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With Arduino.SE entering public beta, I think it's an appropriate time to talk about general migration policy, and a few general comments.

Questions should not be closed just because they have an Arduino.

There is a wide range of quality and content in our Arduino question pool. They range from send me teh codez to good examples of electrical engineering principals. Bad Arduino questions rarely are bad just because they use an Arduino, so this should never be a close reason. If you have a Pavlovian response to close a question the moment you read Arduino, consider adding to your ignored tags. StackExchange sites are allowed to overlap in scope, and there may be considerable amounts of overlap in this case - and that's fine.


Questions will not be migrated to the Arduino.SE beta site.

Starting a site is hard. The Arduino StackExchange site has had a lot of additional difficulty because they need to distinguish their site from Electronics.SE. By effectively dumping our unwanted questions on them, they would be getting the dregs of a site much larger than their own before they have a chance to build the community and get a sense of what Arduino.SE is about. Arduino.SE was not founded to be Electronics.SE's dumping ground.

There is a general policy to not migrate questions to beta sites. Questions aren't migrated in general because the question must be a good question and off-topic for our site and on-topic for the target site. This answer has a lot of good guidelines and information about migration. If you are wondering why questions don't get migrated when you flag a mod to migrate them, read it!

The last reason for not migrating to Arduino.SE is that there are no (pro-tempore) mods yet. That means if a migration was incorrect, it will be very difficult to close that question. It will be relatively easy for us to create a mess that cannot be easily cleaned up.


In fact, I liked the short list of things to consider when considering migration list from this answer by Animuson so much, I went ahead and copied it here for convenience.

Things to consider when migrating questions:

  • Don't migrate crap! Ever. If the question is likely to be closed on the destination site anyway, don't bother migrating it. Just close it here and advise the OP of the other site in the comments. If they decide to improve the question, then they can go post it over there, or they can edit their question and have it migrated later.

  • Avoid migrating answered questions. The point of migration is to send the question to an on-topic place when it can get answered. If the OP already has an answer, then we've already defeated the purpose of migration and the destination site won't have anything to do with the question. Avoid migrating these questions unless they are of extremely good quality and risk deletion on the current site.

  • Don't migrate for the sake of migration. We only migrate questions because they are off-topic on this site. It is perfectly possible for a question to be on-topic on multiple sites, but that is not a reason to migrate it elsewhere. The OP asked their question here, so if it's on-topic here, then it should stay here.

  • Be familiar with the destination site. If you have never even visited the destination site before, read through the FAQ thoroughly and make sure the question actually belongs there. Don't look at the name of a site and automatically assume the question can be asked there. Each site has their own rules which vary greatly across the sites.

  • If you're not sure, don't migrate it. Let someone else who is sure do that, or ask for opinions from the community in a relevant chat room.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just as a footnote, The Arduino Tag is the most populated tag on EE.SE. 2535 Questions, 900 more than the 2nd most popular (and mostly redundant/pointless/non-descriptive) "Power". It's literally 1% of the questions ever asked on this site. \$\endgroup\$ – Passerby Feb 28 '14 at 1:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was expecting this question to address what is and is not considered on-topic where Arduino is concerned. It's clear that we shouldn't migrate to Arduino yet but once (if) it's fully established, what constitutes a migration candidate? \$\endgroup\$ – JYelton Mar 3 '14 at 7:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've always felt that questions involving Arduino are (and should be) welcome on EE.SE. One of my comments on an earlier post was sarcastic, because of the frequent low quality of Arduino questions. However, I am apprehensive about Arduino being a separate SE because valid electrical engineering questions ought not to be scattered across sites. \$\endgroup\$ – JYelton Mar 3 '14 at 7:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JYelton going by the average length of a beta, this will be good advice for a while. The existence of the Arduino site shouldn't change your close voting at all. \$\endgroup\$ – W5VO Mar 3 '14 at 8:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ I couldn't help but expand (a lot) on my comments above, so I've posted it as an "answer." \$\endgroup\$ – JYelton Mar 3 '14 at 8:44
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I was expecting this question to address what is and is not considered on-topic where Arduino is concerned. It's clear that we shouldn't migrate to Arduino yet, but once (if) it's fully established, what constitutes a migration candidate?

Editorial:

I've always felt that questions involving Arduino are (and should be) welcome on EE.SE. One of my comments on an earlier post was sarcastic, because of the frequent low quality of Arduino questions. However, I am apprehensive about Arduino being a separate SE because valid electrical engineering questions ought not to be scattered across sites.

In short, I fail to see why there needs to be a separate Arduino site. On StackOverflow, I don't care to see/read iOS-related questions, for example, so I ignore that tag, and those questions disappear.

