I realize that the topic of derivatives has been touched on before but I am shocked that this community is so closed to questions that, were they answered, could assist pure Ubuntu users.

I recently noticed this question was closed without explanation by those moderating it:


As Mint is so closely tied to Ubuntu I would have expected that there would be a good overlap. Surely the tag system is there to handle this sort of thing.

Furthermore, the closing of questions do not appear to be consistently applied. Many questions here are so generic they should be asked at other sites (Linux/Unix, Server Fault etc.), yet these have been kept open.

I've been a member of [SO] for quite a while and several other sites including Area51 and thought that the same community spirit would be matched here.

There is a fundamental flaw in the way StackExchange works that doesn't address overlap which needs to be addressed but this may never be addressed so the best thing that can be done is to apply a consistent and fair policy, which is clearly not being practiced here.

I welcome your comments, but please be constructive as animosity is rarely welcome or helpful.


After reading some of the feedback here I just wanted to clarify that my main concern is that this site embodies a sense of friendly and open community spirit. The primary objection I have is that many closed questions don't offer OP's or subsequent visitors any constructive assistance, merely a "closed as off-topic". Not sure why redirection isn't happening. While it is perfectly acceptable that people wish to keep this site clear of off-topic material it's not good for the reputation of [AU] if people are bluntly rejected. People asking for help are putting their faith in our community, we should do our best to live up to that responsibility.

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    Askubntu overlap with unix.stackexchange.com and superuser.com because some questions are ontopic on both sites . I think it is better to suggest unix.stackexchange or directly export the question to unix.stackexchange.com instead of just closing it :-) – Tachyons Jun 21 '12 at 11:33
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    yeah I think my frustration is really with stackexchange ... they really need to deal with this overlap ... same problem with stats compsci machine learning etc. Robotics is another bazinga – Merlin Jun 21 '12 at 11:40
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    Sorry, I usually put a friendly comment redirecting them to unix.se but I forgot to do it this time. – Jorge Castro Jun 21 '12 at 13:13
  • @JorgeCastro thanks for the comment. I understand fully that mods are very busy people ... I just wanted to highlight a few issues. – Merlin Jun 21 '12 at 13:24
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    This isn't a mod issue, anyone over 3000 reputation can vote to close questions. – Jorge Castro Jun 21 '12 at 13:29
  • Sorry, I forgot about that ... well everybody is always busy so not a problem – Merlin Jun 21 '12 at 13:31
  • Imagine a person having a question about Chinese chess goes to a Western chess club. The people at that club are clueless about Chinese chess and cannot make a recommendation about nearby Chinese chess clubs so they politely say, this is not a Chinese chess club. This can be seen as being "unfriendly" or "blunt rejection" or "lack of community spirit", I suppose. But really, why is it? And suggesting this particular question could help Ubuntu users is highly speculative. There are many Ubuntu questions that are closed as too localized to be helpful to others. – Chan-Ho Suh Jul 3 '12 at 3:04
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    @Chan-HoSuh please post as an answer instead of comment. – Merlin Jul 3 '12 at 8:02
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Rationale for Closing

Questions that say they are not about Ubuntu, by saying they are about how to do something on a non-Ubuntu OS, or in any other way, are closed as off-topic.

Lots of information that's off-topic for this site is potentially useful to Ubuntu users. Information about hardware repair is potentially useful to Ubuntu users. Information about general programming skills is potentially useful to Ubuntu users. Information about cooking is potentially useful to Ubuntu users. It's helpful to set a reasonably clear delineating line where we consider something off-topic, which we have done. When something is about how to use an unofficial Ubuntu derivative, it is considered off-topic for this site.

(The exception is when it is also about Ubuntu. For example, if you had a question about how to burn an Ubuntu installation CD in Linux Mint, I think that would probably be considered on-topic, just as questions about how to do that on Windows and Mac OS X are considered on-topic.)

