This is an interesting question from several angles:

  • someone in Iran is asking a question on ServerFault
  • it asks about alternatives to ssh as a secure way to access a server
  • answers to the question may help sysadmins who want to close this type of access further

Yet it is voted closed as being too localised. This is quite sad. Hopefully enough people will vote to reopen this - plenty of people voted the question up.

This sort of thing makes me feel that ServerFault is turning into Wikipedia, with some people spending more time looking for questions to close than engaging them. I've seen this sort of thing manifest itself on other forums over the years - that is why most of them are unfriendly and of limited use after a short time.

  • 3
    Um, I think we're a far cry from Wikipedia Jan 3, 2012 at 18:24
  • 4
    If it didn't mention Iran I'm sure it would have been closed as off topic just like many other policy subversion questions have been.
    – user9517
    Jan 3, 2012 at 18:27
  • here here. The crowd here is way to close-happy. Oct 16, 2013 at 16:16

3 Answers 3


This sort of thing makes me feel that ServerFault is turning into Wikipedia, with some people spending more time looking for questions to close than engaging them.

It has plenty of answers and upvotes (as well as plenty of close votes). It's hardly like the community here trolls for things to close. That said, there is a /review section for 10k users to quickly and easily see what's been downvoted, what has close votes, etc. It's to keep the site clean and on-topic. In my opinion, the questionis very much localized the way that it's asked. The definition is as follows:

This question is unlikely to ever help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet.

I, as well as 4 other users capable of casting close votes decided that this question fit into that definition. That said, had he not mentioned Iran it would have been closed as off-topic anyway most likely, since it's about policy subversion.

Obviously people feel for the OP, but it's not our job to help people skirt the laws of their lands. I very much disagree with the filtering of traffic in the way that Iran does, but it's not SF's place to decide what is acceptable in other countries.

I've seen this sort of thing manifest itself on other forums over the years - that is why most of them are unfriendly and of limited use after a short time.

Stack Exchange sites are not forums. Thinking of them as such will lead to frustration. There are strict guidelines for what is and is not acceptable and it helps keep this as one of the most relevant communities on the web.

  • 8
    +100000 "Stack Exchange sites are not forums"
    – Chris S
    Jan 3, 2012 at 18:30
  • @ChrisS Something is bugged in the voting system. I'm not seeing my answer as +100000.
    – MDMarra
    Jan 3, 2012 at 18:36
  • 5
    It's just you: i.imgur.com/CAKGe.png
    – Chris S
    Jan 3, 2012 at 18:43
  • The FAQ defines Off Topic: Questions on Server Fault are expected to generally relate to servers, networking, or desktop infrastructure, within the scope defined in the faq." I have not found any "strict guidelines" which forbid this kind of question. Please show them to me.
    – dunxd
    Jan 4, 2012 at 10:22
  • Stack Exchange sites are not forums - so don't behave like you are on a forum when you use a Stack Exchange site!
    – dunxd
    Jan 4, 2012 at 10:40
  • 2
    @dunxd "Not about: Product or service recommendations" would cover it if it weren't too localized. I also am not sure what you mean by your last comment. If you have a problem with anything I've done, flag it or open a meta post about it. If you have a problem with the voting process in general, post it on meta stack overflow. Be warned, though - they eat bad ideas alive.
    – MDMarra
    Jan 4, 2012 at 14:42
  • 1
    I also don't see where he's behaving like he's on a forum, and you seem to be taking this a little hard... Jan 4, 2012 at 15:41
  • @MDMArra - how is a question asking for alternatives to the ssh protocol anything to do with "products or services" mentioned in the FAQ? So if someone where to ask "is there an alternative to TCP" you would close the questions as off topic rather than answering "perhaps UDP meets your needs"?
    – dunxd
    Jan 4, 2012 at 16:50
  • @Holocryptic - you're kidding right? Top-posting. Insider jokes. Links to photoshopped screen shots. This whole thread reads like a Usenet thread. Any moment now someone will mention Ahmadinejad, invoke Godwin's law and threaten to have someone banned...
    – dunxd
    Jan 4, 2012 at 16:58
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    @dunxd No, I'm not kidding. And I do think you're taking this a little hard. I'm just going to leave it at that. An extended discussion on this point is... pointless. Jan 4, 2012 at 17:42
  • 2
    @dunxd Perhaps you should lighten up a bit. I don't see any insider jokes, just a regular one and it was in the comments, not the answer. Have you ever been to any other meta, including mso, which governs all of SE? The bottom line is that you disagree with how the community is chosing to moderate this community moderated site. You posted on meta, where community moderation is discussed. You didn't like the answer you got from the community so you keep poking and prodding. I'm sorry if you don't like the answers you're receiving but that's no reason to get heated.
    – MDMarra
    Jan 4, 2012 at 17:47
  • 2
    All that said, if you feel egregiously wronged, then go post on m.so about it. They govern all of SE and have a much wider audience. See what kind of response you get.
    – MDMarra
    Jan 4, 2012 at 17:48
  • 1
    @dunxd That photo was not photo shopped. I don't even own a copy of Photo Shop. Also link to Meta.StackOverflow for your convenience.
    – Chris S
    Jan 4, 2012 at 17:55
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    Questions about subverting policies has NEVER been tolerated on SF to my recollection. We do not exist to help people crack sanctions imposed by their governments or their sysadmins. Same thing happens to questions asked by people who want to get to services through the Great Firewall of China, same thing applies to people asking about DRM services restricted by country, etc. Jan 4, 2012 at 17:59
  • As for keeping on topic, the question was migrated to a security exchange. This wasn't about administrating systems or servers, it was about finding a way to subvert SSH blocking from a government. Keep the questions on topic. And as for Usenet, have you ever actually used Usenet? Jan 4, 2012 at 18:02

I've asked over at Security.SX, and have been told that it's On Topic there. I'm flagging for migration.

Also, just because people upvote a question, doesn't mean it belongs here. The FAQs exist for a reason, to try and limit the scope of what the site is.

  • Please quote the section in the FAQ that discusses this, as I seem to be unable to find it.
    – dunxd
    Jan 4, 2012 at 10:23
  • I've opened a meta on this Jan 4, 2012 at 15:37

"Too Localized" probably wasn't the best reason to close the Question, that much I can agree with. However, the question is really asking for two possible answers.

  1. It's a shopping Question, "I'm looking for an alternative to product XYZ"
  2. It's a policy violation Question, there's certain lines we don't cross and that's one of them. Perhaps one of the other SE sites is, but not SF.
  • I've flagged for migration, based on this Jan 3, 2012 at 18:33
  • An interesting point, but anonymity provided by tor has little to do with this, and I'm not sure how "human rights" can be factored in when the country the Questioner belongs to doesn't recognize any.
    – Chris S
    Jan 3, 2012 at 18:36
  • 1
    Maybe. But if they feel it fits over on their site, who am I to judge? We know it doesn't belong here, but that doesn't mean it can't go live somewhere else happily. Jan 3, 2012 at 18:37

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