14

This question already has an answer here:

My name is Joshua, and I'm a Senior Product Designer at Stack Overflow. And, congrats, I will be working on your community's site design. Congrats!

Celebrate!

I've reviewed a previous post discussing the site design and logo. Thank you for getting the ball rolling! These ideas will come in handy as I begin the design exploration phase. Feel free to add more comments to this post, and I'll keep them in mind as we move forward!

Before I begin the community's design though, I'd like to ask a few questions:

  • If you had to select a music genre to describe community's feel, what would it be and why?
  • What is the experience level of the average community member? Would most describe themselves as beginners or experts (albeit as much as one can with music)?
  • Which musical trope(s) should be avoided?
  • Name one feeling you hope the community's design communicates to new users.

I'd look forward to the discussion. If you have any other thoughts, please share them. Thanks and congratulations again!

marked as duplicate by Matthew Read Mar 22 '16 at 19:58

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 5
    Please don't make the design feature two beamed eighth notes. – bjb568 Mar 8 '16 at 1:39
  • 1
    Hynes - this is excellent news. I have some thoughts as well, but I'm quite keen to see at least a couple of the non-mod regulars pitch in first so it doesn't look entirely like a mod clean-sweep – Doktor Mayhem Mar 9 '16 at 8:47
  • Is there any typical timetable for the process or does it take as long as it needs to take? – Todd Wilcox Mar 18 '16 at 16:18
  • 1
    @ToddWilcox It depends on the community honestly. Once a site design is pitched, it could be implemented within a few days or it could take longer based on how much the design needs to change. The feedback loops length the process. Internally though we estimate about 3 weeks from start to end. One week for internal research and concept creation. One week for pitching the design and gathering the community's feedback. One week for launching the design. We're in week two. :) – Hynes Mar 22 '16 at 14:29
9

If you had to select a music genre to describe community's feel, what would it be and why?

I don't think there is one genre that defines us as a whole and to be honest I don't want to a our site look like it just like it covers one style. If you were to look at the tags for specific styles you would find that the questions asked skew towards , , and in that order, but also have tags like and that don't get used a lot, but are the subject matter of a decent amount of material for questions and represent a decent chunk of the community (for example Dr Mayhem).

We have a good chunk of the community that is classical in nature and another good chunk that is more modern in nature so I don't think you can just pick one and have it cover everyone. I think showing both would be the best representation of the community maybe juxtapose ideas like an orchestra with a jazz trio or for notation show the classical sheet music right next to some lead sheets.

What is the experience level of the average community member? Would most describe themselves as beginners or experts (albeit as much as one can with music)?

Our active members tend to be more on the advanced side of the scale, but we do have many beginners who come to the site and ask question and I would say a good chunk of our questions reflect that. I'd rather gear it towards the typical user which is more beginner than the active few that are more experts.

Which musical trope(s) should be avoided?

Please have whatever notation is used in the design have it make sense. I really dislike seeing musical scores depicted in graphics not make sense like only have 3 and a half beats in 4/4 or have random accidentals that don't do mean anything which I have seen in some musical designs.

Name one feeling you hope the community's design communicates to new users

I would like it to express the first paragraph of our our tour which is as follows:

Music Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. It's built and run by you as part of the Stack Exchange network of Q&A sites. With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about music practice, performance, composition, technique, theory, or history.

I would like new users to look at the site and know it is for questions of all levels of music practice, performance, composition, technique, theory, and history.


I know I may have just thrown a monkey wrench into the design, but I hope this offers some insight about our site.

  • Thanks for the response Dom! It definitely helps! – Hynes Mar 8 '16 at 15:06
9

Warning: I'm a rather negative, curmudgeonly person much of the time, but I'm also one of the most active participants and the community seems to regard many of my answers as useful. I hope you'll find some of the following observations insightful and useful even when they are negative in nature.

If you had to select a music genre to describe community's feel, what would it be and why?

I hate the whole concept of "genres". It's all music. Trying to divide it up into "genres" is counter-productive to learning to be a musician, in my opinion. Casual listeners of music seem obsessed with "genres" these days; musicians and music students, however, are far less concerned with "genres". One of the reasons the ancillary "Music Fans" site was created was to provide a place to migrate myriad questions by first-time posters with no reputation who ask the same kind of question: "Here's a song I found on YouTube. What genre is it? Can you tell me the names of more artists in this genre?"

What is the experience level of the average community member?

On this site we have a small number of musicians and music students who post a great deal, but on the other hand the sad fact is that we have an endless flood of first-time posters with zero reputation who ask one clueless newbie question, get a few answers, and then never post another question again. The vast majority of these newbie questions are of very low quality and in many cases appear to be written by children or teenagers. That in itself is certainly not a bad thing, but it also seems that most of these questioners are not themselves music students or musicians, and have a mostly-incoherent question that seems to be asked out of idle curiosity about this nebulous (to them) thing called "music". They ask questions based on something they've read, but it's obvious from the question that they've never actually touched a musical instrument, so they frequently don't know what they are talking about and cannot phrase a sensible question.

Then there are the questions from newbies with zero reputation along the lines of "I want to learn to sing or play the (insert name of instrument here). How can I do that by reading about it on the Web?" and all of us experienced participants give the same answer: "Pay for lessons from a private teacher. Reading about it online or watching videos is not going to provide much help to a total beginner like yourself. First, you need personal lessons from a live human being to get started and establish some technique and some knowledge in the domain."

Would most describe themselves as beginners or experts

I fear that, purely statistically, most users of this site would describe themselves as non-musicians. These are often those that only post once and are never heard from again. We try to steer and migrate these people and their questions to the "Music Fans" beta site where their questions can be properly considered and answered.

But anybody on this site who post frequently (and there are thankfully enough of them to keep the site going) would describe themselves as somebody who is in constant learning mode -- and that is the definition of a musician. Musicians are life-long learners who are constantly absorbing new information, developing more refined skills, and improving. In the wide world, without regard to StackExchange, I honestly know of few musicians at any level, even those with a doctoral degree, who would describe themselves as an "expert". We are all seekers and journeymen here.

Which musical trope(s) should be avoided?

Avoid Eurovision, Pop Idol, The X Factor, "(Insert name of nation here)'s Got Talent", any musical competition that is a television show.

Name one feeling you hope the community's design communicates to new users.

Dedication and committment to learning

8

Questions #1 and #3 have been answered thoroughly by Dom and Matt; I don't have anything to add to those, but I'll add something to the remaining questions.

What is the experience level of the average community member? Would most describe themselves as beginners or experts (albeit as much as one can with music)?

I'd say that the average community members are from average-good to really good-experts musicians. I cannot say for sure how many people in this site actually make a living off music, but I can frankly say that there are some avid users that are experienced musicians and have a lot of related knowledge.

We also have members (not the most active, but active nonetheless) that aren't that experienced, but provide good answers and questions.

Name one feeling you hope the community's design communicates to new users.

This is something like an addendum to Matthew's and Dom's answers. Many users come here and either don't know if they should ask about something because they don't see similar questions or are afraid because they are beginners. We've had questions like 'Sorry for the noobish/stupid/beginner question ...'. Like, we were all there; we all were beginners at a point and then we developed. But you have to start somewhere. I'm pretty sure that some people wouldn't even post because they feel 'foolish beginners'. So I have to agree with Matthew's point that I want the site to feel more welcoming, especially to new musicians.

7

If you had to select a music genre to describe community's feel, what would it be and why?

This question isn't really applicable - we do get representatives of all genres posting here, and a very, very large number of questions and answers are applicable to all genres. We do also occasionally have questions posted pertaining to one genre where answers coming from another genre or tradition add insight.

What is the experience level of the average community member? Would most describe themselves as beginners or experts (albeit as much as one can with music)?

The regulars are rather advanced; the majority of users aren't at all, and they don't stick around - Wheat Williams's characterisation is spot on. We have maybe too few regulars, so we have something of a dichotomy between those who ask questions and those who answer them, and the general level of questions tends to reflect this.

Which musical trope(s) should be avoided?

Most of them. Score excerpts are fine; pics of working musicians are fine. The music industry's stock tropes (the ones they use to market the "glitz") should be avoided.

Name one feeling you hope the community's design communicates to new users.

"We know our shit, and we're learning new shit all the time." (Pardon my language.) There is a place here for more kinds of questions than we are currently getting, more of a balance between beginner, journeyman and expert questions (and we need to make it more of a place where experts will ask their questions, so as to attract more regulars).

It may be a good idea to have a heavily lampshaded link or sidebar to tackle the frequently asked beginner's questions, something like (using Wheat's example):

Q - I want to learn to sing or play the <insert name of instrument here>. How can I do that by reading about it on the Web?

A - You can't. Pay for lessons from a private teacher.

As it stands, we get a lot of duplication of very basic questions, and it is almost impossible to stay on top of it all. Finding ways to thin the duplicates out before they occur might be something that is achievable to some extent through design.

