Need a book? Engineering books recommendations...

Return to index: [Subject] [Thread] [Date] [Author]

RE: Structural Engineering Online Encyclopedia

[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
I think this ought to be approached just like any other Wiki - warnings about citations and/or verification on every page that hasn't been thoroughly hashed out; only to the point that end user can realize that it may or may not be correct.  The beauty of a wiki lay in the fact that anyone can contribute and with time all of things will be hashed out.  

Something I recommend is to not post PDF example calcs - they ought to use TeX or MathML so that people may readily correct, clarify or expand upon what is being provided - lets face it, we don't do our hand calcs in a manner that is generally clear to anyone other than those intimately involved with the project and can read that type of scribble with little explanation required... further, we would all be hard pressed in performing anything short of a basic calculation that everyone would agree with.

Which leads me to something of a tangent topic - I'm afraid that a vast number of our kind will be reluctant to contribute to something like this for fears of either looking like something less than a god (typical complex of an engineer) or losing what they think is a proprietary understanding of something.  But here's my take on this - 
If you fall into that first 'being afraid of being embarrassed' category, get over yourself! Everyone makes mistakes and has lapses in judgment, or has been trained by those who may have been doing something incorrectly for 50 years and believe it works b/c it's never failed (often w/o consideration of whether this method has ever been put through full design loading).  Or maybe you just don't have the understanding you thought you had, in which case open peer review (WITHOUT your name attached, as is typical of wiki, I might add) might not be such a bad thing
And if you fall into the second category, again, get over yourself! Just because you took the time to figure something out doesn't mean that no one else capable of doing the same.  Further, you're real value is in the depth AND breadth of knowledge you poses... not in the fact that you're the only one in the office who knows how to do 'that one thing.'

My main point with that latest bit of ramblings is that this wiki is a great idea for the engineering community at-large but only has a chance of being successful if a vast number of people involve themselves.  So be involved... even if it's only to make a comment here or there.  

On that note, something which may be of benefit, that isn't on a typical wiki, would be an area at the bottom of each page for anyone to leave comments or suggestions, even without an account (and even delete such comments with just basic membership, to avoid the need for formal moderation of what could become a spam-fest)
Reason being is a lot of the most useful information will likely come from folks not inclined to learn or use HTML-type scripting languages or take the time to formally add their take on something.  This would allow these folks to simply make a quick comment that can either be implemented by the next person to review the page with that sort of time/knowledge, or simply be deleted if it's useless or incorrect.  

-----Original Message-----
From: Jeremy White [mailto:admin(--nospam--at)] 
Sent: Monday, October 05, 2009 9:02 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Structural Engineering Online Encyclopedia

These are valid concerns and I appreciate all points of view on the topic.

Validation of information
All information should be verified or cross referenced before using.   
This is true whether you are getting information online at sites such  
as engineering tips forum or  Technically it  
should be verified before using information from a textbook also.  The  
beauty of sites like wikipedia is that they provide citations for  
people to cross reference.  Books and web sites like those I  
previously mentioned do not provide as thorough of citations as  
wikipedia does.  But realistically no one is going to validate all the  
references.  If that were true not much would get done.  That's where  
a trusted authority needs to step in and put their stamp of approval  
on a product.  This is one of the big challenges facing  
StructuralPedia, but I have a couple ideas to resolve this issue.

Acting as your own engineer
There have always been and will always be people who will provide  
unqualified engineering services.  Access to good information does not  
create these people, but if it can help them not screw up then it  
would all be worth it.  And I would hope that more non-engineers would  
visit the site.  I applaud the client that seeks to educate themselves  
on engineering.  These people will come to these types of web sites  
and realize that it takes a lot of experience to understand the  
subject.  Then they will have a greater appreciation for our profession.

Post information and materials with discretion
As long as a clients name is not associated with a specific calc, I do  
not see any problem with sharing it.  But maybe unvetted access to  
these are not appropriate?  Maybe I should create a password protected  
area where only certain people can view them? I am open to suggestions.

As far as posting standard details, my intention is to create a  
comprehensive library for structural engineering details. I would like  
to emulate what Whole Building Design Guide is already doing ( ).

- Jeremy


******* ****** ******* ******** ******* ******* ******* ***
*   Read list FAQ at:
*   This email was sent to you via Structural Engineers 
*   Association of Southern California (SEAOSC) server. To 
*   subscribe (no fee) or UnSubscribe, please go to:
*   Questions to seaint-ad(--nospam--at) Remember, any email you 
*   send to the list is public domain and may be re-posted 
*   without your permission. Make sure you visit our web 
*   site at: 
******* ****** ****** ****** ******* ****** ****** ********