We've had this discussion before, but it's apparently time to revisit it. For some background, see:

Unfortunately, while it's obvious there's a generally negative bias toward web hosting control panels, the advice given has been inconsistent over the years with respect to how the control panel is used and whether a question can be migrated.

In particular I'm referring to highly invasive software packages such as cPanel and Plesk, which are generally used only in the web hosting industry, and are notable for making large amounts of customization to installed systems, which can complicate management of those systems.

I am not referring here to self-contained web applications like phpMyAdmin, which do not reach their tendrils out into the whole server and make bizarre customizations. That discussion, if necessary, can happen elsewhere.

Nor am I referring to obviously sysadmin-focused web applications like Webmin, Cockpit, Zabbix, vSphere Web Client, etc. It shouldn't be necessary to discuss these at all.

In the past, I've said that these questions should remain open if they relate to administering the system on which they're installed, and closed or migrated if they relate to using them as a customer. More recently I've come to believe that most or all questions about web hosting control panels should be closed or migrated, ironically because I've since gained more experience using cPanel and been thoroughly disgusted by its design. Sysadmins who run web sites the "normal" way will find cPanel disappointing and frustrating, to say the least.

My opinions are my own, though; ultimately this is something we should have a clear community consensus on.

Should questions about web hosting control panels be closed or migrated when they:

  • Deal with end-user usage of the system via the control panel, e.g. a customer of a web hosting company who wants to use the control panel to install a web site or create a database?
  • Deal with administering the system via the control panel, e.g. a web hosting provider who wants to modify the system's Apache or PHP installation?
  • Deal with administering parts of the system not affected by the web hosting control panel, e.g. a web hosting provider wants to set up NTP, and the presence of cPanel is incidental because cPanel does not manage NTP?

(Note that, at present, the only clear migration target we have for web hosting control panel questions is Webmasters and they have expressed interest in receiving such migrated questions.)

