Our help centre (and more specifically our on-topic page) states (emphasis mine):

Aviation Stack Exchange is a site for pilots, engineers, controllers, mechanics, and aviation enthusiasts. If you have a question about…
Flying technique, maneuvers, navigation, procedures, etc.

  • Air Traffic Control
  • Aviation Weather
  • Aviation Regulations
  • Aerodynamics (related to aircraft)
  • Aviation Safety
  • Aircraft Design and Manufacture

It is safe to say there are a lot of very smart people here, who understand the fine details of avionics, wing design, aero-mechanical engineering, the physics of flight etc.

Very occasionally we will get a question which is quite obviously not "related to aircraft" but is almost certainly answerable by the sort of experts who frequent Aviation StackExchange.

Status quo dictates that those questions should be closed. They are not on-topic, but with lack of a specific site (Wings.SE? Sailing.SE? Aerodynamics.SE?) we're perhaps the best place on the network to get an answer. There is some argument that Physics.SE would be the most appropriate however this particular example would not be a good fit.

In principle questions about aerodynamics/hydrodynamics (or whatever else might be "wing-related") are on-topic [on Physics.SE], but your particular example would be off-topic as engineering and/or homework-like, since it asks about a specific solution to a problem rather than about the physics behind it. chat

So we're left with a choice of 3 and I would like the community's opinion which would be best

  1. Close as off-topic (Status quo)
  2. Update on-topic advice to include wing design but not related to aviation
  3. Attempt to migrate questions about non-aircraft wings to Physics as long as they fit that site's on-topic reason

Or perhaps there is a fourth, better, option that I have not thought of?

Note that this has been discussed back in 2014 but it is sometimes a good idea to get an updated opinion from today's community.


3 Answers 3


I don't think we should allow such questions here.

As your quote from the on-topic page already says:

Aviation Stack Exchange is a site for pilots, engineers, controllers, mechanics, and aviation enthusiasts.

What is on-topic for a Stack Exchange site should be determined by what the site is about (in this case: aviation, not aerodynamics) and what kind of users it is for, but not what the people who frequent this site are capable of answering. Most of us could also answer questions about basic maths and physics, but that is not a good reason to allow such questions. If we start to allow this, where does it end?

Since there is no Aerodynamics.SE site, the question might not be on-topic on any SE site. While I understand that this is somewhat frustrating (because we all know SE sites are best Q&A sites), there is no rule that a question has to be on-topic somewhere on the SE network. This is IMHO not a good enough reason to allow the question here.

Therefore, I would prefer this way of handling such questions:

  • If the question is likely on-topic on another SE site (like Physics or Engineering, they have an aerodynamics tag), then attempt to migrate the question there. The question will still show as [migrated] on our Top Questions page, so our experts might still see it and answer it on the respective SE site.
  • Otherwise, close as off-topic.
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Aerodynamics is as related to aviation as air traffic control, or weight and balance, or fly by wire, or... It is the foundational concept behind all flight! If you don't agree, then where do you draw the line? I draw the line at computer software/database questions. Like this one: aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/82445/…. Perhaps a more detailed guideline of what is and is not on-topic is needed? $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2020 at 17:27
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @MichaelHall I'm not suggesting that all aerodynamics questions should be off-topic. I'm just saying that they have to be aviation related, i.e. questions about the design of a sail for a boat are off-topic, even though they are about aerodynamics. Funnily, I actually consider that question you linked about ASTERIX on-topic because it is about an aviation standard. $\endgroup$
    – Bianfable
    Nov 23, 2020 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ Got it, and yep I agree! I remember the recent sailboat one, and I even suggested it could be reworded. Interesting perspective on the Asterix question - I think we all form our opinions based on our backgrounds. Picture a Venn diagram: I am a pilot so I am more interested in physical reality and how it affects flight. Therefore my circle of what I think relates to aviation is going to be different than a software engineer's. $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2020 at 18:17
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @MichaelHall The venn diagram thought experiment is a good one. We do try to cater to a lot of different sorts of interests of aviation enthusiasts and so we try to accept as many questions as possible to do with aviation. But we have to draw line somewhere and that is the hard part. Incidentally I'm a hobbiest pilot and a professional software developer - so my venn diagram is going to look weird. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec Mod
    Nov 23, 2020 at 20:19

Although, I would personally like to see some relaxation of the standard, there are good reasons to have a standard. The benefits may outweigh the cost.

AviationStackExchange does have a great advantage over other question and answer sites like Quora. It’s primary advantage is its focus. Although, this limits the participation of questioners on the site. It also eliminates the fluff and the irrelevant questions (i.e. “Who’s the cooler pilot, Air Force or Navy?”). This causes the questions here to be more thought out.

And, the questioners tend to do more research to answer their own questions before posting. That is a huge improvement over fielding repeated basic questions that can be simply googled.

The issue is, where do we draw the line. Simply stating that any question aviation related may not be enough.


Why don't we let the community decide, per question, if the question is relevant or not? There is an enthusiastically used Close review queue. The community seems to be more than capable to decide which questions are on- or off-topic.

We've had a recent example where the community had no qualms with the relevance of the question to aviation aerodynamics, it received 4 answers, but was then unilaterally closed as being off topic. The question used a car as an example - the relevance to aviation aerodynamics was explained in the answers, yet apparently not fully understood before closing.

Status quo dictates that those questions should be closed.

The consensus seems to be that the best solution is to migrate an off-topic to a suitable SE site, which is something that the community cannot do. A much better solution after the community decides that the question is off-topic on Aviation.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ We HAVE let the community decide, hence this question exists and has been answered and voted upon by the members of said community. You're welcome to give some reasoned arguments why you might disagree $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec Mod
    Sep 28, 2021 at 8:52

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