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I couldn't find any discussion on any other stackexchange site on whether asking too many specific questions is good or bad at the beginning of a site.

My concerns are:

  1. There may not be enough experts in certain fields to answer the hard questions. This may lead to guesses or questions left unanswered for a long time.
  2. The hard questions may be what draws in the experts, so having unanswered questions that an expert can immediately answer may help to hook them.

I haven't really seen any issues with (1), but I could envision that someone new looking around the site would be turned off by seeing highly rated questions remain unanswered.

Point (2) could go either way. Currently, some of the questions with the most views are more general questions. This might be good to get a wide range of users, but it might turn off some of the experts.

I haven't been involved with the betas of any other sites, so some of my feelings may be based on how the site currently works and not how it will eventually work.

This might be me overthinking things at the beginning.

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  • $\begingroup$ "This may lead to guesses or questions left unanswered for a long time." There's no time limit on when people can answer questions. $\endgroup$ – endolith Feb 10 '15 at 5:48
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No, there is no such thing as a site going too hard, too deep, too fast.

Your New Site: Asking the First Questions

The biggest sin of a new site is that it just isn't terribly interesting. Put on the spot to ask questions, users start asking the same old tired, uninspired questions that anyone would ask; and they’ve all been asked 100 times before on every other site on that subject.

What people forget is that this is a site to solve real engineering problems — those challenging, intriguing problems engineers face every day.

If every question is "easily answered", this site will not be very interesting, and there's probably little reason to have it in the first place.

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You're not describing questions that would be inappropriate for the site generally or that should be closed, so it's really up to the person who has the question.

We've had a mix of great and not-so-great questions. Judging by other betas I've participated in, that's par for the course. As an engineer I'm biased but I think we've been doing well so far. Our meta participation seems very good as well.

The real challenge at this stage is building a user base while enforcing basic standards of quality. We need views; I say bring on the questions! And when you see a good one, share it with colleagues or friends.

Speaking as an engineer in something of a niche field, I'm sitting here waiting for questions in my wheelhouse, and they're just not being asked. Who knows how many other users are in the same boat?

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    $\begingroup$ Early on, we had some trouble with 'guess' answers, but lately I've been seeing answers either by people with real knowledge or at least with cited research sources. As long as that stays true, I think it's fine to have specific questions that take a while to be answered. I'm in the same boat of waiting for questions that are in my fairly narrow area of expertise. In the mean time, we can be helpful answering more beginner questions where the quality of the explanation is more important than expert knowledge. $\endgroup$ – Ethan48 Feb 10 '15 at 14:20
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    $\begingroup$ You can also ask and answer questions yourself. I've seen on Earth Sciences. It might inspire people to ask questions that relate to your field. Look at it as way of advertising the presence of expertise in your field. $\endgroup$ – Fred Feb 10 '15 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Ethan48 The short-term remedy for pure speculation is active downvoting. The long-term remedy is that a good, authoritative answer will nearly always outpace a speculative one, given enough time. $\endgroup$ – Air Feb 10 '15 at 16:55
  • $\begingroup$ I don't have a supply of self-answered questions, so I too am waiting for questions within my capabilities. $\endgroup$ – dcorking Feb 11 '15 at 12:55
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Having questions unanswered is not inherently bad.

IM(limited)E the biggest challenge for a site in early beta, especially one with a wide subject area like this, is to attract a sufficient number and breadth of experts that the whole thing does not end up being guessed-at answers based on Wikipedia. In order for these experts to stick around, they need to see interesting questions that require their expertise.

So asking these questions is fine, IMHO. What should be discouraged is answers to them from non-experts who don't quite understand. That isn't to say that these answers should be deleted or anything, but resist upvoting them, and certainly resist marking accepted answers until there is a satisfactory one.

EDIT: As others have said: When a good question is not being answered, think about whether you know somebody who could provide a good answer. If so, maybe ask them if they're interested in answering it. This can be a good recruiting tool to make experts aware that the new site exists.

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Your question might have had some relevance in the first week or so, that is, during the private beta. That's when people, policies etc. are getting "sorted out," and there is a benefit in limiting the difficulty and distractions. The site has since moved into public beta.

Given this fact, now is the time to ask. The site has reached a certain level, but needs to do much more to "graduate." We want to get the momentum going as soon as possible. So "if not now, when?"

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