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when I came to Blender Stackexchange three months ago I realized quite fast that I could provide more answers than I had questions and providing those answers developed into a new hobby quite fast.

I realized that there was already a discussion about the topic "tutorial" in general (Should we expand our scope to allow simple howtos?) but I feel that we should still draw a line between "tutorial" and "Could you do a whole scene like this for me?"

I'm referring to this specific question How to Model Low Poly Nature Terrain in which I also participated.

My point is that this might become a trend in the future, where Blender beginners are expecting us to do full-blown tutorials for complete scenes or game models with rigging and animations that contain 35 screencasts and screenshots.

It feels a little pointless to me, part due to StackExchange's limitations regarding the layout, part due to the fact that we would create redundant information here that has been provided a couple of dozen times on other Blender-related pages.

Should we draw a line? Should we link to other tutorials? Youtube, vimeo and also blenderartists.org might not be the best choice, since video channels can vanish for whatever reason and links might change.

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  • $\begingroup$ 'How to Model Low Poly Nature Terrain' is, in my opinion, more than an ask for a tutorial. This is much more 'I want to see if someone can enhance what I already know'. But this is a particular case... look at the comments of the very very complete answer of Shady... $\endgroup$ – lemon Aug 1 '16 at 18:43
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    $\begingroup$ @lemon, I disagree. "I can't seem to figure out how to model low poly nature terrain." aims directly at modeling. That's great. One topic. I honestly find Shady's tutorial quite useful, but difficult to follow. That's definitely not his fault, it's because stackexchange is not the best medium to do extensive tutorials. $\endgroup$ – metaphor_set Aug 1 '16 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ Metaphor understand me well. Shady's work is great and awesome. But I am wondering about the OP here $\endgroup$ – lemon Aug 2 '16 at 5:15
  • $\begingroup$ If readers come to expect full-blown tutorials here, then I guess they'll just have to be disappointed. As for whether answer authors should post extensive answers - it's at their discretion. The answer will be rated by the community, so if it's too hard to follow it probably won't be well received. Conversely, if it goes into detail in an appropriate and on-topic way, then it could be a helpful answer. $\endgroup$ – Mentalist Aug 2 '16 at 9:46
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As you allude to, this is a topic that is some what open for interpretation (hence why this is now the third question about it and no definitive answer).

As I once said:

It seams to me, that there is still no clear different between a good but long answer, and a full tutorial.

When you read Regarding questions and answers as tutorials and Should we expand our scope to allow simple howtos? they are contradictory; but note the dates, BSE has somewhat changed its stance on tutorial type of answers.

Obviously there are some very good, long answers, some are "tutorial" type other are just very detailed.

They can be broken down in to two categories, info (like my parenting answer, and troy_s' answer) and step by step. I think everybody will agree that the first category is not a tutorial, and there is no debate about those answers.
The grey area comes from the step by step answers.

First off, I think the question has more to do with the answer being a tutorial then the answer. While you could (I guess) write a tutorial for something like this, it is much more likely that a tutorial will result from a open ended question (like you linked to), then a pointed topical question.

I'm not saying that "larger" questions do not have a place here, but that we need to decide, and make it clear what is too broad and what is on topic.

Step by step answers are an important part of the answers on our site.
Now to answer your question - what is a tutorial, and what is a step by step answer - I have no idea. :)

More seriously, if you feel it would be easier to record a youtube video, then to write your answer, it is probably a tutorial and you should rethink your answer, and the question should be revised.

A bunch of steps does not make it a tutorial, say you are answering about drivers, there are a lot of steps before you even get to write the driver expression.
That example is a case for omitting non essential parts of the answer. I have done this when talking about addons, I do not want to explain how to install a addon every time.

Out of the list of answers I linked to I would say that Shady Puck's is the most tutorial. (I bet you did not know that "tutorial" could be an adjective) In that answer (sure it is a very good answer) he covers everything: loading in images, modeling, materials, lighting, camera settings, rendering, even composting. That is a tutorial.

