Stack Overflow has almost 1 million users. We've only got a few thousand. Stack Overflow has almost 3 million questions, we only have about 7,500. As a result of this disparity, a large number of our visitors are software developers from Stack Overflow. These visitors are often interested in getting started in electrical engineering.

This recent post:

chat onebox of question

got a lot of views, votes, and answers, so our users are obviously not tired of answering these questions. It's easy enough to answer (meaning it's vulnerable to bikeshedding), it gives people a good feeling about helping a newbie. However, we've had plenty of them before:

One of them is locked: How to become an embedded software developer? but most are closed.

What should we do with this stuff? There have been suggestions to make one a canonical post and close all others as duplicates. Should the canonical post remain unlocked and/or open?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, they should be merged as much as possible. "Give me ideas" is not a real question, anyway. \$\endgroup\$
    – endolith
    Apr 18, 2012 at 19:30
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Oi!, I come from Programmers, not SO =P \$\endgroup\$ Apr 18, 2012 at 23:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do we only have 7500 questions? The last one posted is #30296... \$\endgroup\$
    – stevenvh
    Apr 19, 2012 at 10:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @stevenvh - I based that on the number at the right of electronics.stackexchange.com/questions - Currently 7,658 questions. I think that the post count includes answers as well, which would be a sensible average of 3 answers per question. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 19, 2012 at 10:17

2 Answers 2


How about create a single community wiki "question" that explains it is the repository for answers to the how to start as beginner questions. We don't actually need new answers, since you have found a bunch of relevant questions already answered. The answer to the CW question would be the links you mentioned above, and perhaps a polite explanation why we aren't going to have further discussion on this topic and that the OP shouldn't feel bad when his question is closed and pointed to the CW question as a duplicate.

I would have voted to close some of those questions as duplicates if I had been aware of all the others, and had a easy way of finding them. Voting to close as duplicate takes more work than the other types of close votes because you have to dig out the duplicate. That can sometimes take some work. I have done it a few times, but I admit to getting lazy other times because it's too much trouble. If the CW question has a well thought out title, it would hopefully be easy to find when the next inevitable newbie arrives.

I think people here generally want to help sincere newbies that want to do their homework. How to get started is a reasonable question from their point of view, and actually demonstrates willingness to do some work. It would be good to have a mechanism to deal with these repeated questions, but in such a way that doesn't give the impression of newbies need not apply here.


I agree for the most part with Olin, but what about those with very specific backgrounds and very specific intentions?, the community could indeed point to a wiki question or a compendium of wiki answers, but if that is not enough you could miss interesting new answers.

I'd propose to create such a wiki question but in order to stay open for new answers these questions should meet the following criteria:

  • Have a specific area of interest in electronics
  • Has a specific background
  • Has a specific purpose
  • Has already seen the wiki question/answers and still needs help with the same question
  • \$\begingroup\$ I feel one wiki question and no other questions about how to switch over, you can make an endless list of opinionated questions, lets keep it focused. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Apr 21, 2012 at 22:27

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