In Are there any social media networks which focus on photographers?, @dpollitt responded with a comment:

Is this a real question? This site is for expert level Q&A.

I felt that this response was both factually inaccurate, and unwelcoming to a new user, and challenged him on it. In response, he cited sources from elsewhere in the SE network: "The expert Q&A model that Stack Overflow pioneered", the Stack Exchange About page, where it mentions "experts" 6 times currently.

I pointed out the Photo.SE "About" page, which says we welcome "professional, enthusiast and amateur photographers" and "we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about photography."

@dpollitt stands by his interpretation, and does not believe we should be answering questions which can be found elsewhere with Google.

I believe that Photo.SE has become a valuable resource to the Internet, in part, by providing quality answers to basic photography questions (What is ISO? What is a fast lens?). Should we instead be closing questions below the "expert" level?

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    I've provided my opinion as comments in response to dpollitt's answer. Personally, regardless of the specific mission statements of any other specific SE site, I DO NOT believe we should have any kind of prerequisite qualification for people coming here to ask a question, with the only real necessity being wording their question in such a way that it can be understood by experts who can offer their expertise. I would also point out that this is a community edited site, and if spelling and grammar in a question are poor, WE can improve that at will!
    – jrista
    Jul 10, 2013 at 0:04
  • I would also like to point out that Bart's comment, the first one on the question, is what I would consider the best way to approach the problem that dpollitt is trying to address. Poorly worded questions can be difficult to understand. I wouldn't take that as a cue to berate the asker and demand they research the issue on their own. Instead, asking for clarification can clear up any misconceptions about the question, and make it clear what kind of answers are being sought. I'd also point out that a clearer question is easier to identify for closure as well!
    – jrista
    Jul 10, 2013 at 0:14
  • Jrista, feel free to delete my original comment if you feel it is negative and unwelcoming as coneslayer has noted. I have no problem with that.
    – dpollitt
    Jul 10, 2013 at 0:27
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    Just my two cents: If this site started requiring "expert" level questions, a lot of time and energy would probably be wasted simply determining if a question should be considered "expert" or not.
    – Tortilla
    Jul 13, 2013 at 18:28

2 Answers 2


I find it ironic that @dpollitt says we should not answer questions that may be found by Google, and yet a simple Google search returns the "What is ISO" question you linked to as an example:

Google example

While I have far less experience here than at StackOverflow, I can't imagine why 100-level questions would ever be shunned here or any of the StackExchange sites. Focusing just on "expert-level" questions makes no sense for a forum such as this.

And... who's to say what an "expert-level" question is within a specific domain? Just because someone is an expert in a specific area (say, multi-flash setup), that doesn't mean everyone is (e.g. a race-car photog).

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    Ironic? I don't think so. It is pretty obvious that Google indexes Stack Exchange. The point is that if the information is common sense or something easily found elsewhere, at a minimum we like to see some research and effort from the asker of the question. We aren't trying to duplicate Wikipedia and we aren't just gophers that deliver the basics to someone too lazy to try Google first.
    – dpollitt
    Jul 9, 2013 at 23:43
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    At first when I came here, I was eager to ask about all the things that popped in my mind. Later I've found that Google finds answers to all my possible questions, either by link to PhotoSE or more often to Wikipedia. So I end up reading Wikipedia a lot, and not asking too many questions here. Recently I wanted to know what does "Gamut" really mean, after a long time of simply ignoring the word as not interesting to me. So I started to write a question in PhotoSE, but then I recalled the golden advice: Search it yourself!!! So I did that and deleted my question draft. Jul 11, 2013 at 22:21
  • (there is no Q&A on "What is Gamut" in PhotoSE yet) Jul 11, 2013 at 22:22
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    There are some cases where there is a perfectly fine Wikipedia article but that article is encyclopedic rather than explanatory. We can do better at the latter. However, in that case, it helps if the question starts by referring to the Wikipedia article or other basic research already done, and explains why that isn't enough.
    – mattdm
    Jul 11, 2013 at 23:10

To answer your question, no I don't think that Stack Exchange or this Photography sub domain are exclusively for experts or expert questions. It is for expert level Q&A, meaning we expect good questions with well thought out research, effort, and proof of that. The example question had none of that. The answers thus far likely prove how easy the question was, due to their brevity and similarities.

I don't find either of the questions you brought up as examples as being basic enough to warrant closing, downvotes, etc. The original question "what social networks are for photographers" is blatantly obvious to just about everyone, for that reason I believe it is not worth having.

Also, this topic has been discussed quite throughly here: Is StackExchange supposed to be just for experts?


I will say, I only now noticed how significantly the question title has been edited. In my opinion it is completely different now, and my understanding of the original intent is very different now. I find the revised title to be much less valuable than the original, and my response above this update was all based on the updated title.

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    Well, I think your assessment is a little flawed. Sorry to disagree, but I think the only thing necessary for a good question is that it be asked well, with good spelling and proper grammar when the asker has the capability to do so. I do not think that prior research, with explicit effort and proof thereof should be a prerequisite for asking a question here! That has never been stated anywhere, and I think you completely misinterpreted your very own link. I recommend you read the second quote of the accepted answer for the basis of why your opinion is...flawed.
    – jrista
    Jul 9, 2013 at 23:57
  • I would also like to point out that, again from your very own link, by the author of the accepted answer, the notion that one must demonstrate expertise is irrelevant so long as you can pose a question that CAN BE ANSWERED: tl;dr Stack Exchange is for getting answers to questions about actual problems you face. Your expert-level "status" is, with a few notable exceptions, **irrelevant if you can explain your problem or help somebody else solve theirs.**
    – jrista
    Jul 9, 2013 at 23:58
  • Next, again from your own link and the accepted answer: I think the frequent use of the word expert might imply "genius" but that's not what SE is about. SE is about contributing your expertise and helping out in things you know. Let me emphasize: SE is about contributing your expertise and helping out in things you know. StackExchange is for experts...in terms of providing an outlet for experts to offer their expertise! That has nothing to do with how well someone can ask a question.
    – jrista
    Jul 10, 2013 at 0:01
  • Finally, I would also point out that your comment does come off a bit rude and unwelcoming. During PhotoSE's beta phase, I worked very hard to encourage people here to be WELCOMING. I think I was succesful, and offering a welcoming atmosphere became central to PhotoSE's nature. I see no reason to turn anyone who comes to this site away unless they are being overtly and explicitly hostile or disruptive in some way (i.e. Handy Andy, for those who remember him.) If you dislike a question, and think it should be closed, the appropriate action is to vote to close. No need to be rude.
    – jrista
    Jul 10, 2013 at 0:08
  • Yes I am aware the link I offered does not match my opinion, I still offered it to include others opinions and past precedence. I don't think I "berated" anyone, but yes it was criticism.
    – dpollitt
    Jul 10, 2013 at 0:21
  • I've restored the original title, as I agree...the edit changed what was being asked.
    – jrista
    Jul 10, 2013 at 2:36
  • On the one hand I agree that a certain base level of obviousness could be too obvious to be worth an answer particularly when there isn't subtlety in the details. For questions like What is ISO, while it is a simple concept at first glance, it would be quite easy to write an entire article about it. I think that we have to be careful on what we look at as both simple and obvious though. For example, the question that brought this up, while simple, I think it less obvious to an uninitiated outsider. There is no shortage of galleries out there, but finding vibrant community is hard.
    – AJ Henderson Mod
    Jul 10, 2013 at 19:38

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