There are tons of really basic EEG analysis questions, whether requests for toolboxes or questions about how to quantify EEG power. If we could assemble all of the answers to these questions into a single [page,answer,something else?] that included links to analysis toolboxes and tutorials, we could just link to that every time to get people started with some good resources.

  • Very good idea. I was already thinking of something like that. Did not want to repeat an FFT analysis again. When I have time I could have a look at it, but that probably won't happen very soon. To go even further, if we have the expertise, we could do that for more methodologies such as fMRI and popular non-brain imaging techniques. Aug 13, 2016 at 15:37
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    As Christiaan objects, there are indeed a few considerations: this should still be phrased in a Q&A format, and a possible alternative is (in case it is a thorough description of a certain tag) to add such information in the tag description. An advantage of doing it in Q&A format instead of tag descriptions is we can just close them as duplicate of the general reference one (the question still needs to be valid though).
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Sep 5, 2016 at 18:46
  • I agree with @StevenJeuris. Further, posts born out of a reason to close low quality questions shouldn't be posted in a format of a low quality question themselves. The current initiative is way too broad.
    – AliceD Mod
    Sep 6, 2016 at 7:30
  • Plus, tons of EEG questions? CogSci is a tiny SE site in need of more questions. Trimming down welcomed subjects is the one thing we shouldn't be pursuing.
    – AliceD Mod
    Sep 6, 2016 at 7:32
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    CogSci doesn't need more questions. CogSci needs to be able to answer the questions it gets. And as it is we are consistently not answering those questions because it simply takes way too much energy to answer each of those questions individually when they each require a massive amount of effort to get the question asker up to speed.
    – honi
    Sep 6, 2016 at 14:03

2 Answers 2


I would like to suggest using the following format. We create four threads each with the same main title:
- Introduction to EEG: Physiology behind EEG measurements
- Introduction to EEG: Noise and pre-processing
- Introduction to EEG: Event-related potentials & time spectrum
- Introduction to EEG: brain oscillations & frequency spectrum

Later on, if we feel there is the need, we can add other "chapters" such as source localization.


As noted by honi, there are many many questions about EEG that are rather basic. Often, these are also posted in a rather specific context making it difficult for novel users interpreting the posts as basic, and thereby ask similar new questions. Having clear community posts that describe the basics of EEG (in clearly defined "chapters") will allow us to close duplicates more easily. The basics are then covered, and the real specifics can be asked for in new posts.

I wanted to use the "chapter" style as to make it clear that these posts belong together. This way, a user can find the entire introduction really easily. This is thus mostly a usability issue, if I may use those terms. Moreover, by giving it the feeling of a book, I hoped there would be some atmosphere of trust, like a CogSci stamp of approval.

It was noted that this information was too basic, could be found with an easy google search and should, therefore, not be posted on this website. The fact, however, that many basic questions are asked gives me reason to believe that people have difficulties finding this info. That the people approach this website for the answers clearly shows how valuable CogSci is and could be to them. Why not let the google search lead them to this website as THE source for an introduction to EEG. This will only lead to more users and, potentially, to new interesting more specific questions about EEG. Moreover, we, as a community, can control the quality of the content, as to make EEG as accessible as we would like.

When should we stop making introductions? It is, I believe, better to ask "when should we start?". A couple of weeks ago, someone clearly thought there were just too many basic EEG questions and thought there was a need for some general info (ergo this meta post). Whenever this happens for other topics, it could potentially also get introductory posts. This could, for instance happen for fMRI. Although currently there appears to be no excess of basic fMRI questions, when the site grows it may become a problem. Case by case, we should evaluate the need for this.

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    Given the discussion that arose from the first Intro I wrote, I'll refrain from writing the next few until there is a clear and agreed upon strategy. I've made some edits to the initial post, and after we make a decision I will make the appropriate edits (or removal). Sep 5, 2016 at 20:35
  • The terms broad and too specific seem to be used intermingled to back up this strategy. They are mutually exclusive. Too broad questions, like What is EEG, as posed here, should be closed as being too broad. Too specific doesn't exist in SE and certainly not on a scientific stack. The latter should be strongly encouraged. The former should be closed.
    – AliceD Mod
    Sep 6, 2016 at 7:26
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    I do not completely agree @Christiaan. A question can be basic without it being broad. And by placing a basic question in a specific context, novices may find it difficult to interpret the basic info. Furthermore, I love specific questions, but some questions clearly show that the OP has a lack of understanding (e.g cogsci.stackexchange.com/q/9904/11318 or cogsci.stackexchange.com/q/15793/11318). Having a few posts that describe the basic processes would greatly help them putting things into perspective, and if their question is still not answered... Sep 6, 2016 at 10:46
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    ... they can post a new question with the appropriate background knowledge. I guess what I am trying to say is that the "Introductions" will help people with their initial research, which will make it easier to formulate questions. In turn, less effort from "us" is necessary to close the badly phrased questions. Sep 6, 2016 at 10:50
  • I think this forum is not the platform to provide the basics to help noobies formulate their question. It just doesn't fit the philosophy of SE. And of course folks asking questions often don't know what they're talking about. They should come up with a specific question for a specific answer. The only way to help them get acquainted with the basics is Google or a good tag. The latter is up to us, the former, imho, is not.
    – AliceD Mod
    Sep 6, 2016 at 10:55
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    I think, given the fact that SO is experimenting with a documentation platform, it fits/will fit the philosophy of SE exactly. Moreover, as said in the post, it doesn't harm the site in any way, it may bring in more users, and it will even lift a weight of the shoulders of the mods and active closers of questions. But I guess the points have been made (I started repeating myself at least). Perhaps we should hear what others think of it. Sep 6, 2016 at 11:11
  • @Christiaan, I don't understand why you are so attached to a specific vision of what the purpose of stack exchange is, to the extent that you are willing to let it get into the way of a really good idea. Let's try to argue based on the merits of the suggestion and not with respect to a poorly defined opinion on what the "philosophy" of stack exchange is.
    – honi
    Sep 6, 2016 at 14:05
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    @honi - I tried to look up this initiative on SO and the only thing I could find was a cursory remark that it was under review there. Could you guys post a link? And why am I bothering the SE philosophy? Because I have been working my guts out to get this site graduated :) And tossing around with "really good" and "poorly defined" is kind of subjective. I have never said anything was good or bad. Don't be offended. Isn't meta meant to discuss and scrutinize ideas? And I am discussing the merits of your proposal - I am telling you that I just don't get the purpose, that's all.
    – AliceD Mod
    Sep 6, 2016 at 14:17
  • @Christiaan you can find it here. It is a separate part of the website but still in a Q&A style indeed. I find it an excellent and if people show that other SE could use/need something similar, it might even stick. Sep 6, 2016 at 14:19
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    I am happy to discuss. I think that this is a really good opportunity to leverage the expertise in this community to provide a much needed resource for the internet. Can you in fact find a solid platform-independent tutorial for EEG analysis through your google skills?
    – honi
    Sep 6, 2016 at 14:23
  • Additionally it would greatly increase our ability to answer questions by simply being able to link to an existing explanation that already answers someone's question. Moreover, if someone's question gets answered by the SE intro to EEG without even having to ask a question, then all the better!
    – honi
    Sep 6, 2016 at 14:24
  • @RobinKramer - that link lists tags?
    – AliceD Mod
    Sep 6, 2016 at 20:17
  • @Christiaan The link I sent is the new Documentation page. Different subjects get clear general explanations which everybody can contribute to. See also the Tour of documentation: stackoverflow.com/tour/documentation . The idea is to take out the specifics and make easily referable "textbooks" with many examples. Obviously, they use the same tags to allow some structuring. Sep 8, 2016 at 9:44

After bugging the forerunners of this initiative for a while (and apparently annoying them too :) I have a few considerations to make.

  • The EEG tag ranks #25, with less than 100 questions devoted to it. That can hardly be described as '...tons of really basic EEG analysis questions...' The current tally of 2016 being 25, including the new general intro-style question under discussion here included. That is about 3 questions per month. I do not see the need for a big effort in this arena.
  • The idea of closing basic questions based on an existing broad set of questions is a bad idea, given the low question-rate of CogSci (Area51), which is actually the metric with the worst rating as of now. Hence, this idea hinders with the community-wide interest to get this site graduated after nearly 5 years in beta.
  • I have already pointed out that I don't find the initiative suitable within the confines of the SE philosophy, which was met with critique as being ill-defined. The philosophy I was pointing out is: Focus on questions about an actual problem you have faced. Include details about what you have tried and exactly what you are trying to do. Ask about [...] real problems or questions that you’ve encountered. If the idea of this initiative of a textbook-like content can be made more explicit, that would help. The urge to comply with the SE-wide philosophy is, again, born from the hopes of getting graduated.
  • Improving the EEG tag wiki may be more effective. Word count is limited, but sources like McGill, or open-source review papers give a concise, practical overview of what EEG is. Linking those sites and urging folks to not ask general questions may be more valuable than generating questions on it. Likely OP will add the tag and look at it first. A more likely scenario than a new user skimming through this site to look for their answer.
  • Things like this, i.e., community-based questions with community-based answers should be posted as a community question. That way it's not a single person sharing his views, but the community sharing their view.
  • The general Intro question list was described to me as a very good idea. I don't agree. But who am I to stop anyone from pushing it through? :)
  • I agree with you on the community question and answer. That was the one doubt I had when writing the post. And in a way you are right about CogSci needing more questions, but it is no use if we have to close many of them for being low-quality or a duplicate. Or, if we would not close each question, people will likely become tired of answered the same (or similar) questions again and again. You say there are not that many EEG questions but honi and I had that feeling that we had to repeat ourselves. Sep 7, 2016 at 14:23

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