Now gandalf's famous black hole, or X-27's bge answers are hugely long and have countless steps, but only cover one specific topic. (In each case the question asked a was pointed.) I do not consider them tutorials but that is up for debate.

If I even try to sum up the difference between a long step by step answer and a tutorial I would say, how much does it cover? Is it just about how to model something, or is it how to make that same something and then render it to a video so I can use it on my youtube channel?


So I would say, keep writing good answers, don't worry too much about the length (concise is always better), and if you find a youtube video, or you wrote a expanded post on your blog, of course add a link (just don't let the link be the only thing in your answer).

Until the day comes when BSE has a clearly defined too broad rule set, we will keep having this type of "hmm, I wonder if I should write a tutorial for this question."

PS this long answer is not a tutorial on how to write answers. :)

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  • $\begingroup$ David, thanks for the answer - again, I guess... ;-) The difference between Shady_Puck's and gandalf's tutorials is exactly the line that I would draw. One topic makes not only questions but also answers easier. And on top of that, additional information could be used in different answers. One link instead of one link and an explanation like "go down to where the guy starts writing about how to rotate the sun...". $\endgroup$ – metaphor_set Aug 1 '16 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ David, have a close look to the comments following Shady's answer for blender.stackexchange.com/questions/58507/… . This question is a particular case... have a look to google.fr/?gws_rd=ssl#q=timothy+j+reynolds and to guillaumekurkdjian.com then to dribbble.com/alexsafayan... I dislike this approach... $\endgroup$ – lemon Aug 1 '16 at 18:51
  • $\begingroup$ @lemon I don't really follow what you are trying to say. What approach do you dislike? $\endgroup$ – David Aug 1 '16 at 19:11
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    $\begingroup$ As someone who has been very strict about tutorial type answers from day one I see what you mean. Our scope has changed quite a bit on the past 3 years. I'm not a fan of hand holding and would ultimately prefer if said posts were condensed to the bare essentials as opposed to 30 images and step for step details. It's a gray line and as David says, we're not sure exactly how to enforce this. By all means we don't want to limit or discourage people and often times some stuff cannot be summarized if you want to get the know-how across. It's not a trivial problem but it isn't bad per se. $\endgroup$ – iKlsR Aug 2 '16 at 3:14
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    $\begingroup$ It is clear to me that the referred post was not a real question, but a request for a tutorial: No real information on what part of the process or what concept the OP needs help with. In my opinion it is really up to whoever wants to answer the question to make it as detailed as he/she wants. $\endgroup$ – cegaton Aug 2 '16 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ @metaphor_set I feel that the short answer to your question will be "nowhere". If the answer is useful then, as it appears to be, it can be as long as the answerer decided. It isn't desirable to discourage people from answering with any limits except for clear ones, of course, so there isn't any norm. $\endgroup$ – Mr Zak Aug 4 '16 at 8:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Mr Zak: Again, this is not about long and detailed answers to specific questions. Those should be as long and as detailed as it requires to answer the question. It's about tutorials that span many different topics. $\endgroup$ – metaphor_set Aug 4 '16 at 11:54
  • $\begingroup$ @metaphor_set the question you refer to (about low poly terrain) is request for tutorial (yes, it's specific. Too much). The answer is as detailed as it could be and looks very much like toturial as well, including not only one topic, but several, from importing background image, setting up lighting and up to optimizing render times, including tiny details like HEX colors and so on. That's why I say - it's practically impossible to draw that line and provided that it's not good to avoid any useful answers probably that line no longer exists. $\endgroup$ – Mr Zak Aug 4 '16 at 13:25
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First sorry for my bad english. This kind of answers is much more difficult to write for me than technical one.

Also, I may be sometimes out of scope of the question here. If you find I am, please forgive it, but I think we are more around a 'subject' here than only in the 'scope of a question'.

I am still quite new here in BSE. But as you said, metaphor_set, all this became a "hobby quite fast".

To me, there are two aspects here: the general one and the specific question which have motivated this question.

  • About the referred bounty question (maybe out of scope and opinion based chapter)

We don't have so much here the usual comments like 'this is a bit broad, what do you want to know exactly ?" or "what have you tried so far ?". Except from Cegaton, who in my opinion was right. But the question about this question (or many others) is "what is the question exactly ?". What the OP means here ?

