2
$\begingroup$

The hamSE What-topics-are-allowed-here help page does not specifically disallow questions about non-amateur-band business radios, business repeaters, antennas, etc. in such a way that the majority of new users can grasp. Should they be permitted providing that the question does not violate any other hamSE guidelines? This older meta post seems to say yes.

If so, should the help and tour pages be edited?

  1. If yes, how?
  2. If no, why?

There were two questions by fireant456 recently closed by myself and another mod. In retrospect, they should not have been closed because of a lack of clarity concerning "the technology of radio" in our guidelines.

My point is that there are no clearly defined statements in either the Help or the Tour that explain why from a new user's perspective ...

... Even if they thoroughly study both the Help and the Tour.

Do you believe that these questions should be closed as off-topic? (If you think so, then please explain your reasoning.)

What editing (if any) should be made to them?

$\endgroup$
5
$\begingroup$

As I see it, the following are the case:

  • We allow questions that happen to be about CB, FRS, low-power operations (Part 15 in the US), etc. because they are typically in the spirit of amateur radio: everyday people using two-way radio for personal uses or for technical experimentation; and because the communities overlap.

  • The phrase "the technology of radio" in our help center refers not to any radio-based technology but generalities about radio, that apply regardless of the radio service/application involved. Or, if that interpretation seems strained, then we should change the words so it fits.

  • Amateurs may use any radio equipment, and therefore configuring/modifying equipment for amateur use is on-topic.

Therefore, considering questions specific to commercial/business-band radio to be off-topic is consistent with our scope in general. If this is unclear then we should consider it as clarifying the explanation, not as adding a rule against business band radio in particular.

Two further notes:

  • Amateur radio prohibits commercial / "pecuniary interest" use, and this is generally considered to have the logic of that if it were allowed it would overrun the bands. I don't think we are exactly at risk of a flood of business radio questions, but I do think that we don't particularly want to be in favor of a population of questions that are asked from the perspective of just wanting to just get some radios working.

  • There are always edge cases in topicality, and those edge cases can and should be resolved merely by the community close/reopen voting process.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ "Therefore, considering questions specific to commercial/business-band radio to be off-topic is consistent with our scope in general." ... "If this is unclear then we should consider it as clarifying the explanation, not as adding a rule against business band radio in particular." Hmmm. 🤔 $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters Oct 7 '18 at 5:19
  • $\begingroup$ What do you think about a new guideline banning questions related to commercial/business radio services? $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters Oct 7 '18 at 22:02
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Those are already OT because they are not about amateur radio or the technology of radio $\endgroup$ – Scott Earle Oct 7 '18 at 22:22
2
$\begingroup$

I would close them.

On topic:

  • How does a repeater work?
  • What are the essential components of a repeater?
  • How can I estimate the power and antenna requirements to cover an area?

That's not what's being asked in these questions. They are much closer to product recommendation questions. One of the questions blatantly asks:

Can I use our existing Kenwood TK-863G-1 to accomplish the scenario above [use it as a repeater]. If not, can you suggest some cheap alternatives?

The other question is probably looking for product recommendations:

I am a noob to a lot of amateur radio and I am investigating and planning a repeater setup to be installed in my workplace. [...] I wanted to see what suggestions the community has for a cost effective repeater setup for a scenario where we would be repeating 3-5 channels of uhf traffic. [...] A functionality that we would like to have is to also repeat the NOAA weather channel for our area to a uhf channel for our handhelds to tune into.

You have the requirements:

  • must be cheap
  • must repeat 3-5 channels of commercial UHF traffic
  • must be approachable for a "noob"
  • must repeat NOAA weather

The question wanders a bit, but probably it's looking for a product recommendation.


I think this is pretty well explained in the help center. https://ham.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic says:

There are many applications of radio that are not Amateur radio. For example, GMRS, CB, PMR, and all manner of commercial applications.

It also says:

Questions may not be asked here about: [...] shopping recommendations for specific products

The problem here seems to be this user doesn't know what amateur means, either in English generally, or specifically in amateur radio. I quote with added emphasis:

I am a noob to a lot of amateur radio and I am investigating and planning a repeater setup to be installed in my workplace.

Evidently this user believes workplace activities are somehow "amateur", which means "engaging or engaged in without payment; nonprofessional."

I don't think there's anything we need to do to make things more clear. There will always be people who misunderstand words. Close the questions and call it a day.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Every one of us here (to date) tends to agree to various degrees that it is OT. My point is that there are no clearly defined statements in either the Help or the Tour that explain why. (Editing question to include that.) $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters Oct 9 '18 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ I think there are plenty of statements. The issue in most of these cases seems to be people who don't know what amateur radio is. This particular case is especially confusing, since commercial radios for a hospital isn't even remotely in line with the general meaning of "amateur", even if you don't know that "amateur radio" itself is a specific thing. $\endgroup$ – Phil Frost - W8II Oct 9 '18 at 19:30
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeWaters ham.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic says, "There are many applications of radio that are not Amateur radio. For example, GMRS, CB, PMR, and all manner of commercial applications." I think that's pretty clear, isn't it? $\endgroup$ – Phil Frost - W8II Oct 9 '18 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ I will not object if these questions are closed. But I firmly stand by my conviction that the hamSE guidelines need some clarifications. And an expansion on that comment might very well be an excellent addition. $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters Oct 9 '18 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeWaters More words will just make them even less likely to be read. $\endgroup$ – Phil Frost - W8II Oct 10 '18 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ Read the rest of that paragraph that you've only partially quoted. :-) $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters Oct 10 '18 at 18:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "Promoting understanding and skill in radio operation is a core mission of the Amateur service, so if questions about such services can be framed to be about radio in general, then they may be asked here."? What about it? $\endgroup$ – Phil Frost - W8II Oct 10 '18 at 18:30
-1
$\begingroup$

If the questions are about how technically to go about such things, then it’s definitely about the technology of radio. But the questions that were asked, are asking how he could do it. That is a function of the licensing of the radios and the service on which they are to be used. Since it seems to be a business service and he’s in the US, the questions need the ‘legal’ and ‘united-states’ tags adding, and are off-topic because they are neither about amateur radio (as a service) or the technology of radio.

EDIT: it also couldn’t hurt to add something to the help/tour to the effect that licensing of non-amateur services is off topic, but the OP might not realise that their question is about licensing, when they are asking about how to set up a repeater.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "it also couldn’t hurt to add something to the help/tour to the effect that licensing of non-amateur services is off topic". I fully agree. :-) $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters Oct 9 '18 at 20:30
  • $\begingroup$ See today's comment on the OP, Scott. $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters Oct 19 '18 at 22:07

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .