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I recently directed a user from StackOverflow to SuperUser, as they were asking a question about how to properly configure their apache-webserver (or more: why their configuration denied access to their vhost; the exact title of their Q was "phpmyadmin - restrict by IP")

The user also provided a context for their question: they were trying to protect their /phpmyadmin installation, and mentioned this in both the text and the subject of their Q.

The question was immediately closed by a very responsive (albeit firm in their decision) moderator with a "Qs about management interfaces are off-topic".

Now if a question about a configuring a web-server to run a page that allows me to manage other software is indeed off-topic, then i would like to propose to make this more explicit in the FAQ.

Currently it only says "working with a service provider's management interface, such as cPanel" is off-topic, but i believe that this text should be extended to also mention self-hosted interfaces.

More importantly, it should direct the users to a forum where they can ask such questions.

Speaking of which: where do you consider such a question on-topic? Webmasters.se.com??

PS: the user eventually found out the cause of the problem (an possibly wrong IPv6 address in an AllowFrom stanza), but have deleted their question on both SuperUser and ServerFault.

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    If the question was about how to configure Apache to protect phpmyadmin, instead of how to use phpmyadmin or deal with its effects, then it was on-topic. – Andrew Schulman Feb 27 '15 at 7:28
  • Roll a die. 4 or greater == on topic. exactly 3 == dubious 2 or lower == off topic Solution if off-topic: select any of the half dozen other stack exchanges where it would be arguably on-topic and assume they repeat the same process as above (you may see the question being bounced back). – Stumbler Apr 30 '15 at 10:31
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This probably should be made more explicit in the FAQ and on-topic page and all that, yes.

Of course, the problem with that, or reason it hasn't been done already, is because it's a fair bit of effort, requires approval from Stack Exchange (the Stack Exchange employees who are Community Managers/"super-mods"), and the payoff is about 0. The people who "need" to read the help before posting don't, so they won't see it anyway, and the people who do read the help will see it, and/or search the site and see the swath I've cut through administration panel questions.

I have, with the help of a handy stack app, vastly improved the close reason I leave, which now links to the help page where the off-topic statement is, as well as two pertinent meta discussions on the subject of administration panels:


Administration panels are off topic. Even the presence of an administration panel on a system, because they take over the systems in strange and non-standard ways, making it difficult or even impossible for actual system administrators to manage the servers normally, and tend to indicate low-quality questions from users with insufficient knowledge for this site.


Some of these administration panels may be on-topic at Webmasters, and their moderators have expressed an interest in seeing some of them migrated, but not all. For example, they don't handle Apache configuration questions, which they direct to us, but since these web panels often make that configuration impossible, overly difficult, or flaky via the "sysadmin way" they're not topical here anymore either. As alluded to in my custom close reason, the other problem is that the majority of these questions are poor questions from what are essentially users, which makes them off topic both here and at Webmasters, as well as excluding them from migration.

It is sometimes the case that a question has no Stack Exchange site on which it is topical. Some may find that unfortunate, but given this community's feeling towards web administration panels (and the questions we get about them), that's really not an appropriate concern for me. This community would rather be subjected to a Sarin gas attack than web administration panel questions, so they're off topic here, even if that means there's no where they're on-topic at.

If I recall correctly, the question you're referring to was actually not a bad question, but it feel into the server configuration realm that Webmasters doesn't want, and the web panel realm that we don't want, so it was just a question without an appropriate home on Stack Exchange at the moment.

Perhaps Super User could consider taking or keeping these questions (the good ones, anyway), as it does take the server configuration questions that we don't now (setting up a home server or configuring a game server or whatever). Web panels could be another sub-category of those type of questions. (Sorry, JourneymanGeek. :p ) But whatever the case, the simple answer is that they're not topical here, even if that strands many of them without a place to go.

  • i'm aware that those users who ought to read the FAQ most likely won't. i'm more concerned about people like me who direct ot-posters to other SE-sites (assuming that those who care enough to review and QA postings, will also read the FAQ). – umläute Feb 26 '15 at 21:09
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    I know enough about cPanel to be able to disentangle a web site from it and move it to a properly built server. But as for the ongoing alien invasion from Stack Overflow, that's a whole other issue and a discussion of that really won't fit in this comment box. – Michael Hampton Feb 27 '15 at 4:33
  • @MichaelHampton i wonder why you bring up cPanel; my question has nothing to do with it. the cPanel case is covered well in the FAQ, my question is more about management interfaces that are not cPanel (or the like) – umläute Mar 1 '15 at 19:55
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    @umläute OK... how about this? phpMyAdmin is a crutch for people who can't be bothered to learn even the most basic SQL, and most often just either gets in the way, or poses a security risk since it goes unmaintained. – Michael Hampton Mar 1 '15 at 19:59

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