Someone asked a question on EE.SE:

Does this strategy for crossing electrified water work?

The asker said it was based on this previous EE.SE question:

Does a dangling wire really electrocute me if I'm standing in water?

You'll notice that one of those has a score of -4, and is closed. The other has a score of 48, and is protected.

At first I thought the positively received question must have been from 5+ years ago (back when the community was more accepting), but it's only 2 days older than the question based on it!

  • Does one question very much deserve to be praised, while the other shunned?

  • Are either "on-topic"?

  • How can we explain the disparity in voting and closing?

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Don't read too much into a question being "protected" - it happens a lot to popular questions, sometimes even automatically \$\endgroup\$ – W5VO Apr 11 '19 at 14:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ The upvoted one does mention AC mains, and has some thought put into it \$\endgroup\$ – Voltage Spike Apr 11 '19 at 17:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ These are chemistry questions more so than EE questions. \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin Apr 12 '19 at 13:19
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Protected means only one thing: the question is receiving a lot of attention and possibly also receiving low quality late answers. Moderators or high rep users can give it status protected to prevent such crap answers as well as spam from getting posted. It doesn't necessarily mean that the post is valuable. \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin Apr 12 '19 at 13:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ My point of bringing up that it was protected was just that: It has received so much attention, that it needed protecting. And yet it still has less downvotes than the other question. \$\endgroup\$ – Bort Apr 12 '19 at 13:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was one of the people who responded to the first question. I saw the other answers and felt I had a few things to add that shouldn't get anyone hurt(it was on the risky side of things I'd post here). The second question, not asked on a stack for writers, or in a way that implied it was specifically for some responsible purpose, and with the answer being a huge maybe, I had no urge whatsoever to respond to the second question. I see now the environment has changed a bit in there. I didn't bother downvoting it, but that question had a vibe that didn't make me wonder why other people did. \$\endgroup\$ – K H Apr 16 '19 at 5:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think we can all agree that the last thing anyone wants is for a youtube video popping up with some shmuck shocking himself in salt water, credit stack exchange. As a result people tend to veer towards promoting very safe attitudes, although maybe this question is less sketchy at second glance. \$\endgroup\$ – K H Apr 16 '19 at 5:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ I also wondered what a possible eletrocution in bath tube had to do with electrical engineering. So, I would think: both off topic. \$\endgroup\$ – Huisman Apr 16 '19 at 17:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I always like a good stick figure drawing. \$\endgroup\$ – StainlessSteelRat Apr 24 '19 at 16:46

The original question (the second one in your list) hit the HNQ and tickled the funnybone of a large number of outside visitors, who proceeded to upvote it and the answers. That does NOT mean that it is a good question for the site.

It could be argued that the original question should have been asked on Skeptics.SE, but because of its technical nature, it ended up here. The second question asked for pure speculation, which is off-topic pretty much anywhere, with the possible exception of Worldbuilding.SE.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The HNQ question has only one negative vote. If anything, I'd expect more than the newer one. \$\endgroup\$ – Bort Apr 11 '19 at 14:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ How do outsiders upvote ? I cannot vote unless I am a member of the particular community. Are you saying that outsiders JOIN just to upvote a single question? \$\endgroup\$ – Marla Apr 11 '19 at 16:46
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @Marla It's trivial to join, it takes two clicks. No typing. \$\endgroup\$ – pipe Apr 11 '19 at 16:53
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I understand that it is easy to join. And it should be easy to join. I was hoping that moderator would show the statistics on this vote concerning new members. This is a scientific community, isn't it? No schematic, it didn't happen. No statistics, it didn't happen! \$\endgroup\$ – Marla Apr 11 '19 at 16:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Voting is, and always has been, anonymous. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Tweed Apr 11 '19 at 17:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ How many votes doesn't disclose who voted. \$\endgroup\$ – Marla Apr 11 '19 at 17:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ You didn't ask how many votes there are (which you already know anyway). You asked how many were new members. There's no way to tell. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Tweed Apr 11 '19 at 17:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK. So you don't really know how many votes were from newcomers. I am not disrespecting you Dave. Just trying to see if this is true. A percentage would suffice \$\endgroup\$ – Marla Apr 11 '19 at 17:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I never said I did. I said "outside visitors", which simply means SE users who do not normally "hang out" on EE.SE. Such people may actually be long-time members of EE.SE. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Tweed Apr 11 '19 at 17:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Marla yes, "outsiders" did join a site just to upvote HNQ questions because they look interesting (but ignoring the fact that the questions might not be good on the site). Otherwise, we won't have a feature request such as Prevent questions on Hot List from being upvoted by casual visitors (only rep is from association bonus) \$\endgroup\$ – Andrew T. Apr 12 '19 at 6:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Bort The fact the HNQ question has only one negative vote reinforces the hypothesis that most votes came from users from other stacks. Because you need 125 rep to downvote, and only 15 to upvote. The association bonus grants you 100. Users passing by cannot downvote: downvotes only comes from EE.SE established users. So this also suggests that established users generally think the HNQ question was better and more fit compared to the newer question. \$\endgroup\$ – dim Apr 12 '19 at 9:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dim and the collective commentors. Thank you for the information. Dim, your comment provides the supporting evidence for the answer given here. That is all I was asking for in my comments. \$\endgroup\$ – Marla Apr 12 '19 at 11:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Marla, IME, it's very rare for a question to get above +10 or +15 without hitting HNQ. Once it does hit, it will get +50 pretty easily from people who are not regulars on EE. \$\endgroup\$ – The Photon Apr 23 '19 at 15:51

As Dave mentioned, the first question hit the HNQ and received a lot of off-site attention. There's definitely a very real safety aspect about it, and it's not asking a ridiculous scenario. The answers provide real-world examples of possible hazards, anecdotes to back up justifications, and explanations based on fact.

The second question is a purely hypothetical question. From the help section Don't Ask:

To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where … you are asking an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ______ happened?”

  • \$\begingroup\$ But what has the first question (possible electrocution in a bath tube) to do with electrical engineering? \$\endgroup\$ – Huisman Apr 16 '19 at 17:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Huisman General electrical safety questions have been considered before. A lot of time the safety/electrocution questions are a bit silly or fall under product-specific safety. The question is broader than "will I die if I stick a toaster in my bathtub" in that there is an attempt to resolve the difference between electrical knowledge and reality/common sense. I was on the fence with this one, and ultimately did not act on it. \$\endgroup\$ – W5VO Apr 16 '19 at 21:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Hypothetical question" is a red herring in my opinion. "I need to implement <function>, would <circuit_name> work?" is also worded as a hypothetical question. \$\endgroup\$ – Dmitry Grigoryev Apr 23 '19 at 14:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DmitryGrigoryev I'll have to think about that. I have always taken a "hypothetical question" as meaning a question with a contrived/manufactured/imaginary situation. In your second case, "I need to implement <function>" is not a hypothetical construction, but "What if I needed to implement <function>" would be a hypothetical question. \$\endgroup\$ – W5VO Apr 23 '19 at 15:20

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