I'm taking on a background mission of deleting inappropriate tags as they come in, like in How to switch a Bluetooth module with a P-Channel MOSFET high-side switch?, which has absolutely nothing to do with Arduinos. The tag has become an absolutely meaningless meta-tag, and really skews our statistics

Its interesting that this doesn't seem to happen with the microcontroller tag.

As an update, meta tags are officially discouraged:

There’s been a major uptick recently in tags that are not useful and just add noise. I want to stress that these are usually added in good faith, and I am not questioning anybody’s motivation – I know that they all mean well. But this particular category of tags is one that has been historically referred to as meta-tags on MSO, and these tags cause a lot of problems.

The reason meta-tags are a problem is that they do not describe the content of the question. They describe some other aspect of the question, like the author’s skill level, or the author’s motivation for asking it, or generally what “kind” of question it is (poll, how-to, etc.).

Meta-tags are actually a subset of a larger problem that I usually call dependent tags. These are tags that don’t say anything by themselves – you can’t tell what the question is about unless they’re paired with some other tag (or several of them). These tags are a problem because people don’t realize this and will often use that as the question’s only tag. This is the insight that had eluded me for two full years. Seems obvious in retrospect, doesn’t it?

From this point on, meta-tagging is explicitly discouraged.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "What's a microcontroller?" said the arduino user. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Jeanne Pindar Mar 1 '15 at 1:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ Elitist snobbery is a major problem with Arduinos - many people who style themselves as "enjUnEers" seem to think, for some obscure "reason" or other, that Arduinos and Arduino users are in some manner inferior to their chosen tipple and to themselves, Jeanne. \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon Mar 1 '15 at 8:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @scott - Ironically, the post you mention as an example was "put on hold" due to being deemed to be a shopping question. Maybe a "not shopping" tag is needed :-). \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon Mar 1 '15 at 8:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JeannePindar - I appreciate that you probably intended your comment in "jest" - but it comes across as elitist cant. If my daughter was ever going to use a microcontroller then starting with an Arduino would probably be what I'd recommend, and many other approaches would put her off. However, she has more mental capacity and thinking ability than Olin and I rolled together - and very probably enough to add you to that as well and come out on top. AND she's nice. ... \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon Mar 1 '15 at 11:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ ... Rude little digs at other people (or groups of people) are contrary to the ethos of this site (according to the official rules) and have no place here. | My most commonly used computer "language" overall has been assembler, on a slew of processors. But I started with writing raw machine code. AND I use Arduinos. I think they serve a real role. I'm astounded at the low cost of the good quality (legal) Chinese clones and am puzzled as to why people would so handicap themselves** as to not use them where appropriate. Whatever. || *=drivel. **=would be so stupid. \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon Mar 1 '15 at 11:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I can't see much bad coming out of the fact that embedded development is becoming so ubiquitous that you can be doing it without knowing what a microcontroller is. It does present some pedagogical challenges, though. If only 2% of the Arduinos users go back and learn their basics, that's still a huge increase in the embedded user base. \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Mar 1 '15 at 11:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ScottSeidman When my son started a computer science degree I was appalled at what they were teaching him. Within a few weeks he was producing web applications accessing data on remote sites and all sorts of high level activity that he no clue whatsoever re the fundamentals of. No bits bytes addressing registers interrupts DMA pagin the whole nine yards. What, I may have thought, is the world coming to, to school in the snow no shoes cardboard box at the bottom of a lake ... . THEN they worked down to the underlyings. Not how I learnt it, but they did seem to know what they were doing. \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon Mar 1 '15 at 12:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ScottSeidman After all :-). Arduino offers that possibility. I have seen many naive questions re EE from Arduino users. BUT just as many from non Arduino using EE people. Vector sum! - Take the lot :-). They won't know what hit them - even if it's only a small %age. \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon Mar 1 '15 at 12:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ It seems to me this happens on almost every site to some newbie-magnet tag. On the math.SE site, the tags "self-learning", "education" and some similar ones, even though they are ostensibly about the process of learning have been rather irredeemably polluted with entry-level algebra questions that aren't in any way about any process. Although a "newbie" tag looks terrible in theory, in practice something ends up substituted by the neverending September wave unless the tag space is heavily policed, which almost never happens because it's a rather thankless task after a certain rep level/cap. \$\endgroup\$ – Fizz Mar 5 '15 at 1:23

I think this is fine, as long as the tag doesn't provide context that only exists in the tag. Specifically, some users will ask a question that doesn't mention Arduino at all, but they include the tag . In that case, consider adding a sentence to the question that either fills in the generic context needed (e.g. 5V I/O) or states that it's with an arduino.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That sounds reasonable. I tried it on the referred to post, and it seems to work \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Feb 26 '15 at 15:18

Even if the question does NOT depend on the specifics of the Arduino hardware/software development environment, the tag still provides an important clue about what type of answer the person asking the question needs.

