Please note that, first and foremost, I am not here to step on toes but merely to open a dialogue.

I am new to this site, but I have used Stack Exchange for a while now and I understand and respect the premise: ask precise questions to receive precise help. This is not a "do-it-for-me" service, and due diligence is required on the part of the OP to avoid wasting volunteer time. Again, I respect this premise.

The main purpose of my question is to see if it is appropriate to expect users to have a minimum background in electronics to ask questions here and, consequently, if posts lacking that minimum knowledge should be flagged and closed.

I have seen several posts (most recently this one) where a user has a specific question but lacks some very basic knowledge, such as a working understanding of circuit diagrams. I also respect Olin Lathrop's premise (in a post that I can no longer find) that too much hand-holding and the passing of lazy posting as acceptable does not reinforce good question-asking. It is important to this site that the poorly-asked (from a technical perspective) questions be filtered out, to preserve the knowledge here. Here he also states that it is acceptable to be ignorant or uninformed, but not to be "stupid", which I also respect. (I don't mean to harp on Mr. Lathrop's comments, he just has made some excellent, relevant assertions in this case).

While knowledge such as circuit diagrams may be very basic and can be found in most high-school-level physics texts, if we aren't going to close questions on the grounds of being "too low-level" or "lacking in basic knowledge", what is the proper way to address/educate such posters? Or do we simply not want them here?

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    \$\begingroup\$ A good online EE community is one where new users have to send a photo of their oscilloscope to apply for membership. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev Jun 6 '17 at 17:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NickAlexeev Owning an oscilloscope is much, much simpler than knowing what it is or how to use it. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris M. Jun 6 '17 at 17:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ (1) If she can measure, she can learn and improve. (2) Owning an oscilloscope shows a certain level of commitment. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev Jun 6 '17 at 18:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's fair, although knowing how and where to measure a circuit, even without knowing how to interpret results, does not teach her how to read or draw a schematic. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris M. Jun 6 '17 at 18:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ The thing is that user need a minimum of knowledge to ask a precise question. If not, the question get close. So yes, there is a minimum of knowledge require \$\endgroup\$ – M.Ferru Jun 6 '17 at 20:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ In my example, the question itself is precise, however, the user was not able to provide needed schematics because s/he does not understand how to draw them. Is that categorized as an imprecise question? \$\endgroup\$ – Chris M. Jun 6 '17 at 20:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ In Canada this site would be illegal as no one can say they are an engineer or use the title of engineer in their job description or give advice as a professional engineer without credentials, passing a simple rules test, be supported by a supervisor and pay dues to the association of professional engineering in that province. Although I have managed excellent techs and know many hobbyists with professional like skills and capabilitiy , in canada they cannot have the title of engineer. My point is we have lowered our standards to increase its membership to make revenue for ads for someone. \$\endgroup\$ – Tony Stewart EE75 Jun 7 '17 at 5:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TonyStewart.EEsince'75 "So to answer your question", you should know by now that answers go in the answer box. \$\endgroup\$ – pipe Jun 7 '17 at 6:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TonyStewart.EEsince'75 We have that in the US as well. A Professional Engineer license is required for consulting, private practice, the sealing of documents to be submitted to a public authority, and often engineering education - and it's a fairly intensive procedure to be licensed. However, we do not legally restrict job titles and descriptions, only practices. But SE.EE makes no claim that its users are necessarily professionals or even engineers. It says "professionals, students, and enthusiasts", which is fairly inclusive of a wide range of technical knowledge. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris M. Jun 7 '17 at 10:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TonyStewart.EEsince'75 While I agree that not anyone should call themselves engineers, I don't think people are using "SE.EE user" as a basis for claiming to be an engineer. If I designed something, I certainly wouldn't deem it fit for anything other than personal/internal use (and therefore my own problem to deal with), and I have the 4-year accredited BSEE degree (though fairly little industry experience at this point). \$\endgroup\$ – Chris M. Jun 7 '17 at 20:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Lundin I agree there's a difference, in that even the first-year EE students have a basic understanding of the low-level concepts. However, we can't claim to be a site for "enthusiasts" if we dismiss questions based on their "hobbyist" nature. Some people are hobbyists because they are interested and want to learn and make or fit a personal need. Some people just want a solution to a problem but figure they can build it themselves. The way these two types of people ask questions is (or should be) very different. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris M. Jun 8 '17 at 12:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisM. The difference is... if you buy a cheap, crappy radio module, you aren't particularly interested in radio, you just want it to work. If you buy an Arduino, you are not (yet) interested in professional firmware programming, you just want it to work. Etc. The aim for these kind of hobbyists is not to learn technology, but to create a specific application, with minimum investment of time/money. This makes their questions of far less interest to anyone else. \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin Jun 8 '17 at 12:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NickAlexeev I don't agree (strongly) on the oscilloscope thing. I began dabbling in electronics when I was 12yo and it took me about 3 years to get my first (non-self-built) analog multimeter, 5 years to get my first DMM and 12 years to get my first oscilloscope. By the age of 16 I already knew much more than what was explained in (non-tech) high school courses.... \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati -- Codidact.com Jun 10 '17 at 8:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NickAlexeev ... I don't think selecting people by their financial means is a good way to promote this site, expecially because: 1) people in developing countries or poor people would be especially disadvantaged; 2) the site is explicitly aimed at beginners too. As I said in other comments in other situations here, if we want to select people on the basis of their knowledge, nothing stops us from creating a new site devoted to professionals, as the SE "software" community has already done. \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati -- Codidact.com Jun 10 '17 at 8:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NickAlexeev That would be hard on people from Developing countries. \$\endgroup\$ – MaNyYaCk Jun 27 '17 at 18:50

