Am i wrong about SF being dedicated to learning?

Post in question:


I posted this on SF about 30 minutes ago, within 2 minutes it was marked as off topic. How?

I added two comments right after one which is still there and the other which was removed I will post it here.

Hello, Dont just tell me that im off topic without a solution. I am really starting to hate the politics that go into SF, the site is dedicated to professional trying to learn, but asking a question about how I can learn something is off topic? I really wish there was a better alternative to the stack exchanges, they are really getting more and more power faulting mod, so you had time to mark it as off-topic but you cant answer my question?

Why was this comment removed?

Other questions not closed why?

How to learn max/min value of a sysctl parameter can be in FreeBSD?

Where can I go to learn how to read a sql server execution plan?

How to learn/master (tutorials) for managing a VPS? - newbie VPS user

Looking through there are a lot of question about "How to learn" that are marked as off topic.

Why? I am really pissed off right now, and really cannot do a thing about it as SF and stack exchange are the only sites that work and provided answers to question is a very nice and easy to use fashion.

I have a lot more to say but at the risk of getting banned I will leave it at that.

  • 3
    Whipped this up follow it if you think its a good idea, area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/105064/learning-guides Dec 14, 2016 at 15:44
  • 5
    I am personally not interested in this, so I wont back it, but I very much like that you took a constructive approach to your frustration. Thank you!
    – Sven
    Dec 14, 2016 at 15:57
  • The whole thing may be relevant but the last paragraph definitely is meta.serverfault.com/questions/8465/….
    – user9517
    Dec 14, 2016 at 17:22
  • That really grinds my gears, by saying you as a mod can simply mark it as off-topic and not give any rhyme or reason but the generic responses of "You off topic because XYZ", Then when asked for help you say sorry not my job? Really kind of reminds me of the kids that picked on all through high school and now has a little bit of power and instead of making the site better and more progressive his thoughts and views are law. I know you have a lot of supporters but gooleing alternative to SE is a hot topic, sooner or later you will be replaced, Im kind of hoping for sooner right now. Dec 14, 2016 at 17:35
  • @sven it got shot down really rather quickly, perhaps you could provide some assistance in getting that setup? area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/105064/learning-guides I have seen a lot of times when questions are migrated to other sites, and just searching for "How to learn" yield a lot of results that are either off-topic or closed. Therefore i disagree with why it was closed on the bases they tried it and it didn't work. Maybe it didnt work back then but could work now especially if the mods run across these questions and migrate them to a more helpful site. No? Dec 14, 2016 at 17:48
  • 1
    I replied this to your original post, before checking meta. So I'll put it here again, precedence doesn't mean anything here. Rules change, scopes narrow. As for your three examples, 2 are now closed, and the first one isn't specifically looking for learning materials, but for the possible values in a known parameter. Which I wouldn't consider asking for learning materials and on topic here.
    – Reaces
    Dec 14, 2016 at 18:16
  • Thank you for your input Dec 14, 2016 at 18:17
  • I just saw your area51 suggestion and saw the closure stating that the entire network no longer supports recommendation for learning materials and software / hardware. My apologies, I personally started with the CCNA course material and video's on Lynda that my company provided.
    – Reaces
    Dec 14, 2016 at 18:30
  • Sorry, can't do anything about that - I don't have any more input into the way SE operates then you or anyone else not employed at the company.
    – Sven
    Dec 14, 2016 at 18:49
  • So do they actually care or are they just checking their bank accounts every hour to see how many bills have flowed in? Is there actually a place where you can see if the site has any upcoming changes, or anything to that nature? I have seen a lot of posts on meta that if I were running the company I would at the least want to be made aware of however it seems that most if not all go unaddressed. Meanwhile the thankless mods keep those bills following in without any thanks from the owners, beside a t-shirt.Why do it? What are you gaining? Dec 14, 2016 at 18:55
  • Is there actually a place where you can see if the site has any upcoming changes, There is a weekly stackexchange podcast, that isn't that great, but that includes occasional announcements about changes and new features. Unfortunately, what you will probably learn from the podcast, is that stackoverflow is really main focus, followed by the careers service, and the rest of the sites seem to be a relatively low priority.
    – Zoredache
    Dec 14, 2016 at 19:39
  • @AnthonyFornito I would turn the question around, why you started to help ?
    – yagmoth555 Mod
    Dec 14, 2016 at 19:59
  • Bored at work mostly, but thanks for noticing :) Dec 14, 2016 at 20:00
  • 1
    No, I learn every day. I can see problem here that I never see at my job, some answer help to be more expert in some category, but we all help for our reason.
    – yagmoth555 Mod
    Dec 14, 2016 at 20:04
  • 1
    @AnthonyFornito Serverfault is a great teaching tool. I learn about issues I haven't encountered, and I learn how to formulate technical solutions in a proper way. I also at times ask questions, although I don't really get many answers, because I ask mostly stupid questions :D
    – Reaces
    Dec 14, 2016 at 20:47

4 Answers 4


Serverfault is not about learning as a goal, it is a Q&A site to help you with actual problems regarding the management of (production) systems in business environment. That is not to say that good questions and answers can't be educational :)

From https://serverfault.com/help/on-topic

What topics can I ask about here?

Server Fault is for questions about managing information technology systems in a business environment.

If your question is about:

  • managing the hardware or software of servers, workstations, storage or networks
  • tools used for administering, monitoring, or automating these
  • deployment to and management of third-party provided information technology platforms

and is not about:

  • product, service, or learning material recommendations
  • ...

