seem to be pretty harsh with how-do-I-operate-Photoshop questions, whereas general questions about Aperture or Lightroom are not blinked at — presumably because those programs are marketed more narrowly at photography workflow.


  1. Where do we want to draw this line? Is mentioning "I want to use this on a photo" sufficient? (See Is there a way in Photoshop to apply a mask to a single Smart Filter?)
  2. If that is sufficient, does it extend to basic concepts like the selection tool and layer manipulation? Do we have a strong "story" for not covering those things when someone wants to use them to work on a photo and doesn't know how?
  3. We cover things like the business of photography, and art and composition basics, but seem to have a collective dislike of "artificial" image manipulation questions like the one about adding a mist effect. Can we explain that in a straightforward way that makes sense in the FAQ?

Or, I guess, to put it another way:

A) If we open up the site to photoshopping gone wild, would that have a negative impact on the site? (Dilute our focus in some way?)

B) If we make photoshop questions more harshly off-topic (directing them all to superuser.com or graphicdesign-SE), does that provide a benefit? (More photography in its pure form, less artifice?)

C) Or, y'know, if we just keep handling these things in an ad hoc way, maybe that's fine. (Even then, would some FAQ clarification help?)

  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dori: none of those previous questions quite cover the precise question of where we draw the line. Asking a separate question was an attempt to focus the discussion on that. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 3:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ One of those questions is very narrow: are definitely-non-photographic-effects questions on topic. Another asks where the best destination for anything decided to be off topic might be. And the third was asked at the same time I was writing this. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 3:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dori I think it can be reopened for now, but let's be cognizant of previous discussion on the issue as well.. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 9:40

1 Answer 1


So, I'm kind of inclined to say that we should be more open to these questions. Even if I've been harsh on them before. Specifically, in reference to what I said above:

  1. We should accept any software questions where someone can basically include "with my photograph" or "for photography" or "photographic image" somewhere. Even if they really are photo-manipulation questions — those same skills are useful in a less-exaggerated degree in usually-considered-perfectly-tasteful retouching.
  2. This would include really basic stuff, including driving the user interface, as long as it's a real question which shows the simple standard of having tried to figure it out — as long as they meet the "for my photo" standard. Failing that, we redirect to Superuser.
  3. The FAQ should be updated to suggest that graphic design and layout-oriented questions go to Graphic Design, and that simple "how do I use software" questions are probably better suited for Superuser.

I say this because I have a hard time making a good explanation for why we would accept software questions at all without putting the line pretty far to that side. If we decided "cameras only; no computers!", we might have a defensible niche, but I think an unnecessarily small one in this modern age (especially since Stack Exchange does have a computer-oriented heritage.)

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 couldn't agree more \$\endgroup\$
    – rfusca
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 3:03

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