I don't perceive this as a problem. While I could agree that we do not want them here, there is already an implicit filter for this, implemented as the close reasons Unclear what you're asking, Duplicate, or Too broad.

Unclear what you're asking

If a user doesn't know enough about electronics to state their question in a way that makes it possible to help, the question will be closed as unclear. This includes crappy or non-existing diagrams when necessary, false statements, or misused technical terms.

It would be great if these could be minimized, but there's no difference in the workload necessary to flag something as unclear compared to a hypothetical lacking in basic knowledge.


If a question is clear enough, but asks an extremely basic question, it will either be easy to answer, or already have a duplicate. There's no harm having a good answer to a simple question on the site.

Too broad

Finally, if it is obvious that the user does not know enough to understand an answer, I flag it as Too broad. This is arguably not a perfect fit, but I'm using it in a relative sense.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I suppose I find sort of a gray area between "unclear what you're asking because you don't know enough to be able to ask it" and "the asked question is clear enough, but your lack of knowledge does not allow you to make relevant information immediately accessible". Does that make sense? \$\endgroup\$ – Chris M. Jun 6 '17 at 19:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisM. Hm, not really. If the question is clear enough, shouldn't it be possible to write an answer? \$\endgroup\$ – pipe Jun 6 '17 at 19:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I guess I'm mentally differentiating between "it's not clear what you're asking" and "it's clear what you're asking, but not clear how to solve it or help you solve it because you are unable to give adequate relevant information". It seems I'm interpreting the flag too literally. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris M. Jun 6 '17 at 20:00

Questions with low technical level are OK here, as long as it appears the OP has done what they reasonably can within their capability.

However, what is not acceptable is to ask about a higher level concept while misusing or pretending to know lower level concepts. The question you linked to (MOSFET switch stops working after a while) is a example of this.

The OP showed us one of those annoying wiring diagrams instead of a schematic. This site is about electrical engineering. Electrical engineers communicate circuits with schematics, for lots of good reasons. That's how it's done. We don't care whether you think that's how it should be or not. And no, we don't want to hear excuses about why you couldn't draw a schematic, because we already know there aren't any valid ones.

Of course nobody was born knowing how to draw a schematic. But, if you don't know how, that's what you need to ask about first. In fact, one of the most highly upvoted questions on this site is about drawing schematics. If the OP had asked details about how to draw a schematic of a particular circuit, the question might have been OK. Once someone is capable of drawing schematics, they can ask higher level questions that require schematics.

