More and more questions are not proper questions, but support requests. I think support requests should be "moved" to launchpad, which is the better place for them. Questions here should be more general such that the answers are not only applicable only once. I think however, it is ok if support request can be formed into a proper question that has such a wider application.

Launchpad allows a lot better the back and forth needed for clarifications or more details of particular support requests. This forum has a different strength but for that requires somewhat that there is a far more limited evolution of a question, or troubleshooting history.


4 Answers 4


I think the Stack Exchange paradigm lends itself very well to support requests. The original trilogy is full of questions which relate only to specific issues and are therefore not broad or common enough to help other users. So what? The primary purpose of a Q&A site is that a user can ask a question which is relevant to them, and then have that question answered. If other users benefit from this, it is merely an added bonus.

In other words, a user should not have to sacrifice a satisfactory resolution to a problem due to an excessive concern for the applicability and relevance of their question to the community at large.

  • 1
    Questions that are relevant only to one person and one situation do not need to be indexed and tagged as they are here. This would only add clutter to subsequent people looking for solutions. There does not need to be a sacrifice. Putting a question in applicable terms is part of troubleshooting and will lead to a better chance that the question will be looked at and answered. The paradigm here is localization. If questions are too localized they are closed in the Stack Exchange. A support request that only matters to one troubleshooting situation is the epitome of localization.
    – txwikinger
    Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 20:27
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    Sorry, I'm really honestly trying to see your point of view here, but I just don't follow you at all. How does generalizing a question rather than describing the specific issue help the problem to be resolved? How is generalizing a question to help a broader audience a more effective use of the Q&A paradigm? Is there an external link you could cite? Maybe SO's meta has something? There have to have been previous discussions on this.
    – DLH
    Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 20:38
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    If your problem can be phrased in a way that it can be answered from the information given then the question is highly likely applicable to others in the future. If however, an elongated ping/pong between requester and others trying to help is needed, this application just does not provide the right tools. Launchpad is developed for exactly that, Stack Exchanges purposes is more the possibility of the best answer to rise up given the question is given very succinct. Certainly comments can help a little, but a real step-by-step troubleshooting is very hard to follow.
    – txwikinger
    Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 21:01

Questions here should be more general such that the answers are not only applicable only once.

What? Why? I'm here to help all Ubuntu users with problems, not just the ones who have issues convenient enough to effect other users.

As somebody who has quite a bit of experience on StackOverflow (both asking for support and giving it), I know there is value in both types of question and the system is very capable of archiving both.

  • Generic issues should of course be addressed here. They might effect somebody else so it's good if there's a question hanging around. If it effects you, vote for it and the answers if they helped you so that others might see the thread/answer.

  • Specific supports questions still belong to people that have problems. There is also usually a correct answer or set of answers for their problem. Votes get applied the same way and in doing so, popular issues get attention. They fit the StackOverflow model perfectly. And if they ask them here, they might get noticed by people who can help.

Perhaps you should think of the site as an online version of #ubuntu.

I also disagree with your one-man-campaign to retitle every thread as a question. I think you've just lost focus on what these sites are supposed to do: help people.

If you think rearranging a few words and adding a question mark is going to help the OP or the next ten people with the same issue, I think you're sorely mistaken.

Just to explicitly address one of your comments:

Questions that are relevant only to one person and one situation do not need to be indexed and tagged as they are here. This would only add clutter to subsequent people looking for solutions

That's what voting is for. It very clearly shows the popularity of a question.


I think that generally speaking support requests could be on topic here. However, to be most useful it may require some extra attention. That is, in a scenario where a support question is asked that needs some clarifying information it would be best to have that edited into the original question rather than just sitting in the comments. Similarly, if an answer is given which doesn't solve the user's problem that should also go back into the original question.

Here is one example of the above situation from the parent site. And, I would argue that although it is somewhat specific, the answer could be helpful to another person trying to do something similar.

I can't think of a specific example right now but I know that sometimes my computer will exhibit some strange behaviour that I can't diagnose. I take the error message and put it into a search engine and find some old threads on a forum somewhere with a handful of possible solutions. Of course, because it's an old forum thread it can be hard to figure out which solutions are worth testing out and which are dead ends.

Of course, if the problem is or appears to be a bug or something that ought to be brought to the attention of a developer then certainly the user should be encouraged to post it to Launchpad.

I think it is easy to jump to the conclusion that some problems are only relevant to one person and one situation. There have been enough times when I've found a solution to a particular issue I had inside someone else's tech support conversation that I think it would be a shame to categorically discourage it here.

The questions have to be judged individually as to whether they can be answered well enough here.

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    Since most users will not have editing permissions, this puts alot of discipline on the questioner and the people who have that permission.
    – txwikinger
    Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 14:35
  • I think it's obvious that discipline is required, the FAQ says so: "In order to get good answers, you have to put some effort into your question." But, how many people bother to read the FAQ?
    – moberley
    Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 15:10

On thing I think could help would be an addition to the text on the "Ask a Question" page. Currently it reads

Is your question about Ubuntu? We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed. Provide details. Write clearly and simply. If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

I think we should ask to have text added, something like:

Ubuntu Stack Exchange is for asking questions on how to use and participate in Ubuntu, if you have a flaw with the software itself, please file a bug in our bug tracker so a developer can fix it.

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