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Does a question about logic gates and chip design belong on Stack Overflow? It's "not-programming-related", but it sort of is... It wouldn't really belong on any other Stack Overflow variant either.

I'm asking the above general question, but I'm referring to a particular Stack Overflow question. It was marked as 'not-programming-related', and I was debating whether or not to remove the tag.

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closed as off-topic by Patrick Hofman, Scimonster, Aziz Shaikh, Fish Below the Ice, MichaelT May 22 '15 at 14:47

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question pertains only to a specific site in the Stack Exchange Network. Questions on Meta Stack Exchange should pertain to our network or software that drives it as a whole, within the guidelines defined in the help center. You should ask this question on the meta site where your concern originated." – Patrick Hofman, Scimonster, Aziz Shaikh, Fish Below the Ice, Community
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up vote 9 down vote accepted

These questions are very much programming related. The most popular languages for digital hardware description, Verilog and VHDL, borrow heavily from C and Ada, respectively, with added constructs for modeling hardware behavior. SystemC, another hardware description language, is essentially just C++ written in a specific style, and linked with the SystemC runtime library. And now there are even products to convert plain C code to hardware. This allows complex algorithms to be written once, and implemented in either hardware or software. So there is definitely an increasing convergence between hardware and software design.

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There are tools to go from Java->Hardware too. Easier transformations than C. – Tim Williscroft Aug 10 '09 at 0:16

This kind of low level hardware question doesn't seem to have a place within the overflow network (electronics site required?) and on first blush would seem like a much smaller audience than a programmer or even sysadmin site.

I guess we'll see if Jeff creates an electron overflow site, otherwise Close->NPR seems like the right call for this question, but "hardware" may be covered by SF in general.

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This question seems to be related to the fact that all hardware/electronics that are connected to some kind of programmable device can be discussed on SO as long as you discuss how do use it (writes a program that uses the electronics).

But not questions about how to create the electronics/hardware.

Another example that suffers from this is embedded stuff and microcontrollers, here it would be really nice to discuss questions on both the hardware and the software since sometimes you should solve your problem in hardware and sometimes in software...

My point is that maybe hardware/electronics design could be accepted at SO, or maybe Jeff could find it in his heart that hardware/electronics could need a own site.


Note: I know you can't have sites for all things in the world, and also that electronics may not be the biggest field in the world. But maybe it is big enough since I don't believe that I am the only programmer that enjoys electronics as a good hobby :)

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The way I see it:

  • If the question is resolved by changing the description language code while keeping the described hardware the same, then the question is precisely "programming related".

  • If the question is resolved by "The hardware you're describing is inherently wrong, change it this way", then the question probably falls outside the proper bounds of StackOverflow.

The real challenge here is that only an expert in this business is certain to know which is which.

Unless someone can show that either there are a lot of these questions or they are being used to "justify" other clearly off-topic posts I'd say let them be.

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