Proposals: Maker Professionals

We currently have a plethora of Area 51 proposals skirting around the subjects of fabrication, manufacturing and design of physical objects, including the tools needed to do so.

The proposals have all gathered some support, and while a highly vertical site can produce a strong vibrant community, it appears that there isn't quite enough support to get any of the current proposals into commitment, let alone into beta.

Recent experience has suggested to me that it is much easier to get a stack exchange site with a wider scope up and running than one with a narrower scope, as long as your scope isn't too wide (as I believe is the case with the Engineering proposal). It is also clear that while there is overlap in followers between these sites, there are also many people who are only following one, or a small subset, of these proposals.

To summarise, here are the proposals I think it might be worth merging:

  • Maker Professionals (previously Personal Manufacturing, Digital Fabrication & Fabrication & Manufacturing)

    • Proposed Q&A site for professionals and advanced makers who design, prototype, and fabricate physical things using technologies like 3D printing & scanning.
    • Has been in commitment for over 1 month and currently has 43% (87/200) committers in total, 52% (52/100) committers with 200+ rep on any other site and has a 51% commitment score
    • is over 1 year old and 40.2% only committed to this proposal
  • Repurpose Hacking

    • Proposed Q&A site for those who test the limits of hardware, who modify electronic devices or combine together separate components to create new inventions, and those who like to void warranties; for those who like to make gadgets do things they were never intended to do!
    • Has been in commitment for over 1 month and currently has 17% (34/200) committers in total, 19% (19/100) committers with 200+ rep on any other site and has an 18% commitment score
    • is 1 year old and 17.6% only committed to this proposal
  • Hardware: How to design, prototype, and manufacture a physical product.

    • Proposed Q&A site for *there's a large group of people starting hardware startups & projects - look at Kickstarter, Etsy, physical startups, quantified-self, makers, etc. We're all experts in some areas (plastic injection molding), but need help in others (package design). *
    • has 152 followers and needs 17 questions with a score of 10 or more
    • is 12 months old and 6.9% of followers only follow this proposal
  • Engineering

    • Proposed Q&A site for active researchers, academics, professionals, enthusiasts and students in the field of engineering.
    • has 102 followers and needs 19 questions with a score of 10 or more
    • is 12 months old and 32.2% of followers only follow this proposal
    • is, in my opinion, far too broad a site to be viable as it stands and only a subset of these questions are relevant here
  • CAD/CAM Software

    • Proposed Q&A site for *drafters, engineers, designers, architects, CAD administrators and others who use or maintain software like AutoCAD, Inventor, SolidWorks and Pro/ENGINEER. *
    • has 97 followers and needs 27 questions with a score of 10 or more
    • is over 1 year old and 21.6% of followers only follow this proposal
  • Blacksmithing

    • Proposed Q&A site for the ancient art of metal work : topics could include bladesmithing, tools, annealing, Damascus steel techniques, etc.
    • has 52 followers, needs 8 followers and 28 questions with a score of 10 or more
    • is 1 year old and 9.6% of followers only follow this proposal
  • Mechanical Engineering

    • Proposed Q&A site for professionals and enthusiasts of the discipline of engineering that applies the principles of physics and materials science to the analysis, design, manufacturing, and maintenance of mechanical systems.
    • has 106 followers, needs 17 questions with a score of 10 or more
    • is 9 months old and 21.7% of followers only follow this proposal
  • Manufacturing

    • Proposed Q&A site for professional engineers, inventors, product designers, entrepreneurs, students, and enthusiasts, seeking the most economical and effective ways to fabricate physical things.
    • has been removed due to inactivity
  • Metallurgical Engineering and Material Science

    • Proposed Q&A site for questions pertaining to the fabrication and study of metallic elements and intermetallic compounds, including purification.
    • has been removed due to inactivity
  • Sheet Metal & Welding

    • Proposed Q&A site for sheet metal workers, welders, coppersmiths, metal roofers, blacksmiths, sheet metal shaping, spinning and more.
    • has been removed due to inactivity

Over the last year Maker Professionals has gone through a number of rounds of redefining the name and description and with the change from Fabrication & Manufacturing after we went into commitment, a new debate has sparked, but even with the highest commitment of these fabrication proposals, we are still a long way from full commitment.

I would like to see a stack exchange site which draws on the strengths of all of these proposals, and would be happy to accept suggestions and comments on how Maker Professionals could be made to fit the needs of followers and committers of all of these proposals.

