There is user concern regarding the direction ServerFault has been heading over the past year; in particular what some, myself included, see as a significant rise in inappropriate and bad questions from new users.

The SE team wish to discuss these concerns with us, as such a number of us held a conference call yesterday to discuss issues and possible improvements - there were also questions regarding clarification of SE's intent for the site.

We will hold this call with the SE team in the next week (date/time to be added to this question once confirmed), everyone will be invited, this question will form the basis of the agenda.

Please feel free to suggest changes to existing questions or new questions; but do it quickly, otherwise they may not be discussed on the call.

Question #1 - What do the SE team consider ServerFault is for and what do they think are the problems with the site currently?

Question #2 - What is the SE team's primary commercial focus for ServerFault (résumé's, page views etc.)? and how does this define or refine the site objectives?

Question #3 - What rôle do the SE team see for more experienced, higher-rep, committed users in ServerFault as the site matures? Do we differ in our behaviour from other SE sites?

Question #4 - Can we discuss matters that impact ServerFault only on Meta ServerFault? Having to discuss them on Meta SO makes us feel second-class is not common knowledge and doesn't naturally occur.

Question #5 - Many experienced users wish for some way to filter out poor quality questions - how does this idea fit in with SE objectives and how could this be achieved?

5.1 - Could a filter be based on OP rep and/or question length?

5.2 - Could a filter be based on question rep - i.e. opt out of negatively-voted questions?

5.3 - Would any filter be best 'awarded' for rep in the same way as other privileges?

Question #6 - Could new users be encouraged to understand the site more and post better questions if their initial view of the site was a 'best of' view - perhaps best of the week/month/quarter/ever - in terms of Q and or A rep?

Question #7 - What could be done to ensure that new users can't ignore notices regarding the site's objectives and our expectations for new users? Could we force new users to agree that they've read these before asking their first N questions, maybe even answers? Perhaps even warn them that they may see some negativity if they ignore the requirements?

7.1 - Could we even have some kind of filter to intercept questions with a big warning if they trip on certain words (such as 'home') i.e. "Are you really sure you want to post this here? ServerFault is for professional IT only, we have a great sister site for home questions at superuser.com"?

We need to emphasise that we're not being 'mean' about restricting content to pros only but wish their questions to be asked on the site most likely to garner answers.

7.2 - Could we have a system for new users where if they get no response or negative votes they could either get an email or a notice saying "Hey you've got no answer/negatives, perhaps you should edit your question with THESE areas for improvement and you might have more success"

Question #8 - The Help Center main page says "Anybody can ask a question", to some new user's that seems to suggest "Anybody can ask ANY question" - could this be reworded to clarify this point?

Question #9 - Reddit has a 'flair' status to indicate that a user is confirmed as a real expert or represents an organisation or product. Could a similar system be considered so that where we have users that work for MS/Oracle/HP etc. they can be identified as such without having to read their user profile? Perhaps we could insist on their icon being their logo and maybe have their ID as "user (of company)" - i.e. "MarkX (of Intel)".

Question #10 - Could there be a "Help me buy IT stuff" SE site, one place where we DO allow product recommendation questions - maybe even a degree of spam - so we can send that kind of question there without guilt - could/should(?) be cross site (SO/SF/SF)?

Question #11 - What is our close vote to question ratio compared to other SE sites?
(For reference SF closed 25-30% of new questions this year)

