It looks like an XY question, but it is not !
It looks like a shopping question, but it is not!
It seems poorly specified, but it is in a certain sense!
It is certainly needed, but it has no chance in EE.SE!
I've found a name to this kind of questions: "technology/component inquiry".
Let me explain. It happens quite often that you "suspect" the existence of some technology, device, IC etc. that could perform a certain task, often a generic one. The trigger may be an application you are working about, or simply personal thoughts. In order to improve your work and knowledge, it is necessary to know if certain technologies, IC or other components exist; you need keywords, general guidelines, but you have no chance in EE.SE. The reasons are listed above. I've tried few times to ask such questions, and this is always the same story: the question immediately irritates the moderators, who found it "insufficiently specified", "shopping", "probably XY". They ask you to precise your application, but you cannot. Even if you invent an application to satisfy their curiosity, this does not help. Inevitably, the question get closed, or, at the best, downvoted.
Are the moderators rude or bad? certainly not. The difference between this sort of questions and shopping, XY, or unspecified question is fine, and you cannot demand from a moderator to have the subtlety of a jurist. Even if he has, he has not to take such nuances into account, until, at least, they have been dealt by the community. This is the aim of this post.
I would like to address 3 topics: first, what is a "technology/component inquiry" question and how should it be written. Second, how the moderators may (should) react to questions of this kind, whenever this not sufficiently obvious, or they are not well written. Finally, what could be the nature or the content of the answers. After this is done, I'd like to know your opinion, and if you think there is a place to this sort of questions in EE.SE.
(a) A technology/component inquiry question is a question where the OP inquires about IC, devices etc. that would perform a certain task he needs or has imagined.
(b) The task may be generic or broad, but it should be clearly described, in the sense that what the OP has in mind should be clear to the readers (in this sense, the question is "well specified").
(c) The inquiry should involve one and only one task (possibly broad or generic).
(d) The OP may advantageously add details to restrict the question to certain limits, but this is not mandatory.
(e) The practical application that needs the technology, if any, should not be mentioned in the question: if it is, the question falls in the realm of ordinary questions and should be addressed as such. Nevertheless, the OP may mention possible applications as a motivation to his inquiry.
(f) to make things clear, the question should be tagged "technology/component inquiry question" (or another name).
2. Now, assume a question looks like a T/C inquiry question but fails to fulfill one or several of the rules above. How may moderators react?
First of all, assume the question is not suitably tagged. It suffices to point it out to the OP:
"If this question is a technology/component inquiry question (link to the rules), please tag it as such".
If the question has been correctly tagged, but it does not follow or partially follows the rules, the moderator may simply pinpoint that, possibly providing a link to the rules.
3. how could the answers look like?
No rule here, only some guidelines:
(a) the answer need not be more specific than the question. In other words, it suffices to answer at the same degree of generality as the question.
(b) If the answer could be interpreted like a "shopping" answer, it may be a good idea to avoid mentioning explicitly the name of the components. Rather, provide keywords that will help the OP to find the particular components by himself. This is often all what is needed.
(c) The answer need not cover the whole range of the required task.
(d) The answer may be very short (keywords), or include some general guidelines or insight about the component/technology etc.
(e) The answer may be "there is no component/technology etc that performs this task". Possibly "because" or "but there is" may follow.
(f) The answer may be more general than the question, that is, it may mention a component that performs a more general task than specified by the user.
Finally, let me give two paradigmatic examples, and one real example.
Ex. 1 :
Question: does there exist IPs that allow, in some general way, to perform electrical feedback ?
Possible answer: "Operational amplifiers" (often abbreviated oamp) form a class of IP that work on the principle of feedback. In fact, an oamp can be seen as a generic feedback machine.
Question: Are there devices/technology that can help to stabilize the voltage of a power supply to a fixed, selected value?
Possible answer 1: So called "voltage regulators" are designed to do that. There are several kind of voltage regulators, "linear regulators", among which "low drop" regulators are a subclass. They work by taking the difference between the input and output voltages, and just burning it up as waste heat. There are also "switching regulators", that work by taking small chunks of energy, bit by bit, from the input voltage source, and moving them to the output. This is accomplished with the help of an electrical switch and a controller that regulates the rate at which energy is transferred to the output (hence the term "switching regulator"). Often a switching regulator is mixed with a "step up/step down convertor".
Possible answer 2: Sure, you can stabilize quite easily the voltage to a fixed value with an oamp, a voltage reference and a transistor. Here is an example (Schematic).
Possible answer 3: If you are dealing with a high voltage, you need more careful design. Link to "the art of electronics", chap. 9, sec. etc.
Of course, the low level examples above are paradigmatic. Here is a more real example of question:
Question: In many applications, what you need is just extracting one frequency from a signal (that is, to know its amplitude). I was dreaming about an IC that allows selecting a frequency of interest, perhaps also, some passing band, and to output the amplitude of the frequency component, exactly like an LM317 allows selecting a regulation voltage. Of course, such IC would be limited in their range of frequencies. Applications include: audio, radio frequency selection, television, frequency response analyser, and even simply eliminating noise from a signal, without having to design a cumbersome sharp filter. Taking this question one step away, I ask about technologies/IC that allows frequency selection in some range of frequencies. The answer may focus on bandpass filter technologies/IC that allows frequency selection, possible "heterodyning" IC, other.
That's all. I would enjoy to know what you think about that.
EDIT: just a final point that is worth to be underlined. T/C inquiry questions not only offer a new desired category, but may well be able to simplify the task of the moderators for usual questions as well: Indeed, when a question falls into this realm (and this is often the case), the moderator needs only to redirect the OP, which avoids useless discussion and frustrations.