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Yesterday, I was reading 3dprinting.meta and read a suggestion that (which I rephrase as) we should ask questions for the purpose of bringing answers inside our tent.

I spent some time thinking about questions I have been asked by friends who purchased FDM machines and were starting to undertake their own designs. In particular, among the engineers I hang with there is a desire for the generally-accepted-as-valid design principles -- the design rules that, when followed, will usually work. I haven't come across a reference that lays out such rules for FDM printing, and so I launched a question which someone who knew of such a rule set could answer, or which I could later attempt to answer if a better answer didn't appear.

I asked this question.

The question drew a "have you googled that?" response, coupled with a helpful link. Other comments ensued, along with two down-votes on the question.

My question here is in two parts: Is this an appropriate activity -- to ask a question hoping to receive a better answer that I would write myself, and If the motivation for the question is appropriate, how should the question have been better formed?

I realize that two downvotes isn't all that important, but it is important to me to understand and act in concert with the community culture.

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  • $\begingroup$ I really feel guilty now. Half asleep I closed your question by accident, and there is nothing that I can do to retract that vote (I have checked with the mod chatroom and on meta). The only solution, seems to be, that which Sean suggests, and edit it to ask what the design rules are (do it within 5 days whilst "on hold" and vote to re-open it), rather than ask for a link. As a mod, if I vote to close or re-open, then that vote is decisive. I have lost the ability to vote as a normally user, unfortunately, so I can't help with the re-open vote. $\endgroup$
    – Greenonline Mod
    Aug 25 '18 at 6:57
  • $\begingroup$ Once again, I do apologise for my poor eyesight and clumsy fingers :-(. $\endgroup$
    – Greenonline Mod
    Aug 25 '18 at 6:58
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TL;DR The answer that this question was looking for can be covered in 4 or 5 basic points, without much ambiguity. The question is therefore not fundamentally too broad, but could maybe be made a bit more specific.

Too broad seems a bit of a mis-assessment, but I think it's maybe a mistake to ask where to find this information, since that does read a little bit like "find me a link". I think a better question would be to ask what are the basic design rules - and then worry if that is too broad.

We need to focus as a community on taking questions which don't quite fit, and improving them, otherwise we will not get people coming back with more questions and later helping others. There is still a focus amongst some members on only answering specific 'problem' questions, rather than generating a comprehensive resource covering the whole subject. SE intends to be the top search result (and presumably the answer and un-informed student was looking for).

Maybe 'design rules" seems to broad, when you presumably care about the factors that are unique to FDM. (i.e. exclude all the general engineering principles which would be common to subtractive machining, injection moulding, etc. even though they are obviously still relevant). I feel this was kind of implicit in the question, but some may have been mislead by the terminology.

Should tolerances be included? With an electronics background rather than engineering, Design Rules implies a final sign-off stage check of low level trivial detail rather than the entry point to the design flow.

I think the question also suffers slightly from a I have an answer in mind, so it seems that I'm asking the question in a way that leads to that answer, kind of an X-Y of getting the answer posted (in this case, the answer is the true goal, not the question).

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    $\begingroup$ I specified FDM because those are the first machines most friends have bought. The phrase "design rules" may be tho much a term of engineering art. Most engineering fields have some rules which are easy to state and provide good guidance for design. There is an art to crafting the rules, and expressing the rules in a simple and memorable way. I could attempt to write them, but thought someone may have already have done so. The link provided with the answer is helpful for defining the terms, and is a good reference. This is a good community. Thank you all for you time and insight. $\endgroup$
    – cmm
    Aug 25 '18 at 2:56
  • $\begingroup$ Design rules in an ASIC or PCB context implies more of the low level minimum feature size, track-track separation, etc. rather than the basic principles of engagement with the technology. $\endgroup$ Aug 25 '18 at 8:46
  • $\begingroup$ @cmm - Are you going to re-word the question - or do you want someone else to? It is a good question, and as I stated before, I would be interested in the answers. It has moved from the on-hold status to closed, so if you edit it now, it won't automatically go into the re-open queue. Edit it, flag it for moderation attention and I'll re-open it, and we can then see how it fares. $\endgroup$
    – Greenonline Mod
    Sep 3 '18 at 23:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Greenline I guess I didn't understand that editing a question was either an option, or a suggested path. I was at a wedding yesterday, so I didn't see your note in time to respond. Thank you for not letting go. $\endgroup$
    – cmm
    Sep 4 '18 at 12:27
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    $\begingroup$ @cmm, sorry, didn't see you'd been pinged here, I might have waited for your response. I think we need to be generally trying harder to edit questions which get flagged. We did this on IoT and it was quite productive. $\endgroup$ Sep 4 '18 at 12:31
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The "Have you googled this" comment was a little like the comments that we used to see, and which, of late, we fortunately haven't seen much of (please see my answer to Post Closing Issues).

However, it was backed up with an extremely useful link and a query for clarification so it may not have been meant as a straight forward "Have you googled this"-esque comment.

I reworded that comment slightly, to soften it.

I think that the negative votes probably reflected the accompanying [too broad] close votes.

However, as I mentioned in my comment, your question didn't seem that broad to me, or rather, while it might have been seen as being a little broad, it seemed no broader than your linked to question or other examples that I've seen. Note that this is my personal opinion, and doesn't mean that the question shouldn't be closed, or, conversely, should be left open. It is for the community to decide.

The on-topic page is in a state or flux, and has been for a while now. I attempted to propose a definitive version with Game plan - What is on-topic?, but I haven't got around to following it up as I wasn't sure if the community approved - the feedback wasn't particularly conclusive. The mod team should get together to discuss, I guess. Or if anyone feels like chipping in, please left a comment or answer on the Meta post - or mention it in one of the chatrooms.

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