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    Might be also worth noting that, year to date: traffic to the site is down, new users per day is down, new questions and answer are down, edits are down, voting is down - every meaningful measurement of the site is down, except closed questions, that stat is up. – Chris S Aug 6 '13 at 13:19
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    I'd welcome a site to support Q10, gladly. It's one thing I actually enjoy doing. – Tom O'Connor Aug 6 '13 at 13:38
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    I think #5 is likely to be a non-starter (it won't solve the problem we're really trying to address: new professional users will still see a flood of crap and be put off by it). #6 seems like a better route but we definitely need a better "best of" algorithm... – voretaq7 Aug 6 '13 at 15:30
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    #8 is a great point. I'm guessing that was likely an unintended carry-over from other SE sites following the FAQ/Help Center redesign. – EEAA Aug 6 '13 at 17:37
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    @voretaq7: Whilst the model relies on smart people closing crap it also drives smart people away. Right now the model stops me from using /review because of the audits. It stops me from answering questions because I can't be bothered to sift through the shit. The model is wrong and needs to be fixed. Giving people the opportunity to filter the shit can only be a good thing. – user9517 Aug 6 '13 at 17:44
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    The drop in traffic is considered to be due to summer vacation: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/192130/… – Ward - Reinstate Monica Aug 6 '13 at 17:45
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    I personally think SF have made themselves too exclusive. SF is expected to provide assistance from those already in the know to those who are climbing the ladder, but it seems to me like a big boys club, which is unwelcoming and suspicious of, or even patronizing to lesser beings. – Peter Snow Aug 11 '13 at 13:17
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    I'm have been an IT pro since 1996. I program, use only Linux, manage servers and VPS's, make use of Tor, Bitcoin, IRC, etc, etc. My point is, that I still felt like maybe I have no right to post my server admin question on SF. I nearly posted it on Unix/Linux instead but just changed my mind because I wanted advice from a pro, not from a home user. My comment's meant to help you understand how some of us feel and not to pull you down. – Peter Snow Aug 11 '13 at 13:23
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    @PeterSnow 'I wanted advice from a pro' + 'seems to me like a big boys club' How do you reconcile this conflict? – rtf Aug 11 '13 at 18:33
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    @rtannerf By 'big boys' I meant, Intel, Oracle, etc. By 'pro' I'm referring to someone who works in the I.T. sector but not necessarily for a major player. Adding 'works for Intel', after a users name would just serve to make me feel even less like I belong here and I'm already decidedly uncomfortable, but I don't have these feelings on StackOverflow. Personally, I believe that 'Super User', 'Server Fault' & 'Unix & Linux' should all be merged. StackOverflow could be split up similarly - good thing it's not. – Peter Snow Aug 12 '13 at 1:16
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    I totally follow Peter @Tim - but it's not like we TRY to be condescending - but for those of us who do a very large portion of the answering and cleanup of poor questions there's just way TOO much stuff where the new user hasn't even bothered to read the stuff that's right in front of them when they ask. Don't you think it's rude to ask a question on a site without reading and understanding what it's about? we get it dozens of times a day, maybe you don't see them all - because we clean it up for you. Yes we angry with people, but it's just out of tiredness from trying to do good. – Chopper3 Aug 13 '13 at 18:05
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    What I'm saying is that a question from a junior sysadmin may sometimes seem stupid from the perspective of a senior one. I get that @Marki - My personal feeling about the "IT Professional" standard for questions here is that it should refer to the quality of the question asked, not its level or the abilities or experience of the person asking it. A good thoughtful question is welcome no matter what level its asked at and 'senior' sysadmins are capable of asking bad questions. For me, it's the questions, not the person asking them. – Rob Moir Aug 14 '13 at 13:01
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    @PeterSnow with regards to merging some of the sites, while I think most of us (and many superuser people) would disagree about merging superuser with this site, we've actually shared and expressed similar concerns about the subdivisions in the stack exchange sites. If you think having us and/or superuser separated from Unix and Linux is crazy/confusing enough, remember there's also Ask Ubuntu and a networking-only site in stack exchange too. While the intentions behind these divisions were good, it all add to the burden of trying to find the right place to ask a question imho. – Rob Moir Aug 14 '13 at 13:06
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    @Tim Keep waiting. – Andrew B Aug 14 '13 at 13:26

A "comment" on Question #7:

Usually when I close questions from new users as being off-topic (particularly when they're in the "You need to hire a consultant or something" category) I get sucked into a protracted argument about the purpose of SF. They feel they're entitled to answer from the community. They disregard their knowledge-level being too low to contribute to the site, insisting that their question is tangentially related to administration and therefor on-topic.

I see no easy fix for this problem. I repeat over and over that the site is for Questions a Professional IT Administrator would ask - and flat out ignore and semblance of reasoning or logic.

Their sense of entitlement weighs heavily in their assessment of our intentions - usually labeling us "mean" (though we've earned that title in a number of ways, this one is undue).

