In the thread: "What is the best suggested way to amplify the voltage and ampere of a signal coming out of a microcontroller and keep wave form as it is?", Dave Tweed wrote:

"@EMFields: And what are you contributing in terms of a solution? All I'm seeing here so far is a bunch of whining. You're older than both Olin and myself, so why aren't you giving the OP the benefit of your vast experience, rather than sniping at the two of us from the sidelines? You're starting to develop a reputation as a GOM (grumpy old man). And by the way, if you want to continue this conversation, take it to meta or chat. This is not the place for it."

Per his request, I've moved the conversation here and, after interpreting his comment as being extremely rude and inappropriately aggressive, have flagged it for review by, hopefully, a disinterested party.

So what happens next?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Wow, that's a really arrogant title! \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Jan 1 '15 at 14:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, when referring to a particular question or answer, provide a link to it. You can find the link to any question or answer by clicking SHARE under the text body. You have been asked this before (meta.electronics.stackexchange.com/q/4041/4512). I fixed it for you this time. Please remember this courtesey to everyone else yourself next time. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Jan 1 '15 at 14:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ The next time you post a complaint about a specific incident without a link, I will close the question. This is the third time and your last warning. \$\endgroup\$ – W5VO Jan 1 '15 at 14:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @W5VO: Wow, looking at your threatening response a year and a half downstream, it still smacks of arrogance. If you disagree, think about how you'd feel if I were in a position of power over you and I offered you the same crude ultimatum. In that light, think about how much nicer it would have been and how little discord you would have generated if, after my my first faux pas, you had taken the time to explain how to use what I was, obviously, ignorant about. \$\endgroup\$ – EM Fields Jul 25 '16 at 20:28


There is no moderator abuse here. Dave acted reasonably and correctly. Another possible mod action might be to delete the whole chain of comments. The basic problem is that you misunderstand how this site works.

You have a number of times now tried to use the comments to debate answers. If you think an answer is wrong, misleading, or badly written, it is fine to state what you think is wrong and downvote. If you think you have a better answer, write one. Note, of course, that others may downvote your answer if they think it is wrong, misleading, or badly written. Hopefully they will do you the courtesey of telling you why.

However, comments are not for picking on what other people have said to try to tear them down, be contrary, engage in a long debate, or just whine. If someone else's answer isn't really wrong, but you think it's not to the point, misses something, or generally could be better, go write your own answer. Think of it as an opportunity. If the other answer really does miss the point, you'll be the hero with the most upvoted and accepted answer. Other than outright errors, misleading wording so that others are likely to interpret something incorrectly, or really bad writing, let the multiple answers and voting system sort things out. That's what it's for. That's how this site works.

The Specific Complaint

You have taken Dave's comment out of context. It was clearly in exasperation to your previous comments, especially the previous one:

@Dave Tweed: I'm constantly amazed at the arrogance of you people, who consistently come up with: "What the querent wants is unimportant, what we decide to give him is what matters." Olin's attitude is particularly egregious because he actively tries to scare away those who aren't interested in jousting by making their retaliation onerous and then, when silence ensues, damning the querent because of his silence. That's a horrible way to treat people who are asking for help the best way they know how, and doing it by sharing their thoughts.

This simply doesn't belong in a comment. It wasn't even commenting on the answer as much as reacting to another comment from Dave where he tells the OP to not presuppose a solution.

Aside about OPs asking about particular solutions

OPs pre-supposing solutions is rather common here. This case is as good an illustration of this as any. The OP wanted to know how to amplify a sine wave produced by a microcontroller to a line power signal. Quite possibly, all he really wants is the line power signal, especially since he specified it as 220 V 50 Hz. He is imagining starting with a small sine wave, then amplifying it to produce the final output. Telling him there are such things as inverters and that they work by synthesizing the signal implicitly by controlling the switches each pulse could be useful. You are right in that he might actually have a different case where the desired output is not just line power, but that doesn't make mentioning inverters a bad answer.

There is also nothing wrong, in fact it's often necessary, to ask the OP for more detail. Originally this question didn't even mention what the output voltage and current needed to be, and could possibly have been answered with a small opamp circuit. Only when he mentioned (even though he commented that it was unnecessary to supply such detail) that the output was 220 V at 2.5 kW could a answer be attempted at all. Unfortunately he never did answer what the nature of the input power to this amplifier was, nor clarify how the output power was to be used. If he had done that, a more targeted and useful answer could have been written.

Stop Complaining

Asking for more information and/or asking the OP to step back and explain the larger problem are useful and all too often necessary things to do. Complaining about someone else asking these things is inappropriate. If you think you have the answer without requiring additional information, write it. However, if you have to make assumptions to sensibly answer a vague question, be sure to state your assumptions. Without that, a specific answer to a general question is wrong and others may downvote your answer as a result. If you state the assumptions, at least the answer is correct, even if it turns out later to not apply to what the OP was trying to ask. I wouldn't downvote such a answer because it is at least self-consistent and correct within its defined scope. Put another way, answers to questions with vague scope must be either vague themselves or define their own scope.

