The question Should an answer like remove Ubuntu and install Slackware be flagged? arose myself while answering Let's not do “I don't know how to fix your problem, so just reinstall", so I decided to ask it as a separate question.

I have searched for similar questions and found this one: Should I flag answers which only suggest “install a different OS”? (which is quite the same question indeed), but (1) it did not attract much attention and (2) it is 2 years old, so community opinion may have changed since then (that's why I'm asking it again instead of resurrecting the old one).

The opinion I got after reading it is "Don't flag, it is a legit answer" (though it derived to "[...] install a different desktop environment").

Additionally, questions about unofficial derivatives are close to the thin off-topic line.

So, recalling, should an answer like remove Ubuntu and install (insert distro here) be flagged provided it has been proven it solves (or may solve) the problem and the cause is bound to be Ubuntu-specific?


4 Answers 4


If it's helpful and good quality, it's fine.

If the answer that recommends a different distro is high quality and contributes in some significant way to the question, leave it alone. This may occasionally occur; sometimes one operating system really is far better suited to a particular task than some other operating system.

The hallmark of good, acceptable answers encouraging OS migration is, I think, that they explain exactly why they're recommending using a different OS instead. Such an answer should be self-conscious that it's recommending something the OP probably would rather not do, and should make up for this disadvantage by clearly demonstrating the utility in migrating to another OS.

In practice, there aren't too many good and helpful answers that recommend only to use another OS instead. But sometimes, especially for embedded or "legacy" applications, such answers are the best. If someone asks about how to install Ubuntu (or which version of it to use) on their SOHO router box or how to make a live floppy system, recommending another OS is a good idea; in that case, even an answer that recommends using another OS without saying which one might be acceptable, provided it explains what it is about Ubuntu that is unsuitable.

Similarly, someone might ask if Ubuntu is well suited to some task. Sometimes such a question is too broad or primarily opinion based; other times, it's quite answerable. In the latter situation, a "no" answer (with explanation) will sometimes be correct and appropriate.

This is not an attempt to list all the situations where "use that other OS instead" answers are reasonable and helpful. In practice, it's uncommon for such an answer to be good. But it can happen, and occasionally even does.

If it contributes nothing, doesn't answer the question asked, or is very low quality, flag it.

If the answer that recommends a different distro is low quality and doesn't contribute at all, and amounts to little more than "just maybe that other OS over there might work better for this," then it's no good. It's probably very low quality, or not an answer (to the question that was asked) at all.

Most people posting on Ask Ubuntu want a solution to enable them to use Ubuntu while overcoming some problem, or otherwise want to learn about Ubuntu. Suggestions to use a different OS instead, especially when the OP has not indicated being interested in migrating to another OS, are often unhelpful.

In other words, I believe we should judge answers by whether or not they contribute anything, rather than by whether or not they recommend some other distro.


Every time I see one of those, I'm tempted to answer:
"Boot live and enter the following: sudo dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/sda"

Then start over how ever you like.

  • It's not the right solution, and I expect heavy downvotes. I just express how those types of questions make lots of people react. Commented Aug 9, 2014 at 20:33
  • Do you really need to boot live to self-destruct? +1 for funny :P Commented Aug 9, 2014 at 20:41
  • It's necessary to absolutely wipe out the disk, which is what they're asking for right? Commented Aug 9, 2014 at 20:50
  • 1
    No no, I meant the answer tells to remove Ubuntu as a solution, while the question just asks to solve a particular problem. I misunderstood you either now or before. Commented Aug 9, 2014 at 21:04
  • Answers of remove it should be flagged. If that's what the question requires, then it should probably be flagged for closing as a bug. Commented Aug 9, 2014 at 21:24

Overall I don't think so unless it is an issue that can be easily resolved somehow else. If they are asking how to install all the hacking and penetration testing tools you can recommend kali but if it simply isn't detecting their wifi card don't recommend they get LMint. Or if they have a full ubuntu install and want kde, don't recommend they install kubuntu straight away, instead tell them how to get kde on their system.


You may know a lot, as a mod. However, flagging (or downgrading) an honest answer turns people off this site and they go elsewhere. I find some mods here, as much as they may know, demeaning and rude. I'm just now coming back after several months.

I've stopped using this site for solutions (and answers). I mostly use youtube, Ubuntu forums and other such forums (when they exists).

It needs to remembered, that there are people in this community from "noobs" on up. Attacking someone for their opinion turns people off -- and they leave.

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