While I fully understand the decision to rule critique questions on-topic, I'm somewhat bothered by the idea of multiple "Please critique this snippet" and "How does this sound?" questions on the main question list.

This is probably rather anal of me, but I think it's unhelpful for a Q&A-based site to have a large segment of questions which are outwardly indistinguishable. Critique questions are different from other questions; they've got a lot less long-term value; the navigation and tag system isn't an easy match for them; etc.

I had two thoughts:

  1. Create a separate section of the site, like the meta site, exclusively for critique questions. We'd need to be able to migrate critique questions from the main page to the subsite. Maybe wait with this until (fingers crossed) we're off the ground activity-wise, but I think it's appropriate as an eventual goal.

  2. Re-title critique questions, for the sole purpose of distinguishing between them. We could encourage identifying details in the guidelines, and editors here can simply edit it in. This is kind of a work-around, but at least we'd get the sense of many different, distinguishable questions, and easily know which is which.

Do others find these ideas helpful, necessary, or none-of-the-above?

  • 1
    We differentiate by adding the critique tag. Is your main goal getting them off the main page to avoid "cluttering"? Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 8:50
  • My PR goal is for newcomers and casual users not to encounter a "cluttering" of uninformative question titles. My structural goal is more poorly defined, but it's the basic sense that critique questions are different from other questions in a more fundamental way than the tags express. The sense that critiques and questions are, really, two different things. And even though critique-requests are on topic, they might benefit from a different structure than Q&A's. And the simplest differentiation would be a sub-site; that'd be a start other changes/observations might emerge from.
    – Standback
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 12:03
  • 3
    I think we need to focus on critique questions being questions, as in we need to make sure we aren't helping people who just say "FIX THIS!" While we want to help, it should be people who come with a question. In that case I think a title edit (your option 2) and tag edit if critique is not applied is all that's necessary. The "FIX THIS!" questions should be closed unless edited.
    – justkt
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 16:12

4 Answers 4


The tag system should handle this exactly, especially if users properly use the favorite and ignored tags. If a given user doesn't want to answer critique questions, he or she can ignore them. If he or she loves critique questions then that user can favorite them and they will be highlighted on the question views.

I have a different issue with our more recent critique questions. They seem to rarely follow the guidelines, but community members answer anyways (instead of voting to close), and so users have less incentive to put serious work into their critique questions.

A critique question which followed the guidelines would be far, far less likely to have a title of "critique my work!!!" Instead, it would read "How can this first paragraph adequately convey a spooky sense?" or "Is the third person objective the best narrative voice for this passage?"

If you see a question with a generic title like "critique this!" then read the question. If there is a good question buried in there, edit the title (and tags, if the critique tag is not applied) to reflect the real question. If there are no specific guidelines for critique don't answer and leave a comment linking to our guidelines. If you have the privileges, vote to close the question. If the OP edits it, your close votes will expire harmlessly. If the OP doesn't your close votes will help keep the site quality up.

Finally if you disagree with our critique guidelines they are community wiki meaning you only need a low reputation score to edit them. Do so.

  • I'd definitely encourage editing these to make them better -- click that EDIT link! Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 1:48

It would be helpful for me to see, in the title, what kind of text I'm being asked to critique. If someone is posting advertising text I might be less interested. If it's a passage from a short story, I'd very much like to help.

  • 2
    you can suggest an edit to the title now and help others (as well as leaving a reminder for yourself). Those with reputation to approve your edits likely will, and as a bonus you get reputation for doing so. At 1000 rep you'll be able to edit all posts without approval (until we are out of beta, when that goes up to 2000 rep).
    – justkt
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 16:10
  • 1
    sure, "critique my writing" is no good -- but "critique this character development passage" is Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 1:45
  • This might be a good place to make use of the genre tags to let everyone know at least the type of material being asked about. Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 3:28

The distinction between critique questions and other questions seems to me like the distinction between Stack Overflow and Code Reviews...


Neither of those ideas bother me, although I like the second one better. Just put CRITIQUE: as the first word in the title, and that solves the front-page problem.

  • The tag is how we differentiate them, and if you use the "ignored" and "favorite" tags especially tags can be quite valuable. Ignored tags get a lower opacity and favorite tags get colored blue (in this layout) to highlight them.
    – justkt
    Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 12:39
  • 2
    Lauren, till now (i.e. referring to the "old" SE sites like Stack Overflow) it was frowned upon and considered noise to repeat the tag in the title. Makes them unnecessarily longer. @justkt: That's the point. If these questions only bother a single user, then he can put them to his ignore list. But if it is something a first-visit user (e.g. a Googler) irritates while scanning the site for "real" answers, Standback's suggestions should be considered. These users do not know and do not care about ignore lists. Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 12:56
  • If I were coming here via Google to look for information about, say, query letters, and I saw CRITIQUE in the title of a post, I would know I didn't have to bother with it. It can always be shortened to CRIT. Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 14:16
  • 1
    the most important tags are auto-added to the title, so unless you can work it in organically and naturally I wouldn't support this. Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 1:44

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