In this example, if you really were so sure that the OP needed to amplify a arbitrary signal to 220 V at 2.5 kW and you felt my answer was missing the point, the correct action would have been to write your own answer, clearly stating that it applies to amplifying an existing arbitrary waveform. It would be good, although not necessary, to mention that if the desired result actually was just to make line power, that there are more efficient solutions than starting with the output wave shape and amplifying it. I may not agree with your premise about what the OP really wanted, but I wouldn't downvote it, as long as you stated whatever assumptions you made about interpreting the question more specifically than it was written.

You have now a number of times tried to tear down other people's answers, particularly mine it seems. Often these comments have been about meta issues and not about the answer or the question. This is not appropriate and has to stop. Comments are not for berating other people about asking for more information, or telling them how awful they are for daring to give a alternative answer to a different interpretation of a vague question or one that pre-supposes an inappropriate solution. Again, if you think you can answer better, go answer better.

Stop trying to tear down others just because you disagree with their methods. The place for that is meta, not in the middle of a technical question and its answers.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The exchange of comments in the original post wasn't nice, from any point of view. We should strive to avoid making things personal as much as possible (I've just learned that from my last meta post). But what Olin proposes is a clean and elegant way for us to behave at any StackExchange site. Period. +1 \$\endgroup\$ – Ricardo Jan 1 '15 at 15:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @user29792: Indeed, but the rub is that he misrepresents occurrences and doesn't practice what he preaches. \$\endgroup\$ – EM Fields Jan 1 '15 at 16:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @EMFields - The written on-line media doesn't let us convey all the meaning that a face-to-face conversation does, as it doesn't allow for non-verbal cues and body language. Because of that, here we are more prone to misunderstandings and should give everyone a slack to accommodate for that. Having said that, I thought that the OP wanted an inverter but didn't know it existed and was called that. So he just tried to invent the thing again using what he knew. But the question was ambiguous enough to allow for your interpretation just as well... \$\endgroup\$ – Ricardo Jan 1 '15 at 16:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ ... so, that's what I liked about Olin's proposal - everyone has a place to answer stating his or her own assumptions - and is up for review by the community. \$\endgroup\$ – Ricardo Jan 1 '15 at 16:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @EMFields - now, if Olin doesn't follow what he's preaching (and I am not arguing for or against this point here) - well, he should. As I stated in my comment, anyone should. \$\endgroup\$ – Ricardo Jan 1 '15 at 17:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @user29792: 1. I agree with you in that the ambiguities of the written word can lead to imprecision and misinterpretation of meaning, but when supposedly neutral prose is peppered with intended innuendo, time and time again, the author's neutrality becomes suspect. In that vein, and in my opinion, much of Olin's posting seems to be dedicated not as much to helping as it is to self-aggrandizement - through the use of that technique - as well as by reciting platitudes, ad nauseam, in filibuster-like rants designed to portray him as an undisputable authority. \$\endgroup\$ – EM Fields Jan 1 '15 at 22:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @user29792: 2. I also agree with the rest of your assessment and will refrain from using non-meta comment space as a sounding board in the future, as Olin suggests. \$\endgroup\$ – EM Fields Jan 1 '15 at 22:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @EMFields, Even if you think a certain user's posts tend to be arrogant or derisive of the askers, the solution is to write better answers. If you think he's crossed the line in terms of civility, you can flag a post for moderator attention. \$\endgroup\$ – The Photon Jan 4 '15 at 6:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ However, be aware that the last mod election brought in two mods who are on the "whip the newbs into shape" rather than the "coach them to improve themselves" side of this debate, so it looks like the overall will of the site's users is in that direction. \$\endgroup\$ – The Photon Jan 4 '15 at 6:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThePhoton It's not the debate of "whip the newbs" vs "coach the newbs". What we have is a debate of "maintain high quality" vs "tolerate low quality and always be nice". As we apply effort to maintain high quality, there is still plenty of coaching going on. Pointing out newbs' mistakes is a part of coaching. As an aside, in an ideal world we would attract high quality audience which requires neither whipping, nor coaching, nor toleration. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev Jan 4 '15 at 20:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Olin, I understand how the site works quite well, and your support of what is clearly an attack by a moderator is a testimonial further attesting to the rationale behind its operation. Thank you for clearing that up for me. \$\endgroup\$ – EM Fields Jan 7 '15 at 0:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NickAlexeev: While pointing out querents' errors and politely correcting them is indeed part of coaching, demeaning querents for the purpose of pumping up one's own ego certainly is not. Moreover, this is not an ideal world and, in my opinion, the "high quality" audience you're wishing for may exist, but its members usually have no need to appear here since they're capable of solving their own problems. \$\endgroup\$ – EM Fields Jan 7 '15 at 13:24

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