Looking at "What topics can I ask about here?" and comparing to what's actually going on on the site I sometimes wonder if it's what it's supposed to be.

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I'd think someone would not be doing their jobs or anything (there are no real jobs anyway) but IMHO there's still too much slack for the really unprofessional questions (again see "on topic" as well as the "good question"). But then, how much would be left if they were gone?

And furthermore, once the really complicated questions get raised, there rarely are answers. So, what does that mean? Are there simply too few actual professional administrators here and/or is the site not attracting exactly those people. So where are they? And what could be done to improve that?

Maybe the scope of the site is too broad? But I must agree that that's what it's intended to be. Otherwise I could just go to the communities of the major vendors, where not many pros are circulating either one has the impression... Hell, I'm not online all day either solving other people's problem because I'm getting paid dealing with those of my own...

Oh and by the way I think conceptual questions should be more welcome than they are now. But I believe that is another discussion.

Just wondering about all this.

  • 12
    We simply do not attract and or hold onto our target market. Instead we attract the clueless and feckless which in turn drives off the cluefull who do drop by.
    – user9517
    Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 22:20
  • 2
    @Iain - I have the impression we do attract the market ... but then probably turn it away. I felt attracted as a sysadmin to serverfault - a place where I could exchange questions and answers with experienced sysadmin.
    – ETL
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 14:28
  • @ETL: Retaining the cluefull isn't a new problem but it is more acute than ever before. It's particularly bad in people who frequent the FOSS tags, there being almost no cost to entry it attracts the clueless.
    – user9517
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 21:34
  • 2
    @Iain, not sure about your opinion of FOSS users and the lack of quality due to the low entry cost. I've always found far more insightful help and discussions on FOSS mailing lists (precise and polite questions always get better treatment, as everywhere) than on some major proprietary systems forums. Perhaps it has to do with where insightful people already hang out.
    – Bruno
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 12:22
  • 1
    @Bruno: I wasn't talking about any other context than ServerFault.
    – user9517
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 12:37
  • IMHO clueless questions are easily ignored, its not them so much as the elitist attitudes often displayed that puts off the target audience
    – JamesRyan
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 15:12

6 Answers 6


It's not for lack of trying that we're largely "failing" to be the site we want to be... There's plenty of discussion in the past, some of which you link to.

The scope has been whittled away several times. Some I don't have any issue with: Unix & Linux as well as IT Security have some incidental overlap, but their target audience is mainly different. Super User ends up having some overlap as well, but a completely distinct audience there. Then there are the sites that I take issue with, those who "stole" their audience from within Server Faults: DBA and Networking. Additionally there have been Area 51 proposals for other sites which would further erode Server Fault's audience. For a variety of reason, Stack Overflow has hotly resisted any attempts to fracture it's userbase, and has benefited from that unity.

As for the "really complicated questions", there's quite a few that do get great answers, and some that get no love at all (at least there's a badge for asking one of those). As Iain stated in his comment, SF has a rough time retaining people who are both knowledgeable and willing to help others without compensation. On a side note, we've had people who think SF should be open to asking anything, just a Wild West approach to conformance arguing that any sharing of knowledge is a good thing - I agree with the sentiment, but those same people then never contribute anything back to the site, and frequently I'll check back a month later and find they've not so much as visited the site since their unenlightened suggestion.

As you've mentioned the endless sea of non-administrators, non-professionals, and spoonlickers come as us in waves (must be corporate budgeting cycles or something). They either scare off people who know their stuff or wear them out. I'm in that latter category. I didn't get to 50k rep lounging about. But now I find myself largely spent, unwilling to help yet another spoonlicker who can't be bothered to read documentation or search old questions. I learned by reading, and that skill seems completely lost on the people asking poor questions. But I digress...

Conceptual question really are welcome so long as there is a definitive, solvable goal. The problem we get with so many of the so called "conceptual questions" is that it's someone who either "had a good start of an idea" or someone who just doesn't want to do the research themselves. In either case they typically lack an end goal and so no particular solution could be said to be "correct". In some cases there is a goal, but the lack of effort put into the solution thus far means the OP is really asking for someone to architect a whole solution. That's asking for such a large time and effort commitment that we can't reasonably expect anyone to do it.