I was going to suggest that even Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone questions should be welcome here, but I suppose since those prototyping (computing?) platforms would have a lot more questions at a higher level than "bare metal," they would add a level of noise here that wouldn't be appropriate.

So, what about Arduino? It's a prototyping platform, it has some customizations that mask or alter the otherwise "bare metal" code of the AVR microcontroller upon which it is based. What is the fundamental difference between someone asking a question about assembly or C for an ATmega microcontroller versus a "sketch" for an Arduino? It's already been established that code questions are conditionally allowed, but the conditions can be fuzzy.

There was a recent interesting question about logarithmic versus linear potentiometer selection as it relates to audio and human hearing. A few members wanted to close the question as off-topic because it seemed to be mostly about physiology (the characteristics of human hearing). But, judging from the upvotes and comments, it clearly is useful to electronics engineers.

Ultimately the distinction between an Arduino.SE question versus an EE.SE question involving an Arduino is a gray area.

Consider the following hypothetical questions:

  • I am trying to make an LED blink on my Arduino. The LED turns on but doesn't blink. Here is my "sketch." (code...) What am I doing wrong?

  • My Arduino-controlled machine isn't working. I have stepper motors hooked up as follows (schematic...) to the motor "shield" but they are doing X instead of Y. What can I do?

The first is a code question (presuming that the components are connected properly). What if the "sketch" simply doesn't set the pin IO correctly? Is it really any different from a PIC or AVR question?

The second hints at a larger scope, but any answer(s) about troubleshooting stepper motors would be beneficial for non-Arduino projects, too, would they not?

Here's a recent question from the Arduino.SE beta:

Is that question Arduino-specific? Would it not be on-topic at EE.SE?

One idea that I had for a test is this: See if the question still makes sense by substituting the word "Arduino" with "microcontroller." If it doesn't make sense, it's probably Arduino-specific.

Scanning some of the recent questions there, like this one:

EE.SE users would likely down-vote and close that one fast. It's too broad and isn't about any particular electronics design element. But then, it's not really about Arduino either, is it? Yet, it received many upvotes.

On the Area 51 Arduino v2 site definition page, I posted a negatively-received answer explaining why I thought an Arduino-specific SE wasn't going to succeed. I proposed the idea of a "Maker" site, to address the popular community of hackers and tinkerers who invent, build, modify and create stuff. The projects therein might involve electronics, they might not. But "How to make an alarm for when toilet paper is low?" would be perfectly on topic there, wouldn't it?

More to the point, there are countless electronics prototyping platforms. Freaduino, Gadgeteer, Gumstix, mbed, Minibloq, MSP, Netduino, PICAXE, Pinguino, Teensy... and those are just the ones I could Google in a minute. I don't think it makes sense to establish Q&A sites for each of them. Many will come and go. But electronics and programming concepts will remain.

Don't get me wrong: I love the Arduino platform; it's a great concept and is getting a huge number of people interested in the field. In fact, I've got a few lying around for random projects. But I get frustrated when someone posts a messy Fritzing diagram instead of a schematic and demonstrates that they don't care about the fundamentals. It's like a mini-attack on the basics of electronics that I spent many hours to grasp. "I had to learn about Ohm and Kirchoff and Thevenin, so why aren't you?!"

Maybe that's the heart of the matter. Some people aren't going to care. Maybe not yet. Maybe not ever. If they can connect some stuff and somehow make it work with a bit of luck and trial and error, they're done.

Perhaps that's the needed separation of the sites: One where people want advice and project help, and sometimes it involves electronics "stuff." And the other where people seek deeper knowledge about a fascinating but complex topic: Electronics.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)...

  • Questions about electronics that appear on Arduino.SE might rob EE.SE of valuable information that could easily help someone not using Arduino.

  • Arduino and EE.SE are heavily overlapping topics. Replace the word "Arduino" with "microcontroller" and see if the question makes sense. If it does, it probably should stay on EE.SE.

  • Perhaps there should be a "Maker.SE" to address the broader-scope questions about building stuff using any platform, including (but not limited to) electronics platforms of all types.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 Very thoughtful. I like the idea of a "Maker" site as well, but unfortunately it's too late. Though to be fair, there are uses for the raspberry pi that extend beyond "DIY" (after all, it's original purpose was a cheap computing platform, not a hardware platform) that I think warrant a separate raspberry pi site. Not so with arduino,beaglebone, etc. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Laplante Mar 3 '14 at 17:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 Replacing Arduino with MCU seems like a nice rule of thumb to me. \$\endgroup\$ – zzz Mar 9 '14 at 10:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisLaplante A Beagle Bone Black fulfills exactly the purposes you mention about the RPi, and a lot more besides, courtesy its on board secondary controllers. Thus, other than pop-culture buzz, any justification for treating RPi as distinct and warranting a separate site, applies just as well to a BBB. \$\endgroup\$ – Anindo Ghosh Mar 16 '14 at 3:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AnindoGhosh: Fair enough - I guess we could make a distinction between single-board computers (RPi, Beagle Bone, etc.) and just standard dev boards (mbed, Arduino, etc.) \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Laplante Mar 16 '14 at 19:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1. I completely agree with your sentiment towards Arduino and Raspberry Pi with their sites. If it's maker related, it should have a Maker.SE. Everything code related to SO. Everything electronics to EE.SE. \$\endgroup\$ – Mast Mar 11 '15 at 14:06
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I'm a moderator from Arduino Stack Exchange and I'm writing my personal take on this entire situation. (Note that I do not represent my community and the views expressed here are not the views of Stack Exchange, Inc./their affiliates/other members of my community.)

