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One problem I always face on this site is that people overestimate the level of sophistication in the question. It is hard for a beginner to find the words to imply the simplicity or noobness of the question. A 'beginner-question' tag may be useful, or perhaps this isn't really the site for beginners (c.f. stackoverflow would be a hard place to learn to program, perhaps).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Possible duplicate of Does EE.SE have a problem with the treatment of newbies? or What about a newbie tag? \$\endgroup\$ – user17592 May 18 '13 at 7:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks all, really interesting responses to this discussion point. I'll mark Camil's as the answer as his point about being specific about your level of understanding in the question will definitely help me. \$\endgroup\$ – dumbledad May 19 '13 at 14:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ P.S. I think the simple answer is "yes" :-) \$\endgroup\$ – dumbledad May 19 '13 at 14:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dumbledad RE: P.S. The simple answer is "there is no simple answer" ;-). \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev May 21 '13 at 17:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why raising the asking privilege to 100-1000 points is not a choice?? \$\endgroup\$ – Brethlosze Sep 1 '16 at 17:55
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There are a few things I'd like to point out.

A close vote isn't the end of the world

Some people think [closed] is definitive. It isn't. When a question is closed as not a real question, for example, this purely means

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form.

And:

For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, see the FAQ.

To keep the site clean, we have to close questions that lack information and such. Otherwise you'd only get crappy answers anyway.

A similar reasoning goes for closing as not constructive.

Too sophisticated answers

Sometimes an answerer can't estimate the level of the OP, which might result in either a too sophisticated answer or an answer that treats the OP as a child. Both are bad: the first isn't useful to the OP, the second irritates.

As I will point out below, you should say in the body of your question that you are a beginner, if so. If you could make this somewhat more specific, do so. For example: "I have never programmed a microcontroller before" or "this is the first time I work with an op-amp". This hopefully helps the answerers to adapt their answer to your understanding.

Of course, sometimes it goes wrong. That's what happened in my answer here. In the comments:

This is all very sad. Every other time a layman explanation is needed the answer will contain a gazillion of graphs with trigonometric functions. I strongly believe it shouldn't be this way. – sharptooth Apr 5 at 8:12

@sharptooth you're right. I think skyler is able to understand this, but I've added some layman explanation at the top of the answer. – Camil Staps Apr 5 at 8:47

So if an answer is over your head... or you think a less sophisticated answer is needed... shout! Ask for another explanation. The problem solves itself.

No, we do not want a tag

This was requested earlier here. Whilst the first answer is outdated (then there was such a tag), the second isn't:

Tags should give an indication about the question's topic(s), nothing else. That's the reason the tag is deprecated too, for instance. If you want to indicate that you're a beginner in order to get answers at your level of knowledge, say so in the question.

Generally, you can keep a rule of thumb for creating tags:

  1. Does this give information about the topic, the contents, of the question?
  2. Could anyone possibly want to filter on this tag?
  3. If both yes, make it a tag. If not, don't.
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's worth noting that the For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, see the FAQ. link takes you to the exact same text featured on the close dialog, and nothing more, so the "FAQ" doesn't actually seem to bother answering the frequently asked questions it lists. \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Wolf May 21 '13 at 4:03
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While this site is obviously not specifically for beginners alone, many members have been actively involved in trying to make the site more welcoming to newcomers, both new to the site, and new to electronics as a field of interest.

Experienced members will often provide direction-setting hints or suggestions as a comment to a question - thus, even if a question were to be closed either because of its sheer vagueness, or possibly due to hasty and intolerant attitudes, the original poster can use the inputs received to edit their question and flag it to be reopened.

In addition, for an otherwise interesting question, members skilled in the subject will sometimes attempt to "decode" the problem based on their experience, and edit, or propose an edit to, the question. The OP can always choose to roll back such edits if they change the sense of the question.

Terminology itself is not usually a blocker, there have been many questions which have evolved from "Huh?" to "Oh!" with some assistance.


The challenge is often not newness to the field, but either a search for instant gratification, or a certain "pie in the sky" thinking: In order for any question and answer site to be useful, the person asking the question needs to at least obtain a broad understanding of basic concepts through independent reading, a priori. This way, a problem statement can be structured to at least make (common) sense, even if it may remain technically non-feasible.

For instance, my pet peeve: There have been many questions by newcomers, essentially boiling down to a requirement to obtain more energy from a system than is put into it. While anyone with a slight scientific background can well understand that this is impossible by the laws of physics, somehow when entering the electronics realm, such wisdom sometimes falls by the wayside.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Great answer, from one of those who is "more welcoming to newcomers", thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – dumbledad May 17 '13 at 12:39
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I can only speak from personal experience but I think most people here tend to be welcoming of beginner questions as long as some effort is shown on the part of the person asking the question. I'm not a qualified EE myself and learn lots from those who are, hopefully I pass back some practical embedded / general programming info that is useful to them from time to time coming from more of a software background.

Personally I like a lot of beginner questions, often they are things I've never really considered before and find really interesting to ponder. The only questions I don't like personally are the lazy ones that show no research at all and would be a quick Google search away.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Agreed - though sometimes I find that Google is tricky if you are unfamiliar with the correct terminology. For example I was trying to find how to connect the cylinder thingy on the end of a DC power supply to a breadboard but had no idea at all what that connector was called (until I got some great answers). \$\endgroup\$ – dumbledad May 17 '13 at 12:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dumbledad, that's a good point and I try to be mindful to not treat anything harshly when a term is not obvious. Sometimes though I have seen questions where a copy & paste of the title into Google gives a really good answer on the first few hits, they are more the questions I dislike when the OP seems to know the terms to use. You're quite right thought when being new to a field knowing what to search for can be the most difficult part. \$\endgroup\$ – PeterJ May 17 '13 at 12:51
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Yes, there are certain "impedance match" effects between sophisticated questions - sophisticated respondents, beginner questions - beginner respondents. Nevertheless, if the original poster (O.P.) is an EE beginner he still can do well on this site if he does the following:

  • O.P. does preliminary research inside EE.SE and outside. This also helps with terminology.
  • O.P. Keeps participating after the initial post. If more input is needed, the O.P. provides it (at least does earnest attempts to).

These are just things that people, who work with knowledge, should do.

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