I know, my question is a bit vague.

Compare two /etc/ directories

I want to compare the difference of the configuration of two linux operating systems.

I understand that you want serverFault to be a nice place where off-topic question get put on hold.

I add some quotes here, which I think apply here:

  • Separation of powers The typical division is into three branches: a legislature, an executive, and a judiciary.
  • Socratic Method Socratic method, also known as maieutics, .. is a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presumptions. It is a dialectical method, often involving a discussion in which the defense of one point of view is questioned; one participant may lead another to contradict themselves in some way, thus weakening the defender's point.

Unfortunately many people get upset if you ask them questions. In my original question user "Sven" felt insulted. This was not my intention, and AFAIK I did not do it. I just asked a question - nothing more.

What is the benefit of closing this above particular question?

Keep on down-voting. I guess I will leave

I left perl because I liked python more in 2001. I switched from emacs to pyCharm in 2015 after using emacs for 18 years. I guess I will search a different Q+A platform. I wish you a nice time, happy down-voting. I hope you have fun.

  • Please note that downvoting on Meta merely signals disagreement with a post - so nine people don't think that your question should have kept open. That's all there is to it.
    – Sven
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 8:34
  • @Sven I am deeply relaxed, looking for a new Q+A about server stuff
    – guettli
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 8:36
  • 1
    @guettli Is it possible there is a typo in the website you put on your profile? Don't worry too much about people down-voting on meta, it doesn't affect your reputation and doesn't actually mean anything other than disagreement.
    – Reaces
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 17:54
  • 2
    Please stop wasting the time of yourself and others by using the interaction with Sven as a smoke screen for the topicality of your question. It's either on topic or it isn't, per the site rules. If we had disagreed with Sven applying his moderator vote we have the power to reopen your question. If you are looking for blind agreement, then yes, please do leave. But actually do it, and stop playing the victim. You are a victim of your own persecution complex, but that's about it. We can be quite pleasant when we aren't faced with self-justification #178 for being above the rules.
    – Andrew B
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 21:10
  • @Reaces typo in the website I put on my profile? Could you please be more precise? I would like to remove this typo. Thank you for explaining that down-votes don't reduce the reputation, this was new for me.
    – guettli
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 8:17
  • @guettli On your SE profile: thomas-guettle.de gives a DNS resolution error. While thomas-guettler.de gives a result.
    – Reaces
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 10:57
  • @Reaces thank you very much. I fixed the typo.
    – guettli
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 11:32
  • I think the reason of the closure was that your question looked as a debug question, but it was really an idea about this /etc comparison thing. I think you overreacted it, you could ask the same on the Unix SE any time and it will be probably answered. But make it more clear that the focus is the /etc comparison! As an ordinary debug problem, your question would be unclear (because you didn't explain, why that workstation doesn't work).
    – peterh
    Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 3:23

1 Answer 1


The benefit is clear: Having a consistent handling of questions that are off-topic, to avoid a "broken window" situation. We need this to make our site attractive to competent people that are able to write both good questions and more important, good answers and keep them interested in the long run. We have a too large number of people who contribute a lot less or not at all anymore due to exhaustion with the steady stream of low-quality and/or off-topic question.

You could try to make a case that we should change our rules to allow product recommendation question, but until you successfully do that, those questions will continue to get closed.

Regarding your edits:

  • Separation of powers really is a concept that applies to states, not to an internet Q&A site. Nevertheless, we have this kind of separation of powers anyway, in a way. You can appeal a mod action by posting to meta, regular users are able to outvote a mod decision, e.g. by vote to reopen and you even can appeal to a "higher instance" by contacting the SE community managers.

  • I didn't felt personally insulted, but your comment @Sven I paraphrase: Because you have no solution, this question is off-topic. nevertheless forms an insult, essentially claiming I (or everyone else really) that votes to close a question does this abusively because we are frustrated about not knowing the answer. If that where the case, 100% of questions on SE would get closed.

  • Socrates doesn't apply to this. First, the whole form doesn't work all that well on our site due to the strict separation of questions, answer and comments - SF is not a discussion forum after all. More importantly though, the topic at hand is not what is the best way to solve a problem but if your question is welcome here at all.

    NB: Did you notice that my first comment to your question was in fact employing the socratic method anyway? Your response was not very constructive in regard to that method, essentially saying "By magic unknown to me".

  • nice to see you again. AFAIK "closing a question" can be seen as "executive", isn't it? What is the benefit of consistent handling of questions that are off-topic? Why does Socrates no apply here?
    – guettli
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 11:15
  • 6
    Because he didn't show up to state his case when we made the rules.
    – user143703
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 23:08
  • @yoonix can you please elaborate you comment. Up to now there is too much room for misinterpretation (at least for me).
    – guettli
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 8:30
  • 5
    @guettli Sure, I was pointing out the fact that Socrates isn't a part of this site. You're pulling quotes from elsewhere on the internet and asking us to explain to you why they don't apply. It was my snarky response to what I feel is a stupid question.
    – user143703
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 20:46

You must log in to answer this question.

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