  • there is never a question that is silly or stupid. many questions can be answered by trying to formulate them but most questions I've met here are very elementary by children and teenagers - as you mentioned above. I've been here for a few days and took the serious and tried to answer them. but mostly I would have preferred to say: look here at the site is a link: thoughtco.com/free-music-education-printables-2456308 before you can ask here anything you have to go through this basic lessons! (otherwise we will have the stack overflow!) – Albrecht Hügli Jan 9 at 15:09
5

If you had to select a music genre to describe community's feel, what would it be and why?

I would say classical. More modern than baroque, but still solidly founded in theory. We do get questions about every sort of music, but I'd say the bulk are about "traditional" and technical things — theory and practice, as per the title.

What is the experience level of the average community member? Would most describe themselves as beginners or experts (albeit as much as one can with music)?

We don't have very many beginners who come and stay. Which makes sense — they can't contribute much in answers, especially compared to "experts"; there's a lot in music that can't be mastered without extensive experience. And with questions, learners will generally have lessons or some course of study that they're following and only pop in here rarely for a clarification.

Anyways, to the point: Our active users are fairly advanced, and a good chunk of the total userbase is as well. I don't think we necessarily want to orient ourselves towards one group or the other, I think we do quite well with the breadth of topics and expertise.

Which musical trope(s) should be avoided?

Unordered hexachords.

OK, that's not the kind of trope you meant. I'm not sure! I can't think of any specific visual elements related to music that have been overdone, are tacky, etc.

Name one feeling you hope the community's design communicates to new users.

I would say I want it to feel open/welcoming. There are a couple topics where we're lacking and on more than one occassion someone has said that they didn't think this was a good place to ask about X because not a lot of other people were asking about X. Ideally we want to encourage those people to come and build the knowledge repository that they want to see.

  • Thanks for the response Matthew! – Hynes Mar 8 '16 at 15:06
  • If I had to pick one genre, I would also say classical, but I agree with Dom that it doesn't feel right to pick a genre. – Todd Wilcox Mar 8 '16 at 22:23
  • @ToddWilcox I agree, perhaps I took "had" too literally. Hopefully my 2nd & 4th answers are clear that we don't want to single anyone out! – Matthew Read Mar 8 '16 at 22:28
3
  • If you had to select a music genre to describe community's feel, what would it be and why?

Like others have written, it doesn't feel right at all to try to answer this. As an active member of this community and as a fan, teacher, and player of more than one instrument and many genres, it seems to me that music theory and musical practice transcend genre. Music theory as a body of knowledge attempts to account for all kinds of music, and (to use an example) the practical techniques necessary for excellent piano playing are not genre-specific. In terms of theory, the major branch that I would call "Western Functional Harmony" is by far the most popular here, but that branch of theory is central to too many genres to pin it down.

  • What is the experience level of the average community member? Would most describe themselves as beginners or experts (albeit as much as one can with music)?

It seems to me that by activity, a bit less than half of the questions, answers, and comments are posted by experienced musicians and professionals, and a bit less than half by beginners or those in their first few years. There are definitely several more intermediate people, who to me are the most exciting members because they are both asking good questions and coming up with fresh takes on answers.

  • Which musical trope(s) should be avoided?

I think my answer to this is "all of them". By that I mean, if it screams "Music!" to non-musicians, it will probably seem hopelessly cliche and tired to most of the people here. That said, referring to ogerard's answer to this question on site design, I do feel like there are some things that are classic without being cliche. In this case, I like the use of the five-lined staff as a background element and the G (treble) clef symbol is a widely used trope that still doesn't feel overdone to me. The sharp and flat symbols being incorporated into upvote and downvote buttons would make me very happy, also.

Beyond that, I think appropriately using accurately-depicted elements of musical notation is at the very least a good starting point for ideas.

  • Name one feeling you hope the community's design communicates to new users.

I'm really at a loss to answer this in words, but maybe examples will help. I really like the designs of these other stacks:

  • Mathematics is probably my favorite (I am biased, though). Clean, easy to read, focused on asking and answering and presentation of information. But it's not austere. The grid background and the logo are mathematical without being too busy, cliche, or obscure; as are the basic geometric shapes used for badge icons.
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy could be seen as very busy, but it actually works great. The black border and background art at the top make the whole page feel kind of like being on a spaceship bridge with a panaromaic view. The logo is kind of trying to cram too much into too small a space, but it still feels appropriate in the hot questions list. The fonts and colors are interesting and readable, and the little touch of badge logos being the symbol of the Rebel Alliance from Star Wars is icing on the cake.
  • ELU is another great one. The background color is like the pages of old books, and the site logo is cleverly included in the name of the site.
  • Aviation is almost too basic. Then again, that is appropriate for that stack. Communication in aviation must be concise, clear, and consistent or lives are put at risk. To me this design reflects the community it represents.

