Recently the question "Why do some SDHC cards have extra contacts?" was closed as off-topic. While I agree that the original question was off topic, there was some debate as to whether the question would be on topic if specifically in the context of asking if the extra contacts had any impact on Photographic uses of the card.

Should this question be on topic if it was rephrased to something along the lines of "do these extra pins on my SD Card have any impact on how the card will perform in my camera?"

To be clear, this is specifically asking if the revised form of the question would have been on topic if it was the original question. I'm not looking for if we should edit a question that is bad that could have some value if modified, but rather if the modified version actually has value.

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The original question wasn't even close to that, it was simply asking the purpose of those pins. SD cards are not specific to photography or photographic equipment and the actual physical structure of those cards is, at best, tangential to photography in any event. You could make similar arguments around the pinouts of hard drives and the performance of camera to computer transfer, but that would be extremely weak as well.

However, a question that is actually worded to place the relevance to photography may not fit the category to close, but this wasn't a good example. The OP has the experience with this site, very clearly, and had room to adjust it appropriately and did not. In fact he ignored that opportunity in order to accept an answer that really was for his real question. Not to be harsh here, but that's bad behaviour in terms of help newcomers understand what is appropriate and what is not for this site.

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  • Agree totally with the second paragraph, and agree that there is a threshold of what is related enough to plausibly have an impact. We certainly don't want to be flooded with questions where the answer is "no, it has no impact" because the asker is asking ridiculous things. – AJ Henderson Mar 3 '14 at 4:52
  • It is important that our experienced users set examples for newcomers though. It's hard for a moderator to let a high-rep pass and shoot down a newbie who could, and should, point to the same being let by. – John Cavan Mar 3 '14 at 4:56
  • Yes, and it is part of the job of a moderator to make sure that a high rep user doesn't get by just because they are a high rep user, so I agree with you on that, but that's really not related to the question I'm asking here. – AJ Henderson Mar 3 '14 at 5:00
  • @AJHenderson - It is in the context of this example, though. – John Cavan Mar 3 '14 at 5:04
  • For this meta question, I'm simply asking if the revised question would be on-topic. I just mentioned the original question as backstory for how the discussion came about. – AJ Henderson Mar 3 '14 at 5:08
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    @AJHenderson - Fair enough. The reword is a bit better. – John Cavan Mar 3 '14 at 5:12

I believe that this would be on-topic as it specifically addresses "usage of Photographic Equipment" which is on-topic according to the help center post. SD Cards are the most common storage medium for digital cameras these days and in fact, if the camera supports their use, the extra pins do make a major contribution to write speed which impacts burst performance.

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We often answer questions such as "What are the primary differences between camera a and camera b?" in terms of how those differences affect what types of photographs those specifications make possible or make impossible. Many times one of the features considered important to some types of photography are things such as frame rate and buffer depth because they affect what it is possible to photograph with that specific camera. Likewise, we sometimes answer the same question in terms of dedicated controls on the camera body that allow faster handling and changing settings in challenging shooting conditions in order to catch moments in rapidly changing conditions.

If I'm shooting a sport and want to catch a sequence of something that requires 8 fps to capture each distinct step in the series, then I need a camera that can shoot at least 8 fps under the conditions in which I am shooting. A camera that can only shoot at 5 fps will not allow me to get the shots I want/need. The same is true if I take an 8 fps camera and cripple it with a slow memory card that artificially limits the maximum frame rate and buffer depth of the camera.

The speed of a memory card interface has a direct bearing on the burst rate and buffer depth of digital cameras. I can take an older, slower card and put it in my Canon 7D and the number of consecutive frames I can take in burst mode before it slows to a crawl is halved from a card that runs as fast as the camera is capable of writing to it. So yes, the performance of the memory card, which might include that architecture of the interface, can have an effect on the photographic possibilities.

Although we often say and hear that "gear doesn't matter", the truth is it doesn't really matter until it does. And then it really matters. When the gear limits the capability of what the photographer can accomplish it matters a great deal.

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    That would argue that it would be reasonable to ask questions about the structure of Intel CPUs on the basis that faster CPUs would make my workflow faster for post-processing images. After all, most people eventually put their images on a computer. Gear matters, but purpose of a pin on a card (e.g. the architecture of it) versus the capabilities of the card in terms of camera capability are very different things. – John Cavan Mar 3 '14 at 11:42
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    Except that this is something that they are putting directly in their camera, they can see the difference clearly and don't know if it has any impact on their camera performance. A CPU is much further removed, and even then, I'm not sure that something like "does hyper-threading improve Lightroom performance?" would be off topic. It certainly is a more subjective line in the sand though. – AJ Henderson Mar 3 '14 at 14:53
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    @AJHenderson - Then by that token, USB architecture should be on topic because there's usually a USB port on a camera. We're reaching there, IMO. Asking if the card is backwards compatible and can be used in a camera makes sense here, sure, but purpose of the pinouts? That's reaching. – John Cavan Mar 3 '14 at 15:21
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    The difference between the SD card and CPU is that the performance of the SD card directly affects whether certain photographs are possible to capture or not. The performance of the CPU on post processing times only affects how long it takes to complete an operation, but not whether the operation is possible or not. – Michael C Mar 4 '14 at 13:19
  • Sure, but I'm not seeing how "what do these pins do?" translate. What a pin does isn't relevant. What is relevant is whether or not the card can work in the camera and whether or not the camera can use it. The architecture of SD and the physical manifestation of that doesn't have a direct bearing, it's tangential. – John Cavan Mar 4 '14 at 18:48
  • "What do these pins do?" was the question that was closed. No one is wondering if it should have been closed as it was written. This meta question is asking about whether we should salvage such questions by tying them to how the performance of a memory card with such contacts may affect camera performance in regard to taking pictures. – Michael C Mar 5 '14 at 0:52
  • Fair enough, but rather than alter a bad question (and reward that), I would rather see a new question that is appropriate to the site. – John Cavan Mar 5 '14 at 1:11

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