Previously, we decided Suggest X questions aren't good for the site, but we didn't do anything about it. We've been especially tolerant lately of "Suggest an Icon" questions, and we've had a lot of them.

It may be a good thing, because the site gets more activity and more content. But it may be a bad thing, because these questions aren't interesting to experts, and the mission of Stack Exchange is to make it easy for people to find quality information without weeding through a lot of noise. (I've written before about the balance between quality and quantity.)

We now have a good question about how to go about selecting an icon which is aligned with Stack Exchange's mission, I think it's time to close the "icon for X" questions and explicitly discourage them in the FAQ.

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+1 agree. So few of those questions are interesting, fewer still worded interestingly. Often the interesting answer is applicable to many other "suggest an icon for X" questions, and thus becomes wearing. –  Erics Dec 4 '11 at 23:20
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Isn't iconography more of a graphic design concern than a usability concern? I mean, I understand that the icon has to relay something to the user, but it seems much more like a design question than UX. –  Nic Dec 5 '11 at 6:07
    
I definitely agree that the quality of questions has gone down significantly in the last couple of months. And we are getting a lot more "unwanted" questions than we did before. –  Charles Boyung Dec 7 '11 at 20:36
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I think asking about the reasoning for using an icon is perfectly on topic. Asking for a single specific icon isn't. –  Ben Brocka Dec 8 '11 at 20:15

2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

This type of question is probably usually "too localized".

The icon required will be specific to that user and that application.

As Ben points out in his comment asking for why a particular icon is OK.


The close reason Too Localized is no longer in use, there is instead a special close reason to use under "this question is off topic because that reads:

Questions requesting Icon Suggestions are off topic. While the subject of icons is on topic, there's very little value in soliciting suggestions for a specific icon in a specific context. See this meta post for more information about this topic.

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Thanks. The FAQ now explains that these types of questions are too localized. –  Patrick McElhaney Jan 3 '12 at 13:35

I think this policy has gotten too far out of hand; any question asked in regards to an icon or visual metaphor is closed.

Asking what can represent a common action or concept is a perfectly valid question and is not too localized.

Questions that ask for specific icons or icons that fit their visual theme are probably too localized. The problem with this policy is those questions were always too localized, we didn't need extra policies to determine this.

Adding a defacto ban on "icon" questions just means anything with the word "icon" in the title is likely to be closed without regard to how localized the question actually is.

Good metaphors absolutely are a vital part of the user experience. By pretending metaphors are too localized in all context (they're not, that's why they're metaphors) we're harming the usefulness of the site.

Instead of closing "icon for X" questions we should consider editing them to make sure they're asking about what metaphors apply that could be used to pick an icon; this way we can help by explaining what metaphors may work or why iconic metaphors won't work in a situation.

Just because an asker thinks "icon" doesn't mean they're not really looking for a metaphor. If they're looking for a metaphor we can help them and it's not a specific icon request.

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Can you provide examples? None of the icon questions that have been closed that I could see (I went back and looked) would really qualify for what you are saying here. And I hardly think it's "gotten too far out of hand" - there have been 5-6 total questions that have been closed per this "rule", and half of those were old questions that appear to have been found and closed as a "cleanup" effort. –  Charles Boyung Feb 3 '12 at 2:08
    
Yes, without examples it's hard to understand your position. Would you consider any of these candidates for reopening? Newest closed questions containing "icon". –  Patrick McElhaney Feb 3 '12 at 16:23
    
Well we just unclosed the one that drove me to comment, and Rahul deleted one of his own I found interesting and more metaphor-driven than "send-me-teh-iconz". –  Ben Brocka Feb 3 '12 at 16:30
    
Which one was just unclosed? –  Charles Boyung Feb 4 '12 at 17:34
    
    
@BenBrocka I found this discussion as a confused new user. I was going to comment here, but the issue seemed to have got some out of hand and confusing I thought it warranted a separate question, here meta.ux.stackexchange.com/questions/1002/… –  user568458 Jun 22 '12 at 15:36
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I don't get why this was closed: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/7053/… It's a perfectly valid question, and not localized at all. There are definitely several common alternatives and it would be interesting to get pro's and con's for each –  talkol Oct 14 '12 at 15:47
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I made a try here: Is there a widely-understood visual metaphor for privacy? –  Benny Skogberg Jan 20 '13 at 19:17
    
@CharlesBoyung: This‌​, this, this, this and this could be listed as examples. –  O. R. Mapper Aug 3 at 8:28
    
@CharlesBoyung: That said, various other similar questions (such as this, this, this or this) were closed for not being constructive (interpreted as just asking for suggestions and opinions rather than verifiable statements). –  O. R. Mapper Aug 3 at 8:31

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