I sometimes use mobile internet (via UMTS in my case), and sometimes the high latency (>200ms) is rather annoying.

I did some googling and found out that latencies of 200-300ms are normal for UMTS. However, I found no explanation why this is the case. To better understand the problem (and to beef up my networking fundamentals), I asked about the reasons for the high latency:

"Why do mobile networks have high latencies?"

However, the question was closed as off-topic both on serverfault.com and on SU.

I'm slightly surprised by this. I figured that as a question about networking technology, this is on-topic on both SF and SU. I initially put it on SF because it's rather "advanced", but re-posted on SU after it was closed, figuring SU is the more "general" site.


  • Is there a way to make the question on-topic on SU or SF?
  • Or is there another site where it's more appropriate?
  • Or is there simply no site for general networking questions (which are not specifically about a home or professional setup)?
  • Or is there some other problem with the question?

2 Answers 2


I would say that questions about mobile networking are more properly on topic on Serverfault.

But we deal with questions about actual scenarios from system/network administrators (relevant part of the FAQ). So for example, I think that "I'm a mobile networking sysadmin, how do I reduce or minimise latency on..." or even "I'm a sysadmin who is getting complaints that our web app times out over a mobile network..." would be on topic.

Your question asked a hypothetical question, essentially "Why is it that...?" and we don't deal with hypothetical question too well here, and arguably it was also asked from the point of view of a user of mobile networking, not a network admin with a problem. In short, if the question was "How can I reduce" instead of "Why is it that..." then it might have fared better.

  • OK, so it boils down to general knowledge-building questions being off-topic - there must be a concrete problem you are facing?
    – sleske
    May 10, 2012 at 9:30
  • So wouldn't questions like "Is a Network Switch IP-Aware?", "Is Clustering really = High Availability?" or "Can someone explain the difference between app server/web server/web services?" not be off-topic as well? They are asking for general information, without a concrete problem at hand.
    – sleske
    May 10, 2012 at 9:32
  • I'd go along with that as a rough guide. That's probably true of most of the main sites - Stack Overflow and Super User operate along the same lines.
    – Rob Moir
    May 10, 2012 at 9:33
  • I don't really plan to sit here and debate various questions on the main site, I don't see the point of that. It may be that those questions should be closed too. Or that they can be made relevant (to be fair, it wouldn't take much to make your post on topic).
    – Rob Moir
    May 10, 2012 at 9:36
  • Sorry,I didn't want to debate the question, I was merely using the examples for clarification. Anyway, if you feel "it wouldn't take much to make your post on topic", could you explain where it is lacking?
    – sleske
    May 10, 2012 at 9:39
  • @sleske, if your read the FAQ, as you were prompted to do, you might have a better understanding of how to ask your question. May 10, 2012 at 10:07
  • I gave you an example in the question ;-) - change the feel of your post from "why is it that...?" to "I'm trying to manage latency on a mobile network, what do I need to look at to reduce or eliminate..."
    – Rob Moir
    May 10, 2012 at 10:11
  • Thanks, I'll try to improve the question...
    – sleske
    May 10, 2012 at 10:28
  • 3
    The best answer I can give to the second comment, is that it depends. Some General Information questions have answers that apply to 95% of situations, and thus are the acceptable correct answers; the other 5% are usually fringe cases where you'll need someone with specialized knowledge (the RAID ConAnswer is a good example). For other general knowledge questions there is no acceptable correct, you'll always get it depends. Good examples: Licensing and Server Sizing.
    – Chris S
    May 10, 2012 at 14:50

I believe the closure of your question was mostly due to the kind of reflex action most close-active regulars are developing. It "felt" unprofessional and could have appeared in this form on Yahoo Answers or similar getting a whole bunch of unqualified answers and forgotten forever.

Another motivation is that corporate networks normally would not include cellular telecom facilities, so knowledge about the inner workings and pitfalls of UMTS would be rather limited here. You might get a couple of hints and well-educated guesses, but probably not a definitive, authoritative answer.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .