We all know how important are datasheets in EE design so we appreciate users when they link to datasheets.

However, sometimes an otherwise good question is posted which lacks datasheets links, so the usual practice is to ask the OP in a comment to provide the links. Alas, I've collected some experience in doing this and I discovered than many newbies, especially hobbyists, have some trouble finding the right datasheet or they don't even know what a datasheet is. Moreover, new users don't know what are our policies regarding datasheet links, so they may link to some vendor's product page instead of direct-linking to the PDF on a manufacturer's server.

The fact is that sometimes I grow tired of this janitorial work of writing a comment like "please provide a link to. ... blah, blah" and then reply to "datasheet? what is that?" or "I can't find it on SuperCoolGoods, Inc. website" and simply edit-in the question (or answer, sometimes) to provide the links myself. Ok, it is less educative for the OP, but sometimes I have little time and I deem it is better spent on making the post better, instead of trying inducing the OP to learn how to do it himself.

In editing the post I try to be the less intrusive as possible (if no other editing is needed), so if the OP mentions, say, an LM317, I simply add a link around the part number without modifying the wording.

Sometimes, however, the post is so conceived that this cannot be done (part numbers only referred to in the schematic, for example), so I usually restrain myself from editing, although I feel an itch to add something like a BOM at the end of the post like:

Links to relevant datasheets:

So my question boils down to this: is it acceptable to directly append such a list of datasheet links to questions when it would be impossible or very difficult to edit the post in a less intrusive way?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Or, just vote to close the question as unclear and downvote for good measure to kick the OP in the butt for being too lazy to provide a datasheet in the first place. If you want to do janitorial work, go ahead. However, your time it probably better spent by quickly dispatching poor question, then getting on to answering good questions. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 25, 2015 at 16:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @OlinLathrop maybe I wasn't clear enough, but I didn't mean to address poor questions, but questions whose only fault is, more or less, the missing links. For unsalvageable questions or questions whose poster is not responsive enough, well, they're on their own. As I said, some newbies are sometimes unaware of how to search for them and use them. And I don't blame them too much for that, even university textbooks seldom give good and extensive explanations on how to use them, let alone how to search for them! \$\endgroup\$ Aug 25, 2015 at 17:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ But a question without a link to the relevant datasheet is a poor question. You editing in the link let's the OP get away with being lazy, and he'll just be back doing the same thing again. The best way to make the point, and to put others on notice that laziness isn't tolerated, is to make sure the OP doesn't get what he want, at least until he fixes it himself. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 3, 2015 at 20:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ The digital electronics professor at my college has the first-year students use old TI databooks for 7400 series chips. Old tech, but teaches straight away that the datasheet must be had for any IC being worked with. \$\endgroup\$
    – rdtsc
    Sep 6, 2015 at 17:59

4 Answers 4


If you feel its worth your time, go right ahead. It would keep valid questions from otherwise being down voted and close voted to hell. That's what the editing privilege is for, improving posts.

I've done it. I've seen others do it. Some of us do the same for pictures a new user links to but can't add directly due to not enough rep.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I forgot you could earn badges on metas :D \$\endgroup\$
    – Passerby
    Aug 27, 2015 at 15:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 Agreed! StackExchange software and Google makes it so easy to include the links and images. I don't make it personal. Like Nike, just do it! \$\endgroup\$
    – Ricardo
    Aug 28, 2015 at 11:27

I prefer to inline the link where the part number first appears.

I'm using an LM317 as a constant current source to...

Either way, it's truly thankless work, and no one will give you crap for improving questions.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, for that SE gives you shiny badges :-) But, jokes aside, see my reply to Olin above. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 25, 2015 at 17:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ It improves answers, too. See @endolith's edit here: electronics.stackexchange.com/a/10407/411 \$\endgroup\$
    – markrages
    Aug 25, 2015 at 19:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ideally, newcomers would add the missing datasheet links to get early reputation. The upside is that it spreads the thankless work more evenly. The potential pitfall is that not every newcomer knows that some kinds of links are problematic (eBay, alldatashirts, etc). \$\endgroup\$ Sep 8, 2015 at 9:23

One thing to keep in mind is that new users are limited to two links per post, and it can be a tricky choice when you're trying to reference several things.

If you edit the post to add more links and they accept your edit, the links limit will still be enforced and that will mess up the post.


As a relative newbie, I've found datasheet links in answers to be incredibly valuable. If you itch to put in a link, go for it.

However, if it's not fun or is dragging you down, don't. This place is supposed to be both useful and fun. Don't burn out or fret over a little detail like datasheets.

Unless we could get a script that automatically says "You mentioned the LM317. Would you like a datasheet with that?"


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