What's the position on helping someone with understanding technology, but in response to learning or education rather than a formal 'I have a specific issue ....'

I'm thinking of this question,

Transaction log backups

I'm studying for the 70-432 (SQL Server 2008) exam, and I'm a bit confused about how the transaction log works.

From what I understand, (correct me if I'm wrong...) the log is actively stored in memory and copied to a file on the drive as often as possible. At every checkpoint, complete transactions are committed to the data file on the hard drive (that is, they're not actually written to the drive at all until the checkpoint. And the tail always holds the transactions that have not been committed yet.

It's specific, focussed and quite narrow, so it might well get a good answer, but it's not a real problem faced by the person in the true meaning of the phrase.

  • Really great question here, I think we SF should perhaps update the "tour" guidelines and just delete "don't post about....Career , salary, personnel, employment, or formal education" because surely that doesn't mean in the loose sense "don't educate yourself," since basically by posting on or surfing the site, we are all performing career education. Seems like an unnecessary limitation since spammers wouldn't read that anyway. Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 17:17

3 Answers 3


This issue has come up in a few other questions as well. Basically I think it should break down like this:

If the knowledge is necessary for your SysAdmin (or related) job, then the question is on-topic even if there isn't an actual problem yet.

That also infers that there is a realistic and likely chance of a problem occurring during the normal course of your job.


That's a problem that any decent SQL Administrator should know about, because understanding it is critical to knowing how to properly back up an SQL server, and how to recover a database to a point in time using transaction log backups. And also why your log file will keep growing until you take a log backup.

I wish more people knew this, it would save so many "Why is my log file so big?!" questions that are all over the internet.

So I know that all of that only applies to the above example, but if it's a good question we don't really care where it came from.

  • 2
    For those of us who don't yet know or use SQL Server but have a need or desire to learn such a question and its answers may be very welcome. Commented May 29, 2012 at 10:59

For most of us, if not all, a significant part of our role is learning technology that we haven't used previously. That of course includes learning about the new version of OS Y or software package X. It follows therefore that, as long as the asker has shown some due diligence and isn't simply asking others to do the thinking for them, questions such as your example do fit on the site. What may be overly obvious to some is completely unknown territory to others. The obvious is only so when you properly understand the subject. Your linked question isn't the usual "please do my assignment for me" type of homework question.

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