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I recently participated in the Embedded Systems private beta. It will be closing down next Friday, because there was not enough activity. In the meta post on the closing of the site, Andrew, a Robotics pro-temp moderator suggested that four beta sites are merged together to create one viable Embedded Systems site:

I collected some statistics from Area 51 for each beta (as of Aug 8, 2015):

Site      | Q : day | Answered | Users (200+ / 2K+ / 3K+) | A : Q | Visits / day
----------+---------+----------+--------------------------+-------+--------------
Arduino   |   9.5   |   72%    |      150 / 13 / 6        |  1.9  |     5106
Rasp. Pi  |  11.9   |   82%    |      438 / 24 / 17       |  1.8  |    21548
Robotics  |   2.3   |   88%    |       125 / 9 / 3        |  1.8  |     1516
Emb. Sys. |   7.7   |   85%    |        24 / 0 / 0        |  1.6  |      80

Some numbers may be lower than normally due to summer holidays in the northern hemisphere.

Currently, Raspberry Pi seems to be the most viable, followed by Arduino. However, I think every site could be helped by a merge, because they have actually a lot in common.

  • A search for "Arduino" on Raspberry Pi.SE yields 215 questions (2.6%), of which only 11 closed
  • A search for "Raspberry Pi" on Arduino.SE yields 71 questions (1.9%), of which only 3 closed
  • Robotics.SE most used tag is Arduino (208 Q). It also has a Raspberry-Pi tag (57 Q)
  • Raspberry Pi.SE has an Arduino tag (100 Q)
  • Arduino.SE has a robotics tag (35 Q)

To illustrate the great overlap between these sites: I myself am a hobbyist and a computing science student. I own a Raspberry Pi and some other embedded systems like Particle's Photon. I also own I have worked with LEGO robots and Arduino. I have several modules that can be used with an Arduino which I use with PIC microcontrollers. I am currently working on a PIC32-based standalone text editor.

I do not think we would have many issues defining a scope which is distinguished enough from Electronics, Programmers or Stack Overflow. After all, your site and the others have been doing that already for quite some time. Think of the suggested merge as the least common multiple of the four sites.

I have looked through the questions on all four sites and have the impression that questions on many of these sites are of interest also to users on other sites. I'm most sceptical about Robotics.SE. Anyway, this overlap is what makes me think Andrew's suggestion might be a good idea. But what do I know? I'm not active on any of these sites!

So, what do you think? Would your community benefit of a merge with (some of) these sites?

Disclaimer: I do not know what SE, Inc. thinks about this. Polling the communities seemed a good idea to me.

I opened the same question on Raspberry Pi Meta and Robotics Meta.

5

Personally I would vote not to, on the following grounds:

  • On the figures quoted, the merged site would go from around 10 questions per day (here) to 30, however of those 30 only 10 would be relevant to people interested in Arduino. This effectively dilutes the number an Arduino-enthusiast could answer (percentage wise). There might be some cross-over (eg. from the Embedded Systems site) but I couldn't view it to check, because it was in closed beta.

  • I've found this site here (the Arduino one) quite friendly, and reasonably helpful to newbies. That is probably one of the reasons it needs to exist. The Arduino is marketed as being intended for anyone making interactive projects. This is one of the reasons why I think a tolerance for beginners is important.

  • I've found some of the other StackExchange sites a little less friendly to newbies, with posts being closed within minutes of being made as off-topic, irrelevant, already answered, and so on.


Having said that, it looks like a merge between Embedded Systems and Robotics with this site would be the least disruptive, especially if the Robotics site normally talks about Arduinos.

I'm the least in favour of the Raspberry Pi being merged. It is a different processor, it uses a Unix operating system, and is generally quite different to an Arduino. Also, some of it is closed source, unlike the Arduino.


An alternative would be to simply suggest to the (relatively small number of) users at Embedded Systems that they find a new home here.

  • Thank you for your thoughts. We're shutting down on Friday, but if you would like to have a look around at embedded.SE, you could drop me an email at info@camilstaps.nl and I can invite you to the private beta. – user6971 Aug 12 '15 at 22:48
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I think merging could be useful.

We've certainly found that there's lots of people with questions about Arduino. However, being Arduino-specific means we have rather awkward and unhelpful boundaries for what is considered "on topic". For example, newcomers to the field don't necessarily understand what constitutes Arduino stuff and what is just general electronics or embedded systems.

That being said, coming up with a sensible boundary for a new merged site will be tricky. The major issue is that a lot of this stuff could easily be covered by the Electronics SE. However, as we've seen, some EE regulars are often not newbie-friendly (and can be downright hostile against Arduino and the like).

A while back, I proposed a "Makers and Tinkerers" site on Area 51. The idea was that it would be something like EE but for hobbyists and occasional users (rather than professionals or serious enthusiasts). It didn't gain any interest though, so I didn't pursue it any further. Perhaps it's something we could try again?

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This is a copy of my answer to Camil Staps' copy of this question over on Robotics


Although I am open to the idea, my current preference is against a mega-merge of Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Embedded and Robotics.

As I said in my answer to Embedded Systems StackExchange (suggesting merging Embedded and Robotics):

Having had a look at the questions on the site and only been able to identify one, I don't think that any kind of merge would be appropriate, but we should certainly suggest (using that answer) that any questions which are on topic here be migrated here.

I think that part of the problem here is that people seem to think that there is something wrong with a site which is asking good questions, getting good answers and accumulating page views and users, but hasn't yet graduated.

In fact, there is nothing wrong with this situation, and Stack Exchange have finally woken up to the idea that some small, niche sites will never reach graduation criteria, but equally will never disappear, and that we need to handle this state of 'perpetual beta' more gracefully.

See Graduation, site closure, and a clearer outlook on the health of SE sites and Should we rename or remove the "beta" label?

As I mentioned in a comment on Andrew's answer to Closing this [Embedded] site on Friday, August 14

The problem is that merging four sites with four scopes and four communities risks destroying all four. In particular, a clash of cultures and alienation of existing users is a big risk. Ultimately any stack exchange site needs to stand on it's own and now that permanent beta is the rule rather than the exception, we have to accept that small workable vertical sites may well be better than broader based, artificial amalgams. In essence, a strong & growing community, even if it is small, is preferable to a weak diminishing one.

In the long term, I hope that perpetual beta sites will start to get some of the benefits of graduated sites, even if it isn't worth Stack Exchange spending time and development resources on a custom site design.

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    By maintaining a seperate arduino community, what you create is essentialyl a debug/troubleshoot forum for arduino. There is no real definition of arduino besides their simplified peripheral library and the platforms its been ported to. 90% of the questions on this site have no inherent reason to use the arduino besides availability. By expanding the scope to allow for all embedded platforms it allows for the community to grow and solicit questions and answers across platforms – crasic Aug 20 '15 at 20:24

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