This was originally a comment.. Now it's just a wandering rant. Maybe Voretaq will come along a write a book to more suitably answer this question.

  • the really complicated questions require in depth troubleshooting, which this forum cannot (and probably should not) provide. Or access to very high level subject matter experts (this is why spiceworks like to have company reps around, and I think we should somehow try to follow that example)
    – dyasny
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 15:33
  • 10
    – ntoskrnl
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 20:47
  • 1
    @ntoskrnl YES!!! That is exactly the problem SF is having!
    – Chris S
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 21:26
  • you acknowledge that some people have a different opinion then immediately disparage it as an 'unenlightened suggestion', prime example. I would rather have 1000 'spoonlickers' with one who potentially turns into a sysadmin than a snob club. Poor questions shouldn't wear you down, you can just ignore them, ratings and search are there to highlight the wheat amongst the chaff already.
    – JamesRyan
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 15:16
  • @JamesRyan I don't know when I've ever suggested that there are no other opinions. But if you want a site where anything goes, why aren't you on Yahoo Answers or /r/SysAdmin? Why do you think we should change when the paradigm you advocate is already available elsewhere? It can't be that you find some additional value in the Stack Exchange model, as you vocally wish to tear down that structure.
    – Chris S
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 15:29
  • 1
    SF can not work as a handful of high reppers answering questions for all of the masses, it needs a heirachy of answerers and that means a range of difficultly in questions. It is ok to have questions that you find too simple or boring, you don't have to answer everything. But by kicking out all those questions you take away those stepping stones of entry.
    – JamesRyan
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 15:31
  • Also I am not tearing down any structure, or criticising the SE model. Other SE don't seem to have this problem. What is different on SF is that there is a vocal minority pulling it in a direction, rather than letting it find it's natural balance. I just question whether the assumptions that that vocal minority work on are correct.
    – JamesRyan
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 15:39
  • @JamesRyan SF DOES work as a handful of high reppers answers questions for all of the masses. In the last 30 days half of all answers were provided by just 122 users; a quarter by just 25 users. Given the 3170 questions in that time, in the top quartile there's over 30 people asking questions for every 1 person providing answers - and this goes on every single day. Those people providing answer tend to burn out - stats show they leave after about 6 months. Super User is the only other site with this level of imbalance, which causes their own set of problems.
    – Chris S
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 15:45
  • There is no "natural balance" - that is the problem with your line of thinking. Please take a moment to read the article linked in the the comments above, it does a good job of explaining the situation. This has happened before, and now it's happening again.
    – Chris S
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 15:49
  • @ChrisS Clearly how it is happening now doesn't 'work' if it is burning people out.
    – JamesRyan
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 16:00
  • @ChrisS as for vampires and the article, I am well aware of what you think the answer to problem is and it hasn't been making much of an improvement. I think that your solution actually encourages that to be the only behavior whereas my solution is to ignore those vampires and drown them out by supporting everyone else rather than pushing desirables away as collateral damage. The SE rating model does allow a natural balance if you let it do its job.
    – JamesRyan
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 16:04
  • So how would you explain the Network Engineering site being created? The site's purpose completely overlaps with Server Fault, yet the people who created the site felt 1. Underserved by SF because the SF's audience was "too wide" 2. That they could not attract networking experts to a site with such wide topicality
    – Chris S
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 16:06
  • I think at the moment a lot of people feel unwelcomed by SF and would rather start their own communities
    – JamesRyan
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 16:07
  • I didn't say that they felt unwelcome. You've avoided my question and projected your own feelings onto their decision.
    – Chris S
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 16:09
  • You are taking that reasoning too literally and not seeing the big picture. Other SE sites work fine with niche experts amongst a wide scope. Maybe the answer actually is to chop up SF gradually and leave the toxic culture behind.
    – JamesRyan
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 16:12

Speaking as one of TheCleaner's "regulars," I've been ruminating and have a similar but slightly different too-long-for-a-comment.

I think you can also break the site down into Answerers, Mods, and Questioners. There's clearly overlap among the three, but...


