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The “TL;DR” is at the bottom of this posting, which reads:

So did SE change its Q&A policy, is Sound Design a failed beta, or are there just different rules there than on all other SE sites?


The reason for the question in my title is because of the Sound Design SE site. I looked it over and it is a very bizarre place, nothing like an SE site at all (edit: no, not even the Apple SE).

And yet they there on SD claim that:

Sound Design Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for sound engineers, producers, editors, and enthusiasts.

However, this site is like no other SE site I have ever seen. It is not a Q&A site at all. Rather, it works more like some sort of Internet chat forum, support group, or joke site. This quickly becomes apparent when perusing its top-scoring questions, which include such gems as:

  1. You might be a sound recordist if, which is both a list-request post and a humor post, and it is #1 on the site.
  2. Where are you from and what do you do?, which is a get-to-know-you chat post, and is #2.
  3. Washington Post covers sound design in film: which is nothing but a link post, and yet is extremely highly ranked.
  4. Audio Mythbusting, which is “a thread to collect debunked audio myths”.
  5. What makes you think YOU'RE a sound designer?!, which is not only soliciting anecdotes not answers, it even references that the place is a forum.
  6. So I dropped my recorder in a wheelbarrow full of water…, which is just “isn’t this amusing?” anecdote.
  7. Most influential people in your career, which is another unanswerable list question.

I realize that it is still in beta, but it is actually hard to find anything there of the SE-prescribed Q&A format. Instead it’s all like it’s a big group-hug — as though the Internet needed another such site (NOT!).

At first I thought it might be so early a beta as to have no moderators, but this is not true.

So what gives?


Edit: It would have done little good to post on their meta. That isn’t just because they may not be the best judges; rather, it’s because its meta has in its lifetime had only 10 postings in total, and all but one of those are rather stale:

SD meta snapshot of newest postings

Plus posting there would have buried the question far deeper than posting it here. Gilles in comments points out how for the site’s community site self-evaluation, there were data from just two community members alone. Their meta is a virtual dead-zone. At least here, good answers are possible — and indeed have been kindly provided.


And my question is. . . .

So did SE change its Q&A policy, is Sound Design a failed beta, or are there just different rules there than on all other SE sites?

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For the record, until a cleanup effort happened a year or so ago, SO's highest voted questions looked a lot like that. They were mostly closed, just not deleted. Questions like this are simply vote magnets. I'd avoid judging sites too much based solely on their top few questions. –  Servy Dec 31 '13 at 18:31
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This question appears to be off-topic because it is about Sound Design Stack Exchange. It belongs on Sound Design meta. –  Gilles Dec 31 '13 at 18:33
    
The top questions are just a representation. Pretty much all of the Q&As in sound-design are forum-like. –  Ste Dec 31 '13 at 18:33
    
SD isn't the only site with such questions. Ask Different really likes its “what thing did you like in the new version” threads. Most sites started with a few then started moderating in earnest. –  Gilles Dec 31 '13 at 18:34
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@Gilles No, it is about whether SE has changed its policy. SD is just one example of this, and you yourself have already named another. It appears that the Q&A format is not network-wide. Is that the answer to my question? –  tchrist Dec 31 '13 at 18:34
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Also SSD is a bit special in that it's a recent-ish migration from SE 1.0. –  Gilles Dec 31 '13 at 18:36
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@Servy in my capacity as someone who at 500+ hats had no choice but have a thorough look at the top questions of every (participating) SE site in existence, I can vow and swear that Sound Design absolutely does stick out. It is one of a kind. Nothing comes close. –  ЯegDwight Dec 31 '13 at 18:36
    
@ЯegDwight And yet my point are are that 1) cleanup efforts have been made on other sites; perhaps one is simply needed here 2) Looking at the top questions isn't a good way of judging the site, no matter how bad they are. Now if you were a participating member and said that most of their regular questions are like this, and there are very few meaningful questions throughout the whole site, that would really mean something. If it's just the top questions that are bad, that can be fixed; see #1. –  Servy Dec 31 '13 at 18:39
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All the other sites are just really uptight. –  Mitch Dec 31 '13 at 18:40
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@Gilles Should you break up the necking teenagers at the house where the no PDA sign is posted to ask them whether it’s actually okay to have public displays of affection in this house despite the notice on the wall? What do you really think they are going to say? That’s the problem with taking it to the SD.meta — it fails. Of course they’ll say that the group-hugs should continue. –  tchrist Dec 31 '13 at 18:44
    
