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I would like to suggest that in your "About" suggestion you provide a short description what a "CAN bus" is (with links to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAN_bus - or whatever you feel is appropriate ).

I'm a very technical person, and I honestly don't think I'd ever heard of it. I spent a decent bit of time looking on the site trying to figure out what it was before resorting to Google.

It's not a huge deal, but seems to me like it would be helpful, and worth the effort.






If you saw a library for say Image Processing or cattle husbandry for Java/JVM would you insist that the project provide a description of “Java”? I’m going to guess if you’re being honest you’d say no. CAN really is not an obscure thing at all. Also it is ones of those things that if you don’t know what it is, you probably don’t need this. Otherwise the google burden is minimal for the curious.

Obscure or not, I think the latter part of this comment is the important part. If you don't know what it is, you are not the target audience and you won't become the target audience by suddenly knowing what a CAN bus is.

So no, I'd say it's actually not worth the effort to add an explanation. It may even give real users the wrong idea.


If you don't know what it is, you are not the target audience and you won't become the target audience by suddenly knowing what a CAN bus is.

So you've never visited a web site, read a bit about a topic you knew nothing about, and then thought, "Wow, that sounds like something I'd like to get into?"

There are a lot of people out there who are curious about the world around them and enjoy expanding what they know instead of stagnating in a knowledge silo.


Sure, but I don't think this is meant to be pedagogical tool to teach you about CAN. You're always free to look up anything you don't know, yourself.

I didn't "insist". I offered a suggestion. In my understanding that's one of the reasons people put up "Show HN" posts. It was intended as entirely constructive, and I still think it is a good suggestion. CAN is obscure enough that I'd never heard of it, and yet it is something that I would have an interest in.

You seem to think I was nitpicking the post (unless I'm reading you wrong), and that was not at all my intention.


> I'm a very technical person, and I honestly don't think I'd ever heard of it.

> CAN is obscure enough that I’d never heard of it.

These types of statements are why I said “insist”.

There is really is almost no way to make statements like these without sounding foolish. You’re asking us to posit some compelling reason that anything you don’t know is “obscure”!

As someone doing quite a bit of technical writing I’m sensitive to this topic because it really is a type of bikeshedding, which is a patently destructive criticism (even if usually unintentional). It might not be bikeshedding if one has some stronger evidence. My evidence is that CAN is in the marketing material for any automotive car scanner from $10 to $10000. It’s literally as ubiquitous as Ethernet in the US and Europe. As someone else mentioned this really doesn’t matter, what matters is if the term is obscure to the intended users/audience.

Tech writing is about economy, and there are thoughtful discussions to be had about what needs to be described, and what is assumed from the audience and providing an ideal user experience. Appeals to ones own experience unless you’re a member of a special audience are usually the worst.


Changing the first appearance of the string “CAN” into a Wikipedia link is hardly going to break the flow of the README.

And the exact same thing can be said about “Java” or in this instance “Python” or any other jargon. Why does no one ask for those terms highlighted? All technical documentation is not a Wikipedia article. It’s just not appropriate imo.

It's on GitHub, so you can assume people know what Java is (if not where Java is) and what Python is (if not the family of said genus).

But not what a CAN bus is. There's no harm in making the word blue.


I'd posit that the user base of java, python, etc, huge topics in their own right, vastly outnumbers the users of CAN. It should just come down to simple numbers. I'd welcome that linkability too, makes bridging out to new unfamiliar territories go a lot smoother for the uninitiated. Call it improving the discoverability of things.

I think the issue is that HN doesn't allow blurbs on link stories. A section like that doesn't make sense for a project that is targeted at an audience that already knows the basic jargon. OTOH, a HN post will reach a much wider audience and needs a description.

In this case, you could argue that if you don't know what CAN is, this tool is useless to you. Not all technical documents detail this kind of basic information. I routinely see tools for some technology that don't explain what that technology is. Maybe this is a bad idea, but if you don't work with widgets, then you probably don't need wiget-tools. CAN is a really big deal. It needs no more introduction than USB or TCP/IP, though maybe it would be a good idea to describe what those do too. The fact that you've never heard of it, doesn't make it some niche thing. I constantly see stuff I've never heard of on hacker news, that someone in another industry would assume "everybody knows about".

CAN is almost as old as Ethernet. While Ethernet where introduced in the 1980 and standardized in 1983, CAN where introduced in 1986 and standardized in 1992. So its interesting that a "very technical person" does not know established communication systems.

I don't find that interesting or unexpected at all. If you don't work in the auto industry (or where it's used elsewhere), your only introduction may well be a single slide in University. You can be a "very technical person" and not know what Docker or TCP/IP is either. Having no clue what ethernet is would be a bit odd though.

There are a ton of communications systems, just to name a few out of my head: RS232, RS485, USB, PS/2, Centronic, Firewire, I2C, SPI, JTAG, SPDIF, LIN, FlexRay, AS-i, Component, IO-Link.

CAN is also used outside of Automotive. Even Google is using it for their servers, or better for the redundant power supplies for their servers. HP is using it in their printers and copy-machines.

The thing is, there is always a technology you don't know. There is your preferred search engine and Wikipedia to help you with that knowledge, these days.

PS: These days almost everybody miss the difference between Ethernet and TCP/IP. While everybody talks about Ethernet most of the time TCP/IP is meant, not Ethernet.


I agree completely

I just joined a company in the automotive industry as have several others. Everyone who has changed industries to work for us has never heard of CAN or only know very superficial things about CAN. Improving the linkage to that body of knowledge is always welcome, including at my work.

That's to be expected. Even people within the auto industry only know superficial things about it. You can use can pretty heavily and not know much more than: "There's two wires, and you need a bus terminator"

I only know of CAN because some of the pwnage is somewhere between amusing and terrifying.

See xkcd: Ten Thousand https://www.xkcd.com/1053/ and be enlightened



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