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    I couldn't have put that better myself - perhaps we need a close answer that's not just a short few words but explains it in much clearer detail - that was if they bitch about it afterwards we just point them to the text that will be included after the question - just a thought. – Chopper3 Aug 6 '13 at 13:17
  • Yes we can try and set peoples expectations of what the site will and won't do for them but if they refuse to listen then there's not much we can do. I honestly don't know if these people are just ignorant or if they're certain it must be really easy to do everything and we're just keeping secrets. – Rob Moir Aug 6 '13 at 13:18
  • @RobM I'm very certain it's a punch-drunk combination of both, especially the latter. – Chris S Aug 6 '13 at 13:20
  • It'll be the same people who ask you to do something that they have no idea about and say "It should only take you a few minutes" – Dan Aug 6 '13 at 13:42
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    I REALLY need to get off my ass and write a version of this for Server Fault newbies: phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/05/31/… – voretaq7 Aug 6 '13 at 15:27
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    But @Chris S, it is mean. This is a site that is open to the public, ranks very high on google searches, and allows anyone who has mastered having a Google or Facebook account to become a site member. It has to be understood that most people who visit this site, specially new users, may not come in with the same perception of the site that existing members have. And they may not find the site initially from a page with a convenient site manifesto for them to read. – Peter Lange Aug 7 '13 at 17:58
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    @Goblyn27 - that's right, many DO find us very easily - but few of those seem to pick up on the fairly-heavy-but-clearly-not-heavy-enough notices that do, if read, clearly state this site is for experienced pro's who do their homework first and are capable of expressing their question with sufficient detail. There's a disconnect - and that's to do with making those sign even clearer - because however much people want the site to be a free-for-all...it never was, isn't now and never will be - by design. – Chopper3 Aug 7 '13 at 18:27
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    @Goblyn27 The first time a new user hits the front page they're greeted with "Server Fault is a question and answer site for professional system and network administrators." in a big box at the top. Everyone who asks a question gets a big blue box saying "Is your question about professional server, networking, or related infrastructure administration?" with links to more guidance. You almost have to try to ignore these. We're much more sympathetic to misguided Answers, there's little warning there. Maybe we need the "Ask Question" warning to blink bright colors or something... – Chris S Aug 7 '13 at 18:51
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    And they may not find the site initially from a page with a convenient site manifesto for them to read. @Goblyn27 - go to the site as an anonymous, not signed in, person. Click "Ask Question". See that whole page of stuff that comes up? Scroll down and click "Ask Question" again. Look at the big blue box to the side of the text box that users type their questions in to. I'd agree that the site might need to do even better in how it sells itself but equally, if someone manages to ignore all that stuff I described as already there then they're being at least slightly wilfully ignorant. – Rob Moir Aug 7 '13 at 19:35

Hard problem here. There are two things that need to happen:

  1. We need to improve quality.
  2. We need to improve the perception of quality.

For point 1 we've done just about everything we can to do that and still stay within the StackExchange spirit of openness. Clearly, this isn't working. Fixing this improves the site overall, which we're having problems with.

For point 2 the SE spirit of openness doesn't really allow us to put perception-filters into place because all questions are equal (except if they're negative enough or on an ignored tag). Fixing this improves our experienced user retention rate, which we're having problems with.

ServerFault as we'd like it to be is not a good fit for StackExchange as it exists now. This is why we're having the call, it's time to exercise our special-snowflake status.

Question 5: Can we please, finally, have some perception-filters already? Here are some ideas...

The big, big problem with perception filters is that they hurt absolute quality. Questions (and answers, if filters can apply to "answerers with under N points") posted by people below the common perception threshold will only be seen by others who are just as new and get no or crappy answers. This hurts our perceived quality by people who find us on Google and check us out.

Maybe that's what we actually want. Maybe we tell new users, "Hey, if you set these filters, the site isn't nearly as bad." It's still a bad site, but at least it looks nice.

If we go this route, we really should implement Question 6. Best first impressions, and all.

New Question: Can we relax the open-access rules since it has manifestly failed? This would be something like:

  • A quiz that takes time to answer going over key points in the "what belongs here" part of the documentation (not something that can be NextNextNextNextFinished).
  • Require the Analytical badge for posting questions.
  • Others?

One of our biggest problem classes are LazyNet users who see a group of smart people on the right topic and post like it's just like any other forum full of smart people. By requiring effort to post questions, we prune out the laziest. It may even help cut down more-active-on-SO-posters, though not the well intentioned but sadly misguided ones.

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    +1 - I agree with the requiring the analytical badge idea or something similar. Overall, I see two issues...new user attraction, and user retention. Right now the site is failing at both it would seem. Sales folks will tell you it is much easier to retain a customer than attract new ones, so my vote would be to focus on retaining our "core daily contributors" while not ignoring new folks at the expense of the core group. Sort of like church, nobody likes to visit a church where the members don't care about visitors, it eventually is just a group of folks dreaming about the "old days". – TheCleaner Aug 9 '13 at 13:37
  • BTW, I know this contradicts my request to filter out first questions by new users. The request was more of a way to ignore the plethora of crappy new questions. If there was a better way (maybe through your New Question idea) I'd be all for it. – TheCleaner Aug 9 '13 at 13:40

Disclaimer: Pie in the sky. Lots of it. Bring a bib.

I have an idea RE: Q#7, but it requires backend coding to aid in "training" the user. SE is likely to resist this approach due to the unique features it would entail us having compared to other sites, but here we go anyway. Deploying pipe dream:

  • A way to get small amounts of +rep for demonstrating an understanding of our on-topic subject matter:
    1. (@ChrisS) On the About page, make a 4 question "quiz" with drop down boxes. Each quiz question is worth 1 rep (so getting them right meets the requirements). The 4 question should be dead simple: "Target Audience: Professional Administrators", "Questions should have: Details & Actual Problem", "Questions about Home stuff: Off-Topic (See SU)", and "Voting: Just Do It™".
    2. (original proposal) Reading documentation about this SF's targeted subject matter provide a user with very, very small amounts of +rep. No way to prove that they actually read it though. All we can do is track that they landed on certain pages, or that they scrolled past certain points (if using about style AJAX).
  • The site-wide +100 rep is ignored for SF's rep calculations.
  • Users below a minimum rep cannot post questions. (5..10ish)

The end result is that questions can't be asked without faking a willingness to understand our subject matter first. Supplying a 1 or 2 good answers bypasses this obviously, but that's not a bad thing.

If I really want to crank up the pipe dream, we might allow the +100 cross-site rep if the user meets a minimum rep (say, 1000) on certain sister sites to SF (Unix.SE, SU, etc.), but I'm stretching things enough with inane feature requests as it is. SO would not be one of those sites.

Yes, I know suggestions like this are generally terrible and unlikely to be implemented. I would not be suggesting it if I did not feel strongly that this would go a long way toward modeling the correct user behavior and reducing # of bad questions.

  • My brain went on vacation and I was thinking about the +rep value of questions when I wrote that, but I'm just going to leave it as is. The basic merits of the idea are present and can be tuned from there. – Andrew B Aug 8 '13 at 2:58
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    I think this is certainly worth exploring. – Chopper3 Aug 8 '13 at 7:22
  • There are both the Analytical (now retired) and Informed badges that sort of handle your first idea. However, I do think it is worth exploring as well. – TheCleaner Aug 8 '13 at 13:14
  • @TheCleaner True enough, but that would also mean tying badges to ability to post, and my intuition says that permissions based on tags will be a non-starter idea with the SE folks. – Andrew B Aug 8 '13 at 17:09
  • @TheCleaner ...unless you were just trying to say that the code hooks are sorta already there for the +rep. Right. – Andrew B Aug 8 '13 at 17:17
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    Not a bad idea. Minor tweak: require 5 rep to post a Q. On the About page, make a 4 question "quiz" with drop down boxes. Each quiz question is worth 1 rep (so getting them right meets the requirements). The 4 question should be dead simple: "Target Audience: Professional Administrators", "Questions should have: Details & Actual Problem", "Questions about Home stuff: Off-Topic (See SU)", and "Voting: Just Do It™". There's little way to verify "reading" otherwise I like your idea alot. – Chris S Aug 8 '13 at 17:24
  • @ChrisS Yeah, RE: "reading" all we can confirm is that they landed on the page. (unless they do that fancy "scroll past" AJAX stuff we see in about, which can still be gamed in the same way that most EULA reading tests are) Your variant works pretty well. – Andrew B Aug 8 '13 at 17:30
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    @re: the badges...I was stating that you could do something like Chris is stating i his comment by saying "Earn enough rep to ask your first question and earn your first badge along the way!" – TheCleaner Aug 8 '13 at 17:35

It is a shame that the question is so loaded.

As a user (and professional sysadmin) my impression is the complete opposite, that moderators are overly critical and too quick to close questions as off topic that could be helpful to get answers to.

It gives an impression of snobbery and unfriendliness and drives people away.

Search and ratings are the best defense against junk not heavy handed moderation. In the earlier days there were many questions that looked bad but redeemed themselves or added points which could be merged into a canonical duplicate once the discussion had run its course. Nowadays these are jumped upon too quickly and the useful aspect never happens.

Also closing questions simply because the questioner mentions a dev or home setup is wrong when that question and answers could also apply to a professional environment. People need to stop and think before they flag it.

My questions therefore are...

  1. can we improve search/default views to highlight better questions rather than force close/filter out bad ones (except spam/completely broken ones)?
  2. can we add a time limit before questions can be closed for being off topic?
  3. Have the mods/high end users lost sight of what this site is to new users/everyone else?
  4. Can you reaffirm that 'what could be useful to professional sysadmins' is on topic regardless of whether the particular question is based in a dev/test/home/pro environment?
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    Have you got any questions to be added/edited or any solutions? because that's the point of this question - there are others for discussion - this is just about achieving improvements in the short term. Sorry if you think THIS is rude but the question states the objectives. – Chopper3 Aug 8 '13 at 10:19
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    How ironic that you deem my answer as offtopic rather than think about the actual point of it. In the form of questions now, happy? – JamesRyan Aug 8 '13 at 10:33
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    I suspect that you've missed some of the discussions going on here and in particular the comment here which spawned a conference call at which the above list was generated. The 'question' here is to get additional feedback/clarification prior to taking up the offer of a call with the SE team, so in that respect you answer doesn't really answer the question posed. – user9517 Aug 8 '13 at 10:39
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    I have seen many questions about pro technologies eg. vmware that were closed as off topic simply because they mentioned a home/dev setup. The answers would have been far more useful here than on SU because they apply to the technology regardless of the environment that it is being used in – JamesRyan Aug 8 '13 at 10:50
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    I have seen many questions about pro technologies eg. vmware that were closed as off topic simply because they mentioned a home/dev setup. -- that's because the right answer for a home setup, where "making do" is acceptable isn't as useful in a pro deployment. Case in point: you mention questions about "VMWare". That's a company name, you might as well say "It's like the pros because they use the Microsoft". There's a big difference between ESXi in business and VMWare workstation at home & home use scenarios will get better answers from people on SU. Isn't that what it's about? – Rob Moir Aug 8 '13 at 11:56
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    OK. You're clearly dead set on dismissing people who disagree with you as pedants. Your inability to make a clear point is not actually my problem. I'm done with this. – Rob Moir Aug 8 '13 at 13:28
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    One man's pedantry is another man's precision. – Chopper3 Aug 8 '13 at 13:37
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    I run a small office. I just have the common sense to realise that some questions are better off asked here, and some there. If I happened to run a half dozen systems with AD at home, and had a wierd problem, I'd ask here, and leave out the fact that its at home. Likewise, I'd often ask work questions on SU since they were closer to home user questions. Can't be that hard to just leave out the relevant bits, would it? – Journeyman Geek Aug 8 '13 at 16:41
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    Your "heavy handed Moderators" often do edit out the word "home" if the question is a better fit for SF. Also, you claim to have seen man "vmware [questions] closed closed as off topic", have any links to backup that? A quick search and the first 15 questions I found were: Pricing; not related to VMware; trying to install <2GB RAM; crap; shopping; shopping; non-HCL hardware; crap; shopping; shopping; shopping; licensing; crap; crap; crap; crap; and not VMware related... Maybe there's something good in there, but it's not a pervasive problem. – Chris S Aug 8 '13 at 17:44
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    Personally, I think "Anything in a home or development environment" in the FAQ should be changed to "Anything NOT about managing computer systems in a professional capacity." With "managing" emphasized. That would allow encompassing someone taking care of their 5 person garage startup and admins with lab environment questinos while still closing questions about "I need to allow inbound port 666 on my home router, how?" – TheCleaner Aug 8 '13 at 17:50
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    A perfectly good question for SF can be closed just because it includes the word "Home", which is madness when the meat of the question can apply perfectly well to both environments. Actually I'd agree with this. Despite my hardline stance against "home" questions on SF I have in the past edited questions that I thought applied to this precisely to remove the 'home' bit out, so they'd survive here. Where I'd disagree is that quite often people think a question applies perfectly well to both environments when in fact it doesn't. – Rob Moir Aug 8 '13 at 21:49
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    @JourneymanGeek if people (and i admit i do it too) are deliberately dropping off the fact some questions are in reality home-environment based and those questions go on to get decent answers, the real problem is that the SF website is making distinctions based on flawed logic. imho, closing questions based on some vague metric of "professionalism" is really dumb and SF will suffer while that practice continues. – Sirex Aug 8 '13 at 21:53
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    "what the public actually wants" is a straw man; if the backend systems do not align with the intended purpose of the site (it currently facilitates the posting effortless questions on a site that wants to be "SU with enterprise standards"), of course everything is going to be dragged down to that level. Pointing out that this goal doesn't align with the basic SE model would have been dead on, and it's been touched on a few times already. But implying that this site should align with what the entropy of the internet wants? Give me a break. – Andrew B Aug 9 '13 at 3:41
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    @JamesRyan: There are almost no questions from people who would naturally call themselves IT administrators (professional or not). The vast majority of our questions come from people who would naturally call themselves developers. In that respect we have already failed because we don't attract IT administrators and most of the new ones that do drop in don't hang about because of the river of shitty questions from amateurs. – user9517 Aug 9 '13 at 19:33
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    People don't come here because they know stuff and have an excellent question. They come here because they don't know stuff and they have a problem. – platforms Aug 13 '13 at 17:05

