I followed a suggestion posted on this site that resulted in an unbootable system. Not being allowed to comment, I deliberately violated policy and posted a comment as an answer. I would not have done this but I thought it was important to warn other people against trying the advice. In fairness the advice was listed as "not recommended" but contained no indication of actual danger. I don't think advice leading to this outcome belongs on this site, but with no other way to notate what had happened, I thought I was doing other users a service. I thought I raised a serious issue, and that issue has not been dealt with but buried.

I will try to play by the rules from now on, but the rules seem more restrictive than they should to me.

  • Concur the guardrails here seem a little narrow here, but it's better than nothing as all, which turns readers off and results in no one watching the board at all.
    – K7AAY
    Oct 21, 2013 at 20:05
  • 1
    Hard to know without link to the advice in question. In general, this is what up and down votes are for. Although the site seems restrictive to you as a new user, over time you will have the ability to have more interaction.
    – Panther
    Oct 21, 2013 at 20:19
  • Well, as a new user I don't have the right to downrate either.
    – stevecoh1
    Oct 21, 2013 at 20:33
  • How about rephrasing this as an actual question (e.g. "should we have a mechanism to close dangerous answers?") and posting it on Meta AskUbuntu? Also, if you point out the specific question, I am sure a concerned co-user or moderator would be willing to edit the answer you considered dangerous.
    – zwets
    Oct 21, 2013 at 22:20
  • zwets: good idea.
    – stevecoh1
    Oct 21, 2013 at 23:27
  • 9
    Given the new user restrictions I think you did a great job bringing it to the community's attention. At the end of the day we can always migrate the problem to meta and work to fix the problem. I salute you! Oct 22, 2013 at 21:57

2 Answers 2


As a new user there are restrictions for downvoting and commenting for resons already discussed extensively.

Nevertheless whenever we find code or procedures in an answer that may potentially harm or already damaged our system it is a good idea and very welcome to warn other users.

The usual procedure would be taking one or more of the following steps:

  • edit the post to remove malicious code
  • edit the post to improve buggy procedures
  • edit the post to include a clear warning message
  • downvote the post
  • comment on the post to ask the OP for clarification
  • flag the post for moderator attention

We can see from this list that it is only commenting, downvoting, or flagging which is not possible for a new user. Editing is possible for every user, even if they had only 1 reputation point. Edit suggestions will immediately appear in the review queue waiting for approval (which needs to be done to prevent spam). Flagging for moderator attention needs a reputation of 15 reputation points.

  • 3
    Flagging requires 15 rep.
    – Oli Mod
    Oct 22, 2013 at 9:00
  • 1
    Thanks @Oli! Its such a long time since I had that few rep anywhere ;)
    – Takkat
    Oct 22, 2013 at 9:05

Faced with your problem, I think the best thing anybody could do is to get to 5 rep to ask their own Meta question. Yours was converted from the main site... Which works but uses up people's time.

Earning that little rep can be done by fixing a couple of posts and having the edits approved (takes ~10 minutes on a slow day) but there are other ways. My point is you don't need to be an Ubuntu guru to get access to the basic tools, you just need to demonstrate you know how the site works.

Once you can post on Meta, frame a question around the technique or code being suggested. I'm all for removing dangerous content but in this case it's not out-and-out malicious code; it's certainly not black and white.

  • It can be dangerous but it does occasionally work (IME).
  • It's prefixed with a warning in bold.
  • It's surrounded by answers that suggest a better, safer method.

I've strengthened the warning slightly but I see no basis to remove it. Every answer on that page is telling you to do something else. If you ignored that, it's possible there's a bigger problem with your Ubuntu install.

  • Thank you. I had thought I missed the "can break your install" in the original post and was kicking myself for missing it, but you indicate this was new. So thanks - that was what I was basically seeking to accomplish. Now, if I could only refrain my tendency to being acerbic and winning negative reputation I might actually be able to participate meaningfully here. Still, this time, it took a squeaky wheel to get some oil.
    – stevecoh1
    Oct 22, 2013 at 13:08
  • 1
    Actually, Oli, your suggestion of getting to five reputation points by asking my own meta question won't work, sorry. Catch-22. You need five points to be able to do that. Does no one here realize how frustrating this is? And then, if in my frustration, I make a remark that someone doesn't like, they can down rate me some more. You guys are one tough crowd.
    – stevecoh1
    Oct 22, 2013 at 15:30
  • @stevecoh1 You've got it the wrong way around. I suggested doing a couple of menial (but necessary) edits to posts on the site, thus earning a few rep so that you could open a meta question.
    – Oli Mod
    Oct 22, 2013 at 17:40
  • Oh, yes, I misread. You said "the best thing anybody could do is to get 5 rep to ask their own Meta question." Which I read as "the best thing anybody could do do get 5 rep is to ask their own Meta question." This May qualify as meta-meta :-)
    – stevecoh1
    Oct 22, 2013 at 17:48

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