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What level of effort or detail should we expect from questions on the main site?

Some of the initial questions so far have been lacking in details that could materially affect the answers provided.

For example:

The questions are answerable, even as written in their first revisions. But their initial version could elicit lots of different answers focusing on different aspects of their core question.


What level of detail or effort should we expect from the site's questions?

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    $\begingroup$ The level of detail needed depends always on the question asked. The first example, I find, is okay - the title is descriptive and the question asked can be answered, although this is of course a broad topic. The second question has not a descriptive title and I would like to have more details - it is not that clear to me what the questioner is looking for. $\endgroup$ – John H. K. Jan 20 '15 at 21:54
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    $\begingroup$ To address your edit - detailed enough to answer the question. We don't need books, but we need enough info to answer the question $\endgroup$ – psubsee2003 Jan 21 '15 at 0:25
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    $\begingroup$ Bootnote: Selected questions were picked at the beginning of the site's beta. They were meant to be examples to spark discussion as opposed to anything else. As the site has grown, I would potentially pick completely different examples to spark this question. $\endgroup$ – user16 Jan 26 '15 at 16:51
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My whole measure isn't necessarily about "effort". My measure of whether or not a question is good stems from the idea of building a repository of high quality information.

Effectively, when I look at a question, I ask myself 4 things:

  • Is the problem clear and well described?
  • Is the problem focused and reasonably scoped?
  • Is this an issue that someone else will have, and will be helped by potential answers to the question?
  • And related to the above, will someone who has the same problem, be able to find the question via a search engine?

If the question meets all for items (and is on-topic), then there shouldn't be a reason to close it because someone didn't put in enough "effort". We are not teachers, and we aren't grading homework. As such, I have always been annoyed by the whole "show your work" mantra of other SE sites. The reason the mantra exists is to force askers to provide enough information to answer the question, not to be used as a reason to close questions.

The first question, Is it possible to "pump" a powder?, suffers from the fact that the body does not contain the question. They ask the question in the title, then follow up with additional information in the body. The question body should be self contained (which should not include the title). But if that were fixed, the question seems reasonable and would appear to fit the 4 bullets above.

The second question, https://engineering.stackexchange.com/questions/5/gyroscopic-couple-on-a-car-taking-a-turn, seems too broad to me. Without anything to limit the question, you are talking about novels to answer the question.

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    $\begingroup$ The first question isn't scoped well in my book, because it isn't clear why the asker wants to pump a powder, or what application he is thinking of pumping a powder for. Injection molding is mentioned, but that isn't relevant if, for instance, they want to build a powdered-hydrocarbon generator or something of the sort. Context is good. $\endgroup$ – jmac Jan 21 '15 at 3:15
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I wish to disagree with @psubsee2003. I'll admit this is a selfish view, but I would really like a much higher level of question. Asking if there is a pump for powders is something you should be able to answer in a few minutes of searching on the web. It's also lacking in so many useful details as to be worthless. What powder?, particle size, for what process... I could go on and on. It's not at all an interesting question to me. I'm much more interested in solving problems, my own and others.

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  • $\begingroup$ As a community, it's a line we'll need to define and your input is welcome. Some sites are able to tolerate varying levels of question detail and the answers are correspondingly detailed (or not). Other sites flat out close the question down if it doesn't clear a minimum threshold. $\endgroup$ – user16 Jan 26 '15 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ It's kind of an overview question. The question is if "is there a pump for powder" is not too broad. One could have split it in several parts. But maybe in the beginning one should not be too restrictive?? $\endgroup$ – Trilarion Feb 4 '15 at 12:48
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To a certain degree this will be self policing (although I fully agree with @psubsee's answer); but questions that are not descriptive enough will lead users to ask for more details, and for the question to be edited to reflect this.

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