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I wonder why Insufficient preliminary research is a reason for closing a question (referring to internal circuitry of IO ports in MCU).
update: The question has been reopened.
update: The question has been re-closed.

The down-vote popup says "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful", so Insufficient preliminary research as far as I see is more of a cause to down-vote a question rather than close it.

I don't see anywhere in the help center to say that these kind of questions are not allowed (like "you are not allowed to ask unless you have already searched and were not able to find the answer"), and even then you can never be sure if the OP already tried to find an answer but just wasn't able. Not everyone has the same ability when it comes to digging up info.

I've seen several simpler questions (e.g transistor as a switch, or led resistor type of questions) that could easily be answered with a google search, but no one accused them of having "Insufficient preliminary research".
In essence I think it it quite hard to find a question that has not been asked already in some forum and can't be answered just by a google search . Based on that almost every question fits the previously mentioned reason to be closed.

P.S. I'm sure that this question will be down-voted several times but I still believe it's worthwhile sharing my view.


I just saw this question Wattage Rating for these Zeners (I didn't search for it, it just appeared to the top of active questions).

I wonder why wasn't that question closed as well with insufficient preliminary research. The reply for the question asked is already in the description of the design so he obviously didn't bother reading it.

A quick calculation example for the zener rating and resistance are in order, so it is properly understood. The maximum zener current for a given voltage is easily calculated ...

I repeat here what I said in one of the comments below:
I can understand the insufficient preliminary research (or too easy to find an answer) as a cause to make some members walk away from a question (not being motivated to help) and I totally agree with whoever feels this way, but in no case this can be a reason to prevent others who want to reply to do so (like when the question is closed).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, don't worry about downvotes on meta - the points don't count and we use them for agreement/disagreement. For the record, I reopened the question. \$\endgroup\$ – W5VO Jan 20 '14 at 6:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @W5VO points don't count Yes, thank you. I have received a couple of down-votes in one of my previous meta questions so I know from experience that they don't count. For the record, I reopened the question That explains it, I didn't see a reopen vote and I was wondering how it happened. \$\endgroup\$ – alexan_e Jan 20 '14 at 8:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ If that fellow wasn't a lazy slob, he could have written "I've looked into the datasheet of the uC [link, see page XX]. But unfortunately, I still don't understand this, this and this." That would suggest that he has done some preliminary research. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev Jan 20 '14 at 18:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NickAlexeev You almost seem to enjoy that the post has been re-closed, although I don't see the point since it has already received a reply with 9 upvotes which seems to indicate that it is a good reply and worthwhile having (closing the question early wouldn't have allowed it to be posted). In any case my question was just meant to express my view on the matter and hopefully make some of the members see this closing questions issue from another prospective. For the record, I haven't casted a vote in either this or the discussed question/replies. \$\endgroup\$ – alexan_e Jan 21 '14 at 9:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ somewhat related thread on meta.Physics.SE : What counts as sufficient prior research when asking a question? \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev Oct 16 '14 at 18:14
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That question doesn't belong here and I disagree with W5VO about reopening it.

Basically this is a stupid question. Stupid is very different from ignorant. Stupid means you could have easily found the answer yourself at your level of knowledge. In this case the answer is spelled out directly in the datasheet right where you'd expect to find it. Note that both answers basically just quoted datasheets.

Technically, downvotes are for poor research. However, allowing this question to remain open would give the OP what he wants and reward his laziness. Closing the question is putting the OP, and everyone else that might be watching, on notice that this sort of crap isn't tolerated here. The downvotes and closing are together basically a kick in the butt on the way out the door. The intent is not just to make the OP not get what he wants, but to have him feel thrown out in the process.

Someone asking about a transistor as a switch is a different matter. That is a ignorant but not necessarily stupid question. There is no obvious datasheet to look at that up in. It's a basic electronics question. Depending on what exactly is asked, there may already be a similar enough question here with good answers so that the question is closed as a duplicate. However, that still answer's the OP's question and isn't meant as a kick in the butt on the way out the door, especially when there are no downvotes.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Easily found on their own means Lazy to me, not Stupid. It is using a more inflammatory word while obfuscating your meaning. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Jan 20 '14 at 20:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk: Stupid is should have known better. It kindof goes together with laziness, but it's not always the same thing. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Jan 20 '14 at 21:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk As an aside, in the majority of real life situations involving engineers, the difference between stupid and lazy is only an academic matter. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev Jan 20 '14 at 22:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NickAlexeev I disagree greatly, dealing with real life situations and all. A lazy engineer is much easier to deal with then a stupid one. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Jan 21 '14 at 3:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @OlinLathrop for two possible root causes, why assume the worst? \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Jan 21 '14 at 3:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk: First, I mention both. Laziness usually results in stupid question. Second, what's it matter anyway? Either way they don't belong here and need to be thrown out. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Jan 21 '14 at 13:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with the semantics of Olin's answer, but not with his choice of words (in particular "crap"). This happens from time to time with OL's answers/comments. \$\endgroup\$ – flup Feb 16 '14 at 10:04
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Umm, https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/how-to-ask

HOW TO ASK

Welcome to Electrical Engineering Stack Exchange!