@tchrist As per your analogy, you still know the answer to the question, it's pretty much just the statement, "they're not following the rules" but asked in the form of a question. –  Servy Dec 31 '13 at 18:49
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SD being 1.0 aside, some other very rigid rules on Stack Overflow are bent or nonexistent on other sites. And the reverse is true too. CodeGolf.SE is full of "not constructive" questions. Mathematica, Math, and TeX do occasional list questions. Physics allows recommendation questions. On the flipside, a user from Physics would be astonished that Stack Overflow consists of nothing but "homework-like" questions which we vigorously close on our side. You can't judge all the sites by the same yardstick. –  Manishearth Dec 31 '13 at 19:15
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@yoda: I am topping the hat charts on Sound Design. You don't even have an account there. Or on ELU. What is your point? Smug does not enter the building until you force it to. –  ЯegDwight Dec 31 '13 at 21:13
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@ЯegDwight This is not about hats, it's about content. Let's keep things civil, shall we? –  Gilles Dec 31 '13 at 21:15
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@Gilles: absolutely. Let's keep things on-topic. This question here is about SD. And it has generated two exceptionally solid answers, I might add. Which I upvoted and moved along. I'd rather see people do the same. Attacking the messenger rather than the message is uncalled for, especially now that the answers have been posted. It is an ad hominem. If someone has a beef with ELU, they are very much welcome to post the exact same question for ELU. As a separate question. Shifting the focus here will not stand. –  ЯegDwight Dec 31 '13 at 21:34
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3 Answers

up vote 36 down vote accepted

Sound SE was imported from Social Sound Design, a Stack Exchange 1.0 site (in fact, it was the last 1.0 site). They were, for all intents and purposes, disconnected from the Stack Exchange network until recently.

They do things a bit .. differently, however we're not very concerned at this point. The plan is to merge the sound portion of our AVP site into Sound SE, which leaves AVP a site that will be re-branded for video. Why are we doing this? Because sound and video really want (and should have) separate sites, despite quite a bit of overlap when speaking of production, but I digress.

As these communities come together we're certain that a happy medium will be found - but this needs to happen over time. Sound is used to doing things the way they have been doing them since they started, on their own insular platform. While you point out some rather interesting examples, they also have quite a bit of very good quality information on the site.

What will the end be? A community for people that are very enthused about sound, hard nosed where it needs to be and soft where folks want to snuggle. That's going to take time, but we're certain that the two will come together just fine. We're all keeping an open mind; say what you will, the site is working for them, we're not going to slam down a whole new set of rules. Those communities will work it out as they become one.

It's not a typical beta, there was never a private beta, and it (until recently) had its own design and brand. It's way too early at this point to talk about anything graduation related, right now the focus is on merging the A in AVP with Sound SE.

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That's reassuring. –  Ste Dec 31 '13 at 18:40
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This is somewhat at odds with Robert's answer and this statement, which seems to indicate that this new site will be merged into AVP after cleanup. (Admittedly, that post is several months old.) And... wasn't the video portion of AVP added on originally? Separating audio out from AVP again seems a little odd. –  Neil Fein Dec 31 '13 at 21:25
    
Thanks Tim; the unique history does a lot to explain how the odd “flavor” of a non/barely-Q&A Q&A site came to be. BTW, those 7 “interesting examples” I picked out are truly just the tip of the iceberg: there are many, many more just like that and indeed even worse. This is far more than I ever noticed in the SO cleanup a year ago, despite the first comment at the OP. –  tchrist Jan 1 at 1:22
    
@NeilFein Yes, actually Video was merged with Audio on our recommendation to both, which was just a bad idea that seemed sensible at the time. My answer really isn't at odds with Roberts plan, what you're seeing is things changing slightly as we do them. It's easier to keep Sound SE (note, we didn't name it "Sound Design") and migrate audio questions there, then re-brand AVP for video. At least at this point, this is going to require agility and finesse. –  Tim Post Jan 1 at 4:34
    
FWIW, here's what the site looked like before the migration to SE 2.0. –  Ilmari Karonen Jan 1 at 20:16
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The Sound Design site was created outside the Stack Exchange Network by a third party before it was incorporated into the Stack Exchange Network.

