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Should we allow questions that are about releases which are considered End of Life?

How should we handle new questions regarding past-End-Of-Life releases of ubuntu?

Discussion is welcome!

marked as duplicate by Marco Ceppi Dec 27 '12 at 20:07

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • Related: meta.askubuntu.com/questions/2839/… – jrg May 25 '12 at 15:17
  • And to comment: I am only discussing how to handle new questions about EOL'd releases. Not modifying/handling old questions about now-EOL'd releases. – Thomas Ward May 25 '12 at 15:48
  • If questions about EoL Ubuntu releases become considered off-topic for AskUbuntu, does that mean they would become on-topic for Unix.SE? If not, why not? Does Unix.SE have a policy of never supporting EoL software? And if so, wouldn't that be bad, because it would fragment Ubuntu questions between AskUbuntu and Unix.SE? (Does Unix.SE allow Ubuntu+1 questions that are rejected here? Perhaps that would inform this question.) I'm not saying this is necessarily a reason to allow EoL questions on AU, but it seems like something that should be figured out first. – Eliah Kagan May 25 '12 at 21:36
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    Wouldn't a better close reason be "too localized" than "off topic"? – Paŭlo Ebermann Jun 8 '12 at 19:57
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    This one has been discussed previously and new questions regarding EOL versions are clearly off-topic as stated clearly here: askubuntu.com/help/on-topic – Elder Geek Jul 25 '16 at 12:59
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Taking a snippet directly from the FAQ


Ask Ubuntu is a questions and answers site for Ubuntu-related questions. It's also a place to share knowledge about Ubuntu.

Please follow the Ubuntu Code of Conduct, Ubuntu Leadership Code of Conduct, and this FAQ when participating in this community.

We welcome questions about:

  • Using and administering Ubuntu, including official Ubuntu derivatives.
  • Running third-party applications on Ubuntu.
  • Development on Ubuntu.
  • Services provided by Ubuntu
  • Any question not mentioned below or here are great! There are no "dumb" questions!

This is not the right place for:

If you have a question about the site that is not answered in this FAQ, check our community-maintained FAQ, and more generally our meta-discussion site.


Now, after reading this I think, "Ok, I cannot ask about future releases... that makes sense."
However Any, and all previous releases are fair game and should be allowed. Ensure the user has tagged them accordingly and let them live.

Just because they should be using a supported version does not mean they should be alienated for not. What if they have a very valid case for using the EOL release and still need support for it! They cannot get said support from Canonical, so we are their next best option.

There will be cases where the only answer to the question will be "Update to a newer version", and they should be answered as such... however there will also be many users who have used these previous releases and will have helpful answers to contribute to anyone still using them!

  • If i wasn't clear... we should keep them, make sure they are tagged appropriately, and thats it! If we are no longer accepting questions about EOL releases then someone missed the point about setting up AU in the first place. – rlemon May 25 '12 at 15:59
  • If we do adopt a policy of closing new questions about EoL releases, the purpose won't be to "alienate" users, and it's hard to see how it would do that. We don't "alienate" users who come here asking questions about Debian, Mint, or FreeBSD, but we don't answer their them either. I'm not saying we should necessarily stop allowing questions about EoL releases, but you've quoted the current policy to support the current policy. That the current policy doesn't say you can't ask questions about EoL releases is irrelevant to whether or not we should adopt a policy of rejecting these questions. – Eliah Kagan May 25 '12 at 21:29
  • Along with a policy change how about a site name change to "Ask Ubuntu LTS" – rlemon May 25 '12 at 22:02
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Taking a page from the Ubuntu IRC stuff, and also taking a page from Bug Squad policies:

I think we should close these types of questions. Questions regarding EOL releases get ignored in the IRC, and get said "You should upgrade" messages in response. Similarly in Bug Squad, we either invalidate or mark as "incomplete" the bugs that are filed against EOL releases (most are invalidated), and say "Test with the latest stable, if the bug exists here, we'll make a note of that, and work on the bug."

To reiterate: We should add a close reason of "Questions related to End-Of-Life releases are not supported here, as those releases are past the end of their official support.", and recommend to users to upgrade to a supported release.

