Regards this question in particular but I doubt it is the only one showing this, or a similar, tendency/happening

Looking at comments on the question as well as on answers the question seems to be asking 'too much', yet none of the complainers voted to close it so it must be well-formed.

case a)

Because NASA spends millions on engineers to do this, and you want it for free? – Justin Thyme

link to comment

Reduce your expectations. – Justin Thyme

link to comment

These comments are preceded by the person writing a huge amount of comments containing lots of detail. Enough so I thought it prudent to ask them if they didn't want to put all that work into an answer instead of comments so they could get rep for their work. Instead they seem to have flipped at that and got angry, I chose not to respond anymore (also tried to move that escalation to the chat just in case).

case b)

@dot_Sp0T You want hard numbers on prospective technologies? I've given you the links to the wiki articles; they have links to various papers. The rest of it depends on what decisions you make about how your world works. I won't write your book for you. – Sherwood Botsford

link to comment

This one is a reaction to me, obligatorily, pointing out in a comment (on all answers I had gotten at that point btw), that I added the tag to the question.

I added this tag after discussing in the chat on how to point out better that I wanted actual comparable numbers instead of vague ideas. The tag was a formal addition considering that the requirement for hard numbers was in the question from the very beginning; I just did not want to, what I felt at the time, force people to have to link papers and such if they didn't feel like it. Getting numbers would be just fine without scientific references I thought.

Do I really ask too much or are these 'complainers' just bringing in personal feelings / venting / something similar?

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Completely unrelated to what you are asking here, but if you add or remove the [hard-science] tag, please flag the question for moderator attention so we can add or remove the hard-science post notice, too. (Consider that one a community service, as people might miss the tag, but the notice is a lot more visible.) I've added it to your question now, but that's almost 48 hours after you added the tag. Same goes if anyone else notices a question that has the hard-science tag but not the notice, or the other way around; it's a quick fix, and probably helps many, so please flag. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Nov 25, 2017 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ I left a comment on the question to try and explain justinThyme's point. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 25, 2017 at 22:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Bellerophon that point is a totally different issue from the question $\endgroup$
    – dot_Sp0T
    Commented Nov 25, 2017 at 23:20

1 Answer 1


I can't speak for Justin, but he's not usually so argumentative. I'd chalk that one up to a bad day or something.

I can help by pointing out a couple of things.

  • While I'm constantly amazed at the breadth of experience on this site, you were asking for very specific information. Information that only a practioner in the field could easily provide. That should have led to people simply not answering or the question being closed for a lack of research (even the VTCers are only human, it takes time to get to things).

  • Most of this qualifies as questions about our real world, which are generally off-topic because the information could be found from other sources. It actually might be really cool what answers you get from JPL as they likely have off-the-shelf documentation for most of what you're asking for. (I asked them when I was a teen about ion engines... something that didn't exist at all at the time... and they sent me a sheaf of paperwork with the latest research on the subject. The experience was so cool I kept it all over the years... somewhere :-} )

  • I'm not a fan of that "hard science" tag, and the moment you added it you probably excluded everyone from answering. It literally means, "if you can't back your answer up with mathematics or authority, or links to where the math or authority can be found, it isn't a valid answer." At a guess, the people participating probably went from "how are we supposed to answer this?" to "you want WHAT?" when you added the tag.

Overall, I don't see that your question is badly formatted or scoped. But I do think the depth of data you're looking for is beyond what we normally see. I would hope that everyone involved would respect one thing:

