I often see, in the close queue, questions like this one:

Understanding the Basics of Subdomains with VirtualHosts

In it, the asker (who was of course edited for formatting) is wondering why his name-based virtual hosts setup is not working correctly. He's using a ubuntu-style sites-available,sites-enabled vhost configuration setup, and he's managed to write all his vhost definitions in the sites-enabled/default config file, all bound to localhost. It looks like he didn't even restart apache, and possibly some other mistakes too. You could say he is all turned around and confused.

He's also likely a home user, but he's gotten far enough that he's running his own server with control over the base OS, and he isn't evidently using some miserable web control panel to run it (except for the venial sin of using a hosted DNS provider's web control panel, which isn't even important to the question). The question doesn't pertain to how he can get his linksys WRT54G to forward the right ports for things to magically work. So, his setup is similar enough to what you might find in prod (especially at a small business) that it surely can't be off topic for this reason. Any answer we give him would be practical for any of us too.

Considering all that, I'm really at a loss as to why this type of question gets closed off topic due to being a home use question. It's beginner stuff, sure, but it isn't off topic in the same way that trying to use a USB hard drive as a vmware backing store or streaming video in your windows 7 homegroup from a windows 7 "server" or wondering why your subnet isn't accessable from the whole internet is. Should we not give a little quarter in such cases?


2 Answers 2


From my reading of his question I did not see any reference to "home" or "developer" or any of the other hot-button close justifications. What I saw was someone inexperienced in Apache asking a legitimate beginner question.

Yes, what he was asking probably could have been found in documentation, but the question that I read was reasonably well put-together. It should have been easy points for someone to answer.

  • 9
    Perhaps it's just me, but I really don't understand how so many companies apparently hire people who are completely incapable of doing the basics and reading the documentation.
    – user9517
    Commented Jul 13, 2013 at 21:37
  • 3
    @Iain Maybe RTFM needs to be a close reason ;-)
    – tomjedrz
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 0:47
  • 1
    At this point, I actually would be more in favor of "RTFM"as reason to Close than some of the dog piles I've seen in the last year.
    – gWaldo
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 1:47
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    In some cases, documentation is intended for experienced users and reads more like an index, rather than a set of instructions. Simply saying "RTFM" doesn't always address the issue. The VirtualHosts question was presented as a "I did x, but I'm not sure what's next" question.
    – Force Flow
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 20:06
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    @ForceFlow: Learning to read and understand documentation is all part of the job.
    – user9517
    Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 20:44
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    @lain Sure, and that comes in time. But it isn't always something a beginner can just dive into. They will sometimes need a nudge in the right direction, even if it is simply a direct link to the relevant portion of documentation.
    – Force Flow
    Commented Jul 21, 2013 at 23:45

He might be a home user, but more likely he's a developer, setting up a development environment. While "anything in a home or development environment" is not on topic here, the pre-filled close reason only mentions a home environment.

Changes to the pre-filled close reasons are currently being proposed; perhaps this detail should be added.

  • 6
    I actually see someone setting up a personal website. However, I see the topic constraint as applying more to "this thing you are doing is something which is only ever done by developers and never by system administrators" than "you are a developer". I'm a developer sometimes too. Commented Jul 7, 2013 at 17:35
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    /about explicitly excludes developer environments too.
    – user9517
    Commented Jul 7, 2013 at 19:06
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    @FalconMomot: We had ourselves removed from Stack Overflow's migration queue because a migrated question (about a developer environment) was a strong candidate for being crappy question. That developers come and ask (lots of) questions directly doesn't change that.
    – user9517
    Commented Jul 7, 2013 at 19:08
  • Their moderators continue to migrate garbage here occasionally. Commented Jul 7, 2013 at 19:35
  • 3
    @FalconMomot: like most of us their moderators are fallible.
    – user9517
    Commented Jul 8, 2013 at 16:47
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    @Michael Hampton, as a system/network admin we are often requested to setup an environment that developers can work on. Therefor IMO the setup of a dev environment does fall under the scope of ServerFault. The actual using of the dev env is for stack overflow. Example instruction from management: setup a LAMP server for 3 websites and give ssh access to the dev team. Commented Jul 21, 2013 at 2:47
  • @BeowulfNode42: I think you're missing the point. Most of the quality issues we have with the 'river of shit' that is the front page are from amateur 'devs' who are trying to solve problems with their home pc/mac whatever. This is not the site for them.
    – user9517
    Commented Jul 21, 2013 at 7:21
  • @Michael Hampton, I can appreciate that, and agree that the example provided looks like some beginner dev or student messing around on their local pc due to the localhost address listed in the config, and the superuser or stackoverflow sites would of been a better place for that particular question. However my point is that real admins are asked to setup dev environments and those questions are not off topic IMO. My example is linuxquestions.org/questions/linux-virtualization-and-cloud-90/… clearly for students to use but for an admin to setup Commented Jul 21, 2013 at 10:02

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