When flagging a question as off-topic: not about Ubuntu (through this path: should be closed ..., off-topic because ...), the following text is displayed as an option (emphasis added)

This is not about Ubuntu. Questions about other Linux distributions can be asked on Unix & Linux, those about Windows on Super User, those about Apple products on Ask Different and generic programming questions on Stack Overflow.

The Super User What topics can I ask about here? page lists the following to be on topic:

  • computer hardware,
  • computer software, or
  • personal and home computer networking

That page doesn't state anything about Windows. Surely, there are a lot of Windows questions, but Windows is not main subject (as it is included in the three points above).

So my point is that the wording "Windows questions belong on Superuser" is too focussed on Windows. A better variant could be "Software questions not specific to Ubuntu belong on Superuser, including questions on Windows"

I struggled over this while reading this question about Thunderbird. The question is not specific to Ubuntu, but is a general software question. So it should belong on Super User. However, when I flagged the questions I was not sure if flagging "This is not about Ubuntu ..." was the right flag. The question is not Windows specific, so I searched for a better flag (which does not exist).

This led me to the conclusion, that the flag text should be reworded, for example:

This is not about Ubuntu. Questions about other Linux distributions can be asked on Unix & Linux, those about Apple products on Ask Different, those about Windows or general software questions on Super User and generic programming questions on Stack Overflow.

  • 3
    I don't understand your point, Superuser takes Windows questions and there is no windows.se, so people go to Superuser and that is a problem why? See their top tag: superuser.com/tags
    – Mark Kirby
    Mar 29, 2018 at 14:17
  • 1
    Windows is software. "computer software" therefore includes Windows. I'm failing to see how this is offtopic over on Super User, when it's been this way for years?
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Mar 29, 2018 at 14:42
  • @ThomasWard: Thank you for your comment, I edited my question. I was not meaning, that those questions are off-topic on Superuser. The linked question surely belongs on Superuser, however, the flag text is not clear. I hope this is more clear now. Mar 29, 2018 at 19:04
  • @MarkKirby: Thank you for your comment, I edited my question. Windows questions surely belong on Superuser. However, also general software questions belong there, but this is not clear from the flagging text. I hope my question is more clear now. Mar 29, 2018 at 19:06
  • 2
    "General software questions" belong here, if the software is running on Ubuntu. Questions don't have to be specific to Ubuntu in an exclusive sense. Questions about using Thunderbird on Windows are off topic, questions about using it on Linux Mint are off topic, questions about using it on Ubuntu are on topic.
    – Zanna Mod
    Mar 29, 2018 at 21:23

1 Answer 1


Scope of Ask Ubuntu

It's quite common for people to think that questions asked here must be specific to Ubuntu in the sense of being only applicable to Ubuntu, or that only "Ubuntu-specific" (which is what?), preinstalled (on what version/flavour?) or Canonical (what do they make, exactly?) software can be asked about, but that's not how we define our scope.

To be on topic, the question just has to be more-or-less indisputably applicable to Ubuntu (never mind what else it applies to), and our criterion for when questions about running software are on topic is is the software in question running on Ubuntu?

So, there's nothing wrong with that question about Thunderbird. Thunderbird probably runs on other platforms (how would I know? I only use Ubuntu ;) ), but, as long as the OP is running it on Ubuntu, and not on Windows, Fedora, Debian, Linux Mint etc, we'll consider the question on topic (if they don't mention their OS, we'll assume it's Ubuntu, because presumably they read the name of the site) and try to answer it.

The close reason message

While you are right about the scope of Super User, the purpose of mentioning it in the close reason is to tell people where to go if their question is about Windows. Just trying to cover all the bases. I admit that this gives the wrong impression that Super User is about Windows, but there isn't a Stack Exchange site specifically and only for Windows, Windows is on topic on Super User, we don't want to send people away just because their question is about software that runs on multiple platforms (as mentioned above) and there is a character limit on close reason messages, so I think our close reason message is good enough for its purpose.

If the close reason you are voting for does not say everything you feel needs to be said for the case in point, you might consider leaving an additional comment on the question. In my humble opinion, it would be useful if we could somehow communicate in close-reason form that questions about pure hardware issues (if there is such a thing) are on topic on Super User, because they are off-topic here. But it's a lot more difficult to distinguish "hardware issues" from somehow-OS-related issues than it is to take note of which OS is being used. So if a question is being voted off topic > not about Ubuntu because it's a hardware issue, I add a comment to say that such issues are on-topic over at Super User, and if needed mention that Linux is on topic there too.

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