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I was recently blocked from serverfault for 1 month. Apparently for asking questions (gasp).

I have asked 5 questions over a period of many months, and all have been closed/deleted (all unfairly in my opinion) ostensibly by "community" (read moderators).

The latest question to run afoul of the moderators was: https://serverfault.com/questions/491250/whm-cpanel-alternatives "WHM/cPanel alternatives"

The closing note on the question says

We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or specific expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion.

But my question doesn't solicit debate or opinion. I ask about advantages and disadvantages of different platforms, and my question specifically states

Hard, objective differences are fantastic

When I took this up with the moderator who sent me the suspension notice, I was basically told

Your question is essentially "Do my research for me"

and

You have never actually answered anyone elses questions

As far as explanations go, this is ridiculous.

Your question is essentially "Do my research for me"

I see the question as a "share your expertise" request. If everybody had to do everything themselves and weren't allowed to ask anyone else, then why would the world need a StackExchange?

Isn't that what StackExchange is for? To ask for help from experts?

If not, then why does ServerFault About Us page https://serverfault.com/about say

Ask questions, get answers

and

This site is all about getting answers.

How is my question different from the sample question on the About Us page

I'd like to know if I were to add additional drives to an existing Raid 10 if this would increase the speed of the entire array?

How?

You have never actually answered anyone elses questions

Well, yeah, I am a newbie. Not in a position to answer questions yet as I am trying to learn right now.

That being said, I have actually answered a question here Varnish, Nginx, Apache, APC, Meteor, Cpanel & Wordpress On A Single Server, Any Good? My answer was converted to a comment by a moderator.

And I have answered questions at sister sites including StackOverflow.

But putting all that aside, let's go back to About Us page https://serverfault.com/about

Ask questions, get answers, no distractions
Get answers to practical, detailed questions
Find a question to answer, or ask your own

The whole "sales pitch" is "Ask questions". There is no mention of "Go, answer questions".

Now, it's well understood that someone has to answer the questions asked (although, technically, not necessary). And I'm not advocating for everyone to become a moocher.

But it's ridiculous to ask or expect EVERYONE to answer question on EVERY topic (i.e. every StackExchange site). If you are an expert in something you try to help out there; if you are just starting off with something, you'd obviously ask way more than you can answer.

So, I ask
Is ServerFault just for moderators? Obviously, I'm being dramatic for effect, but the moderators came off as smug, snippy and snobbish, and gave the vibe that they want to keep the site for themselves.

12

Is ServerFault just for moderators? Obviously, I'm being dramatic for effect, but the moderators came off as smug, snippy and snobbish, and gave the vibe that they want to keep the site for themselves.

No. Server fault is for professional system and network administrators.
As such, we have a minimum standard for professionalism, and for the effort that we want to see to indicate that the persons asking questions are in fact professionals.
Basically the bar for questions is you must do a good portion of the troubleshooting and legwork yourself (someone even wrote a post here on about what makes a good, easily-answerable question -- oh, it was me!)you must do some of the work yourself, and that when providing answers you provide good, detailed answers that explain both the how and the why (someone even wrote a blog post about that - Google tells me it was Kyle.


I'm sorry if you feel having your questions closed was "smug, snippy and snobbish", but frankly I don't see that in the comments (though I do see some folks getting a bit exasperated), and conversely I don't see the questions as meeting our quality standards.

I've taken the time to look at each one of your questions (there were only 5, so this only took me about an hour in case you're curious) and they all have substantial flaws.
(My apologies to anyone who can't see the deleted posts, but I'm not screenshotting this stuff at this ungodly hour of the morning. Insomnia is only worth so much motivation.)

