My brushless cordless drill question was put on hold due to "insufficient research".

This baffles me, because I took the following steps:

  • presented my situation
  • stated the facts that I'm trying to understand
  • offered some reasoning as to how brushless motors would give longer battery life
  • did a rudimentary check to make sure it's not a duplicate.

I wasn't expecting to have to answer my own question (if that was the case, why would I ask it?).

Is it expected that I should stop by the ever-changing Wikipedia before posting a question?

Also, I found a post on Meta in which the top-voted answer supports my position: What's happened to value in research effort?

It's not that I'm upset the question is on hold - I got my answer after all.

But if the threshold of acceptance is this high, this SE site risks:

  • alienating novice users and enthusiasts ("Silly question! What a noob!")
  • losing out to other information portals like Wikipedia which will have basic information
  • becoming an unhealthy place to share ideas and concerns. Quite frankly it feels hostile
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    \$\begingroup\$ It was literally one guy who completely ruined your chances of getting an answer on your last question @LeonHeller - Which is quite annoying really. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan Jul 30 '15 at 14:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Dan: Not at all. Leon was being his usual self, but four others also voted to close, including one mod. This is why it takes multiple votes. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Jul 30 '15 at 21:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ Trying to deflect the argument to treatment of noobs just because you were a noob here and feel poorly treated is not doing you any favors. Questions getting closed or not have nothing to do with the noobness of the asker. The many questions that don't get closed are clear indication this is a fine place to share ideas - if they are on topic. We get plenty of traffic here. A little collateral damage in the effort to keep the site clean is of no consequence, and better than keeping it less clean. However, that's not what happend here, so don't try to cry unfair victim. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Jul 30 '15 at 21:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @OlinLathrop But I think the point that Zaid is trying to get across is that he is not a noob. He has been on the SE networks for years! He knows what he's doing and his question was on topic. So it should have just been answered anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan Jul 31 '15 at 7:52

Is it expected that I should stop by the ever-changing Wikipedia before posting a question?

Yes, absolutely. Or at least something where the answer might be, e.g. doing a google search. And really, is that too much to ask? The stackexchange networks goal isn't to be an answer machine for anything you might want to know, let me quote from the tour:

With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about electronics design.

There are two important points here. First of all, it is to build up a library that answers things, not a machine to answer questions people might just now have. You say yourself that you did a rudimentary check that it is not a duplicate. rudimentary in my ears doesn't sound quite the same as enough. But anyways, the second point is, that the question is expected to be about electronics design. So although we generally take that very liberally, as Olin said, it is not a good fit for this site. You basically asked for debunking (or confirming) a marketing claim. There is a whole own stack (skeptics.SE) for this.

More from the tour:

Focus on questions about an actual problem you have faced.

Well, what electronics design problem do you have? Had your question been "I am building a world enslaving robot running on solar power, which motor type should I use for maximum efficicency, brushed or brushless?" then this would go more into the direction of this site. Still not good, but unlikely to be closed.

Include details about what you have tried and exactly what you are trying to do.

So here we get to the point of prior research effort. We expect you to have tried to solve the problem you are facing. And we expect you to tell us about that effort. Rarely we need evidence (though sometimes it is good to show some) and take your word for it, but doing some research and trying a few minutes on answering that question yourself not only gives you some more insight, it will almost always enable you to ask the question in a more specific way.

A quick look through the wikipedia article tells you at least these basic easy to understand facts:

  • Brushless is a quite new thing compared to brushed (1886 vs. 1962)
  • Some limitations of brushed motors can be overcome by brushless motors

Ok, so lets get to the maybe not so easy understandable facts:

  • Brushless motors offer several advantages over brushed DC motors, including high torque to weight ratio, more torque per watt (increased efficiency), increased reliability, reduced noise, longer lifetime (no brush and commutator erosion), elimination of ionizing sparks from the commutator, and overall reduction of electromagnetic interference (EMI).
  • When converting electricity into mechanical power, brushless motors are more efficient than brushed motors. This improvement is largely due to the brushless motor's velocity being determined by the frequency at which the electricity is switched, not the voltage. Additional gains are due to the absence of brushes, which reduces mechanical energy loss due to friction

There we have tons of points to hook into to make up for a good question and show prior research effort, and that all in under a minute! You could ask about all of it, but then it is clear that things get too broad, as we generally focus on one point per question (remember we have only 30k characters for an answer). So now comes the point where you really have to ask yourself what it is that you are interested in. Do you want to know why they develop more torque per watt? Do you want to know why determining the velocity by frequency instead of voltage is more efficient? Ask those things! In several questions, not all in one (unless they are really just the same side of two medals), and not all at once. Ask one thing, try to understand it, then see if this doesn't tell you already something about the other thing.