  • 21
    Close them with prejudice.
    – user9517
    Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 21:21
  • 12
    The are explicitly off topic according to the on topic page. That someone did something to provoke this discussion again ... well, says a lot about the state of this community. Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 21:23
  • 11
    Looking over some of the recently closed questions, I notice many that were closed with a comment explaining "Administration panels are off topic." In more than a few cases that I looked at, the question was actually asking about something else entirely. Whatever policy you arrive at, it should be clear that merely mentioning an off-topic package does not make a question off topic. Nor should it make the asker unwelcome. Finally, any comments left on closed questions should explain the situation in a way that a knowledgeable visitor could make sense of it. Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 23:30
  • 10
    @JonEricson Part of the rationale is that when someone asks a question, and in passing mentions that there is a control panel involved, it does taint the entire situation and make it much more difficult to offer a repeatable, standards compliant answer. Furthermore it pulls it out of the realm of professional systems administration, but I digress. Nevertheless, It's like asking "Doctor! I have a bruise that won't heal!" and then much later in the conversation glibly saying "Oh BTW I have cancer."
    – Wesley
    Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 23:43
  • 9
    @JonEricson See also below my anecdote about not being able to update git on a cPanel system because of its invasive changes. These are difficult to predict in advance. There do seem to be a few questions where the control panel is truly incidental, but from my spot check they appear to be quite rare. In the case Sven cited it was because the person had installed nginx completely orthogonally to the control panel. Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 23:46
  • 7
    @JonEricson Like all analogies there are some shortcomings, but the key to your statement is here: ...people are mentioning the key information needed to understand the situation and being chastised for it. Ahhh, but that's exactly what isn't happening. Closed questions aren't chastisement. You can't ask questions on ServerFault about weeping tile, shutter speed, or server control panels. They all get closed as being off topic, but it's not punishment. It's just not on topic.
    – Wesley
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 0:23
  • 4
    Closely related: The same discussion from three years ago
    – voretaq7
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 2:18
  • 7
    I'm kind of disappointed that a Stack Exchange community manager thinks that putting a question on hold is chastising the asker, when that's fundamentally not how holding questions on Stack Exchange is supposed to work - a question on hold is one that's in the garage for repair as I recall. Or are we about to change back to calling them "closed" again?
    – Rob Moir
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 11:41
  • 4
    possible duplicate of Is it time to kill problematic tags like cpanel, plesk, whm and webmin?
    – MDMoore313
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 13:38
  • 13
    ...and this is exactly what's been driving away the expert users for years. You can't swing a dead cat around here without finding a 10k+ user who has completely walked away from the site, or no longer contributes on a regular basis, and the reason stated for the departure is always related to crappy questions from people who "don't belong here." In fact, that's even the reason the Comms Room is now abandoned for all intents and purposes. A bunch of the community's high rep and respected users decided to pack it, and moved to a non Stack Exchange chat platform, for exactly this reason. Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 15:47
  • 5
    I read it as emphasizing users in contrast with sysadmins. If a person is a user in their environment, their question is usually off-topic.
    – Hyppy
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 15:58
  • 5
    @JimB The reason that close reason is no longer used is because it caused a lot of confusion and complaints from posters. ~"How is this off topic???? It's about my server, which has a fault... FUCK YOU JERKS!!!!" Sometimes the answer is "sorry, but we can't help you," as we've been over many times on meta, and surrounding the "minimal understanding" close reason. You may find it disturbing, but it's the honest truth. Dealing with problem users (people) is also called out as one of the primary moderator responsibilities, since normal users can get privs to deal with problem content. Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 15:59
  • 5
    @JimB You're welcome to dig up whatever you can find to support your position, but I'm currently in contact with a large number of the site's former respected users, and can tell you that the reasons they give for walking away or no longer contributing is that the site is a dumping ground for unprofessional questions from unprofessional users. I also took a ~one year hiatus from the site myself, so I speak from personal experience too. That cleaning up old, off-topic content has caused so much drama is extremely disheartening, and speaks to the viability of SF as a professional community. Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 16:04
  • 4
    @JimB If you want to contribute a better close reason, I encourage you to do so. Having said that, we recently spent months rewriting the "unprofessional" close reason to its current state about ~"reasonable IT management practices," and IMO, have a worse, more confusing reason as a result. And why did we rewrite it? Because people who were not sysadmins under any definition of the term complained about the previous "unprofessional" close reason. We've been doing this dance (oh, it's the content, not the person, even if it really is the person) for years, and we need to stop. Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 16:45
  • 5
    @JonEricson: We could have either closed or migrated the grep one. Does U&L want a 6 year old accepted question? The 5 year old QMail/Kloxo one definitely falls into the panel category, as well as being "insufficient info". The PHP/APC one should have been migrated to SO, though do they want 4 year old answered questions about aging/unsupported software? The DirectAdmin one is an issue with a Panel-modified VPS that the user barely knew how to operate, and was also 3 years old. The last one is a very poorly written question that devolved into asking how to configure a VPS panel 3 years ago.
    – Hyppy
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 17:34

8 Answers 8


OK, so I've not been around much aside from the occasional (and infrequent) scan through the review queues and hunt for unix-y questions that are interesting enough to answer (sadly less frequent than my trips through the queues lately), but here's my three-fiddy:

We've long had a policy about web hosting panels - I was the idiot overly-kind person who made the case that cpanel (or other control panel software) isn't de-facto off topic almost 3 years ago, though it's likely to be strongly correlated with crap (and thus call down suspicion on the question).

We've also long had a policy about commercial software ("Call your fucking vendor because that's what you're paying them for!" -- Server Fault is not front-line support for any software, but that's particularly for commercial software).

As far as I'm concerned both policies still hold:

  • If your question is about setting up or managing control panel software as a sysadmin (that is to say you are deploying it for your users - e.g. at a hosting company) your question may be on-topic for Server Fault, subject to our other scope and quality restrictions.
    So if you want to ask about how you can build a server template with webmin to allow limited administrative access for your customers and you actually take the time to write a question that's not crap we should try to help you out (or alternatively if web panels aren't your bailiwick leave the question alone).
  • If your question is crap, it is crap (irrespective of whether or not a "control panel" is mentioned).
  • If your question is essentially a technical support request ("Webmin is broken, how do I fix it?") it doesn't belong here. You should ask such questions of the software vendor/developer through their support channels.
  • If you are a webmin user without root access to the server (and the skills to use that access effectively) then you are a USER, and do not meet the site's definition of "professional system/network administrator". Your question is therefore ipso facto off-topic: While we will answer "beginner sysadmin" questions we are not a basic education site, nor is the Q&A format well suited for that kind of basic training.

A note regarding "control panels" in general:
For all the "holier than thou" sysadmins who want to bitch about how "professional sysadmins don't use control panels", I would point out that IBM's smit (and terminal cousin smitty) are, for all practical purposes, control panels. They abstract away the command line and present system administration options to their users based on defined access levels. That they're run under X or from a terminal doesn't change that fact, and I do not know a single professional AIX sysadmin who would say it's unprofessional to use smitty.
It is disingenuous to imply that simply because a "control panel" is used the question is not "professional", and that should by no means be used as an exclusionary factor. The question must still be evaluated for topicality using the same guidelines as any other question. For example, if someone was asking "How do I use smit to set the system hostname?" the answer would be "You should really look at the documentation IBM provided you - you paid them quite a bit for that AIX license, so get your money worth!"

Our level of support for "webmin" style panels is more limited simply because they're specialist tools that are really only understood by the folks that make/distribute them, but there are plenty of "professional sysadmin" tasks that require the use of a web control panel -- for example my company's Zimbra mail server effectively requires the use of the web interface to manage the system, as does our FreePBX phone system (both have web interfaces that regenerate config files and will overwrite your manual changes). Both of these systems are, to some extent, "in scope" for Server Fault the same way an Exchange server or Cisco Unity messaging system would be.

  • 7
    Your point about smitty echoes mine about these panels. Smitty is a utility that ships with the OS itself for managing the OS. These panels... kinda make their own OS out of one that looks suspiciously like one we know from elsewhere.
    – sysadmin1138 Mod
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 3:07
  • @sysadmin1138 Many do. But many " operating systems" (FreePBX Distro, for example) ship with the control panel baked right in - the web admin panel for the FreePBX distro is functionally equivalent to smit on AIX. If you admin FreePBX Distro on the command line it "looks suspiciously like" CentOS, but if you do anything tricky on the command line it will quickly disabuse you of that notion by eating your changes or misbehaving in other ways.
    – voretaq7
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 3:21
  • FreePBX (at least, the version I'm running) manages asterisk, apache and little else. Your line cards, if you have them. It really doesn't get invasive in the way cPanel does, and even the "FreePBX Distro" is little more than CentOS with FreePBX preinstalled. Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 7:49
  • 3
    smitty is more like MMC or Server Administrator from Windows-land, in my opinion. Those are "control panels" for Windows, but they're made to be there. cPanel, webmin, and their cousins are an abstraction that the underlying utilities know nothing about and are often the cause of just as many problems as they solve.
    – Hyppy
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 13:46
  • @MichaelHampton The version of FreePBX Distro I'm using is pretty old, but it's got a separate "thing" to set the machine's IP & DNS configuration and a web-based OS package manager. It wouldn't surprise me if they've gotten rid of it (it's CRAP!), but it's a part of this release.
    – voretaq7
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 15:42
  • 3
    @Hyppy smitty has the advantage of being designed by the OS developer, but the underlying utilities know nothing about it either (in fact as I recall smitty will show you the command it's about to execute and even let you edit it if you disagree with its ideas about what needs to happen -- would that crappy webmin-like panels could do the same and maybe educate the frikkin' users about what's going on behind the scenes!)
    – voretaq7
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 15:44
  • 1
    @voretaq7 Right, my FreePBX box gets managed via yum and puppet just like every other box, and FreePBX really doesn't care. Try that with a machine with cPanel installed and you're in for a world of hurt. Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 18:03
  • @MichaelHampton My FreePBX box gets neglected like the readheaded Linux stepchild it is. I would beat it except I think it would like that.
    – voretaq7
    Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 2:00
  • 5
    +1 to this. I used to be a professional sysadmin whose job included managing servers with cPanel on them. The questions I asked which related to cPanel were almost always "How can I do this sysadmin task in such a way as it won't break cPanel", which had I asked cPanel for support, they would have said "We don't support that"... yet, I often found ways to still use the standard command-line tools we all know and love and exist alongside cPanel. It saddens me that such knowledge can no longer be shared with others who are in the position I used to be in.
    – Josh
    Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 14:30
  • So, in a nutshell you are stating that software is ok so long as it's unsupported and not paid for, and that it is absent of any sort of tool in the form of a script, set of scripts, application, or set of applications, or any combination of these -- which assist in making the tasks simpler ? I would say that nails out around 90% of serverfault content. Just state you don't support any software or firmware of any kind. Only physical as long as the hardware doesn't have any software driving it ! Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 5:08
  • @SanuelJackson You're deliberately mis-representing here.
    – EEAA
    Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 6:06
  • Sorry @voretaq7, this comment was more in kind towards those who are thinking no assistance should be given for control panels here even if it is only from the administration side, not from the consumer side. In this I actually agree with you. Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 7:14

