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I really cannot understand why this question about LTspice settings was abruptly downvoted and, moreover, closed in almost no time.

OK, it wasn't the best question one could expect, but it was comprehensible and it did show a moderate effort to understand what was going on under the hood.

What really struck me was the reason for closing it:

This question does not appear to be about electronics design within the scope defined in the help center.

What?!? A question about a SPICE simulator is not on topic here? And where else would it be on topic then? On StackOverflow? SuperUser? Any idea?

And that reason is blatantly wrong, help-center excerpt (emphasis mine):

the theory and simulation of electromagnetic forces

If it is not on topic, then I wonder why similar questions on, for example, Altium designer aren't subject to the same treatment! Just one in particular (the first I found about an efficiency issue).

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    \$\begingroup\$ I went ahead and reopened the question. \$\endgroup\$ – W5VO Aug 14 '15 at 4:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @W5VO And it's well on its way to getting closed again. Stop short circuiting community review for no reason. \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Young Aug 14 '15 at 12:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MattYoung No reason? Would you care to explain why do you think it is off-topic? \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati supports Monica Aug 14 '15 at 12:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LorenzoDonati Just because the software in question is LTSpice doesn't make trying to make software perform better on topic. \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Young Aug 14 '15 at 12:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MattYoung And so what about other questions like this one which is on the same tone, but it wasn't closed? \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati supports Monica Aug 14 '15 at 12:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LorenzoDonati Never saw it, close vote registered. \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Young Aug 14 '15 at 12:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Really, that one is worse. There's no excuse not to be getting manufacturer support on a $10,000 product. \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Young Aug 14 '15 at 12:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ I liken these types of questions to asking "How can I change the laws of physics?" That can't be done. There are things that can be done to improve simulation performance, but there is nothing you can do to force it to use more computational resources than what the programmers told it to. \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Young Aug 14 '15 at 13:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ I was one who originally voted to close the question. The reason I gave was that it was a better fit for SuperUsers as it's a question of configuring a software to use available cores. The question is definitely not about simulating electromagnetic forces (as defined in our help page), but tuning a software package. \$\endgroup\$ – Ricardo Aug 14 '15 at 13:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ But I'm not going to vote to close it again... this just causes more unnecessary friction among our community. I think we have enough room to let a few borderline questions go in if members manifest themselves against closing them. Not everything is black and white. \$\endgroup\$ – Ricardo Aug 14 '15 at 13:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LorenzoDonati - I agree. What's special about this question is that it's about tuning a software that is used for simulation. The same happens sometimes with questions about Eagle CAD and Altium. These questions sometimes slip in and that's fine. They may not get a great answer, but that's ok. Or maybe there are more SPICE users here than in SU, so they may get better answers here. I don't know. \$\endgroup\$ – Ricardo Aug 14 '15 at 13:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LorenzoDonati - but as a more general rule, I usually avoid voting to close question that are under dispute. I prefer to give the benefit of the doubt if a experienced user thinks the question shouldn't be closed. It's this unnecessary friction that disrupts our community. \$\endgroup\$ – Ricardo Aug 14 '15 at 13:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ricardo This is more or less my policy. Moreover leaving more time for people to answer (unless the question is crap) will raise the chances that a good answer will turn a so-so question into an overall good thread. There's also a badge for that (reversal? IIRC). Moreover sometimes it happens that an answerer can see through a foggy question and understand what the OP really needs, and post an excellent answer which drives the OP to improve and clarify his answer. That's good for the site! \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati supports Monica Aug 14 '15 at 13:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MattYoung Any time Leon says "close on sight", I instinctively re-open. That extremely narrow scoping of the site is helping noone. It's like saying that questions about soldering irons and assembly techniques are off-topic because they "have nothing to do with electronic design". \$\endgroup\$ – W5VO Aug 14 '15 at 14:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MattYoung Why would you need to speculate? Just because you don't know the answer doesn't mean that someone else doesn't. \$\endgroup\$ – W5VO Aug 14 '15 at 16:40
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Closing that question was inappropriate. It may well be that there is nothing one can do from inside LT Spice to use the specific processor more efficiently, but that's what the question was about.