Point-By-Point

Your cPanel question
A long time ago, some blithering idiot (oh, me again) defended cPanel questions. Following my own guidelines from that defense of their existence, your question seems to be firmly chained within the bounds of the point-and-click interface, which puts you in the "User of a web application" category, not "professional system administrator".
Compounding the problem is the fact that you've told us nothing except it "keeps crashing" (refer to the aforementioned post about troubleshooting and legwork -- without some detail all you're going to get is a seething mass of loathing and hatred for cPanel...)
(Said idiot has since repeatedly and publicly said he rues the day he ever spoke those words since cPanel questions have been a fountain of crap. I'm sorry if it seems harsh, but none of our regulars seem to want to be WHM/cPanel tech support - the community consensus is they're awful products and being forced to use them is like running a marathon with your leg caught in a bear trap. If you would care to train up and be our resident expert on solving all problems cPanel we'd be happy to have you around, and you might spare some of these questions from closure, but I suspect you'd quickly come to hate them as much as we do.)

Your mod_pagespeed question
To me this really seems to be a duplicate of the cPanel question above, but with a bit more troubleshooting/research, but I'll take you at your word that it isn't.
If it is not in fact the same problem, we're back to "Inadequate troubleshooting or research has been done" based on the question. (Again, as a pro we generally expect you to do this on your own without prompting, but it's OK to forget sometimes - we know that servers falling over can be stressful. Sven was pretty gentle in his reminder.)
When you isolated the problem to mod_pagespeed you then took the discussion to the mod_pagespeed support groups (which is the Right Thing to do as you seem to have found an actual bug in mod_pagespeed -- Server Fault doesn't fix bugs in software (though sometimes we'll make suggestions for workaround). The best answer this question would have gotten based on the info I can find is "You seem to have found a bug in mod_pagespeed, you should tell them so they fix it!", which you already did).
This wasn't a bad question, just one we can't really answer because we didn't write the code.

Your "Which Apache modules should I be running" question*
Only you can prevent forest fires determine what modules should be running on your server.
If you would like someone to do a full requirements analysis for your specific environment I know that many of the regulars do consulting work (check out http://careers.stackoverflow.com to find the ones that are looking), but that kind of work is way out of scope for a simple Q&A site - (a) there's no way to do it without being in the environment, and (b) it's the very definition of "Too Localized" -- it's only useful for one specific environment.
The recommendations you got in the comments seem right on target - this is a case where you've just gotta learn some new things to do the assessment (or bring in a consultant to do it / show you how it's done).

Your "Can I use Varnish with cPanel" question
First off, "Is it possible to X?" questions are a personal pet peeve. They invite the WORST possible answers on this site (a one-word "Yes" or "No"), and they're usually asked by someone who is omitting substantial and significant details / relevant information.
Net result, no matter how we answer that sort of question we're doing a disservice to the community (it's either a crappy one-word answer, or a bunch of guesses and assumptions that are as likely to be wrong as right).
More to the point, your question in this particular case is "If it's possible, please point me to a tutorial" -- The answer is "If it's possible Google can point you at a tutorial".
We explicitly say we don't do "learning material" recommendations in our FAQ - that includes tutorials, because an answer that is just "This is a really great tutorial ---> LINK <---" is a Bad Answer, and asking for lists of tutorials encourages people to post lots of those Bad Answers. Then when the links go dead people like me have to go through a queue of them and either fix the links or edit the answers to make sense without them. This makes us (even more) grumpy (than we usually are).

Your "What should I use instead of WHM/cPanel" question
This is a classic "Product and Service recommendation" question ("Give me a product, or list of products, that I can use in place of this other product that sucks.") -- someone should have mentioned that in he process of closing your question, including a link to that blog post which explains why we don't do those.


The Bottom Line

For what it's worth the answer to your most recent question ("What should I use instead of cPanel?") is "You should use (hire) a professional system administrator" instead of cPanel.

You're obviously bright enough to see that you're bashing your head against a brick wall with cPanel (and VPS) related problems. You're probably also bright enough to realize that the lost productivity is hurting your business.
I appreciate that your funding may not allow for a full-time sysadmin, but you can probably find someone who will work part-time for a reasonable amount of money (or a paltry sum and some equity, if your company has some obvious potential) and do the requirements analysis you seem to desperately need, and get your systems into some kind of serviceable shape that you can then maintain going forward.

Continuing to try to force your current configuration to meet your needs is basically trying to build the Taj Mahal on quicksand -- we really can't help you do that (because as professionals none of us are going to endorse a design that's doomed -- someone will come here two-three-five years later when we're looking to change jobs and find the bad advice, and it will not look good on us!).
If you ask specific, well-thought-out questions we will certainly try to answer them, but we're also not going to do consulting work for free. We have a (reasonable) expectation that when questions are asked here they'll be asked by system/network admins - that requires more (or different) technical depth than you appear to have, and imparting that much knowledge requires an apprenticeship, not a simple Q&A site.

8

I have asked 5 questions over a period of many months, and all have been closed/deleted (all unfairly in my opinion) ostensibly by "community" (read moderators).

The last part of this statement is flat out wrong. There has only been one moderator involved in a closing of your question, which was me, and only after the question had 3 non-moderator votes on it. Do not confuse high reputation users with moderators. Anyone with 3,000 reputation can vote to close a question, and these are the users who have been closing your questions. Not moderators.

But my question doesn't solicit debate or opinion. I ask about advantages and disadvantages of different platforms, and my question specifically states

This is exactly what solicits debates and opinions. Imagine if you had asked "Which is better - Coke or Pepsi?". See what I mean?

Isn't that what StackExchange is for? To ask for help from experts?

Yes, it is. But we also expect you to be a professional and this means being able to help yourself.

You have never actually answered anyone elses questions

To be fair, this is mostly part of a boilerplate template. What's more concerning to me is that you have never voted either. You've never given anything back to this community. This is fine if you're providing in other ways - namely good content in questions. You've not been doing this.

My answer was converted to a comment by a moderator.

Because it wasn't really an answer. All you said was "Oh yeah, it can do XYZ! Let me know how you go". That's not an answer. It doesn't tell the user anything they didn't already know. (also for what it's worth that question was terrible as well).

The whole "sales pitch" is "Ask questions". There is no mention of "Go, answer questions".

This is absolutely true. Perhaps we should have that part re-thought in the template we send out.

Is ServerFault just for moderators? Obviously, I'm being dramatic for effect, but the moderators came off as smug, snippy and snobbish, and gave the vibe that they want to keep the site for themselves.

Of course it isn't. But we do hold our users to a higher bar than most of the other SE sites. We expect you to be, and act, like a professional, and we expect you to be able to help yourself as well.

  • 1
    This is exactly what solicits debates and opinions. Imagine if you had asked "Which is better - Coke or Pepsi?". See what I mean? I don't see what you mean. There is a world of difference between comparative analysis (feature comparison, or discussion on relative advantages/disadvantages) and open-ended opinion trolling (which is better?). – OC2PS May 6 '13 at 1:15
  • never voted either Right, and if I don't get to the "required" reputation level, I won't be able to either. It's a catch 22. You're reducing my reputation by blocking me because I've not voted because my reputation is not high enough to vote? That's really not something that should be held against new users. – OC2PS May 6 '13 at 1:15
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    All you said was "Oh yeah, it can do XYZ! Let me know how you go". Well, it actually answered a key part of the intended question, which was "can Varnish and W3TC work together?" – OC2PS May 6 '13 at 1:15
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    we expect you to be able to help yourself as well Well, yeah, but in cases that I am able to help myself, I don't need to come to ServerFault. e.g. If I am asking about performance or reliability of a particular stack, I don't have the time, resources or skills to do a battery of tests. – OC2PS May 6 '13 at 1:16
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    @OC2PS Comparative analysis ends up being a debate between differing interpretations of the same gross data more often than it shakes down into a single true answer, and that's when both parties are actually working from the same data (a lot of the time, they aren't). Then they end up with several equally valid answers. This is why 'advantages' posts get closed. – sysadmin1138 May 6 '13 at 2:26
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    @OC2PS we expect you to be able to help yourself as well Well, yeah, but in cases that I am able to help myself, I don't need to come to ServerFault -- Helping yourself also applies to asking better questions in the first place. Helping us to help you, if you like. After all, we've all solved, or at least made significant progress, on problems through the simple fact of having to carefully articulate them to colleagues, right? – Rob Moir May 7 '13 at 10:50
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Since I was (somehow) involved in closing every single one of these questions, it seems appropriate to say a few words.