If you don't know how to use a wrench, don't ask about how to replace the valve cover seals. If you're asking about replacing valve cover seals, you'll get laughed out of town if you don't know how to use a wrench. However, if you start by asking details of wrench usage, you'll probably get some good tips. Then maybe you're ready to ask about replacing the valve cover seals.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1, but with a caveat: I agree in general, but let's look at that question as an example: it clearly shows commitment and enthusiasm from the OP's part. I also hate to see those wiring diagrams instead of a schematic, but the problem with beginners is that they don't usually know, and don't know how to learn (being able to search on Google is not the same as choosing the right sources) .... \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati -- Codidact.com Jun 10 '17 at 9:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ ...The way a beginner comes into contact with EE can vary dramatically. Arduino&co has helped a lot in the diffusion of EE concepts, so there are a lot of enthusiasts out there that think they know how to work with EE, but they lack a more structured learning path (of course it's much more rewarding to light up an LED strip that to fiddle with voltage dividers and Ohm's law).... \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati -- Codidact.com Jun 10 '17 at 9:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ ... I think we lack an effective way to point true enthusiast beginners toward resources that help them to develop a solid learning method for EE. I feel that too harsh a moderation stance will simply scare away people that could become good "dabblers" or even technicians or engineers in the future. That's a loss for our community in the long term, IMO. \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati -- Codidact.com Jun 10 '17 at 9:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ "The OP showed us one of those annoying wiring diagrams instead of a schematic." - This wiring diagram? - Yeah, that's annoying. (That link is broken.) \$\endgroup\$ – try-catch-finally Aug 14 '17 at 20:16

That's an interesting question and I agree to the most part on many of the points and answers given here.

However, like all things in life, there are the obvious bad questions and there are obvious good questions. In between there is this huge gray area and therein lies the difficulty.

Although the forum is titled "Electrical Engineering" there is no doubt in my mind a great part of the user base is actually "Hobby Electronics". As such there are two camps. Those that have been educated over several years in recognized institutions and have years, or even decades, of experience, and those that picked up a few things in high-school or on-line, or wherever.

I could start the argument that there ought to be a separate forum for the hobby folks, but being in the other group, I rather enjoy helping out the amateurs, so I won't.

Should the amateurs have a minimum level of education. I don't think so. The site is intended to be a compendium of Q&A for people to research and learn. If everyone here already knows all the answers the site would be pretty quiet.

As for writing questions. It's not always so easy to ask a question with the right words when you don't know the terminology. What seems obvious to the initiated may not be intuitive to the OP.

It reminds me of when I first came to live in Canada and went to the hardware store to buy a particular tool. Asking the store clerk where they kept the "wire wool" I got a rather blank stare... and had to play charades to let him know what I wanted. "Oh you mean steel-wool!"..

The same goes here, but with a much wider range of details.

Personally when I look at questions I often look less at the actual question and more at HOW it is written and how the OP responds to comments. If they seem genuinely willing to learn I will spend the time to help them, even if their basic knowledge is obviously lacking. If they just want a boiler plate answer I am less inclined.

If I can answer the question in five seconds or less with Google, I shake my head and flag it to close immediately.

Ultimately, this site is a research tool. Even duplicate questions have their merit in that a slightly differently worded title can help search engines link someone's Google question. I do believe it would be better if instead of duplicate the site used "Related Questions" instead though. That way you could link both ways.

Ultimately, the quality of the questions does not really matter. Other than costing the parent company server space, and irritating some of us, it's just bits in the bucket. The current user moderation scheme seems to work fairly well considering. Whether you, as a user, decide to answer questions is up to your own sensibilities and patience.

