A colleague claims that leaving on cell phone on top of an external conventional platter hard drive could damage the drive.
I'm not so sure about that, so I am interested in posting a question on superuser.
Would this be on-topic or off-topic?
I think this would be on topic - it is a question regarding computer hardware, and is within the scope. It has a canonical answer as well - yes it will cause damage, or no it will not cause damage.
To quote our help section on what is on topic:
Super User is for computer enthusiasts and power users. If you have a question about:
- computer hardware,
- computer software, or
- personal and home computer networking
The main issue is that there needs to be a question before choosing the forum, and not the other way around. There are likely more than one forum that would be appropriate depending on what the actual question is.
I agree in principle with the previous answer (Sheehan), but I disagree in the sense that there is no question to post yet.
This statement is hearsay without any reference to symptoms or a cause or severity. As there is no question to answer, no forum to post in.
Try to put the question in your own words and perhaps narrow it down to a field of study or industry.
If you put a magnet (speaker) near a magnetic medium (tape, cyl. hard drive), you could change the positioning of the magnetized particles. That is how data is written/erased.
With that info, even without a reference yet, you can formulate a question. After that, picking a forum should be easy.
Electromagnetism + distance ( + time) + hard drive + cell phone = Physics / hardware/ personal and home computing question. This meets point 1 and 3 in Simon Sheehan's answer which I essentially agree with. As Sheenan quoted from the help section of SuperUser:
Super User is for computer enthusiasts and power users. If you have a question about: computer hardware, computer software, or personal and home computer networking
Right now I think the way you would phrase the question could be susceptible to be labelled "subjective" (quote from "Asking" section):
What types of questions should I avoid asking?
First, make sure that your question is on-topic for this site.
You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.
Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.
If your motivation for asking the question is “I would like to participate in a discussion about ______”, then you should not be asking here. However, if your motivation is “I would like others to explain ______ to me”, then you are probably OK. (Discussions are of course welcome in our real time web chat.)
To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where …
every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite ______?” there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.” you are asking an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ______ happened?”