I received a "Not A Real Question" closure on my post here:

What Are the Underlying Protocols/Standards a "Windows File Path" as Opposed to a NFS-Like Linux File Path?

I understand why it was closed, and I'm assuming that reason was that it was too broad. On the other hand, I think it is a very important question, as so far noone "out in the world" (i.e. in my circle of tech-people I am real-world aquaintances with) has been able to give me anything resembling an accurate answer. It is also a bit of a paradox - if I knew what question I was asking in this case, I wouldn't have been asking it. I even tried to specify the existence of such a paradox in my question.

This is probably a very poorly worded question, but the taxonomy of this question is what I'm looking for (so unfortunately at this point I can't help it).

I also followed this up with a clarification which I thought was adequate in a follow up comment:

@Iain "What is your question by the way ?" - I understand what you're getting at, but if I understood that I wouldn't be asking the question. Driftpeasant - sort of. In terms of both of your questions, I guess that I would argue that we don't walk around calling the file system representation for Centos "Centos File Paths", or "Ubuntu File Paths" or even "Linux File Paths", but I do hear Windows users refer to the file system representation (with drive letters) as "Windows file paths". So I guess I'm asking "What the heck is a Windows File path".

If you see the latter part of this follow up, there is - by my own admission - a slightly convoluted but significant question (worthy of the minds on StackOverflow). I would also argue that while my articulation on this wasn't terrific, the examples provided should have given an accurate idea of what I was talking about. I also got one really insightful answer out of it, which I marked as the correct answer and added a comment requesting further comment.

As I said, I think I understand why this was closed, but I also feel in this case it is appropriate that I should be able to appeal the closure. Is it possible to do this?

3 Answers 3


Can I Appeal “Not A Real Question”

Yes, you can, the biggest problem is that the question was closed by 5 "normal" people, rather than by a moderator hammer, which makes appealing a bit more dubious though.

The biggest issue I see is that the question isn't really answerable by systems administrators. To be fair, our job is to maintain and configure these systems, not to understand their innermost workings and know the history behind design decisions (although a lot of people here do know that, and is probably why they earn more money than me).

That said, you've followed the "correct" procedure for appealing a question closure, so we'll wait and see what the rest of the community says.

  • Cheers. I'm trying not to get upset because I know people are just trying to do the right thing by the community. I did actually think this is a good question though, and I don't want to be afraid of asking questions like this in the future. Dec 5, 2011 at 5:00
  • 4
    @aaron.newton: I think you shouldn't ask questions like that in the future on SF (as I think closing as "Not a real question" was warranted), but you shouldn't be afraid of asking questions here. A close vote isn't meant personally, it's just that we feel that the question isn't a good fit for our site as we envision it. No one will think bad about you because of a closed question, especially since you demonstrated that you thought about the subject beforehand and didn't just wildly typed a random question at the first site with a text field Google showed you (which happens too often here).
    – Sven
    Dec 5, 2011 at 17:08
  • I guess I was just suprised when I got a closure/-1 as I have never had this for any of my other Q/As on any of the Stack Exchange sites before. I would compare it to the feeling to getting a parking ticket. Dec 5, 2011 at 21:24
  • @aaron, your comparison with a parking ticket is very appropriate. In this instance the question was left in the wrong place. Incidentally, a Windows file path is just like a Linux file path, except on a Windows machine. It really is that simple. Dec 16, 2011 at 1:53

I think I understand your question, but isn't the answer covered in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Path_(computing)?

If I was to try re-writing your question I might do it something like below. But I would also probably ask it on superuser, not serverfault since it is more of a generic computing question instead of something that specifically applies to professionals system administration.

I want to know if there is standard terminiology used to describe the paths to resources on various operating systems.

I know there are several standards that cover paths to network resources. For example:

What terminal to you use to describe a path on a unix system.


And on Windows?


Are there any standards that describe the various paths on operating systems?

  • To further strengthen my case, I have edited my question - serverfault.com/questions/337327/… Dec 5, 2011 at 4:37
  • Good feedback BUT no - this is not really a good representation of my question. That page answers part of my question, and this is why I am getting a bit frustrated (i.e. I got a -1 response when I don't think people have actually grasped what I'm asking here). My over-generalised statement is "Linux Paths" = NFS-like, "Windows Paths" = Y; Please define Y. As you can see this is a very specific questions about the underlying technology of an operating system. The answer provided gives good insight - serverfault.com/a/337438/24816 As you can see, this is a non-trivial question. Dec 5, 2011 at 5:19
  • Zoredache was - I think - trying to limit the scope of the question; this is probably why it was closed. "Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much." -- maybe it's best in the future to try to whittle it down into one very distinct question, and break it into multiples if necessary. If you want the correct terminology, that's one question. Dec 5, 2011 at 18:22
  • Alright. I didn't think it was that confusing, but considering how many people did find it confusing I guess it was. As such, I don't actually agree with the comment you just made - at least 1 person was able to understand what I was asking give me a really good answer. But I'm not going to whinge any more as I at least agree with you in principle - I can see cases where I might have taken the same action (closure). Dec 5, 2011 at 21:20

I don't think people have actually grasped what I'm asking here

This is true, I read your question several times before making my comment and even now it's still relevant - I don't really understand what you are asking.

As a sysadmin I don't really care about the design decisions made by the developers of a particular file system I just work with them. A path is a path whether it is c:\some-dir\some-child-dir, /some-dir/some-child-dir, \\some-dir\some-child-dir or even $1$DKA100:[000000.some-dir.some-child-dir].

  • "As a sysadmin I don't really care about the design decisions made by the developers of a particular file system I just work with them." - fair enough. I was more curious than anything - this was more like a classification question. Dec 5, 2011 at 21:30

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