I asked a question on SF regarding a server setup involving a SAN using Linux. It is definitely a complex question, and one of the major reasons I asked on SF, since it falls strongly in the System Administration category. This is also an existing problem I have at work and it has fallen on my desk to resolve.

The first answer I receive is someone replying saying I must phone the supplier and Dell. To me personally this is as bad as posting LMGTFY links, however there is rare cases where it is a valid response.

Considering the response on this particular question I am torn between three options:

  • Remove the question completely, and do exactly that.
  • Downvote the answer as not possible
  • Ignore both and wait for a better reply

Opinions? Thoughts?


In this particular case the original answerer has actually edited the answer with much more detail, and useful details as well. However it is still an interesting question for the future.

  • This Q? serverfault.com/questions/67635/…
    – random
    Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 11:44
  • @random. Yeah - I had hoped not to point it out specifically - But with you around :|
    – Diago
    Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 11:45
  • Well, you did tag it with specific-question so it just looked like you were missing that. Somebody haunts Meta too much huh?
    – random
    Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 11:56

6 Answers 6


As with others here, I think this is an issue that is situationally dependant.

An answer of strictly

You should call support!

Is not helpful and should be downvoted. Even

I called support and they helped me out.

is not helpful, because a more useful response would be. "I had to call technical support, and they told me to do XYZ which solved the issue." But then they aren't telling you to call, they are simply relating the information they received.

A useful "Call Tech Support" answer would be if the answer was

You have a hardware issue, there's a factory warranty on said product, you should call tech support, and they may be able to fix for free.


This issue requires a factory-level unlock, you must call technical support to get that resolved.

If there is some critical part of the solution that requires a call to technical support, then it must be part of the answer. However, if the person doesn't know the answer, so they are passing you on to technical support, then they shouldn't be posting an answer at all.


Tricky this one.

Over on Super User I've seen questions that say "I can't do X on my company machine" or "X doesn't work on my company machine" and I've suggested that they should contact their IT department to get it resolved - after all that's their job. If they'd posted that they were the company IT department then that would be a different matter.

Similarly, in your case the first port of call should be to raise an issue with the supplier - assuming that you still have a support contract with them. If you don't then you need to state that in your question. By doing that you should short circuit most of these non answers.

Equally if you've already contacted them and they haven't been able to help you need to state that as well.


I don't really see why "contact X" would be a bad answer if it is legitimate. There are some things which may simply not be possible to fix personally. Whether that means contacting someone else in your company or a developer/manufacturer/supplier, it doesn't matter. If someone else is the correct answer, then it is the correct answer.

I just don't think it should be used as a catch all "duh" answer.


In the realm of serverfault especially, this kind of answer isn't necessarily out of line. Often networking equipment is leased or there is some other kind of support agreement in place, specifically for this reason. The business doesn't want somebody who's not an expert mucking with it, and they've already paid for the support. Calling the vendor is absolutely the right thing to do.


Calling support seems like a viable option in many hardware/software situations if it is available. If you're paying for people to be available to help solve your problems, then why not take advantage of it?

However, it seems like a weak answer to a question. I would expect an answer more along the lines of:

I had a similar problem. I called support and they helped me out.

or, as the question asker, to post an answer with more details about the solution that you received as a result of calling support.


How about calling support, leaving the question up there in SF, and either

  • introduce the support agent to SF and have him reply to your question there
  • or answer your question yourself after having received support

In the meantime there still is a chance for a knowledgeable person to give you an answer.

Personally I do think that there are times that replying "call support" is valid, but not without in depth reasoning. If setup is very different depending on product and spec, maybe only support can help you. This might have been the experience of the person. But I would be very explicit about why I was telling you to call support.

But again, leave it on SF for future users as a knowledge repository.

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