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    \$\begingroup\$ agree 100%. I view this forum as an opportunity to learn and teach. So, I believe anyone who genuinely seeks knowledge with the desire to learn (which is normally apparent in the question, even if the terminology is incorrect or the question is poorly posed) should be able to use this forum to seek help. Sometimes, the confusion is such that it is difficult for them to ask the question "properly" (which is subjective, btw). Folks here can be pretty brutal with OPs that ask less than "perfect" questions and that doesn't do anyone any good. just skip a question you don't like. \$\endgroup\$ – jrive Jun 9 '17 at 18:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jrive Brutal? Have you read Ford, Smith, Guo and Parnin's 2016 paper about females' gender swapping to avoid chauvinism here? They use the term mentorship. Funny eh? \$\endgroup\$ – Paul Uszak Jun 10 '17 at 22:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jrive Ignoring bad questions is detrimental to the main goal of creating a repository of good answers to good questions. Most users don't even have accounts, they find their answers from other questions. There's no need to insult users, but to maintain a good repository of answers, bad questions must be downvoted and/or flagged for deletion. \$\endgroup\$ – pipe Jun 11 '17 at 11:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Should the amateurs have a minimum level of education. I don't think so. " I strongly disagree here. While it is hard to specify what level is needed, everything that is easily explained in a few words of a google search result should be considered required knowledge. Everyone asking here should know what a resistor, diode etc. is, what trigonometric functions are and a few basic laws of physics. As such one might want to formulate it as "minimum ability to educate themselves" as for it being possible with simple googling. \$\endgroup\$ – PlasmaHH Jun 12 '17 at 11:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PlasmaHH I don't agree about that min level required. I think that a perfectly ignorant (in EE terms) person could post an excellent question. But, let's assume the community wants such min requirement, then we should definitely mention it in the help center with every detail. The "be nice" policy should at least grant a newbie that reading the help will make clear what is the knowledge required to post a question without being flamed to dust. In other words, if we decide to ban questions showing no understanding of (say) Ohm's law, we must document it in the help center! \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati -- Codidact.com Jun 15 '17 at 20:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LorenzoDonati: thats nonsense, you can't possibly expect the site to put together thousands of things that people should know and all the detail about them. You could fill a whole book about ohms law alone. Would you allow people to not know about basic calculations on math.se too? \$\endgroup\$ – PlasmaHH Jun 15 '17 at 21:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PlasmaHH No, it's not nonsense, IMO. I simply expect the site to state upfront where the line is drawn. Otherwise we shouldn't judge the question quality from its level of expertise, but only on the effort shown. Otherwise it's completely arbitrary what's ok and what's not. If you don't like too basic questions, you're free to skip answering them. If we say beginners are welcome, you either explain what's expected from a beginner or you end up not being nice to someone (who doesn't deserve it). \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati -- Codidact.com Jun 16 '17 at 19:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PlasmaHH We could somewhat agree on what's expected from a professional, and professionals "recognize each other", but there is no general, worldwide agreement or standard on what a beginner is supposed to know. As I said, either we define what we mean when we say beginner or we end up being unfair (how a beginner is supposed to understand if his level is ok, if he is a beginner and we don't tell him?). \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati -- Codidact.com Jun 16 '17 at 19:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PlasmaHH Just to be clear: I wouldn't want to set that min requirements, but if the community want to enforce a minimum set of skills, then we should be very clear in the help center about what are those skills. \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati -- Codidact.com Jun 16 '17 at 19:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @lorenzodonati: that is a stupid thing to ask for as it is impossible. Does a university do the same? Or do they just expect knowledge and the ability to fill in gaps for certain areas? Nobody goes there saying "oh you haven't layed out in detail the requirements so you have to accept me". And even if we would, knowing most and having gaps or just a misunderstanding is fine. It also is about understanding the answer. Should we write all answers so that you need no prior knowledge to understand them? \$\endgroup\$ – PlasmaHH Jun 16 '17 at 20:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PlasmaHH: please, calm down when talking about "stupidity". I was using sort of a Socratic method of taking to the extreme the POV of asking for a min requirements (and I thought it was clear I did not want such a thing). "Does a university do the same?" Yes, Universities do: in fact you have to have an high school degree to attend university (at least in my country). That degree, even if imperfectly, states an assumption on your basic skills. \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati -- Codidact.com Jun 16 '17 at 20:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PlasmaHH "Should we write all answers so that you need no prior knowledge to understand them?" I never ever hinted that. Please, reread my comments carefully. I argued that we shouldn't require any minimum knowledge, because that would be arbitrary without any rule spelling out what are those skills. What you deem sufficient may not be sufficient for me, so I could vote to close a question you'd like to answer. And all this on a "random" cirteria (each one of us has a different threshold of what should be the min skills needed by a newbie). \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati -- Codidact.com Jun 16 '17 at 20:23

There is a language barrier that needs to be overcome, if a user can do that and communicate clearly then it doesn't matter to me what background they come from. However, you have to know how to ask a good question and that requires research.

I have a problem with people that come expecting a quick answer with no work on their part. When I write questions, I spend some time researching the topic and re-read it a couple of times to make sure its clear. That way I get a better answers.

The people you want to stick around are people who are willing to be a part of the community, learn how it works (by reading the meta and help center) and contribute in some way. Instead of coming for a quick answer with minimal effort on their part.

Its also a good idea to point people in the right direction with comments and be a little bit lenient with moderating and give people time to fix their questions. Be nice (its a policy). Use the moderation system and shut down questions if they are off topic

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for "Its also a good idea to point people in the right direction with comments and be a little bit lenient with moderating and give people time to fix their questions. Be nice" I agree, you may not be able to help them with their unknown problem, but you can always help them write a better question. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Trevor_G Jun 7 '17 at 19:22

As a long term user of Stack Overflow, I can share my experience about this very issue from there.

On SO there used to be a requirement "the poster must demonstrate a minimum knowledge of the topic being discussed". If they failed to do so, i.e. asking way too basic things, their questions could be closed.

This rule originated from the core idea of SO being a site for "professional or enthusiast programmers". As in, a site for people who already know programming.

Then there was a change in leadership on SO and they suddenly started to favour quantity over quality. Traffic & cash before building a Q&A programmer community.

As a result of this, moderation rules turned far more lax. The requirement that the poster must have a clue about the things they asked about was removed. It is now fine to ask questions about the most utter fundamental things answered in chapter 1 of a beginner-level programming book.

These changes happened many years ago. The result is that SO has dropped significantly in quality. There is a much higher ratio of trash questions and duplicate questions. The site is overall developing in a negative way, causing domain experts to leave, in favour for students and beginners.

What we can learn from SO is that we should definitely not adopt a more lenient moderation policy. This question is proposing the opposite, so that's all well and good.

A site which has the ambition to provide help for professional engineers has much greater long-term potential. This would attract domain experts to the site. And thereby it will indirectly be a great help to beginners too, as the site quality will increase and the site content turns more reliable to use as reference.

EE has many similarities to SO but also differences. I don't think that EE suffers nearly as bad from "severely clueless" beginners as SO. So I wonder if this is such a big issue? Or do we fear that it might become one if the problem escalates, like it did on SO?

If long-term users of EE has noticed a quality decay of questions asked, then that is definitely a warning sign that the site might have to tighten the quality policy. Personally, I haven't actively participated here long enough to tell.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree re: "fewer severely clueless beginners". People who do not have even a basic understanding of how circuits operate are not likely going to undertake even the simplest of projects without any instruction. For whatever reason, programming seems to attract more of those types of people - maybe it's the lack of a physical layer, or that "programming ability" is a hot ticket item on resumés today. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris M. Jun 8 '17 at 12:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisM. I think that there are two factors that make SW more attractive than HW: 1) less initial expense (after all, computing power is widespread and has become a commodity, and free programming tools are widely available online); 2) smoother learning curve: no need to know maths, units of measurements etc. Almost everyone that has a PC and an internet connection can download a devkit for some language and begin hacking around. ... \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati -- Codidact.com Jun 11 '17 at 10:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisM. ... With EE, at least you need some wires, some batteries some basic components and (maybe) a multimeter to do something basic. Not to mention the ability not to cut yourself while stripping a wire! Moreover, there is no "manual included", as opposed to many SW devkits. That's why, IMO, Arduino&C was so successful (especially those "all-included" kits, which come with a manual describing experiments and the like). \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati -- Codidact.com Jun 11 '17 at 10:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Additionally the review mechanism has been changed to force everyone to either be in line with their new goals, or be banned on the slightest bit of deviation. \$\endgroup\$ – PlasmaHH Jun 12 '17 at 11:07

I have to put my two cents in here. I am a beginner, flat out, that is willing to learn. But there are issues that I and other beginners will have, the biggest which will be:

Framing the question properly - I don't have the vocabulary to describe what some of you know by instinct. Same would go if you came to the UX/UI area and needed help with the psychological differences in audiences when designing a web page that needed, by necessity, to contain a larger than average amount of information and how to structure that information so it retains the ability to be easily scanned for the relevant information on a user by user case.

I can ask in the best terms I know but in the end, I WILL ask incorrectly because I just don't know. Once I'm told, it will stick with me and I will use it.

Of course, there will be people too far out of their depth. And those will have to be dealt with appropriately but I find it very disappointing to hear comments about tests and other weed out factors. Stack Exchange is known for it's store of knowledge and it is the place I go, before Google even, to find the right answer in exacting detail. If it hasn't already been answered, then I KNOW it will be if I ask it.

The last thing that users should be doing is giving off an air of superior smugness that stops people from ever asking. I usually go through the questions in the areas where I have expertise and answer the small questions, try to steer the new user toward the right question and generally help people who need it.

Sure, cut off the obnoxious, the jerk, the obviously about to electrocute themselves. But a test?

  • \$\begingroup\$ And I just ran into that very problem. I asked a question where I incorrectly wrote part of the specification and was pounced on. I get it. I do. And I'm glad that I was able to rephrase the power specs but it did feel a bit aggressive rather than in any way welcoming or even educational. Is this what the site is about? Punishing lesser mortals? \$\endgroup\$ – kylebellamy Jun 12 '17 at 15:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ If it's such a horrible thing, then go start a forum that is password protected and never have to deal with it again. This is supposed to be a place of learning and sharing knowledge. \$\endgroup\$ – kylebellamy Jun 12 '17 at 15:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't see any rude comments on your question. \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Jun 12 '17 at 16:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not rude. But if a respondent does not feel the details of the question are adequate, merely state so or move on to one they do feel they can answer. In questions of design, I try to assist in clarifying the question in a way that helps the person. Not just point out their mistake abruptly and move on. \$\endgroup\$ – kylebellamy Jun 12 '17 at 17:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ "I don't have the vocabulary to describe what some of you know by instinct". Then that is what you should be asking about first. If you don't really understand voltage and current, don't go asking about how much voltage is running thru the resistor. When the OP is pretending to know something but clearly doesn't, or is just throwing around terms, it's basically impossible to answer the actual question due to too much background required. It's OK to be ignorant, but not to be stupid. Being pretentious is even worse. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Jun 12 '17 at 21:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ I just looked at your question on the main site, and it's still confusing what you are really trying to accomplish. This isn't the place for a detailed critique, but had I originally seen that questions, I probably would have voted to close on the grounds of there being too much hand waving, too many details that would require excessive back and forth to get resolved, and it smelling like a X-Y problem. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Jun 12 '17 at 21:26

Your perceived problem

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, but you can't possibly expect EE professionals to be interested in a site filled with clueless questions. It's all about what kind of community you want to be part of. \$\endgroup\$ – Dmitry Grigoryev Jun 10 '17 at 0:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that is says anyone, not any question. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Jun 10 '17 at 19:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ So now SE's own marketing is taboo? I wonder what Adrianna would say? \$\endgroup\$ – Paul Uszak Jun 11 '17 at 22:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Anybody can win a nobel prize too. \$\endgroup\$ – PlasmaHH Jun 12 '17 at 11:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PlasmaHH Why don't you tell that to Adrianna then and get it taken of your front page since you know better? \$\endgroup\$ – Paul Uszak Jun 12 '17 at 11:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PaulUszak: I have a front page? Where? And do you disagree that anybody can win a nobel prize? Are you implying that women can't or why should I tell that to that Adrianna that you keep mentioning... \$\endgroup\$ – PlasmaHH Jun 12 '17 at 11:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Actually that page somewhat contradicts the EE Tour page which says "Electrical Engineering Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for electronics and electrical engineering professionals, students, and enthusiasts." That's not anybody, though of course the term enthusiast is very subjective. \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin Jun 12 '17 at 11:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PlasmaHH You don't know who Adrianna is do you? Hint - you work for her. I would be wise to understand what you're actually doing before trying to change something that's outside of your control /remit. \$\endgroup\$ – Paul Uszak Jun 12 '17 at 11:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PaulUszak: I work for her? Hm, I just went over the office of my boss, he says his name is not Adrianna. Did he lie to me? Also what of the many things I am trying to change in the world are you referring to that is outside of my control? \$\endgroup\$ – PlasmaHH Jun 12 '17 at 11:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Lundin: As per the common "you can achieve everything" mantra, anybody can become an EE and thus build of the necessary knowledge to post questions here ;) \$\endgroup\$ – PlasmaHH Jun 12 '17 at 11:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I guess EE is subjective too. In some countries engineer won't be a diplomaed title. And what about me, who's a computer engineer, I might be persona non grata too :) \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin Jun 12 '17 at 12:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Lundin I don't know why you're smiling. In the UK, engineer isn't a protected title so covers anyone with a spanner and that's the stereotype. It denigrates the whole point of education which itself is satirised (in the UK). It's actually cool to say "I'm so stupid that..." Here Big Brother, X Factor and Eastenders is our new opium. \$\endgroup\$ – Paul Uszak Jun 12 '17 at 12:20

