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I recently participated in the Embedded Systems private beta. It will be closing down next Friday, because there was not enough activity. In the meta post on the closing of the site, Andrew, a Robotics pro-temp moderator suggested that four beta sites are merged together to create one viable Embedded Systems site:

I collected some statistics from Area 51 for each beta (as of Aug 8, 2015):

Site      | Q : day | Answered | Users (200+ / 2K+ / 3K+) | A : Q | Visits / day
----------+---------+----------+--------------------------+-------+--------------
Arduino   |   9.5   |   72%    |      150 / 13 / 6        |  1.9  |     5106
Rasp. Pi  |  11.9   |   82%    |      438 / 24 / 17       |  1.8  |    21548
Robotics  |   2.3   |   88%    |       125 / 9 / 3        |  1.8  |     1516
Emb. Sys. |   7.7   |   85%    |        24 / 0 / 0        |  1.6  |      80

Some numbers may be lower than normally due to summer holidays in the northern hemisphere.

Currently, Raspberry Pi seems to be the most viable, followed by Arduino. However, I think every site could be helped by a merge, because they have actually a lot in common.

  • A search for "Arduino" on Raspberry Pi.SE yields 215 questions (2.6%), of which only 11 closed
  • A search for "Raspberry Pi" on Arduino.SE yields 71 questions (1.9%), of which only 3 closed
  • Robotics.SE most used tag is Arduino (208 Q). It also has a Raspberry-Pi tag (57 Q)
  • Raspberry Pi.SE has an Arduino tag (100 Q)
  • Arduino.SE has a robotics tag (35 Q)

To illustrate the great overlap between these sites: I myself am a hobbyist and a computing science student. I own a Raspberry Pi and some other embedded systems like Particle's Photon. I also own I have worked with LEGO robots and Arduino. I have several modules that can be used with an Arduino which I use with PIC microcontrollers. I am currently working on a PIC32-based standalone text editor.

I do not think we would have many issues defining a scope which is distinguished enough from Electronics, Programmers or Stack Overflow. After all, your site and the others have been doing that already for quite some time. Think of the suggested merge as the least common multiple of the four sites.

I have looked through the questions on all four sites and have the impression that questions on many of these sites are of interest also to users on other sites. I'm most sceptical about Robotics.SE. Anyway, this overlap is what makes me think Andrew's suggestion might be a good idea. But what do I know? I'm not active on any of these sites!

So, what do you think? Would your community benefit of a merge with (some of) these sites?

Disclaimer: I do not know what SE, Inc. thinks about this. Polling the communities seemed a good idea to me.

I opened the same question on Arduino Meta and Raspberry Pi Meta.

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I'm not an active participant here, but the merge with Robotics, based on the nature of the vast majority of questions here, just doesn't seem organic. As for Raspberry Pi an Arduino, RP seems fine on its own, and I can't see a large Arduino community contributing in a way that would send me to a group looking for embedded help.

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  • $\begingroup$ I am one of the mods for RPi and just wanted to correct a minor issue. We are still in beta. $\endgroup$ – Steve Robillard Aug 8 '15 at 21:03
  • $\begingroup$ I'll edit, but I could have sworn you graduated. $\endgroup$ – Scott Seidman Aug 8 '15 at 21:04
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    $\begingroup$ We keep hoping - lol $\endgroup$ – Steve Robillard Aug 8 '15 at 21:10
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I also copied this answer to Camil Staps' copies of this question over on Arduino and Raspberry Pi


Although I am open to the idea, my current preference is against a mega-merge of Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Embedded and Robotics.

As I said in my answer to Embedded Systems StackExchange (suggesting merging Embedded and Robotics):

Having had a look at the questions on the site and only been able to identify one, I don't think that any kind of merge would be appropriate, but we should certainly suggest (using that answer) that any questions which are on topic here be migrated here.

I think that part of the problem here is that people seem to think that there is something wrong with a site which is asking good questions, getting good answers and accumulating page views and users, but hasn't yet graduated.

In fact, there is nothing wrong with this situation, and Stack Exchange have finally woken up to the idea that some small, niche sites will never reach graduation criteria, but equally will never disappear, and that we need to handle this state of 'perpetual beta' more gracefully.

See Graduation, site closure, and a clearer outlook on the health of SE sites and Should we rename or remove the "beta" label?

As I mentioned in a comment on Andrew's answer to Closing this [Embedded] site on Friday, August 14

The problem is that merging four sites with four scopes and four communities risks destroying all four. In particular, a clash of cultures and alienation of existing users is a big risk. Ultimately any stack exchange site needs to stand on it's own and now that permanent beta is the rule rather than the exception, we have to accept that small workable vertical sites may well be better than broader based, artificial amalgams. In essence, a strong & growing community, even if it is small, is preferable to a weak diminishing one.

In the long term, I hope that perpetual beta sites will start to get some of the benefits of graduated sites, even if it isn't worth Stack Exchange spending time and development resources on a custom site design.

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What kinds of topics would Embedded Systems cover?

A lot of the questions I (mechanical engineer w/ heavy EE applied experience) wind up answering are questions about torque and force, actuator design and selection, kinematics, transform matrices, filters, planning algorithms, etc. All of these topics are crucial to robotic systems and none of these are related to embedded systems.

When I think of embedded systems, I think of topics like I2C/SPI/other bus issues, microcontroller timing issues, JTAG issues, voltage/level issues, de/multiplexer issues, etc. I'm not saying I would leave now, but I think if a site called Embedded Systems existed and Robotics did not I would never have joined to begin with.

I'm also not sure I understand why you would want to merge Arduino and Raspberry Pi together - to me it's like saying you want to merge a Windows and Mac SE together. Yes technically they are both computing platforms, but Raspberry Pi is programmed with Python, Arduino is programmed with, uh, Arduino (?), so any questions specific to programming one platform means the other half of the community can't answer, same goes for questions about specific I/O, memory addresses, etc. Each platform has its own SE site and each site is doing well.

Ultimately I would be against it because I think good questions for the Robotics site transcend the specific hardware implementation, I think the Arduino and Raspberry Pi sites are, for the most part, mutually exclusive (think again Windows and Mac), and I think that a lot of the questions that would be a good fit for Embedded systems could probably be answered over at the Electronics SE.

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  • $\begingroup$ @(?): A Raspberry Pi usually runs a linux operating system, which in turn can run a python runtime environment and python is a popular language indeed, you could however use any language that "compiles to linux", like C or C++. Arduino on the other hand is for the most part an embedded system. $\endgroup$ – Bending Unit 22 Aug 13 '15 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ +1 on the robotics topics. There are also control theory related questions that show up from time to time. $\endgroup$ – Bending Unit 22 Aug 13 '15 at 17:46
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In some people's view, Arduino and RaspberryPi may not perfectly match together. But wenn we watch the market we see a dozen other boards (bananapi, beagleboard, etc.) and the market is still growing. All of these boards have their developers which love the idea of having a matching SE platform. A combined platform for raspberry and arduino would automatically also be open to the rest of all these great products (because tagging is much easier done than opening and maintaining a new XyzPi platform).

I see a well-working example in StackOverflow for the world of developers: C# and Java developers coexist together, but I'm sure there are not many of them which know both languages. But it's not a problem with this, and from time to time they may even work together on the same PHP or C/C++ problem.

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