Below are a few thoughts that I've had relating to a few points in the FAQ that need to be cleaned up by the site administration to prevent confusion when people move between Stack Exchange sites (especially between StackOverflow, ServerFault, and SuperUser). I'm posting similar concerns on the StackOverflow and SuperUser meta sites as well - I want to try to bring to light the problems that I have in navigating the primary trilogy of exchanges.
Today at work, a system administrator came up to all of the developers and told us there was a problem with the servers. But at the time, we were all using them just fine. Apparently, to a sysadmin and a computer scientist or software engineer, "server" means something very different. What he was trying to say, very simply, was that the cooling system had to have work done and they were going to shut down the nonessential servers (the dev servers) for a bit to fix it. Then I thought of my problems yesterday where I was arguing that MySQL Server is the server and not the hardware that it is installed upon.
The standard definition for server from my computer science and software engineering textbooks is:
A running program (a process) on a networked computer that accepts requests from programs running on other computers to perform a service and responds to appropriately.
This is the definition that I'm used to. However, to him, a server is the physical box that holds the hardware, the hardware inside it (motherboard, RAM, fans, HDDs), the enclosure, rack, and cooling system. On top of this, the software (database server, web server, application server) is also included. Saying "server" to him would imply that there's a problem with anything in that list (and some things that I'm probably missing, too).
When I was looking for a place to ask my question about MySQL Server, I saw "server" in the FAQ and was like "hey, I've got a server installation/configuration problem" and found my site to ask it. Even though I'm a competent, well educated, and experienced software engineer, I have very little experience running networks and hardware (although I have helped out sysadmins in the past when they were short handed and needed to get some stuff going). With people coming from StackOverflow and SuperUser through ServerFault and seeing certain words that to them mean something very different, they can get confused like I was and post things on the wrong site. That only leads to headaches, confusion, and (most importantly) no answers.
I'm not a fan of the term "professional capacity". What exactly does that mean? If you are going to keep that phrase, it has to be defined.
Does that mean you have to get paid for it? I look at StackOverflow and it's for people who are enthusiasts as well as professionals. I could have a fully loaded 42U server rack in my basement where I'm running my own telephony server, file servers, web servers, database servers, print servers, and so on. But I'm not paid to do this, and such a powerful setup really isn't appropriate for SuperUser (especially if I'm using commercial-grade hardware). When I think of a SuperUser setup, I think of a handful of computers networked together in a home or small business using the kind of equipment you can walk into Best Buy or Staples, purchase, and walk out with.
I think that "professional capacity" should be reworded to use some kind of phrasing to describe the type of system(s) that you are running. I'm not sure exactly what terms are best, but "commercial-grade", "enterprise", and "corporate" come to mind as possibilities that I've heard used. The exact term is going to have to be decided by people who know more about how to define a system than I do.
What are "many" networked PCs? Right now, I have 4 PCs on my network. I know for a fact that 4 PCs is not many. But is 5 many? 10? 100? I suppose this ties into "professional capacity". Where do you draw the line between a SuperUser home/small-business network and a...whatever you want to call a larger network?
The FAQ says that scripting is allowed for discussion here. But where you you draw the line at scripting to programming? I know for a fact that questions about bash scripts and Windows batch scripts have been posted and accepted at StackOverflow. My personal feeling is that it would depend on the task you are performing and the question could potentially belong on either SO, SU, or SF depending on what your end goal is. This needs to be more defined.
As new Stack Exchange sites open, I feel that it is important to potentially develop partnerships with them to offset some loads. A particular Stack Exchange that covers a subset of system administration/network administration/IT topics should be linked to in the official FAQ to ensure that people can get to the best possible venue to answer their questions. The topicality of each SE that is linked to should be described clearly (without ambiguity), but concisely.