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This is a two part question, but it is centered around one issue: What is the minimum effort we expect to see in a question?

I bring this up because, yet again today we had another "How do I do X" post.
This is an interesting subject on BSE, some questions are heavily DVed, while others are some of our most popular questions.
There are several variations I have seen on BSE, listed below. Are all ok? Are some ok? Where do we draw the line? How do we distinguish between off topic and good question?

  • Post an image and ask how do I model this
  • Link to a youtube video and ask how do I make this effect
  • Conceptually describe the desired outcome, ask how to do that.

"How do I do X" (hdidx) questions can further be categorized into materials, modeling, look (I'm using "look" as an overarching term to encompass questions asking about the post processing, feel, style, etc of an image) and workflow (workflow encompass questions about the use of functions in blender).

The Material and look categories seam to lean towards being ok just to ask "how do I make this *example image here*," without anything further. Is that ok? If so we need to make that clearer and apply it uniformly. Or do we want to see a minimum something here?

Modeling is the one category that we seam* to expect to see some effort, and not just "How do I make this?". However as you can see from the links below, this category is no exception to our complete lack of standards. Some questions get DVed because the OP did not show any effort, or it is too localized, or too broad; yet here again we have question the go on to be massively popular.

I think the last category (workflow) is a good example of why we need "minimum standards", people should be asking how do use blender. Yet do we want to be answering no effort, "noob," "just make it work" questions?. This goes back to the original question of "what are our minimum standards?"

A plus denotes a well received question, a minus denotes a down voted question.

How to make a crystal material? +
How to make a spiked sphere? +
How to make a sun in Blender?
How to make a shockwave? -
How to make a flexible "garden" hose that can be controlled from both ends without losing shape?
How to make or simulate perspiration? +
How can I model ultra-viscous, dripping wet objects?
How to close view windows? +
How can I quickly generate / create a large city without modeling it all by hand? +
How can I make a wrought iron basket? +
How do I model a bottle case like this? -
How would I create an arch? +
How would I go about creating a spiralled dome? +
How to model hard surface sword -
Making a multi-colored candy material in Cycles? +
How to Construct a Diamond or Other Gemstone Material in Cycles +
Approach for a Cheese material with SSS in Cycles? +
And many more... (if anyone else wants to add more examples, positive and negative please do)

As was suggested by shog9 (an SE employee), we need some kind of minimum standards.

... Stack Overflow has MCVE, TeX has MWE, you need... Something to succinctly express what your expectations are here.

  1. What are BSE's MWE (minimal working example)?
  2. In cases where we do not need/want a MWE, what do we expect?
  3. What are our minimum standards for questions?
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    $\begingroup$ I think the difference between the first downvoted one about the rocks beneath the castle, and the second one about the spiked ball is that the rocks would be easy to model, it would just take forever to get the details right. Whilst, the spiked ball was more about using modifiers and special modelling tools. One is asking for technique, the other is asking for somebody to do something for them or they are new blender and don't know anything about blender in which case they should ask a more fundamental question. But how to define them... idk $\endgroup$ – Unnamed Sentient Being Nov 25 '16 at 2:17
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with Sammy. The UVed questions ask for fundamental, basic, concentrated and fast to achieve things (demanding a little software knowledge), while DVed ones ask for advanced, time consuming techniques, that requires a large tutorial, not a simple answer. And they sound like: 'please do it for me, I have no Blender knowledge, very tight deadline and no money to pay the guys on Blenderartists.org'. It's like asking for creating a simple spring vs creating a box-spring bed (with a blanket on top of it :)). $\endgroup$ – Paul Gonet Dec 6 '16 at 0:24
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For modeling questions


Reference Images

After some thought, the question must include an example of what they are trying to accomplish. For example, this question How would I create an arch? should have included a picture of the type of arch.

Questions about how to model things should be phrased like this: How would I go about creating a spiralled dome? and should include multiple reference images. There should be a minimum of 2 different reference images. (which brings me to the next point)

Complexity

On all SE websites, the goal is to help users. Ideally, one user has a question and then in a few months another user has the same question, does a google search and can find the answer without having to ask another question.

