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I was looking up on google why there was an x in RX and TX, and I found this. While maybe it was off-topic and should be in English.SE (Though I think EE makes more sense. At least, the OP will find a better answer here), how could this be marked as "opinion based"?

Even if the answers are opinion based, the "closed" box states the question is what needs to be edited. This doesn't make sense to me - the question is as objective as a question can get. History is true and permanent. Maybe no one knows the history, and thus may create bad answers, but regardless the question itself of "What's the meaning of “x” in RxD and TxD of UART?" just isn't opinion based at all. It's a very explicit and factual question.

If the answers are comments are poor, perhaps require higher reputation to answer. I've seen this implemented before. I just don't believe this should have been marked as "opinion based".

Am I simply misunderstanding the meaning of "opinion based"?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ There's no conflict in the messages. A question that would result in opinion based answers needs to be edited into a question that would not result in opinion based answers. Or in the likely case that is not possible, then the question simply does not belong here. Sometimes it's enough to remove a peripheral part of the question. Quite often the line of the question just does not fit the mission of this site. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton Oct 6 '18 at 18:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ "History is true and permanent." I would disagree with that. \$\endgroup\$ – RoyC Oct 12 '18 at 9:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RoyC I find it unlikely you're able to travel back in time :p Theories might change, but the truth won't. My point was that the original question has a definite truth and answer to it, even if no one is able to answer it. I don't believe the question falls into "What's the solution to the Reimann Hypothesis" levels of "Obviously no one can answer", since in fact there were plenty of answers with evidence to them. \$\endgroup\$ – Nicholas Pipitone Oct 15 '18 at 17:00
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You have the correct definition of "opinion-based", and I agree this question does not really fit this definition, because as you said, there cetainly is an objective, factual answer to it somewhere.

But I don't think it is on-topic either. In the help center, examples of on-topic questions are:

  • a specific electronics design problem
  • the theory and simulation of electromagnetic forces
  • a communication scheme
  • the writing of firmware for bare-metal or RTOS applications

The common denominator being electronic design and/or theory. Word etymology isn't design nor theory, so it doesn't have to be covered. Whether it is on-topic on English.SE, I can't tell: I'm not familiar enough with this site. But you must know there are some questions that are not on-topic anywhere on the stackexchange network, so it is not because it is off-topic here that it should be on-topic on English.SE, or the opposite.

So, the question has been rightfully closed (and five people voted to close, so there has been a consensus). Now, what happens is that there are a few canned close reasons (see screenshot below), but "not in scope" is actually not part of them. You can formulate a custom reason, but people sometimes don't take the time to type it, and they take the nearest, or least irrelevant, canned close-reason that is proposed by the system.

The net result is the same, so it doesn't matter that much, except for the OP to know why it is off-topic and not make the same mistake again.

enter image description here

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    \$\begingroup\$ I was about to write my own answer to highlight the phrase You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face, but I think it's better left as a side note to this otherwise correct answer. \$\endgroup\$ – pipe Oct 1 '18 at 9:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @pipe feel free to edit my answer, adding this indeed relevant reference \$\endgroup\$ – dim Oct 1 '18 at 10:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wouldn't the "off-topic" close reason qualify? \$\endgroup\$ – Nicholas Pipitone Oct 1 '18 at 16:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NicholasPipitone The "off-topic" reason is the one for which you must type a custom detailed reason. I updated the post with the screenshot of the close voting dialog, so you'll see the only canned close-reason that was somewhat applicable to this specific post was indeed "opinion-based". \$\endgroup\$ – dim Oct 1 '18 at 20:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't agree that this question is off-topic. Questions about commonly used terms in electronics must surely be on-topic, or I don't know what is. The help -> on topic page is badly in need of a revamp, we already knew that. \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin Oct 5 '18 at 13:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm sure there are plenty of electronics questions that don't exactly fit those four bullet points, so a bit of common sense is necessary to deduce on topic. I think common sense pushes towards keeping the question open as it's a benefit to everyone and the community. It's a good question. \$\endgroup\$ – Nicholas Pipitone Oct 5 '18 at 17:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ The question comes down to if all the points in the accepted answer for this question also applies to word usage. Reason (5) could be coalesced with the fact the understanding the etymology can lead to greater understanding of the theory. The site visibility of HSM doesn't compare, and it's in beta, but theoretically that's where it should go. Better would be to mark it as wrong site and move it to HSM, though i believe it's better placed here. \$\endgroup\$ – Nicholas Pipitone Oct 5 '18 at 17:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with @lundin. Terminology is both part of the theory and the practice: its part of the main way of communicating things. One could argue that etymology about terminology is not part of terminology, but this is really hairsplitting. Anyway, understanding why some technical term is the way it is is part of understanding and learning. And keep in mind that technical terms vary with language. ... \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati supports Monica Oct 9 '18 at 8:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ So it is not naive to ask why a specific term has been chosen: one could well ask why once upon a time capacitors were called condensers, which BTW in Italian has remained (translated as "condensatore" instead of the wrong "capacitore") the correct term. Not everyone is a native English speaker and understanding terminology is part of learning the theory. \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati supports Monica Oct 9 '18 at 8:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ (They are called "kondensatorer" in nordic languages too, likely the same history there.) \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin Oct 9 '18 at 14:26
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I feel some amount of confusion comes from the fact we don't have the "out of scope" close reason than many other sites have. This incites reviewers to abuse other close reasons for questions which are not among the topics that users are supposed to ask about. For example, if someone asks how to fish on Raspberry Pi SE, the question will be closed as out of scope:

