Since this post outlining component identification guidelines, I keep spotting identification questions being closed for no visible reason or for superficial reasons like a missing identification tag.

Speaker input connector got closed as recommendation question because the author mentioned they wanted to buy similar connectors at Digikey. However, the question asked (What are these plugs called?) is obviously an identification question: the OP didn't ask to search Digikey for them, only which name to search for. The question is missing the identification tag, however, the OP was not told they had to include it.

please help me identify this component (now deleted (screenshot)) was closed as a repair question, even though the OP already found the (suspected) point of failure and were asking to identify the component they wanted to replace. Again, it misses the tag and the OP didn't type out the text on the part, but I don't see how a newcomer could guess it was required if nobody tells them.

I think this is an Op Amp (BIM-79Z2) how can I find datasheet? was deleted by the OP (screenshot), arguably because it was poorly received (4 close votes at the moment of deletion, condescending comments, downvote). The original question was asking to identify several components, however it kept getting close votes even after I edited the question to limit it to the component mentioned in the title.

To sum it up, I don't think it's a sane approach to expect that newcomers will follow the rules without even telling them what the rules are. People who disagree with the value of identification questions to the site are welcome to discuss it on meta, NOT to take it out on random users posting actual questions.

Or did I overlook something which warrants closing and deleting those questions?

  • \$\begingroup\$ For the deleted questions you might want to add screenshots, otherwise you are excluding sub 10k people from the discussion. \$\endgroup\$
    – PlasmaHH
    Sep 28, 2018 at 9:33
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Regarding your last points, there seem to be two kinds here: one says that people should first post whatever they want without regards to the topics and rules, and only then be handhold and told the rules they have broken that are currently relevant, and the others say that people should read the rules before they post anything at all, and if they don't follow the rules, questions get closed. As long as there are people of the second kind, and this is not codified, you will always have questions closed because rules are not followed. To prevent that, we need a rule to not need to follow rules. \$\endgroup\$
    – PlasmaHH
    Sep 28, 2018 at 9:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PlasmaHH When a new user shows up, the system suggest they take the tour. Perhaps this page should list all the rules we expect newcomers to know upfront. Nobody will read the entire meta before posting. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 28, 2018 at 10:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ From all the poor questions we close as offtopic from new posters, I don't think any of them ever even opened that tour page and no matter what we write there will just not read it. \$\endgroup\$
    – PlasmaHH
    Sep 28, 2018 at 10:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PlasmaHH What makes you say that? Could you point me the rules listed on the tour page that the cited questions violate? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 28, 2018 at 11:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think you would need to be able to do that for every of such questions to come to that conclusion, its an opinion that builds up over years of seeing poor quality questions. For ID questions this is often a poor quality photo (e.g. blurry, not cropped) together with the text not saying anymore than "what is this". Questions need to b answerable, I could as well ask you what that 3 pin to200 device is that I have in my hand right now. \$\endgroup\$
    – PlasmaHH
    Sep 28, 2018 at 11:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PlasmaHH I don't think the questions above feature particularly poor photos. The last one is quite blurry, but the OP included the text into their question, so a blurry pic doesn't make it "unanswerable". \$\endgroup\$ Sep 28, 2018 at 11:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ now that you added screenshots, yes the first one is rather poor, it is not cropped and you can't see the marking at all. Besides that, usually these markings on small parts are useless anyways since there is not enough space to write something that maps back to a product. The most important thing is the context, like a partially reverse engineered schematic, and then when lucky you could tell what purpose that part has, but getting to a part number in the end is nearly impossible in such situations, unless someone happens to have that part right in their bins \$\endgroup\$
    – PlasmaHH
    Sep 28, 2018 at 11:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ The last one was deleted by the OP probably because he recognized that he needed a clean-slate. He restated the question here and got his answer. It wasn’t because he felt berated. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 28, 2018 at 18:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BlairFonville I'd say the OP reasonably concluded that there's little chance to get the original question reopened, no matter how they improve it. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 1, 2018 at 7:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ As for your last example, that particular OP had asked another identification question beforehand, with yet another blurry picture. They were fortunate to get an answer, but it was mentioned in the comments there to look at the guidelines for posting such questions. They then went and posted the question you mention, which originally had 4 components in, all with blurry pictures and still didn't follow the guidelines. Hence me (quite politely) mentioning to look at the guidelines again, then I waited some time and when it was not changed, I voted to close as off topic and stated my reasoning \$\endgroup\$
    – MCG
    Oct 1, 2018 at 13:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ The prior identificaton question is here: electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/398182/… \$\endgroup\$
    – MCG
    Oct 1, 2018 at 13:59

3 Answers 3


Keep in mind that component ID questions, like most repair questions, fall into a class of question that is of limited long-term value to the site overall. The answers help the OP, but are very unlikely to help any other future visitor. This dilutes the quality of the repository of design information that we are trying to amass. Component ID questions are particularly bad in this regard — the system can't point the new user to relevant prior material because the title and text for most component ID questions is virtually identical.

