I asked a question ysterday. I explained there that I was unable to understand how can my speakers make sound when I receive a phone call.

The question is put on hold with a reason This question appears to be about engineering. There was the link to get more details. But I think the question is not about engineering. I read "more details" link. Still I think the question is valid for this site.


2 Answers 2


The decision to close is inconsistent with the criteria expressed in the linked question, "Are engineering questions appropriate for this site?". The top-voted/accepted answer clearly communicates that it's the design process behind Engineering that's off-topic here, not the physics of engineered devices.

It doesn't matter whether a physical system in question is naturally occurring or artificial; it's still just physics. The distinction's in the primary intellectual content of an issue:

  • Physics: Primary intellectual content is about why a physical system behaves the way it does, including understanding observations and predicting future observations.

  • Engineering: Primary intellectual content is about how to design, construct, or improve a technology. Engineering often involves physics, but the distinguishing quality is a focus on design rather than observation.

  • Business: Primary intellectual content is about how to gain economic advantage from technology, or how others are doing so. Business questions may involve physics or engineering, but the distinguishing quality is a focus on marketability.

The closed question isn't about how to design a speaker or a specific commercial product. It's a general physics question about a common physical system.

  • $\begingroup$ Downvoted because the distinction made here between physics and engineering doesn't reflect the reality of what it means to be an experimental physicist. See my answer to this meta post for a complete description of my opinion. $\endgroup$
    – DanielSank
    Commented Feb 11, 2017 at 20:33
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    $\begingroup$ @DanielSank Your answer there sounds like an objection to Physics and Electrical Engineering being separate boards as a lot of what you do would fall into a grey area between them. Still, however inconvenient it may be for users in grey areas, it'd seem that questions are best classified by their primary intellectual content, as opposed to the professional identification of the asker. $\endgroup$
    – Nat
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 6:35

I agree with Emilio Pisanty that the question should not have been closed as an engineering question, for the reason he gives, namely that the OP is asking for the physics behind a phenomenon rather than, for example, an explanation of a technical feature of his mobile phone.

While the question has some similarities to https://physics.stackexchange.com/q/308331, it is readily recognizable in this case what the cause is, even though the "strange sound" is not described.

Sorry to criticise @DavidZ but I think this is a good example of why moderators should not close questions unilaterally for routine reasons - ie for the same reasons as reviewers. When judgement is called for, the requirement for 5 votes avoids the outcome being skewed by individual differences of opinion. I have complained about this already in When should moderators close questions?

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    $\begingroup$ I'm sorry, but I don't think one mistake (or even two or three) warrants a plug against a mod. This answer doesn't add much at all to the conversation, and perhaps even detracts from it by pointing fingers. $\endgroup$
    – auden
    Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 18:10
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    $\begingroup$ Whether I had named DavidZ or not it would have been obvious who I was talking about. I chose to be explicit rather than insinuating. And I am criticizing the way in which the site operates, not one particular person. My answer is relevant to the issue of the why the question was closed. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 18:23
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    $\begingroup$ @heather As a diamond mod on another site, I personally would take no offense to being called out. I aim for perfection, and if I get it wrong please let me know. I imagine the scientifically minded mods here on Physics have a similar philosophy. $\endgroup$
    – corsiKa
    Commented Feb 11, 2017 at 21:56

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