I need your help and expertise. There is a proposal inching its way through Area 51 to create a separate site for experts in Telephony (PBX/PABX/IP PBX/VoIP/ToIP). Please have a look at this proposal:

Telephony
Proposed Q&A site for experts in Telephony (PBX/PABX/IP PBX/VoIP/ToIP).

Is the scope of this site (as defined by the example questions) generally on topic for Server Fault? Would you welcome the subject of these questions? Would these topics be well-served by Server Fault?

As far as I can tell, these are enterprise-level questions for hardware, telephone equipment, and configuration. At 45% commitment, we have to make that call — New site, or fold it in here?

Nearly half of those question seem to be polling, extended discussion, shopping, and similar "Off-Topic on Every SE Site" type... I suppose that's common on Area51 where new people interested in new sites haven't grown accustom to the normalis operandi.

Most of the rest would be on-topic, but we're definitely not focused on them and I generally think telephony.SE site is a good idea. We may have some telephone experts running around, but our site doesn't "attract" them. I don't see any other SE site that would "attract" them right now.

That's not withstanding...

Update:
"Telephony" is on-topic on Server Fault, so long as the questioner meets the minimum criteria of SF as called out in our FAQ (it must be a business-related system, they must be the person in charge of such system, etc).

  • I agree that telephony as defined in that proposal (PBX/PABX/IP PBX/VoIP/ToIP) is on-topic here, though old PBX/PABX systems would be pretty legacy in any environment at this point and you'd be unlikely to find anyone with much experience with a specific unit. I'd go one step further though and say that "circuit-switched telephony" is only peripherally on-topic (it's a very niche area), and operations of the phone companies' networks would be off-topic... – voretaq7 Apr 23 '12 at 15:26
  • The phone companies networks as they related to business WANs would be On-Topic. But Yeah, the internal operation of a PSTN network is Off-Topic and very niche. – Chris S Apr 23 '12 at 15:40

I think that modern telephony is on topic here on server fault:

Modern telephony is about a protocol that travels over a computer network (VOIP) and where the modern PABX/PBX and the phone on a user's desk are simply another bunch of clients and a server on the network.

Having said that, I think Chris' point about our site not attracting telephony experts in the way a dedicated site might is a good one.

  • I'd consider legacy telephony (POTS PBX systems, key systems, etc. that don't use VOIP protocols) to be on topic as well - That's traditionally fallen under systems/networks at most companies I've worked for, IT being "most likely to be able to figure that stuff out" – voretaq7 Apr 23 '12 at 21:24
  • 1
    Likewise. I've been fixing phone systems for a long time before "VoIP" became commonplace. – Rob Moir Apr 23 '12 at 21:31
  • I'm prepared to bet that if someone did actually ask a POTS question on SF it would get closed within the hour. – John Gardeniers Apr 23 '12 at 21:40
  • You may be right @JohnGardeniers its certainly a grey area. – Rob Moir Apr 23 '12 at 22:10
  • @JohnGardeniers Depends pretty heavily on the question, but you're probably right - if someone asked how to configure a feature on an old Avaya or Nortel PBX I wouldn't personally kill it, but I also don't think it would live very long unless there was an "IT" spin to it somehow... – voretaq7 Apr 25 '12 at 8:46

Just like security, there's a lot about telephony that is on topic for SF but there is also a lot that is not. Given the broad scope of subject and the fact that it only partially crosses over what SF is about, I believe it does deserve it's own area.

Almost every telephony/IM/presence question I've seen on SF attracts very little to no attention from anyone, so a separate site could probably attract telephony geeks.

From what I've experienced, those who are VERY good with PBX/PSTN/etc are rubbish with server systems/networking etc..

One potential "target" for getting users over is Tek-Tips. It's a AWFUL forum in terms of appearance, and they have alot of Q&A styled threads. There are tons and tons of telephony people over there.

  • +1 on the Tek-Tips comment. – wfaulk May 6 '12 at 2:57

Yes, Telephony is very much a niche technology (in my opinion) modern VOIP telephony does cross into the "standard" sys-admin camp occasionally but it's very much rooted in PABX terminology and phraseology.

I manage it (VOIP) infrequently but when I started it was almost completely alien to me and I found very little Q&A type support.

According to a comment by Bart De Vos:

Since a lot of these technologies are tightly integrated into other products (Exchange, ...). I believe it would be on topic here. See: serverfault.com/search?q=telephony

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