21

I've been active on this site for almost two years now and have used it to get help, learn stuff and assist others.

mechanics.SE is by no means the first website on automotive maintenance and I doubt it'll be the last.

But there's something about it that makes it so... unique.

I've been trying to put my finger on what makes this site so different from the rest.

So, according to you, what is this site's unique selling proposition?

I'll post my thoughts in an answer as well.

  • 1
    It wasn't until I joined..... – Moab Apr 27 '16 at 18:24
  • 1
    All stack exchange sites really benefit from the pure Q&A approach. No more reading through 192 pages of inane chit chat and off-topic discussions just to try to find useful information. – Greg Woods May 13 '16 at 14:28
  • "So, according to you, what is this site's unique selling proposition?" I tried selling whiskey in the pistop chat, but Bob Cross shut me down... – Moab May 18 '16 at 22:38
18

I like a lot of things:

  • the Q&A format demands objectivity

    So no opinionated rants, little tolerance for bias. And no room for answers like "I use red plug wires instead of black plug wires because they match my engine bay."

  • The Pitstop and other chatrooms

    A watering hole where stuff that doesn't really fit a Q&A format can be discussed.

  • the Be Nice policy

    The only tools on this site are the ones found in a toolbox. No question is too dumb to be asked. And we're all expected to stay humble.

  • the breadth of this community

    It's great to interact with people from all walks of life with all kinds of different vehicles. Makes for a very holistic experience.

  • The Q&A format also makes it easier to find information compared to the other more common online resource for cars: forums. – Ellesedil Apr 19 '16 at 18:24
12

I am a member of a few Stack Exchange sites, and they all have their specific attractions, but as I have been a petrol head since I was about 5, motor sport, cars, motorbikes and engines have a particular fascination for me.

And while I am very much an amateur mechanic, the community of very experienced folks here has been uniformly welcoming, sharing knowledge and experience and supporting what little I bring to the table.

It's fun just chatting with folks who know how to rebuild an entire vehicle without breaking a sweat, and who seem to be wonderfully friendly and even tempered. Mechanics.SE has posibbly the fewest arguments of any site I have been on.

  • 2
    You are everywhere man!! – Ulkoma Apr 15 '16 at 23:22
11

I think it's largely the friendliness of the site - As you say, there is no question too stupid, and no-one is condescending or arrogant. Compare with some other sites (including, sadly, some SEs) where someone asking a 'newbie' question would be subject to a barrage of rude "How could you possibly not know that" type comments.

  • 1
    +1 I'm active on so many SE sites I've forgotten how many, but despite being a complete novice in this area, I enjoy this one the most. It feels like a community dominated by good people who genuinely want to help and learn through helping, who seemingly appreciate anyone who shows effort and is also keen to learn. Great site! – user568458 May 3 '16 at 9:27
8

I think the "specialness" goes way back to that time I got into an argument with both Joel and Jeff about what it would take to make a successful site:

Making a site for professionals

My position was (and still is) if we make a site that is welcoming to all levels of expertise, we will build a community where newbies know they can get useful answers and actually learn their ways to higher levels of expertise. The core area of this SE is actually something that you can learn from end to end (though you might need to limit yourself to your particular car). It's not as squishy as something like psychology or business management. That bolt can only be stuck in place for a relatively small number of reasons!

Let the record show that I was right and they were wrong.

Proof by existence: we're still here and we regularly get compliments for being welcoming and helpful to our brothers and sisters who feel at sea in all this car talk.

8

I think the biggest difference between the regular forums / owners clubs / websites is that this site has a complete cross section. Not only geographically and in terms of experience but across disciplines and brands.

You tend to find that in Volkswagen circles there are some myths and miss-beliefs that get regularly regurgitated. You also find that there is one prescribed method for doing something or that the "community" believes a certain thing can not be done.

You'll observe similar things in motorsport specific groups or restoration groups.

The beauty of this group is that you have such a wealth of experience that you get suggestions and ideas that wouldn't come from your "scene".

That coupled with the enthusiasm of the posters plus the fact that each day you'll get such a variety of questions makes this site a breath of fresh air.

  • Eloquently stated. – Zaid Apr 21 '16 at 16:12
7

I have to agree with everything said so far, the biggest things being:

  • The willingness of folks to answer newbie questions with patience
  • The politeness that folks have when answering questions is second to none. I would not dare to ask newbie question on certain other SE sites.. lol
  • The chance to answer theory and practical questions in a way that really clarifies things in my own head on how things work
  • The diversity of interests of the folks who come here is so broad, that the opportunities for learning are outstanding. I find I learn more reading here than any other place.
  • The chat room, The PitStop, that present a place for the discussion that don't really fit as questions. And just to hang out with really fun and interesting people.
4

While I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about wrenching, I know I still have much to learn. There are areas which I am a complete dunce, yet the breadth of my knowledge is pretty good. I know quite a bit about a lot of different vehicle subjects, but wouldn't call myself expert in any one subject. What does this have to do with the site? I continually find I'm learning new stuff from the great people here. I know many of my weak points, and these guys seem take up my slack. There is nothing better than a great group of guys, working together, to solve an issue. Helping others is a great thing.

I also love that we have world wide personalities. There are people from Scotland, UK, Qatar, Canada, and some foreign land called Arizona. I love the ability to interact with these fine people, both through answers and at The Pitstop.

