We've created, appointed, or otherwise identified certain question/answer pairs that are the canonical answer for certain problems. These are answers where the community has said all it is going to say on a class of subject, because although everyone's particular problems in that class are somewhat different, to the extent that they are interesting, they aren't different, and to the extent that they're different, they aren't interesting (to anyone save the questioner). So we write one answer that's designed to be the last word on the subject, and say no more.

A list of these problems is given in the accepted answer below.


  • Post an Answer to nominate a question for inclusion. Questions explicitly posted for the purpose of creating a canonical Question/Answer can skip this.
  • Delete content that has been merged into the official list. Try to keep this post neat and tidy.
Who decides that a question is canonical? Anyone in the community? –  Andrew Schulman Mar 10 at 10:54
@AndrewSchulman Yes, and you can self Q&A with the intention of providing both the question and the answer. Other members of the community will step in and contribute better answers if they feel that the existing ones are insufficient. This has worked pretty well for us so far, and I imagine that the mods will step in if someone tries to abuse this. (a "canonical" Q&A that disregards the community isn't really canonical) –  Andrew B Mar 10 at 20:11

4 Answers 4

These are the questions we have identified as Canonical:

Capacity Planning


Datacenter Design


EMail & Spam


Hosting provider/server hardware shopping

Infrastructure Software



General Unix/Linux OS Stuff



Terminal Server (RDS)



Web Servers

Windows (General)


Just reading through these has increased my knowledge, we should make these more prominent. –  Jacob Apr 6 '13 at 22:36

List of Canonical Topics that do not have a Q/A yet or need improvement:


Datacenter Design

Infrastructure Software


Web Servers

  • Apache vHost
  • Apache .htaccess/overrides

Enterprise Storage

Create one or more Question that covers "ES" topics... not sure how this should be organized exactly. Merge these answers into that Question(s) (keeping them separate/complete answers).

Server Hardware

"Our previous specialist left, HALP?" and "How many users/servers/whatever should a SA be responsible for" would most likely be too broad. The 1st one doesn't specify what kind of specialist, and the 2nd is completely dependent on type of environment and who the SA is. Just can't see either being canonical if they are mostly opinion. –  TheCleaner Jul 25 '13 at 18:14

In response to Why The Hostility, I wrote this for consideration as a canonical Q/A:

What are the basics of running a Web Server?


Should we host our own nameservers?

This Q&A has been around for awhile and is well vetted. We get enough questions about self-hosting DNS that we should probably be using it as a dupe close target more often. I've renamed it to be slightly more useful with that purpose in mind.

It's probably a good target for newbie DNS admin mistakes as well, i.e. using the same IP for all nameservers.


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