Perhaps the difference is that I've never used LT Spice, so it wasn't obvious to me at all that the question wasn't about some little-know app configuration, or perhaps other suggestions on how to optimize a particular simulation (really, there aren't some relvant control for that in LT Spice?).

Those that argue that this is asking how to change the laws of physics can only be saying that because they already know the answer. If there were some controls inside the program to allow more effective use of different processors, I doubt these people would be closing the question. This means the OP can't know the question is close-worthy without knowing the answer to the question he's asking, which is unreasonable to ask.

Instead (assuming there are in fact no tweaks in the program), the proper action is to answer the question stating that there are no such tweaks, and that's all you get. That may not be the answer the OP wished for, but is still a valid and useful answer.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you Olin! You really hit the spot with this answer. It is just the point I was trying to make, and I realize now I could have been clearer (good for your "mind-reader" skills :-). I couldn't have expressed the point in a better way. \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati supports Monica Aug 15 '15 at 4:35
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I agree with the closure, though I wasn't a closer. This is a question about how CPU resources are used by a program in an operating system. You could replace "spice" by "openoffice writer" and the question would change little. This just happens to be a tool used by the EE community, though I don't see this question as particularly in line with EE expertise.

The Altium posts are largely on topic, as they are asking how to use Altium to do stuff that EE's do. The current question is about how to make spice play nicer with the OS, and is not an EE matter.

While I have no problem with reopening at the user's request, I don't think he'll get much in the way of an answer and I wouldn't die of shock if it were reclosed. I suggest a migration to superuser.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the feedback, although I'm still not convinced that specific question will have better treatment there. But that is a marginal issue now. The discussion that has ensued here made me realize some subtle points about this community's processes. Although I tend to consider this site's focus what I get at face value from its title "Electrical Engineering", I now understand better the sort of incoherence which also @Ricardo mentioned in his comments.... \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati supports Monica Aug 14 '15 at 14:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ ...I mean EE vs. EE design. The help center is not much helpful in this respect for a newbie, sadly. Probably some more detail should be added based on the current stance of the community. On a tangential note, I won't see as detrimental to widen a bit the scope of the site. I don't know if this is a common concern, and I know it is country specific, but "Electrical Engineering" makes me think of something more wide-spectrum than EE-design (for the same reason why IEEE means Electrical and Electronic Engineers). \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati supports Monica Aug 14 '15 at 14:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just out of curiosity, how slow are your sims that you're concerned about this? When I was a lad, I'd start my sims up right before I left work, so as not to freeze my computing resources for the whole afternoon, then return the next morning to find them done (if I was lucky and it didn't crash!) \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Aug 14 '15 at 14:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I disagree that this is general computer support, because this is much more specific to SPICE. All the multi-threading options I've seen in simulators don't really make a single simulation faster, because it's difficult to make a multi-threaded SPICE solver. \$\endgroup\$ – W5VO Aug 14 '15 at 14:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ My concerns weren't personal, but only dictated by the perception I had on how the site should be/work. I don't do simulations so heavy that I need to let the PC run overnight :-) I'm currently a teacher and I've been a happy LTspice user for the last three years. I use it a lot for didactic work and to help my understanding on some circuits I analyze. No industrial design here :-) \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati supports Monica Aug 14 '15 at 14:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @W5VO -- I sort of agree. This is a question on multi-threading, but that doesn't make this the best place to find answers \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Aug 14 '15 at 14:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ScottSeidman Perhaps, but I imagine that an answer at another site, such as SuperUser, might just give generic "because it's not multi-threaded" instead of anything on the nature of SPICE. \$\endgroup\$ – W5VO Aug 14 '15 at 14:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry to be forced to unaccept you answer, but Olin's has really hit the point I was trying to make (I thought the thread was dead so I wasn't really expecting more answers, sorry for the "noise"). \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati supports Monica Aug 15 '15 at 4:32

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