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Cleaning Questions in General

Some computer components require periodic cleaning to operate properly (e.g., screens, keyboards, heat sinks and fans). Questions on cleaning these aren't typically an issue. Other components require cleaning only if they get disgusting. Cleaning these is more cosmetic and doesn't usually affect computer performance or usability. Questions are sometimes treated as frivolous, even though they are computer components and have constraints on how they can be safely cleaned in a way that does not affect performance.

Example

Cleaning computer cables In the dishwasher.

This user inherited a large collection of varied cables and was looking for an efficient, safe way to clean them. He could have asked whether there would be any risk to dumping them all in a big bucket of very hot soapy water, and that might not have aroused more than the usual resistance to cleaning questions of this kind. However, he asked whether it was safe to use a dishwasher based on people having used that to clean keyboards, which include a cable.

Some people reacted as if it was a question about dishwasher science. One comment was "you are kidding right?", which received 8 upvotes as of this writing.

Although the question originally included a long list of cable types, they all fell into three groups:

  • Never do it.
  • Safe to do it.
  • Residual water might not be great for cable life but probably wouldn't cause a performance problem.

The OP did complicate things a little by later adding power bricks to the list, although most people would just stick those in the "never" category.

The answers have some differences on the specific risks of residual water (the "why"), but the overall recommendations (do vs. don't) have the limited range of answers typical of most questions. However, the question was closed as too broad.

At the time of writing this, the question has had over 2,650 views in the first two days, which is pretty good interest, and 21 upvotes and 4 downvotes, which indicates that a lot of people found the question useful (and a few hated it). The close votes are what surprised me. I'm just not understanding what people see as close-worthy problems with this question.

I did some rewriting to try to focus the question more and to address the specifics random posted in a comment. The question is generally improved, but I don't understand the issues people had, so I really don't know if the changes address them. I did the edits only a few hours ago, so it hasn't had much chance to go through the Reopen review queue (but no traction so far).

Question

I'd look forward to any insight people can provide on cleaning questions in general or this question, specifically, especially if the edits don't address the issues people have. Do people just consider cleaning questions of this kind not a good fit for the site, or are there specific issues that can be fixed?

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I'm just going to consider why it was closed as too broad, not whether it should be. (I think I saw this question in both the close and reopen queues, but I didn't vote either way.)

As seen in the revision history, this is the state of the question when it was closed. It has a laundry list of cable types that need to be cleaned, including some power bricks. A full answer would arguably need to cover each of these cable types. On top of that, a cable that implements a certain protocol could be made out of several different materials. Some USB cables I've seen, for instance, have the normal opaque plastic covering, while some have a shiny, thicker, translucent-looking cover that's reminiscent of some Ethernet cables. It would take a ton of knowledge to understand the effects of soapy water on all these cables and all their possible configurations.

It makes sense that the question was closed at this point.

After the closure, the question was edited into this state. The massive list mostly vanished, and in its place appeared possible concerns. The question was then asking, in so many words, how to determine whether a given cable is dishwasher- or more generally water-safe. The question now is only about cables, not power bricks, so its scope is tighter than before. It does also ask whether the washed cables could damage computers they're plugged in to, and one could argue that that's a different question, but "would destroy a computer when used after cleaning" is a subset of "is not dishwasher-safe."

It makes sense that the question was reopened. We shall see how it fares.

  • So some people viewed the forest and some viewed the trees. Thanks for the insight. – fixer1234 Jul 30 '16 at 17:01
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This feels like a good canonical question with some curation for a topic that's likely of general interest. While typically the broad scope would be an issue, I don't feel it is here.

Taking into account the broad interest (and the 'quorum' of users that closed and reopened it being identical), I'm voting to reopen.

  • Actually, I'm still in the dark here. I haven't got a clue as to what people are seeing as broad scope. But thanks for reopening it. :-) – fixer1234 Jul 30 '16 at 5:02

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