I don't think there should be a minimum, but assumptions on who the audience or the OP is often determine the assumptions for what they understand and the level of communication. I think a minimum for this site ought to be to include a PROFILE background and geographic location which puts things into perspective like line frequency, availability of overnight shipments from distributors and scholastic training, and goals. like to make a better mousetrap, to get tech support, where little exists at work, to get real world advice to an academic or to satisfy a curiosity in the applications of electronics.

People with anonymous backgrounds. Do they deserve our time?

Also at a bare minimum the question needs self review to ask, what am I assuming that some people I want to understand may not appreciate to help answer the question. e.g. webspecs, links, photo, schematic, project functional needs,

Also any question ought to have a check box for priorities like:

  • 1) least effort,
  • 2) fastest schedule,hours, weeks months drop dead date
  • 3) least cost , high volume, tight budget, broke, lowest risk of failure
  • 4) best performance, accuracy, SNR, bandwidth , acuity, detection error rate, best false positive error rate

Then rank above prompts in any order) 5,2,1,3,4 or 1,2,x,(x) don't care about the rest

There is no such thing as a dumb question, as long as it "meets our specifications" whatever they are.... before sending it, user self check list is a good way tomfilter chaff. like ...

Have you searched the forum yet before you ask this Question?

Have you searched anywhere? if so what did you learn, not learn, need to know?

My motto is a good question with good specs deserves a Better Answer. A poor one deserves to be deleted or revised with assistance to a weblink on how to ask a question

Added Recently

  • Arguments: I say No stupid questions, only uneducated facts, uneducated reasoning and hence uncertain or incorrect conclusions hence what appears to be a DUMB QUESTIONS is merely person's inability to understand the Laws of Physics AND Logic are necessary to ask a better question.

    • Users appear dumber than most (in any field), because of the following reasons;
    • they don't know the answer for sure, at all or even close
    • they have inadequate experience of what works, fails or is even close
    • to know what Theorems, Examples or solutions exist or Answers to Questions
    • Assumptions:
    • Electronics and Engineering are defined an "Applied Science" or application of laws of physics and logic (easily proven)

    • The best assumptions are the Laws of Logic and Physics.

    • Schematics Diagrams are called Logic Diagrams for a reason
    • The best Rules of False or BAD Logic are called Fallacies which have been provable like the Laws of Physics by Aristotle, Plato and others.
    • There are 44 Rules of Bad Logic or Fallacies. Aristotle defined them
    • You may know one of them" argumentum ad hominem" which originally meant appealing to the person's favoritism or weakness, for agreement but now also the converse which is not always true by laws of logic but is equated true for this phrase, No Personal Attack, not same as to prove in court unworthy of trust, but rather slander)
    • The more we understand; the less we know, since we realize there is so much more to learn. This is wisdom, not getting dumb.
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The forum does offer "questions that might be related to what you're asking" when you're asking a question. Ultimately, no matter how idiot-proof we try to make the forum, there'll always be a better idiot. You do raise some good points about being forthcoming with all the details (even if the poster finds them irrelevant). \$\endgroup\$ – Chris M. Jun 7 '17 at 20:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ All good ideas.. Good luck getting the kid from SE that does their web development to facilitate that though :( \$\endgroup\$ – Trevor_G Jun 7 '17 at 20:35
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ perhaps we should collaborate and make a weblink to other examples in the forum header.."Attributes of a great question to solve any problem." with examples. and pop up before publish. membership ought to require this profile of which best describes you... from my answer..for example \$\endgroup\$ – Tony Stewart EE75 Jun 7 '17 at 20:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ not meeting new guidelines for membership and questions can be easy triggers for a moderation filters. (!) \$\endgroup\$ – Tony Stewart EE75 Jun 7 '17 at 20:46
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ "There is no such thing as a dumb question" is one of the dumbest statements ever made. As evident to anyone who has used Stack Exchange for longer period of time. "There are sometimes questions which aren't stupid" is far more accurate. \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin Jun 8 '17 at 11:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Lundin I don't know that I agree that there is such thing as a dumb question. Maybe it's more like "any question can be a dumb one if asked out of order"? Like Olin said above, if you don't have the basics you should ask about them, instead of skipping over them to ask about things you aren't ready for. It's not dumb to ask how to draw a schematic. It is dumb to ask about MOSFET operation without knowing something as simple as tracing a circuit into schematic form. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris M. Jun 8 '17 at 12:40
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisM. Picking a random tag from my area of expertise, [C] programming... reading the 5 most recent questions... Q1: someone thought they had a programming problem but it was caused by them not understanding how a battery symbol in a schematic should be drawn. Q2: an incomplete question which uses floating point on a 8 bit PIC. Q3: some rather unclear and confusing questions about checksums that suggest that the OP don't quite know what they are doing. Q4: the floating point on 8 bit PIC guy again. Q5: someone who is surprised to find a wdog present on their MCU. \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin Jun 8 '17 at 12:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Now, did I by pure chance get 5 out of 5 stupid questions, or could it be that "there are sometimes questions which aren't stupid"? All of these questions had one thing in common: the OP lacked fundamental understanding of very basic things. \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin Jun 8 '17 at 12:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Right, but my point is that those people shouldn't be asking about programming if they don't fully understand schematics or precision. They should be asking about schematics and precision instead. They're asking the questions in the wrong order, and that's what makes the question "stupid". \$\endgroup\$ – Chris M. Jun 8 '17 at 13:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Lundin I may wish to rescind my point about "stupid questions"...although it seems the user is just not wording his question specifically enough. electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/309805/… \$\endgroup\$ – Chris M. Jun 8 '17 at 16:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ My whole point is unless our forum has good specs, a question is difficult to judge. Just like any design. The problem is not the question, rather our specs, requirements, criteria checklist. So the onus is on the forum to define these then the onus on the user is clear. It either meets or does not meet the criteria. Until then Dumb is based on our assumptions and the Ops assumptions and there is no clear criteria for the OP to self-assess their question before pressing SEND \$\endgroup\$ – Tony Stewart EE75 Jun 8 '17 at 20:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Those (-2) users who failed to communicate their assumptions for judging this answer remain hidden like the profiles of dumb questions we hate. \$\endgroup\$ – Tony Stewart EE75 Jun 9 '17 at 21:31
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Couldn't get myself to read more past the first paragraph of nonsense. People not deserving our answers because they don't tell where they live and what their background is? This isn't tinder. As per the site guidelines questions need to be selfcontained anyways, so if the missing information is in the profile, it is considered not there anyways. Additionally the goal of the site is not to answer individual peoples problems, but to collect knowledge that others will be able to use too, so please in the future mark your answers for what location, line frequency and education it is intended for. \$\endgroup\$ – PlasmaHH Jun 12 '17 at 11:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hey, your cockamamie ideas are as well received as my daft ones, and all I did was to post a picture of the site's front page... \$\endgroup\$ – Paul Uszak Jun 15 '17 at 0:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I disregard ignorance. You are correct in quoting "ANyone can ask a question". Ignorance is disregard my reasoning that this sites needs better specs or slef-checks to gauge the quality of the question before asked. It seems to reflect personal disagreement without any justification, and any lack of evidence to the contrary , I disregard as a cockamanie vote. @PlasmaHH ty for ref to Tinder. Nonsense is false assumptions or ambiguity in the question and regional and experience background helps in defining assumptions of answers regarding skills . Promotes quality of response with clarity \$\endgroup\$ – Tony Stewart EE75 Jun 15 '17 at 22:03

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