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    We close, but I think there should be a 1-2 month "grace period", and questions about EOL'ed releases that were asked when it was supported should be kept around, not removed/closed if they have a answer. – jrg May 25 '12 at 15:38
  • Agreed, see comments on chat and my comment to this question clarifying what scope i'm talking about – Thomas Ward May 25 '12 at 15:49
  • That EoL releases don't get bugs fixed is pretty much what it means to be EoL. Why does that mean we shouldn't answer questions about them here? Bugs in forthcoming Ubuntu releases are worked on with great gusto. Does that mean we should feel compelled to change our policy and start answering Ubuntu+1 questions here? As another example, bug fixes are forwarded upstream where applicable. But that doesn't mean we have to repost relevant AU material on Debian support sites. (The policies of the other Ubuntu support sites against answering EoL questions are perhaps more compelling.) – Eliah Kagan May 25 '12 at 21:47
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I think post EOL questions (new ones) are off-topic.

There may be some case for questions relating to older kernels being used for some VPS providers, but they could become un-answerable.

Here's an example of a 'non-EOL release' using a super old kernel. It's not the exact example, but it could give you some idea why I think it could progress to unanswerable.

Leaving answers that fix EOL releases, surely okay. I like the idea of closing as off-topic if a question is asked about EOL, I'm definitely for dropping a link to the canonical how do I release-upgrade question.

In relation to 'I have an old package that will not work on the new release'. My answer is, then you should virtualise that old box and upgrade your bare metal.

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To answer this quesion it would be helpful to characterize this community. Is it:

  1. Part of the Stack Exchange Community (but affiliated with the Ubuntu Community).
  2. Part of the Ubuntu Community (but affiliated with the Stack Exchange Community).
  3. Its own community (but affilicated with both the Stack Exchange Community and Ubuntu Community).

If it is 1. there's no reason not to continue to answer questions about old releases where possible.

If it is 2, the answer should be no.

If it is 3, the community can decide on its own based on what it knows.

If the decision is to continue to answer new questions about unsupported releases the AskUbuntu community should try to set expectations lower for its ability to answer questions about old releases citing that memories fade and information tools drop information about old releases.

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I oppose EOL questions. If applicable, they should be migrated to currently-supported release questions. If not, they should be removed.

The advantage of the Stack Exchange Q&A format is that it organically creates highly-reusable documentation. Unfortunately, good information about old Ubuntu releases is frequently incorrect and even damaging to new releases. Users, desperate for some answer to their problem, then misapply old solutions and wreck their systems.

On the flipside, the usefulness of EOL-specific questions falls precipitously as time passes, as does the population of people able to maintain them.

We see this problem every day in questions that begin with "I followed a guide on this 2009 blog post, but..." As time passes, we will become that 2009 blog post, unless out-of-date content is aggressively culled.

I find this presentation by Jorge Castro especially relevant.

  • "Unfortunately, good information about old Ubuntu releases is frequently incorrect and even damaging to new releases." - only if the user is not aware that it is specific for that release. EOL releases are still in use, that is a fact. We are the "Ubuntu Help Community", I don't see any value in not helping past releases! This is insanity that people are even suggesting it! Just clean up the old questions to ensure no one thinks they are applicable in 12.04 – rlemon May 25 '12 at 21:11
  • @rlemon No, we aren't the "Ubuntu Help Community". We explicitly refuse to help people if their questions are overly localized, or if the type of help they need is off topic to our format. If answering a question helps one person but hurts the internet, we burninate it. This is a foundational principle of Stack Exchange. – Jjed May 25 '12 at 21:15
  • @rlemon: most people don't use up to date guides. I see this in the nginx support rooms all the time, people are using guides from Intrepid for setting up their stuff, and explosivity occurs on systems when that's done. I agree, we should help with old releases, but we have to be careful in how we do that. Someone asking for help with, say, Intrepid systems, well, that's just so outdated its not even relevant. Someone asking about Maverick may be relevant, but we should mention its EOL and no longer supported or updated. – Thomas Ward May 25 '12 at 21:17
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    @JacobJohanEdwards While it's true we don't answer all questions that might help some Ubuntu users, it's important to consider that the IRC channel, the forums, and Launchpad Answers currently don't answer EoL questions. In a way maybe that means we shouldn't either...but it also means we're currently the only major place people can get them answered. Stack Exchange doesn't try to answer all questions because there are other places bad-fitting SE questions can get answered. That doesn't necessary apply to this situation. – Eliah Kagan May 25 '12 at 21:33

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