I have a task that will benefit from writing a good question on Stack Exchange - in that I think the results will be instructive in general. Of course.

There is a large SVG file already on Pastebin.com here, and it needs to be run through command-line JavaScript - see here. This makes a JSON format file. After that step AWK comes in** - to prepare x,y data input (or CSV, if you will) for gnuplot. I could reduce it down to a fake "reproducible" or "academic"-looking case, but this can violate the "X/Y problem" dictates.

Clearly, this is a case where there are many degrees of freedom, shall we say. I am balking at writing a question (I'm thinking Code Review, Stack Overflow, Unix & Linux, and maybe Super User) with this dilemma:

  • write a specific, narrow question about awk, fields, wildcards, etc. It will look "academic" with echo aa.aa,bb.bb,cc.cc,dd.dd | awk [..and so on..] and so on as can already be found on Stack Overflow - and are, IMHO, instructive.

  • write a "what needs to be actually done" question, where to do that, pastebin will help, and users have to run a JavaScript they might not have. I could make an output file from the JavaScript and maybe put that in Pastebin.com. But then it appears to be a backhanded way of asking someone to fix my problem (which I hope I do not do, but...).

... so guidance how to write such a question, or where to post perhaps individual "academic"-ish questions will help me write a better question.


**from doing more homework:

  1. it appears that indicating the JSON file format is important now. originally thought it wasn't a biggie because I start with SVG, which I say.

  2. Homework repeatedly led me to few posts on Stack Overflow (I tend to go to S.O. and U.& L.) that assert sed or awk is not "designed" to parse JSON data and will be "fragile (at best)".. I note the answer with that assertion has +8.

  • 3
    What you ask for isn't a question. It's guidance how to do a complex task. Correct way would be doing the task by yourself, and if you bump into specific problems, post a question on the proper SE site, of one exists. Also, your question here is full with technical noise that only few would understand. (We don't really need the full details of the task you have) Mar 8 at 17:39
  • The specific problems will be met with "what are you trying to do?" Presenting the task being done by myself will also be met with "What are you trying to do?". General comments will be met with "we need specifics - not vagaries. Volume is not precision". So far, my best attempt to cover these bases ended up deleted because of the abysmal downvotes, but not after very helpful comments helped me get going - but Stack Exchange is not Dear Abby. At the end, that long question and answer session is undocumented now. What incentive is there to leave abysmal questions up? Mar 8 at 19:11
  • See: meta.stackexchange.com/q/341731/282094, meta.stackexchange.com/q/18584/282094 and the right column titled "Linked". - To ask for a "site recommendation" add that tag to your question.
    – Rob
    Mar 8 at 21:43
  • 1
    @Rob the first one is particularly helpful. Mar 8 at 22:00
  • I think I'm going to try an "academic"-style question. BTW This question is not accepting answers. Meanwhile, comments are, apparently, open, and the question is readable - so I think that is meaningful. Mar 9 at 14:31
  • @rene what do you mean? I didn't know there is a meta specific for Stack Overflow - I just thought Meta was any of them in one big bin. Also thanks for re-opening this q, and the edits, even though I added more afterwards. Mar 10 at 15:10
  • BTW, Github is nice for SVG because it can show a preview. gist.github.com/PM2Ring/dd2165cd92227596b60b2fa4dd5891b7
    – PM 2Ring
    Mar 11 at 2:49

1 Answer 1


In the meantime I made progress on a number of problems documented here and here. TL;DR use cairosvg to approximate quadratics with cubics.

The pastebin thing never had to be used, thankfully, but I am still not sure what to make of that - as other Stack Overflow (for instance) posts make use of it.

Another big insight I just learned while writing this answer was that Stack Overflow has its own Meta site - I was under the impression that Meta Stack Exchange was the place to ask Meta questions, but apparently not when the Stack Exchange in question is Stack Overflow. Perhaps other SEs have their own Metas.

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