  • Comments aren't for arguments or debate (from either side).
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ so true about JPL and NASA — in the days before http they took personal care to talk to young people who showed an interest. After visiting NASA at the age of 10, I was surprised to get a package in the mail later, filled with mission information and 8×10 color photos. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Nov 26, 2017 at 1:21
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I added the hard-science as a last resort because without numbers the answers cannot be compared or judged; and mentioning the need of numbers to compare answers in the question wasn't enough I didn't see another way to point it out. The problem with real-world questions being off-topic is that everything can be reduced to real-world data. The point of asking a question on here, or another stack for that matter is that one lacks the expertise and general knowledge in the area to being able to search for the right things. $\endgroup$
    – dot_Sp0T
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 9:05
  • $\begingroup$ Exempli Gratia for the above: I cannot read up on Ion Engines without knowing that they exist in the first place. So at some point, somewhere, I need to find a list of things I can learn more about - such as on a question on this stack about propulsion systems that can be used in space. An optimum for anyone wanting to learn more about these things is to have a bunch of data on each thing that people know exists, so one can prioritize what to learn more about depending on the amount of time one has. $\endgroup$
    – dot_Sp0T
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 9:07
  • $\begingroup$ @dot_Sp0T "So at some point, somewhere, I need to find a list of things I can learn more about" In my opinion, this is one place where Wikipedia absolutely shines, thanks to judicious use of relevant categories. For example, I can start at rocket engine (since that's what's used today), and at the very bottom of the page, there are links to article categories like spacecraft propulsion and spaceflight technologies. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 10:24
  • $\begingroup$ There, in turn, are links to more or less exotic ones like rocket sled launch, ballutes, ion thrusters, nuclear power in space, optical lift, colloid thruster, magnetorquer, yo-yo de-spin, and a whole slew of others. Depending on the amount of handwaving acceptable, you can then go on to look into the ones you find promising, even going so far as to follow the links to citations if you want to. Asking here should ideally be a late (not necessarily last) step in attempting to find a solution, not the first one. (Hence the canonical -1 reason being in part "does not show any research effort".) $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 10:24
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling I don't like Wikipedia in this regard because information is, in my opinion, wildly unstructured and difficult to find unless you're lucky. E.g. if you don't speak multiple languages the data on there is often biased and incomplete, and you won't be aware of that unless you know that you should find something called xyz but can't find it. The WB stack (or stacks in general) have away with the different languages (well not anymore...) and instead have a general central repository of knowledge, much easier to use and more consistent. $\endgroup$
    – dot_Sp0T
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 10:51
  • $\begingroup$ "I don't like Wikipedia in this regard because information is, in my opinion, wildly unstructured and difficult to find unless you're lucky." Did you follow any of the links I provided? Did you look at those pages? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 10:54
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling you're talking about a specific situation which you have encountered, I have not. I am talking about the general impression and experience I have from using Wikipedia so far. Your example might be the exact opposite of my general Wikipedia experience, yet that does not change my experience $\endgroup$
    – dot_Sp0T
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 11:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I apologize, but I'm with @MichaelKjörling when it comes to Wikipedia. It's not perfect, but it is usually very structured; especially about scientific topics. But, for all its imperfections, you're more likely to find specifically accurate data about real-world topics than you will here. Wiki's primary purpose is literally to solve the answer-the-real-world-question problem, and we don't want to duplicate its effort. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 15:12
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH you don't have to apologize. But if the following claim of yours is true, "...Wiki's primary purpose is literally to solve the answer-the-real-world-question problem, and we don't want to duplicate its effort.", then why do WB, and stack in general, rules enforce us to quote link contents even if they're linking to Wikipedia? $\endgroup$
    – dot_Sp0T
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 15:55
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, SE is great for "I need a quick answer!" and I frequent StackOverflow.com to answer programming questions. But you didn't ask a question with a quick answer and every SE site I participate in requires users to research their problem. SE in general expects participants to use SE as a place-of-last-resort. It's one thing when someone asks a quickie that I can spend 30 second capturing the wiki link to answer, but you asked a remarkably in-depth question that IMHO everyone on WB:SE would have had to perform serious research to answer. It was simply too far outside the lines. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ Having had quite a few dealings with Justin before I have to respectfully disagree with your assessment that "he's not usually so argumentative"... $\endgroup$
    – AngelPray
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 21:14
  • $\begingroup$ @AngelPray, my apologies, you know him better than I do. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 21:45
  • $\begingroup$ @dot_Sp0T A few reasons. To name a few: Link rot (pages go down; doesn't apply to Wikipedia). Spam combatting (it's hard to tell if link-only answers are spam unless you click the link, thus making the spam effective and wasting time during which the spam remains). So that answers are self-contained (it's awkward to have to click on yet another link, wait for the page to load, work out where the content is then read it when you could skip most of those steps). $\endgroup$
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 21:04

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