A while back I flagged this Apache question as more suitable for StackOverflow. The flag was declined as "moderator found no evidence to support". However, looking back on it now, it was answered with a reference to a duplicate question on StackOverflow. This answer is the accepted answer by the asker. Is the question still appropriate for ServerFault?

2 Answers 2


For what it's worth, I'd already voted to close it as off-topic, and although two respected moderators have said otherwise, I secretly continue to think it's off-topic, pretty much for the reasons you mentioned.

But I also think that's not a good reason to flag it. There's already a mechanism in place for regular off-topic questions; you vote-to-close, it enters the review queue, others consider the issue, and a community consensus evolves over time. Flagging for moderator-closure-as-off-topic is something I've hardly ever done, and would only do for egregiously off-topic posts.

I think it's laudable that you want to get involved in maintaining the quality of the corpus of SF questions. Good for you! But I also think the right way for you to do that is to continue to write good answers, collect upvotes, and get the rep to cast close votes - then put 30 minutes a day aside for doing your review queues, like many of the rest of us.

As has been made clear to me on several occasions, moderators are there as exception handlers, not as a substitute for community consensus. The question you quote doesn't, to me, qualify as needing an exception handler - it just needs three more close votes - or not!

  • Great answer. I agree 100%.
    – EEAA
    Nov 11, 2015 at 12:28
  • Amen to that. I wish the flag mechanism would make it clearer that flags should only be used for cases where mod intervention is required. Everything that can be handled by votes doesn't fit that description.
    – Sven
    Nov 11, 2015 at 12:29
  • @MadHatter I'd only point out that you need 3k rep to vote-to-close. The only option available to me is to flag. Beyond that, I certainly appreciate your comments.
    – Colyn1337
    Nov 11, 2015 at 12:50
  • 1
    Yes, I know that, which is why I mentioned increasing your rep first. This isn't entirely elitism; it's also often true that by the time people have worked up to 3k rep, they've got a clearer idea of what does and doesn't fit on SF, and the methods for handling those cases. I don't want to sound like a dick, but I can't find a gentler way of saying this, for which I apologise, so: moderators are not a Vote-To-Close substitute for users without 3k rep.
    – MadHatter
    Nov 11, 2015 at 13:08
  • The question is valid on StackOverflow, why not migrate it? I thought the purpose of migration was to move questions that could be answered on other SE sites to those sites. I would presume VTC is for questions which aren't appropriate anywhere, no?
    – Colyn1337
    Nov 11, 2015 at 13:52
  • That one of the options available under Vote-To-Close, so I might well have done that. In this case, someone's already pointed out that it's been answered on SO, so they'd only have to close it as a duplicate after migration; I think it's rude for one admin action to give another set of admins work to do, so in this particular case I'd probably just VTC as off-topic. Your suggestion's a good one in other circumstances, though.
    – MadHatter
    Nov 11, 2015 at 13:55
  • When the question was originally flagged, there was no answer. So at that point it would have been appropriate to flag for migration...... However, since then its been answered with a link back to StackOverflow which would make it VTC worthy......... Ok, I think I got it.
    – Colyn1337
    Nov 11, 2015 at 13:58
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    No. You're getting the detail, but missing the main point: this question wasn't appropriate for flagging at all, because it's not egregiously bad. It's arguably a candidate for vote-to-close-by-migration or vote-to-close-as-off-topic, depending on the presence of the existing answer, but if you don't have the rep to VTC, don't try to participate in the process via moderator flags. Sven's comment above makes this point much more pithily.
    – MadHatter
    Nov 11, 2015 at 14:18
  • @MadHatter Could you elaborate on what vote to close by migration is? Is that the effect of moving the question to the appropriate SE site? Additionally, reading the FAQ here serverfault.com/help/privileges/close-questions indicates that for someone without the 3k rep to VTC, flagging IS the appropriate measure.
    – Colyn1337
    Nov 11, 2015 at 16:00
  • @Colyn1337 exactly so. One of the pre-supplied reasons for voting to close is "off-topic, because it belongs on another site", with meta.SF, SO, SU, dba.SE and unix.SE being offered as alternatives. If one of those attracts more of the five needed close votes than any other reason, the question is migrated. Write some more great answers for us to upvote and you can find this all out soon enough.
    – MadHatter
    Nov 11, 2015 at 16:05
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    @Colyn1337 the document you link to talks about when to VTC. It only mentions flagging as an alternative while linking to a post from SuperUser. SF is known to do things differently from many other SE sites, by virtue of our professional focus. You have two moderators here telling you that you shouldn't be using flagging as a kind of low-rep VTC. You don't have to listen to me - I'm just another user, albeit with a fairly high rep - but I really, strongly suggest that you listen to them.
    – MadHatter
    Nov 11, 2015 at 16:09
  • My intent is not to ignore their guidance but to understand HOW and WHY. Without those two, there's no way to prevent another flag in the future. As I've said before, these are sincere questions, I want to know why this is so....... I'm not trying to buck authority. However, without being able to see that there are other options (for higher rep users) than flagging, and noone to explain, there's no way to know different.
    – Colyn1337
    Nov 11, 2015 at 16:16
  • The way to prevent another flag in the future is not to flag! I think the advice you've been given is simple: don't flag a question for closure unless it's egregiously off-topic (say, a question about video game cheat codes, or best methods for dealing with land drainage). Questions which are in more of a grey area will get dealt with by the regulars with VTC privileges. If you focus on writing more great answers, your rep will zoom to 3k very quickly, and then you will need to start worrying about this stuff - but by then, you should also have developed a feel for it.
    – MadHatter
    Nov 11, 2015 at 16:27
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    As far as we're concerned, they are the same thing - off-topic, duplicates, wrong site, unclear, overbroad, web-control-panel related, all these are standard reasons for closure, and a question that accumulates enough such votes is put on hold / migrated / closed as duplicate accordingly. If you want to consider them differently, then adjust my previous comment so that it reads "don't flag for migration unless it's egregiously off-topic (say, a question about video game cheat codes, or best methods for dealing with land drainage)".
    – MadHatter
    Nov 11, 2015 at 16:47
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    Unfortunately, the badge system encourages people to flag everything before they have VTC privileges. I should know: it's a trap I fell into as a newbie. Achievement systems are terribly flawed if they are not encouraging people into the right behaviors, but the topic of badges is a dead horse.
    – Andrew B
    Nov 16, 2015 at 14:52