If you look at the content as a whole, the information being provided there is actually of pretty high quality. That's what we liked about the site. The community is coherent, professional, and highly engaged… and they've been around longer than almost any site we created here.

Yes, some of their ways seem somewhat alien to our rigid structure of what makes good Q&A, but it seems to work for them. Let's be honest — despite what we might anticipate as the down-fall of that community, has not destroyed the overall tone and fabric of that site.

As for the future of that community, we are in the process of merging the "audio" content of our Audio-Video Production site into Sound Design so that AVP can continue on with a re-branded focus on video production.

Merging with Social Sound Design (and a surprise ending)

Yes, we do anticipate a bit of a culture clash — but we are encouraging both communities to keep an open minded about what will "work" on the combined site and what wont. It would be really user hostile to presume we should swoop in there and tell them everything they're basically doing wrong. They've been doing this a lot longer than most of us have.

The goal of any site should be make the Internet a better place by setting an example of how, exactly, a great resource on this subject should look. Certainly I am not talking about breaking down the structure of how a Stack Exchange site is designed to work — but if there are "broken windows" that are genuinely attracting a myriad of copy-cat questions that are lowering the quality of the site overall, we can circle around and address issues that can make the site even better.

But for now … a site you see as a "failed beta" has been around for a lot longer than most of the sites here; and honestly, they seem to be doing just fine.

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Then again, there's a certain lack of community involvement. Apparently only 2 users care! –  Gilles Dec 31 '13 at 19:00
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@Gilles They didn't have a meta site until we imported them, much less any idea of what a self-evaluation is. We do need to help those folks find meta, but don't take that as a lack of involvement at this point. –  Tim Post Dec 31 '13 at 19:09
    
Thanks for the history lesson: I hadn’t realized that SD’s path to SE-sitehood hadn’t included the whole Area-51 process. It sounds then like the answer is that they are an exception because of how they came about. I don’t quite follow the plans for merging that @TinyTim in his answer mentioned, but that’s ok. If they really are the active community that you’re trying to build, far be it from me to discourage them, and the future culture clash will work itself out in the end. But somebody really should tell them that they have a meta: it has virtually zero participation, as Gilles noted. –  tchrist Jan 1 at 1:01
    
@tchrist This is going to happen rather naturally, folks do visit the meta site, but mostly in a read-only way. Once migrations begin, tags get moved, content churns, etc - we'll probably fly a system message pointing folks to meta for an explanation, with instructions on how to open a new discussion if you have suggestions, or simply don't like a change. AT this point you should look at Sound through "What makes a great site?" - and keep in mind that they're becoming a Stack Exchange site over time. –  Tim Post Jan 1 at 4:39
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I would suggest that, in its current format, it will not get out of beta.

It will become messy and unmanageable and won't be a good resource for finding answers to questions. That's quite a shame because it's actually an area that interests me.

And we all know that referring to an SE site as "a forum" makes the baby Jesus cry kick baby kittens.

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They were a Stack Exchange 1.0 site, similar to Mathoverflow that we recently imported. They did not go through the area 51 process, they were not managed by us, and they are a thriving but small community. Please don't be too hard on them, they're now calling Stack Exchange home, and have been through a few major changes already. –  Tim Post Dec 31 '13 at 18:41
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@TinyTim Yep - I posted my answer before I saw yours. As I commented on your answer, it's reassuring that it's on the radar. –  Ste Dec 31 '13 at 18:43
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Thanks you for your edit. +1 –  Mitch Dec 31 '13 at 18:47
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There's no reason to be shy when it comes to participating there, they do have quite a few very knowledgeable users, and would (obviously) welcome great questions. It's a pretty awesome site, and is only going to get better :) –  Tim Post Dec 31 '13 at 19:19
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