I'm not really sure where to ask for moderator help. @ChrisStratton is engaging in an edit war on my answer to Are clone-specific questions on topic for this site? because he doesn't like my (and, presumably, the original poster's) use of the terminology "clone." I've asked him not change my answer in this way, undone his changes several times now, added additional explanation to my answer to indicate to all that I'm using the term "clone" in a way different from what he seems to feel is the only approved way of using it, and asked him to add his own answer or comments if he disagrees with my answer. Unfortunately, he persists in reintroducing his change to my answer.

What should one do in this situation?

[Side note: the rollback history may look a little odd; I didn't understand how rollbacks actually work until just now so I both failed to rollback his original unwanted change (instead changing it back by hand) and did some incorrect rollbacks while finding out that the link rolls back not the commit it's on but to the commit its on.]

5 Answers 5


What should one do in this situation?

Exactly what you have done. First try and sort it out between yourselves, and when that fails, bring it to our attention here. I have locked the answer so it cannot be edited while it gets sorted out.

I guess this falls under the broader heading of how do we, on this site, define "clone". Personally I try not to use it as the word "clone" but couple it with "cheap Chinese" to specifically indicate a device which tries to look like the real thing but is built with some components replaced with cheaper equivalents (CH340G for example). They are as close to the genuine article for new users to be duped into thinking they have a real one when they don't. Yet by the strictest definition they aren't a clone - a clone is an exact copy.

Much of the time the user asking the question doesn't even know that they have a clone / counterfeit / copy / derivative board - they are just asking about using it or getting it going (9 times out of ten it's a CH340G problem, but since they don't know what that is they're looking in the wrong direction anyway and installing FTDI drivers for some reason...).

The problem with this kind of site is the number of pedants that abound who love to focus on one specific word in an answer that they don't agree with and cause merry hell because of it. It makes them feel important in their small world. The EE site is full of them (which is the main reason I never go there any more).

If the meaning of the answer is clear (as yours is) the exact semantic meaning of specific terms within it is of no importance. Whether you call it a clone, a derivative, or a pile of rancid dog vomit spewed forth by a disreputable fabrication house in the wilds of Malaysia, is of no intrinsic importance.

However, I would say that the editor in question is in the wrong editing your answer like that. Raise his concerns in comments, sure, so you can discuss it and make any changes you both agree with, but acting like a Grammar Nazi? No. Certainly not.

  • I'm glad to hear that my approach of going with what I think the question is really talking about (including in "clones" what some would call "derivatives") is reasonable. That's not to say I disagree that distinguishing between the two is a reasonable point to raise. So how does this post go about getting unlocked again at some point?
    – cjs
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 9:39
  • Once you and Chris have come to an agreement on wording (or Chris has eased off a little), which is best done in chat, the answer can be unlocked.
    – Majenko
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 9:48
  • Ok, sounds good. I've created a chat room for discussion of this; I'm not clear on how to invite @ChrisStratton to it, but presumably he'll see this comment.
    – cjs
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 9:59

Look Alterno is correct that the linked site starts with the headline "Building an Arduino on a Breadboard" and is titled "Arduino - Setting up an Arduino on a breadboard" (the title showing on the tab heading for that page).

And indeed the article is about making a breadboard Arduino.

Thanks for the comments in your answer about my article about making a "torch locator" using the Arduino IDE. This wasn't really a breadboard, nor a clone. ;)

I would personally think of a clone as something which is similar to an existing Arduino board (or indeed virtually identical) - hence the word "clone". Something that is pin-compatible I would refer to as Arduino-compatible. And something that uses the IDE and libraries, but has its own hardware design, would be called, ah, I'm not sure. "In the Arduino spirit?" maybe.

As for your actual question, I agree with Majenko. Try to amicably sort it out first, and if that isn't possible flag the answer for moderator attention.

