I am aware that most StackExchange websites consider questions regarding recommendations or where to find additional information as out of scope, since they generally atract too specific anwers or where only links are provided (more info).

However, I do believe that questions related schematics are related to engineering and may be useful for future readers. If specific and detailed drawings/schematics are requested, don't they deserve a place on this website ? e.g. a question I recently asked and was put on hold as off-topic (link to question).

As suggested in the comments, here are some example questions that I think would benefit the website:

  • Asking for feedback on a specific design or schematic. The user provides the details and related issues in order to benefit from the experience of the community and improve his/her design. See this post from Electrical Engineering.
  • Asking for explanations related to a drawing. Sometimes available schematics, either from books or articles, are somewhat unclear or there is missing information (specially for beginner users) and asking for clarification based on researchers experience can be extremely helpful. See this post again from EE.
  • Asking for OpenSource schematics, as the question I posed. Sharing information that is in the public domain but that is hard to come by could be a very nice way to increase the website visibility. I'm not saying that SE should become a library of some sort, but rather focus on very specific areas where there is a lack of available information.
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    $\begingroup$ Can you provide some examples of questions that you think would work well for the site? $\endgroup$ – user16 Feb 5 '15 at 16:31
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, a handful of example questions showing the potential for this kind of question would go a long way toward demonstrating how they could contribute. $\endgroup$ – Rick supports Monica Feb 5 '15 at 16:34

Looking at your question, I think this part is actually on topic:

Do OpenSource compressor or turbine blade designs exist (e.g. NACA airfoil profiles for wings) ?

It's this part that is entirely out of bounds:

Could you provide detailed dimensions --in particular for the cross-section profiles and stacking laws--- as well as the associated material properties ?

The problem isn't how specific an answer you'd get; on the contrary, specific answers are great! The problem is that you wouldn't just get one specific answer. You might get twenty, each of them different, many of them equally "correct" so that readers would not be presented with an objective ranking of solutions. Instead they'd see a subjective ranking of solutions, based on what the readers like or prefer or are most familiar with.

Going back to the first part of the question, though, I think the topic is very interesting and relevant to engineering. It's weak mainly because without the second part (which is a non-starter) it's a yes-or-no question; either these schematics exist, or they don't.

In my view, you can make this a great question by dropping the request part and expanding on the Open Source part a little, to invite why and how answers instead of just yes or no. Do you have a reason to believe these designs do or do not exist? If so, how does your professional experience and any research you've done on the topic support that belief?

I think a better version of this question would ask about the challenges of providing Open Source engineering designs (specifically compressor or turbine blade designs, in this case—I did not mean to imply expanding the scope to all designs as that would be quite broad!). What are they? How can they be overcome? Good answers to such a question would tend to lead you to the resources you need, but would also be rankable, useful artifacts for the site going forward.

With respect to your other examples:

Asking for feedback on a specific design or schematic. The user provides the details and related issues in order to benefit from the experience of the community and improve his/her design. See this post from Electrical Engineering.

Interesting example. First thing I want to point out to you is that this question is going to be of very limited use to anyone other than the author. No-one with a specific problem is likely to find this question on a search engine; and if they do, it's very unlikely to contain answers relevant to their problem. Note that demand for this sort of individual review for source code was high enough that SO spun off Code Review, which I think (?) has been doing fairly well in beta, but offers a very different experience.

In my opinion, the question of whether we allow questions asking for general review of individual designs/schematics is separable from the rest of the discussion and deserves to be discussed and evaluated separately. That said, my position is that it should absolutely not be allowed on this site. Maybe on a spin-off site, after a successful launch for Engineering.SE, if there is sufficient demand.

Asking for explanations related to a drawing. Sometimes available schematics, either from books or articles, are somewhat unclear or there is missing information (specially for beginner users) and asking for clarification based on researchers experience can be extremely helpful. See this post again from EE.

That's absolutely fine. The main problem I would identify with the example post is that the title's not at all searchable. The question being asked is very specific and there exists one objectively correct answer to how to read any given schematic (even if you have to ask the person who drew it to be certain). Experienced users should be vigilant in editing such questions to make sure they have explicit, searchable titles and good tags.

