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I've recently asked a question on EE.SE about setting up a home electronics lab which has been closed for being too broad. Original Question

The default explanation that I've seen for removing these types of questions are along the lines of 'preventing answers/comments becoming discussions' 'keeping the focus of the site to electronics design'

However a lot of the discussion these questions create has really useful content. In the case of my question the answer I got before it was closed highlighted things that I hadn't thought of. The question was on topic for electronics design and was generic enough that other people in similar situations to myself would have found answers / comments useful.

Closing questions that are so broad they either a. cant be answered or b. aren't useful to anyone else but the author or c. are impossible to answer is fair enough but I've seen a lot that would have been helpful

Is there a place these types of questions should / could live?

Id further like to add that when closing a question like this it should be necessary to give suggestions / pointers about how the question can be made more specific as many times I've seen questions being closed and the author re-posting a very similar question getting frustrated they cant see how to make it more specific.

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I can eventually suggest chat for this, which has much less strict requirements. The problem is that chat leverages far less visibility than regular questions, so if you're lucky, you'll eventually have an answer from a single guy (my bet would have been for PlasmaHH, but unfortunately he doesn't seem to be around anymore - probably The Photon, then).

But it is true your example question is too broad for the Q&A format on the main site. The basic rue is: given your question, as formulated: there is no definitive answer, even if there could be lots of good hints. The problem for these kind of questions are:

  • The good hints/noise ratio is very low.
  • People will typically need to ask for more details to be able to make sensible answers (what kind of circuits are you designing? do you sell them or is it just a hobby? what is you experience? ...). This too can generate a lot of noisy comments.

In the end, it is hard for somebody who later reads that to gather information that can be useul for him. So it isn't a good fit.

Such questions could become acceptable if you narrow them down, for example "I'm doing hobby electronics, mainly on these kind of circuits, in this context (e.g. analog, digital, hifi amps, alarms with arduinos, whatever, ...). Do you think a 100Msps digital oscilloscope is useful in my case?". You need to have specific questions that have definitive answers. But you can eventually ask any number of questions.

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This is a common question, but the harsh reality is that it's not "our" job to find the right place for your questions. This is true for questions about where on Stack Exchange to ask a question, but also true for external websites.

Any such question would turn in to a list-question, and Stack Exchange isn't great for those. Stack Exchange started because the old discussion-centered forums didn't work well when you just wanted an answer. Every question quickly filled up with "my two cents" and duplicates. Now that Stack Exchange has become so popular thanks to these policies, people naturally want to tap this resource, forgetting about the reason it all started.

Your question is however a perfect forum question, and you should seek out a discussion forum where such questions are on topic. They are still out there and thriving and I'm sure you can find one that suits your needs.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I understand your point about preventing it turning into a forum. With that said it would still be useful to have a suggestion when the question is closed of 'this would be more suited to a forum' or a suggestion of how the question can be salvaged / made more specific. I think this is also certainly a bigger issue for non-native english speakers who just need a push in the right direction to make a question less broad \$\endgroup\$ – theguitarfreq Feb 15 at 13:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AndyWest for every "forum" question or discussion, I believe Quora or Reddit have its section. \$\endgroup\$ – Andrew T. Feb 15 at 15:37
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Where? Right on Electronics StackExchange. But rather than re-think the where, perhaps you should re-think the how:

I've grown my electronics experience, home lab, and various projects all while using StackExchange to varying degrees. The trick is to have focused questions.

The question "What safety considerations in setting up a home lab?" can mean a lot of things. ESD safety for components? Electrical safety for the occupant? Fire safety for the home? Safety for your cat that loves to investigate your bench?

Break such a question down to constituent parts and really focus on a particular aspect. Say you're building the bench and wondering about whether you should get an ESD mat and connect it to ground. Look for questions that already deal with that topic first, and then if you don't find anything, ask about it.

Say you're considering getting a soldering station and wonder whether you should invest in one with various safety features (power-off timer, sleep function, etc.). Again, look for questions that already cover this, and then ask a new question if you don't find what you're looking for.

The advantages to this strategy are many:

  • You help potential users answer your question more quickly, because they can focus on a specific point rather than try to think of all the variables.
  • Your questions address several concerns of a home electronics lab separately and therefore may produce more keywords relevant to those concerns, and thus appear in search results more easily.
  • You could acquire more StackExchange reputation (internet points!) in having multiple (well-written) questions.
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