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Why are posts that users clearly approve of being closed?


One of the most annoying things about stackexchange has always been the borderline fanatic post closing or duplicate marking. Another question in meta was posed some time ago about the added value of this site. Olin pointed out that "This site grew out of frustration with how SE was managing their sites", mostly aiming at the fact that the site was driven by financial intentions that lowered the quality of the site. Or whatever else that he had in mind, it's irrelevant. -> This is a great post in my opinion. From the answers, it seems clear that it is not off-topic. It's an EMI issue, was identified as such and explained. This isn't 'What microwave should I buy?' or something similar, which would be off topic.

The question has a score of +3, so 3 people liked the question, which, taking into account current population of the site is considerable. 2 people answered and gave good answers! Now it is closed. It sits at the top of the list, and other people cannot add more value to the question, because answers are locked. Maybe Andy had something good to add, he usually does. Maybe someone else.

Of course, this is opinion based. But the message I want to get across is to not become like SE, where questions were closed just because the user had the privilege to do so. Community found the question interesting, closing it seems quite uncalled for even if it did not strictly match the on-topic guidelines letter-by-letter.

Why should this post be closed?

1 comment

If you bring up a specific post on meta, please leave a comment under that post telling that the post is being discussed, so that the OP and readers who come across it get pinged about it. I have done so now. Lundin‭ about 1 month ago

2 answers


The current applicable rule from would be:

High-level use of electrical devices.

If your question treats a device like a black box and isn't about its theory of operation or its design tradeoffs, then it's likely off topic.

First of all, this rule is really just a placeholder since there's no community consensus about these rules yet. I think it is a pretty sound rule personally though. But it actually says "design tradeoffs", which would apply in case a microwave oven leaks spurious/out of band emissions.

Or maybe it is not an EMI issue - the microwave might have a right to send out a certain amount of energy as intentional radiator on its designated carrier frequency. Then it's simply the "first device sending gets the band" rule that applies universally on public, license-free bands.

The OP need to provide more details, which in turn might mean that they have to know a bit of electronics - specifically radio spectrum allocation. What frequency is the microwave and WiFi running on respectively? Both of these could be using a lot of completely different frequency bands, depending on 1) brand and 2) which geographic market the device is intended for. If we don't know this, then answers will just be speculation.

What if the WiFi is running on 900MHz but the microwave on 2.4GHz? Then it doesn't make sense, you don't even have a harmonic from 900MHz in the 2.4GHz band, so the only cause would then be random EMI noise or maybe some strange mains voltage problem.

What if both are running on 2.4GHz? Well EMI and radio allocation in 2.4GHz bands is a tricky subject, maybe there's an answerable question. But how do we know? We can't demand that those answering need to do research about which frequency a certain WiFi router or microwave are using. It is the job of the person asking the question to dig up datasheets for the devices.

If the poster is an EE, there's a chance they have access to a spectrum analyser and could simply measure it. If they are a random "interested bystander", they have likely never even seen a spec.

So after consideration I think closing this question was the right call, not so much because it "treats a device like a black box" but because it lacks sufficient detail to answer the question without speculation.


Just for the sake of it, I now asked the very same question, though with a bit more insight on radio spectrum allocation: Microwave oven interfering with WiFi on the 2.4GHz band. Just as an experiment, to see if it get clobbered with close votes too or if we can lure out some more detailed answers. In either case, we can compare my new question with the previous one. Is the new one on-topic and if so, what made it on-topic?


The guy who closed it clearly said he would migrate it to a more suitable section once we had it on codidact. So in his mind lack of detail certainly was not the problem. Quote: "when we get a site that covers computer hardware from user's or IT's perspective, this question would fit there very well. " -> No, we can also cover this from EE perspective, which users who answered the question did, and did well. Kranulis‭ about 1 month ago

The original question was indeed from an interested bystander. I don't see those kind of questions as harmful, they provide insight into different areas of EE. Closing these kind of question does not do anything but deter curiosity, especially for newcomers and students. edtamarin‭ about 1 month ago

I'm the OP on the question under discussion here, and (as you suspected, Lundin) I am what you call an "interested bystander" who would have no idea how to find out the frequency of the microwave oven's or WiFi router's emissions. I fail to see why the question off-topic on this site, but perhaps that's a byproduct of my lack of knowledge of electrical engineering. However, based on what you write in this answer, I agree that my question [continued] msh210‭ about 1 month ago

[continued] is arguably not detailed enough -- arguably does not contain enough info for people to answer it -- and could be closed for that reason. Borderline, though, as we see from the fact that someone did post an answer based on typical or common frequencies. msh210‭ about 1 month ago

@‭Kranulis‭ In that case it was incorrectly closed, I believe. But it could be closed for the lack of detail/too broad. Lundin‭ about 1 month ago

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We have to maintain the focus of the Electrical Engineering board at the electrical engineering level. We will be inundated by laymen questions (electronics use, repair, explaining electronics to laymen), if we don't close such questions. The actual engineers (the people with answers) will stop spending time on our board, if they don't see it as a professional board.


No they will not. They will leave if they are materially inconvenienced. Seeing a question is not an inconvenience and if we make a feature for those who are afraid of peripheral questions and bad questions they can choose to hide a question. Just like that with a single click they are spared from ever seeing it again and the rest of the site can be more tolerant. KalleMP‭ 16 days ago

@KalleMP Contributors [don't confuse with consumers] will not stick around if they have to wade through content which they don't appreciate. You must respect that. Nick Alexeev‭ 16 days ago

@KalleMP The hiding of sub-standard questions have been discussed before. It doesn't work, because it doesn't reduce the number of sub-standard questions. Down- and close-votes highlight the standards to the posters, and prompt them to improve (or leave if they don't care to improve). Nick Alexeev‭ 16 days ago

@Nick I know it has been discussed before, however the solution is not fair. If you think this site is made for the glory of us answering folk then I think I may be in the wrong place. I am here because I like to share information, not because I want to bully new users to ramp up to high standard questions before they have had a chance to appreciate the beauty of a community that helps others first and chastises second. KalleMP‭ 16 days ago

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