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Alright, how can I put this right.

In my opinion, EE is not open enough to the variety of questions that can be considered electrical engineering. As soon as something is asked which differs from the usual analog opamp question, the question is doomed to be closed. This is how new users are being pushed away again. Why not allow for broader topics, this is no exclusive club where only specific people may join. If you don't like a question, there is no need for you to answer it, please -just ignore it.

To me, questions on microcontrollers are fine, questions on microcontroller firmware are fine, too. Questions on existing products are fine (see the Arduino question here on meta). In a time, where algorithms can be implemented in both software and hardware, why are no such questions allowed? Any other question which deals with at least a little bit of hardware should be fine.

Compared to Stackoverflow, the community here is so small, so why drive away all interested with being harsh (and the tone here often IS harsh).

Anyone willing to change that?

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    \$\begingroup\$ No. Some of what you say is incorrect, the rest is as it should be. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Apr 26 '13 at 14:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you give a few examples of specific questions that have been closed when you thought they should be open? \$\endgroup\$ – user3624 Apr 26 '13 at 14:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm looking at the main page, and I see a lot of variety. What I distill from your question is we should open up to topics that are not electronic design related, and that is not what we are about. \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Young Apr 26 '13 at 16:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: Does EE.SE have a problem with the treatment of newbies? \$\endgroup\$ – user17592 Apr 28 '13 at 12:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have asked a couple and answered a lot of questions that have nothing to do with "analog opamps", in fact, most of them are digital circuit based, such as microcontrollers. However, if the question has absolutely nothing to do with the hardware, but only the software (firmware), it would probably be better suited at stack overflow than here. Taking a quick look at the new questions, the only ones I see closed are shopping or extremely broad ones like "How do I build <insert random thing here>" with little to know work done on their own. \$\endgroup\$ – Kurt E. Clothier Apr 29 '13 at 20:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Although, some "shopping" type questions might actually be useful if they were reworded instead of closed, such as this: electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/67579/eols-need-help as product obsolescence is a huge part of electronics design. But that is the type of question that leads to a discussion which isn't the point of this site. It would be better asked in the chat or on a forum somewhere. \$\endgroup\$ – Kurt E. Clothier Apr 29 '13 at 20:38
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To me, questions on microcontrollers are fine, questions on microcontroller firmware are fine, too. Questions on existing products are fine (see the Arduino question here on meta). In a time, where algorithms can be implemented in both software and hardware, why are no such questions allowed?

Indeed microcontroller questions and firmware questions are fine, see the FAQ:

We feel the best Electronics Design questions have a schematic, links to pertinent datasheets or some source code in them, but if your question generally covers …

  • a specific electronics design problem
  • the theory and simulation of electromagnetic forces
  • a communication scheme
  • the writing of firmware for bare-metal or RTOS applications

...then you’re in the right place to ask your question!

But you say also:

Any other question which deals with at least a little bit of hardware should be fine.

That would include also questions about how to turn on a microwave oven, and that's off topic for a site concerning electronic design.

I'd like also to point out that what is on topic is defined by the FAQ, but that doesn't mean that every user will behave exactly as the FAQ indicates: no one is perfect, and it can happen that people get not-deserved harsh reactions.

Anyone willing to change that?

Actually many people (including myself and the other mods) are trying to make this community nicer and more friendly to newbies, but that doesn't mean that every question is a good one.

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I think it is also worth pointing out that the size of the community here, relative to stackoverflow is a feature for some people and not a bug. Being a part of this community is like living in a place where you know most people, and say hello to everyone. By contrast, StackOverflow, would be a large metropolis where everyone is, for the most part, anonymous. Besides the warm fuzzies, this leads to the fact that answers here, as a general rule, are much better than the answers on StackOverflow, and crappy answers generally do not rise to the top. You just don't get drive-by answers that are three lines written in incomprehensible language and do not address your problem. Also, unlike SO, here many of the most active members will look at just about every question, something that's impossible for SO. This serves to ensure a certain minimum standard of quality on answers and questions.