Deal with end-user usage of the system via the control panel, e.g. a customer of a web hosting company who wants to use the control panel to install a web site or create a database?

Close, close, close.

Deal with administering the system via the control panel, e.g. a web hosting provider who wants to modify the system's Apache or PHP installation?


Deal with administering parts of the system not affected by the web hosting control panel, e.g. a web hosting provider wants to set up NTP, and the presence of cPanel is incidental because cPanel does not manage NTP?

I want to say these should be left open, but these panels muck about so much with the system that, unless one is a frequent cPanel user (which none of the SF "Answerers" are), it's impossible to know what exactly cPanel is managing and what it's leaving alone.

Perhaps they get left open, and those of us who detest GUI control panels can just ignore them.

Honestly, though, they should just all be closed.

  • If having a collection of applications run after the linux kernel has been installed using a popular distribution is a problem, then one would think you would simply stop using said software. Wait ... that would be every 'flavor' out there. You are either administrating a server, or you are a user. cPanel has an interface for both via the web which are very VERY different from each other even though named the same. In addition, cPanel does prefer to use their tested software. Something which RedHat / CentOS (based on RHEL), are forgetting to do. Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 5:13
  • You're free to disagree with myself and the vast majority of the SF community.
    – EEAA
    Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 5:40
  • I am in agreeance with not walking people through non administrative tasks, however I do not agree with a complete blockade on something simply because it is a manager or offers some automation or ease of use for certain aspects using mostly open packages. Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 7:16

My own opinions are:

Should questions about web hosting control panels be closed or migrated when they:

  • Deal with end-user usage of the system via the control panel, e.g. a customer of a web hosting company who wants to use the control panel to install a web site or create a database?

These questions have no business on Server Fault at all, whether hosting control panels are generally on topic or not. We are not meant to be technical support for the Internet. They should be closed, or good questions migrated to Webmasters.

  • Deal with administering the system via the control panel, e.g. a web hosting provider who wants to modify the system's Apache or PHP installation?

I previously believed these questions should be accepted, but I have yet to see a single one that was both high quality (or even medium quality!) and answerable by normal system administrators. Typically answers to these questions require either a specialist or direct vendor support. These could be migrated to Webmasters, and if that community wants to attract web hosting industry specialists, they may do so. But I don't think they add value to Server Fault.

  • Deal with administering parts of the system not affected by the web hosting control panel, e.g. a web hosting provider wants to set up NTP, and the presence of cPanel is incidental because cPanel does not manage NTP?

These are most difficult of all. It may not even be that there is a part of a system not touched by such control panels. I have one CentOS 5 system with cPanel (fortunately the very last one, and it will be replaced soon with a normal web server) on which git is out of date, and cannot be updated, because cPanel has replaced system-provided perl module RPMs with its own, slightly incompatible perl module RPMs, in an unsafe and unmanageable manner. These questions should be treated the same as the previous category.

