I'm seeing a fair number of questions that are getting closed as off topic on a regular basis, I'm trying to understand why this is the case. The type of questions are those that involve desktops or developers.
I've been going over the review queue for quite some time, and I feel like I'm missing something fundamental here as I seem to be the only person voting to keep these types of questions open.
I'm not trying to advocate that these questions should be on topic, what I'm after is some clarity, as my interpretation of the FAQ, is that these questions are on topic and suitable for ServerFault.
Yesterday, I added a comment to the meta question Improving questions vs. teaching..., I stated that I didn't see why the referenced question was off topic.
The response to my comment was that it was off topic because "windows 7 isn't a server OS. Wamp isn't a technology used in production it's an amateur". Now apologies to Iain as I'm going to use his response to illustrate my point in the example I'm going to give below, but before I do, I'd just like to stress that I don't intend to single out Iain's response here or any other member of the community for that matter, as I see lots of similar responses from other people, and I feel like I'm the only person who is missing something fundamental.
Let's imagine Billy, a fictitious first time user of ServerFault, he's the only IT person for a small business (or maybe one of a small team of IT support staff), he supports the company network, servers and the users. He has a developer using a WAMP system who's asked him to install and configure Apache so a developer can test some software, but Billy is struggling, because Apache isn't his forte, so he reads the Apache docs, but can't get his head around the config files, so after searching on the web, he finds server fault. Billy is a good little boy, and reads the FAQ before asking.
Billy interprets the FAQ in the same way as myself, so let's look at the reason why this question was closed and consider if Billy question is suitable.
"Windows 7 isn't a server OS" - Desktop operating systems are explicitly on topic here, providing that they are being used in a professional capacity, so that doesn't make it off topic.
"WAMP isn't a technology used in production". - Actually, it might be, but I'd definitely argue that is shouldn't be, so I'd go along with that, however I can't find anything the FAQ that states or implies that questions have to relate to production systems to be on topic. Non production systems are used and supported in a professional capacity, so according to the FAQ, Billy's question would still be on topic.
"It's an amateur". I'm not sure if this relates to the person that asked the referenced question, or if it is relating to "WAMP", so I'll address both points:
If referring to the OP of the question, then that's assumed. The OP doesn't state either way. I don't think we should assume that questions aren't professional just because there is no evidence to suggest they are. If there is evidence to suggest they aren't, then that's a different matter, but in this example and most others that I see, this isn't the case, and down votes/close votes just add to the hostility, so we're still good to ask Billy's question on ServerFault.
WAMP might by used by Amateurs, but it is also used by professionals. I myself have a WAMP setup on my desktop PC, as do two other members of my department. We use it in a professional capacity to develop software that we use internally to support our systems. Yeah, they aren't production systems, but they are used in a professional capacity. They can be used by amateurs, but so can most technologies we deal with here on SF, so again, let's not assume it isn't a professional question unless stated or implied, and our question is still on topic.
Bearing this in mind, why are these questions being down voted and closed as off topic? What part of the FAQ states they are off topic? Am I wrong to give OPs the benefit of the doubt when there is no clear evidence that a question is being asked from a professional point of view or not, or am I trying to be too nice, should I be a BOFH and be hostile towards everyone unless they've proven beyond doubt that they are asking in a professional capacity?
More importantly, should the FAQ be clarified?
Anything in a home or development environment, but this is not reflected in the FAQ, which is where we refer people to when they ask off topic questions, hence my misunderstanding. The FAQ doesn't actually conflict with about, but it's lacking detail, and the detail is better suited to the FAQ. So as per my closing statement, "Should the FAQ be clarified", I believe it should be, even if just to stop people like myself creating duplicate meta questions?