enter image description here

There are similar close reasons on other sites ("Blatantly off-topic" on StackOverflow, etc.). On EE.SE, we get the following:

enter image description here

So the reviewer will either have to write a custom close reason, or get imaginative.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The "Blatantly off-topic" is something you get on all sites where you don't have enough reputation to close vote (3k for non-beta sites). The idea is that it puts on the close queue and someone who can VTC can use the "other" option to enter a custom reason if none of the others seem to fit. \$\endgroup\$ – PeterJ Oct 4 '18 at 8:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yup, sometimes the canned close reasons don't fit well. Clicking Off-Topic, then other, then having to delete the nannyish seeded text, then finally writing your own text is often more hassle than I'm willing to put up with as a volunteer. Just pick the nearest handy reason. My catch-all is usually unclear, but they all have the same effect. If SE really wanted us to do better, they make Other less annoying. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Oct 4 '18 at 11:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ Except the question isn't off-topic, since it asks about a term very commonly used in electronics, found in countless schematics and datasheets. \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin Oct 5 '18 at 13:46
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I don't agree with the posted answers so far. I believe the question is on-topic and should be re-opened. No other Stack Exchange fits the question better either.

The question is asking for the rationale about common terms used for electronic signals. Tx and Rx can be found everywhere in electrical engineering, from formal standard terms to IC datasheets. Asking about the rationale behind the name should be as much on-topic as asking about the rationale for the terms "Vdd" or "Vcc".

The posted answer isn't great and opinion-based, but only since it lacks sources. That is no fault of the OP.

I'm voting to re-open the question.


(It is quite possible that the answer originates from radio communication and Morse code. Wikipedia seems to agree and in turn cites various sources.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The question you likely refer to is on-topic because it asks what these terms mean from a design point of view: that is, what these pads are supposed to be connected to, and if there is an electrical difference between, for example, Vcc and Vdd. The answer also address the etymology aspect, and this is nice to know, but this is just an aside. Now, the Tx/Rx question only asks for etymology, so this is different. And the fact it doesn't fit anywhere on SE shouldn't be relevant. \$\endgroup\$ – dim Oct 5 '18 at 14:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with you. This is silly, etymology questions are going to be very rare. There only a couple dozen terms to even wonder about, with most being easily googleable. I myself have asked an etymology questions on the physic SE, even though the physics SE I'm sure does not have English as part of "in scope", it would be absurd to think I wouldn't get a good answer on the physics SE, and it would be absurd to think those who research the answer didn't enjoy it, and those who read the Q/A wouldn't enjoy it. \$\endgroup\$ – Nicholas Pipitone Oct 5 '18 at 17:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's a net positive all the way around, so might as well add a dozen etymology questions to the hundreds of thousands of actually engineering questions. I think treating the SE "on topic" checklist as a bible is wrong. \$\endgroup\$ – Nicholas Pipitone Oct 5 '18 at 17:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ That no other SE site fits a question better (or at all) is irrelevant in defending a question here. The SE system is very specifically and intentionally designed not to handle everything. Not everything with have a home in it, and that is by intent. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton Oct 6 '18 at 18:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ But etymology can't just be dismissed as curious facts. By knowing the origin of a term, we can understand its practical use. As with any domain knowledge. These kind of questions should indeed be few and far in between. They are interesting and often valuable, and the people best suited to answer them are found on this site. I don't see why we should turn away questions about potentially valuable electronics knowledge. While at the same time, we don't turn away incredibly localized repair questions with little value to anyone else but the OP. \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin Oct 8 '18 at 7:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I can't agree more with you! Understanding language and terminology is part of learning. We are still not a site for professionals only. I keep repeating myself, but some users keep on bashing on people really wanting to learn by doggedly narrow the scope to this site to the very letter of the "rules". I'd like those users to propose splitting the site in a "hobbyist/student/hacker" vs. "professionals" version, like many other SE sites have done. Then we'll see how they both fare. \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati supports Monica Oct 9 '18 at 8:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm beginning to be fed off by people saying implicitly the site shouldn't be split and still bashing people wanting to learn. There are lots of questions about something that will rot away in some months, which are deemed "design" questions (how many questions about how to do something using this or that electronic CAD or sw tool?). The OP question is perfectly on topic, IMO, even if not top quality. \$\endgroup\$ – Lorenzo Donati supports Monica Oct 9 '18 at 8:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LorenzoDonati Except there exists no profesional EE who knows the meaning of all terms and signal names used in all branches of electronics. So questions like these are aimed towards professionals as much as anyone else. \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin Oct 9 '18 at 14:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ And then there is the "general electronics arrogance" among professionals, such as for example when silicon vendor x releases the brand new IC y, which nobody in the world has used before, then they publish a datasheet which can only be understood by those who developed the part at silicon vendor x. Then they arrogantly assume that everyone understands how to use that part, implicitly. This is a culture problem that seems rather unique to electrical engineering specifically, and that we have to deal with on this site. \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin Oct 9 '18 at 14:36

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