Completely new to Server Fault. Yesterday I asked How can I access a URL through it's IP address? which was greeted with an informative answer but also 4 down votes and a close for being off-topic.

I realise the off-topic reason states, in bold: "Questions on Server Fault must be about managing information technology systems in a business environment", however I don't see how my question is any more off-topic than Why can't some websites be shown without the "www" in the URL? (an old yet albeit upvoted and not closed question).

If the question I've asked isn't suitable on Server Fault, where is it suitable on the SE network?

1 Answer 1


I was one of those who voted to close, so I suppose that I should respond.

Firstly, the other question you reference is an old question (Oct 2010), and SF's rules on topicality have changed over time. Moreover, a moderator has since marked it off-topic as well, so that argument holds no water.

As to why I found your question off-topic, it was because this is an absolutely standard job for a professional sysadmin. We test development systems all the time by suborning the local DNS in order to allow access to a local test server using name-based virtual hosting; being a standard skill, in a business environment this is therefore a non-question.

The other question you link to is summarised by one commenter as being tantamount to asking how DNS works, and that's not a suitable question for SF. Yours, I would argue, is tantamount to asking how HTTP/1.1 name-based virtual hosting works, and my feeling is that it is equally off-topic.

I'm afraid it's not our job to find you somewhere suitable to post a question that's off-topic for SF; you will need to engage with those other communities to find out if your question is suitable for them. I would guess that webmasters is a sensible place to start, but it's really only a guess; the onus is on you to do the research.

  • 5
    Asking "where can I ask this if not here" is a pet peeve of mine. Why should we know this? Why should we even care?
    – Sven
    Aug 21, 2015 at 12:09
  • @sven I came across this a while back. As such I guess we should either try to come up with suggestions when it's asked on meta, or refer to meta.SE where it has been confirmed that site recommendations are OT?
    – Reaces
    Aug 21, 2015 at 12:41
  • 2
    @Sven I guess this is a different community, but on SO's Meta (and on SO itself) off-topic posts are usually pointed to a more suitable SE site. I made the assumption that as this site catered for networking it'd also cater for questions about IP addresses as URLs. Aug 21, 2015 at 13:01
  • 7
    @JamesDonnelly: I don't like this recommendations. We get many questions here where people on SO point to SF without knowing the first thing about our site, and we end up with crap/OT questions. The problem is that unlike most/all other sites, our target audience is limited to professionals in the field. Also, I don't know the other SE sites good enough to make a recommendation for a question like yours (and I think it should be answered with "Read a good book about the fundamentals" anyway).
    – Sven
    Aug 21, 2015 at 13:13
  • @Reaces: My retail experience as a teenager shows, but I really can't be bothered. As I said, one of my pet peeves ....
    – Sven
    Aug 21, 2015 at 13:24
  • @Sven that's fair enough. I received a decent answer even with the negative question response, so I can't really complain. Aug 21, 2015 at 14:21
  • @JamesDonnelly It's one of the few consistencies with SF that while people might deride you for asking something that is considered outside of the scope, you still often end up with a great answer.
    – Reaces
    Aug 21, 2015 at 14:24
  • It takes five privileged non-mod users to close a question - but only five. Other equally privileged users may not think a question worth closing, and some may think it worth answering, and their opinions are just as valid. I upvoted Massimo's answer, because I thought it was a good one! To me, the fate of this question demonstrates the community in action.
    – MadHatter
    Aug 21, 2015 at 14:32

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