I am talking about Will the Great American Eclipse Crash Ubuntu here.

Just in case, here is its content:

Wondering if my computer will crash because of the Eclipse? Anything I need to do to prepare for this event?

Okay, I admit this isn't a great question, but does it really deserve a score of currently -11, which makes it the 3rd lowest scoring, not-deleted question at the moment (check the Questions list sorted by votes, go to last page)? To me that feels like kicking someone who is already laying on the ground, just because everybody seems to be doing it.

It doesn't really show research effort, but many questions on the site don't do that. This alone doesn't explain so many negative votes.

Furthermore, it is not unclear at all in my opinion, but it got closed with that reason anyway. You may have noticed that my name appears in the list of close voters as well, but I voted for "off-topic/not Ubuntu" because I believe that it should rather belong to Super User instead of here. After all, if the solar eclipse affects anything, then it will be the hardware and electricity/internet infrastructure, not the operating system.

So, to make this clear, I am not asking for sympathy upvotes now to compensate the downvotes.

Instead, I'm merely curious to know the reasons of the people who downvoted the question, especially of those who downvoted when it was already at a low score. If you did not vote but have a good explanation, I am of course interested in hearing that one too.

Additionally I hope to get convinced that it was not simple peer pressure that has led to the current score...

  • Seems that even asking the question "Why?" is unpopular! For what it's worth, I suspect the downvotes are because the question looks like it originated from the "tin-foil hat" community. Full disclosure: I thought it was probably an attempt at a joke, but I'm also the one who tried to offer a (hopefully) sensible answer - just in case the OP intended it as a serious question. Aug 21, 2017 at 1:19
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    I think you have a good question here. I had asked concering questions in AU that are not specific to Ubuntu, which many people do, because of the prompt and savvy support that happens from this site. A number of people said if it's inclusive, give consideration and allow the question. That question to me appears more specific than the examples I gave in my meta question. Reviewing other questions from the user, it appears that the novice user may have been sincere and concerning about Ubuntu protection. He's probably heard about solar (flairs) activity and electrical outages. Aug 21, 2017 at 17:54

2 Answers 2


After carefully reviewing the question at hand, I have come to the following conclusions:

  1. The question is wholly useless.
    It's not going to help anyone by any sense of the word. It's a humorous question at best, and offers nothing of note to the site.
  2. It shows absolutely zero research effort.
    Even the most precursory research on Google would answer this question completely satisfactorily.
  3. It's not geared to the community.
    This community is for Ubuntu developers and experts to ask serious questions (for the most part) and get serious help (for the most part). As stated in point #1, this question is not at all serious, and might as well not exist.
  4. It's not about Ubuntu.
    Ubuntu isn't going to crash just because there's an eclipse. A computer might but even then this is a stretch. See point 3.
  5. It's just dumb.
    There's no way around this one. It's just a dumb question. Even the OP admitted so in a comment. This question isn't salvageable, and shouldn't even exist on the site.

Now... let's talk about programming on a boat.

  • 2
    I must disagree with #1 because maybe there might be issues. Someone with few knowledge about computers might believe so and that justifies asking about it IMHO. #2 is a fair point that I also already mentioned. About #3, I don't see AU as a "community for Ubuntu developers and experts". That is only a tiny fraction of our user base. Most people are just average users, not developers and not experts. #4 is valid again and I also acknowledged in the question already. To your point #5... they say there are no dumb questions, only dumb answers. The OP's comment doesn't change that IMHO.
    – Byte Commander Mod
    Aug 21, 2017 at 8:59

I deleted this. The OP requested it but that's where I was going anyway.

The question is nonsense. No hypothesis, no suggestion, no correlation, not even a citation of what they'd actually heard, and as Kaz says, no hint this has anything to do with Ubuntu. I double checked at the time and nobody else on the Internet was asking if eclipses could cause computer crashes. That puts this in a special class of baseless thought.

Don't get side-tracked by the other stuff I womble onto because that alone is more than enough for downvotes and deletion. It was a bad question.

On a wider outlook, the increasingly large portion of my mind that is a grumpy-old-man doesn't see anything salvageable. It's somebody starting or furthering a hoax. In my experience, for every baseless scare, there's a pocket of superstitious folks who adopt it into their belief system and it gets applied and reapplied to similar situations in the future.

We could have answered this.

  • But "No" alone isn't enough for a good answer here. It's not a strong arguing position because there's nothing to counter.

  • A qualified physicist will undoubtedly drop in to play Devil's advocate and explain that in a universe of infinite possibility, yes, of course it's possible that the drop in radiation could interfere with the way Linux's implementation of ASLR.

  • Now we've got a ball game. The question is Hot on the SE network and somebody resurrects a cosmic gamma ray scare/hoax (this is indeed what appears to have happened here) in an answer.

  • And before you know it, people are either avoiding Linux because they once read somewhere that it's susceptible to butterflies or something. They can't remember for sure but they have customer-facing systems and they can't abide downtime during eclipses. It's safer to use Windows.

This is how hoaxes and baseless health scares work. Just enough to run with, not enough to conclusively refute. More than enough to convince some people. Grumpy Old Oli has no time for this.

But, my feelings aside, it was just a bad question.

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    I think their goal of was to debunk the myth. If so, it would've been better self-answered, with links to examples of people's concerns, and probably on Super User. OP said: "People at work are seriously talking about cellphone outage, internet outage, ect. I just wanted to throw this out there to show how stupid this question really is." I also don't think eclipse/Ubuntu misinformation is similar to anti-vaccine lies in the ways that matter most, and I don't think you do either. Like you said, lies about vaccine risks kill children. I agree with your deletion though, as OP requested it. Aug 21, 2017 at 11:10
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    IMHO the event is not that random. Astronomic events could potentially cause electromagnetic interferences of some kind, which could potentially affect IT infrastructure in some way. If there is evidence that this is not the case, that should be posted as answer with verifiable references. If there really might be effects, those should be critically investigated and explained. Basically, the question is understandable and answerable, which means it should be answered and not deleted just because the answer may be obvious (which it is not, IMHO).
    – Byte Commander Mod
    Aug 21, 2017 at 11:15
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    I also don't see any risk of false education if you have a question "Is X dangerous for Y?" and it gets correctly answered with yes or no, including some references to support the claim. I agree it's not really for Ask Ubuntu, but it should have been a valid question on e.g. Super User or Physics. Following the OP's request to delete the post is okay for me, but they only requested it because of the extremely negative feedback, which would not have been necessary.
    – Byte Commander Mod
    Aug 21, 2017 at 11:17
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    I think that in a sane world, this might have been fine (with serious amounts of polish, and explanation). In the world I've witnessed in the past 18 months, I can easily imagine a Q like this attracting a one-in-a-billion, worst-case answer and then that being cited, far-and-wide as why Ubuntu and/or Linux is unfit for purpose. And then aliens.
    – Oli Mod
    Aug 21, 2017 at 13:51
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    In that case the fix would be to downvote and delete the wrong answer, not the question.
    – Byte Commander Mod
    Aug 21, 2017 at 18:31
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    If the claim was somehow notable, a belief held by a significant number of people or made by some celebrity, it would be good for Skeptics
    – user692175
    Aug 22, 2017 at 3:42

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