Many of our migrations from Stack Overflow are questions asking for help compiling a particular piece of software (recent example: https://serverfault.com/questions/440591/error-with-internationalization-extension-while-compiling-php-5-4-8).

These questions have historically been a gray area on Server Fault - we have lots of cases where we help people by telling them "You need to install the foolib-devel package", but we have an equal number of cases where so little effort was put forward that we closed the question and sent the user packing.

I think the time has come to establish a consensus on "Help me with compiling stuff" questions in the context of professional system administration, so I put it to the mob:

  • How much help should we offer?
  • How much effort does the OP need to show to merit that help?
  • 2
    I find it faintly annoying that questions about building and installing development tools get closed as off-topic by the SO community, then to add insult to injury, migrated to somewhere wholely unsuitable. The SO FAQ allows for these questions "but if your question generally covers...software tools commonly used by programmers...then you’re in the right place to ask your question!". Grr.
    – Kev
    Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 2:36
  • 3
    @Kev Seems like you're bringing your beef to the wrong meta :)
    – MDMarra
    Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 3:14
  • @Kev: Indeed, all of the *AMP setup and debug questions that originate on SO fall into this category too along with developer environments in Type II hypervisors and on client OS.
    – user9517
    Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 9:19

2 Answers 2


Questions with these attributes stay:

  • The Exact Error
  • The Exact Command/Sequence used to generate The Error
  • Operating System (Distro, version, etc), Software being compiled
  • Software that has something directly to do with servers and/or networked services

The rest, GTFO.

  • 8
    And I don't care if it was migrated from SO or originated here, they should be treated the same. Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 17:42
  • 1
    @MichaelHampton agreed, I've just noticed more of them coming through the migration pipeline than actually originating here.
    – voretaq7
    Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 17:47

Compiling is part of programming and is therefore on topic for SO. No such questions should ever be migrated out of SO and any that get thrown over here should be sent straight back.

  • 8
    I disagree. Compiling your own code is certainly programming related. Compiling Apache to support specific modules isn't and could be on topic here, depending on the rest of the content.
    – MDMarra
    Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 3:14
  • 3
    Could be on topic if started on SF but perfectly on topic for SO and should not be migrated away from there. Compiling is compiling, no matter who wrote the ode. Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 5:02
  • 2
    I bet if you asked SO mods whether or not compiling a web server was on-topic on SO you would get a different answer. :)
    – MDMarra
    Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 10:46
  • It all depends on why you're compiling. If you want to add new feature or change default behaviour of apache or apache module, then SO is the place to ask the question. Commented Nov 5, 2012 at 10:36
  • If you start going down that track where do you stop? Do you then ask why you need those feature? Why don't you use a different approach to solve the same problem? No, that's all irrelevant. The "why" of it is always the same - you're building software. The reasons for building the software isn't a factor. Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 1:25

You must log in to answer this question.

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