Due to the clearly agreed upon question[13]/answer[16] here:

Questions on things electrical get closed; questions on adhesives get significant upvotes?

Despite the name, the community here wants to focus pretty tightly on board-level electronics design. I have seen reasonable programming questions closed, and control theory or signal processing questions don't stand much of a chance. This makes me sad.

and responses to a former question about the name:

Renaming Electrical Engineering

Very clear response; however I am still curious if you think that there should be a name change (since I'm sure many users are outside the States). – tmwoods Mar 12 '13 at 23:11 2 upvote

@tmwoods Yes, I have always thought there should. Time spent on a troll distracted us from following up on that. – Kortuk♦

it would make sense to me that the little site banner:

electronics site banner

be renamed. I don't much care to what, but Electrical Engineering is misleading. Further, according to the Wikipedia page on Electrical Engineering, there is no interpretation where the term Electrical Engineering makes sense as a name for a community that focuses on "board electronics" (as described in the first quote I included).

If we consider Wikipedia a reliable source, then this site should at least be named Electronics Engineering in order to align with internationally accepted nomenclature for the area involving small electrical systems. In fact, the first 3 paragraphs from the wiki page describe the distinction perfectly:

Electrical engineering is a field of engineering that generally deals with the study and application of electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism. This field first became an identifiable occupation in the latter half of the 19th century after commercialization of the electric telegraph, the telephone, and electric power distribution and use. It now covers a wide range of subfields including electronics, digital computers, power engineering, telecommunications, control systems, RF engineering, and signal processing.

Electrical engineering may include electronic engineering. Where a distinction is made, usually outside of the United States, electrical engineering is considered to deal with the problems associated with systems such as electric power transmission and electrical machines, whereas electronic engineering deals with the study of electronic systems including computers, communication systems, integrated circuits, and radar.

From a different point-of-view, electrical engineers are usually concerned with using electricity to transmit electric power, while electronic engineers are concerned with using electricity to process information. The subdisciplines can overlap, for example, in the growth of power electronics, and the study of behavior of large electrical grids under the control of digital computers and electronics.

If I'm interpreting the text correctly, then there really isn't any question about what a site like this should be called. I am not presenting this somewhat verbose dialog as a troll. It would simply save askers and answerers alike a lot of time if the name actually reflected the type of questions the community here desires. I have no issue with a community like this wanting to stay on a narrow range of topics and bias toward thoroughly researched and informed questions, but if that's the case then a germane name should eliminate confusion and questions like this one:

Is it possible to convert radio waves to some small DC power?

about converting photons to electrons (which is absolutely prudent to the field of electrical engineering) from surfacing. With all due respect, the way things currently are, it makes the community here look uninformed when a question like the above is downvoted and closed as "unclear" when a seasoned electrical engineer (as opposed to an electronics enthusiast or electronics/computer engineer) should know exactly what the asker is trying to figure out.


I came across this question after posting too:

ANNOUNCEMENT - Site Title Change

which has a heavily accepted answer[22] that also acknowledges the naming issue:

Having "Engineering" in the title gives a more professional feel to the site, which is welcome.

However, I think the site is currently more focused on Electronics Engineering, as opposed to Electrical Engineering. The general public might not care, but I think that many visitors to the site will be aware of the distinction.

Electrical Engineering has two possible meanings. Sometimes, it refers to any part of engineering which deals with electricity, regardless of the power level. However, it can also denote engineers who are primarily concerned with power systems: High voltage/current, generators, motors, and the like. This is the definition that is used in the IEEE acronym, which stands for "Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers". We've always been more focused on electronics than power systems, so the former definition is more accurate.

Electronics Engineering always (AFAIK) refers to the design of lower power electronics like computers and embedded systems.

In my personal education at a state university in the USA, I'm a computer engineering major. To my school, this is the equivalent of an electronics engineering degree, but it does dabble a little bit in software engineering. In my opinion, this site is about computer engineering, but other computer engineering degrees focus more on software, which further confuses the issue.

I think that (high-power) electrical, electronics, and computer engineers could coexist quite happily on a single Stack Exchange site. However, it should not be assumed that Electrical Engineering is the same as Electronics Design. I'm not protesting the new name (at least not as loudly as I protested "Electronics"), I'm just trying to bring this to your attention so we can add a note about the definition of "Electrical Engineering" which we're using to the FAQ.


