For years I'd sensed an edgy, unfriendly arrogance from occasional interactions with some users here in Electronics SE that I don't experience in any other science and engineering SE site, along the lines of what many had complained about in Stack Overflow in the past before it got better.

EE has definitely gotten much better after some changes in site moderators a while ago. Until recently I'd used a profile picture on this site different than the once I use everywhere else network-wide and that difference seemed to have made a difference; with it I got less flack.

Yesterday I tried an experiment and switched back to the same image I use everywhere else, and I immediately noticed a change back to the old, unpleasant experience.

First (left) used here until yesterday; second (right) used everywhere else network-wide

special for Electronics SE to reduce perceived hostility what I use everywhere else, where people are nice

Yesterday I changed back to the mathematical surface used in sphere eversion, asked a question requiring a simple mathematical treatment, and was instantly slammed by a wall of critical, divergent comments and two answers all by one user.

Now the answer to the question is simple and I'd thought it would be a slam-dunk for someone to show that the power radiated by two dipoles driven 90 degrees out of phase is fairly isotropic over the whole \$4 \pi \$ sr in the far field, but instead there are rapid fire comments that proceed in a large number of divergent directions, each testing a way to negate this simple, undeniable mathematical fact.

The barrage of comments require careful reading; taken lightly and combined with the user's rep, they sound authoritative and can appear credible, but taken all together one can see that after each is shown to be false, mathematically problematic or irrelevant, another "angle of attack" is tried. I don't feel this is trying to solve the problem or address the question as much as it is to extinguish my hope of an answer, to cause me to leave the site or to give up participating and not to get to the answer to How can a crossed dipole (turnstile) antenna be omnidirectional in 3D? which is simply to drive them 90 degrees out of phase.

Question: Does this site strive to be positive, thoughtful, cooperative and get to the bottom of interesting questions. Is that what happened on my question, or was it something else? If one feels that a user has a different goal, how can one call this out?