  • 1
    I have yet to see a single one that was both high quality (or even medium quality!) and answerable by normal system administrators - Do we see many of those at all (about managing the panel), even bad ones? I agree that I haven't seen any good ones (though I haven't been looking), but I'm not sure if we should declare a software package as off-topic just because it's crappy; if we go down that road we'll need to apply the same treatment to, say, sharepoint and nagios too (I kid, I kid). Why not just add them to ignored tags and let them sit unanswered? Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 22:08
  • 10
    @ShaneMadden I'm not saying it should be off topic because it's crappy. In fact, it's not really crappy... I'm saying it should be off topic because it's unsupportable. Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 22:09
  • 1
    I would argue that your third category and a 4th category - Installation and maintenance of a control panel are a sysadmin task (versus a webmaster task), and are not off topic in and of themselves. There are best practices for doing both of those things (and while most unix admins would argue that the best practice for third-party control panels is not to install them to begin with we all know that sometimes our jobs preclude following best practices....)
    – voretaq7
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 2:45
  • 5
    Also particularly in regard to your last category (trying to work around the tendrils of a cpanel-like front-end to manage the server by hand), I think it bears repeating that "Sometimes the answer is NO" (or "Don't Do That!"). We don't have to bend over backwards to find a solution if the best practice is to replace the system and be rid of the control panel: Explain why that is the case, and close future similar questions as a duplicate of the canonical "You can't do that with webmin" question.
    – voretaq7
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 2:47
  • @MichaelHampton Fair enough, but I think we have enough tools at our disposal already for squashing crappy questions about crappy control panels without needing to add additional complexity to our close criteria; I don't feel like we really have need of some kind of a software blacklist, as good as it might feel to prominently display. And one of these years, the unicorn of an interesting, well-researched, well-asked control panel question might just show up (Ok, I'm kidding myself). Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 18:09
  • I know this is ancient but have to answer to @voretaq7: the answer "You can't do that with webmin" might be good, but this is the kind of answers that get obsolete quicky. They may add some functionality so some "no" answer becomes wrong. They may remove some functionality, so some "do this way" answer becomes invalid. We can't track it here and we shouldn't. Such answers are best given by the front line support which we are not. So it seems the best is to not to attempt to cross-breed bears and bees, so to not to answer any questions about panels, or only answer with "ask your vendor". Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 8:09

I'm in the 'close' camp for the control-panel questions, in large part due to the reasons Michael pointed out:

I'm not saying it should be off topic because it's crappy. In fact, it's not really crappy... I'm saying it should be off topic because it's unsupportable.

These systems are in many ways their own complete platform. They may look like Linux, and run on a recognizable distribution, but they're their own thing. What's more, managing them requires a specialized skill-set that doesn't follow accepted practice for managing Linux systems. It's kind of those those kiosk-mode platforms for Windows; it may look familiar, but keeping them running is so very much not that.

If we had someplace to send the things, I would be happier. I see from the linked questions that Webmasters might have had a change of heart with regards to these, so it's worth looking into. Migrate, on a case-by-case basis.

Terminate with extreme prejudice on suspicion? Not so much.

  • If Webmasters is the appropriate target, maybe we could add them as a migration target to the close system?
    – Jenny D
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 10:13
  • @JennyD I'm already looking into that. Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 10:17
  • @MichaelHampton Great! (Part of the reason for my suggesting migrating them to Unix & Linux is that it's a lot easier to bump stuff when the bumping is automatic...)
    – Jenny D
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 10:19
  • @JennyD Though, I think you probably should have asked your question on their meta... Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 10:20
  • @MichaelHampton You mean on Webmasters's meta? I haven't hung out there, so they weren't on my radar at all.
    – Jenny D
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 10:24
  • 2
    @JennyD Oh, you're right, you've never posted there. But hey, I have 639 reputation there, I'll do it! After I get some sleep, I'm up way past my bedtime. Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 10:25
  • 2
    @JennyD I've officially asked Webmasters for an opinion. Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 0:36

Being the guy who sparked this whole thing, I guess it's time I weigh in with my stance.

In line with the consensus given in the latest in the years of discussions on this topic, they should be closed. ALL of them.

