I don't see a reason to override Ask Ubuntu (AU)'s policy of supporting only official Ubuntu flavours (OUF) by not closing a question in which OP clearly mentions that they're using a non-OUF distro, a good reason behind this being the existence of an analogous site that would ideally support the question: Unix & Linux Stack Exchange (U&L). Often it seems users, especially newcomers post questions at AU while using a non-OUF distro due to one of the two reasons:
- They have a misconception that all Ubuntu-based distros are supported
- Simply they're lost and ended up at the wrong site
I believe then it's very reasonable to close the question as "off-topic, not about Ubuntu" and optionally leaving a comment directing OP to a right place to ask the question (it would be included in the closure message anyway).
As a side note, I would have preferred a direct migration path to U&L for close-voters, but I understand there is a good reason for not having that feature.
I can also see some potential problems with selectively closing and not closing non-OUF questions. If we don't draw a clear line in the sand, then it might cause a rift between groups of users with mutually exclusive interests in the community on closing / "non-closing" a particular question every now and then. Let me give a more explicit hypothetical example:
Someone posts a question about a non-OUF distro, but they use GNOME. Now some users who use Ubuntu with GNOME may think that the issue is not distro-specific but related to GNOME and can be useful for Ubuntu users too. So they act accordingly (e.g. upvoting, posting answers, voting to "leave open" or voting to reopen if it gets closed etc.). On the other hand users who don't use GNOME might think the question is specific to the distro OP is using. "GNOME-haters" (it seems that's a real thing at AU, it came up in a chatroom a few months ago that there is pattern of questions (even some completely unclear and low-quality garbage questions), in which OP is facing a problem apparently with GNOME, getting some automatic-and-free upvotes) may be slightly more than eager to downvote / close / delete the question.
Also I believe not closing non-OUF questions (and welcoming them by upvoting and answering instead) would increase the probability of them being referenced in future to justify other non-OUF questions. Even by now I have already seen a handful of times OP claiming something along the lines of ".. but I have seen many questions about
<enter-distro-name> here..." after their question about
<enter-distro-name> has been closed as "off-topic, not about Ubuntu". Right now this claim is quite easy to refute as almost always questions about
<enter-distro-name> are indeed closed.
Often we find questions posted at AU or meta-AU which are nothing but rants (usually) by new users after their questions have been received poorly (downvoted / closed / deleted etc.) complaining about the way the user is being treated here. Unfortunately most of the times the underlying reason is not knowing how the site works (many still confuses AU with other forums or as a tech-support site). If we start welcoming non-OUF questions which are useful to us, then whenever a user complains after getting their question closed for being a question about non-OUF
<enter-distro-name>, they'll have the opportunity to cite other questions about
<enter-distro-name> that were received well. Telling them "your question was closed because other questions about
<enter-distro-name> were useful to us whereas yours is not" would just strengthen their belief that they're being persecuted wrongfully, I reckon.
So, what to do about the wastage of useful information? I have planned a course of action for me sometime back in the case I come upon a useful question about a non-OUF distro:
- determine (the core of) the question to be valid for Ubuntu also
- confirm would be able to answer the question
- post a self-answered new question (almost) identical to the original question
- go back to the original question, vote to close as "off-topic, not about Ubuntu", and leave a comment for OP, something like the following:
(Welcome to Ask Ubuntu.) Unfortunately your question is off-topic here as only official flavours of Ubuntu are supported here. Please consider deleting your question and posting at our sister site Unix & Linux Stack Exchange. However,
[this answer](link-to-the-newly-posted-answer) should work with Ubuntu. You might also find it useful.
In fact, turns out this is something @dessert did to deal with the disputed question (i.e. posting a self-answered question, although they eventually deleted their own answer).
Unfortunately, I myself haven't got a chance to follow the course yet. But in cases after voting to close a question I have left links to older answers by others for OP which I thought they might find useful.
P.S. I am not very comfortable with the idea of others editing the original question about a non-OUF distro and removing the reference of the distro just to convert the question into an on-topic one either. I feel after such an edit we, as a community, should feel obliged to provide a working solution a for OP. In the (perhaps unlikely, but still not improbable) event of all the Ubuntu-specific answers posted to the question turning out to be unhelpful to OP, it would feel like robbing OP of their own question and wasting their valuable time.