I'm new (approx 2 months) to the SE community and right now I'm active only in two of its sites: Arduino beta and Electrical Engineering (EE). But I'm already amazed by how opposed the cultures of these two sites are.

EE has a somewhat wack-a-noob attitude and is very unforgiving of users that don't show any research effort or previous work before asking their questions. After reading a lot of posts from EE meta, I think the reason for that seems to be a widespread concern that valuable contributors will fly away out of frustration if the quality bar is lowered, thus making the site worse off. That looks like a legitimate concern for an already stablished site to me, although they sometimes push it too hard.

And then there's the Arduino site, where the concerns seem to be very different from those in EE. After reading Arduino meta, my feeling is (correct me if I'm wrong, please) that the two main concerns here are "graduating from beta" and "attract and being friendly to users that might not have any experience in electronics and/or coding, and who get bashed in EE and/or SO". Both concerns seem perfectly legitimate to me, but do they lead to be excessively tolerant of poor questions/answers?

Maybe this is not the right time to be worrying about valuable contributors flying away out of frustration with poor questions/answers by new users that shot their questions, take their answers and run to never come back once they got what they want (often leaving unaccepted answers behind). Or is it? Is the desire to graduate from beta allowing too many poor questions/answers go through, and ultimately hurting the graduation of the site by silently driving away valuable contributors? What do you think?

  • It depends on what the aim is of the SE. On Arduino.SE we aim to help anyone interested in developing/discovering Arduino. These people, very often are beginners. Once you go professional on microcontrollers, you'll most likely not use Arduino and even place your questions on EE.SE – Paul Mar 29 '17 at 13:05
  • I agree with you. However, there are begginers that ask good questions and some that don't (maybe just because they don't plan to be around for too long). Should those two kinds of begginers be treated equal? – Enric Blanco Mar 29 '17 at 13:13

As someone who has to respond to flagged questions (for moderation) I can say that I don't personally let a bad question through in the hope that the site comes out of Beta. I don't know exactly what criteria Stack Exchange uses for graduating a site, but I think there is an element of "does the site look viable?".

The thing is, Arduino is a beginners' platform, although some users such as Petri Häkkinen are highly sophisticated.

I think that EE.SE can be a bit harsh on beginner questions, but perhaps that is the culture that they want, as you observed.

The overall thrust of Stack Exchange in general is to be a helpful site for many disciplines (eg. cooking, aviation, parenting, English) and there must necessarily be different levels of sophistication of questions and answers.

I've done a few "reference questions" personally in the hope that beginners will read those before posting a question that is readily answered already, but that hope is not always met. Perhaps part of being a newbie is that you are also new to the culture of finding answers for yourself.

Meanwhile Electrical Engineering Stack Exchange might legitimately argue that they expect people to ask "engineering level" questions and not 7th year high-school questions. If that is their attitude then I think they are shutting themselves off from helping people who might be capable of learning and contributing in the future (eg. budding electronics enthusiasts) but that is their call.

I also moderate on the Arduino Forum where a lot of the questions are of a similar nature to the ones here, that is, beginner questions. It's the nature of a product that is marketed to schools as an introduction to electronics and microncontrollers.


The problems with Arduino.SE are:

  • A lot of users that only ask questions (of varying quality)
  • Most (new) users have little experience with programming/hardware
  • Embedded Systems experts aren't specifically drawn to the Arduino environment. And can also get around on EE.SE

I think these problems simply wouldn't be there if this would be something like "Embedded Systems SE". That would draw much more professionals, being able to post questions on other hardware as PIC/ARM microcontrollers etc.

But I agree, a lot of questions are not really of high quality. But I'm not sure if "high quality arduino questions" would draw attention of more serious/knowledgable professionals/hobbyists. Since it will still be limited to the scope of Arduino (and thus be focussed on very basic development and deployment).

It may indeed help with people staying around, looking at other questions and even attempt to answer them.

But how can we do this? Should we close every low quality question (possibly have that person create a new question). Can we actually keep up with all the questions? (since there currently are way many more beginners as professionals, that will have to take the time to also moderate). Do we have to start saying: "Read the manual" and vote to close on every question that is at least a little obvious?

Should we even do this? Arduino is a platform aimed at beginners, "Fritzing" is possibly the most used tool for designing Arduino-electronic projects. But if you try posting a Fritzing schematic (or especially board view) on EE.SE, you're going to get shit thrown at you :) But that's because EE.SE tends to aim at professionals (to keep them there).

Theoretically, I think that "Embedded Systems SE" would've been nicer for both newcomers and experienced people, since it wouldn't have hyped (which is probably also why it didn't get through beta).

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