I'm not going to rehash all the drama of the last few days surrounding our former moderator HopelessN00b's mass closing of old, off-topic questions about web hosting control panels, but something important was put on hold during that mess and needs to be revisited:

There is, and has been for years, a broad community consensus that most such questions should be closed (or migrated) and that old questions should be sought out and closed as well.

Unfortunately I do not have the time to go through and clean all of these up myself, and the person who did is no longer going to be doing so.

Nevertheless I think that we should continue to identify and close these questions, if possible, and I would like to ask you all to help.

If you have extra close votes near the end of a (UTC) day, search for such questions and vote to close them, based on the consensus criteria:

  • End user questions should be closed; these are off-topic anyway, so close them using the "Questions on Server Fault must be about managing information technology systems in a business environment." off-topic reason.
  • Admin questions should be closed with a custom close reason referring the user to the web hosting control panel vendor's support channels. These questions can also be flagged for migration to Webmasters if they aren't too old to migrate, and they are "about a website."
  • Questions where the web hosting control panel is incidental should remain open if they are otherwise on topic. These are questions where the answer would be exactly the same whether the web hosting control panel was present or not, and edited to remove extraneous references to the web hosting control panel. If you aren't sure, skip it. If such a question needs to be closed for a different reason, that reason should not mention the web hosting control panel.

I would also be very happy to see our other moderators help with this, and I'll also do so when I have time (which unfortunately won't be that much).

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    Thanks, Michael! It's too bad that we can't kill old, off-topic web hosting panel questions with our brains. </Firefly> – Katherine Villyard Apr 14 '15 at 4:20
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    There are a lot that are easily found and are quite bad. And could be closed for a number of reasons. However if we organize this as a community effort don't we risk bloating our close queue even further? I don't actually have access to that queue yet (useless newcomer that I am) but it always seems to hang just shy of a hundred in the queue. – Reaces Apr 14 '15 at 8:00
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    @Reaces, see meta.serverfault.com/questions/6663 and add your vote there for increasing the number of close votes allowed. – Andrew Schulman Apr 14 '15 at 8:52
  • @MichaelHampton : It could also be phrased as don’t let Server Fault becoming a Super User duplicate. – user2284570 Apr 25 '15 at 15:00
  • -1 for not formulating this in the form of a question – l--''''''---------'''''''''''' Apr 27 '15 at 2:41
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  • @Yuck : Doing this only stand as you are against this change. – user2284570 May 8 '15 at 11:57
up vote 11 down vote accepted

If you're gonna do this, let's do it right:

  1. Define a custom off-topic reason. Doesn't have to be a permanent addition, but for the purpose of this cleanup swapping one in means less tedious clicking for the folks closing. More importantly, it means we're not notifying hundreds of people while conducting this campaign: kinda rude to drag folks back only to tell them something they wrote [days|months|years] ago is now disallowed.

    Make something specific and descriptive and link to your meta discussion from it; ideally, this should describe why these questions are being closed well enough that anyone reading won't be confused. This is something you & the rest of the mods can do at any time.

  2. Increase the number of close votes available. That's probably over-due anyway; ping me once you have #1 squared away & I'll take care of this.

  3. Keep an eye on the close review queue. Hopefully folks are balancing their time between working through the backlog and reviewing questions others have found, but if it starts to pile up then encourage others to pitch in before going back to the cleanup. Also, make sure no one's getting fatigued; if anyone appears to be reviewing blindly, encourage them to take a break - yes, this needs to be done, but it doesn't need to be a death-march.

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    Before I go write another meta post to define this custom off-topic reason, can we get the fifth slot for it? As far as I know all four of our existing close reasons are well-used and it may be a problem to remove any of them, even temporarily. (And I expect this cleanup to take 6 to 8 weeks...) – Michael Hampton Apr 16 '15 at 1:36
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    A custom off-topic reason has been defined and comments on it are welcome. – Michael Hampton Apr 16 '15 at 19:23
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    Also, y'all, I've had a couple of people say, "Why are you commenting on my five year old post?" so you might want to be prepared to answer something like, "We're doing a big web panel cleanup and your question was in the review queue/came up in search/whatever. No offense meant; your question was probably on topic in [year] when you asked it," or whatever. The people I've spoken to have been very nice and understanding about it. – Katherine Villyard Apr 17 '15 at 1:39
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    This is the #1 reason why I want this to be a baked-in OT reason, @KatherineVillyard. Unless you're willing to sit down & discuss the merits of these questions, notifying folks via comments is just plain rude; if they're clearly off-topic it's best to close quietly and move on. I should add that to this answer... – Shog9 Apr 17 '15 at 2:02
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    You got a 5th slot, @MichaelHampton - make it happen! – Shog9 Apr 17 '15 at 2:09
  • @Shog9 Thanks. I'm waiting for a little more feedback on the close reason first, though. – Michael Hampton Apr 17 '15 at 2:14
  • Take your time; you & the rest of the team can handle this from here. – Shog9 Apr 17 '15 at 2:25
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    It is clearly something we've discussed on meta, and one person volunteered that he knew it was no longer on topic. But yes, a baked-in reason would be much nicer. I'm perfectly willing to link to the meta discussion, and like I said, no offense is meant. The questions were on topic when asked. – Katherine Villyard Apr 17 '15 at 2:55
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    I notice that the number of close votes available has been increased, but I am still only allowed to review 20 questions per day in the close votes queue. Is that intentional? – kasperd Apr 17 '15 at 11:22
  • @kasperd the allotted amount of reviews is elastic, if there are more than 1k reviews you have 40 reviews per day, less than that only 20. – Braiam May 11 '15 at 19:41
  • @Braiam There are never that many reviews in the queue. I haven't even seen it reach 100. – kasperd May 12 '15 at 6:29

