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EE.SE has quite a few questions asking to identify unknown parts, usually ICs. These are quite rare, so I cannot say I'm annoyed by them. Yet every time I see one, I come to to think whether they are useful to anyone besides the OP.

In fact, these questions are essentially duplicates in terms of information one could reuse:

Should we post these instructions somewhere and close "identify this part" questions which show no evidence of the OP performing a basic search?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I see where you are coming from, but the other day I went through quite some of them to try identifying a logo I have never seen... maybe it depends on the IC ... \$\endgroup\$ – PlasmaHH Apr 29 '16 at 9:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ And if you asked specifying which search engines you have tried, and someone answered by pointing to a good search engine we didn't know about, that would actually be a useful question. Questions about ICs which can be easily googled are not useful, that's what I'm talking about. \$\endgroup\$ – Dmitry Grigoryev Apr 29 '16 at 9:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ So it depends on the IC. There are tons of ICs which can not be identified because the markings are not listed in any search engine, and by the time it will get worse. Also logos is a thing almost impossible to google for. \$\endgroup\$ – PlasmaHH Apr 29 '16 at 10:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does that fact make them good questions somehow? I have an ice-cream box full of stuff I have removed from old electronics before scrapping them. I could post "find this part" puzzles every week for a few years with that material. \$\endgroup\$ – Dmitry Grigoryev Apr 29 '16 at 10:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ At least it is a fun distraction, some people love puzzle solving ;) Those questions can be good questions, though rarely are. I think they need the same prerequisites as ontopic repair questions (and often really are repair issues): they need an understanding and show previous work. Usually the purpose should be inferrable and parts of a schematic or block diagram be present. \$\endgroup\$ – PlasmaHH Apr 29 '16 at 10:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK, I'll treat them as repair questions then. \$\endgroup\$ – Dmitry Grigoryev Apr 29 '16 at 10:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DmitryGrigoryev I found the question! embarrassingly, I'm the one who had asked the question on Meta, totally forgot about that. Here it is ... meta.electronics.stackexchange.com/q/3821/11861 \$\endgroup\$ – placeholder May 2 '16 at 17:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ These types of questions have been affectionately dubbed "junk storm" and "connectorology [if it's about connectors]" . \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev Jun 1 '16 at 22:01
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I'm sure this has come up on Meta before, I can't find it easily.

In previous discussions, almost everyone was in agreement that these sorts of questions are strictly not really within the remit of EE.SE and should technically be shutdown.

However, most everyone thought that there was enough of a historical momentum to these questions that we should just keep them. Call it puzzle solving.

So, yes, it is inconsistent with some of the other stuff that gets shutdown, but it is just a little quirk of this stack and is accepted.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I searched the meta before posting but couldn't find anything, so thanks for remembering that. I'm OK with quirks as long as they don't grow out of proportions. \$\endgroup\$ – Dmitry Grigoryev May 2 '16 at 11:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ I still think a canonical "how to identify an unknown part" question would be useful. Maybe I'll post one someday. \$\endgroup\$ – Dmitry Grigoryev May 2 '16 at 11:46

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