- What information should my question contain?
- What should I include or not include?
- Do I need to provide background to my question?
- What can I assume the people reading my question will know?
The best way to get a high-quality answer is with a clear, interesting and well-researched question.
We recognize that our users come from a wide range of age groups, cultures, engineering disciplines, and experience levels. At a minimum, your question should:
- Clearly describe the problem, using diagrams, equations, specifications, etc.
- Share the work you have done so far, especially research, calculations, test results, previous designs, etc.
- Ask an explicit question. Simply describing the problem or situation is not enough; readers should not have to guess or make assumptions to know exactly what you're asking.
If you cannot summarize your problem as an explicit question, you probably need to do more work before asking the question.
Copy-and-pasted homework questions are usually closed and/or down voted. It benefits no one to have us do your homework for you. When asking a question involving a homework problem, narrow the issue down to one specific aspect or concept of the problem. "I understand how to get X and Y, but how do I find Z?" goes over much better than "Solve this problem."
Here are a few examples of questions that have been well-received on Engineering SE.
- Why doesn't a lightning strike destroy the lightning rod?
- What is the physical interpretation of the second term in the viscous stress tensor in the Navier-Stokes equations?
- My customer wants to use my products to do something unsafe. What is my ethical obligation?
Particularly good questions with effective titles tend to attract a lot of attention. Here are a few examples of questions that were read by many people and attracted a significant number of responses.
- How to quantify martial arts strikes?
- Why are earthfills fully covered in concrete where they join bridges?
- What is a reason that handlebars fit to a motorcycle and steering wheel fit to a car?
For more current examples, browse this month's most active questions.
If you learn better from seeing an example, you may find this basic outline useful. It is not necessary to follow this format exactly; however, your question will benefit by having all of the information necessary to fill in the outline, or that information should be intuitive or obvious to the casual observer.
Use a short, descriptive title that captures the theme of the question.
Summary of the Problem
Include about 2-3 sentences describing the background.
What has been done to solve the problem? This can include pictures, equations, research, hyperlinks, etc.
Explain the question in 2-3 sentences. Make sure the question is specific and to the point.
Specific to questions on pumps and pumping systems:
So you want to size a pump or pick a pump or have questions if a particular pump is suitable to your purpose. Here's what you should state in your question:
State the problem you want to solve, what you have tried so far and where you get stuck.
With most questions on pumps, this information will be needed so provide it upfront:
- (desired) Flowrate
- available head on the suction side, required head on the pressure side or the relevant elevation
- if available: pump curve and system curve
Include a sketch of your system with heights and water levels, pressures. The best way to describe a system to others is a sketch, and the best way to make sure you yourself understood the system is to draw a sketch.