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Every now and then we run into either comments or answers like below:

Question:

"Just installed Ubuntu 16.10, and now I am in the login loop. I can use ctrl alt f3 to open the console, but dunno what kind of command would fix this. Can you please help me?"

Comment:

"As I told you before, install Lubuntu instead and do not install Nvidia drivers."

Then in this case OP replied:

"Ok, I will install lubuntu instead."

I must say this hurts my eyes.

We see all kinds of varieties:

  • "Install Nemo instead of nautilus"
  • "Use Mint instead"
  • "Switch to Gnome, Unity is no good"

But also the advice to reinstall either the whole thing ,or sections, is not rarely given as a cheap shot (rarely working because local settings or other local issues won't change), instead of solving the problem.

We cannot know everything, I don't for sure. That's why it is a good thing we have all kinds of specialists on the site on specific subjects. If you don't know a solution, please don't throw the first thing that pops up in your mind, but simply let others do the job.

EDIT

As pointed out by @Zacharee, the used example turns out to have a slightly different context/history than it seemed at the moment I wrote this post. The point remains however, and I doubt if a login loop has anything to do with an outdated graphics card. Ubuntu runs just fine on my 13 years old low budget laptop.

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    Seems like you're running into this: meta.askubuntu.com/questions/2281/… – Jorge Castro Nov 6 '16 at 16:01
  • @JorgeCastro completely! – Jacob Vlijm Nov 6 '16 at 16:07
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    I think it's OK to post your idea if you clearly label it as a workaround. e.g. "I know this is not a /solution/ but as a /workaround/ you can...". Of course if the text is short it's better to post it as a comment rather than an answer – ndemou Nov 6 '16 at 17:49
  • @ndemou absolutely, if you have good reasons to believe the issue cannot, or hardly, be solved, a workaround can be a great answer. – Jacob Vlijm Nov 6 '16 at 19:20
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    While I agree with your sentiment, I think your example isn't really the best. You've taken it out of context. Reading the previous troubleshooting process from the question the OP asked earlier, it seems CelticWarrior did try to help out. Since the user has an extremely old graphics card, it seems a reasonable conclusion to the issue to install a flavor that will work with the card. – TheWanderer Nov 7 '16 at 1:30
  • @Zacharee1 see my updated post. – Jacob Vlijm Nov 7 '16 at 9:26
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I would say you are describing fanboys. Mint fanboys, Nemo fanboys, Gnome fanboys, "my software of choice is better than yours" fanboys and generally speaking "my dad is stronger than yours" fanboys which were unheard of since ending kindergarten.

Unfortunately they show up pretty often in various places, including Facebook groups for Linux users and maybe they will start to appear here on AU as the site gains more and more popularity.

The examples you wrote clearly show lack of willingness to provide a useful contributions, but more likely they are comments or answers given for the sole purpose to:

  • "advertise" a specific software as better (see those who tell you "install Mint" for any possible issue)
  • appear smart and knowledgeable about a wide range of technical problems

Of course reinstalling the OS might be a quick'n'dirty fix or the only reasonable solution in a very thin percentage of cases, but this will be pretty rare. Also, you would want to try actually solving the problem (including for future readers) before suggesting to reinstall the OS.

Basically, I totally agree with your suggestion and I would say that we should flag those "contributions" as:

  • not an answer for answers
  • not constructive for comments

The second one might not be understood by some moderators, but it is actually pretty clear. If someone asks "I have this problem" and you answer "just install Mint!" you are basically saying "I don't care about your problem, use a different distro so that your future questions will be OT here and shut up".

Exception

Just to avoid any possible misunderstanding: my suggestion above does not cover the case where software X doesn't have feature Y but software Z does. In that case suggesting to use a different program is appropriate for sure.

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    +1 for flagging parameters – Elder Geek Nov 7 '16 at 14:47
  • I disagree with flagging such comments, if they are politely worded. While we want to answer such questions, the asker may simply want to get something that works. Installing a different distro or software that does work without hiccups can be an acceptable alternative. Putting this information in a comment is the correct place to put it, e.g.: "I'm not sure how to fix this on Unity, but I will mention that GNOME doesn't have this problem, so switching is a possible alternative if you don't get a good answer here." – Wildcard Apr 7 '17 at 2:29
  • @Wildcard "if they are politely worded" is a very rare circumstance with fanboy comments. Most of them are akin to "Dude, install Mint". – Andrea Lazzarotto Apr 7 '17 at 10:44
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Edit

As Zacharee1 pointed out it appears that CelticWarrior has recommended OP to install lighter version of Ubuntu due to their hardware. In this case, I agree that this is a reasonable suggestion. We have no obligation to force user to user memory intensive software when there's lighter solutions.


Original answer

TL;DR: Comments are for discussion. Be respectful and try to mediate the situation the best way possible. Reinstalling and using alternatives are reasonable suggestion/answers unless they've no intent of actually helping the user.

I personally see reinstalling whole OS or installing different desktop environment as last resort answer, but sometimes it's the only thing that works, and happened so in my experience ( Ubuntu 14.04 , fresh install, couldn't log in no matter what I tried). They're definitely not ideal, but sometimes are only answers.

If the answer comes across as offensive or having no real purpose of installing different desktop other than the person's bias, then that answer can be flagged as rude/abusive or flagged for moderator attention ( since sometimes you need to bring the big guys to resolve conflicts ).

If it's a comment, well ,comments don't carry much value. They can be ignored or responded. Key point, however, is to avoid comment wars.

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    IMO comments are even worse, because we cannot downvote them. Also, of all solutions, reinstalling is the only one that OP could think of without any help :). I don't necessarily mean offensive or rude attempts btw. This kind of solutions is often posted with decent intentions, but rarely any good. – Jacob Vlijm Nov 6 '16 at 10:24
  • Well, comments are for the purpose of discussion. There's no point in downvoting them. As for answers, well, it's still an answer. Good solution or not, they still belong there, and if you disagree with any, you can always downvote. Thats the purpose of downvote, to express that answer is not useful . If you feel there's better solution, then post it as answer. You have been on the site for some time, Jacob. You know this. – Sergiy Kolodyazhnyy Nov 6 '16 at 10:30
  • In addition, as you said reinstall or getting different desktop can be simplest solution. We cannot expect all users to be proficient in command-line and spend hours debugging things. Sometimes path of least resistance is better and gives OP what they want - for system to just work – Sergiy Kolodyazhnyy Nov 6 '16 at 10:35
  • In the case of my example, an answer was given as a comment. I'd love to downvote it, but can't. Starting a discussion to express that it is a bad answer/comment is rarely fruitful. – Jacob Vlijm Nov 6 '16 at 10:40
  • @JacobVlijm Comment is just comment - nothing more nothing less. There's a reason why comments and answers are separated. If you're worried OP will consider comment an answer, then tell them that this section is for discussion only and no actual solutions are to be posted there. Sure , it is rarely fruitfull , but do post a comment saying that suggestion may be wrong. If a comment is misleading , it has to be pointed out; it's the same with answers - if you see something misleading , downvote, comment, maybe let moderator know. – Sergiy Kolodyazhnyy Nov 6 '16 at 10:49
  • And as Andrea points out comments can be flagged as not constructive. I believe there is a good reason this option exists. – Elder Geek Nov 7 '16 at 14:49

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