Therefore, we have firm guidelines about which questions of these types we will entertain at all. Having written down those guidelines does NOT mean that we MUST accept all questions that meet those guidelines, nor does it obligate the community to help the question meet the guidelines.

Context is everything — if the community feels that the OP doesn't have the background or skills to solve his problem even after identifying the component, they're not going to put the effort into answering the question, which means that it should be closed in order to get it off the site.

BTW, whether or not we put additional information about these topics on the tour page becomes a moot point if the new user never reads it. It's easy enough to check whether they have the "Informed" badge — and neither of the OPs in your examples has it.

  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, but I don't think it's a good policy not to accept questions despite they meet the guidelines. What's the purpose of having those guidelines at all then? The end result of this context-dependent rule is that questions are randomly closed depending on who saw them first, not on their quality. I fully agree that questions don't obligate the community to answer them, but for me that means that poor questions don't get answers. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 28, 2018 at 12:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ See my very first sentence above. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dave Tweed
    Sep 28, 2018 at 12:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ So, repair/identification questions are not flat out disallowed, but each question is at the mercy of the community and can be closed simply because users don't like it? If that's the case, I believe this phrase should be included in the guidelines, so that (rare) users who read them don't get false hopes / unfounded expectations? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 28, 2018 at 13:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ ALL questions are at the mercy of the community. Why would you think otherwise? Again, the tour is rather clear about how SE works in general, and specifically this site. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dave Tweed
    Sep 28, 2018 at 13:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's hard to dismiss questions as too localized though, because what may help future readers isn't always obvious. Someone might ask, like in the example, what's the kind of component that blew up when they connected 12V to a 5V device. Then someone might write a good answer explaining that whenever you connect too high a voltage to any electronic device, the first component to blow is usually the TVS diode on the supply input. That is generic and useful knowledge for a lot of future readers. So even when a question is too localized, it may spawn good answers worth preserving. \$\endgroup\$
    – Lundin
    Oct 5, 2018 at 14:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Lundin: In that case, the question should be edited to reflect the broader issue. Perhaps turn it into a community wiki. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dave Tweed
    Oct 5, 2018 at 14:12

When someone posts a question, in order for them to make that question active, maybe they should have to tick certain boxes like: -

  • Is this a question relating to the repair of a circuit?
  • Is this a question relating to the identification of a component?
  • Is this a question requesting where to purchase such and such a component.

The last one is my favourite because, if "selected" then it immediately (and automatically) deletes the question giving the reason why.

The first two questions would automatically add the correct tags.


If these questions need work, the best course of action would be to close the question, and then direct the users to the on topic page and here: Component Identification Question Guidelines

None of these questions fit the guidelines that were agreed upon.

> Rules for Asking:

  • Include a clear picture of the part in question, including a ruler if possible for scale.
  • Type out any text on the part. Many parts have text that is difficult to read from a picture.
  • Include any information about the surrounding circuit, or any knowledge on the type of system your component came from.
  • Include the tag.

The first question is asking for a specific product and is worded incorrectly, we defiantly do not help people shop on this site.

The other two questions do not follow the guidelines for asking, they do not provide the text on the part or other information about the circuit. Props to the OP's for providing a picture.

Another course of action would be to edit the question and make it presentable, because that about as much effort as closing it or complaining about it.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Regarding the first question, I would refer you to this answer. Either we threat all questions of type "identify this part so I can buy one" as shopping questions, or as identification questions in their own right. I don't mind ether way, but I'd like to see the rules being applied uniformly. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 4, 2018 at 6:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ As for the rules regarding identification questions, that's exactly my point about closing questions formally. No identification tag? Close! Blurry photo (even if the OP typed out the text)? Close. No text (even if the photo is perfectly readable)? Close! I struggle to see what this attitude is going to achieve, expect driving identification questions off the site. At which point, it would be more honest to just say we don't want them. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 4, 2018 at 7:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DmitryGrigoryev If you think their worth saving then add those items yourself and edit the question \$\endgroup\$
    – Voltage Spike Mod
    Oct 4, 2018 at 15:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @laptop2d some of the people who tend to blindly close vote those questions also, have publicly stated on various occasions that they would still do it even if someone else edits the question because "op didn't do it first". And these shotgun close votes mean the question gets closed before edits can be made by others, dooming the question to staying closed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Passerby
    Oct 5, 2018 at 5:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Passerby In that case you could talk to a diamond mod and get the question immediately reopened. If the question meets the requirements for staying opened \$\endgroup\$
    – Voltage Spike Mod
    Oct 5, 2018 at 15:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @laptop2d According to Dave, meeting the guidelines doesn't mean the question has to be accepted, if the community doesn't like it. If one person want a question open, and another one wants it closed, I don't think it's appropriate to ask a mod to override the voting process. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 8, 2018 at 7:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DmitryGrigoryev That is one of the reasons we have diamond mod, sometimes 5 people don't vote right (and commonly do so on this site). That is also why they have the power to do so. \$\endgroup\$
    – Voltage Spike Mod
    Oct 8, 2018 at 15:18

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