I'm a little confused as to why we need to spend time retroactively closing these questions. I agree that they are now OT in most cases (not all- but certainly most), and new questions should be closed. What do we get from looking fir them specifically?

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    Discouraging users who find these questions via Internet searches from asking more of them. – Michael Hampton Apr 23 '15 at 18:31
  • I'm also much more a proponent of just closing the questions as they pop up on the front page / get used as a reason for creating new OT questions in stead of mass closing. I don't think we're helping our community feel like their input matters by asking them to spend time cleaning up old stuff just on the off chance that they'll be used as an argument. If someone brings it up on meta that they thought it was OT because they found an old question, then clearly they're interested and curious, two good qualities for SF. – Reaces Apr 23 '15 at 20:59
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    It certainly is interesting that we have a group of users with the idea that there is such a huge volume of new cpanel questions that the flood cannot be handled. So much so that the number of new questions would come close to or exceed the effort required to close all the old ones. – Jim B Apr 23 '15 at 21:55
  • In some way I feel that cPanel is our Moby Dick... – Sven Apr 24 '15 at 9:27
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    Discouraging users from anything should not be on-topic in a professional sysadmin exchange. (But I have upvoted on the closing, just to make that clear) – Florian Heigl May 11 '15 at 12:13
  • @MichaelHampton Such questions could be closed (as crap) or migrated to Unix / SU. There was a "historical" tag, or they could have been locked as well. – peterh Oct 1 '15 at 12:37

Simply closing and later deleting questions in a mass, instead of migrating them, is simply barbarism. Especially doing it retroactively.

Why a migration path to webapps SE doesn't exist?

Extension #1: @EEAA noted vast majority of such questions are crap. But

  1. not all of them
  2. then close & destroy the questions because they are crap, and not because they would be offtopic!

Extension #2: @mesagoleh noted, questions older as 60 days can't be migrated. Well, it is because you are now applying a newly invented rule retroactively! What are you doing now, is brainless destruction!

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    Only questions which are less than 60 days old can be migrated. And in the title above, @MichaelHampton ♦ explicitly 'invite' us to close old, off-topic question – masegaloeh Apr 21 '15 at 8:43
  • @masegaloeh In case of them it would be anyways a retroactive rule. They should soon remain. – peterh Apr 21 '15 at 8:47
  • Would you like to edit your post and clarify what do you mean by retroactive rule? :) – masegaloeh Apr 21 '15 at 8:48
  • @masegaloeh What you don't understand? – peterh Apr 21 '15 at 8:55
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    The vast majority of these questions are crap. We don't migrate crap. Which you've been reminded of quite recently. – EEAA Apr 21 '15 at 13:57
  • @EEAA What is crap, you should close because it is crap, and not because offtopic! – peterh Apr 21 '15 at 14:35
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    If it takes "brainless destruction" to help convince people that these control panels are an abomination, then I'm all for it. Honestly, though, these questions are adding no value to the site. Additionally, this is not the first time the community has clarified its understanding of topicality and then retroactively closed a bunch of questions. Same thing happened with shopping/product recommendation questions. And we're still cleaning up old questions from that one. – EEAA Apr 21 '15 at 14:38
  • @EEAA Not in all case! What is abonimation, that absolute beginners are coming here and show their hilarious php CPanel warnings! They had to be migrated or eliminated, and not on the ground of offtopic, but on the ground of "unclear", "not professional" or "very low quality"! What is also a real abonimation, is that the site invents a rule, and destroys a considerable part of its content retroactively! – peterh Apr 21 '15 at 14:43
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    You're entitled to your opinion. – EEAA Apr 21 '15 at 14:44

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