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Saw this question: https://ux.stackexchange.com/questions/2566/web-application-u-i-critique

Is this the kind of question that we should have on the site?

Disregarding the fact that it is fairly subjective, I see it as an issue for a couple of other reasons. First of all, critiques aren't asking a specific question, which means that it is too broad to get a specific answer (even a subjective answer). Second, it is very "local" - it only really pertains to the user and their site; I don't think it's likely that someone else will stumble across that question and gain anything by reading its answers. Finally, this is akin to someone asking you to do work for them for free. As UI experts, shouldn't we get paid for doing critiques? :)

  • Here's what the Writing stack exchange decided to about critiques: meta.writers.stackexchange.com/questions/181/… – Patrick McElhaney Jan 6 '11 at 13:33
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    @Patrick - I'd say writing is a completely different beast than UI. A site for writers is pretty much useless without critiques. A site for UI experts most definitely is not useless without critiques. – Charles Boyung Jan 7 '11 at 19:08
  • @patrick charles makes an excellent point; I think with UI you can be technical enough that individual critiques (ala "what about this website?") can be refined to something more general and technical (ala "what do you think about websites that use infinite scrolling?") – Jeff Atwood Jan 8 '11 at 22:16
  • @Jeff @Charles Right. Just posted that as a point of reference. Didn't mean to imply that we should follow writers' lead. – Patrick McElhaney Jan 8 '11 at 23:36
  • @Patrick - Yeah, I didn't think you implied that; I was just looking to clarify my understanding of it so it wouldn't get implied by someone else that your statement was endorsing critiques. – Charles Boyung Jan 10 '11 at 16:15
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Ha! I was just coming here to ask this EXACT question. I'm surprised this did not show up as the top off-topic question in the original proposal… but it was missed.

I would strongly suggest that you add this to the FAQ as being off topic:

  • Critique my design: What do you think? How can it be improved?

Absent a very specific question about their design, I would close these questions as off topic.

But I would further caution NOT to create an overly draconian moratorium against any discussions about specific designs. Users could, for example, have a very specific design question using their design as an illustrative example. That would be okay if the question is very specific. But a general "critique my design" request is not.

I would suggest fleshing this out with more feedback here, then amending the FAQ, and closing that question (and any future questions along those lines) with a clear explanation as to why they are considered outside the scope of this site.

  • I agree. Aside from the first paragraph, can we edit the FAQ? – Patrick McElhaney Nov 21 '10 at 23:50
  • @Patrick McElhaney: Yes. Look at your FAQ: ui.stackexchange.com/faq. See the 'edit' link? – Robert Cartaino Nov 22 '10 at 16:00
  • Yes, I see that the section between "What kind of questions can I ask here?" and "Please look around..." can be edited. I went ahead and added the copy we had hoped to replace the part about subjective questions. – Patrick McElhaney Nov 22 '10 at 17:29
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Critique MY design is a little annoying, but I don't think its off topic.

Critique THIS design, like something google did or whatever is perfectly interesting.

Making the site better requires empathy for different points of view. Some people can't seem to grok that subjective questions are the MOST interesting to many of us.

