The rate of success in shale plays for oil and gas depends strongly on finding the sweet spots, particularly with regard to total organic carbon (TOC) and maturation. However, just as important is determining where the wellbore and the hydraulic fractures are placed during drilling and completion. The articles in this special section treat the topic of detecting (or diagnosing) wellbore and fracture placement, using novel hydraulic fracture characterization techniques related to passive or active monitoring during completions (Tan et al. and Warpinski) or reservoir performance diagnostics once the well is put on production (Clarkson et al.).