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More and more questions seem to be asking about ESP8266 programed via the Arduino IDE and running "Arduino" code, and quite a few about ESP8266 and NodeMCU.
1. Is it OK to ask about ESP8266 programed as an Arduino?
2. Should questions asking about ESP8266 programmed using LUA, etc. be closed as off topic?
3. What about questions about ESP8266 hardware are they off topic too?

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    My initial reaction is "I'm not sure". We seem to be getting some questions that are only slightly related to Arduinos. I'm not sure what the boundary is for Arduino-related compared to general-electronics-related. – Nick Gammon Aug 13 '16 at 1:25
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    Essentially, you either have to allow questions about alternate hardware running Arduino-style software layers, or else ban everything that is not an ATmega-based solution. Once things like the Due, and later Intel contraptions came on the scene the floodgates were opened, and at this point there is no entity who gets to say what is vs. isn't an Arduino in the worldwide context. More generally, the question is evidence of why arbitrary subdivision of embedded topics into Arduino, pi, and everything else is demonstrably a fundamental mistake. – Chris Stratton Aug 20 '16 at 19:44
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    Ironically this question should be in meta - it is in meta. – Nick Gammon Aug 21 '16 at 9:14
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    at this point there is no entity who gets to say what is vs. isn't an Arduino in the worldwide context - I think that's the first time I've been called an entity. :P However I'm inclined to agree with @ChrisStratton that the distinction between Arduino and not-Arduino is becoming rather blurred. – Nick Gammon Aug 21 '16 at 9:15
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For me, here are suitable cases:

  1. Problem setting Arduino IDE to "talk to" ESP8266, possibly including wiring, as this is directly related to Arduino IDE
  2. Problem connecting ESP8266 to an Arduino, be it a wiring or program issue, as long as the program in on Arduino side

However, the following cases are off-topic:

  1. Issue with NodeMCU, lua language
  2. Issue with ESP8266 API
  3. Issue with connecting an ESP8266 to anything else than Arduino
  • I agree with all your points above but what about the case where someone has switched out an Arduino for an ESP8266, using the same (similar) code, IDE and peripherals? If someone was trying to measure range with an UNO and ultrasonic sensor and then switched the UNO for an ESP? I thinks its OK to answer questions where the ESP is being used as a stand in for an Arduino, but does anyone agree? – Code Gorilla Aug 15 '16 at 8:17
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    As a matter of fact, ESP8266 and Arduino are 2 VERY different beasts, and having a similar program will not show the same effects (and defects). The case you describe seems dedicated to ESP8266 experts, not Arduino experts. For me this should go to EE rather than here, until some more specific site is defined. – jfpoilpret Aug 15 '16 at 12:30
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As Arduino-branded boards now include Intel- and ARM family-based boards, the lines can get kind of blurred. If an Arduino-branded, ESP8266-powered MCU board were to appear, should we include it as on-topic but exclude AI-Thinker ESP-01 or other ESP-xx boards?

An alternative to including ESP questions is to Beta an ESP site. But that path leads to fragmenting the {electronics, programming, applications, etc.} questions into too many sites. EE/SE's often unwelcoming stance on Arduino questions began the process. (Or was it already prevalent w/in SE? My experience here doesn't go back that far).

I'd propose we don't feed the process, but adjust Arduino SE's boundaries, and even its name if necessary, to fit the community, not the other way around. Embedded Systems Engineering - what we really do here, despite that most of us are hobbyists - is multi-disciplinary activity that 1) includes electronics, programming, board layout and building, and software tools (IDEs, libraries); and 2) touches hydraulics, robotics, optics, sonar, data communication, networks, chemistry & biology (brewing, f/ex). I've seen us field questions in all of these topics in my time here.

This cross-disciplinary hobby (or career! ) makes a hugely rich learning environment for all of us and we'd give up a lot of that by splitting off some processor or another discipline. Our contributors collectively know a heck of a lot about a lot of things and share it generously. We should encourage that.

We've mostly managed to avoid having hard boundaries and getting unpleasant with new folks that wander close to one, as a few SE sites do. I'd like to encourage that and keep us more inclusive.

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I think it depends on how you see "Arduino". Arduino started as Arduino.cc: a (open hardware) board and (open source) software provider.

However Arduino has moved on, and now the community "Arduino" is far more important then the companies (arduino.cc and arduino.org).

The "core" of this community is the API the company Arduino designed. The community added lots of libraries on top of and extending this API. The community ported the API to other processors. Anyone porting this API/libraries to a other board adds the boards to the community.
As the Arduino API and many of its libraries are ported to ESP8266 based boards; implementations on these boards using the Arduino API and libraries belong to the Arduino community (but are not strictly speaking Arduino).

As stackexchange is a community driven site I think it would be weird to pick the company card and not the community card. Therefore IMHO these boards should be supported here.

Another way to look at it: if you ask this question for ESP8266 based boards; why don't you ask this question for Teensy boards or adafruit boards and other vendors? What sets ESP8266 apart that you ask it for ESP8266 and not for others? Do you realize that Paul Stoffregen (maker of Teensy) did lots (if not most) of the multi platform implementations in Arduino?

Suppose we leave out all non real Arduino boards, ..... what with arduino.org versus arduino.cc .... Will we only support Arduino.org boards? Or Arduino.cc?
Do you really want to go into this discussion? I don't.

For me Arduino is the Arduino community. I embraced ESP8266 just like I embraced Teensy and Adafruit. They are part of the community. Without them the company Arduino is nothing.

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    Yes, but you could argue that if this site caters for anything relevant to the "Arduino Community" where does Electronics Stack Exchange fit in? Or Stack Overflow? – Nick Gammon Aug 24 '16 at 6:25
  • A very valid question. – jantje Aug 24 '16 at 15:57

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