From time to time in a question reference is made to some (exotic) component, and the asker often seems to presume that the dingus is known. Which often is a false presumption, resulting in me having to Google the part, and sometimes not even finding a decent datasheet.
So I would like askers to add links to datasheets to anything less common than an LM7805 or 2N3904. I have often edited someone else's question to add this. How can we encourage them to add a link to a datasheet?

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    \$\begingroup\$ although it does not affect new users, I can edit into the faq that links to datasheets are nice. Users whom do not link it often have their problem because they cannot find it. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Jul 14 '11 at 7:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk - Adding it to the FAQ would be nice, thanks. I have to admit, though, that the FAQ wasn't the first thing I looked at when I first came to EE, but that's probably what you mean when you mention new users. \$\endgroup\$ – stevenvh Jul 14 '11 at 7:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk - I'm not sure they can't find the datasheet, I have the impression that they simply don't think about it. \$\endgroup\$ – stevenvh Jul 14 '11 at 7:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I think I was on the site for 4 months before I read it. Many users just post the question here and let us do all of the work. They probably could find it if they looked, and often a confusing question is very simply a misunderstanding with absence of the datasheet. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Jul 14 '11 at 7:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ I must point out that I was unaware of data sheets when I first started making circuits, I'm afraid that if E.E becomes too stipulative with regard to how questions are asked, many noobs or kids would be scared off using the E.E - However I agree with @Kortuk that an amendment to the FAQ could be helpful. \$\endgroup\$ – Jim Jul 14 '11 at 8:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jim - I have this dysfunction that I'm maniacal about documents (nothing that needs treatment, though :-)), and I can't overstress the importance of datasheets when you start designing things. Learn to read and interpret them. \$\endgroup\$ – stevenvh Jul 14 '11 at 8:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @stevenvh, all good engineers value documentation. If you do not value it, how would I ever see anything that makes me thing you are good. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Jul 14 '11 at 8:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jim, I slowly oscillate what I want to improve because often what I am putting a lot of comments on other users will take over. I occasionally spend time just getting people to be nicer. Most of our community is nice, but a few users, looking at you Leon, can be a bit gruff. I sometimes just edit their comments to be ridiculously nice. I have already edited the faq. let me know how you guys like it. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Jul 14 '11 at 8:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Stevenvh @jim, maybe we should make a single question with answer explaining why datasheets are important. I can go ask a question to that effect and make it CW and you guys can make a long nice post about why they matter. We can then link to it to teach new users about datasheets. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Jul 14 '11 at 8:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk - The FAQ edit looks fine to me, thanks. About courteousness, I try to be nice to everybody, and most people do (even if I used an exclamation point once or twice too). You mention Leon, and I agree, he can be curt, and his "This is bad and will be closed!" sometimes irritates me, especially the exclamation mark. I told him a few times, but I guess bad habits are hard to change. \$\endgroup\$ – stevenvh Jul 14 '11 at 8:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @stevenvh, he is just an example of what is probably not offensive with the tone of real speech, just drop in a nice comment after him and explain. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Jul 14 '11 at 9:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ You don't hvae to google the part since you don't have to answer the question at all. I generally don't follow links in questions because I feel the OP has a obligation to provide the one-paragraph level overview of whatever he expects us to know. Sometimes I answer questions deliberately without the missing or lazily linked to information to make a point. I want to see datasheet links with a sentence or two telling me roughly what it is, because often it's irrelevant anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Jul 14 '11 at 14:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk I think a demo Q is a great idea- it would provide a quick and easy way for people to learn how to ask and answer questions well. +1 \$\endgroup\$ – Jim Jul 14 '11 at 15:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @stevenvh - Yeah I know that now, when I look at a new component I'm straight after the datasheet! I'm just not v good at reading :( I keep missing things in the small print, I like the nice diagrams and pictures though :) \$\endgroup\$ – Jim Jul 14 '11 at 15:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jim - Yes, that's how we graduated with honors in kindergarten. :-) Seriously, datasheets are documents you have to get used to. If you're not experienced you might miss that one important line on page 64. Well, you still may miss it if you are experienced... \$\endgroup\$ – stevenvh Jul 14 '11 at 16:53

Ahem, okay here we go...

I appreciate that in answering a question on the Electronics.stackexchange members are often going out of their way, taking the time to research a component, often retrieving various links and datasheets- which to some may be an obvious prerequisite.

I agree that, in a show of respect to the individuals answering said questions, people asking questions should endeavour to provide as much information as possible. As a result of the wide range of users, which all have different levels of knowledge, I do think it would be prudent to highlight the best ways for users to help others answer their questions.

I also acknowledge the benefit of members seeking out their own links and datasheets as a means of cross referencing and insuring their relevance or usefulness. However, as the Electronics.stackexchange is a information source in its own right, and answers/questions are not necessarily just for the person asking, I see the benefit of providing datasheets whenever possible as a bigger imperative.

**I think that the best way to help members out would be, as Kortuk suggested, to provide a simple example Q&A thread, highlighting the main ways to help members out, by considering what material to include and how to ask a question- not just properly but also most effectively.

Owing to the fact that many members fail to read the FAQ thoroughly when they first join and ask a question, it may be good idea to consider a 'Please read before you post' section (This could be a notification popup when new users first signup)- The FAQ section may not be an obvious place for people to start, and the information in this section may often be overlooked, despite the recent and useful edit- Thx @Kortuk.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That was weird, I went to edit my answer, and on saving, it posted it again!? \$\endgroup\$ – Jim Jul 14 '11 at 16:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ A reason for linking to the datasheet is that you're sure to be talking about the same thing. If you don't post the link everybody can have a datasheet from a different manufacturer, and they don't always agree in the details. \$\endgroup\$ – stevenvh Jul 14 '11 at 17:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @stevenvh- sure, that's another good reason, I was kind of touching on that point in the 3rd paragraph with the information source and cross referencing thing, I totally agree with you. \$\endgroup\$ – Jim Jul 14 '11 at 17:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jim, i will try to write something I think will go well. On that note, completely new users whom just need help are going to just take a shot at it and we can inform them of practice. Just linking to the faq does work. We can discuss it later when I post my answer. This is the general idea. I thought it would specifically be useful to have a thread on the main site that asks about what a datasheet is for. Maybe another for how to go about finding datasheets. The first expressing the value of information, what to look for and such. The second explaining that manufacturer matters and such. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Jul 14 '11 at 19:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk - Yeah that sounds great, I think it would be of great benefit to the noobs. It can be easy to forget what it was like to start from square one, we were all there at some point- accept yourself of course, we all know you were born with an ICSP port in the side of your head, and the info was just downloaded directly to your brain ;) \$\endgroup\$ – Jim Jul 14 '11 at 21:01

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