  • Glen, if you like subjective questions so much, then why don't you just go to a UI discussion forum? As I've stated many times to you before - you want open ended discussion, and the stack exchange platform is NOT the place for open ended discussion. – Charles Boyung Jan 5 '11 at 20:05
  • REALLY??? Most people on the site disagree with me? That's why people are repeatedly voting to close these types of questions? Yeah, that makes perfect sense. As for voting down everything you post - sorry, isn't me. I only vote down the posts you make that are completely stupid and wrong. Now, that may be a large number of your posts, but not even close to a majority of what you post. – Charles Boyung Jan 6 '11 at 14:01
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    Oh, and if most people WANT your type of subjective questions, then why did your answer here get zero votes and the other answer here, which shoots down subjective critique questions, has gotten four votes? Seems to me YOU'RE the one in the minority here. – Charles Boyung Jan 6 '11 at 14:03
  • Sure, Glen, that's it. Your bias against negative votes is quite well known. Just because you choose to misuse a system doesn't mean everyone does. I vote things down when they are flat out wrong. If you've got a problem with that, then you REALLY don't belong on these sites. And I'm not good at UX, that is really funny coming from you. I've read your comments here and on UXExchange and I've even looked at your godawful blog. You are a complete and total moron when it comes to UX. I honestly have no idea how you've survived as long as you have in the field. – Charles Boyung Jan 7 '11 at 19:04
  • As for your points being higher than mine? You clearly spend a ton more time on these sites than I do. I'm too busy doing actual work. I guess you don't have that sort of problem. I'd much rather have lots of happy clients because I actually get their work done for them than a high vote count on some website that has no value to said clients whatsoever. Since you whine whenever you get downvoted and when you think about losing your rep when a site dies out and gets replaced, we clearly have different priorities in life. Best of luck being successful with your "high rep". – Charles Boyung Jan 7 '11 at 19:06
  • I honestly hope you don't believe that being invited to speak at conferences means that you are competent. I would say that for every good speaker there are at least two very bad speakers. And I'm quite sure you fall into the latter grouping. – Charles Boyung Jan 26 '11 at 19:52
  • Highly productive comments here, lets see if we can get more of these. – whitneyland Sep 7 '11 at 13:35
  • @Lee: Better now? – Glen Lipka Sep 7 '11 at 22:07
  • @Glen - Awesome man, total respect for that. – whitneyland Sep 7 '11 at 23:52
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I do think that if the question addresses specific aspects of the design and a snip of the screen shot is included, it does add much value, and it should be allowed.

If the "question" is limited to just a request for critique or feedback, it's of limited value, especially over the course of time as the URL(s) provided will likely have a different UI displayed when the question ages.

Regarding my first point, though, I do think it's worthwhile to actually encourage that type of discourse, especially containing embedded graphic examples. This type of question/answer with illustrations would be highly valuable to the community.

0

My snap judgment would be to say that questions that are phrased in a way that the discussion can any solutions can be applied by others confronting the same issues should be encouraged through the normal mechanisms (up voting mainly). For those questions that are too specific and non-applicable to the rest of the community, those questions should naturally be viewed less and receive less votes giving them the treatment they may very well deserve.

I agree with others as well who make the point that when diagrams, screen-shots, and other useful illustrations are included these questions have a particular degree of usefulness to the community regardless of how widely it applies to others since it helps promote deep and higher quality discussions. In these cases there is almost always something that others can take away from the discussion even if it isn't the main topic being discussed.

NOTE: In the past I thought the community wiki feature? that I've seen on StackOverflow was to be used as a way to pose more broad questions that promote discussion but do not necessarily elicit a single precise solution to a problem however it appears this may not be the original intent. The topic of discussion here however is about questions that are overly specific to a degree that they may not be very useful on a large scale to others in the community. Also community wiki posts are mainly used to hand over ownership of a question or other post to the community.

  • The community wiki feature was never intended to be used that way and SO has gone away from that more and more as well. Did you even actually read the post that you linked to? Nowhere does it mention it being used for "more broad questions that promote discussion but do not necessarily elicit a single precise solution to a problem" – Charles Boyung Feb 3 '11 at 1:35
  • Yes, I did re-read the article when I posted my answer and was a bit supprised to see that the community-wiki feature was more about community ownership than anything else. I must have misunderstood it's intent, but I do recall at some point the wiki feature being better suited for questions that were about more broad discussion instead of a specific question. Perhaps this type of misunderstanding is why "SO has gone away from that more and more"? – jpierson Feb 3 '11 at 1:54
  • People started misusing community wiki for broad discussions because they could get away with posting opinions that way without fear of losing rep. That's why they changed the rule across the board that a user can't just choose to make a question community wiki. – Charles Boyung Feb 3 '11 at 18:10

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