I read https://engineering.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic which says questions will be well received when they (among other things)

  • Excite or challenge experienced professionals in the field

However I have an elementary question I'd like to ask which certainly won't challenge or excite experienced engineers.

My question is about identifying the material characteristics and method needed to calculate the deflection of a beam supported at both ends with a load concentrated at the centre. Or alternatively calculating the maximum load at the elastic limit. It's a naive question motivated by https://diy.stackexchange.com/q/76153/2815

How tolerant is this community of basic questions? should I go elsewhere?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I believe you're wanting to ask a question about how the modulus of elasticity is determined for a given material. If so, I'd say that type of question is on-topic for the site. $\endgroup$
    – user16
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 11:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Explaining simple things well to beginners is sometimes a challenge to experiences professionals, who have known the answer for so long they don't have to think why the answer is what it is. Actually, you are asking two different questions, which together imply a third one - namely "what is the difference between strength and stiffness as design criteria?" $\endgroup$
    – alephzero
    Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 4:40
  • $\begingroup$ @alephzero In my opinion, being able to explain something only goes to further its understanding. Being able to put thoughts into words is a valuable thing, especially when it comes to teaching others. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 7:50

2 Answers 2


Our goal is to be welcoming to basic questions. I think if you scan through the top-scored questions we've received so far, you'll see several questions that address concepts professionals would be familiar with from a very early point in their educations and/or careers.

The characteristics of generally well-received questions in that list in the Help Center shouldn't be seen as mandatory. What we mean by "well-received" is that questions with any of those characteristics tend to receive higher scores from users who vote on them and more/better answers from experts.

Think of the items in that list as goals. When you write up a question, keep them in mind. Don't be afraid to ask and try not to take it personally if you do get some negative feedback. In my experience, people who make an honest effort to be aware of the guidelines and write clearly, like yourself, generally do fine.

I can't say for certain whether the question you have in mind would be on-topic or well-received but it sounds like it could be both, and many issues can be resolved with editing and feedback. So please, go ahead and ask.


I'm new to this community, although I've been participating in other communities of the exchange. The difficulty with an engineering community is the sheer breadth of what could be asked, and the sheer breadth of what could be legitimate. But as I see it, there are basically two sources of opening posts: questions from non-engineers (general public) to engineers and questions from engineers to engineers.

From what I have seen, the community is quite tolerant in what is allowed in the way of questions. The problem with questions from the general public is that often some knowledge is required just to know what to ask. Some professionals in the community may find this a frustrating experience.

However, a balance must be found. If this community is to survive and thrive, it must be seen to be accessible to, responsive to and welcoming to, the general pubic (the so-called layman). So my suggestion is that when odd questions are posted (odd from a practitioners perspective) there should be some policy to first help phrase the question in a way it can be answered, before being too critical of it.

I'm not saying that this policy does not exist; being new I simply don't know. But I have seen some opening posts with comments that are not helpful (are a bit snarky) and this is not a good thing for the community.


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