I agree, as long as the final proposal isn't too broad. One shouldn't use the excuse "the individual proposals will never reach commitment" to create a broad/disjoint proposal. – Manishearth Mar 2 '13 at 11:39
@Manishearth - Precisely, that's why I mentioned the excessively broadly scope Engineering proposal. Which would already be Engineering except for all of these other stack exchange sites. – Mark Booth Mar 2 '13 at 19:33
Mechanical Engineering does not necessarily deal only with fabrication and manufacturing, although most of these proposals (including Fabrication & Manufacturing) could be subsumed under it as sub-disciplines. Admittedly, whether or not this is viable does partly depend on the current popularity and progress of the proposals. – Asad Saeeduddin Mar 19 '13 at 7:12
@Asad - There are plenty of questions on Fabrication & Manufacturing which wouldn't be on topic on Mechanical Engineering, but I can't see any on ME that wouldn't be on topic for how I see F&M, that's why in my opinion, F&M has a wider scope than ME. Look at the questions, they define scope much more completely than the proposal title or description. – Mark Booth Mar 19 '13 at 16:59
@MarkBooth To give you a few random examples, theoretical problems involving statics, kinematics, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics etc have nothing to do with fabrication or manufacturing (at least in its current state), yet everything to do with ME. Similarly, analysis techniques such as FEA or CFD would not fit on F&M. I took a look at the questions on the F&M proposal, and great number of them only deal with additive manufacturing, of which most are focused on plastic extrusion. – Asad Saeeduddin Mar 19 '13 at 18:37
@Asad - The history of the F&M proposal has left it with a bias towards additive techniques, but that doesn't limit the scope. All it would need was a couple of suitable FEA or CFD questions to bring them into the scope, so it would be great I you could propose some (since I've used up my 5 questions already). – Mark Booth Apr 4 '13 at 13:02
@MarkBooth It is my understanding that the community will continue to define and commit itself. A relevant narrowed topic of a topic that would be in a broad category related to DIY Groups was shut down after being downvoted into the negatives, and you asked people to stop voting on it in Fab/Manufacturing so those votes could get the SE through quicker. A logic is essential to a strategy, but again, I applaud a continued patience as the community determines what is best. – circuit-bento Apr 5 '13 at 9:50
@MarkBooth You're ignoring the other (more important) problem I mentioned, which is that many theoretical aspects of ME have nothing to do with F&M. To re-state, theoretical problems involving statics, kinematics (particularly sub-topics such as ballistics), fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, numerical techniques (particularly optimisation) etc have nothing to do with fabrication or manufacturing, yet everything to do with ME. – Asad Saeeduddin Jun 24 '13 at 21:36
up vote 2 down vote accepted

That's a good list of proposed mergers. I think it does make sense with some of them. When I originally proposed CAD/CAM Software I was thinking primarily of the software used. But it does make since to broaden it to some of the application of the software too.

The Fabrication and Manufacturing, Manufacturing, topics seems like they would be good to merge with.

Blacksmithing and Sheet Metal & Welding although very specific types of fabrication could be included because there may be some overlap in the fabrication disciplines.

Engineering and miscellaneous engineering topics I think can make the entire topic a little to broad. Especially as most of the topics seem to do with preparing the documentation to produce or producing physical things. The Engineering topics seem to be very theoretical and may overly broaden the topic.

Repurpose Hacking seems like it may be a little out of scope with the topic if its including electronics/software hacking.

What would the merged topic be called to encompass this grand unification? Maybe simply:

Design, Fabrication and Manufacturing: Proposed Q&A site for people interested in fabricating or manufacturing physical things. Including 3D printing & scanning, CNC milling or cutting machines, CAD/CAM software and how we can share ideas between industry and the maker communities. Including processes, techniques, tools, and software used.

Something like would be useful for the majority people doing design, fabrication, and manufacturing in shops of any size since many of the skills and knowledge of these areas overlap each other.

Thanks RJay75, although counter-intuitive, it seems that it's actually easier to narrow the scope of a stack exchange site later if its scope ends up being too wide (some sub sections being too popular) than it is to widen the scope if it starts off too narrow (where the site never gets enough traffic to get up to steam). – Mark Booth Mar 5 '13 at 1:22
@MarkBooth I think careful consideration should be given to merging too broad an SE. There's a usefulness in being patient and taking careful consideration. Your patience will have paid off, thanks for being so passionate about refining Fabrication and Manufacturing. In the meantime, I have also created another SE proposal for DIY Groups for entirely different purposes and find this answer helpful for my purposes. This specific conversation gives me more insight into the SE I proposed. I'm new to SE, also. Thanks to everyone's patience with me. – circuit-bento Apr 5 '13 at 9:41

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