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I am really off and on posting questions or answers to the site. I might come on most days but when traversing through a page of electrical questions nothing really intrigues me to look or participate. The top two tags are Electrical 8510 and Wiring 3612. Those two tags plus # 4 Lighting 1705 are as big as the next 9 tags combined.

Background on this: I am licensed electrician in a few cities, not an electrician by trade. There are many many guys on here that offer great advice in electrical issues. On 90% of the electrical issues I understand the issue/answer from post title. I do look at the other 10% to get insight, but again don't really think about answering most (unless I feel like a common man's dummy response would help) because there are at least 10 guys that will do a better job. Also note I am the user on the site with most points without electrical in their top 3 - not a humblebrag just saying the top user without electrical is kind of turned off from site based on questions coming in.

So what categories or other home related things can be added to draw more than electrical issue questions out?

And related side note...

This is not about how the site is run. Honestly using SE for years this might be the best run site I have seen. There are people I often don't agree with, and sure there are those that always don't agree with me but there is a respect among users. The site is well run.

Honestly it should be the model site as far as top users/moderators. The other sites have gone too political, too SE heavy, and too mod heavy. I was a little sad a few years back when I was working with SE sales on getting an Enterprise solution, I answer a question and mention that women are treated a certain way in a certain religion, and BOOM. 100 mods (many SE employees) barraging me in Meta and then getting caught in an edit lie that was made to make me look bad - but I had a screenshot. Needless to say SE employees lost a lot of revenue for their company and could learn something from moderation/process on this site. But we have to get more than electrical questions coming in/looked at.

  • This is a good discussion topic to improve DIY.SE, but I got distracted with the unrelated side note about other SE sites and SE employees (do we need that remark on here?). – Andrew T. Mar 24 at 15:59
  • @AndrewT. - I think it is related because I have a long history contributing and using SE. Giving this background shows that the issue this site has getting numbers isn't a people/mod issue but more of a realm issue. Anyone can say this but I can say it with relevance and examples.b – DMoore Mar 24 at 22:19
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Background on this: I am licensed electrician in a few cities, not an electrician by trade. There are many many guys on here that offer great advice in electrical issues.

Personally, I don't let not being an electrician, or any other particular trained expert, stop me at all. I do try to answer carefully, but I will often answer electrical questions based on my own experiences (as a homeowner doing some of my own electrical work and as a computer professional often called upon to do low-voltage network & phone wiring, which has significant overlap with certain areas of electrical work) and based on learning from others here and elsewhere (e.g., my own electrician). When I see a question (electrical or otherwise) where I have the concept of an answer but am not 90%+ certain that I have it correct - or I know the basics but not all the necessary details - then I will just comment instead, but I do that to help move things along in the right direction, at least until the pros step in.

On a related note, I am proud that my current top 2 answers are safety-related (and happen to be non-electrical). My 3rd top answer is electrical but the type of answer that doesn't require a licensed electrician to answer Why do single electrical receptacles exist?

(unless I feel like a common man's dummy response would help)

Actually, I think those responses, well worded, can be quite useful. I am often that "common man". I try to word answers as reasonably non-technical as I can. The extensive details offered on some answers by the pros are often quite appropriate, but many times the OP really just needs a simple "why" or a very basic answer to "is this practical so I can get a pro to do the work without it costing a fortune".

I also jump in on "lost neutral" or similar safety issues, where getting the answer out there clearly & quickly is potentially very important.

So what categories or other home related things can be added to draw more than electrical issue questions out?

The question really might be phrased as: Why does electrical get so many questions compared to other topics?

IMHO:

  • Trades requiring specialized knowledge and, in most areas, with significant licensing requirements to do work outside your own residence, are going to prompt a lot of questions because people simply don't have the knowledge themselves and can't just get started based on a "hunch" (and when they do get started based on a hunch, they often come here to say "I put in a new ceiling fan and now it doesn't work"). This typically means electrical and plumbing.

  • Electrical vs. Plumbing:

    • Electrical affects every room in every building - including garages, bedrooms, outbuildings such as sheds, etc. Plumbing is primarily for kitchens and bathrooms, with occasional wells thrown in - all of which have significant electrical requirements too.
    • Electrical can be expanded - e.g., add a new outlet or ceiling light where there was none before - without other major work (just a few holes to patch). Adding new plumbing fixtures is typically far more involved and therefore usually only part of major renovations (e.g., add a basement bathroom or expand a kitchen), so there are a lot more opportunities for the typical DIY to tackle an electrical project.
    • Electrical requirements have changed more over the years - e.g., AFCI, GFCI, LED lights requiring newer dimmers, smart switches, etc. - than plumbing (PEX as an alternative to copper & PVC - but not relevant to most people unless they want to replace all their piping; on-demand water heaters - but those have electrical issues >= plumbing issues)

So I'm not at all surprised to see electrical at the top of common questions - and in the nature of emergency repairs (lost neutral, problem after replacing a switch, etc.), minor upgrades (add a receptacle or light or (planning properly) replacing a fan, etc.) and major projects (kitchen, bath, shed/garage subpanel, etc.)

This is not about how the site is run. Honestly using SE for years this might be the best run site I have seen. There are people I often don't agree with, and sure there are those that always don't agree with me but there is a respect among users. The site is well run.

Honestly it should be the model site as far as top users/moderators.

I have been quite happy with the way this site is run. When I have made a mistake I have generally been treated well (and on my part I will remove or modify an answer if I know I was wrong). There is only one time I recall getting a nasty response from someone - and other regulars jumped in to my defense, which was really nice.

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