Questions such as removing viruses or malware, help installing/uninstalling software, configuring Outlook, etc?

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    Thank you for your confidence in our abilities, but... meta.serverfault.com/questions/2048/… At this time, the grand experiment that is serverfault.com would like very much not to be PCissues.com
    – Kara Marfia
    Commented May 22, 2009 at 16:58

8 Answers 8


From the FAQ:

Server Fault is for system administrators and IT professionals, people who manage or maintain computers in a professional capacity. If you are in charge of ...

  • servers
  • networks
  • many desktop PCs (other than your own)

... then you're in the right place to ask your question! Well, as long as the question is about your servers, your networks, or your desktops, anyway.

Notice the in a professional capacity and other than your own.

Judging from the above quote, it seems perfectly okay to ask these kind of questions, as long as it is primarily focused on the professional field and does not end up in "help me, my computer broke down" kind of questions.

If these questions are focused on a home use, they should be directed to Super User, as long as they respect its scope:

Super User is for computer enthusiasts and power users. If you have a question about …

  • computer hardware
  • computer software

and it is not about

  • videogames or consoles
  • websites or web services like Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress
  • electronic devices, media players, cell phones or smart phones, except insofar as they interface with your computer
  • a shopping or buying recommendation

… then you're in the right place to ask your question!

  • And not a personal desktop.
    – Jauder Ho
    Commented Apr 30, 2009 at 8:38
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    But my personal desktop is also my work desktop, can I ask anything I want?
    – Peter Coulton
    Commented Apr 30, 2009 at 8:41
  • Next question: If I help friends (for free) with their computers and run into something I can't figure out, does that count as professional?
    – mmyers
    Commented Apr 30, 2009 at 23:32
  • Not only is my personal desktop my work desktop, but so are my servers and everything else on my home/office network - 12 PCs at the last count
    – Anonymous
    Commented Jul 23, 2009 at 15:50
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    If it's a personal computer it doesn't matter if it's also your work computer; it's still a home computer and most of those questions will belong on SU. If you aren't sure, post on SU and they'll recognize if it's more appropriate for SF.
    – Chris S
    Commented Aug 2, 2010 at 20:40

TBH, I'm more worried about an influx of HijackThis logs than about the ocasional home user...

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    Great, point -- dumps of that sort of information will raise the s/n ratio significantly, and attract users searching for foo.dll who lack clue.
    – duffbeer703
    Commented May 10, 2009 at 2:44

I think it's inevitable, most people will never read the FAQ

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    lots of things are inevitable... doesn't mean they're good...
    – Mikeage
    Commented Apr 30, 2009 at 8:47
  • It's up to the people with moderation privileges, since anybody who'd actually read the FAQ first will know better.
    – David Thornley
    Commented Dec 22, 2009 at 15:18

If there related to a multi pc environment - such as having a virus affect your whole network or setting up outlook for multiple pc's then that should be ok. 1 Pc with a virus or email error is not really what SF's about, but they will come, I guess the only way to deal with that is good moderation.

I think this will be more of a problem than with SO, as everyone has a pc, when they experience a problem there going to google it and SF will be here with an answer thats close, but doesn't really apply because its for a server, so they'll ask the question instead.


I think the whole multiple server thing could become silly. If this site is too strict about it, you'll have to append "on multiple servers" to every question to keep from getting shut down. Instead of saying "what's the registry key to ..." you'll have to say "I need to write a script to ... on 500 servers. What's the registry key to ..."

  • It doesn't really say "multiple servers" - multiple desktops, sure. But you can usually tell the difference between "I want to change this setting" and "I have x hundred computers that I want to change this setting on" - for instance, the x hundred computers person is likely to be after a scriptable way.
    – Richard Gadsden
    Commented Apr 30, 2009 at 11:21

I think this is the biggest risk for serverfault.

Stackoverflow only has to contend with homework and 'give me teh codes pleez' questions. But the world is full of more or less clueless people with PCs who do know how to use Google...

This is where the low barrier to entry (no login required) could become a problem, long term. I guess rep may be the saving factor, as clueless people aren't likely to get much. I expect that once serverfault gets to a critical mass of questions/users, the downvoting and closing will become a lot harsher, as the community becomes more engaged and will want to protect the value of the site.

So in short I would answer - ask away for the time being. If your question is for your home PC but is also of relevance/interest to a sysadmin, I don't think there's a problem.


No. Ask on SuperUser.

  • +!, At the worst they'll migrate it to SF if it should be there.
    – Chris S
    Commented Aug 3, 2010 at 1:07

I agree it's the biggest risk.

If someone can ask the question in such a way as to make themselves known to be a sysadmin, then who the end-user is should not matter.

But if it's naive end-user questions (who happen to be the sysadmin for their home systems), serverfault will fail.

I don't think the requirements should so much be "in a professional capacity" and "other than your own" so mcuh as it should be that it is -indistinguishable- from a question asked in a professional capacity.

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