You get to help people with their interesting real-world technical problems and in return you get public recognition and egoboo. I don't understand why people aren't lining up around the block to answer questions! :) (Okay, I'm sure that everyone has "helped" one or more ungrateful boors, or answered really easy questions out of pity for someone's plight, but you know. I'm talking about the ideal.)

Mods, official and unofficial:

As I see it, they're trying to:

  1. Help keep things running smoothly for Questioners and Answerers, and
  2. Curate a list of excellent technical questions and answers.

The closing of questions is actually for both reasons--because people get burned out answering the same question over and over again, and because all the duplicates don't really make for a well-curated set of Qs and As.


Sometimes a member of the two other groups will ask an "academic" question, but generally speaking, these are people who want their problem solved. And, frankly, I think I see a bit of Dunning-Kruger/Imposter Syndrome in the questions.

To quote wikipedia's definitions (linked above):

Dunning and Kruger proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:

  • tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
  • fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
  • fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
  • recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they are exposed to training for that skill.


Meanwhile, people with true ability tended to underestimate their relative competence. Roughly, participants who found tasks to be relatively easy erroneously assumed, to some extent, that the tasks must also be easy for others.


The impostor syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.

Wikipedia says that Imposter Syndrome affects 2/5 of successful people.

I see a lot of good questions open with remarks like, "I'm so sorry to trouble all of you with my incredibly stupid question," while questions that are basically "I followed this web page and it didn't work help!" are sometimes outraged when you close their question as Not Good. Either way, they're not concerned about a well-curated set of Qs and As, as has been pointed out by TheCleaner and others, and may not even realize that's happening. They have a problem they want help solving.

(And, to be perfectly fair, we sometimes have Dunning-Kruger answerers as well. We don't have a lot of Imposter Syndrome answerers, as by definition they may be too intimidated to post. Some of the trouble I'm having in encouraging people to hang out and answer questions is convincing them that they are absolutely awesome and smart enough to answer questions here.)

And, your point?

I think we're very focused on turning away the "clueless" Dunning-Kruger folks and less focused on encouraging the Imposter Syndrome folks. Part of that is, well. I'm so answer-focused that I sometimes forget to upvote good questions, so I'm also not doing my part to encourage those folks. I also don't always upvote good questions and answers while reviewing, despite vivid memories of how asquee I was as a n00b when someone upvoted me. :) I need to do better on both points.

I think what I'm getting at is: The questioners think the site is about them, and they're right in the sense that without them we don't have any questions to answer. I think any "How can we get rid of more terrible questions?" discussion must include "How can we encourage more good questions?" as well. I think some of our target questioners--people we want to ask questions--are intimidated (and the questions that start with, "I'm so sorry my question is so stupid and horrible!" bear this out). (2/5 of successful people, y'all.)

Or, to put it more briefly: People are not good judges of their own abilities, and people who would ask good questions are not always confident about doing so. I'm not convinced the clueless are driving away good questions. I think attempts to discourage the clueless are driving away good questions.

  • What brought you to the site?
    – ewwhite
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 18:40
  • 1
    Server Fault and Stack Overflow kept coming up in my googling, and one day I decided it would be fun to answer questions rather than just googling up other people's answers. Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 18:41
  • I do wonder if I'm addicted... I should chime in. But in the developer world, I mention StackOverflow and it's a highly-regarded resource. When I meet other systems administrators in real life, few seem to use ServerFault. It's a shame, as there's a lot of good knowledge that's not being shared.
    – ewwhite
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 18:44
  • 1
    Stack Overflow is busier. I think that's because there's more dev than ops. I do try to promote Server Fault to my friends, because I think it's a great site, but I don't think it's fair to compare us to Stack Overflow because of the sheer volume difference. Entertainingly, my boss (a developer!) once asked me if I'd ever heard of Server Fault, and I was able to tell him I had over 1000 rep points on Server Fault. (That'll date the question, ha!). He was impressed. :D Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 18:48
  • @ewwhite Oh. It occurs to me that maybe I should also add: I follow Brent Ozar on Twitter, and he promotes dba.stackexchange.com pretty hard. And yet, I'm here. :) Similarly, one of my friends that I've been encouraging to post here is instead in the top 3% of rep for Stack Overflow this month for posting PowerShell answers. :) I think you just click with a Stack Exchange site. Commented Feb 22, 2014 at 14:46

This was meant to be a comment, but it is simply too long, so I'll pretty up the formatting as well, why not...:

...becoming what it's aspiring to be? -- what's it aspiring to be? Who dictates that? The SE staff? The users? Both? Being tech based, are their real numbers/data/analytics to support or refute those aspirations?

The tour page states:

With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about professional server, networking, or related infrastructure administration

...so I guess that's the aspiration, in all its vague glory. I've heard other mention here on Meta about the original intent of the site as well as what users in general want it to be, but unless it is spelled out on the first page people see when first visiting like above then it doesn't count as the actual intent, does it?

But is the site actually failing? I think we have a few different viewpoints:

The High Reppers

These folks are extremely knowledgeable in their fields, like answering questions and helping others, and are most often daily users of the site. They might hang out in the Comms Room, be mods, or maybe just like answering questions. They have nothing to prove at this point and "rep" holds no real incentive for them.

IMO, they see the site as a place that could be THE PLACE to get your real sysadmin questions answered without going to the vendor for TAC support and possibly getting a better answer than the vendor could provide because of the rounded and expert knowledge in the field. However, some if not most are becoming more and more turned off by the lowbrow questions and drive-by users that come from SO/SE or the web to simply ask questions about the "blue collar IT stuff" so that they can get back to to the really important stuff.

These are the folks that could be making this site attractive to the outsiders, by showcasing their profiles, marketing their knowledge on the site to let new users know who they might get answers from, etc.

They tend to like the Regulars overall, are ok with the Every Now and Thens, and are very hit or miss (often miss) on the Noobs.

The Regulars

These are the folks that keep coming back and may eventually be High Reppers. They are experts, but may not have been here for very long or have grown weary of answering a lot of questions just for "rep". You may seem them as well in the Comms Room, review queue, or contributing in Meta.

These people need to be retained...SF has hooked them, but how does it keep them engaged on ongoing basis? It's much easier to keep a customer than get a new one, so why not put some effort into these folks?

The Regulars tend to like the High Reppers, and are OK with the Every Now and Thens. They see the Noobs as hit or miss, and some are active at VTCing/voting/Review enough to help the High Reppers with site cleanup.

The Every Now and Thens

These folks like SF for it's Q&A style, but could take or leave the site. They come when they have an issue or when they're bored. Their rep can be all over the board, but they are definitely not daily or even weekly users. They could have been at one point and got bored or frustrated by the site, or they simply never saw the need to be here regularly.

These folks have the potential to be regulars...I'd venture that most IT folk WANT to be a part of a strong IT community...but they may see SF as nothing more than a simple place to ask a question, not a "community" of IT pros.

However, this group also lumps in the SO folks and other SE site users that tend to drop into SF on occasion to ask a sysadmin type question simply because they are stuck and want to get on with their project. They have no real interest in the site itself other than a quick answer and they'll be on their way.

The Every Now and Thens probably have no real opinion on any other group here...they don't care in general. However, they will get pissy if you downvote them and explain that this site isn't for non-sysadmins. They are usually the ones you'll end up seeing ranting in Meta about how sucky SF is and how it will go down in flames with the High Reppers in the building.

The Noobs

These are either first time visitors, fairly new folks, or drive-by users. Most will never care what the site is for or about. They simply want a quick answer to their issue. Damn the instructions, tour, FAQ, etc. I can post without signing up? Heck yeah, it's worth my 60 seconds to ask and see who bites.

The potential regulars and high reppers in this category are very few and far between. They are there and the good SF'ers can spot these folks and will upvote them and try to hook them to the site.

The noobs overall don't care about any of the other groups. Some are vocal enough to give attitude when downvoted, while most could probably care less...since they were simply hoping a free site and 60 seconds of their time would answer their question without them having to research or hire a pro. They don't have enough rep to really contribute to the site, nor do they really care to.

Great, you listed out "classes"...what does that have to do with site vision/aspiration?

I think knowing your audience groups and knowing who you want to attract/retain is important. I also think your audience should know what to expect from you. SF does a pretty decent job overall of letting its users dictate how the site should flow. It's not really a few folks controlling the site, but through votes/etc. the users overall through "mob mentality" and majority tend to self-govern pretty well.

But SF lacks in being able to showcase the talent it really has on the site. Why not put something in the tour that showcases 3-5 of the high rep users, what their background is, and what their expertise is? Why not create a "blank" one with a "this could be you" as well to let others know they could get their name in lights someday here? Not everyone would want this, I understand, but it's an idea of how to attract/retain folks.

I think that's enough...I'd keep going but I doubt anyone has read all of this to begin with...so I'll digress at this point.

  • 4
    Not sure which category I might be falling in, but you've missed a point. I (and I'm sure I'm not alone) come here to keep up with technology I don't have on my desk in my current job. Solving real world issues is the best way to learn new stuff and keep up with the current versions of tech that I don't necessarily work with daily. If I can give back to the community while I'm at it, then why not, eh?
    – dyasny
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 15:31
  • Thanks @dyasny - my post was originally meant as a comment that escalated into a spew of thoughts. I wasn't listing the reasons for people coming to the site for the regulars or high reppers (like you), but I agree with you to some extent. I do think there are other sites that are better suited to inform/learn about tech though. Reading a Q&A here about a tech you don't use may get you interested in finding out more about that tech though, sure. Again, my post here is likely to be downvoted overall as "disagree", but I'm just calling it from my vantage point...each person's is different.
    – TheCleaner
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 15:48
  • 2
    Anything that involves providing reading material to the people who need to read it is ultimately doomed.
    – user9517
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 17:26
  • 1
    I probably qualify as a "regular." ;) I've been trying to hook my techhie friends on the site, but perhaps my explanations are lacking because so far I only have the one hanging out. My favorite reaction to date was, "Oh! I get it! Server Fault is an ONLINE GAME!" I told him yes, one based on Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. ;) (craphound.com/down/?page_id=1625) Anyway. I find the site equal measures of educational and fun, and highlighting both can only help, right? Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 21:32
  • 1
    I've found that Server Fault whuffie doesn't spend IRL, however. >smile< Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 23:36
  • @EvanAnderson And how sad is that? :D Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 1:17
  • One thing that would help to reduce the burden of re-answering the same question is to provide a simple and intuitive way of merging or linking questions. If someone asks @ETL's stereotypical question about how to set up multiple web sites on a single server, and it's genuinely a duplicate, provide a way for it to be marked as a duplicate, and after a certain number of votes, any future references to the question get redirected. And the original poster gets notified where their answer lies.
    – Paul Gear
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 9:28

Is this site becoming what it's aspiring to be?

I cannot answer that. However, as a borderline-noob I'll make a suggestion as to how to become what the Tour and other Meta pages suggest that aspiration is.

Just point us noobs to the fine manuals!

I agree 100% that the professional / noob ratio here is way to low. I'm trying to move myself from the latter category into the former, but it's a slow process and we break lots of things along the way. Sometimes I just need to know which fine manual to read.

I'm sure that there exist quite a few lazy people who visit the site with no inspiration to ever improve their skills beyond "solve or hide this issue right now". But some of us do want to improve, even if we're not ninjas yet. Just let us know "the answer to that is in XYZ manual" and optionally "XYZ manual can be found at FOOBAR link". Perhaps there could even be a special "Closed as RTFM" close reason. That will help the OP, it will keep the site on focus, and it will help those who come later with a similar issue. Win, win, win.

  • It's refreshing to see someone who wants to learn, you are though in a tiny minority. I've tried answering basic questions by pointing people at the relevant parts of the documentation with a rough guide as to the process and they are generally less well received than answers that provide exact steps. Sadly in my experience of SF the majority of people asking questions don't want to think for themselves.
    – user9517
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 13:39
  • @lain: Thanks. Your assertion strengthens my argument: provide a link and close the question. Those who don't want to learn, won't.
    – dotancohen
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 13:51
  • 4
    Anyone like you, who actually wants to learn how to solve their problems is quite welcome here. Its those who want us to solve all their problems for them that cause answerers to get burnt out.
    – Grant
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 16:42

I was just thinking about posting just about the same question. Not that I'm not culprit of answering the same question more than once at time, but I start finding this place more like SuperUser with questions that are way too basic and it kludge up the place in my opinion.

My questions rarely get answered - ok they're probably complex to answer because I spent days looking before asking...

But how many time do we need to tell people how to setup RewriteRules or as I was just reading - https://serverfault.com/questions/574343/how-do-i-set-up-one-server-to-host-more-than-one-website

I think maybe we need to be more strict on sending the questions to SuperUser instead when clearly the OP is not a seasoned sysadmin.

I myself fall for answering the same question again and again 'cause I like to help but really, probably we would benefit more by not doing so...

  • 6
    We all find ourselves answering the same question over and over again. Eventually we realise that closing them as duplicates is the best way forward. As you don't have vote to close privileges you can flag as duplicate.
    – user9517
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 7:30
  • But @Iain - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/219766/… `" Questions here are always duplicates, @voretaq7 - you just weren't looking hard enough. – Shog9♦ Feb 6 at 20:58 "'
    – TheCleaner
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 15:50
  • @TheCleaner: Most people don't look at all.
    – user9517
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 16:49
  • 1
    Yeah, I was stating that Shog made the comment that EVERYTHING is a dupe, and I loved Magellan's rebuttal there.
    – TheCleaner
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 18:54
  • @TheCleaner: Oh yeah - Magellan played a blinder there with that one.
    – user9517
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 19:28

The problem I have with SF is that I don't think the question format really advances anything you're asking for in the above posts. A question format literally asks for you to get one off questions looking for a direct answer. Of course, I don't know that I get any answers, because my questions seem too specific.

That is to say, if I could synthesize the answer from what google gave me, I won't be bothering to ask a question. I already have my answer. I like rep, but I doubt rep will ever give me any real-world results - my cyber**** is big enough, thanks.

So, if you need deep knowledge of what has to be niche products, you probably won't get lucky to find the person with that knowledge on SF. I'd love it to be true, but I doubt it's the case. You need to hope the specific product has a good community, or hope tech support is paid for and good. My problem is at least 40% of the time Tech Support is useless.

So if I'm frustrated enough to ask a question, I also get frustrated when I get asked "what version of X" when that was in my initial post etc...

Anyway, I may give SF another try today as I'm getting frustrated with community specific sites on a problem that I have which you would think would be stupidly simple, but apparently isn't.

  • 1
    I concur that the Q&A format is restrictive and may even be detrimental to professional sysadmin questions (troubleshooting via Q&A sucks), but the problem is I don't think there's anything better. The forum format certainly doesn't do any better, and you're just not going to get a community built around free, live support. The problem, of course, is that I don't know of anything better, or even how it could be done better... so ServerFault's as good as it gets, as least as far as I've been able to find. Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 20:47
  • The forum format (I think) builds community better, i.e. you can have little side discussions etc. IRC under the same banner can be better as you can easily have some OT chat / community building. Q&A is... just that. So I don't see you getting a community where people want to hang out out of it really.
    – jmp242
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 20:59
  • Well, we have a chat room... which is pretty similar to IRC, though I do prefer IRC. And while I agree that forums do build community a better, they're worse for getting actual help solving whatever problem it is you're having. Low signal-to-noise ratio and all that, so... as I said, I don't see a better way of doing it, and haven't found anything better, leading me to believe this might be as good as it gets. Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 21:07
  • AIUI the Q&A format is deliberate and designed to avoid many of the problems that forums have. If you need a long comment thread diagnosing an issue (especially with the less able 'sysadmins' we see) then perhaps what you really need is $consultancy not Q&A.
    – user9517
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 8:20
  • My issue in saying forums are worse is that if you know enough to work as self creating FAQ when writing the question, you don't need to ask the question - google should suffice. The Microsoft Technet is a nice blend of forum and once marked as an answer it turns into a Q&A sort of format.
    – jmp242
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 15:41
  • Excellent point, @jmp242. The one-off question is just part of building knowledge, and we need to find a way to make it possible to ask and tell things that aren't just simple Q&A without sacrificing the concise ServerFault format.
    – Paul Gear
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 9:23

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