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https://serverfault.com/questions/554486/backup-restore-oracle-virtualbox-vm?noredirect=1#comment641555_554486

It seems silly to post about it here but the moderator insisted that I do so, which he enforced by closing the comments section of the thread. This is despite the fact that on-hold questions specifically tell you to "leave a comment".

Anyway, see my discussion in the comments reproduced below-- enter image description here

It seems obvious that as per the site rules, the question should be open. It's an enterprise virtualization product according to Oracle. I'm asking a question about backups. Both things are explicitly stated as OK according to the rules. It's doubtful I'll be posting any more questions on this site. Why take the time to formulate a question if it's not clear whether it will be left open?

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    See also: Virtualbox is losing the benefit of the doubt – Shane Madden Nov 12 '13 at 19:05
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    enterprise virtualization product according to Oracle...is it?! Hyper-V, VMWare ESXi, Xen, sure. But VirtualBox as enterprise virtulisation? No. Nononono. – tombull89 Nov 12 '13 at 19:07
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    There's two issues here, VirtualBox isn't enterprise grade and by that I mean, if your using VirtualBox in a production environment you are doing it wrong, it doesn't matter what Oracle calls it, it's a handy dev/testing tool and that's it. The fact that your arguing that it is enterprise grade shows a huge lack of knowledge/experience. Second Windows 7 isn't a server. – Matt Bear Nov 12 '13 at 19:19
  • Now that you have posted this meta discussion (the correct way to handle disputes about moderation and site policy) I have unlocked your question on the main site to allow editing and removed the comment thread. I've inserted them as a photo in the question for posterity. – voretaq7 Nov 12 '13 at 19:39
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    I have to agree with Matt. But, Server Fault is also about managing workstations (note: that's multiple, generally many). I could see a dev shop where you need to distribute VirtualBox VMs. The question seems vaguely relevant, though VirtualBox has import/export functions that make the process fairly trivial. – Chris S Nov 12 '13 at 19:42
  • Re: 'meta' thread don't constitute enforceable site rules, I'm afraid precedent is against you here. Counterexample: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/8231/… is used as justification for removing "link only" answers. Another: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/13676/… is the standard justification for the "Questions & Answers must be in English" policy on the trilogy sites. There are SF-specific policy posts as well. – voretaq7 Nov 12 '13 at 20:08
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    Ironically, despite the OP being sent here to discuss the subject (Kudos to the OP for doing so), I'm amazed^h^h^h^h^h^h disappointed that this question has two close votes against it. What exactly is wrong with this meta question that warrants close votes? – Bryan Nov 12 '13 at 22:39
  • @Bryan I agree. This question is NOT a duplicate of Virtualbox is losing the benefit of the doubt. This discussion is about the topicality of a specific question (whether or not it is in scope). The suggested duplicate provides some guidance on determining which side of the line it falls on, but does not address this specific instance. – voretaq7 Nov 12 '13 at 23:08
  • Anyone with 3000+ rep on the main site can check the close vote review queue here and vote to leave it open if they think closing it is wrong. – Ward - Reinstate Monica Nov 12 '13 at 23:22
  • While I see where voretaq7 is coming from RE: this being about a specific question, this still feels like a retread of In what circumstances should VirtualBox questions be on topic? – Andrew B Nov 13 '13 at 0:25
  • @AndrewB I dunno. I don't feel entirely 100% about any of the answers on that question, which is why I haven't accepted any of them, and I don't feel that this particular question is even close to a duplicate. Yet. – Michael Hampton Nov 13 '13 at 4:20
  • It's an enterprise virtualization product according to Oracle. If rockstar suddenly redefine Max Payne 3 as a "enterprise workstation stress-testing product" or if Microsoft say they developed their networkable version of Hearts as a network diagnostic tool then would we have to support questions about those particular games here? No. – Rob Moir Nov 14 '13 at 11:04
  • @RobM It's already been established in this thread that questions about VirtualBox are SOMETIMES allowed. Not only is your analogy bad, but your point is lost. And finally, I've given up on convincing the moderators here. Unfortunately just like every other forum and venue, there is a tendency to agree with your peers regardless of the argument. Hence the arbitrary downvotes on this meta thread. So I wasn't really expecting to convince anyone. Nor do I care, my problem is already solved. – KyleM Nov 14 '13 at 15:32
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    The point, @KyleM, is that a product is not on topic here purely because someone at the vendor's website team vomited the word "enterprise" onto the product description page. I'm glad your problem is solved but just remember that you're the person who was prepared to spend more time trying to gerrymander your question rather than actually improve it so that it might have been on topic here or made it a good candidate to move to another place it would have got answered with no fuss. Before worrying about the splinter in our eyes you might want to remove the log in your own. – Rob Moir Nov 14 '13 at 15:40
  • @RobM I was requested to post this meta thread to debate whether the question belonged or not. Now you're complaining that I am debating the point. I'm willing to concede the fact that the question won't be reopened, and possibly that it shouldn't be. It looks like you're just here to complain about VirtualBox not being an enterprise product, which is a point we already covered and came to a consensus on. – KyleM Nov 14 '13 at 15:46
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It is not "obvious" to me that this question is on-topic for Server Fault.

Just because a tool's website says "enterprise grade" DOES NOT magically make all questions about that tool "on topic". Conversely just because a tool's website does not say "enterprise grade" doesn't make questions about that tool "off topic".
I judge each question based on its merits and try to enforce the site community's quality standards.


Server Fault deals with system administration. VirtualBox is generally an end user tool, and the use/support of end-user tools is not something we typically get into.
From my standpoint you are asking an end user question in the same vein as "How do I save a Word document as a fillable form template." I'm generally inclined to give questions the benefit of the doubt, but nothing in your question says "system administration" to me - it says "end user support request". (It also says "Didn't read the documentation" but that's a separate rant.)

If your question were about the administration of virtual box in a professional environment ("How do I deploy/update/patch Virtual Box on a bunch of workstations?" ; "We provide a legacy application as a VirtualBox image, how can I easily update that image on all my company's systems?", etc.) I would certainly say it's on-topic.
"How do I export / backup / restore my VM image?" does not, in my mind, fit the bill.


If enough users disagree with my logic (or you convince another moderator that I screwed up) the question can certainly be reopened - if the community thinks I got it wrong I certainly won't contest that.

I'm also open to being convinced you question is on-topic and reversing my own closure, but I remain unconvinced at present - I feel my reasons for closing this question still hold.

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    Your opinion on whether or not I "read enough documentation" before posting my question isn't relevant. It may even suggest that your reason for closing the question was discriminatory (e.g. you didn't think the question was "hard" enough or you thought I didn't "try hard enough") rather than rules-based moderation. That being said, I respect your other reasons for closing the question but I still think it's just another case of being heavy handed. – KyleM Nov 12 '13 at 20:26
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    @KyleM Server Fault's community standards expect that questions will be well-researched. In fact lack of research is one of the items called out in the downvote tooltip. (There's lots of discussion about this on Meta, including proposals for a specific close reason - search for research for a broad sampling). That was not my reason for closing your question however - as noted above I feel it has far more serious issues than the fact that you missed the importing/exporting virtual machines chapter in the manual. – voretaq7 Nov 12 '13 at 21:15
  • Sure, the question might be outside the scope of the site, but equally it might also be within scope. In these instances, where the context isn't clear, why not give the benefit of the doubt? Closing questions in this manner is not cool when it's turning new users away from the site as the OP here suggests. – Bryan Nov 12 '13 at 22:36
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    @Bryan In my opinion this question is clearly out of scope - it is an end user question, not an administration question per my reasoning above. I've still seen no convincing argument that refutes that. If you (or anyone) have such an argument to make please post an answer and make it. Like I said, I'm open to being convinced that this question is on topic, but simply saying "you're a big meanie for closing the question" is not a convincing argument. Off topic questions are supposed to be closed. – voretaq7 Nov 12 '13 at 23:03
  • @voretaq7, I can't convince you, because I don't know if it's an end user question or administration question, I think it could be either, so let me turn that around as you think it's clearly out of scope. How can you be sure this an end user question and not a administration question? (and I don't think you're a big meanie BTW, apologies if that's what I seemed to imply). – Bryan Nov 12 '13 at 23:18
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    @Bryan I can't be sure - the answer isn't a binary "yes or not", it's shades of gray, which is why I asked KyleM to bring this discussion to Meta. This question showed up in the close queue, and I made a judgment based on the content of the question: (is it related to "system administration in a professional capacity"? It is certainly professional, but not clearly sysadmin). As with most aspects of moderation where the line between "end user" and "admin" questions falls is a gray area, and that's why we have Meta - to hash out the not-glaringly-obvious decisions. – voretaq7 Nov 13 '13 at 0:39
  • @voretaq7, hence the point I made in my original comment, would it not be better to give the benefit of the doubt in these borderline cases, and only close when we know for sure that they aren't sys admin related? – Bryan Nov 13 '13 at 7:48
  • @voretaq7 You agreed with Bryan's rebuttal yet you still hold the opposing opinion. That is... confusing. Here's my opinion. This is a Q&A site. We just spent more time debating whether something is allowed to be asked than we would have asking and answering it. In fact, you actually answered the question in the meta thread which is even more confusing, since it would be more helpful for everyone to see the answer in the original question thread. And there is some dissent on whether it's allowed. :( – KyleM Nov 13 '13 at 15:51
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    @Bryan No, it would not be. In my judgment this question does not meet our quality standards (I've given my reasons above, and they still hold). Questions that do not meet our quality standards get closed. If the question is professional sysadmin related it should be edited to show that. The point of placing questions on hold is so they can be fixed and reopened. At this point this meta question has 67 views and nobody has voted to reopen the question on the main site. – voretaq7 Nov 13 '13 at 16:35
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    would it not be better to give the benefit of the doubt in these borderline cases That would still leave a question of how much "doubt" should be given, or if you prefer, how large is the borderline? You're still going to end up with questions closed that people think would remain open, we'll still be here having this debate and you won't have solved anything. Trying to hold to a more rigid line might upset more people in the short term but arguably makes it clearer cut what does or does not belong here in the longer term. – Rob Moir Nov 14 '13 at 11:08
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I'm sympathetic to VBox questions - we use it in a production environment. There have been multiple discussions here about whether VBox should be used in production and although I think the many comments about it being a boneheaded thing to do are mostly valid, well, that's what I'm faced with for now...

That said, I would've voted to close the question as either "off-topic, doesn't demonstrate a minimal understanding of the problem" or "unclear what you're asking." It's not clear whether you're asking about backing up the VM host or your Win7 VM guest, and if it's the latter, well, one of the main reasons for using VMs is to not have to worry about what hardware you're restoring to - it's the same virtual hardware.

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    For the record, I use VirtualBox in "production" as well. There are plenty of valid use cases for it, and certainly potential for plenty of "sysadmin" questions relating to it (depending on how it's being employed in an environment). I'm certainly not saying "OFF TOPIC BECAUSE virtualbox!" (Type 2 hypervisors don't get much love, and virtualbox in particular has a poor track record in terms of "good" questions, but each question still needs to be judged individually.) – voretaq7 Nov 13 '13 at 0:42
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    ...reasons for using VMs is to not have to worry about what hardware... - It could be that his problem is specifically related to his use of snapshots. Not sure about Virtual box, but AFAIK a Vmware Workstation VM with snapshots cannot be re-used on a different machine. All the snapshots will be lost. If his question was specifically about his snapshots not being transferable, then his question was extremely unclear. He could/should have asked on SU, just like I did with my VMwware question. – Zoredache Nov 13 '13 at 21:57

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