As of this question, we've migrated 30 questions to Superuser. The list of closed questions includes a lot of questions that could also be considered for migration to Superuser.

Why do people keep asking these questions on our site? What could we do (in particular, what could we add to the FAQ intro text) to avoid these in the future?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I am not sure, but I am amazed when someone who is active on Super User or Stack Overflow come here and ask a question that I think would be a better fit for the site they are usually on. \$\endgroup\$ – Kellenjb Aug 15 '11 at 19:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ And as far as migrating question, I don't see an issue with them closing as duplicates (my personal opinion). I only see issues with ones that get closed for other reasons. So 3 out of 30 = 10%. I don't think those numbers are too bad, especially considering we have ~7% of our total questions that are closed. \$\endgroup\$ – Kellenjb Aug 15 '11 at 20:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ To a software weenie, anything you can't fix with a text editor is hardware and must be electronics, right? Q: How many software engineers does it take to change a lightbulb? A: None, it's a hardware problem. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Nov 21 '11 at 16:42

Rather obviously, because there's a group of you who've chosen to define what an allowable question is far more narrowly than a reasonable person would.

Most people would assume that a question which requires the application of skills in electrical circuit analysis for example would fit better here than on any of the other stack exchange sites.

You've chosen to enact with your votes a defacto policy otherwise - but while you can close or migrate question after question, you can't change how new people think and thus where they initially try to post. That's why you get a "practically limitless population" of people unaware that they are about to become "offenders"

Perhaps it's time to consider that the site might grow its community by being a little bit more open to the diversity of questions which have substantial electrical engineering content.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you give examples (if you don't have links just state the question) to support this? \$\endgroup\$ – Rick_2047 Nov 21 '11 at 7:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @chrisStratton, to me it seems to be because user assume the same thing they do in real life. Ohh, you are an electrical engineer, can you help me fix my PC? My overall point being an important one, just because electrical engineers in general will be better at something does not make it on topic. Why should we help people with debugging their computer problems when the answers on super user would be more productive and helpful. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Dec 22 '11 at 12:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk - often these questions have aspects which benefit from unique knowledge beyond that characteristic of the superuser approach. Often this is missed by those who too quickly read and reject questions. It's one thing to close a question after several days with no responses, quite a different one to ban any electronics user from attempting to apply engineering methods to answer it, which is what closing does. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton Dec 22 '11 at 15:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisStratton, A mechanical engineer might approach appliance repair with a unique engineering approach that an appliance repair SE would not, that does not mean that appliance repair would be on topic for Mechanical Engineering SE. Just because we know a large amount about electronics due to often being the ones to design them does not mean that helping someone troubleshoot consumer electronics is a good fit for our site. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Dec 22 '11 at 15:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk - actually, doing it in an engineering manner (ie, leveraging detailed knowledge of how something works inside) would be very much on topic. The point is that the appropriateness can't be determined independently of the method of the solution, and that sometimes takes time and specific knowledge to reveal - until then you have to look at if the poster hints at an interest or disinterest in the deeper details. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton Dec 22 '11 at 15:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisStratton, if anyone comes here trying to reverse engineer a video card I am in, if they are wanting you to step them through diagnostics to troubleshoot with the idea of "engineering mindset" it is not magically on topic. It is really important to note, closes are not permanent, the site is designed knowing humans make mistakes, if something is closed in correctly it can be reopened easily. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Dec 22 '11 at 16:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk - Deeply flawed premise; getting things re-opened is very hard, so we must exercise more care in closing them. As for on/off topic, someone doing a component level investigation of a failure is using engineering methods to a degree not supported on superuser; someone looking for a module level solution for commodity technologies may not be. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton Dec 22 '11 at 16:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisStratton, the idea that re-opening a corrected question is hard is as flawed, but this is a case of opinions. In the past when users felt it was weekend and no one was online, or that users did not notice the edit a flag for moderator attention was given asking for a reopen after edit. All high rep users can see this and diamond mods such as myself can instantly reopen, and have many times before. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Dec 22 '11 at 18:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisStratton, On the note of component level debugging of a video card or such, it is not our job to acccept any question which does not have another home, we have had such discussions before. If someone whom is not doing electronics design wants us to put in basic terms, put your meter to this symbol, touch here on the schematic... until they find something that measures wrong. Yes, we could do this, but how is this in continuing to grow the knowledge of designing electronics? I know the line seems grey, but I feel there is a definite difference. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Dec 22 '11 at 18:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk - there's a difference between troubleshooting something by means of developing an understanding of how it works - which is very much on topic (and ultimately hard to distinguish from many phases of work on new designs), vs. providing procedural instructions for someone else to execute without attempting to gain an understanding, which is not on topic. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton Dec 22 '11 at 19:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisStratton, I had a feeling the entire time we felt the same way but have a different approach to implementing it, and we do. If you ever have a problem with something please just jump in chat and send me a ping. You can leave comments on the question, but I am always available to talk. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Dec 22 '11 at 19:23

30 questions out of 5700 doesn't seem too bad. It takes work and education. Many of us in the community are helping to close or flag off-topic questions.

That's the price to pay for the StackExchange philosophy, where each question is appropriate for at most one StackExchange site. (the upside being that this site stays focused on-topic.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ There is some overlap where site have more similar goals, for example DSP and EE could easily have double posts that are fine both places. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Dec 22 '11 at 12:31

Following a few lucrative fund drives, some borderline legal IP trace-backs, and a few cans o' Whoop Ass, it's entirely possible to find those that posted the questions and offer some painful advice, via knuckle, elbow, and heel.


Once this plan matures, I will step back and accept only a 78% cut of the initial funds.

Seems like this orphaned question needed some kick./kick

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    \$\begingroup\$ We are entirely capable of offering painful advice to those that post these questions. The problem isn't that we that we have repeat offenders, it's that we have a practically limitless population of first offenders. \$\endgroup\$ – Kevin Vermeer Sep 30 '11 at 11:16

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