I'm having a hard time understanding why this question was closed https://serverfault.com/questions/449735/inconsistency-in-a-popular-postfix-tutorial-about-directory-structure-for-virtua Of course this question wasn't about how good or bad the referenced tutorial is but rather about what should be a particular variable in a configuration file set to in order to support a specific directory structure for a mail server. Did I need to state it explicitly? What was my mistake?

3 Answers 3


Hmm. . .

Your question as originally phrased was basically "$_TUTORIAL told me to do X in part 1, and Y in part 2, why'd it do that?", which is why it got stomped on -- the only way to reasonably answer this is for someone to take a few hours out of their day, set up a test environment, follow the tutorial, and report back to you.
To expect us to slog through tutorials and find errors in them for free is a little unreasonable (frankly it's mind-numbing enough that I wouldn't do it if you were paying me).

Having said that, I'm still not convinced this is a great question, but as edited it's at least tolerable, and our hedgehog claims to be able to answer it so I've reopened it.

Some tips:

  • Read about how to ask good questions
    I spent a lot of time on that little diatribe, cribbing heavily from The FreeBSD project's guide on writing problem reports, which in turn cribbed from a bunch of other sources.
    Following that outline doesn't guarantee you an answer, but making sure all of those elements are included (obviously, without us having to go elsewhere) helps a lot.
    Often simply gathering that information will drop the solution in your lap.
    As it stands your question is still missing a key element: Logs, error mesages, etc..

  • Always try it yourself first
    Unless you've got a reasonable suspicion that trying something will be destructive, twiddle the knobs before asking us. (In your case flipping "NO" to "YES" might not have fixed anything, but testing it when you had the system set up has to be quicker than re-doing the tutorial, right? :)

  • Ask the right entity for support first
    This is an ongoing pet peeve on Server Fault. People come here all the time expecting us to support a tutorial, commercial service, etc. -- We're not Tech Support for the Internet, and like I said above this is the main reason your question got stomped on.

  • As per "Always try it yourself first", there were reasons that hindered me from doing it, I mentioned them in the edit. For the bottom line, I was looking for an answer supported with someone's real experience (like most other question posters do on SF) but got downvotes supported with stereotypical haughtiness towards low-reputation/new users who refer to tutorials in their questions. Nov 17, 2012 at 22:27
  • @DesmondHume I'm not going to pretend that mentioning tutorials in a question doesn't cause us to look at it with more skepticism than we might otherwise. The vast majority of questions we get that start off with "I'm following some tutorial..." are pretty awful -- I'd put them on a par with the vast majority of cpanel questions we see
    – voretaq7
    Nov 18, 2012 at 5:12

It isn't that bad really, and a quick re-write would fix it. It would be better if you could re-forumlate it so that it didn't rely so heavily on me having to read the tutorial. For example you could have included the postfix/doveconfig config setting the PATH. You also asked the wrong question 'is this blog wrong', your questions should be asking 'how do I make this work on my system'. Yes we could assume that is implied, but sometimes we get overly picky

Did I need to state it explicitly?

YES, if you want good answers, then you should be explicit as possible about exactly what your question is. For the best results you need to ask the actual core question, so you can get the answer you want.

  • 2
    GIGO, reap what you sow, get what you give... I know it seems pedantic and anal, but they apply to a lot of areas in life. I don't understand how people expect a good answer if they're unwilling to write a good question.
    – Chris S
    Nov 17, 2012 at 19:43
  • Yes, the tutorial is lengthy, but no one was forcing people to read it and there was no need to: I extracted the required info and put it into the question. Didn't the question quote that "Mail will be kept in subfolders per domain and account under /var/vmail - e.g. [email protected] will have a mail directory of /var/vmail/example.com/me"? Didn't the PHP comments say for the NO value NO: /usr/local/virtual/[email protected]? Isn't the inconsistency obvious? No? Ok, I added "Should $CONF['domain_path'] be YES instead to support the chosen directory structure?" for clarity. Come on, people Nov 17, 2012 at 19:56
  • (in answer to a deleted comment by Zoredache) Got to repeat myself. "Mail will be kept in subfolders per domain and account under /var/vmail - e.g. [email protected] will have a mail directory of /var/vmail/example.com/me" is inconsistent with NO: /usr/local/virtual/[email protected]. I was kinda hoping that at least you actually read my question, but you didn't even read my previous comment. Nov 17, 2012 at 20:09
  • I deleted my comment because I realized that. You could have done a better job formatting your question. Perhaps by using a bold for the /var/vmail/example.com/me. In any case, I didn't close the question. I didn't down vote it. I do wonder why you are still arguing with me on meta instead of trying to edit and improve your question. Do you want to solve your problem, or argue? My statement about you asking the wrong question 'is the blog wrong' still stands. Try and edit your question to be more clear and flag it for mod attention, so it is re-opened.
    – Zoredache
    Nov 17, 2012 at 20:16
  • @Zoredache I tried to start with changing the title to "Postfix Admin configuration for mail user directory structure" about 30 min ago but it got reverted back for some reason, which made me put my hands down.. Nov 17, 2012 at 20:21
  • I don't have an explanation for that. You should be able to make edits to the question and fix things. What error did you get?
    – Zoredache
    Nov 17, 2012 at 20:24
  • @Zoredache Did the edits.. Nov 17, 2012 at 21:07

I downvoted and voted to close this question because, in its original form, it was asking a question which was best directed to the author of the tutorial. The heart of the issue, of course, being the ambiguity in the English language; the way the tutorial's author used the word "and" in "Mail will be kept in subfolders per domain and account" made the original question impossible for anyone but the author of the tutorial to answer.

Now that the question is answerable, I have removed my downvote and voted to reopen the question. I even know the answer and will be happy to post it; however I must warn you that posting rude and offensive comments toward the people from whom you're asking assistance is a very bad idea and you would do well to avoid it in future.

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