A question of mine about ground has received three requests to be closed and has received like two downvotes. The three requests say that my answer is a duplicate, probably of this other question.

What my question is about: a specific definition of ground used by some people. Such definition is "ground is the point/node defined as 0 V". I want to know if this definition is correct or not:

  • If it is incorrect, I ask for another definition.
  • If it is correct and they mean "0 V of potential", I ask for someone to clarify me this and I don't have any further questions.
  • If it is correct and they mean "0 V of voltage", I then give two reasons why that definition is misleading: 1) this definition is meaningless because you are talking about just one point when actually voltage is meaningful when talking about two points; 2) the definition implies ground is not defined as 0 V, but that it is 0 V because we measure its voltage with respect to itself. After giving each reason, I ask if I'm correct at my conclusions, and if not, I ask to tell me why.

On the other hand, the question that has been linked to my question is about:

  • Ground in circuit simulators. In this context ground is defined as the node with respect to which the node voltages are measured. So, in this context, it's better to call ground as reference node.
  • The fact that it is irrelevant (in the context of analysis), which node is used as reference node.
  • Different ground symbols.

Clearly my question is not the same as the linked question. If you think it is, please explain why. My question is about ground defined as "the point defined as 0 V", while the linked question is about ground defined as "reference node".

The user Chris Stratton said in a comment to my question description that "The question of which this is an obvious duplicate is not about simulation but about general concepts. It is absolutely a duplicte." Assuming he is right, how would I know beforehand the definition of ground used in the linked question is a general definition? In the linked question, people were talking about circuit analysis, while my question was about circuits in homes, power systems, distribution systems, etc. My reply to him was that I didn't know the definition of ground used in the linked question, is also used in the context I was talking about (assuming he is right). I further said that if I hadn't asked my question, I wouldn't have known that in the first place. Then, he didn't reply me more. How do I know if he at the end agreed with me? Of if he still thinks my question is a duplicate?

Downvotes because I'm overthinking?

The users The Photon, Neil_UK and jonk in a way said I was overthinking (click the links to read their comments). Is this a reason for downvotes? If yes, I think that would be a stupid reason.

An example: It's like telling a physicist he is overthinking when he's trying to explain a phenomena, don't you think? It's like telling Einstein "You're wrong trying to disprove Newtonian mechanics, you're overthiking, you're complicating this", yet in the end, Einstein was correct.

Another example: You may have heard of the beer analogy for explaining reactive power. This analogy is good only at explaining that apparent power is never less than active power or reactive power. But this analogy is wrong, because if you look at the image people use, it gives the illusion that apparent power (the whole beer) is the sum of active power (the liquid) plus reactive power (the foam), when in reality it's the square root of the sum of active power squared plus reactive power squared. Now imagine that I explain this truth to someone, i.e. why the beer analogy is wrong, and I receive downvotes just because I overthought the analogy. Seriously?

I'm asking my question because I want to know if the definition of ground I said was correct. And if it wasn't, I asked for a more precise definition.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ At the time of this writing, THIS meta question has a score of +3/-3 too. AND, your question about ground has a score of +6 / -9 . Well, 6 upvotes give you 10 points each, and 9 downvotes take out only 18 points, so, you're still in "profit". I know that a downvote "hurts", but, please, don't mind them so much. Don't waste your energy with this stupid thing. Some users seems to take it very serious that this site is somewhat as a "sacred temple of pure knowledge" and it should not be conspurcated with the questions that they, the high-thousand-pundits, think that are wrong. \$\endgroup\$
    – mguima
    Nov 19, 2020 at 18:24
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It seems that you are a young student. This is just another reason for you don't mind the grumbling from the retired engineers and private consultants with no current job, all of them stay at home grumbling with the outsiders and downvoting questions in EE.SE. Your question was downvoted, but it was upvoted too. \$\endgroup\$
    – mguima
    Nov 19, 2020 at 18:28

2 Answers 2


I thought I could try to answer this since I did not see your original question before reading this. Since this is meta, I'm not going to touch much on your actual question.

I've seen people eventually starting to downvote a question when OP becomes annoying and combative, so it's not always about the content. When I read the comment section for the question and the (currently) top-voted answer you seem to attack the people who try to help you, insisting that your definition is correct. All this for a simple question about nomenclature. You might as well ask why a PCB manufacturer isn't called a PWB manufacturer, and when people explain why, argue back and try to change the English language.

Even disregarding the hostility, it doesn't seem like a very useful question. Quoting from the help page:

If your motivation for asking the question is “I would like to participate in a discussion about ______”, then you should not be asking here. However, if your motivation is “I would like others to explain ______ to me”, then you are probably OK.

You really seem to want to discuss this, instead of having it explained, and that makes Stack Exchange the wrong place. There are myriads of electronics forums (fora?) out there that are better suited.

Btw, your analogy with Einstein here is ridiculous and makes you sound like a perpetuum mobile inventor. They are also "right", even though the "old-fashioned scientists" tries to stop them. They just need to convince the whole world first.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "you seem to attack the people who try to help you, insisting that your definition is correct." I haven't said my definition is correct. In fact, I gave two reasons why it is incorrect/wrong/misleading/useless. And why do you say I am attacking them? \$\endgroup\$
    – alejnavab
    Oct 23, 2020 at 21:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Btw, your analogy with Einstein here is ridiculous and makes you [...]" So I have to convince the community that the definition of ground as "the point defined as 0 V" is wrong? \$\endgroup\$
    – alejnavab
    Oct 23, 2020 at 21:17
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "Even disregarding the hostility, it doesn't seem like a very useful question" In that case, my question should closed because it's opinion-based, not because it's a duplicate, don't you think? \$\endgroup\$
    – alejnavab
    Oct 23, 2020 at 21:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AlejandroNava beware of the site mythologists! "you seem to attack the people who try to help you". In a healthy SE site debate is most welcomed and there is no bias that question askers are in need of help or answer writers are helping them. In a healthy SE site it is a collaborative effort and arguing different points can be a way to discover a new way for the Q author & sometimes A author to look at an issue. This site is better than it used to be but is still higher than it should be on the angst-o-meter. Never believe the narrative that "we are trying to help you" can explain everything. \$\endgroup\$
    – uhoh
    Oct 24, 2020 at 2:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ As a side note, I found it ironic that you said I attacked every one, when all I did was to reply to their comments or ask questions regarding their answer. On the other hand, you told me that "I look like a perpetuum mobile inventor". For me, that is more attacking than just replying comments and asking clarification. \$\endgroup\$
    – alejnavab
    Oct 24, 2020 at 15:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AlejandroNava I agree that it should not have been closed as a duplicate, as soon as you (OP) says that the other question doesn't answer it, it's not longer a valid close reason. But I'm not sure it is possible to change the close reason, so maybe the people who voted still wanted to close it and kept the vote. \$\endgroup\$
    – pipe
    Oct 25, 2020 at 11:05

The question has been voted to be closed as a duplicate, but had only received three votes. I don't think it should be closed, but it doesn't matter as the question has been answered (the main thing closing does it's prevent new answers) As far as down votes the community is free to choose how they vote on questions.


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