Ones that I like less:

  • Network Engineering has a logo concept that is a perfect representation of the site (it's the icon used by Cisco to represent a router), but the attempt to make the logo multicolored and the size limitations cause the logo to be too small and cryptic unless you really look at it and already know what you're seeing. Somehow the background at the top of the page comes off as unwelcoming, perhaps because of the dark colors.
  • Server Fault might win my personal award of biggest gap between stack content quality and design quality. It's a great stack but possibly the least easy on the eyes (or maybe just my eyes). The logo is nice-looking but doesn't represent anything that I'm aware of (maybe the red is a fault indicator light). The indication on the question list of whether one of the answers is accepted seems 100% backwards to me (the dotted border is green when there's not an accepted answer).

Of all the ones above, the one that feels most like what I think this site should feel like is ELU. Notation, writing, books, paper - these things are the hallmarks of all scholarship, including scholarship of music. No lives are on the line here, like Aviation, but we are dealing with an important method of communication. More challenging to me seems to be incorporating practice into the design. On that front I note that the Science Fiction and Fantasy stack didn't bend over backwards to include fantasy elements into their design.

Overall, I like the idea of warm colors, but not very saturated. I think the five lines of musical staff notation make an excellent background element that instantly evokes music without being too busy or cliche.

So maybe after all of that, the feeling I'm thinking of is warm and inviting. Like the music room in the home of a kindly older piano teacher who has an old grand piano with worn ivory on the keys and maybe that one Bb that sticks a little but it's otherwise a great piano and you can kind of smell the old spicy wood smell of the piano and it doesn't sound like a Steinway that you would hear in a major recording but you learned a lot playing that old piano and you hope it's somewhere right now being loved by a pianist.

0

Before I start, I'll let you know that my English is occasionally bad. There might be grammar or any mistakes. And I'm a bit rude.

If you had to select a music genre to describe community's feel, what would it be and why?

If I had to select, I'd pick something like 9 PM in downtown, just next to a jazz cafe and a rock bar. Honestly, I hate question about "if you had to choose, pick a genre for community". There's a lot genres out there, you can't pick one to even share it with community, you can't even make something to representative this. Alright, let's say the majority is about , , , and . But how about the rest, like , , , , , and stuffs? I don't know, maybe just not to make only one representative genre - make it 5 or more, that'll make the cultural difference in here more... happy.

What is the experience level of the average community member?

Some are just for making money, some are just for fun. They'll get a 50:50 on this. But what kind of experience are you talking about? If you're saying experience about playing music, I think it's equal, we're all learning here, no one is a pro here, we're all the same - we learn from each other, we steal each other skills. Make it to moderate if that's your question.

If you're saying experience about making or even performing music, there might be only 10 to 20 percent who really dug that. I think this is a site, where no matter how stupid you are, we're always gonna be welcoming you. If your question is off-topic, we'll guide you, sometimes we'll close it but we gave some answers. So basically the level of the users is limited, the random users who came into this site is barely low, and regular users just keep asking hard questions for them to get some rep(s).

Would most describe themselves as beginners or experts (albeit as much as one can with music)?

Active members --> experts (mostly)

Random members --> some are experts, but mostly beginners.

Which musical trope(s) should be avoided?

Avoid these:

enter image description here enter image description here

Music is not always about that. Music is not about notations. Some musician don't use notation until the rest of their life. Music is an art. Art is about expression of your free soul.

Name one feeling you hope the community's design communicates to new users.

I can't name one, there's a lot of feelings for this community. @Patrx2 and @Shevliaskovic answers on this question is good enough. But here's mine:

THIS IS A COMMUNITY. If you're serious about it, and you did ask something about it, give us a bookmark. If you're just playing around just asking question you don't really care, and after you ask, you just leave it there, then f*ck off! This is like a bar, you came to it, we'll have a chat and discuss it together, like a family - not just like asking professionals or doctors. If you want to learn new shit everyday, then visit us everyday! We'll get discussions running all the time as long as we could! We're not just Q&A site for music, we're a forum, together we learn our shit and treat each other like family.

Pardon my language, because so many are just like that, ask a question and never check into it again - or treat the community just like a normal Q&A site.

  • 1
    I agree on the 'avoid the notes in the design' part. Way too cliche – Shevliaskovic Mar 10 '16 at 13:04
  • 1
    I have to disagree with your last part: We are explicitly not a forum. Chat is a good place for discussion, but honestly it's pretty empty most days. I don't think casual bar chat is an accurate characterization of the site, as much as I do think "learning together" is an admirable goal. – Matthew Read Mar 10 '16 at 20:05

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .