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Is there a place on the electronics.stackexchange to ask the opinion of the community?

It strikes me that the electronics.stackexchange is an invaluable resource, I don't know many other places where you can talk to a large number of electronic engineers from a wide mix of fields and disciplines.

Is meta that place? - Or is it simply against the rules to tout opinions?

I think it would be a shame to miss out on a golden opportunity to gain insight into the world of electronic engineering, I've personally wanted to ask people for tips and opinions on many questions, it would be good to know if there is a place to do this on the electronics.stackexchange.

Thx.

EDIT:

Example questions, that may produce a lot of opinionated answers-

  • What soldering iron equipment would you recommend, any particular brand or manufacturer?
  • Are there any electronics companies that have really good customer service?
  • What PCB manufacturers produce good quality boards?
  • I want to make an electronic dice - what chip would you use for this application?

Questions like this may be dismissed for being too vague or broad and not having one particular answer, but by asking questions like this you can allow people to consider a broader range of factors when considering a response. Just because the question seems broad, this does not mean that the answer cannot be specific, there may only be a few key answers or a single consensus, which could be based on verifiable facts, opinions are one thing, but backing them up is quite another.

To a greater or lesser extent many answers will contain opinion, just spend 5 minutes reading some of the comments and answers on the electronics.exchange, much of it is observation and hearsay (from today's newest questions)- " I imagine they are quite rare and expensive" "some packages the middle pin is omitted, I haven't seen it that often" "I can't imagine a good reason for all the analog" - These are legitimate answers that can be useful, without having to see an industry report on the number of TO220 packages available on the market that have a missing pin.

After all- when was the last time you saw an answer with a reference for every last assertion?

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    \$\begingroup\$ can you provide specific examples of these questions, the ones you might want to ask? Helps focus when there is a concrete example... \$\endgroup\$ – Jeff Atwood Jul 9 '11 at 12:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jeff I've edited the question to include some examples \$\endgroup\$ – Jim Jul 9 '11 at 18:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ see my updated answer \$\endgroup\$ – Jeff Atwood Jul 10 '11 at 4:58
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Would electronics be interested in having a companion blog?

http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/06/blog-overflow/

This would be a "bully pulpit" for stating some opinions, as well as a place to delve into topics that our concrete Q&A format is not good at, but will still be of interest to the community.

edit: OK, considering your examples …

  • What soldering iron equipment would you recommend, any particular brand or manufacturer?
  • Are there any electronics companies that have really good customer service?
  • What PCB manufacturers produce good quality boards?
  • I want to make an electronic dice - what chip would you use for this application?

… these are all explicitly disallowed for the reasons in https://electronics.stackexchange.com/faq#dontask

It helps to focus on the thing you are trying to accomplish rather than soliciting random blue-sky opinions. That is:

  • I need to solder some extremely fine details at a low temperature, any recommendations for soldering irons good in that situation?
  • I need to find a Frobzit 12 and some red and blue Ganymeshes; which electronics companies have this and are reliable? (rarity and uniqueness is important here)
  • I need a PCB that's resistant to the outdoor elements for a board that's going on a rally vehicle. What PCB manufacturers have something that fits?
  • I want to make electronic dice in an extremely small, actual dice size form factor -- what chip will work in that situation?

I agree that for the extremely general stuff you are describing, chat (or the blog) will be best.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's a good idea if there's no alternative, it would just be better from a user standpoint to change the regulations and make it easier to contribute opinion (I'm not saying we have to have accept crazy arguments- those etiquette rules should still apply) \$\endgroup\$ – Jim Jul 9 '11 at 12:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm just trying to think of what will benefit the electronics.stackexchange most, there would be no point in a companion blog if nobody wanted to use it, and it still would not address the issue of questions that fall into the grey area between "fact" and "opinion" \$\endgroup\$ – Jim Jul 9 '11 at 12:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think this would really help with what Jim is talking about. I think chat is the best place for those type of questions. \$\endgroup\$ – Kellenjb Jul 10 '11 at 3:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jeff Ok- I now see the reasons for keeping the very open ended questions separate, chat is always a possibility, but it's not great for people who don't have the time to sit online while they get all their answers, so a blog would be better for that-> but I think that Meta would be a good place to put questions of this kind, it would accommodate more people and not bloat E.E with unessential features \$\endgroup\$ – Jim Jul 11 '11 at 8:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was thinking about- kids at school doing surveys, maybe even media research or company research, this community has a great opportunity to contribute to this. Many of us offer electronics products and services, it would be cool to have a platform to find out what people from the community want. \$\endgroup\$ – Jim Jul 11 '11 at 8:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jim, chat handles in such a way that you just flag back and forth, I talk to other moderators that I never see online quite regularly. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Jul 12 '11 at 14:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I see, I did not know that, that's pretty cool \$\endgroup\$ – Jim Jul 12 '11 at 20:15
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While I may have asked one or two questions in the past which are borderline subjective, I don't favor this. When you ask for factual information the answer is given by stating the facts, and that's it. If you ask for opinions, everybody has a different one, and the discussion doesn't end before everybody agrees about just one. Which won't happen, this isn't Twelve angry men. Discussions will go on endlessly, and sometimes may get heated as well, and the latter could be the death of EE. Now everybody is courteous, nice and helpful, let's keep it that way. :-)

