This question is, and has always been, on topic.

The OP's reading of the FAQ is correct. A question about using built-in Ubuntu software and third party Ubuntu software on Ubuntu is a question about Ubuntu, and is on topic.

We don't consider questions about running Ubuntu software in Ubuntu to be off-topic just because they might benefit someone running Windows or some other OS, and it's dangerous to send the message that we do. Imagine if a Windows forum rejected a question about Windows because it might somehow also help Ubuntu users!

To anyone who disagrees: Look through the open questions on our site, and ask yourself how many of them might be helpful to someone running a non-Ubuntu OS. You'll find that many of them could be. Probably most.

Do you really want to close almost every question about bash or grep; repairing GRUB; using LibreOffice, Banshee, Rhythmbox, Firefox, Chromium, Chrome, or Midori; Nautilus, Dolphin, Konqueror, Thunar, or PCManFM; installing software from source code; or adjusting any system settings except the tiny number that differ from those in other GNOME 3 based distros?

I see no reason to keep this closed--I think closing it as off-topic was a simple mistake arising from its previous wording being difficult to understand, exacerbated by attempts to justify a mistake that never made sense in the first place.

We should reopen this now. But if for some reason people want to keep it closed, the OP deserves a reasonable explanation for why it ought to stay closed. More importantly, the community deserves an explanation.

Related: Respect the community – your own, and others’

  • I appreciate your efforts, spirit and interest in the question at hand and not personalities.
    – Thufir
    Commented Jan 5, 2013 at 21:42

3 Answers 3


This appears to have been resolved.

The question has been reopened (3 users + moderator vote), edited extensively for improvement, and mateo_salta posted an answer that solves the problem and is fully on-topic for our site.

Of course, anyone may still feel free to post their ideas about the issues here as an answer to this meta question.


I read the question and I do not agree that it is / should be off topic. It is literally talking about Firefox which comes with Ubuntu, it is at the same level of asking about how to do something with empathy, gimp, squid3, libreoffice and lightdm. Askubuntu is suppose to be the place to ask anything related to Ubuntu, including all apps that come with it. If not, then more than 90% of all question would get deleted or marked as off topic.


For the most part, I have yet to understand what exactly this question is about.

  • Is it an issue that arises on Ubuntu in particular, because some information is not found, or not relayed?
  • Is it an issue that arises with Firefox itself, because it is simply not intended?
  • Is it a bug?

I haven't passed any judgement on the question. I haven't voted on it, or any of its comments. The reason is very simple: Whether or not it is on-topic depends on the answers to the above questions.

It should be off-topic, if it is an issue with Firefox, rather than Ubuntu. If the best answer to it is "This feature isn't intended by Mozilla." or "It's a platform-independent problem with Firefox.", we are unable to answer it. We can redirect, nothing else. In that case it is definitely off-topic.

It should be on-topic, if it is an issue with Ubuntu. If the best answer is "There is a problem with the Ubuntu version of Firefox, which is ..." or "For it to be found on Ubuntu, it needs to be added to ..." or anything along those lines - then it is on-topic.

That's the basic line of thought I have always applied to any applications running on Ubuntu.

  • 3
    With all due respect, you have not applied this line of thought elsewhere. You've answered non-Ubuntu-specific questions here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, just for starters. Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 2:57
  • What do any of those answers have to do with this @EliahKagan this is about a specific issue between firefox and Google (it seems) one which a plugin work-around was allready made, whether this can be solved by settings or a bug remains to be seen.
    – Mateo
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 3:07
  • @EliahKagan None of these is about an application, has the same answer platform-independently, and is due to the very nature of the application - as far as I can tell.
    – user98085
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 3:08
  • 1
    You're making layers and layers of arbitrariness on what started out as a mound of arbitrariness. What counts as an application? bash isn't an application? Nautilus isn't an application, but Firefox is? The screen saver isn't an application? The Terminal and LibreOffice aren't applications? (That covers the first several of your answers I listed; I'll leave the rest as an exercise to the reader.) By the standard you've articulated, How to maintain document compatibility between LibreOffice and other office suites? would be totally off-topic for our site. Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 3:14
  • 2
    @EliahKagan Again: It's not "Every question has to be Ubuntu-specific." It's "Every question's core problem needs to be related to Ubuntu." Is the core problem of file compatibility related to Ubuntu? Yes, because we inherently use different file types than Windows. Is the core problem of how a RSS link opens in our Firefox related to Ubuntu? I assume so - because there is no such thing as a "default program" in the sense Windows uses it. But, for example: Is the core problem of how a website displays in Firefox related to Ubuntu? No, because Gecko results in the same across platforms.
    – user98085
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 3:28
  • @EliahKagan So, yes, I think the question linked in the OP is on-topic - if it is about what I think it is ("I click on a link, but for some reason it doesn't get redirected to program X"). But the general "it runs on ubuntu so it is on-topic and we are to find a solution" is just not sufficient.
    – user98085
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 3:30
  • 3
    Have you forgotten that LibreOffice runs on Windows, where it uses exactly the same file types as on Ubuntu? Questions about LibreOffice file types have nothing to do with Ubuntu except that LibreOffice is part of Ubuntu. Firefox is part of Ubuntu, too. Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 3:35
  • 2
    "As members of a community, your first loyalty should be to that community. When evaluating a question, you shouldn’t be looking to push it off on some other site; instead, ask if it could be appropriate and on-topic for you, the experts who the author decided to ask." — Respect the community – your own, and others’ (SE Blog) by Shog9 Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 3:39

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .