I have one big problem with SF: There is so much traffic (i.e. new questions per day) that I need to spend much time to search for "interesting" ones or ones that I can answer.

I think I might answer more questions if I could see them.

My idea to solve this problem is to offload some of the questions, if they are specific enough to fit into other, more specialized areas (like "Ask Ubuntu" or "Unix and Linux" or ...).

For this the "on topic" would have to be narrowed down on SF and it would be nice to have fast migration flags (off topic - migrate to...)

What do you think about this?

  • 5
    If you think SF is busy, go see Stack Overflow. It's positively quiet here in comparison. Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 22:29
  • Related see: blog.stackoverflow.com/2012/03/… - Scope Gerrymandering: attempting to micromanage what’s on-topic in order to avoid overlap with other sites or simply drive away users seen as undesirable.
    – Zoredache
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 23:43
  • 5
    Have you considered that not being able to answer many questions may be a hint that you should consider broadening your skills? Perhaps you should use some of those other questions as a learning opportunity to research a subject you are not familiar with. Many times I have read a question and then decided to spend some time actually learning how something worked, so I could provide an answer.
    – Zoredache
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 23:48
  • 1
    We have enough trouble keeping people on topic now. Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 1:04
  • @Zoredache the blog article targets question-writers. Not people like me who mainly answer questions. I really like to answer more of them - lack of knowledge is not my problem here. It is lack of time to find these questions.
    – Nils
    Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 20:44

4 Answers 4


If you need to spend a lot of time searching for interesting ones or ones you can answer, you should refine your search criteria. Granted, the in-site search feature doesn't give very good results if you search on everything (better to use site:serverfault.com [query] in Google), but if you use the advanced search options you can narrow it down pretty nicely.

Personally, I don't like ignoring tags, because there are plenty of interesting (IMHO) questions across all the popular tags, but that doesn't stop me from doing targeted searches on only questions containing one tag or another when the mood to read up on a topic strikes me.

  • This is pretty much the problem which I tried to describe. I can narrow it down with tags. But then I will miss interesting questions and answers that are not in my favourite tags. So my idea was to redirect more traffic to other sites.
    – Nils
    Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 20:29
  • 1
    @Nils yeah, probably not an ideal solution. Shuffling more questions to other sites won't help with all the lousy questions that already exist anyway. You can always do a bunch of different tag searches and sort them by newest to get a reasonable filter of the new questions in your favorite tags. May as well use browser tabs for this kind of thing, since they already exist. Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 21:55

I don't think so, we only have about 130 new questions/day. You can filter the questions you want to see or hide by adding relevant tags to Favorite and Ignored tags lists.

Regarding migrations and Off Topic questions - All of the mechanisms required already exist. Vote to close as you see fit. Flag as required but bear in mind that flags are for things that you and the community cannot handle yourselves.

  • Currently I will not mark these off topic, since they are on topic (e.g. on SF AND UL).
    – Nils
    Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 20:40

I'm not so sure. Looking at the numbers, our questions-per-day rate has been pretty stable over 2012. I don't think being more strict with off-topic will do a whole lot to help.

We've been struggling ever since the whole StackExchange thing came up about what's on and off topic, and any time a new one gets out of beta that's also close to what we do we end up OT-closing a bunch. We're doing what we're supposed to, and building the best darn GoogleAttractor for Sysadminly information.

  • Understand me right - SF is great. But currently the only way to get a proper answer is to set a bounty to a question. I do not think that this is normal.
    – Nils
    Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 20:38
  • 1
    @nils "But currently the only way to get a proper answer is to set a bounty to a question." [Citation Needed]
    – Rob Moir
    Commented Sep 1, 2012 at 15:01
  • @DJPon3 Citation? This is selv-experience. Perhaps my questions are too complex (one of this was not even my question)? This seems to be a common behaviour on every site - first scan the bounty-questions - then go for the rest. So a bounty question gets more attention (which is intended) but on SF I have the feeling that there is not enough attention for non-bounty-questions.
    – Nils
    Commented Sep 1, 2012 at 20:14
  • @nils Your experiences are not the whole world. While I'm quite happy to collect a bounty for a question should I provide an answer and there's one to be had, I've personally never bothered looking in the bounty queue for questions to answer, and from the answer patterns of many of the long term regulars, I suspect I'm far from alone.
    – Rob Moir
    Commented Sep 1, 2012 at 21:25

Server Fault's topic spectrum (from the FAQ) is intentionally both narrow and broad:

Server Fault is for Information Technology Professionals
Narrow -- We are only here for "IT Professionals", not hobbyists, enthusiasts, curiosity seekers, etc.

needing expert answers related to managing computer systems
Broad (encompassing networking, security, system administration, desktop support, etc...)

in a professional capacity.
Narrow - A restatement of the first bit.

Narrowing our scope further by pushing questions off to our sister sites diminishes the usefulness of Server Fault as a resource -- in fact we should be actively working to broaden the scope of the site (within the "for professionals" constraints I just mentioned).

Generally if someone is talking about doing something in a professional environment and it's no so esoteric that you really need an Apple, Ubuntu, etc. uber-specialist to answer it questions should be kept here.

The major exception is questions languishing in The Pit of Unanswered Despair -- If you can find these a

  • Is there a statistic across all sites for the current time to answer? My guess is that this time is pretty bad on SF, because many people just don`t see the question (in time).
    – Nils
    Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 20:37
  • Not sure about a time-to-answer number, but SF only gets about 130 questions/day, and 83% of what we have has at least one upvoted answer (stackexchange.com/sites/#traffic) -- Esoteric questions (or bad ones that slip past the usual close voters) tend to languish though.
    – voretaq7
    Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 20:49
  • The statistics seem to say that my assumption is wrong here. So let`s get back to "off topic" - since tightening the "on topic" is out of question for at least three moderators here - I take your answer as "You may flag questions with non-professional background, that fit into other sites as off-topic and name the site it should be moved to. The moderators will be happy to do so (even for closed questions)." right?
    – Nils
    Commented Sep 1, 2012 at 20:18

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