Like it or not, Arduino users for the most part are NOT engineers, and won't be helped by an engineering answer. They often need answers that are watered down to a simple "how-to", using non-engineering terms.

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    \$\begingroup\$ blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/08/the-death-of-meta-tags, and Arduino has the risk of becoming a meta-tag if I ever saw one. It's like "bug" would be in stack overflow. If there's going to be a meta-tag, I'd rather see "non-expert", which is at least fairly descriptive. \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Feb 26 '15 at 14:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ In fact, the meta-tag meta post specifically defines tags as specifying a skill level to be meta-tags \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Feb 26 '15 at 15:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, in most cases, it is a meta-tag, and should be discouraged on that basis. But we still need the context that it supplies in order to answer the question. So, in addition to deleting the tag, you must edit the question as well. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Tweed Feb 26 '15 at 16:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ In this use of the tag, the whole question shouldn't be here in the first place. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Feb 26 '15 at 18:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ScottSeidman Olin's anti-Arduino campaigning seems to blind him to the realities - he seems not to realise that an Arduino is "just a microcontroller" with a standardised pinout and a veneer of simplicity that can be shucked when appropriate. The question you cite as an example is presumably (as you cite it) an OK EE question but had an Arduino tag as it related to controlling a 3V3 module's power using a 5V processor. Olin insists that this makes it a non-EE task, for some inscrutable reason. Dealing with that attitude which is held by a surprising number, is a part of your 'campaign'. \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon Mar 1 '15 at 8:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RussellMcMahon sort of. I think I nominated that quest, for reopening after it had a small edit, as it was an OK question. I think accurate tags help everyone, from beginner to expert. I don't use arduinos, but many of my design students do, and should I have a real question about the platform that requires a search on the tag, the less noise, the better. But you hit the key point, if the question wouldn't merit an STM32F4 tag if that's the platform, it doesn't merit an arduino tag if that's what the poster is using \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Mar 1 '15 at 11:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I sort of get the annoyance, though I try to move past it. its like when Matlab started getting popular, and every licensed user thought their installation gave them a license to do model based predictive control without reading a thing. We see a lot of that here. But lately I've been thinking about how great it is that the young and inexperienced have a pretty good embedded platform at their fingertips and anxiously await tech innovation from our feeder generation \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Mar 1 '15 at 11:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ As an old fogey who learned microprocessors by typing hex into a 68000 teaching board that didn't even have an assembler, it's tempting for me to think that newcomers should have to roll up their sleeves and jump obstacles too. \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Mar 1 '15 at 11:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ScottSeidman: "typing hex into a 68000"? You had it easy! :-) MY first microprocessor project was on an 8008 (remember the Radio-Electronics Mark-8?), and it was a hard-realtime embedded application. We had to enter the code in binary on the front-panel toggle switches! So, yeah, I'm a little biased, too. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Tweed Mar 1 '15 at 12:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RussellMcMahon: To you, Arduino is "just a microcontroller". But to a non-EE Arduino user, it's all about the prebuilt hardware "shields" and the software development environment with its huge array of prewritten libraries. Such users have neither the technical background nor the vocabulary to understand an answer written by an EE. Similarly, an EE without Arduino experience has no idea what the various Arduino-specific terms mean in that context. Having a large number of questions on the site in which the parties are simply talking past each other without understanding serves no one. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Tweed Mar 1 '15 at 12:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just to clarify, @OlinLathrop is saying that any question that uses the Arduino tag to provide context (i.e., as a meta-tag) is a question that shouldn't be on EE at all. It's a position that I tend to agree with, since the whole point of Arduino is to hide the underlying engineering issues. Most such questions should be migrated to the Arduino site, where they'll get answers that are couched in terms they'll understand. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Tweed Mar 1 '15 at 12:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ ... But I also recognize that some Arduino users are trying to use the platform as a springboard into learning EE, even though it's arguably a poor starting point. But as a moderator, it's often very difficult to figure out which kind of user is asking the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Tweed Mar 1 '15 at 13:00

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