Questions about web server configuration are very on-topic here. I agree with the declination of your migration flag.

  • That's just it... it wasn't a config issue, it's a programmatic problem. The code of the application needed to be fixed.
    – Colyn1337
    Nov 10, 2015 at 16:20
  • The question itself by itself is on-topic, that topicality doesn't get negated by an answer. Regardless of the fact that a complete answer requires some coding as well.
    – HBruijn
    Nov 10, 2015 at 16:33
  • So all that's needed to make it on topic is a reference to the config file? The error he mentions in the question points to a programmatic issue, he provided the config file for reference. My question is sincere btw, trying to understand how to parse this as on topic.
    – Colyn1337
    Nov 10, 2015 at 16:55
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    @Colyn1337 The question is about administering a supported server, with well-known configuration files. The fact that the solution requires a bit of scripting is far from a reason to migrate. Spend your time and effort on bad questions and bad answers, don't bother with the fringe cases so much, there's enough work to go around.
    – Reaces
    Nov 12, 2015 at 8:40
  • @eeaa So now I'm confused, what admin goes into a website and changes the code because they think its better? I have never been in any (other than one man shops) where admin was suppose to change code. This was not and never was a config of the server, it even said so directly in the answer "You don't need to configure anything." At best the answer for out site should be "yup that's a valid config"
    – Jim B
    Nov 20, 2015 at 0:30
  • @JimB I'm not sure at all what your comment has to do (at least in a productive sense) with this discussion. Of course there are many, many instances where there are not strict boundaries between development and operations.
    – EEAA
    Nov 20, 2015 at 4:06

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