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I was trying to decide whether or not to ask a certain type of question on EE.SE concerning expanding my knowledge of electronics etc.. I then found this question from 2012:

Canonical "Software developer wanting to learn electronics" question

Which almost covers the type of question I wish to ask.

Olin has answered with the suggestion of making a single community-wiki question for future reference but I don't think it has been done (or at least I wasn't able to find it).

If there still is no community-wiki question concerning the process of learning electrical engineering, do the members of this site still prefer creating a reference question/answer or do they prefer individual questions which might or might not be (clear or not so clear duplicates of) earlier questions?

This concerns mostly questions such as

I'm looking to learn about X, what are some good resources ?

or

Where can I find exercises and textbook information about analog circuits?

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Typically for those who wish to further their understanding in a particular industry should understand what they wish to know and do. Asking recommendation for resources is pretty vague, but we used to provide recommendations. However, I believe there are have been reevaluations of how our website should be ran and it is now seen as off-topic.

It is hard to give recommendations to further an interest in a particular field because none of us really know the capabilities and background of the person asking the question. While giving particular resources such as websites, textbooks, or research journalism is pretty much the best of source for such information, the information may be outdated and contain mistakes, which is why authors and scholars provide new editions to their research or that someone else cleans up their mess. The reason why you may find multiple different versions of textbooks with the same topic is because the author saw a problem with existing material in such topic and decided to clarify and/or correct such mistakes from previous publications. If you decided to make a textbook with absolutely no flaws and explained everything perfectly, you could technically dominate that particular subject. However, I believe you will always receive some type of criticism from your readers.

But back to why asking for resources may be off-topic: Simply, it is way too vague. It would be like me asking an aerospace engineer if they have any recommendations on what resources to provide guidance on how I can make my own aircraft. I would first have to understand basic Newtonian physics, then fluid dynamics, then control theory, then statics, then some multivariate calculus, then some material science, and so forth.

If you asked me how a computer is capable of adding 2+2=4, I would first tell you to learn some basic circuit theory, then some transistor logic, then some fundamentals in digital logic and Boolean stuff, then understand the fun topic of computer architecture, and then finally perhaps understand how interpreters and compilers work from a software side. Surely you would not want to understand all of that for one answer, right? There are so many building blocks to get to where you want be. This is why attending a university is a great way to understand something because they structure their curriculum to make sure each depend on each other and that you have the background knowledge to move onto the next topic. You will never learn computer architecture during your first semester.

For those who simply want to make an LED glow on their breadboard are basically missing the appreciation of how it works. If someone is not capable of attending a university for whatever reason, they need to understand how to progress their understanding in such topics. A lot of universities have degree roadmaps of courses and their respective course syllabi. For someone who cannot attend a university should make a note of what they need before jumping into what they want to do or wish to understand. I have tried to teach my non-electical/computer engineering friends how a computer adds 2+2, for an example, and it is rather difficult.


WRAP UP: So if I had to answer someone's question, "I want to learn X, what are some good resources?", I would then ask them what they know already and what they wish to do once they know about X topic. Do you see the problem here? To be quite honest, if someone is asking for recommendations on where to find good material to learn X topic, I think there is a good chance that they do not have the prerequisite knowledge to understand X topic and maybe, though this may sound pretentious, they lack the motivation to figure everything out on their own. 99% of the time, your answer will be on the internet, textbooks, or academics. I have learned and relearned topics from my university days with those resources. Ironically, I started looking up how a transistor works after my university days and now I understand it a whole lot better.

Learning topics on your own should be at your own leisure and discretion. Questions about such topics to get clarification, however, is fine. No one but you else should have the responsibility in deciding how you should develop your understanding of X topic. We cannot tell you how you should learn a particular topic.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for taking the time to answer my question thoroughly :) I see your points and I think I have a better understanding of why it would be far too vague. (sidenote: too bad EE isn't as popular as web-dev, I find it difficult to find traditional exercise/courses, but I'll keep looking :)) \$\endgroup\$ – FMashiro Dec 22 '19 at 6:44
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In general, resource-seeking questions are not a good fit for the StackExchange format, because the "best" answer changes too rapidly over time.

The Wiki format is a compromise, but it only works if people put in the effort to keep it up to date.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, so, if SE isn't the place to ask questions like 'Where can I find electronic design exercises' or the examples from my question above, do you have a suggestion for how to deal with these questions both from the perspective of a user that encounters them (when they shouldn't really exist) and from the perspective of a user that has such a question but can't ask it here? \$\endgroup\$ – FMashiro Dec 20 '19 at 14:14

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