I've skimmed through a plethora of meta questions on both sites addressing this issue, of the answers and comments. I'm trying to resolve some of the issues between the two sites as they stand currently.

If you want to read about more about these issues, here's the list of the questions that I read:

A little background on this issue: About a year ago, Electrical Engineering stood happily accepting questions and answers. There was a little bias against newbies, but everything was fine for the most part. Then came along Arduino SE in private beta. Everything was still good, but Arduino had some of an identity crisis, worrying about their scope vs. Electrical Engineering (EE and EE.SE) and Stack Overflow (SO and SO.SE).

On a side note, here's a generally accepted version of our scope (from our tour page):

Ask about...

  • Specific issues with Arduino boards, clones, code, and the Arduino IDE
  • Real problems or questions that you’ve encountered

Don't ask about...

  • Anything not directly related to Arduino
  • Any question that doesn't require knowledge about the Arduino platform to answer (try Stack Overflow for general coding questions
    or Electrical Engineering for general electronics questions)
  • Questions that are primarily opinion-based
  • Questions with too many possible answers or that would require an extremely long answer

There's definitely some overlap (which can be healthy) with the other sites, but usually there's a clear idea of where to draw the line. I agree with everything stated in this post (although a few things are outdated: read pro term mods, etc.).


The current problem: Currently, a lot of low quality posts are getting migrated to Arduino. A lot of questions were perfectly on topic here (in fact, more on topic here: there was stuff about shift registers and such), but it was a "beginner question," so there was bias. People are seeing the word "Arduino" and migrating.

Let me be clear when I say this: Arduino isn't a dumping ground for questions that are from beginners. Please think before you migrate! In fact, if for some unseen circumstance Arduino never graduates, every question that you migrate will have to be manually migrated back with work from the community and SE team. For the last Arduino beta I did about a quarter or so of the questions and it was nowhere near fun.

If there's a question that is barely readable, don't migrate it!


Some related snippets:

Just because a question is on topic in another SE doesn't make it off topic on EE. For example, there are lots of questions that might be on topic in both EE and physics, or both EE and DSP. But you are likely to get a more mathematical answer in Physics.SE or DSP.SE, and a more practical answer on EE.SE. – The Photon

...Accept the fact that not every question is appropriate in one SE or another. There will be questions that do not belong anywhere. Questions like this would be closed as off-topic because they have almost nothing to do with Arduino. – sachleen

(My $0.02.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ You don't generally migrate to beta sites anyway.. (generally) \$\endgroup\$ – Seth Jan 22 '15 at 23:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is mostly an issue with 20k users and moderators; Arduino is not in the close dialogue. But thanks, I completely agree. \$\endgroup\$ – Keelan Jan 23 '15 at 10:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Olin I agree with the first sentence; this is why I'm trying to stop the hazardous migrations. A few major thing's that I disagree with: 1.) You're assuming that all Arduino don't care when, in my experience, they just don't have the background to already know (and they don't understand that they do want to learn why... yet). You could say the same thing about Python users on Stack Overflow- there are a lot of "help vampires" lurking there that don't wish to learn... \$\endgroup\$ – Anonymous Penguin Jan 23 '15 at 23:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ ..But, there are a ton of Python users that do want to learn, but they just aren't up to the point where they can use a more advanced language. 2.) You assume that if it's on topic here, you have to like it and read it. I respect and admire how you're trying to protect the quality of your questions, but nothing makes you touch a question. If it's bad quality, it should be closed or edited. 3.) I don't think you understand some of the questions getting migrated (not to bash anyone here). There were questions that fundamentally had no relation to Arduino but were migrated because of their MCU. \$\endgroup\$ – Anonymous Penguin Jan 23 '15 at 23:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ On a second thought, Arduino seems to be EE's Comic Sans (look at last two paragraphs of link). \$\endgroup\$ – Anonymous Penguin Jan 23 '15 at 23:39

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