Speaking of the chat room, this is a vital place where things get fleshed out. I think it is one of this site's biggest assets. It just works. Unlike many other sites' chat rooms, this one does it all without being obnoxious or out of hand or dead. It just works.

I've been a member on this site for over 850 days. I've visited everyday without fail. It has been nothing but a great experience, both in learning and in friendship. I hope to continue to learn and to meet new people. Nothing better than a bunch of Gear Heads (or Petrol Heads; Motor heads; Grease Monkeys; or ... :o) You just cannot make something like this up ... it has to be lived to be appreciated.

4

I don't care about internet points and just enjoy helping people. That translates into answering questions with the other person in mind rather than any fake points I might get. People here seem to do that too. Maybe they copied me? I know DucatiKiller and Paulster are always stalking my blog... :P

  • Yes, we are stalking your blog...and your answers too. You have some really good stuff in your melon that you've been dumping into the system in the form of answers. Really enjoy your responses. – DucatiKiller Apr 23 '16 at 22:09
  • I printed out your comment and hid it inside my wife's handbag. She never believes me doing anything productive on the internet. :P – race fever Apr 23 '16 at 22:31
  • HAHA! I'm laughing to tears man. Awesome. – DucatiKiller Apr 23 '16 at 22:44
  • LOL dude, one of these days we gotta coincide in some swap meet or race. Hell, even build a lemons car. :D – race fever Apr 23 '16 at 22:58
  • @racefever - YES! 24-hours of LeMons is a must! Would love to build it with you brother. (Yes, I know your comment was pointed at Ducati, but hey, I love to throw myself into the middle of crap!) – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 May 6 '16 at 14:20
  • I said we didnt I? I propose we somehow figure out a meet or even a gokart competition in a place where its closest to all. Id love to also do a cruise or something. @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 – race fever May 6 '16 at 20:48
4

I really don't know where to begin...there's so much

I really like the giving. People here tend to be givers. There's less 'show you how smart I am' here than on some of the other sites. It's people empowering people. I really like the answers that help people to understand why the root cause problem is a problem. Regardless, it's giving and giving is good. Certainly it can be argued that it's not selfless because we get the reward of reputation and badges but ultimately that's not much of a reward. The real reward is when someone comes back and simply says, "Thank you." That's meaningful.

Other Places

A really have to agree wholeheartedly with @stevematthews post regarding specific forums. I was a regular in a motorcycle racing forum. An unending plethora of template same same response to questions. I just got tired of copy/paste responses. The data seemed to fall into a trap. It was a world of wash, rinse, repeat and that, for me, led to my discovery of this.

No crappy remarks to new users. Rare vitriol. Interaction. Kindness. Giving. Enjoyable interaction with new problems forcing me to research or think. All things that I require to have a positive experience. This site gives me more than quality information and new ideas. It gives me pleasure interacting with a group of individuals that don't hammer me into the dirt when flair my dumb. I can be human here with all of my failings and that's fine.

Stalking

I would never have been able to stalk @racefever 's blog had I not been here. Yes, it's creepy but hey.

...and yes. Swapmeet.

Diversity

The depth and breadth of experience in this site is pretty astounding. I've had @zaid walk me through some pretty interesting concepts and he's good at the maths. I've definitely got to call him out on that. He's been a goldmine of great data for me and sent me off into tendrils of threads that I may not have discovered had it not been for him. Dude's next level and I owe him for his patience and kindness to me. Especially when I first arrived and flailed around a quite a bit. Good dude, quality human and a real engineer focused on giving quality answers to OP's. Go look at some of his answers in the activity tab of his profile and get ready to vote because he has some pretty high quality responses.

...but really. If you look at the cross section of people in here. Professional Mechanics, Mechanical Engineers, Security Engineers, Network/Infrastructure Engineers, Hobbyists, Students of Everything all the way to Musicians and English Teachers. This site has a diverse crowd and that's amazing. The communication in chat is out of control good, positive and fun. It's collaborative and there is a feeling of team tackling the questions....and sooo much question asking. Again, humility. It's odd and amazing and rare. Who could ask for more?

Patience

Guys like @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 have tolerated me as a newbie and have paisted dozens if not hundreds of links into chat to help me understand how the site works, where to find this, where to find that. The humanity and patience here with, seemingly, most everybody is an odd thing for me to consume. @BobCross has had my back on some weird ethnic crap that only he spotted and was thoughtful enough to address. That was a truly memorable moment for me here. It was beyond meaningful and really showed the level of emotional depth that's in here. Empathy. It's a rare bird. As well, he has tolerated me spraying stupid on things and patiently cleaned up the mess without making me feel like a dumbass. That's quality.

Wall of Words

That's my wall of words but I want to say more.

  • @JPhi1618 Run for mod. The site's going to graduate out of beta. Your well socialized and perfect for it. Your mom clearly took you to the dog park when you were a pup.

  • @JonathanMusso Dude, you're rad and smart. So glad we have met.

  • @cdunn Your a dork but I'm still the King Dork. Try as you might, my dork will trump your dork all day. Bring it.

  • @Darth_Vader I AM the droid your looking for.

  • @RoryAlsop You're a smart mofo with next level skills, respect. Taste the coolant.

You guys are rad. Glad to be here. It's pretty cool being a part of this experiment. It's good and rewarding for me and everyone here makes it that way. It's the giving, goddamnit.

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