• 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?
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Users contributing to this proposed FAQ should keep in mind that some asking guidance is given in the Help Center and embedded in the "Ask Question" page. Try to expand, clarify and add to that guidance in this Q&A, rather than repeating it. $\endgroup$
    – Air
    Apr 28, 2015 at 22:41
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Air (and other mods) When are we going to clean this post up so that it can be offered as guidance to new users? $\endgroup$ May 28, 2015 at 11:47
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisMueller Linking to this post is fine as long as it's not being misrepresented as anything other than a collaborative, preliminary draft. We have control over the official faq tag but, apart from that, we're participating as normal users, and hoping to see more community involvement. So I'll turn the question back to you: When are we going to clean this post up so that we can honestly say it's useful, clear and represents a reasonable degree of community consensus? $\endgroup$
    – Air
    May 28, 2015 at 16:56
  • $\begingroup$ I think for that particular question, all the informations you have gathered or searched so far to find the answer yourself should be the question's content. $\endgroup$
    – Demietra95
    May 28, 2015 at 19:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Air I think it is in reasonably good shape as far as the content goes. By 'clean up' I mostly meant the long comment discussion on the first post which isn't really helpful to new users. $\endgroup$ May 28, 2015 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisMueller, if there is agreement I would like to roll back first answer to rev 6, which I think covered most the intent. I am not in favor of the current form because the answers are fragmented. It is only my opinion. $\endgroup$ May 28, 2015 at 23:44
  • $\begingroup$ @MahendraGunawardena Although I can understand why you want all of the information to be in one answer, I believe it is better to have it split up. Many of the people who will be directed here will be the people who put very little effort into their question, and those people aren't likely to have the patience to read a long, thorough post. The way it is now shows them the most important information in a single concise post with additional information available in the others. $\endgroup$ May 29, 2015 at 1:37

4 Answers 4


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.

Important Note:
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."

More Information

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I know that example questions are helpful, but there will likely be a lot of conflicting ideas about what are good examples. I'm not sure that just going by number of views is the best measure. Views seem to mostly be related to catchy titles. $\endgroup$
    – hazzey Mod
    Apr 29, 2015 at 1:21
  • $\begingroup$ @mahendra I reverted your edit that changed "working" to "professional" in the first sentence because not all of us who volunteer our time here are PEs. $\endgroup$
    – Air
    May 6, 2015 at 15:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Air You don't have to be a PE to be professional engineer. Any one who has attained a standard of education and training is considered a professional engineer. Therefore professional is an appropriate term. He is a link from Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professional $\endgroup$ May 6, 2015 at 23:43
  • $\begingroup$ @MahendraGunawardena In some countries the title "professional engineer" is legally protected. Particularly Canada and the US. The relevant WP article is this one. $\endgroup$
    – Air
    May 7, 2015 at 15:46
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @MahendraGunawardena My aim is to include both licensed and unlicensed professionals. The term "professional engineer" excludes unlicensed professionals in some countries. What group does the term "working engineer" exclude? $\endgroup$
    – Air
    May 8, 2015 at 2:36
  • $\begingroup$ @MahendraGunawardena - Your statement is incorrect regarding "Any one who has attained a standard of education and training is considered a professional engineer." And that's especially so in North America. Many state boards of technical professionals have been known to issue "cease and desist" type letters to unlicensed individuals and / or corporations that were illegally using the term Professional Engineer or stating the availability of Engineering Services. The EU has similar restrictions. $\endgroup$
    – user16
    May 8, 2015 at 21:17
  • $\begingroup$ @GlenH7, This is how engineering SE is defined "Engineering Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professionals and students of engineering. It's 100% free, no registration required. " $\endgroup$ May 8, 2015 at 22:59
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @MahendraGunawardena - it is disingenuous to imply that "professionals and students of engineering" can be rephrased as "Professional Engineers and students of engineering." That shows a distinct lack of awareness of the legally regulated use of the title. Furthermore, that particular phrasing is standard for almost all StackExchange sites and started with StackOverflow. $\endgroup$
    – user16
    May 8, 2015 at 23:17
  • $\begingroup$ @GlenH7, you can take a look at how I originally phrased, it has now been butchered around. "A large community of mostly professional and academic volunteers dedicated there personal time to answer question in the forum." The intent was it be simple. Now the whole thing is complex with disclaimers it is hard to understand the purpose. $\endgroup$ May 8, 2015 at 23:26
  • $\begingroup$ As it is hardly anyone one going to read this, thus the purpose is completely lost. All I intent was to help new users. This wiki is just doing the opposite. $\endgroup$ May 8, 2015 at 23:36
  • $\begingroup$ Obviously we have to balance detail with brevity but I tend to agree with @Mahendra that the disclaimer is unnecessary. Now that we have expanded the guidance, maybe we can better identify which parts to focus on? I'm going to try cutting some parts out and moving some parts to secondary answers. Thoughts? $\endgroup$
    – Air
    May 11, 2015 at 17:16


Well-Received Questions

Here are a few examples of questions that have been well-received on Engineering SE.

Popular Questions

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.

For more current examples, browse this month's most active questions.


Sample Outline

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.

  1. Question Title

    Use a short, descriptive title that captures the theme of the question.

  2. Summary of the Problem

    Include about 2-3 sentences describing the background.

  3. Body

    What has been done to solve the problem? This can include pictures, equations, research, hyperlinks, etc.

  4. Question

    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:

  • Medium
  • (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.


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