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From time to time questions about Morse code pop up here, typically because Morse code is mentioned in some pop-culture context. Here's such a question that was inspired by a Google doodle. To me this is understandable, because if one wants to ask a question on a Stack Exchange site about Morse code, to which site would one go? To the one about ham radio, of course.

Should we expand the scope of this site to include questions about Morse code, even if radio isn't specifically mentioned?

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    $\begingroup$ If you don't mind, I added featured so it would show up on the main page. $\endgroup$
    – Mike Waters Mod
    Sep 29 at 14:03
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    $\begingroup$ is Morse code currently considered off topic...? $\endgroup$
    – webmarc
    Oct 3 at 3:27
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    $\begingroup$ Hi @webmarc. The official definition for what's on-topic is contained in the help question What topics can I ask about here? Before I asked this Meta question, the answer would have been that questions about Morse code but that don't involve radio somehow would have been off-topic. Since everyone who has voted here agrees that expanding our scope to include questions about Morse code alone would be OK, I'll take that as a mandate and update the help question and any other relevant documentation soon. $\endgroup$
    – rclocher3 Mod
    Oct 4 at 0:38
  • $\begingroup$ Should we add the status-completed tag to this? $\endgroup$
    – Mike Waters Mod
    Oct 21 at 17:37
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    $\begingroup$ Sure @MikeWaters! I did it. I didn't know about the status-* tags, thanks. $\endgroup$
    – rclocher3 Mod
    Oct 21 at 18:12
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I think I am in agreement. Generally, questions are on-topic if they are about "amateur radio or the technology of radio", but I would say that we have reached a point in time (where Morse code is now basically only used by radio amateurs) where Morse code is now part of the "technology of amateur radio". I vote for questions about Morse code being on-topic, too.

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I think so. Aside from folks required to learn Morse, usually as a result of military signals training, I anecdotally believe that we amateurs are the primary users of Morse code today. For this reason, it seems to me that this makes Morse code directly related to this hobby. While it is no longer required in the US, I believe that there are still CW requirements in other regions.

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I think that questions about Morse code should be considered on-topic even if they don't happen to interact with radio technology, because

  • Morse code is, in practice, largely a subtopic of amateur radio, even if it is theoretically separable. There's no bigger Morse-code-using community to point people at asking instead.
  • It would feel absurd to reject some questions about learning and practicing Morse code just because they don't have any CW (or FM) radio transmission in them — this is the sort of hair-splitting that makes an unwelcoming environment.

However, I think we should not allow questions such as “Does this piece of art contain Morse code?” or “can someone copy (transcribe) this unclear Morse code for me?” (without any larger context of a question of ), because:

  • They invite speculation; questions should be more or less objectively answerable. (Such questions could have some sort of rigorous statistical analysis applied to them, but it is unlikely that answerers will do that.)
  • It's best to avoid making the on-topicness of a question depend on what its answer is, because that creates the awkward situation of a question that should either be answered “Yes, …” or be closed, but the asker by definition doesn't know whether it should be closed or they wouldn't be asking. Questions should be closed for reasons the asker could have known about in advance.
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    $\begingroup$ I agree absolutely with your point that questions should be objectively answerable, and I feel that everyone else likely will also, so I went ahead and made a note in the help question What topics can I ask about here? accordingly. I'm not sure what you mean by your point about whether a question is on-topic depending on its answer, would you please point out an example if you had one in mind? $\endgroup$
    – rclocher3 Mod
    Oct 6 at 1:29
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    $\begingroup$ @rclocher3 Closing a question is roughly saying the asker shouldn't have posted it. Therefore, it should always be reasonably practical for someone to figure out whether a question they're considering is on-topic without already knowing the answer. But a question which is correctly answered with “No, that sound isn't Morse code (and has nothing to do with radio either)" is a question which has no relevance or long-term value to the site, and therefore shouldn't have been posted. (And, since such questions are likely to be pop-culture-y, they're likely to attract low-quality answers.) $\endgroup$
    – Kevin Reid AG6YO Mod
    Oct 6 at 4:22
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    $\begingroup$ Excellent point @KevinReidAG6YO. I agree wholeheartedly. $\endgroup$
    – David Hoelzer Mod
    Oct 6 at 17:56
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Sure, why not? I don't mind answering questions about Morse code that don't have anything to do with radio. They don't come up very often anyway. Think of it as a small service that we could do for the public whenever they have questions about Morse code that they see or hear (or think they see or hear) in a movie, TV commercial, etc.

Even if Morse code is no longer required for a ham license and is not used by a majority of hams now, Morse code is associated with amateur radio in the view of the public. The way I see it, that fact alone makes expanding our scope to questions about Morse code by itself worthwhile.

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Okay, you've convinced me. I just upvoted these answers.

What does that Google Doodle question have to do with Amateur Radio?

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  • $\begingroup$ I couldn't find a prior discussion, but that's not proof that one doesn't exist of course. Anyway, if you can find such a discussion please point it out to me. $\endgroup$
    – rclocher3 Mod
    Sep 29 at 15:55
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    $\begingroup$ The Google doodle is a bad example because there is no Morse code in there, and IMO the flickering of the candle in the animation doesn't come close to suggesting Morse code. $\endgroup$
    – rclocher3 Mod
    Sep 29 at 16:23
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    $\begingroup$ I thought about the doodle example and realized that there are reasons I think such questions should be off-topic, so I added an answer with them $\endgroup$
    – Kevin Reid AG6YO Mod
    Oct 5 at 19:43

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