One of the choices made in the design of stackoverflow was to unite all programming languages in one Q&A site. The reasons, as I understood them, were the following:
- programmers often have knowledge of a variety of languages
- some questions and answers are independent of language
- a good answer for one language may well be applicable to another language
There is a parallel to this in the domain of what I call "machinery maintenance and repair":
- mechanics often have knowledge of a variety of machinery
- some mechanical questions and answers are independent of type of machinery
- a good answer for one machine may well be applicable to another machine
It seems to me that for the same reasons stackoverflow is language neutral, this site would benefit from being machinery-neutral.
Consider this list of machinery:
- machine tools (lathes, drill presses, milling machines, etc)
- mechanics tools (hydraulic presses and jacks, pneumatic impact wrenches, air compressors, etc)
- small engines (pumps, lawnmowers, weedeaters, leafblowers, generators, etc)
- small vehicles (motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, jet skis, etc)
- "motor vehicles" (cars, trucks, buses, RVs, truck tractors and trailers, etc)
- boats and ships (propulsion drivetrain, winches, generators, etc)
- heavy equipment (bulldozers, excavators, scrapers, graders, combines, harvesters, snow groomers etc)
- aircraft (helicopters, propeller-driven planes, jet-driven planes)
Here are a few points about this list that I think are noteworthy:
- All of the machinery in the list is commonly repaired and maintained.
- A very large proportion of fundamental parts is common amongst the machinery in the list. (e.g. nuts, bolts, bearings, shafts, splines, fluid reservoirs, hoses, valves, switches, connectors etc)
- A large proportion of systems is common amongst the machinery in the list. (e.g. liquid cooling, internal combustion engines, transmissions, brakes, clutches, hydraulics, exhaust, air conditioning, electrical, turbochargers, windshield wipers, etc)
- A large proportion of repair and maintenance principles is common across the machinery in the list. (e.g. good lubrication, keep fluid systems clean, strategies to fight corrosion, troubleshooting vibration, etc)
- A single mechanic often has experience maintaining and repairing a variety of machinery.
- A mechanic of one piece of machinery has a great deal in common with a mechanic of any other machinery in the list.
Given the above 6 points, restricting this site to "motor vehicles" seems rather arbitrary. It seems analogous to restricting stackoverflow to "Java".
So, my questions are as follows:
A. Am I missing a fundamental principle that makes it good for programmers of different languages to have a common site (i.e. stackoverflow) but bad for mechanics of different machinery to have a common site (i.e. mechanics.se)?
B. Should this site be broadened to "Mechanical Maintenance and Repair" which would encompass all of the machinery in the above list? If not, why not?