Ok, everyday we see a load of questions about mod_rewrite. Every once in a while, there is a good tricky scenario, but most are boiler plate "how do I redirect URL xyz to abc?".

I think the users should find an answer on the site easily... so I search myself and I can't even find the classic 2010 question Redirect, Change URLs or Redirect HTTP to HTTPS in Apache - Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Mod_Rewrite Rules but Were Afraid to Ask

Somehow, we should be able to make this more visible.

Also, really, is that the best title - maybe we should have a better title or different entry as the new people not too familiar with Apache and mod_rewrite just don't know that mod_rewrite is the answer to their question -- basically, they are having trouble formulating their question.

  • 3
    It's a terrible title, because it's not a question, but it has a question mark on the end!
    – TRiG
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 13:23

2 Answers 2


The more questions that are closed as a duplicate of the canonical question, the more likely it is to be shown to people in Questions that may already have your answer or the Similar Questions sidebar whilst they are asking a question.

Perhaps it's time to rally the community to start trawling through the archive and close dupe all of the mod_rewrite questions in the same was as we did with Licensing and (to some extent) cron.

Granted it is well known that most people asking a question ignore all of the help that the system and google provides and many people will argue that their use case is subtly different rather then think for themselves but we can deal with that by ignoring it.

Until you get to 3k the best thing you can do is flag as a duplicate and perhaps leave a comment to the effect so that other people will flag/v-t-c that way too.

  • 2
    Most of the questions which are asking how to write a rule are bad. But some of the ones needing debugging or dealing with unexpected configuration results, interactions with other modules that aren't well documented, etc. are good questions that would say we should keep. I'd propose a standard of "if you're asking for help writing mod_rewrite rules, instead of asking for help with unexpected behavior in the configuration you have (which should have taken at least some research), always close", and see where it gets us to have a slightly higher bar for these - thoughts? Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 2:00
  • @ShaneMadden: I have no real opinion on the matter I almost never go near a mod_rewrite question, they all look the same to me :) My answer is just based on what I (think) I know of the way things work and what we've done in the past for other similar issues.
    – user9517
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 7:37
  1. The built-in search kinda sucks (sorry SE guys, I know you try).
    Don't use it, Google + "site:serverfault.com $search_query"
  2. Mod_Rewrite questions are borderline off-topic to begin with. It has more to do with website design than server/network/etc administration; though the configuration can often be found within the "server configuration" (as opposed to "user configuration" in .htaccess files or similar). We have a sort of agreement with Web Masters not to ship rewrite questions back and forth because of this borderline nature.
  3. Mod_Rewrite in particular is very well document, with millions of examples on blogs/articles across the Internet to supplement the extensive official documentation. A reasonable, competent, and professional system administrator should consult documentation, at least a cursory glance, before posting on SF. The bulk of these questions do not meet this minimal effort and should be closed (either as a dupe of that, or as OT:Minimal Understanding).
  4. The proceeding aside, the people who ask these questions are the same windowlickers who refuse to search for the Canonical Question in the first place, refuse to read the official documentation (refuse to even acknowledge that the official documentation exists - refuse to look for it) - exemplifying all that's "wrong" with SF (seeing as this is a theme recently on Meta we must be going through another of the cycles) - and slapping these people over the head with canonical question and official documentation will do nothing but frustrate those unlucky enough to try to help.

So what should we do? I believe the canonical question might actually be counterproductive, giving validity to a topic that should be off-topic. Certainly helping people asking for simple help with Mod_Rewrite should be refused help. This sounds harsh, but all the good system administrator I know got to be so by reading documentation. Spoon feeding these people reinforces their behavior, saps the energy of the people helping, and drives away the most knowledgeable members of our community who disdain the low signal to noise ratio.

  • No disagreement here. But a slightly different angle which I tried to make as well... what about the guy tonight who ask a question which the answer is mod_rewrite but in truth he has no clue that this is the solution so his search, not knowing the term, does not find the right answer.... so the answer to his question becomes "use mod rewrite - check there to read up on this" and that should do it - if he refuse the answer, then he is an ass. I think on SF we would be ok with that kind of answer. On SuperUser for example, they'll slap you for giving a RTFM answer. Ok here? I think so...
    – ETL
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 4:48
  • ... granted, that guy was not a sysadmin and belonged really on SuperUser or something...
    – ETL
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 4:48
  • @ETL then it would be a matter of putting a useful edit on the question (or answer) to help it be better grabbed by anyone using the search. Off the top of my head, that would probably involve a brief, generic "problem" or explanation/statement that mod_rewrite is used to redirect websites/urls programmatically. Could be you who adds this content/keywords/tags to the existing canonical... Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 5:15
  • @HopelessN00b - done!
    – ETL
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 14:33

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