Here on Ask Ubuntu we have quite a lot of tags for various Linux distributions/Operating Systems/things that could be off-topic if specific about them:

, , , , , ,

People do tag questions which aren't about Ubuntu but are about this tag - so it could be a good idea to have a warning that could appear next to the question - something like:

enter image description here

N.B. This shouldn't prevent a user from posting the question, just delay them a bit.

It could also have bits like 'you may want to post the question here' as well, where here is a relevant SE site, and a link to the on/off-topic page in the help center - even 'please include your version of Ubuntu' etc

I know the tag descriptions already have indications about this:

enter image description here

But something like this would be more attention grabbing, particularly for those users that just add tags because they are prompted to, and completely ignore the tag descriptions:

enter image description here

This rough idea could possibly be applied elsewhere - e.g. questions about EOL releases

  • 1
    Isn't this a feature request?
    – Braiam
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 20:17
  • @Braiam not quite - A question about a rough idea for a feature-request
    – Wilf
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 20:18
  • 1
    @Wilf Meh, this is a feature-request. SE will have to implement this if we want it and they aren't likely to see it if it isn't tagged feature-request. Even features-requests are open to discussion, they don't have to be "final" or anything like that :)
    – Seth
    Commented Jul 12, 2014 at 19:31
  • @Seth - I know that it needs to be tagged feature-request, but I thought it would be a good idea if it was discussed first :)
    – Wilf
    Commented Jul 12, 2014 at 19:56
  • You can apply both tags, you know?
    – Braiam
    Commented Jul 12, 2014 at 21:15
  • @Braiam - yeah I do know - I thought it could be discussed first...
    – Wilf
    Commented Jul 12, 2014 at 21:17
  • 2
    @Wilf Good idea!
    – Elder Geek
    Commented Jul 13, 2014 at 17:39
  • 1
    Hey there, this feature actually exists in SE already. I've posted about it here: Tag Warnings on Ask Ubuntu. Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 9:19

1 Answer 1


It could also have bits like 'you may want to post the question here' as well, where here is a relevant SE site

Yes, this. Or something like it.

An off-topic warning that includes actual hyperlinks to sites where a question just about (or whatever distro) would be on-topic, would in my opinion be a good thing. At minimum they could be links to Unix.SE. Even better, for the most popular unofficial derivatives, would be to also include links their primary official support resources.

But without such links, I think off-topic warnings would be a bad thing. As long as it's easier to remove a few words (or tags) from a post to make it look like it's about Ubuntu when it's really not, than it is to go and post it in a better place, I think people will often do that instead of going to the appropriate support resources for their distro.

It's bad when people post off-topic questions that are clearly about unsupported distros, but it only a little bit bad, because we close them and refer those people to the appropriate resources. This little bit of badness does add up, though, which is why measures like an off-topic warning with links would, I think, be good.

If we make it easy to circumvent our rules by denying us information, and don't make it even easier to ask questions in the right places, I predict:

  1. We'll get more people asking questions about distros like Mint that we only discover are about unsupported distros when, say, something about that distro turns out to be the cause of the problem. Sometimes after extensive, time-consuming troubleshooting by volunteers in our community who are familiar with Ubuntu but may not be familiar with their real distro.
  2. At the same time, the easier it is for people using unsupported distros to ask questions on Ask Ubuntu--because there are significant overlaps and they might actually get the help they want--the more those unofficial distros will come to depend on Ubuntu's support infrastructure, and the more those distros' own infrastructure and communal autonomy will grow stagnant and atrophy. (I talked about this in the second half of this post.)

Both those things are more than a little bit bad.

In conclusion, this is a good idea, and so long as our off-topic warnings are made in such a way as to actually get people to go to the right place, that helps us and it helps their unofficial derivative distro also.

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