  • I have an Arduino IDE and I wrote Arduino C. Whatever run my sketch at the end of the USB cable is an Arduino or Arduino clone.
    – user31481
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 7:21
  • Oh well, from Cambridge Dictionary a clone can be "a computer that operates in a very similar way to the one that it was copied from". Since the keyword here is "operates" and not "looks like" then I will accept your definition. Perhaps you can convince Chris Stratton of that as well.
    – Nick Gammon Mod
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 21:59
  • Keep in mind, the original post states that, "there may be cases where a clone's features, layout, and/or spec deviate from the norm." If you think a clone can't do that, I think you have an issue with the question, not my answer. While I think that other definitions of "clone" are reasonable (perhaps even desirable), I don't think the one the question author uses is so wrong that answers shouldn't follow it.
    – cjs
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 2:07
  • I have perhaps unwisely commented on parts of the underlying problem that were not part of the meta-question. The question was what to do about an edit war, and I think that was answered.
    – Nick Gammon Mod
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 11:02

I've seen a similar situation on another SE site. I think the following posts on SE:Meta may be relevant here:

My personal view is that the main function of tags is to help people to quickly find content on a particular topic. As such, tags should relate directly to the content of the question.

When problems arise, it's generally because the meaning of the tag(s) can be interpreted in different ways. In such cases, I would probably either refine the definitions of the tag(s) to provide clarity, or simply include both tags.

In this case, the dispute is about the interpretation of a word in the text rather than a tag. While this might be used as a search term, that is not its primary function. I'd suggest that if the meaning of the word is thought to be unclear, or might be misinterpreted, just specify how you are defining it in the body of the answer.


The war started with a dispute about a single word. Curt said clone and Chris changed it to breadboard. Curt changed it back to clone, then Chris changed it again ... etc.

But the link Curt provided points to a page titled Building an Arduino on a Breadboard. Chris is right in correcting it. The text in a link must match the title in the page.

It's not about clone vs derivative, or some oscure regulation. It's just being consistent.

  • 2
    The way Chris went about it is what irks me. He should have raised it in comments rather than just barging in and changing someone else's post.
    – Majenko
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 19:06
  • @Majenko. I agree. It's clear that Curt wants to use the word clone, so trying to edit it to breadboard is pointless.
    – user31481
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 19:13
  • In the context of the original post, an "Arduino" on a breadboard is a type of "clone." Given that "clones," in the sense given in the original post, are what the whole thing is about, I feel pretty strongly that "clone" is the word to be using there. (However, as I've said before, if people strongly believe that we should not be using the word clone for these things, I welcome them posting their own answers discussing this.)
    – cjs
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 0:03
  • @CurtJ.Sampson As I said: The link text in your answer must match the page title. This "clone vs breadboard vs derivatives" dispute is irrelevant. You can use whatever word you want. I'm fine with whatever your choose.
    – user31481
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 7:11
  • "Link text must match page title" seems like a silly rule to me. The answer should state what it needs to state as clearly as possible, and not be bound by arbitrary rules like that.
    – cjs
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 14:46

The question asks:

However, there may be cases where a clone's [emphasis mine] features, layout, and/or spec deviate from the norm, whether by mistake or by design.

Should this site include questions which relate to specific clones, or would that be off-topic?

When a board has "different specifications" or "different features," it's clearly not a "clone" in the sense of the arduino.cc blog definition because it's not in the category of "exact (or almost exact) replicas of Arduino boards with a different branding."

In fact, having different features, they fall exactly into what that blog post calls, "derivatives":

These are products that are derived from the Arduino hardware design but they innovate either by providing a different layout and features [emphasis mine] often to better serve a specific market.

So my argument is:

  1. The questioner is clearly talking about what that article calls "derivatives," and not talking about what that article calls "clones."

  2. This is not utterly unreasonable: it's not terrible distortion of the word "clone" to use it in this sense nor is the questioner going far outside the common usage (as far as I know) of this word in the Arduino community.

  3. Thus, it's reasonable to focus on answering his question using the terminology he gives, rather than saying, e.g., a) yes, clones are perfectly fine for discussion here, but b) no, what you call clones are not at all suitable for discussion.

Feel free to disagree/clarify/whatever in comments on this answer or, better yet, post an answer on the original question that you feel addresses your issues with the use of the word "clone."

(Side note: I am totally open to arguments that a) I am not using "clone" in the sense of the questioner, or b) I should not use it in the sense of the questioner.)

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