Questions like this: How to model hard surface sword don't promote this behavior. Asking how to model a specific object is far too small of a scope. Only a few users would benefit from learning how to make that specific sword and if others wanted to make a different sword, they might ask a separate tutorial on their sword.

This question: How would I go about creating a spiralled dome? is a great question because there are thousands of little spiraled things, and each reference image shows a different style. The answer to this question must be a dynamic answer that can fit almost any of the styles in the reference images, and that is exactly what the answer is. Now anyone who wants to make a little spiral thingy on the top of their building has a simple solution that will work for any little spiral thing on the top of any of their buildings.

Example:

Here is an example of a minimum modeling question

Is there an easy way to model lenses?

How can you easily model any simple lens in blender??????? Lenses

This is a good modeling question because anyone who wants to know how to model lenses in the future is presented with a way to make lenses in blender will not have to ask a separate question or search for a separate question about how to make bi-convex lenses.

We should encourage users to make the scope of their question bigger so that their question is more useful to a wide variety of users.


For material questions


Reference Images

Just like objects, you need reference images for material questions. You should have at least two reference images from different angles, in different environments, or in different shapes, or one high quality reference image if you can easily find more on the internet.

Previous attempts

Unless the material is extremely complicated (like iridescence) the user should have a screenshot of their node setup of their attempt, and a quick rendering with their attempt. This is so we are sure that the user put in at least a little bit of effort into making it and so that we can assess what they did wrong.

Why material is different than modeling

The scope for material questions should be much smaller than modeling questions because questions like "How to make a metal material" could have hundreds of thousands of different solutions that are all equally correct, but are different types of metals with different properties.

Example:

How can I make a denim material in cycles?

How do I make a procedural denim material? enter image description here I tried to make a denim material, but it just looks like this enter image description here Here is the node setup I tried enter image description here

This is a great question because it showed that the user attempted (although very minimally because that "denim" material looks horrificaly unrealistic) and shared their attempt at a node setup .

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Modeling Questions

Ok, here's what I think. It's kinda long but summed up into "one" sentence:

Questions pertaining to the creation of an object through modeling may only be permitted if it includes: description of previous attempts, images of desired results, does not appear to intentionally have someone make something the OP is too lazy or busy to make, and can not be easily created through the use of basic tools, requiring the use of advanced tools, techniques, and/or modifiers.

You can totally suggest changes to this - I'm not 100% sure of it, it seems a little ill-defined.

In More Detail

Include Sculpting?

Questions pertaining to the creation of an object through modeling

I don't know if you want to combine this with sculpting or not. We probably should...

Criteria

Previous Attempts
I think this is necessary if the OP wants to have a chance at getting a good answer and to cut other unnecessary "fat". Also, in this way, the person answering the question can put more focus on one area the OP is struggling with.
Image of Desired Result
I think this goes without saying; if the OP wants a good answer that actually gives him/her what s/he wants they need an image of the final product
Intent

does not appear to intentionally have someone make something the OP is to lazy or busy to make


Ok, here's what I really wanted to talk about. The OP can have all the above criteria but still asks for way too much. Like if they ask for how to model the Taj Mahal, throw in a picture of it and say the struggle with the domes, but still want the entire thing, pillars and all, then that's too much. All they want is an entire .blend because they're too lazy to make it themselves. BUT if they ask how to model just the domes, throw in a pic of the domes and really spell out where in the dome they struggle with and it seems genuine, then sure we should allow it.

Also, with things like the spiked sphere, sure you could model each spike and try to get it exactly right but would be tedious and improbable, if not impossible. So that question is asking for technique through the use of modeling and all those other neat modeling tools.

Material Questions

I think all 'how to make x material' should be encouraged. It'll be useful for future people and is quite different then modelling. Of course they need to include my first two criteria, desired result, and previous attempts, as should all "how do I make" questions

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