In addition to voretaq7's excellent answer, I'll make the following observations.


First, I've written about why using a website control panel such as cPanel is a bad idea before; you may wish to read that.


If you're seeing the following message:

Oops! Your question couldn't be submitted because:

  • Sorry, we are no longer accepting questions from this account. See http://goo.gl/C1Kwu to learn more.

Then see What can I do when getting "Sorry, we are no longer accepting questions/answers from this account"?


To address your questions individually:

  • Low-traffic WordPress website on Apache keeps crashing server

    I stand by the comments I made back when you originally posted the question. It sounds like you don't have the necessary skills to run your own server, and would therefore benefit from having the server management done for you. And cPanel questions are often unanswerable by this community; as professionals, it's a crutch we would simply not need or want to rely on.

  • https://serverfault.com/questions/443143/mod-pagespeed-using-up-too-many-resources

    I marked this as a duplicate of the above question. You disagreed, and I see your point; it really wasn't a duplicate. But the rest of the community decided to close it as "not a real question" and it was automatically deleted by the system a month later.

  • Which Apache mods do I need on my small VPS?

    This is a textbook "overly broad" question, and so "not a real question" seemed appropriate here.

  • https://serverfault.com/questions/443583/varnish-on-apache-and-cpanel

    This is another overly broad question, asking for a step by step tutorial for installing nginx and varnish. This is totally unanswerable in its current form. This isn't really a site for posting tutorials in the first place. And actually doing this work is something that, as a professional, I would expect to invoice you for and be paid. So it's far beyond the scope of what we can reasonably do on a free Q&A site.

  • https://serverfault.com/questions/491250/whm-cpanel-alternatives

    And I think this question ties together several of the recurring threads here.

    It's "not constructive" to discuss the relative advantages and disadvantages of the control panels you listed in this question, as people are likely to engage in debate or extended discussion of even the most trivial things.

    It again shows that you don't personally have the expertise to manage a server. You state that you're business people who can't yet afford to hire for this task and are looking to do it yourselves. But don't you have a business to run? If you're working on the servers, you aren't doing the things you are good at, and so you're wasting time and money.


Finally, as you move forward, I'll suggest that you keep your overall business goals in mind. Professional IT exists to support your business objectives, and as such, I strongly recommend you find someone who can do the necessary work for you on a short term contract basis, and perhaps a subscription or per-incident basis for any future maintenance that may occur. This frees you up to concentrate on building your business. Make sure you choose someone who takes the time to understand your business and proposes solutions which solve your business problems. I have a number of clients I do IT work for under this model; I may not hear from some of them for months at a time before they contact me again asking for something. Even the money you spend on a consultant can be less expensive than trying to do it yourself, if doing it yourself is distracting you from running your business.

3

There've been a bunch of discussion lately on meta.SO about this type of situation: someone posts that they think their downvoted/closed/deleted questions were ok, and they think it's mean/unfriendly/unfair, especially when they get banned from asking any more questions.

I'd summarize all that meta.SO discussion as follows:

  • Downvotes and close votes are not harsh, unfriendly, snobbish, etc., but they're often misinterpreted as being that way.
  • People who get downvotes and close votes get ample explanation presented to them about what those votes mean and what they can do about them.
  • So while it would be nice if people who get multiple questions downvoted received some handholding to help them ask better question, it's not something that can be expected.

As to the advice this OP was given about "go and answer some questions"... It may not be an explicit SE rule, but it's an excellent guideline. It's an implied rule in two ways:

  1. The automatic question ban takes into account whether you've answered questions.
  2. Reputation is defined as "a rough measure of how much the community trusts you." The community will trust you more if you've earned some reputation by answering questions.

And for the SF'ers that don't want to wade through meta.SO looking for them, here are the best of the recent discussions:

Make users pass a review assessment as final stage before question ban

Warn new users when they ask a question after a previous question is closed, downvoted, or deleted

Please assume good faith whenever reasonable when dealing with post-banned users

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