OK, I've thought of one that would at least help me realize my dream that Question #5 might happen and it seems definitely doable:

So consider this either Question 12 or Question 5b:

Since there's obviously a way the system knows a question is a First Question:

First question

Can we simply have a FIRST-QUESTION tag that gets auto-set for a user's first question only? Then if I decided that I no longer wanted to even see these questions I could set that tag as ignored and use a Greasemonkey script like: Stack Overflow Tag Manager to truly hide these questions in the UI.

I know the overall concept is that new questions are just as welcome as any others, and I'm not denying them from asking a question nor am I imposing a setting on everyone.

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    Boom! great suggestion, seriously good. Nice to see someone reading the question and answering it appropriately and constructively ;) – Chopper3 Aug 8 '13 at 13:38
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    Not sure ignoring the problem is a very good solution... – Chris S Aug 8 '13 at 17:26
  • I'm with @ChriS here, though I'd be willing to consider it as a fallback if attempts to directly address the quantity of crap questions are deemed a failure. – Andrew B Aug 8 '13 at 18:30
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    This is a bad idea and will be a big barrier to getting involved in the site. The effect is that when the user re-posts after 3 days of being ignored, it'll get dup-closed and ignored, with follow-on requests in meta to have a rep-filter instead. – sysadmin1138 Aug 8 '13 at 21:43
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    Why would they get ignored? I'm not asking for it to be universally hidden for everyone. It would require something like the stackapp to really ignore it, which I'd assume most everyone won't actually be using. – TheCleaner Aug 8 '13 at 21:47

I didn't add these to the master list because I haven't thought them through, I don't know if they make sense:

  • Increase the number of close votes and close vote reviews per day. Maybe not dramatically, but enough to boot the bad questions sooner.

  • Can the automatic delete rules be changed for a single site? i.e. could they be changed here so that some of the bad questions disappear sooner? I can never remember all the auto-delete rules, but I think questions that aren't bad enough to close but not good enough to get answers linger for a long time, it might help if they went away faster.

  • Again well worth discussing, thanks. – Chopper3 Aug 8 '13 at 7:23

Does Stack Exchange view today's ServerFault as a more hostile, insular community than other SE sites, particularly as it realtes to new users?

Potential discussion points

  • Is ServerFault diverging in its tone from other successful sites
  • Is there a concern that ServerFault's challenges in dealing with low-quality or non-professional questions is also driving away experts in a way not seen on other SE sites (like StackOverflow)
  • Is there a sense that new user have more difficulty when joining this community (open arms, cult, "Earn respect" system, etc)
  • Does SE think the community has a perception that good questions can only come from within
  • How do all of these contribute to userbase growth, and does SE think this is an aspect of the site's challenges that's getting under-represented here on Meta, etc?

NOTE: I (Jaydles) undeleted this post, as I agree with the mods: it's related enough to what the goal of the question was to deserve open consideration. I'm also making edits to the phrasing to make it more consistent with the other suggested topics and to lead the witness a bit less. If the OP feels I'm misrepresenting, feel free to edit again, but my goal here was to capture your core points.

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    I am reinstating this post and clearing the comments. Just because you don't like what someone has said or disagree with them is not a reason to delete their post. Leave it downvoted if you disagree, but deleting it only re-inforces the attitude that TheLQ believes the site has – Mark Henderson Aug 8 '13 at 2:45
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    @TheLO I think you should take the time to read meta.serverfault.com/questions/5475/why-professional-capacity and meta.serverfault.com/questions/4111/…. In fact, I think EVERYONE should do so, even those who have read it before. Consider it mandatory prep for the call. – voretaq7 Aug 8 '13 at 3:00
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    The same factors that make this site non-desirable for professionals tends to encourage the hostile behavior in those who stick around. (frustration factor) So yes, believe it or not, fixing the problems covered will have a trickle down effect. – Andrew B Aug 8 '13 at 3:02
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    I don't think SF is hostile at all. I'm mainly on SU, though I've hung out with, answered questions and every so often asked questions. I basically run a VERY small windows network, with linux stuff on the side. I'm careful to ask myself whether a real sysadmin would need to know this before asking. I believe there's a fine line between aggressive but necessary quality control and assholery. I pick up a LOT of useful things by osmosis. I don't SF's hostile, anti-user and insular if you're a sysadmin, or a aspiring sysadmin who gets to know what works here. – Journeyman Geek Aug 8 '13 at 3:19
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    I fully agree with Mark that this answer should not be deleted, although perhaps for completely different reasons, but deleting the comments merely supports TheLQ's claims and does the site no favours. – John Gardeniers Aug 8 '13 at 3:23
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    @JourneymanGeek i would definitely say SF is a hostile site. There's an air of elitism combined with a higher barrier of entry than other SE sites, which drives new users away. The problem is SF and SU effectively split on professional / non-professional, which is doomed to fail, as its an overly vague distinction. – Sirex Aug 8 '13 at 6:53
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    and i should add, SO has the opposite mantra to SF. Encourage new users, give an impression that it's ok to ask dumb questions if you're new, and generally lower the barrier of entry to new developers. I don't want to say this kind of thing is why sysadmins have a bad reputation, but it's no coincidence in my mind that SO is so popular and SF is dying. Who wants to contribute to a site that gives the impression of being better-than-thou ? – Sirex Aug 8 '13 at 6:59
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    @MarkHenderson - I voted to delete because the question didn't add anything or make any suggestions on how to fix the problems he put forward - i.e. it didn't answer the question at all, it was just a series of comments. – Chopper3 Aug 8 '13 at 7:25
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    @Sirex you seem to he missing the point of SF. It is for professionals by professionals. This is different from almost every other site in the network. There should be a higher barrier to entry and it should not be a place for any question. not Do you really think questions like this belong here: serverfault.com/questions/530154/… serverfault.com/questions/530153/… serverfault.com/questions/530152/… – MDMarra Aug 11 '13 at 12:28
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    No, i understand that's what it's meant to be, but I don't think it'll actually survive being that way. I can only speak from personal experience, but SF at first appeared hostile to new users to me, and over time I've not been swayed to think otherwise. It's good that people can ask enterprise-y questions and all, but segregating them off into their own site is a bad call imho. It'd be easier to just ask the user at the time of asking the question what type of responses they want (i'm looking for SOHO advice, i'm looking for enterprise etc"). Hell, they do that for bounty questions. – Sirex Aug 11 '13 at 19:50
  • ... then let people filter the questions by ones which apply to their own knowledge without getting annoyed that the site has questions deemed below them. I'm not saying very basic questions should end up on SF, i'm saying SF and SU aren't actually disparate enough to need their own sites; Its been overly siloed. And there's been some retaliation against filtering options, but i've already got anything windows, active directory etc filtered out via tags as it's not my area of expertise, so why not business size ? – Sirex Aug 11 '13 at 19:54
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    The SF community is tough to figure out, until you realize that it's moderated by a bunch of sysadmins. – platforms Aug 13 '13 at 16:44
  • @platform, in a nutshell. sadly. – Sirex Aug 13 '13 at 21:12
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    @Sirex Why is that sad? I thought it was by sysadmins for sysadmins? I thought we held elections? – rtf Aug 14 '13 at 14:33

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