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I'm fairly new, and I'm wondering why discussion of clock discipline algorithms is off-topic for Stack Overflow -- clock discipline is very much a programming and algorithms problem.

I am referring to How does a GPS receiver synchronize its quartz clock with GPS satellites?

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2 Answers

GPS is indeed an algorithmic problem. Whether the question relates to a programming challenge that the OP is currently facing is another matter.

This is what it says in the FAQ... "You should only as practical, answerable questions about problems you currently face." A general question about how GPS algorithms work doesn't really fit into this category.

Hint: If the question does not involve computer code in some way, it may be off-topic.

In contrast, questions about algorithms that programmers use to solve programming problems (traversal of binary trees, for example) are almost always on-topic.


I personally think the question is fine for Stack Overflow, as I can clearly see how the algorithm might be related to software development. There are many questions that get asked on Stack Overflow that are far more off-topic (and much lower quality) than this one.

The question close voters should ask themselves is this: "Does the presence of the question actively harm the site, or make the Internet a worse place?"

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It seems like she is currently facing a problem -- the bit where she says "I tried to find out from many articles and many calculations but could not reached to any solution". She then goes on to ask what I would understand to be a practical, answerable question: "Could anyone please explain how a normal quartz clock at GPS receiver gets sync with GPS satellites." –  anthonix Nov 17 '11 at 7:57
    
Where does it say in the FAQ that the problem and solution have to be posed at the code level of abstraction? There are a lot of algorithmic questions/answers that don't involve code on stack overflow, such as this one with >450 votes: stackoverflow.com/questions/487258/… –  anthonix Nov 17 '11 at 8:00
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The OP never related her question to a programming scenario, or showed any code. –  Robert Harvey Nov 17 '11 at 8:03
    
Well, PLL and FLL are algorithms that programmers use to solve the problem of clock discipline. –  anthonix Nov 17 '11 at 8:05
    
Some of the questions with the most votes on stackoverflow don't relate to a programming scenario.. or have any code.. –  anthonix Nov 17 '11 at 8:06
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There are many questions on SO that are off-topic, but never got closed or deleted for various reasons (insufficient views, etc). Just because a question gets a lot of votes doesn't make it on-topic. –  Robert Harvey Nov 17 '11 at 8:11
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The big O question has relevance to every programmer. As you can see, whether a question is on-topic or not is sometimes a judgement call. Were this not the case, we wouldn't need a voting system. –  Robert Harvey Nov 17 '11 at 8:16
    
Also note that the OP did actually get some answers before the post was closed. –  Robert Harvey Nov 17 '11 at 8:25
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The FAQ also states that questions like ‘I would like others to explain ____ to me’ are probably OK. I personally don’t see any problem with a question whose answers are useful in understanding something related to algorithms even if the OP doesn’t present a specific programming scenario, but others certainly do. –  Bavarious Nov 17 '11 at 9:01
    
@Bavarious: I reopened the question several hours ago, as I can clearly see how it might be related to software development. However, as you can see, it is still collecting close votes. I left a comment with the OP asking her to explain how her question is related to software development. –  Robert Harvey Nov 17 '11 at 15:50
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If you were trying to fix your broken code or algorithm for clock synchronization in your embedded Arduino chip, then the question may be well received.

The problem is that your question is not specific to a problem you actually have. Your question in it's current form can best be answered with a Wikipedia article, or a book, or by Google.

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She was trying to ask what algorithm she should use -- there doesn't seem to be anything against asking what algorithm is best suited for a problem in the FAQ. –  anthonix Nov 17 '11 at 8:36
    
That may have been her intent, but that is not what she asked. –  Gustav Bertram Nov 17 '11 at 8:41
    
"Could anyone please explain how a normal quartz clock at GPS receiver gets sync with GPS satellites" -- btw, the answer is FLL and PLL algorithms, as in NTP –  anthonix Nov 17 '11 at 8:43
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