The Words and links below have been incorporated into the FAQ

The proposed FAQ has been officially rejected by the power that be. They had an interesting choice of words for the previous edit. The crux of their objection is that it should be understandable in 30 seconds.

The newest proposal, which has the most egregiously offensive parts removed already (as interpreted by me), is below. Whether we need to add bits back, or change whatever, please follow the same process as the previous edit round.

As SysAdmin1138 points out below: The FAQ is apparently supposed to be a 30 second welcome pamphlet for user users to the site only (regardless of what content is in it now). It is not supposed to be a reference for topicality, which is exactly what we wrote in the proposed FAQ. The power that be have ordained the meta-site as the reference for topicality; defining questions that should be on or off topic, as pointed out to a user who is questioning the location of a Question or needs to be corrected.

For more reference: There's a blog post on Stack Overflow regarding the 7 essential questions for Area51/Beta/SE sites. The second question is "What should our FAQ contain?" which give minuscule guidance on FAQ content. The blog references Super User's FAQ for exemplifying the issues specific to your website.

Lets give it another try! We can do this.

This edit process will run until 00:00 2012-2-20 Z (Sunday evening for most of the US).

Server Fault is for Information Technology Professionals needing expert answers related to managing computer systems in a professional capacity.

If your question is about…

  • Server and Business Workstation operating systems, hardware, software and virtualization
  • Enterprise storage, backup, and disaster recovery
  • Network routing, switches, and firewalls
  • Operations, maintenance, and monitoring

and it is not about…

…then you’re in the right place to ask your question!

There's also…

…a list of the most common questions with links to the "best" answer we've identified
…a list of questions clarifying the above points and covering other nuances

We also have sister sites that cover specific topics in more detail:


  • Tag cloud removed, some tags replaced with plain text
  • Helpful list of sister sites removed, too much text
  • Purpose line shortened to just the main points
  • Stripped full stops from bullets
  • Grouped Server and Workstation categories
  • Added link to the clarifying guidance of the FAQ meta-tag
  • Added sister sites back in since the community thinks they're useful
  • Less "law", less "abuse", add "backup and DR"

I don't read minds, nor do most people. If the power that be would weigh in with their specific thoughts it would be much appreciated as there seems to be a degree of disparity between appearances and intentions.

  • 5
    An important point that I didn't know until after being told: The FAQ is a guide for new people, not the basis for topicality decisions. THAT belongs to the faq tag.
    – sysadmin1138 Mod
    Feb 15, 2012 at 20:33
  • Really, the only difference I'm seeing between this and the proposal that was declined is the removal of the tags. I fail to see how this makes it "easier to understand" Feb 15, 2012 at 21:33
  • @Holocryptic I listed the changes at the bottom, so you wouldn't have to pull out diff. I'll keep it updated with any changes that get merged.
    – Chris S
    Feb 15, 2012 at 21:43
  • Right, I saw that as I was writing the comment. But it is essentially the majority of the change as proposed here. Feb 15, 2012 at 21:45
  • I guess what I'm getting at is what you were alluding to in your disclaimer. What is "easy to understand in 30 seconds"? I've looked at the proposed FAQ again and again, and don't see how it's complicated. Feb 15, 2012 at 21:47
  • 4
    My objections were that the other version was a wall of text in an overwhelming kind of way, and things like - isn't it enough to just say "operating systems", why the need to list out operating systems? IMO, the inline tag css made things more difficult to read and contributed to the wall of text feel. I have nothing specifically against mentioning sister sites. I'd suggest a goal of the scope of your site in an easy to understand manner, not the nitty gritty details. Feb 16, 2012 at 3:58
  • 7
    @RebeccaChernoff Because of all of the bazillion technology-related SEs, the nitty-gritty does matter to us. It's not like we're English or Cooking. While I think that keeping certain things standardized among all SEs is a good thing, I think that the trend lately to treat all of them with the same blanket rules without considering the scope or problems for each individual site is just wrong.
    – MDMarra
    Feb 16, 2012 at 18:32
  • @MDMarra "blanket rules" has nothing to do with this. Feb 17, 2012 at 1:59
  • 5
    It sounds like there is a blanket rule of how the introduction of the FAQ "should" be. I also think that introduction paragraph is exactly where nitty gritty should go (as do the majority of users), but there is, apparently, a network-wide decree that this is wrong. My point is that there seem to be arbitrary rules that don't make sense for every SE, but are applied to them anyway. If A51 is going to continue to fracture our community, we'll continue to need a more and more complex FAQ to keep up with the complex SE ecosystem.
    – MDMarra
    Feb 17, 2012 at 4:25
  • "there seems to be a degree of disparity between appearances and intentions". For a site that is supposed to be community driven we seem to be having surprisingly little say in how it operates. It reminds me of the colour choices Henry Ford presented to his customers. "You can have any colour you like, as long as it's black". Feb 19, 2012 at 20:56

4 Answers 4


I think that links to tags are good, even if we don't use formatting. So I propose we create links to tags where we can. It will give users a quick way to look at example questions. So, for example

If your question is about…

  • Server and Business Workstation operating systems, hardware, software and virtualization
  • Enterprise storage systems
  • Network routing, switches, and firewalls
  • Operations, maintenance, and monitoring
  • since we're not going into specifics, we can't do this everywhere (no meta tags, etc), but I think it would be a good addition Feb 16, 2012 at 14:54

I've never really been overly comfortable with us using the FAQ as a set of rules (I'm as guilty as anyone else), so maybe this is where we can fix that. Let's try to make the FAQ what it's supposed to be - a list of Frequently Asked Questions. Then lets' see if we can have another page, linked to from the FAQ, for rules and/or guidelines, which can be used to help determine what should and shouldn't be posted.

  • 3
    Well, we are actually technically only editing the answer to ONE of the Questions in the FAQ: "What kind of questions should I ask here"
    – Zypher
    Feb 15, 2012 at 21:20
  • @Zypher, when you put it that way... Feb 15, 2012 at 21:45

Should we add Apple.se to the list of sister sites?

  • 2
    I would say no, mostly because we've already got 5 listed there (so if you wanted to remove something and add Apple I might support that). It is our #5 migration target. IT Security is the #8 target.
    – Chris S
    Feb 16, 2012 at 21:20
  • Is 5 the limit?
    – MDMarra
    Feb 16, 2012 at 21:23
  • 2
    People don't "like" having more than 5 items in a list... It's not like I can boycott the idea of a 6th, but we have to arbitrarily draw the line somewhere.
    – Chris S
    Feb 16, 2012 at 21:24
  • If you stretch the 5 limit to 6 for any reason it becomes much harder to stop there and 7, 8, etc. start popping up. Feb 17, 2012 at 1:49
  • @JohnGardeniers Ban Bulleted Lists :-)
    – voretaq7
    Feb 17, 2012 at 20:43

I'm curious about why we want to rule career and education questions as offtopic. If we're a site for professionals, then why couldn't we allow questions about professional career development?

  • I'm really not sure why those were off-topic, but have been since before I got here. It may be a holdover from SO (where they were off-topic when SF and SU were created; of course SO now has programmers.SE, and we had an Area51 proposal for a similar site). Maybe it's time to revisit the idea: 1. Change our policy or 2. ITPros.SE
    – Chris S
    Feb 20, 2012 at 13:30

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