Let me comment on some other things you said:

  • alienating novice users and enthusiasts ("Silly question! What a noob!")

If you are truly an enthusiast, you would not ask silly basic questions that could be answered by a two minute google job. The very nature of an enthusiast includes actively searching for answers. Also this site is (again from the tour) for professionals, students, and enthusiasts. Not for hobbyist novices that want a handhold for plugging together their arduinos. Yes, we have a quality standard for answers and questions that have a quite higher bar than "what will happen if I poke my finger there?".

  • losing out to other information portals like Wikipedia which will have basic information

Since when is this a competition? This site starts where wikipedia ends. We have the means to focus on details, ask for lengthy explanations of single facts that only got mentioned in half a sentence on wikipedia. Both are necessary, needed, and everyone who participates here should be willing to add knowledge there too.

  • becoming an unhealthy place to share ideas and concerns. Quite frankly it feels hostile

Seriously, if it does, then good. This will make everybody think twice about what they say and ask. The goal isn't to attract as much people as possible, it is to attract as much good content as possible. It is not a place to share ideas and concerns. There a other places for it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Absolutely. The "professionals, students, and enthusiasts" thing too often goes unnoticed. \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Aug 3 '15 at 23:15

Your question was flawed from the start. It made the assumption that all brushless motors are more efficient than all brushed motors, and then asked for reasons than this might be true. This is far too broad for a question-and-answer site like StackExchange.

Furthermore, it seemed to be based on the assertions made by the marketing department of a consumer equipment manufacturer, and I think it's pretty well understood that their statements have little, if any, basis in engineering reality.

Did you read the Wikipedia article? Were there specific points about which you were confused? If so, your question should have explained what you had learned so far and the specific issues you were having trouble with.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I should mention that I am a SE veteran of 5+ years. The Wikipedia link was offered as a comment-answer, so I saw it after posting the question. If the question is flawed or based on an incorrect premise, why was that not offered as a reason for putting the question on hold? \$\endgroup\$ – Zaid Jul 30 '15 at 15:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Being a SE veteran, you should know that you can edit a question in order to improve it based on the feedback you're getting. Also, I have found that the engineering SE sites are in some ways very different from most other SE sites; the questions are held to a higher standard in order to keep the level of "noise" questions to a reasonable level. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Tweed Jul 30 '15 at 15:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ So is it too broad, not enough research or off-topic? The reason it is on hold right now is off-topic. Surely that isn't right. \$\endgroup\$ – Eric Jul 30 '15 at 17:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Eric: It doesn't matter, the system only allows one reason at a time. There's no point to reopening it and then closing it for a different reason. Once the question has been brought up to the community standards, it can be reopened. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Tweed Jul 30 '15 at 17:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've removed the last paragraph in my last edit. Not sure if that is all that is required to get the question up to spec but I guess I'll have to give it a go. \$\endgroup\$ – Zaid Jul 30 '15 at 19:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Isnt the same claims of brushless being better coming from OEM motor manufacturers, not just the end user cordless drill manufacturer? Ignoring the part where its a part in a consumer item, its on topic. \$\endgroup\$ – Passerby Jul 31 '15 at 1:44

You are missing the point that the question was closed because it wasn't a good fit for this site, not because of lack of research effort.

I only saw your question now due to this meta discussion, so didn't participate in any voting to close it or otherwise. However, it seems to me that those that voted to close predominantly thought that the question was too consumerish. We get people here that think "electronics" is about the their VCR, stereo, or iPad, and how to connect them to each other. To cut off this kind of drivel most expediently, we have a specific close reason for it.

I think it would be possible to reword your question by leaving out mention of specific consumer products and various dubious marketing claims. Asking about differences between brushed and brushless DC motors should work, as long as the question is specific enough. Broad questions like which is more efficient? won't work here. You have to ask about something more specific than that.

  • \$\begingroup\$ How is "which is more efficient" not valid here? Efficiency is a valid, comparable, objective statistic of a item or device. At the most its a "its more effecient in x and y but not z" answer... \$\endgroup\$ – Passerby Jul 31 '15 at 1:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for clarifying what you feel is objectionable to the community. I thought it pertinent to mention the application for the sake of providing some background (sometimes answers can change depending on the use-case). The thing that puzzled me is the purported lack of research, which led to the assumption that noob questions are not well-received here. I must note that this question was answered by an avid user with minimal fuss in this site's busiest chat room; that it would be deemed a poor fit for the site was rather unexpected. \$\endgroup\$ – Zaid Jul 31 '15 at 6:08

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