I recently asked a question regarding sharing or publishing photos I took. It has been migrated to another Stack Exchange website, as off-topic. When the question received the template message that it didn't belong here without specific details, I was wondering what the rules were here.

The list of topics covered include many things around the equipment and the shots, but after the shot itself, it seems the only topic is "photographic processing or retouching" which is vague ("processing" could pretty much be replaced by "doing something with your photo"). It is a bit more precise when we can read that "Image Manipulation (outside of the Photography context)" is off-topic. But still, not that precise. In that list of topics covered or not, my question was lying in a big hole in my opinion. Photography is obviously about preparing a camera, a scene and taking a shot but it's also about manipulating the image and sharing it (or keeping it to oneself).

This last part is where the boundaries are unclear. Most questions like this or others tagged sharing or printing are interesting and fairly specific to photography, so I would believe they belong here. Many others like this one and some linked questions are closed with a similar off-topic, opinion-based or short-lived, which are common reasons raised among Stack Exchange communities. And often hide just a grey area. In particular, with digital photography, many tools used once the shot is taken will involve some software. While I personally agree that asking for the "best" software usually yields unhelpful answers, I also think that figuring what kind of process you want to have with your photos, typically where to share and how to share it, is really helpful for a photographer. The accepted answer to that closed question is a good example of a useful answer that doesn't recommend a specific tool but rather lists options of whom/how to share your photos. I tried to phrase my question in the same manner, explaining my process of sharing and figuring if any tool matches this process rather than asking for a specific software.

What are the precise boundaries to the covered topics? In particular:

  • Is sharing with friends on-topic?
  • Is sharing on the Web on-topic?
  • Is sharing on social media on-topic?
  • Are printing techniques on-topic?
  • Is finding a printing process on-topic?
  • ...

And updating the on-topic page with more precise boundaries to make it a bit simpler for new users and the rest of the community to figure what they can post or close.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What is your specific question? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Jan 4, 2023 at 0:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelC I rephrased, asking about some specific topics \$\endgroup\$
    – Vince
    Commented Jan 4, 2023 at 4:23

2 Answers 2


The simple answer is "there are no precise boundaries": there will always be grey areas where something is marginally on-topic, and in those cases the community is empowered to decide what they believe in each individual case. If over time a consensus emerges with regards to a specific issue, that's the point at which we're likely to update the on/off topic pages - trying to do it preemptively for every case around the boundary of what some people might or might not call "photography" doesn't actually add value to the site.

If you believe there is a specific point where users are frequently confused about where the boundary might lie, please start a discussion on Meta about that specific point.


I'm the mod who moved your question to Software Recommendations Stack Exchange. When I moved it, your question had 3 pending closes votes (2 for migration to softwarerecs.SE, 1 for "seeking specific product or service recommendations, where the answer is likely to be either entirely personal or short-lived as a result of changing markets".

I agreed with all vote reasons, and migrated your question to softwarerecs.SE. Using the Photo.SE questions you linked to in this Meta question, you'll see that questions asking for software recommendations like photo sharing galleries/sites are chock full of links to dead products, or products whose feature sets have changed entirely in the time since the question was asked (2011 and 2012, in those examples). This is exactly why one of the vote-to-close reasons is:

Questions seeking specific product or service recommendations, where the answer is likely to be either entirely personal or short-lived as a result of changing markets, are off topic here. Please rephrase your question to describe the problem you're trying to solve or what you do not understand that prevents you from determining the answer yourself.

Where the "short-lived" links to the canonical answer to Meta Photo-SE question, "Why is there so much hostility to 'what should I buy' and 'shopping' questions?" In general, Stack Exchange sites have been largely unreceptive to "shopping questions", ever since StackOverflow/StachExchange co-founder Jeff Atwood wrote his oft-referred to Q&A is Hard, Let's Go Shopping! blog post. In it, he details why shopping questions like "Which X should I buy?" or "Which Y is best?":

when it comes to shopping questions, don’t ask us what you should buy — ask us what you need to learn to tell what you should buy.

Software Recommendations site was started in 2014, in response to the needs of several different Stacks that agreed with Atwood's "Q&A is Hard..." 'manifesto', but needed a way to recommend software given the asker's specifications.

Speaking on behalf of Photo-SE specifically, photo sharing sites aren't central to photography, that is, the art & science of capturing and producing photographic images. In my opinion, the needs of sharing photogrpahic images is often quite distinct from photographers' interests. We're more interested in the art, artists, and science involved in capturing, editing, and production of photographic art (including scientific photographic art). The distribution and social management of photographic art is largely outside our scope, mostly because the tools and techniques for sharing, sites, and infrastructure for sharing them are in the computer domain. Site and server management, permissions, hosting, etc. And multiple Stack Exchanges are much more suited to those technologies.


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