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    $\begingroup$ I get your point and seems relevant for questions of the same type. However for this specific one, it does not seem to be the case, as no answers have been provided. Could it be possible to take this criteria into account before putting the question on hold (in particular if a part of the question seems relevant) ? Could a question be closed as too broad if too many "correct" answers are given ? $\endgroup$ – Nicolas Feb 5 '15 at 23:07
  • $\begingroup$ The driving philosophy of the SE network is to optimize for amazing answers by fairly aggressive pruning and revision of questions. That's in contrast to a "wait and see" approach. Optimizing for Pearls, Not Sand is a good read. The only close reason where we need to pay direct attention to the state of existing answers is the duplicate close reason, which specifies, "This question has been asked before *and already has an answer." $\endgroup$ – Air Feb 5 '15 at 23:16
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    $\begingroup$ So yes, it's possible we could wait and see what answers come up, but the question may attract answers for months and years to come. How long do we wait? It's not really a practical approach. The question's not closed forever; any non-trivial edit will push it into a queue where users may vote to reopen it, if they feel that's warranted. I would encourage you to use this meta discussion as an opportunity to revise aggressively; as I said, I think you could make it great. $\endgroup$ – Air Feb 5 '15 at 23:22
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    $\begingroup$ I don't know, we could wait until a certain number (5,10 ?) of acceptable answers comes up. What I mean is, why close a question that may seem relevant (at least in part) if no answer has been provided ? $\endgroup$ – Nicolas Feb 5 '15 at 23:52
  • $\begingroup$ Anyways, I will modify it according to your suggestions. $\endgroup$ – Nicolas Feb 5 '15 at 23:53
  • $\begingroup$ I think you raise some important points, however after spending some time to think about it, I can't really see how too many answers to a question are problematic. Engineering is a design discipline and there is generally more than one solution to a problem. In my mind, only easy problems would qualify for the "universally best solution" kind of thinking. To be presented with different design approaches and solutions is good in my opinion and something that can foster ideas. The way answers are rated is secondary in my mind. The relative rating might change over time anyway. $\endgroup$ – pandita Feb 7 '15 at 5:28
  • $\begingroup$ @pandita They're fine questions for engineers to ask and answer, just not here on Stack Exchange. The platform has its limitations; it is not designed to do all things for all users. Sometimes a specific task can be solved using a fixed number of approaches; that works great here, even up to as many as a dozen approaches. But at the level of a complete schematic, the possibilities are literally endless. From experience, the outcome of asking that type of question here tends strongly toward lower and lower quality as time passes. $\endgroup$ – Air Feb 7 '15 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Air I believe I understand your concerns from a workplace point of view. Opening up discussions too wide is often inefficient. However Q&As on this site might be visible for years which provides time for the quality of answers to evolve. Bad ones will be downvoted and disappear. You are active on numerous SEs so perhaps you refer to this experience instead. If so I can't comment with the same authority in regards to this. I'd still note that the specific question has lots of upvotes which points at least to some desire within the community for questions like this. Mistakes will be made and... $\endgroup$ – pandita Feb 7 '15 at 23:47
  • $\begingroup$ ... and might be useful :) Still not sure if this question would qualify as a mistake. I also would support a discussion on feedback questions (which I probably think could be useful). Sorry for this wall of text... $\endgroup$ – pandita Feb 7 '15 at 23:52

I'm skeptical of requests for drawings, though I'm not entirely sure I have substantive reasoning for this. Without having experience on them to verify or see the context, I've heard that SO and some of the other CS/programming SEs provide code in their answers. However, a quick look through shows it to be mostly code snippets. Small functions, a few lines of code at a time. It's not usually full programs that you could copy and paste into a compiler and get to run.

When you say "detailed drawings/schematics," I have the engineering equivalent of a full computer program in my head. The full design of a part or assembly is no small feat, and though you may technically be able to provide it in the space available on SE, I think that goes against the idea of the "answer is too long for this format" closing reason. A good drawing contains everything you need to build a part.

This last part is more on a personal level, but your request sounds like something I could be asked to do professionally. And not that this is the ultimate criteria for what I'll answer on an SE site, but if I'm being asked to do something that is clearly only possible because of a degree I obtained and experience I've gathered professionally, I'm not going to do it for free.

I would answer a question that asks for general dimensions for a specific section of a part. Not an entire design, but a reference point for what is typical or what should be expected. If this site turned into the world's biggest repository of envelope calculations, I think I'd be ok with that. But I don't see this as a design service, and that's what your question seems to be aimed at.

  • $\begingroup$ Maybe my question is not formulated properly. When I'm asking for a detailed design, I'm not asking anyone to do it from scratch but rather to share an existing one (if it exists!), probably old but with relevant properties from an engineering perspective. In the literature some researchers share this kind of information, but in the specific topic of the question (to my knowledge) it is not the case, which is why I'm asking the question in the first place. $\endgroup$ – Nicolas Feb 5 '15 at 23:00
  • $\begingroup$ Other SE sites, such as the programming ones, do indeed provide a measure of code in both questions and answers. Some range from fully functional to just snippets that illustrate the point. A request for a detailed schematic could easily fall into the category of "Too Broad" or "Do my work for me" which don't work well in the SE Q&A model. $\endgroup$ – user16 Feb 6 '15 at 2:48
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    $\begingroup$ I think drawings are just convenient ways to communicate ideas. With regards to this specific question, I took it more as a request for some ideas, rather than a full blown design solution. With the latter I would probably feel a little uncomfortable too. Having said that, a lot of production ready/industrial quality type code is open source and can be viewed, copy and pasted by anybody. $\endgroup$ – pandita Feb 7 '15 at 5:31

Questions on Schematics should be allowed. Schematic is are heart and sole commuicating Electrical Engineering designs. Schematics make it easy to describe the problem. We have already entertained some schematics How do I calculate the forces on a desk and its legs?

With regard to open source. There is a very good chance that SE is running on Open source software (Ubuntu or some sort of linux)

Open source and close source has existed has for ages. Just that advances in technology has taken the open source concept to higher level.

Beaglebone black is one such example. Here is the link


Raspberrypi is another example.


We should discuss content in schematics.

  • $\begingroup$ I agree with you. Schematics are just one way to communicate ideas and an efficient one too. I don't see a need for not allowing them and thought @Nicolas question was not a bad one at all. $\endgroup$ – pandita Feb 7 '15 at 5:37

I also vote for questions on schematics to be allowed. This is just another way to communicate, and a very efficient way to compare ideas. Schematics are part of engineering.

Responding to @TrevorArchibald comments: The reason StackOverflow often only includes codes snippet has probably more to do with the nature of the problems that are discussed on that forum. Complete code is open sourced for lots of software:

This site should help us getting better at engineering and if schematics can contribute to this or help us express and understand ideas, as they do at work on a daily basis, why not make use of them.


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