This site's charter claims that the following are on topic:

  • photography
  • photographic processing or retouching
  • using photographic equipment
  • techniques and best practices
  • history of photography
  • photography in society
  • improving an aspect of a photograph

In practice, the questions this site actually gets and responds to, beyond the very basics that we've really already thoroughly covered (exposure, depth of field, focal length) are mostly:

  • what camera to buy?
  • what lens to buy?
  • how does my software work?
  • how can I measure things with my camera?
  • robots, robots, robots!
  • copyright — what's up with that?
  • what does my camera manual say?
  • what instagram filter is that?
  • what magic button should I push to get good results without work?
  • my camera is broken and can you please tell me it isn't?

Now, these are all fine questions, and most of them are on topic. But they're not even close to covering even a tiny fraction of the field of photography.

We occasionally get something interesting about how to take a photo in a certain style or with a certain technique, but these are usually hard to get into a format that fits the site well. We also sometimes get "how can I improve this", but that's even harder because the site doesn't provide good guidance on how to narrow that to a specific issue.

In reality, even though they are listed explicitly, "history of photography" and "photography in society" are right out, as well as large swaths of things which are on the plain face of it about photography. As someone graciously summarized for me:

You can scream that such questions are interesting until you are blue in the face, it won't change the fact that you seem to be the only one here who believes so.

So, this is a serious request. Please rename this site to "camera-gear.stackexchange.com". It can have all the gear questions, and sure, all the "I want to use a camera to measure the size of a room" and similar questions. Then, we can migrate the questions actually about photography to a new site named photography.stackexchange.com, and make it clear that yes, photography is on topic here.

That can't be done when this site is here squatting on the topic. I mean, imagine if https://cooking.stackexchange.com/ only allowed questions about ovens and pots and pans and knives and freaked out when people asked about preparing food? We're in that situation here. Time to stop it.

  • 2
    You're not the only one. You're just the one most recently vocal and apparently irritated by it. – xiota Sep 22 at 7:50
  • 2
    Possible duplicate of Is there any hope for making this site about photography? – Olin Lathrop Sep 23 at 13:07
  • +10 points for the frustration, and clearly calling out the dpreview discussions in disguise; -11 for the proposal to split. The union must be preserved. – scottbb Sep 23 at 17:41
  • Hey, but even the background banner on the new site design is all gear and no photos... – Michael Clark Oct 29 at 5:56

Or we could just follow our charter and nurture such questions here.

Renaming the site and creating a new site is not a viable or desirable outcome. There are two big things that can be done to fix this site instead and help it be more welcoming to non-gear questions.

First, work on reminding people of Good Subjective / Bad Subjective when they are indicating a good subjective topic as actually bad.

Second, if a user is having trouble getting a question to be a good fit, help them. High rep users have edit permissions for a reason. They can be used to help a user refine their question and form it in to something that is actually answerable. We need to exercise a degree of care when doing this, but if we can focus the users question and get them the information they are looking for by modifying rather than closing their question, we should try to do so.

Third, if you see a question that is clearly Good Subjective and has been closed in error, flag it for moderator attention (and clean it up to be even better if you can) and we can re-open it until people remember that Good Subjective is a thing.

It is an uphill battle from how anti-opinion Stack Overflow is and how many users come from there, but it isn't something that can't be overcome, as other sites have shown in the past. It just needs high rep users to be engaged in helping make sure that we establish the way in which users should approach such questions.

I would welcome well-written art-related questions. I am against relaxing all question-quality criteria simply because "art" gets a pass.

  1. Take a deep breath. Relax. Consider taking up meditation, yoga, or tai chi. Seems to work for Danny Rand.

  2. Perform a post/pre-mortem on some recent questions...

  3. Come up with some guidelines for best practices for asking "art" questions.

    • Just because it's about "art" doesn't mean it has to be completely subjective. While "artistic value" is subjective, "artistic relevance" is not. No matter how much I might dislike art, something that is artistically relevant is artistically relevant, regardless.

    • Provide background, context, and explanation for the question. This already applies to all questions and should not be relaxed for "art" questions. This includes defining and explaining terms that may not be familiar to general readers. You're not going to be able to reach the engineers and scientists who are taking over your photo art site if they don't understand what you're talking about.

    • Write (or collect a list of) some questions that can be used as exemplars of good "art" questions. A preamble to notify others of your project should hold the close votes at bay during the feedback-revision cycles.

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    While I agree with you we should make sure that questions fit quality standards, I think we also need to get it through some people's heads that subjective questions ARE allowed. It seems a great many people on the site at the moment either are not familiar with or do not understand good subjective/bad subjective. – AJ Henderson Sep 23 at 1:34
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    We really, really DO need to get it through the hardliners heads that subjective questions ARE allowed. That is fundamentally destroying this site, and the incredible potential it has to support the photographic community at large. It is honestly really sad how little this site comes up on web searches for photography queries... NEVER. EVER. NEVER EVER EVER. It is just sad... – jrista Oct 4 at 17:59

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