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I am referring specifically to this question, which was closed: What alternative spoke lacing patterns exist (that make a decent wheel)?. My question is, can I word this in a way such that the community here will not close it? Or should I ask it elsewhere, instead?

As noted in the comments, it is a 'real question', it is both practical and answerable. I could also ask it like this:

  • "What additions would make this list MORE complete?"
  • "Name alternative spoking patterns aside from these"

Or many other ways. I do expect that over a relatively short amount of time, the question would gather responses and become a very complete list (indeed the list I gave is the most complete list I've ever seen in one place). I always upvote any constructive answers, and at some point someone (or I) would compile the alternatives into a single answer I would mark accepted. Thus (Items in Question) + (Items in Answer) = The most complete list to be found on the internet.

This seems to fit perfectly with the Q&A stack exchange model, and has the bonus of involving some community effort. However, @zenbike disagrees. I don't agree that it violates the FAQ guidelines, and would appreciate a deeper explanation of such.

"This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical" -> It's not ambiguous or vague, as I have clearly done a lot of effort to both define what I was asking as well as save everyone the time of saying 'radial' or 'crossed', etc, then I elucidated SPECIFICALLY what I wanted for an answer AND why it was practical. Neither is it broad - "List any spoking patterns that I haven't" is VERY narrow. Nor is it Rhetoric as I'm not attempting any persuasion whatsoever, other than to answer the question as I asked it.

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  • As a side note, I find it in poor choice if the only questions that can be asked are limited to those that can be answered by one person in 15 minutes. – Ehryk May 2 '12 at 9:57
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tl;dr version: List questions are off-topic on SE sites.


Slightly longer: read this answer from StackExchange's Director of Community Development


If you really want to know why lists are off-topic, go to meta.stackoverflow.com and read all the discussions there.

The top three results show the evolution of thought on SE about this type of question. In 2009, they were often considered acceptable, but there were concerns.

The next two results - from 2011 - show the current consensus: list questions are off-topic, but in some rare cases might be ok.

This question about what exactly is a list question might also be relevant.


I see that none of this addresses the "how to ask" part of your question. I think you could ask a series of questions about different lacing patterns, tagged appropriately, and build up a "list" that way.

  • Why are 2/3/4-cross lacing patterns "the standard"?
  • What are the strengths/weaknesses of radial spokes compared to the standard x-cross?
  • Are there any benefits to lacing patterns with bent spokes?
  • And so on...
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  • Thanks for the explanation about list questions. As I mentioned in the question, I'm not interested in either of the three alternate questions above, nor assembling a 'pseudo-list' across multiple questions. I want one list, as complete as possible, of all the ways you can lace spokes and still have a rideable wheel. Other than possibility, I could care less if they were the worst pattern ever (like spiral nearly is). Is there any way to get the answer(s) I'm looking for in the Stack Exchange format, or should I seek somewhere else to ask it? – Ehryk May 2 '12 at 23:02
  • The current thought here is that list questions are off topic, and they will almost always be closed. You might want to consider going elsewhere for lists, I'm afraid. – Goodbye Stack Exchange May 3 '12 at 3:43
  • Is there some sort of bicycle maintenance wiki out there? – Goodbye Stack Exchange May 3 '12 at 3:48
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    @Ehryk: The question you want answered is not answerable in SE format. You're looking for an encyclopedia of data, and about a subject which has no practical value. The safe and effective methods of building a wheel are well known. You want a list of every way it's possible to attach a rim to a hub with spokes, and you want people to ignore the safe or sane bit. Im sorry, but it's not a practical question, nor is it answerable. I don't see it getting reopened, because the answers you want are not gettable in acceptable SE formats. – zenbike May 3 '12 at 3:48
  • If I rephrase to mean only the methods that make a viable wheel, would you reopen? Note this still includes G3, Twin Pair, Crow's Foot, and Spiral (and any others I'm unaware of). I never meant to imply that I wanted patterns that make an unrideable wheel. – Ehryk May 3 '12 at 3:55
  • Or - let me put it this way. Is there ANYTHING I can do to save the question? Could I move the patterns/pictures to an answer and have you mark it community wiki? – Ehryk May 3 '12 at 4:01
  • In this specific case: the list is a combinatorial product of some disturbingly large numbers, so a "complete list" is necessarily going to have a number of items expressed in scientific notation. It may not be physically possible to make such a list in this universe. – Móż Apr 26 '16 at 23:15

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