It's been done before - How can I create this 'medieval look' using an entry-level camera like the Nikon D3300? - which ended up being my single largest rep source ;)

This started out as a rather hopeless question, to which the OP never returned [though he did post one more 'what's this' type question later] but it had some interesting images with reasonable similarities & seemed worth a go. The current question was back-edited after the fact to prevent it just being abandoned to the basement filing drawer of history.

I think the end result was worth the effort - though I may be somewhat biased ;)

Another appeared recently - How do you get this sort of effect to which the OP has not returned. It's since been closed, as many of these are, as 'unclear'.

If we assume that what he wanted was advice on grain then we have an answer, which someone took the time to provide.

How do we feel about now back-editing it so it clearly asks what that answer provides?

I know we have the ethos of 'not conflicting with the OP's intent' but if that intent was unclear & there has been no return to clarify, it seems 'better' to fix it than abandon it.
Even if that's not what he meant... 'better' for the site overall than the individual.

Related:
Is there a tag for "copy this photo look"?

How should we handle the "what (Instagram) filter is makes this photo" type questions?

What should we do with questions which assume photography is all Photoshop tricks?

& ultimately - Is there any hope for making this site about photography?

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    Other than editing that question to make it clear it's about "grain effect", I don't see other possibilities since it's already answered and upvoted, thus if OP somehow came back and updated the question but invalidating the answers, it'd be rolled back anyway... – Andrew T. Oct 27 at 19:29
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    @AndrewT. I see what you're getting at, but if for some reason the OP did edit the question to clarify their meaning, then it shouldn't be rolled back. Unfortunately, that's the fundamental problem with answering unclear questions. However, practically speaking, if the answer were absolutely soooo good, I figure we would probably ask the OP to re-ask it as a new question (with their newer, clearer meaning), and leave the old question with its wrong-but-matches-really-good-answer(s) version. – scottbb Oct 29 at 17:47

In my limited time on this site, the majority of these questions appear to be coming from people that not only think the answer is something akin to "filter xyz in app abc" but who are only interested enough to ask the question, but not truly seek the answer. It's not but a passing fancy.

But, as you've shown in your answer, there can be immense value to these questions for the users and viewers of this site that actually do want to replicate a style and need help figuring it out (and who already know about image editors).

So, in that respect, I think that we should back edit these types of questions OR take it upon ourselves to re-ask them the right way. I'm not sure which of these options is more "stack exchange" in ethos but either way, there's value to be had in these questions and I see no reason to trash them all simply because the OP only had a minor passing fancy and just happened to wonder aloud on this site.

Point of clarification: as of the time of this meta question (and my answer here), "How do you get this sort of effect" has not been closed; it's been put on hold.

How do we feel about now back-editing it so it clearly asks what that answer provides?

I think that if the OP doesn't come back, answer questions to clarify it, etc., within the "on hold" time (that is, the system converts it to "closed"), then it's fine to edit the question, provided that edits don't invalidate upvoted answers. I suggest a conservative editing hand when doing so.

Another suggestion would be to open a Meta question specifically about editing such a question on Main, or perhaps even just workshop it chat.

But bottom line, the "Vote to Close" system has a built-in grace period, the "On Hold" time. If the OP of the question on Main doesn't come back or answer questions within that grace period time, then afterwards, I say it's fair to make it better.

On the upside, there are plenty of such "What's this effect" questions that have fallen into this category, so if that's your bag to massage, craft, and answer those, I wholeheartedly encourage it. Game on! =)

  • Ah, indeed. Though I'm aware of the semantic difference, my question hadn't actually made that distinction. My bad - but I ought to leave it now so as not to mess up this answer. One instance where back-editing is probably not appropriate ;)) – Tetsujin Oct 29 at 18:05
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    @Tetsujin Nah, your meta question here is good, and if nothing else, highlights and brings together some of the activities that aren't necessarily obvious. Out of context, editing questions to clarify them might appear to be assuming intent. But in the context of being probably abandoned and all thematically similar, the editing and answering makes sense. It's hard to see that context on a question-by-question basis, but when collected under one meta question, it all makes sense. And hopefully heads off edit wars, etc. Your intentions are correct; I 98% agree with your implementation. =) – scottbb Oct 29 at 18:19
  • Scott, is there a way to search closed questions? I'd be interested in knowing just how many of these question types have gone into closed and may cherry pick some for reasking/answering. – Hueco Nov 3 at 15:54
  • @Hueco absolutely. Just add closed:yes to your search to limit results to closed questions. There's a short list of help advanced search tips if you click "Advanced Search Tips" at the top of most search results: photo.stackexchange.com/search?q= – scottbb Nov 3 at 17:59
  • @Hueco I say "most" search results, because if your search term is an exact name (for instance, "effect"), you'll get the page for "Questions tagged [effect]", and it won't treat it as a search results, and therefore won't show the "Advanced Search Tips" link to refine your search. – scottbb Nov 3 at 18:01

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