2 Answers 2


The site name is fine as it is. Note that the Wikipedia text you quote even says "Electrical engineering may include electronic engineering", so even outside the US it shouldn't be too confusing.

We do welcome electric power engineering ("electrical" as apposed to "electronic" engineering in some parts of the world) questions. Even though I'm a electrical engineer and not a electric power engineer, I'd like to see more such questions. For whatever reason we don't get many of them here, but that is not because they are off topic. I think this site has attracted mostly electrical engineers, so electric power engineering questions get fewer answers. However, I don't recall them getting closed on the grounds of being off topic.

This single example (Is it possible to convert radio waves to some small DC power?) of a main-site question that you reference does not support your argument. I didn't vote to close that question, didn't downvote it, and did write a answer that was reasonably well upvoted. I can't of course say why others closed that question, but I can see some valid reasons for it:

  • The OP couldn't be bothered to write a proper title ("some small DC power"). The title is the first impression everyone gets of a questions. Bad writing in the title is a order of magnitude worse than bad writing in the question. The title should be the one thing that the OP should make extra sure is right. If they can't even be bothered with a simple single sentence, then they start out with one strike against them before the actual body of the question is read.

    You may think such relatively small errors don't matter, but then you'd be very wrong. Sure, the meaining is clear enough in this case, but it's simply annoying to read such things. The OP is basically saying "Eh, you lot don't matter. I'm much more important than you, so I can throw any slop at you I feel like. Cough up the answers already, peons."

  • The question itself then repeats the insult with "a small DC power". Again the meaning is clear enough (in this case), but the message of disrespect is re-enforced.

  • The question is very broad, and is basically asking for a large writeup. This is a question and answer site, so works best for specific questions. I chose to ignore this request and answered instead with a single example. I can't fault others for instead voting to close. On a different day in a different mood I might well have voted to close too.


You are very new here, yet wrote two meta posts about changing site policy. Personally, I think someone should be here a while to see how things really work before proclaiming they should be different. You have been here only 2 days, written one question, and no answers. There is no way you can have a proper feel for this site with that little exposure. This is one reason each priveledge requires a certain minimum reputation. It's not to punish newcomers, but to make sure the user has sufficient exposure to the site to use the priveledge appropriately. This is just like having a minimum voting age. 10 year olds aren't allowed to vote for good reason. We require them to grow up another 8 years before we trust them to make reasonable decisions on how the place is run. Here on SE we use rep instead of age as the metric.

You wrote a single question, and that got closed. Instead of trying to change the system to suite your (current) impressions, you should instead be trying to understand why exactly your question got closed and what you can do to ask a good question that won't get closed.

I only saw your question now, 23 hours after it was closed. However, I can say why I would have also voted to close:

  • "What is the price of one electron today?" frankly sounds like a pointless opinion-based question. I wouldn't vote to close on that alone, but now I'm specifically looking for the opinion-based closed reason before even reading the first word.

  • The first sentence refers to what appears to be important information in a link. I make it a rule never to follow links to understand the basic question. A link is appropriate for background material, or reference like a datasheet, but not for main-line information that is directly part of the question. I'm not going to follow that link, and continue to evaluate your question without having done so.

  • The quote "It's easier to ship electrons than atoms" is about communication versus moving physical stuff, and I agree with the assertion. However, this is sounding more and more opinion based, and probably pointless.

  • "given a cost for data" ... OK. "amount of data" ... OK. "and knowing the number of electrons" ... What??! How can anyone possibly know the number of electrons to complete a transfer? That is absurd. This question is about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. I'm outta here. Voting to close.