I am all for being more welcoming, but I really wouldn't like EE to become like SO.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Even if the size may be a feature, any site needs to expand and will expand over time. If activity drops, then the size of the community would be considered a bug, or problem. So, the small town of EE will at sometime become a metropolis and that is what we should be aiming for. \$\endgroup\$ – asheeshr Apr 27 '13 at 2:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ The site is expanding as it is, isn't it? More questions are being posted, and more answers are as well. I you are going to argue that we should be aiming for a megaopolis I think a better justification is in order. I tried to provide my reasons for thinking the opposite. \$\endgroup\$ – angelatlarge Apr 27 '13 at 2:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AshRj: Quality is way more important than quantity. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Apr 27 '13 at 14:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @OlinLathrop Agreed. But you dont want the site to stagnate. The same people wont always be coming back. \$\endgroup\$ – asheeshr Apr 27 '13 at 14:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AshRj I have thought about this a bit in my short time here. There are only so many ways to answer a question that isn't just rewording what someone else already said. As the community grows, the number of potential answers grows. Though it is not the point, the social aspect is huge: we all like to give the best answer. If one no longer feels he can contribute because the questions are already answered well, he would have little motivation to keep coming back. I predict there is a finite number of people who will ever be regularly participating, regardless of community size. \$\endgroup\$ – Kurt E. Clothier Apr 29 '13 at 20:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Learn to use topic filters to read what is of interest, instead of trying to restrict the site for others. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton May 5 '13 at 18:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisStratton I am not sure whom your comment was directed towards, or who you think is trying to restric the site for others. Can you explain please? \$\endgroup\$ – angelatlarge May 6 '13 at 2:04
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Going by past history, your viewpoint is going to get downvoted to oblivion, by people vehemently protesting that nothing is unfriendly or harsh or intolerant, everything is as it should be.

Unfortunately the intolerant and the inept are also the most vocal, just like everywhere on the Internet, while the victims typically just give up and leave. So no, I don't see much value in raising this flag.

Mind you, this is coming from a person very active on the site, and hopefully contributing at least somewhat by being willing to change that.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This does not seem like an answer, only complaining about the site. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Apr 27 '13 at 4:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ As a side note,implying that someone disagreeing must b intolerant or inept is not a fair statement, there are many reasons to have another view point,let's not set up any side as the lesser. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Apr 27 '13 at 5:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk: the intolerant and the inept are also the most vocal, just like everywhere on the Internet. Any implication about "any side as the lesser" is your conclusion, not mine. \$\endgroup\$ – Anindo Ghosh Apr 27 '13 at 7:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am sharing how it reads, regardless of your intention. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Apr 28 '13 at 12:23
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There are differing views as to what closing means. Closing a question simply means that it is being "put on hold" until the OP can clean it up to meet community standards. There was mention that the language surrounding this act of closing was being revised and reviewed to clarify this, but it doesn't seem to be have been rolled out yet. This is what @ Kortuk had explained so he can jump in here to correct me on this, and perhaps update what is happening with the mentioned changes.

A second element is how people feel about being having a question closed w/o context or explanation. Especially if they view a close as an act of expunging.

A third factor is sometimes there is agressive down-voting. Scan through meta here for various other discussions on this.

And finally, there is not that many re-open's. This could be because the OP just gives up, or they don't even know enough to change the question and many other factors.

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    \$\begingroup\$ No matter how you try to sugar coat it, closing will always mean "Your question sucks or doesn't follow the rules here, so we are officially ignoring it and publicly marking it as such and marking you as a moron by association. If you actually bother to read the FAQ, read the critizism of the question, and fix it accordingly, we'll put this behind us and answer your question. If you can't handle being publicly ridiculed when you screw up, then you don't belong here, on the internet in general, and most of life. Run along now until you grow up." \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Apr 27 '13 at 14:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can't claim there are "different views" and then claim that only one is valid. What it means will always be subjective. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton May 5 '13 at 18:41
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I'm largely in tune with the rest of the replies here. Two areas that I wish were considered more on-topic, though, are aspects of engineering education (How do I become an electrical engineer, etc. --- of course not counting "Why do I need to know analog stuff when the whole world is digital?"-, or "please provide me with a good topic for my senior thesis"-, and especially "please do my homework for me"-type silliness) and some aspects of professional engineering practice.

I can understand why they're not, but suggest that such topics might be revisited now that "engineering" is actually in the group's title. I can think of a half dozen places where I can get answers to electronics questions, but very few (maybe none) where I can get reliable inputs on professional practice and education specifically from other electrical engineers.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Stackexchange generally does not handle career advice because it is inherently localize and subjective. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Apr 27 '13 at 4:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ With respect to education, there are international accreditation standards for engineering programs held by ABET, and discussion for coursework to support a career can certainly be handled in that context. A knee-jerk closed question can prevent valuable discussion. Simlarly, Professional Engineer licensure must have some international commonalities. No harm in letting a few stay open to see what happens. \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Apr 27 '13 at 12:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ "... very few (maybe none) where I can get reliable inputs on professional practice and education specifically from other electrical engineers". Before trying to go changing things, stop and consider why professional EEs prefer this site to others. It is because EE.SE does a better job of filtering out the silly fluff and drivel and has a better signal to noise ratio (although that's unfortunately going down lately). You like this site because of the results of that, but changing things would make it more like the other sites, which eventually even you don't want either. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Apr 27 '13 at 14:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ The problem with these isn't that they are off topic (though they may be erroneously marked as such) but that they are too broad - the SO sites are for things which have specific answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton May 5 '13 at 18:42

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