The ASE Help Center page https://aviation.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask has a header that reads:

What types of questions should I avoid asking?.

The text that follows includes the sentence:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face.

(Italicization added)

Is it time to revise the quoted sentence from the ASE help pages, especially the phrase "based on actual problems that you face"? Do we really want to limit questions to those based on actual problems that user is facing?

Here are examples of types of questions that would seem to be excluded by this guidance--

An aviation enthusiast who may or may not be a pilot wants to learn more about the physics of flight for reasons not related to any actual practical problem he or she faces or that a pilot would actually face in practical flight, and so asks a specific, well-defined, answerable question relating to a specific aspect of the physics of flight

An enthuasiast of Aviation in the Second World War wants to know why radial engines were favored by certain countries, or for certain situations (e.g. naval aviation), while water-cooled engines were favored by other countries or in other situations

(Many other examples could easily be provided)

Here are some examples of specific questions that would seem to be excluded by this guidance--

What is this board given to world war II pilot?

Is it possible to recover from a flat spin?

Why did the FAA ban all supersonic flights over the United States, rather than only supersonic flight in densely-populated areas?

What runway has the steepest climb requirement on take-off?

Lindbergh's panel-- Ryan NYP-- what is this instrument and how was it useful?

Has this type of "gyrocompass" ever been used in an aircraft?

(Again, many other examples could easily be provided)

At the time of initial posting of this Meta question, I'd say that looking at the the top thirty questions showing on ASE at present (ranked in order of recent activity), the ratio of those that don't seem to fit the stated guidance to those that do, may be as high as 6 to 1, and certainly is higher than 3 to 1.

Restating for emphasis the actual question being asked on this ASE Meta post--

Is it time to revise the quoted sentence from the ASE help pages, especially the phrase "based on actual problems that you face"?

Related, but not the same --

How narrow a definition should this site have?

Do we need to review our "on topic" list?

  • $\begingroup$ A very valid question, but at the moment asking this to the ASE community is futile. It no longer decides, two moderators now impose their interpretation of the Help Center and ban users from reviewing questions and answers. $\endgroup$
    – Koyovis
    May 4, 2020 at 7:47
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @Koyovis *sigh* no we don't and you know it. But you know what, we're all human and we all have enough to worry about at the moment. So you go ahead and go on the offensive $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec Mod
    May 4, 2020 at 8:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Jamiec Wishing you health and wisdom, I hope you keep safe. $\endgroup$
    – Koyovis
    May 4, 2020 at 8:24
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @Koyovis Thank you, but perhaps don't stick 2 fingers up at unpaid volunteers doing what they are supposed to do! (ie, banning people for misusing the system) $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec Mod
    May 4, 2020 at 8:25
  • $\begingroup$ Questions about airspace (in contexts that don't involve any direct interaction with Air Traffic Control) seem not to be clearly included in the list of approved topics as well, but surely we want to allow them-- $\endgroup$ Dec 25, 2020 at 18:18

1 Answer 1


I think you have a very valid point, and that phrase has bothered me in the past also.

I believe (but I need to go back and check) it is a carry-over from previous stacks where that guidance make the utmost sense. For example, you do not want flippant "what-if" sort of questions on technical sites such as StackOverflow/ServerFault/etc, they do not make for good questions there.

If there is general agreement from the community I should think this change could be made easily.

Edit: Note this same phraseology is used on every StackExchange site I've checked. I suspect it may be harder to change than I first thought. We can edit the on-topic but not the off-topic.


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