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Is there a line in the sand where questions appropriate for this Robotics site end and questions more appropriate for the Electrical Engineering site? Here are a few example topics that I have been tackling at my day job (robotics engineer at a robotics company):

  • USB HID Bootloader for dsPIC33E series microcontroller
  • Differentiating plastic bottles in a digital image, identifying each bottle and the type of plastic (HDPE pure, HDPE colored, PET)
  • UDP Packet transmission over WIFI using microchip WIFI module

As I write these out, they mostly sound like they have nothing to do with Robotics, despite all of them being used inside robots. Aside from the classic Robotic problems (motion control, positioning algorithms, machine vision), I am having a hard time deciding what I should post here vs Electrical Engineering.

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    $\begingroup$ Ah! Great minds, I just came up with a similar (yet much too broad) question: meta.robotics.stackexchange.com/q/5/22 $\endgroup$ – mjcarroll Oct 23 '12 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ I might rephrase the question "Which of these questions is best answered by a Robotics example?" Recall that SO's interface is Google, and the content is consumed by dozens of future people with the same question. So the content of the question isn't as important as the content of the answer. Another rephrasing - 'Would a person asking this question want to have a roboticist answer it?' $\endgroup$ – Ian Danforth Oct 23 '12 at 20:41
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    $\begingroup$ The wonderful thing about a line in the sand is that it is so easy to erase and redraw elsewhere. *8') $\endgroup$ – Mark Booth Oct 23 '12 at 21:40
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    $\begingroup$ This question has been asked in a more general sense in How do we address questions about related subject areas? and my answer there is equally relevant here. $\endgroup$ – Mark Booth Oct 23 '12 at 21:44
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    $\begingroup$ This is a good read on this subject — Respect the community – your own, and others’ $\endgroup$ – Robert Cartaino Oct 24 '12 at 14:23
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Although all the of the examples you have listed sound extremely like the electronics StackExchange, separating robotics topics from electrical, mechanical and computer science topics will be very difficult.

If you look through conference papers at "robotics" conferences, many of the papers could easily be published at vision or machine learning conferences. The only common theme is how the algorithm is applied.

I believe that most of the questions here will be application specific questions for sensors and algorithms traditionally used in robotics applications.

In my opinion, the machine vision task of separating bottles seems to be the closest to robotics.

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Robotics is a multi-functional discipline, covering electronic, electrical, mechanical and software components (plus some others I've no doubt missed). Not forgetting the artistic angles involved in making the resultant bot look good.

The question asks about E.SE but the question could also be applied to Programmers and StackOverflow, never mind RaspberryPi (and probably others beside).

As such, there cannot be a a line in the sand as such, because intrinsically there cannot be a clear demarcation between the application and the principal.

Most questions will have an obvious home... if they could be either/or then in that grey area, either is probably the right place - and no doubt the boundary will be quickly established by migration if need be.

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When dealing with site overlap, there never is a clear line. There usually are questions which are suitable for both sites, and there's nothing wrong with it.

I've seen three types of migrate-able questions:

  • Obvious migrates-- Off topic for us, on topic for them
  • On-topic for both of us, but much more relevant for the other site's audience. These usually get migrated as well.
  • On-topic for both of us, slightly better on the other site. Generally these are of the wait-and-watch type--if they don't get answered on your site in a few days, then migrate, but don't immediately migrate.

So it's completely fine not to have a "line in the sand", IMO. as long as we have a well-defined FAQ, any question asked on robotics.SE which falls within that FAQ can be kept, even if it's on-topic elsewhere (though of course it can be migrated off if it can get a much better answer elsewhere).

I suggest we allow questions that deal with electronic components in a robotics-y situation (i.e., being used in a robot--the application of the chip ought to be specified), and disallow generic electronics questions. Seems like we already do that, I think...

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