I invite readers to review all of the comments and take them together before addressing the "Is that what happened on my question" part.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Worth noting: irrespective of the question, most of your participation has been on sites which have become substantially divergant from the founding principles of stack exchange, and where you have a long history of posting trivia questions which do not fit the SO model. Here the principles of stack exchange are actually upheld, so a "culture clash" relative to what you are used to is to be expected. Sometimes that actually reflects a commentor's ignorance of a subject, but it's how things work here and in the original design of stack exhange. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton Sep 14 '20 at 5:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisStratton adherence to original design precludes improvement. What are prototypes or the revision/version numbers used everywhere in technology if not an embrace of the reality that we never get it right the first time? \$\endgroup\$ – uhoh Sep 14 '20 at 6:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Such a contradiction of the fundamental idea of stack exchange has most definitely not been an improvement. But regardless, unlike the ones you are used to this site upholds the design intent, so expectations for what is a question or answer here are going to feel unfamiliar. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton Sep 14 '20 at 9:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisStratton is there any evidence whatsoever that the "fundamental idea of stack exchange" included anything like "this shall not change, it is so good that it has to remain just like we planned and never adapt itself to how people actually use the site in the future?" If you can point to some, please share a link. My guess is that was always assumed to evolve and adapt because the founders were smart! Also, If if the adopted improvements, many of which have been driven by SO are not improvements, then why was there agreement to do them anyway? What you describes sounds like a mythology \$\endgroup\$ – uhoh Sep 14 '20 at 11:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @uhoh Maybe "arrogance" is a too hard expression, but, I agree with you that there is a lot of unfriendliness in the "sensible discomfort" that seems to come from the multi-thousand-score-pundits, whenever an "outsider" (as myself) post an answer here. Each answer (specially the simpler ones whose intend to solve OP's problem) is scrutinized down to the minimum details, in order to find any possible glitch. Yes, this theme is problematic: this question itself, had -1 score untill I upvoted it (and now it is 0). Maybe you touched an exposed nerve. \$\endgroup\$ – mguima Sep 15 '20 at 19:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ I personally don't believe your avatar has anything to do with the responses you elicited. The early comments were fine, and your refusal to address them in your replies had fairly predictable results. \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Sep 16 '20 at 12:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ScottSeidman "refusal"? I think I addressed each comment quite well. Here's an example of a criticism that fails once one applies math to it. I took a methodical, step-by-step approach to addressing each comment. There is such a wide range of criticism there, each time something was address, the direction of the criticism changed. \$\endgroup\$ – uhoh Sep 16 '20 at 12:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ScottSeidman There are 19 remaining criticisms, the ones about the hairy ball theorem were deleted because, once again, they were based on math, and then failed because they can be tested. Here's how I addressed the hairy ball theorem-based criticism. So I think that "your refusal to address them" is simply raising a false flag, which is what many of those comments did as well. \$\endgroup\$ – uhoh Sep 16 '20 at 12:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree that your avatar could affect the answer. When I see that avatar I immediately think of "a user who posts hypothetical questions just to pass time, and fills the answers with large off-topic images to draw attention to them". \$\endgroup\$ – pipe Sep 19 '20 at 10:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @pipe which one? There are two displayed. If you can add some specifics that will be helpful. \$\endgroup\$ – uhoh Sep 19 '20 at 10:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @uhoh The one without the cigar :) \$\endgroup\$ – pipe Sep 19 '20 at 10:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @pipe In most SE communities there's very little discussion of ulterior motives to asking questions. This site is still a hot spot for undo focus on individuals and their thinking. Most sites are fairly dispassionate about those things and focus purely on questions and answers. I understand that some individuals like the heat and some might gravitate towards hot-spot sites for that reason, I think in the end it's overall a negative thing and should be reduced. The internet is full of angst and conflict, SE can be simultaneously answer-rich and angst-poor. ESE can do that too. \$\endgroup\$ – uhoh Sep 19 '20 at 10:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ That would again be because you're used to sites that aren't really about deterministic technical questions. Because this site is, we get lots of people wandering in with mistaken preconceived notions that have to be worked through before the actual subject can be usefully addressed. Not infrequently, the mistaken preconceptions turn out to have been the entirety of the issue. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton Sep 21 '20 at 19:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AlejandroNava No, but I remember profile pictures and what they have previously written. \$\endgroup\$ – pipe Oct 23 '20 at 19:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AlejandroNava nobody knows or can know, so beware of anybody who simply say "yes" or "no" and other creators of site mythology. Here I simply noted a surprising correlation and sought input from the community. There are over 170 SE sites and each has its own personality. This one used to be much more contentious than it is now but voting is still fickle and arbitrary. High question-rate sites are a "bumpier" ride. \$\endgroup\$ – uhoh Oct 24 '20 at 2:33

Since I'm the one that took the time to answer your questions, I thought it might be fair to also spend a bit of time on your meta post, uhoh:

Now the answer to the question is simple and I'd thought it would be a slam-dunk for someone to show that the power radiated by two dipoles driven 90 degrees out of phase is fairly isotropic over the whole 4π sr in the far field, but instead there are rapid fire comments that proceed in a large number of divergent directions, each testing a way to negate this simple, undeniable mathematical fact.

Excuse me, what you pose as, quote, undeniable mathematical fact is a falsehood. The antenna you depict is not fairly isotropic. But that's the subject of my answers there, and shouldn't be the subject of meta.

You asked a question on EE.StackExchange; I answered, both from experience, and with a physical background why the claim made ("this specific turnstile is isotropic") is a falsehood.

There's really nothing that moderators would need to do about my answers: They are either right or wrong, and as you noted in a comment, that is subject to readers to signify by voting (after recognizing that, please note how the votes have played out so far, to be consequential).

I did my very best to be authorative, because you asked me to. I've indeed cited the original paper from which that antenna is, with a figure that clearly shows non-isotropicness, and a quote that describes the far field as non-isotropic.

Can overaggressive, unproductive, targeted negative commenting here be unproductive? Did it happen on my question? Can it be reduced?

  • overaggressive: Huh, if that's how it came across, I'm sorry and will have to introspect. I will, however, offer you the insight that this might be a bit of a subjective perception.
  • unproductive: I'm sorry, I don't think that's fair. I've really taken an hour just to write an answer, and to react to every single one of your comments.
  • targeted commenting: Um, I don't understand that term. I've targeted my comments at you, since you're the poster of the post I commented on; that seems the right thing to do.
  • Did it happen to my question: Again, the correctness of the claim you want to have explained shouldn't be subject to Meta discussions, but I think you'll find that if you stop assuming you're 100% right about the thing you ask, maybe your question actually got a lot of attention, positively.
  • Can it be reduced?: This is my point of view, but EE.SE is a community where correct answers go hand in hand with an open, friendly, and honest exchange between experts of different levels. I think I'm very good in my answers and comments to your question on the "open" and "honest" side, and I hope my friendliness didn't fade too much during the feeling that you're not really working with the information I'm giving you but just keep rejecting it. I'm sorry about that.
    That being said, yes, there's a lot of negativity on here, and I'm honestly myself a human that's also grumpy at times. But when I sat down and wrote an answer for you, I wasn't – I don't think that in this particular case, there's much I could have done to reduce the negativity you seem to describe experiencing.
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for taking the time to write such a nice answer! I still have to add the math-based answer I've promised, maybe it will be helpful to see in what ways it does or does not answer the question from that perspective, since math tends to get it right even when us humans get in the way :-) \$\endgroup\$ – uhoh Sep 16 '20 at 11:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ The goals of Stack Exchange include the generation of good answers to on-topic questions for the benefit of future readers as well as the OP. If the antenna is roughly isotropic, then that would have been an excellent answer and (at least a few) future readers would benefit. \$\endgroup\$ – uhoh Sep 16 '20 at 14:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ But it's not isotropic. \$\endgroup\$ – Marcus Müller Sep 16 '20 at 18:26

While I can see why you may feel there is a disagreement, I fail to see how one question constitutes a trend.

My advice: if you see anything that does not comply with the code of conduct, then flag it a moderator will take care of it. Make sure that is does violate the code of conduct, flagging takes moderator time, flags that are not useful count against the flagging score


Users are invited to follow the code of conduct, those that repetedly get flagged are suspended (or those who choose to communicate blantent abuse). There are no (as far as I could see, I read 80% of the discussion) comments on the post or in answers that contain put downs (usually these posts contain the word 'you' or the name of the user), harassment or personal attacks directed towards another user.

Sarcasm is not welcome as it is usually misinterpreted. Other than that someone can disagree with an idea and still post comments or answers. It is possible for many views to exist on complex subjects like antennas (I consider antennas more of an art than a science) If someone has an answer that looks good vote up, if the answer looks wrong vote down.

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    \$\begingroup\$ certainly a code of conduct is a floor or absolute minimum, but what I'm asking about here is something I feel can be anywhere from an unproductive nuisance to disheartening or potentially destructive without necessarily going below it. \$\endgroup\$ – uhoh Sep 14 '20 at 4:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is\was the communication civil with an argumentative tone or a personal attack directed at you? \$\endgroup\$ – Voltage Spike Sep 14 '20 at 4:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think that would go right back to code of conduct; I'm asking about something different than that. \$\endgroup\$ – uhoh Sep 14 '20 at 4:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Then the moderation system does not need to be used. \$\endgroup\$ – Voltage Spike Sep 14 '20 at 4:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm a big fan of moderators and the work that they do, and I suppose that on a site as active as this the moderation system is also actively used for many things besides that. But I've asked about something different than that here. \$\endgroup\$ – uhoh Sep 14 '20 at 7:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a trend that has been going on in this SE for years now: electronics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2777/… \$\endgroup\$ – SurpriseDog Sep 19 '20 at 22:59

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