Straight out of the User Manual questions

Looking at this question, it's about something that a pilot would do in an airplane, but it's also directly answered in the user manual for the piece of equipment in question. Is this sort of question, a fairly basic "how do I do this" that should really be answered by looking in the user manual, the sort of thing we want here?

I can see value in questions that talk about techniques, when pilots use "this" equipment instead of "that" equipment, and so forth, but I can also envision the site becoming rather congested with stuff that's really just basic operating procedures... how do I engage & disengage the autopilot on a PDQ-1000? What are the steps to update the database on an XYZ-600? What steps are on the Before Starting Engines checklist of a PA-28? The list never ends; are these the sorts of questions that make Aviation.SE a better resource, or are they just clutter?

It is not "it is in the manual" the reason I vote to close this question. IMO this question lacks research element. It is perfectly fine if you show us that you try to search forum, youtube, find lots of unrelated stuff then ask us. But lack of effort to study manual would be discouraged by me, simply because lack of basic understanding how to operate this equipment would be dangerous. What would you do if you have to adjust your course midair: no stackexchange service up there.

IMHO I treat this question to be the same as homework question.

apologize my language. English is not my first language.

• I think the "lacking researching element" on the part of the original questioner really should matter if the answers themselves don't provide any substance for readers of the questions who didn't know they didn't know in the first place. Should we label a question as bad if it still helps other people? Doesn't the community as a whole do a pretty decent job of self-policing? I'm not sure there should be very many hard rules on question content beyond what's already basic to StackExchange questions. Mar 24, 2016 at 20:30
• Lack of research would be an excellent reason to downvote the question into oblivion. It's a poor reason for closing a question, though, as there is currently no site policy on homework questions, and no rule allowing such closures. (English Language & Usage, for example, prohibits dictionary-lookup questions for obvious reasons. Mathematics kind of allows homework questions.) Mar 24, 2016 at 23:24
• I was also embarrassed by the obvious lack of prior research and I voted to close the post (which could make it eventually deleted), but provided a link to what I believe is the related section in the online manual. What is the point to answer such question? It doesn't help a pilot (as @vasin1987 explains very well), and it can encourage similar questions from others. Did the OP provide a feedback after the link was provided? It's self-demonstrating.
– mins
Mar 25, 2016 at 18:01

I agree with @egid's answer on this but an interesting point of comparison here is regulations: at least in the US they're all online and anyone can read them any time, but still we currently have more than 500 questions on FAA regulations. It's our second largest tag category today. And many of those questions are not about obscure points where the FAA had to issue a legal interpretation, they're about basic information that you can find by reading the regulations yourself.

So why do we tolerate so many questions about FAA regulations? Well, they're often unclear, incomplete, use poorly defined terms, or it's just difficult to find what you need among all the fine print. And to me, that sounds very like an avionics manual, POH or other technical documentation. Just because the information is out there, it isn't necessarily easy to find, understand or apply.

Someone will no doubt object that yes, that's all true, but in this specific case it's really easy to read the manual. But what if your first language isn't English and the word "waypoint" isn't an obvious one? You might overlook that section completely because it seems irrelevant, or just too awkward to read. Or you found it, but you don't know if you're 'allowed' to create user waypoints in a rental aircraft's unit and you want a way to enter lat/longs directly? There's a lot of background and assumptions that people don't post, at least in their first version of their question.

Anyway, people can downvote individual questions if they want, but a blanket rule that "if it's in the manual/POH/Google/whatever then we should close the question" is a bad idea. If it were that simple, most Stack sites would be a lot smaller than they are today.

• FARs / regs in general are a great comparison. Wish I'd thought of that.
– egid
Mar 21, 2016 at 16:39

I can also envision the site becoming rather congested with stuff that's really just basic operating procedures

Let's solve that problem when it becomes a problem.

<mod hat=off>


I fail to see how avionics are not within scope of the aviation site. Where else would these questions go? I'd say that a question about technical, non-normal use of an aviation device makes perfect sense here.

I mean, we have some pretty basic aerodynamics questions that have good answers, and that stuff is in your ground school reading. Should we ban those too?

• I don't think it's simply "avionics" that's an issue, and it's not even "about aviation" that is the issue. It's having this site drift into being a "too lazy to look" replacement for user's manuals. I think this question was well received because it dealt with a less obvious, "I've looked & still can't figure out" sort of angle. Pilot helping pilot -- cool. But basic "how do I enter a waypoint" stuff seems, different. Less worthy, somehow. Worth discussing before it's a problematic flood. Mar 21, 2016 at 15:26
• I don't see a whole lot of difference, frankly. When's the last time you added a lat/lon waypoint to your flight plan? How well did it go? As a CFII I can tell you that GPS use is one of the biggest hurdles for many students, especially older pilots. Downvote the question if you think it's subpar, but I don't think we need to set rules in place for this sort of thing.
– egid
Mar 21, 2016 at 15:29
• This reminds me of a question recently asked aviation.stackexchange.com/q/26354/2188 - even though it's very simple and it turns out aviation seals are no different than other seals in engineering, that doesn't mean the question is bad. Yes, it does bring down the 'average expertness' of the site, but like you say unless the site becomes congested, let's not turn beginners away. Mar 23, 2016 at 19:41
• @corsiKa: In addition, for the question you mention, there is a benefit for other users to understand something about the use of seals in an engine. I didn't answer the OP question per se (what is the Spanish word for "seal"?) but widened it into "how are seals used for the core shafts?". If the question couldn't be widened I would have posted a comment with the translation and then VtC it.
– mins
Mar 25, 2016 at 17:51