And no, I wouldn't continue reading, and I haven't. At that point the question was clearly not a good fit for his site, so I would have voted to close and gotten out of there.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps I'm just too normalized to these type of questions on SO and less technical sites. I tend to be very accepting in cases where language is a barrier and I just assume people who can't form proper sentences just haven't grown up yet. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 8, 2014 at 23:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @David: Those that can't form a proper sentence don't belong here, especially if they haven't grown up. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 9, 2014 at 0:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Olin, I come from a physics background. Because our mathematics fundamentally arises out of the notion of discrete structures, everything as we know it can be counted. For example, if you know how much charge you have, that can be equated to a number of electrons via Columb's constant. Just because you think a question is absurd does not mean it's impossible. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 10, 2014 at 4:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, been in plenty of situation where we consider the feedback from new users just as important (if not more so) than seasoned ones. Seasoned users know what to expect. New users do not. It's for that very reason that there is value in hearing what a new user has to say because they have a perspective a seasoned users will never have. I raised my discussion questions and have been generally downvoted -- meaning people simply don't agree. That fine and wonderful. That's the point of meta. If you feel it's such a waste of time to engage in discussion then don't do so in the first place. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 10, 2014 at 4:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ And my point is that the current system is misleading. Not that it's broken fundamentally.. You seem to misunderstand this. I'm not trying to change the system at all. I started this discussion to see if others felt the site could be more accurately named to reflect the content discussed here. I researched other meta posts and saw others bring up similar issues -- to which there was agreement. I even found this sentiment shared by a moderator (KORTUK). It's as if you didn't even read the "Renaming Electrical Engineering" post (I know you did because you commented, but perhaps you forgot) ... \$\endgroup\$ Jan 10, 2014 at 5:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ before telling me that I have no right to come in here and think the name is misleading based on what content I've seen. In fact, the fact that I feel this way after two days might even be a red flag that you're simply choosing to ignore rather than address. Do you think I'm trying to storm in here and cause a ruckus? No. It's attitudes like yours that put people off when they're just trying to contribute. I don't expect people to agree with my opinion, but I certainly don't expect people to tell me it's stupid to even express it. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 10, 2014 at 5:05

Personally, I think that we should rename the site to Stack Exchange for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or SEEEE, but that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. I asked someone else what we should name the site, and they said "Call it Bob."

From your own quotes of Wikipedia, I'm sure you see that we are using the broader American definition of "Electrical Engineering", while using the URL of electronics.stackexchange.com. I don't think the community has any confusion on what kind of questions that we should be dealing with, and your example question is an example of an on-topic question that is very unclear.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "I don't think the community has any confusion on what kind of questions that we should be dealing with". I agree- no confusion at all. Some are dead set against microcontroller questions ("Ardweenies!"), some have opinions about other things. No confusion- just complete disagreement. \$\endgroup\$
    – mikeY
    Jan 8, 2014 at 17:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Both your assertions are false. 1st: The broader American definition includes pretty much anything involving electricity and the transmission of power. Only questions about small "board" electronics seem to be received well here. 2nd: I was confused. I may not be representative of everybody but I've come across other questions where others have had similar confusion. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 8, 2014 at 17:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mikeY if the community can't agree on what quesitons should be asked here yet the name signals otherwise then there's certainly confusion from a new user perspective. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 8, 2014 at 17:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCowden Sorry, I may not have included the "dripping sarcasm" tag in my comment. Of course I agree with you and your point entirely. \$\endgroup\$
    – mikeY
    Jan 8, 2014 at 17:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mikeY sorry, I usually don't miss that. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 8, 2014 at 18:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCowden I can understand that you are frustrated that your question was closed. You don't seem to understand why questions are closed here, and this really just looks like a long rant to imply that you were misled on whether you should ask your question here or not. \$\endgroup\$
    – W5VO
    Jan 8, 2014 at 18:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @W5VO I'm not frustrated that my question was closed. In fact I never referenced the fact that a question of my had been closed. A question's just a question. I'm frustrated that the title does not reflect what appears to be the preferred content of this community. That's all. I'm trying to raise the issue because I think it's better for everyone if the site had an accurate title so that new and educated SE users alike can easily find the appropriate place for their question. I think you're jumping to conclusions that I'm simply ranting. I learned long ago that rants don't help on SE. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 8, 2014 at 20:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ I should add, if the title of this site was Electronics Engineering or something more specific, I would not have asked the question I asked here. Then again, if everyone asked appropriate questions, you wouldn't really need mods, would you (; \$\endgroup\$ Jan 8, 2014 at 20:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCowden My issues with your question are primarily with how broad it is, and how quickly it devolves into a "The answerer must work for a wireless provider and have access to proprietary data to be able to answer this", and not really with the subject matter. Some people will say it is off-topic because you are not doing any design or engineering, which is also true to an extent. \$\endgroup\$
    – W5VO
    Jan 8, 2014 at 21:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @W5VO interesting. Again I have no issue with the fact that you have issues with my question beyond off-topic-ness. That is understandable. It was a very broad question and I totally understand if you don't want questions like it asked here. But the initial comments I received and the formal reason for closing is not what your concerns are. The reason is that it's off topic. And that's what I disagree with based on the documentation and title of this site. No hard feelings, I can take criticism for a bad question. But that's different (in my book) from an off-topic one. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 8, 2014 at 21:16

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