We’d love to help you, but the reality is that not every question gets answered. To improve your chances, here are some tips:

Search, and research

Have you thoroughly searched for an answer before asking your question? Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you found (on this site or elsewhere) and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and above all, it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer!

This is linked as "Asking Help >>" in the box next to the new question box. Which also says "Share your RESEARCH".

enter image description here

And it's basically copied at the Help Center page "How do I ask a good question?" https://electronics.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-ask

And also "What should I do if no one answers my question?" https://electronics.stackexchange.com/help/no-one-answers

First, make sure you’ve asked a good question. To get better answers, you may need to put additional effort into your question. Edit your question to provide status and progress updates. Document your own continued efforts to answer your question. This will naturally bump your question to the homepage and get more people interested in it.

Bolding and Italics my emphasis. Besides that, it's just a damn common courtesy to do some research on your own before wasting other people's time. The question is too general and between all the votes the asker never came back to expand on it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ And I say this as a person who is constantly aggravated by the close happy anti-newbie attitude that some have. \$\endgroup\$ – Passerby Jan 22 '14 at 6:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree, but these are guidelines of how to ask a question in order to get better replies, that doesn't mean to say that anything that doesn't follow these guidelines should or will be closed. I'm just saying that the specific question didn't fall in the description of What types of questions should I avoid asking? and was inline with What topics can I ask about here?. This "Insufficient preliminary research" is a newly invented cause for closure that isn't listed in any of these. \$\endgroup\$ – alexan_e Jan 22 '14 at 8:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ I can understand the insufficient preliminary research (or too easy to find an answer) as a cause to make some members walk away from a question (not being motivated to help) and I totally agree with whoever feels this way, but in no case this can be a reason to prevent others who want to reply to do so (like when the question is closed). \$\endgroup\$ – alexan_e Jan 22 '14 at 8:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Here's a Dilbert cartoon strip, which illustrates how to ask engineers properly. [Caveats. The cartoon strip is not entirely match the subject of this thread. One should be familiar with the cast of Dilbert characters.] \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev Jan 23 '14 at 0:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @alexan_e you can still comment on closed questions, so if you really really really feel the need to answer it, answer it in a comment. \$\endgroup\$ – Passerby Jan 23 '14 at 0:28
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Here's the thing: For someone wanting to know how to use a transistor as a switch, the bar is necessarily lower, than for someone expecting useful answers around internal circuitry of a GPIO port.

LED resistor questions need to be closed as duplicates, so those don't qualify for the purposes of this discussion.

If someone wants help to open a door on the fourth floor of a building, it is reasonable to expect them to have at least reached the building lobby by their own efforts. I would vote to close if the OP hasn't even looked up the building's location yet.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So what you say is: if the question is a basic one which seems to indicate that the OP is a newbie then we can justify ips(Insufficient preliminary research). On the other hand if the question seems to be related to a more advanced topic (which seems to indicate someone with more experience in electronics) then ips becomes a problem abs reason to close the question. I'm not sure I agree, first of all because this is based just on an indication of the persons experience and secondly because of what I said earlier, not everyone can dig up info equally well. \$\endgroup\$ – alexan_e Jan 20 '14 at 8:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @alexan_e No, you misinterpret this: If the question is a basic one, the desired minimum level of preliminary research is lower - but that still doesn't mean I would hesitate in the least before closing a beginner question that is one or two throwaway lines with no context. If someone's asking about the innards of a microcontroller, they had better not expect volunteers here to start by explaining what it means to tri-state a line, or how complementary MOS works. \$\endgroup\$ – Anindo Ghosh Jan 20 '14 at 12:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @alexan_e I have initially coined "Insufficient preliminary research". I'm glad that it had [somewhat] caught on. It was intended to discourage the lazy questions just like that one. Why is it lazy? Because datasheet for the uC is the required reading for anyone working with the uC. In addition, the datasheet is freely available, so there's no excuse for not using it. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev Jan 20 '14 at 19:34

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