Questions like

are incredibly frustrating to me, because on the one hand these are exactly¹ the kind of thing I want to see more of on the site: how do I achieve a certain look or follow a certain technique, rather than "what brand photowidgets to buy?", but on the other hand, they are:

  • indistinguishable,
  • unsearchable,
  • and usually, almost completely unclear

awhile ago, I wrote a long rant about this — Important information for asking "What's this effect?" questions — and as you've probably noticed I generally drop a link to it when one of these questions come in (with medium-to-fair results).

But I'm tired of doing that. Is there some way we could have this as a template that can be dropped in place with a click or a flag? Maybe it could be a custom close reason, but it's not a custom off-topic reason — topicality isn't the problem.

(This is mostly a question for Stack Exchange devs, because.... I don't think there's much even the moderators can do here.)

1. well, minus that some of these examples are subjectively crazy over-baked and tasteless, but, hey, no accounting for taste


2 Answers 2


We can try to make this situation better by doing one of two things:

  1. We can make it so that a block/prompt appears next to the text box for inputting the question, asking the users to be more specific, and possibly even linking to your Meta post.
    This would have to have a trigger, though. This could be a tag (or set of tags), or a set of words. However, we should make sure these triggers are actually something that is usually used by users who will post questions with those kinds of titles, and rarely used by other users who won't do so. Can you think of what those triggers might be?
    The end result would be something similar to what we did in the Anime site.

  2. We can add a link to your Meta post in the sidebar next to the text box for inputting the question, under "how to ask". It could look something like this:
    possible solution

  • \$\begingroup\$ Nice! I like the first option. I'll have to think about some triggers. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Nov 10, 2015 at 17:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ The word "this" in combination with "look" or "effect". Possibly also "process". \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Nov 10, 2015 at 17:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, make that "process" or "photoshop". \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Nov 10, 2015 at 17:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Another trigger: Just one or two lines of text plus a photo or link. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Nov 10, 2015 at 17:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Playing around with Data explorer, I think any of this [effect|look] or [effect|look|photo|photograph|picture] like or just like this is pretty good. There's some false positives, though. (Is there a way to do SEDE searches on original, non-edited posts?) \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Nov 10, 2015 at 18:07
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You can look for InitialTitle and InitialBody on PostHistory. \$\endgroup\$
    – JNat StaffMod
    Nov 10, 2015 at 18:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmmm. I don't think I can. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Nov 10, 2015 at 18:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Anyway, looking for phrases like a just suggested two comments up isn't adequate — it misses most of my examples. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Nov 10, 2015 at 18:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ I wish we could do this on tags, like your example on Anime, but these are also often tagged poorly too — photo-editing, photoshop, digital-photography. If we're "lucky", effect or reverse-engineering. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Nov 10, 2015 at 18:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Check out this post for some more info. You should be able to see InitialTitle and InitialBody on PostHistory. Are you sure you can't? If you can find no suitable triggers, how does option 2 sound? \$\endgroup\$
    – JNat StaffMod
    Nov 11, 2015 at 17:14
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ An example of a question that should be flagged: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/97402/photography-editing. In this case, "One or two lines of text plus a link to instagram" would be an effective trigger. It wouldn't have been caught by "this effect|look" because they used the word "editing" in a kind of odd way. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Mar 22, 2018 at 17:01
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Another trigger word: filter. \$\endgroup\$
    – Caleb
    Mar 22, 2018 at 20:12

Although not ideal, it is better than nothing.

You can copy/paste the following into a comment to an offending question that asks, "How do I get this effect/filter/editing?" To copy/paste with the correct formatting, triple-click the line below to select it all and then copy.

I give you my complete permission to use it however you wish.

[Important information for asking “What's this effect?” questions](https://photo.meta.stackexchange.com/q/3881/15871) and [What's the best way to ask a “How do I achieve this effect?” question?](https://photo.meta.stackexchange.com/q/677/15871)

Posted in a comment, the above lines will appear as:

Important information for asking “What's this effect?” questions and What's the best way to ask a “How do I achieve this effect?” question?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, Matt!!! \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Mar 21, 2018 at 16:52
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ For active reviewers such as yourself, I highly recommend installing Tampermonkey into your browser, which will then let you install userscripts, such as SE's AutoReviewComments - Pro-forma comments for SE script. Then you can set the above comment text to be inserted with a click into any comment box on Photo.SE. \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb Mod
    Mar 21, 2018 at 17:30

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