I posted this question earlier and was surprised that it was closed with the explanation:

"Not A Real Question: It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form."

and I asked what was wrong with the question, as it seemed rather well worded and complete in details. The only vagueness would be the lack of an answer which I sought.

It seems that the cause of the closure wasn't so much a problem with the question, as it was that I was not the administrator of the server in question.

I don't feel like my role in the question should be the grounds on which the quality of the question should be judged.

So why was this question closed? Was it a bad question? or does this site actively discourage membership?

Would it help in the future for me to start every question with my CV to prove that I perform sys admin work (though in this case, not on this server).

Or should I just take my questions to SQLServerCentral where they had no problems understanding my question and offered excellent advice on a few things to look at (which helped - you'll note I even came back here to update my question on what we figured out).

And why should I care? Mostly because I've been an active user and promoter of StackOverflow for over 3 years and have never been made to feel anything other than welcome there. I came here expecting the same sort of community and was a bit stunned and bothered by it.

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    Thanks for all the prompt and unambiguous responses ;) I have a better understanding of the policy and the need for it now. Commented Sep 27, 2011 at 16:40

3 Answers 3


"I don't feel like my role in the question should be the grounds on which the quality of the question should be judged."

My apologies, but we have drawn this line in the sand. I can see how it is frustrating as it seems like an arbitrary distinction. In your case it might not affect the diagnosis or resolution as it seems you can get administrative access to the machine, but that doesn't change the fact of the matter. If we can't tell what your role is then we'll generally give you the benefit of the doubt. In this case there was no doubt.

  • So if I'm not the sys admin on the server in question then you don't want me here? Is that correct? Perhaps to avoid confusion, you should add that as a close reason. I was initially just trying to find out how to better word my question - before I realized that it wasn't the question but the asker that you had a problem with. Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 20:00
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    @Tricky close reasons do leave something to be desired, and I know its something that's been discussed before. Maybe we need to address that again at some point soon. Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 20:03
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    You are correct that NARQ was a poor choice for the close reason, as Holo notes it should have been OT.
    – Chris S
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 20:04
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    @TrickyNixon You're most certainly welcome here! Just ask questions about servers that you directly administer.
    – MDMarra
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 20:05
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    @Trickynixon - as MarkM notes, That question may not be on topic here but that does not mean you are unwelcome here. I'm sorry if you feel that's the case but as someone who is an active user and promoter of stack overflow for 3 years, you should surely know that question closures are not meant to be taken as a personal insult.
    – Rob Moir
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 20:16
  • The line is not just in the sand, it's also in the FAQ. Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 23:59

I might have gone with Off Topic based on the comments, but the effect is the same. The problem with the question is not that it was a bad question per se, but that you do not administer the server or environment in question. What this does is add a layer of complexity to the troubleshooting if you do not fully understand the environment or cannot effect changes. Troubleshooting by proxy sucks. That's just my take, but I imagine others agree with me.

I'm sorry if you were bothered by what you perceived to be a lack of welcome. But the other thing to note is that we are not StackOverflow. We are an entirely different community and run on different standards. I assure you, that we're not trying to run people out, but we try to run a tight ship here for the most part, and that means enforcing our standards as we (the community) sees it.

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    Even though we are different that SO, many of the principles are the same. For example, if you went on SO and said "I didn't write this app and I don't have access to the source code, what could be causing this bug?" it would get shut down as well. It's a similar situation. If you don't have access to the app/logs/server/configuration/etc then you're also not the one that can solve the problem.
    – MDMarra
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 20:02
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    "Troubleshooting by proxy sucks." Yes I can see that. I didn't consider myself a proxy but I see where in many cases this could be an issue. Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 20:02

As you saw I closed the question. As others have mentioned, it was closed because you don't have the rights to go onto this server and fix the problem and you cannot go back and get any of the details of the configuration we might ask for to solve the problem. In effect we cannot answer the question, because the answer is "talk to the administrator of this server". This question needs to be asked by the admin of this server.

I was in no way trying to cast aspersions on your abilities, or to make you unwelcome. We welcome anyone with real systems administration questions and we would really encourage you to get involved. As the FAQ states, this site is for people who manage or maintain computers in a professional capacity, which indicates having the correct rights on these servers.

I would agree that the close reason leaves a little to be desired. I chose NARQ because of the reasoning that the question "cannot be reasonably answered in its current form" - if it was re-asked by the admin it could be answered, but Off topic may have been better, and for that I apologize.

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