After doing some investigation on issues brought up doing these questions I've found something that I'm embarrassed that we have let get out of control, see these questions for some background.

Have a look at these tags and the amount of posts in each (click on the unanswered tab on each one and you'll see what I mean):

Or check these out, all without accepted answers:

Most of those are bug reports disguised as questions, there's some serious orange circles (0 answers) in some of those searches.

I think we're running the risk of becoming a poor man's bug tracker instead of a Question and Answer site. I just spent all my moderator flags marking these as offtopic (and plenty more to go!) and leaving a comment on how the person can file a proper bug report.

However culturally we haven't really been enforcing this, perhaps it's time we consider refocusing on our core mission of being Q+A? Maybe during this release we should run a banner reinforcing our FAQ and reminding people that bug reports don't belong here? We should probably also figure out a way to close a ton of these.


6 Answers 6


I was thinking about this after reading these great slide decks by Jeff Atwood, which reemphasized to me that SO is not meant to be a forum or support site, and not even for one-off Q&A, but rather something that generates general reusable articles.

I think closing these questions is the clearest path for this site to survive and flourish. The test needs to be not "would I like to help this person?" but rather "is having a page about this question going to be useful in future?"

I think AU needs a strong direction or consensus on this otherwise there may be pushback that it's unhelpful or negative to close a question when the person's clearly having trouble.

Some specific actions when you see such a question:

  • comment advising the user to file a bug etc, with a link
  • don't downvote, the question is invalid not bad
  • flag for moderators or close them
  • ideally one of the moderators would add some banner text about not filing bugs here
  • flag
  • 1
    Ok, I'll start flagging, commenting, and then watching incoming questions. Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 13:14
  • 3
    Just to re-iterate this important point: Not dealing with the problem makes it look okay to post these questions. We have to close questions we don't want, otherwise they'll multiply out of control. Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 18:23

Here is a data query of questions with comments about filing bugs but the question is still open:

We should be going through these and flagging them if appropriate. I'm starting from the bottom and working my way up, if someone wants to start from the top and start flagging that would be great!


We should probably also figure out a way to close a ton of these.

I would advocate, as a temporary measure to clear our backlog of these (which is quite massive, to the point that I thought they were okay) we encourage mods to instaclose any bug report questions that have not seen meaningful activity since the Oneiric release.

While mods already have this power, they (seem to) usually avoid it for its heavyhandedness and lack of community process. Our community process is outgunned. We would have to spend weeks (months?) worth of limited-resource close votes to achieve the same effect. I am proposing a one-time community mandate to redirect the ship of site.

Ostensibly this mandate would have a name (eg Bug Report Redirection Month) and well-established community approval, so that mods could point to it in case of backlash.

If this answer receives some upvotes and not too many downvotes (and moderators are willing), I'll open a chatroom and we'll all hash out the details. Alternately, if mods don't think a big community pow-wow is necessary to start doing this, I'd fully support them jumping to it right away.

EDIT: A number of community members are now collaborating on this. No need for a special mandate; just starting closing. Basically, the procedure is to find bugreport-style questions, leave the following pro-forma comment...

###Really a bug

This question should instead be filed as a bug report, and [as such](https://meta.askubuntu.com/questions/1317/what-to-do-with-questions-that-describe-known-bugs/) is off-topic, thanks! [Instructions here](http://$SITEURL$/questions/5121/how-do-i-report-a-bug).

... and then either flag as "Bug report" for moderator attention (instant closing) or vote to close (potentially controversial cases). For the moment, we are only addressing the obvious low hanging fruit: the and tags. For the chat conversation about all this, click here. All janitors welcomed to join; many thanks to Marco!

  • 3
    Oh, I'm a closing machine. I have no problems with saying "Yo dawg, this is a bug report - go do that magic over here" If people can flag appropriately and often, we can start taking these down. Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 12:38

I think we already have an answer to this menace.

I am pointing to this meta SO discussion:

What I suggest we should be doing is, mercilessly down vote all the irrelevant bug reports / questions. We should stop feeling pitiful to the new users because it is actually their fault that they didn't bother to properly read the FAQ. And probably also discourage users from answering such horrendous questions. This would ensure such questions go down the drain after a month or so.

If you note it carefully, we are actually doing ourselves a favour. It reduces burden on the community running around casting close votes on questions that should never exist in the site in the first place.


  • Less stress on the community
  • Just one downvote is enough to kill a question (compared to five close votes from high rep users)
  • Moderators have lesser flags to handle because we so often run out of close votes and start flagging like mad men.


  • Almost none. I can't find any plausible reasons to entertain bug reports when they can be effectively dealt elsewhere (the bug trackers I mean) for the betterment of both the questioner and the Ask Ubuntu community.
  • I don't think it's a matter of being pitiful or being less community oriented, it's just putting things in the right place. Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 13:11
  • What I mean is that many of us don't downvote bug reports because we don't want to scare away new users. In that sense, I am saying we shouldn't be pitiful and instead vote based on the merit of the question. And the usual practice of commenting to complement your downvote is followed which will help the users to get the right help from the right place.
    – jokerdino Mod
    Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 13:20
  • You can just leave a comment pointing someone to launchpad and then flag to close. Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 13:21
  • I am not sure if you followed the link to the discussion I posted above. If you downvote a poor question without valid answers, they get deleted after 30 days or so. Meaning, you don't need to spend your resources trying to get five different people to cast close-votes when ONLY ONE downvote is enough to delete the question from the site.
    – jokerdino Mod
    Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 13:27
  • 1
    I do not know about "mercilessly" , how about diligently and with posting information on how to file a bug report, and encouraging them to do so. The down vote helps with janitorial issues, the encouragement helps with moving the process for UA --> Launchpad (bug reports)
    – Panther
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 16:15
  • Yes that's what we're supposed to do. There's no reason to downvote offtopic questions when we can just vote to close or flag them. Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 17:49

+100 on closing and encouraging questions that are best served by filing a bug report. reference the appropriate links

How do I report a bug?


Honestly I think that the "problem" is that it is "easy" to post a question on AU, but "difficult" to file a bug report.

Sort of along those lines, occasionally these "bug reports" are listed in the bounty questions. Is there a way to review that ?

  • I think that as we keep closing them and catching them as they come in then they naturally will drop off the bounty list as a question needs at least 2 days sitting around before it can be bountied. There's a bunch of backlogs though and it will take us a bit to get to that level I reckon. Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 16:31
  • OK, will try to do my part as well.
    – Panther
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 17:46

There is a excellent answer from Jorge Castro (and other members of the community) about editing tips and tricks.

Also, the wonderful rlemon has created a user script that greatly simplifies flagging. How its used is outlined here

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