After literally years of the community hating and hammering these questions with close votes and downvotes, they are explicitly off-topic. They no longer have tags, because the existence of those tags was being used as justification for asking new questions about them. Likewise, the existence of open questions about admin panels is being used as justification for asking new ones.

Questions which even mention a control panel ought to be closed as well (like we currently allow for questions containing about "my home" network/PC/server/whatever), because they are a broken window in need of fixing.

All questions mentioning an administration panel will either be off topic for one of a number of reasons, or the administration panel will be entirely incidental, in which case, mention of the administration panel should removed from the question (also like we do with the rare topical, good question about someone's home network/server/whatever).

And, in fact, editing such a question to remove mention of the administration panel puts it into the reopen queue, where the community has a chance to decide whether it's currently topical or not. Part of the boiler plate added to closed questions by Stack Exchange even encourages this behavior by stating:

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

If it's genuinely off-topic, it will stay closed, if not, it will go through the provided mechanism remediating issues (like mention of a control panel) so it can be reopened.

Given the easy and repeated presence of this information, I find it extremely disheartening and troubling that this has become an issue, and see this as another example of Server Fault only getting any attention from the Community Management team when someone makes a baseless complaint about the long-held community standards on Server Fault.

(I also want to point out that this drama has ostensibly been sparked from mass closings of years old, already answered questions, which to me, begs the question of why it matters that these questions were closed. There is no harm done in closing these old questions, but closing them does prevent them from being bumped with new answers by clueless new posters and allows the site to prominently display updated topicality guidelines, like "no more administration panels.")

  • 6
    The problem isn't applying community standards to moderation - it's that a moderator shouldn't undertake a large cleanup campaign without discussing it with the community first. Your efforts are appreciated, but the fact that we're debating the closure of specific questions that got swept up in your cleanup after they were closed instead of beforehand, as well as debating the wording of the comment you're using (which is open to interpretation in two different ways) shows that we clearly could have done this better with some discussion and additional eyeballs beforehand. Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 17:49
  • 7
    @ShaneMadden Well, for whatever it's worth, my entire tenure as moderator has been one big cleanup effort, and it's both deeply counter-intuitive and extremely demoralizing that cleaning up clear-cut, off-topic content from years ago should require community discussion before hand. "Here's a mod diamond, but before you use it/do what you said in your campaign, discuss it first on meta, even if you just did." Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 18:02
  • 2
    You avoided answering my question yesterday and you are straight-up lying here. I'm done trying to protect you.
    – Shog9
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 18:27
  • 27
    @Shog9 I'm honestly shocked that such a comment would be the official stance of Stack Exchange. This is deeply disturbing. When did it become personal?
    – Hyppy
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 19:09
  • 7
    @Shog9 I have no idea what you're referencing, and no desire for anyone's protection. I've posted my response to you in the other thread. I am only willing to do the moderator job as it should be done, and only willing to participate in the Server Fault community on the premise that it is a professional community for systems administrations professionals. If either of those things are a problem, proceed to suspend or delete my account as you see fit, but either way, I won't return until next week, which should be enough time for you to come to a decision. Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 19:20
  • 15
    I'm a simple guy and maybe I have an over-simplified view of this issue, but @hopelessn00b was elected as a moderator by the community, partly because we expected and desired this type of action. We needed someone who would use the moderator privileges to clean up the garbage that has been so desperately in need of being cleaned up. Whether he does that one post or one hundred posts at a time is immaterial to me.
    – joeqwerty
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 19:25
  • 4
    @HopelessN00b While I'm fully supportive of the closures, and I have yet to find / see anyone mention a question that should not have been closed (regardless of the reason). I do think that the often mentioned post is ambiguous. It could be read as being about removing tags (the question) or closing questions (several of the answers) as such it's causing split opinions and might not be a useful defense for either side.
    – Reaces
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 20:35

I agree that everything that is really related to a control panel should be closed, for the reasons stated over and over again. However, I dont feel that we should "autoclose" and use the mention of such a panel as a trigger for this, even if the actual problem is clearly unrelated to the presence of the panel.