You're saying this policy is applied inconsistently. That may be so (and if it is, that should perhaps be fixed, though doing so wouldn't necessarily mean closing fewer questions). But as far as I can tell, you have not identified any way in which the policy is applied inconsistently. Questions aren't closed because they're potentially useful to users of non-Ubuntu OSes. They're closed when they're not about Ubuntu. The question you've brought up as an example is potentially useful to users of Ubuntu and of other OSes, but it is not about Ubuntu. Other questions that are equally useful to users of other OSes, but which are about Ubuntu, are not closed.

Like other users of the Internet, Ubuntu users can search the web for information we need. We are not limited to this site. Users of other OSes (whether or not they also use Ubuntu) shouldn't feel limited to this site either. If this and similar questions are posted on the Linux Mint forums, Unix.SE, or elsewhere, Ubuntu users should still be able to find and benefit from it.

Providing Constructive Assistance

In substantial part, this is in reply to the more recently posted UPDATE section of the question.

I agree that we have a responsibility to treat people respectfully and in a friendly manner, including when they have off-topic questions.

The question you've given as an example has a comment in it, suggesting another site where the question would be on-topic (Unix.SE).

Are questions that are off-topic because they're about a different OS being closed without a comment? If so, then I do see that as a problem. But if comments are being posted (1) explaining clearly why it's off-topic, (2) referring to a site where it's on-topic, (3) linking to the FAQ (since it contains information about the scope of this site and where people can go for help with unofficial Ubuntu derivatives), or some combination of those, then I think we are already providing constructive assistance to people posting questions about those operating systems.

  • Just to clarify ... the question wasn't mine ... I took pity on the guy and gave him my best shot at an answer (although I would have preferred to see other ubuntu users with the same gfx card respond which won't happen on a closed question). My concern was that pure Ubuntu users may well be affected by this as it is a derivative (and pretty much just a cosmetic one). – Merlin Jun 21 '12 at 9:16
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    also people are less likely to switch to pure ubuntu if this is how they are treated by other users, stackexchange sites rank highly on google so this is their first port of call – Merlin Jun 21 '12 at 9:22
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    If any ubuntu user faces this issue they can press ask button in the askuuntu.com and ask – Tachyons Jun 21 '12 at 10:12
  • @Merlin Thanks, I've reworded. As for this being an issue of the treatment of people who come to the site, you may want to edit this meta question to explain how you think they are being personally treated badly, because I think that is not clear from your objections as you've articulated them thus far. I don't see how this is injudicial or unfriendly. Do you? – Eliah Kagan Jun 21 '12 at 10:12
  • thanks @EliahKagan I've modified the title and added an update but feel free to edit what's there if you think that there is something you can add improve or simplify – Merlin Jun 21 '12 at 11:22
  • @Merlin Thanks for expanding the question. I've added a section to this answer, to address that. – Eliah Kagan Jun 21 '12 at 12:11
  • That comment was added by @tachyons ;) But only after I posted this on meta to highlight it. – Merlin Jun 21 '12 at 12:22
  • Yeah . But I saw similar suggestion in almost all linux mint related questions . Probably users forgot to post it . Even then askubuntu faq clearly says you can ask mint/backpack questions in Unix.stackexchange – Tachyons Jun 21 '12 at 12:38

They can always create an "ask mint" site. Plus we are all here because we use "Ubuntu", There was Once a question I was working on that the user did not say what version Ubuntu he was using, turns out he wasn't using ubnutu at all, and the accepted "Patch" or workaround failed simply because of small differences in folder structure. Plus If we let one, we would need to change the "Ubuntu" part of the logo to "All Debian based linux"

Ubuntu ≠ Mint

Maybe some think that is mean is some way, but it is just practical, not everyone can run more than one version on linux on their computer, 4-5 derivatives of ubuntu and debian from which ubuntu is based.

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    AskPOSIX.com FTW! :P – ish Jun 22 '12 at 7:44
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    As well, ubuntu != BT5, and ubuntu != [any non official derivative – Thomas Ward Jun 22 '12 at 14:24

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