The active community members decide on topicality and with more exposure the focus has become slightly more strict over the years so old questions are not always a good indication.

  • 2
    Alright I get what you are saying, but what better place to ask a question about how I can learn something that a place for professional, If you walk into an AA meeting and ask about the best bars to go to im sure you will get a ton of great answers, may not be the topic of discussion. Dec 14, 2016 at 15:50
  • 1
    HBruijn you have comments on some of my questions in the past and are always helpful and I appreciate that, I pospoed a new site on area 51, hopefully it will take off but I have seen area 51 sites sit for months before moving to beta. We will see Dec 14, 2016 at 15:52

Am i wrong about SF being dedicated to learning?

No, it is indeed. However, not in the way you were hoping. Rather, it's dedicated to professionals helping other professionals with real-world problems they're experiencing with the systems they manage. As you've seen already, learning material recommendations are explicitly laid out as off-topic.

I posted this on SF about 30 minutes ago, within 2 minutes it was marked as off topic. How?

One user and one moderator were browsing SF, noticed an off-topic question and put it on hold.

Why was this comment removed?

Question comments are not the place to rant about why you are frustrated with Serverfault. I removed the comment and recommended you post here on meta.SF instead.

  • Well like i said there is not better alternative so I guess I will have to suck it up Dec 14, 2016 at 15:45
  • First, when I deleted your comment, its content was something along the line of "bump, hello bump", nothing more. It might be that your edit happened at the same time as my deletion (the SE software doesn't handle parallel actions well).

  • Second: It's very clear that this type of question is off-topic and I am tired of discussing it. If that doesn't suit you, fine.

  • Your three examples are quite bad. The first is nothing like your problem, the second is six years old (and now also closed). Our site has changed over time and "this wasn't off-topic in 2010" isn't a valid argument at the end of 2016. The third was already closed in 2012.

  • Finally: No one is in any way obliged to give you any hints where you might or might not post a question that is off-topic here. That's entirely up to you to find out.

  • That was awesome by the way marking one of my examples as off topic once I post it here, classic move. Dec 14, 2016 at 15:42
  • 5
    Yes, and it's entirely transparent when this was marked as off-topic by the time stamp, so that shouldn't be a problem.
    – Sven
    Dec 14, 2016 at 15:44
  • How about in your spare time you create a better solution for off-topic posts. Think about a time when you have had a problem and there was no solution just a sign that said "NOPE". How frustrating was that? Wouldn't it have been better defused with a solution? A better response would be to design a database that has canned responses for each off topic topic, and when a question is marked as off topic you can select a reason and give a couple good solutions, such as: sorry this is not the place for your question but try this site or this site and if none of them answer it try area 51 Dec 14, 2016 at 16:05
  • Alright man go an about your day, stop deleting my comments, you answered over 1000 questions on SF and asked only 1, I respect that. Dec 14, 2016 at 16:18
  • 9
    @AnthonyFornito How about in your spare time you create a better solution for off-topic posts. What a repulsive, entitled suggestion that is. Mods already have a thankless job that they do in their "spare time", they don't need more thankless crap piled onto it. Dec 14, 2016 at 16:23
  • And your point is what exactly, If you dont like you job get a new one, after I looked up Sven activity I had a change of heart, he is a major contributer to the site, I did think it was wrong of him to mark a question as off-topic once i posted it here. Thats why i said what i said and am annoyed it got deleted. Dec 14, 2016 at 16:32
  • 9
    Nobody contributes here for a job, we all do it to help others with our free time - read the help pages, observe the workings of the site, then you'll understand like tens of thousands before you have, ignoring this and just assuming you're right about what the site is for and what it's not is rude and disrespectful.
    – Chopper3
    Dec 14, 2016 at 16:43
  • Does anyone get paid for being a moderator? Dec 14, 2016 at 16:53
  • 2
    @AnthonyFornito No, we must definitely do not get paid.
    – EEAA
    Dec 14, 2016 at 17:19
  • 1
    @AnthonyFornito Community elected moderators don't get paid (although I did get a T-shirt once). Some Stack Exchange employees have moderator privileges on specific sites and other employees have super powers on all sites to deal with situations that can't be handled by the community moderators
    – HBruijn
    Dec 14, 2016 at 17:21

Because it's off-topic, per the "on-topic" page for the site.

enter image description here

Not unrelatedly, Server Fault is supposed to be for professional administrators. If someone needs to "learn about networking" without access to networking gear, in what way are they a professional administrator?

  • 2
    I somewhat disagree with your last paragraph. Not everyone has a spare set of network components lying around that you can mess with while learning. GNS3 etc. are certainly useful products and wanting to use them is quite legitimate - it's just OT here to search for this kind of tool.
    – Sven
    Dec 14, 2016 at 15:53
  • 2
    @Sven Sure, but a professional admin (in this specific case, for example) should not have trouble scrounging up something with Cisco IOS on which to learn the Cisco CLI. Dec 14, 2016 at 16:00
  • 2
    Even when I was still working at a helpdesk, I had training materials available for basic stuff such as the Cisco CLI. There are cheap courses available online and a lot of businesses that employ sysadmins have books and course material at hand from when their other admins needed to take their certification exams. So you often don't even need networking gear right away when you are in an IT job and have shown interest in networking + are willing to put in the extra time.
    – Reaces
    Dec 14, 2016 at 18:25

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .