This question was given an excellent answer to address a practical problem. Then it was put on hold. Reasons given were that it's a homework question, and that nothing was done to attempt to solve the problem.

As for the first complaint, the question was simplified by request from the original to make it somewhat solvable, though this made it more homework-like; also a picture was added showing the container in question. Whatever process people are using to identify a problem as "homework" doesn't seem to be 100% reliable.

As for the second complaint, I can only say there's no attempt given to solve the problem on the basis that I don't have the expertise to select the appropriate formula to solve the problem, at least, not the level of expertise demonstrated in @JMLCarter's excellent, detailed, and deleted answer.

How much wind force would it take to move a 20-foot shipping container?

Is there an appropriate way to get solutions to practical problems using the physics site?

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    $\begingroup$ While it doesn't address your concern here, something that might help you to improve in physics is to stop thinking about 'select[ing] the appropriate formula' and start thinking about figuring out what physics applies to a particular situation. Most situations don't have a set formula: you have to sort out what physics applies and then rank the effects in a hierarchy of importance (indispensible, probably important, maybe matters, probably ignorable, certainly ignorable) in order to build a model of the problem that is good enough. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 16:59
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    $\begingroup$ @dmckee - I agree with that approach, and could have chosen my words more carefully. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 17:01

2 Answers 2


From my perspective, this is a question looking for a solution to a specific example. As such, it would essentially fall under our "homework and exercises" criteria.

The question of "how fast would the wind need to be to topple this over?" is very specific to your one problem; and shows no attempt at solving it. Although your intentions may be fine, you could have a homework assignment with this exact question on it. Therefore, in it's current format, the question you ask is in violation of that policy.

This is a site for questions about physics; not a site where we do physics exercises for you (regardless of your intentions).

It might seem a bit disappointing to you; but it's hard to maintain a high quality site while also allowing questions looking for a worked example. If we were to get a reputation for that; suddenly we would be everyone's number crunchers every time they got a tricky physics assignment.

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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, I think this explains reasonably well why I voted to put the question on hold. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 18:12
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    $\begingroup$ Ah, interesting, that makes sense. KMLCarter's answer exhibited how to go about solving the problem, which was of broader usefulness than the question itself. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ @JMac I think you hit the nail on the head! I think an SE site, where physics exercises are being actually done, could have a significant development potential. I am thinking on something like the codegolf.stackexchange.com , but in the Physics world. $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 18:59
  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 20:26

We all have answered or will answer questions in which we give away too much. Yet in some cases a good answer will very much broaden the scope of a specific question. I think this is the case here.

The question as posted by the OP isn't fantastic for the reasons given by others: basically, the OP asks for the community to solve for him (assuming from the username the OP is a man) a problem that is rather vague and contains very little information. This lack of specific data makes it unlikely that this is a true homework question, although the OP should have shown greater diligence by suggesting some general principle or demonstrating clearly some effort at solution.

Despite this, one member rose to the challenge and actually came up with a solution which contains simple, conceptual and reasonable physics. Beyond the physics the answer is rather informative. On balance my personal opinion is that a good answer salvaged the question, and the community would benefit if this question and its answer were undeleted.

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    $\begingroup$ A good answer =/= a good question. The answers shouldn't "broaden the scope" of a question. The question should make it clear what it intends to ask. Although the question probably could be reformed to fit into the SE format, just having a good answer isn't a good reason to open. $\endgroup$
    – JMac
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 15:40
  • $\begingroup$ @JMac a good answer does not equal a good question, we agree on this. I still consider the site is still poorer with this answer and its question deleted. Well... I made my point, people disagree. End of this story. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 23:05

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