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    \$\begingroup\$ I see, but there has been opinion based questions on meta in the past that have not gone on forever and a day- such as 'Selection of Logo' \$\endgroup\$ – Jim Jul 9 '11 at 10:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ As a community driven resource, is it not essential to find out the opinion of the community at times? \$\endgroup\$ – Jim Jul 9 '11 at 10:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jim - Personally I don't see the need, but others may differ. Do you have an example in mind? \$\endgroup\$ – stevenvh Jul 9 '11 at 10:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ such as- 'what chip manufacturers do you prefer?' obviously at lot of answers would be opinionated and experiential but, someone starting out in electronics could benefit a lot from the answers. \$\endgroup\$ – Jim Jul 9 '11 at 11:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ I just think that being able to express opinion is important and valid and it throws up a lot of good answers and reasoning. \$\endgroup\$ – Jim Jul 9 '11 at 11:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jim - Well, maybe yes. This kind of opinions already appears in passing. Only yesterday I commented on my positive experiences with Panasonic caps. It would have to be a community wiki, since there's no definite answer. \$\endgroup\$ – stevenvh Jul 9 '11 at 11:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ It seems like a grey area, and it confuses / frustrates me a bit. I just think opinion would broaden the electronics.stackexchange and offer more than information that can be gleaned from wikis and google searches- I want peoples personal experiences and opinions, It's what first attracted me to Chiphacker. \$\endgroup\$ – Jim Jul 9 '11 at 11:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it would be very useful to allow questions with subjective answers, and see which ones are voted up by the largest number of people. This would be an opinion poll rather than "vote up answers that are factually correct". But that's against the rules. Opinions are often not welcome on wikis, which distill out only verifiable facts through many edits. Opinions are welcome on forums, but forums have a terrible signal-to-noise ratio compared to Stack Exchange. \$\endgroup\$ – endolith Jul 9 '11 at 15:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ So does everything go on the community wiki? - or just the posts that are ticked wiki? \$\endgroup\$ – Jim Jul 9 '11 at 19:14
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I know I'm a newbie here but I use other Stack Exchange sites (such as StackOverflow), and my opinion is that these types of subjective questions are completely valid, and just as important as the non-subjective ones. I think that it's perfectly acceptable to ask a question that is subjective in order to get answers that are ranked and up-voted. I believe that this is what Stack Exchange sites are best at: providing an outlet for someone to ask a question in order to get help from the community, and allowing the community members to weigh in on the topic and give their opinion.

If you don't want to get up-votes for asking your question, you could mark it as community wiki, but that's not really the solution.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ On the last point, it's not a solution at all - community wiki doesn't stop votes. You'll still have them voted and ranked against the rest of your content. \$\endgroup\$ – Grace Note Aug 31 '11 at 14:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Exactly. Like I said, community wiki is so you don't take credit (get points) for your answers/questions. \$\endgroup\$ – Andrew Aug 31 '11 at 14:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ That doesn't really change the impact of the post on the whole site, though, which is the primary issue here. The impact on the author is minimal in comparison to what the voting does across the site - even if it doesn't reap reward, a community wiki question is just as representative of the quality and expectation of the site as a non-community wiki one. Community wiki is not a tool for handling these kinds of scenarios. \$\endgroup\$ – Grace Note Aug 31 '11 at 14:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's exactly what I'm saying. Someone mentioned that "you could mark the questions like this as Community Wiki" and I said "that's not the solution". \$\endgroup\$ – Andrew Aug 31 '11 at 19:01

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