To enlighten a bit (in this particular case), google about the OP. And so you'll discover that the question is surely not about creating trees or even about how to give the good lighting to the scene (or am I totally wrong here ?).

So, what is the question, and why the OP did not react to the comments saying "here is what I exactly want to know : ...".

In fact, he commented once, in response to Shady's (really great) answer. And to tell the truth, I dislike a lot this comment, because I interpreted as "look I can do the job without your answer". Subjective interpretation ? Here is the comment from the OP :

This was the image I put together without your tutorial: s32.postimg.org/6lli8dzet/edited.png

Well... To summarize, I still don't know what is the expected answer for this particular question. And in my opinion, the given (again really good) answers will be much more useful to people in general than to the OP in particular.

  • More generally

I think this kind of site needs mainly two things : enthusiastic (more or less) answerers and moderators. But I see no mean for the moderators to say something like : "hey, enthusiastic answerer, I will remove/moderate/cut your answer which is too long. This is quite a tutorial and this site is not for that". Or the answerer will be no more enthusiastic, and maybe he/she will be no more an answerer... don't you think ?

So the subject could be addressed in another way : Blender is a so huge tool for which a lot of learning and experiments are needed to use it. And answers (short and long) are here to enlighten the various possibilities offered by Blender. In that way, BSE is a mine (a repository) into people can dig, find these various possibilities and choose by themselves what is the more appropriated to their need.

My opinion is "let the answerers do what they want so far they really respond to the question and write a qualitative answer". If the answerer wants to spend time for a long explanation, let him do.

  • BUT, other aspects

1/ Writing an answer is sometimes painful. Making it in Blender, take some screen captures or gif, mark the pictures with indications on it with another tool, putting that on disk, going back to the answer redaction, Ctrl+G (I hate 'kbd'), back to disk to drag the pic...

Really better tools may be needed (or they exist but I don't know them ?)... but in the other hand, this is a way to shorten the answers (!).

2/ Duplicates are hard to find.

3/ We are often forced to rewrite the same things. In particular Blender's shortcuts or for basic operations (add, extrude, scale, ...).

Some kind of catalog may be useful, so that the answers could be shorten a lot.

4/ For many questions like :

"I am new to Blender, but I have uploaded a complex model, and I am following this tutorial and I WANT this result but using this complex model but now I am stuck, so help me"...

The best and shortest answer could be "if you really want to learn, start little" !

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    $\begingroup$ lemon, thanks, great thoughts. Regarding 4/: It's quite difficult to deal those kind of oneliners to people who show real determination by creating big models. or scenes. The least we could do is explaining to them that we have experienced these kind of setbacks ourselves - many times. People getting angry and disappointed quite fast, these days... $\endgroup$ – metaphor_set Aug 2 '16 at 13:13
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    $\begingroup$ "Duplicates are hard to find" this is quite debatable. Use google search and restrict it to B.SE (by writing it in search field too); it's hard sometimes, although it's quite easy often. $\endgroup$ – Mr Zak Aug 2 '16 at 13:49
  • $\begingroup$ @MrZak, I should have said 'hard to find or to identify'. But maybe this is because my english vocabulary is not good enough to catch the good keywords to identify the duplicates. $\endgroup$ – lemon Aug 2 '16 at 17:39
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For me, it depends partly upon the reputation on the site of the person who asks the question, on the one hand, and on the other, on the skill set level of the topic. For example, my response to a question from a user with very low reputation, asking how to do something for which there are already multiple tutorials in various locations on the web, is likely to be a comment directing the user asking the question where to find such tutorials. This is an application of the aphorism, "give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime". In the case of a more advanced user, as measured by reputation on the site, I am much less likely to answer the question, as I feel the more advanced user should have some sense of how to find such information on his or her own.

On the other hand, I am going to be much more accepting if and advanced user asks a question which might result in a "how to" or tutorial if the answer seems to lead to new techniques advancing the use of Blender in an area where there are not yet good tutorials available.

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