Something like this is an example of what I wouldn't want to close, as the Apache/DirectAdmin side of the system is unrelated to the core of the question, which is "how do I manually configure nginx to do X". I expect those cases to be somewhat rare though.


One possibility would be to move these questions to Unix/Linux. But I'm not sure whether they actually want those kinds of questions, so I've asked on Unix/Linux Meta.


Questions on control panels should be closed. Questions that my (either inadvertently or explicitly) mention the presence of a control panel should not:


What is the easiest way to find out in what file a word is contained?

This should not be closed.

How to diagnose Internal Server error on Lighttpd?

Close - definitely is a control panel question

Where is DNS zone file in Centos 5 with Lxadmin?

Tough one- If someone knew there were no changes to the location of the zone files I'd say leave open but since there is an implication that it's not (because of lxadmin) I think you'd close.

  • 4
    I'm kind of imagining Hopeless letting out a long sigh at the top one and closing it as "cpanel" to be merciful.
    – Reaces
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 15:09
  • 2
    Yes, the first example was one that caught my eye too. The reference to lxadmin is clearly incidental to the question at hand. If the asker had happened to mention some other directory, the question would not be closed. The problem was clearly a misunderstanding of how grep works and not the directory being searched. Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 16:45
  • @Reaces That was exactly it, actually. It seemed nicer and more constructive than "Closing because you don't know what the hell you're doing/need to read the man page." Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 16:55
  • @HopelessN00b: You mean the grep man page, right? Cause your comment doesn't seem to be aware that the question is about a basic Unix command. It seems to be under the impression that grep is an administration panel, which is bizarre. Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 17:07
  • @JonEricson The question is originally about a basic Unix command, yes, but even the presence of an administration panel on a system can and will introduce so much unexpected behavior that questions which are discovered to be about systems that have them installed, even if it does not appear to be pertinent, are off topic and unanswerable. In that case the OP outed themselves as working on a system with LxCenter installed on it by mentioned a lxadmin directory.
    – Wesley
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 19:17
  • 4
    It seems to be under the impression that grep is an administration panel, which is bizarre. The close reason plainly states "Even the presence of an administration panel on a system..." which makes it clear that grep is not being considered as an administration panel, but rather that an admin panel is on the system which makes any question about any thing on the system off topic. Admin panels on a system are almost universally the kiss of death for any repeatable, standard solution. SF's community has deemed them (almost) universally off topic as a result. Reference: 5 years of meta =)
    – Wesley
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 19:20
  • 2
    @Wesley: I don't believe that the mere presence of an admin panel makes a question OT if the core of the question is obviously unrelated to it. Taking this stance is akin to punishing people just for using them and this isn't my goal at least. If the panel affects the question, fine, close it, but if not, leave it open (if otherwise acceptable).
    – Sven
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 20:23
  • 1
    @Sven I don't believe that the mere presence of an admin panel makes a question OT if the core of the question is obviously unrelated to it. But the core of a question can never be unrelated to the presence of an admin panel because an admin panel is so rooted into a system. It's virtually identical to the case of someone on SuperUser asking why a system component is behaving a certain way, and then confessing that they have a virus. The virus's presence makes everything the system has and does immediately unsupportable with a repeatable answer almost impossible to give.
    – Wesley
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 20:40
  • 2
    @JonEricson I'm not entirely sure where you got seems to be under the impression that grep is an administration panel from. This is a somewhat common occurrence with closures done by Hopeless where he chooses the least confronting close reason that could fit. In this case it was clearly RTFM as the question completely misconstrued the usage of grep. However as the question popped up in his tag clean-up / closure wave he read it, decided that closing it for cpanel reasons was less harsh and it blew up in his face. I don't see the amount of malice / incompetence you're implying here.
    – Reaces
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 20:41
  • @Sven Also, there is no punishment involved. That word has been bandied about a lot in this discussion. "People keep using that word. I do not think it means what they think it means." Question closures are not punishment. We keep ServerFault's topicality relevant by closing questions that are not on topic: rollerskating, bug spray, admin panels on servers.
    – Wesley
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 20:41

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