This is a purely language issue, but IMHO, it deserves some thought.

I don't know how things currently stand on Stack Overflow and Server Fault, but on Super User questions often get closed as non computer related, for which the description stands, and I quote:

Questions on Super User are expected to generally relate to computer software or computer hardware in some way. This question is very far afield from software or hardware.

Now, the FAQ clearly states that Super User is not about:

  • videogames or consoles
  • websites or web services like Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress
  • cellphones or mobile devices, except smartphones such as iPhone that interface with your computer
  • electronic devices or media players, except insofar as they interface with your computer

But it is about:

  • computer hardware
  • computer software

Websites related questions (Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) often get closed on that basis. I just checked on Wikipedia - they are certainly software.

Now, I wouldn't mind a simple statement saying, "Closed for not being in the scope of this site", but closing them as not being software or hardware related, or worse, not being computer related is plain silly. Should that reason for closing be renamed to something more sensible?

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2 Answers 2

I quite agree with that.

Before the FAQ was updated, there were two close reasons (in this scope): not computer related and videogame related (games being the only "exception" then).

After this update adding more exceptions, and the refactoring of the close reasons to take away the ones which were redundant, SU was left with only "not computer related", for this kind of questions.

I agree that indeed, since this is supposed to be the only one remaining about such "out of scope" questions, it should probably be renamed as such. Because indeed, for now, there is easily a confusion, leading to the usual comments: "how come my iPhone is not a computer?", "how come GMail is not software?"


Here is a proposition of a new close reason, with its description:

closed as not Super User related by Diago (just an example)

Questions on Super User are expected to generally relate to computer software or computer hardware in some way, within the scope defined in the FAQ.

Other proposition, by fretje:

closed as off-topic by Diago (just an example)

Questions on Super User are expected to generally relate to computer software or computer hardware in some way, within the scope defined in the FAQ.

Anyone feel free to improve it by editing it directly.

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None taken. I don't see why it couldn't be called just that for a start, but really, I don't care. Call it whatever you want, just as long as it is not what it's called now. In any case, just wanted to point it out ... the rest is up to the whoever changes that stuff. –  ldigas Feb 15 '10 at 17:09
    
Comment on edit: that looks good ! Btw, interesting choice of close moderator :))) –  ldigas Feb 15 '10 at 17:11
    
in the interest of brevity i'd also like to replace "are expected to" with "should" ...but it's really not as strong. overall i think this is a good proposed change. –  quack quixote Feb 15 '10 at 18:04
    
@~quack (even though it won't notify) - Great edit, much lighter this way, thank you. The "are expected" is from the original "not computer related" close description. "should" would be shorter, but indeed less strong. I think we're good as it is right now. –  Gnoupi Feb 16 '10 at 8:25
    
why not "closed as off-topic"? –  fretje Feb 16 '10 at 8:31
    
@fretje - true, that would work. Fact that it is not in the scope of SU is redundant, because stated in the description. Though "off-topic" can be a bit vague, not fully sure yet. –  Gnoupi Feb 16 '10 at 8:50
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i personally prefer the longer variant ... "offtopic", "OT" brings some bad memories/connotations from days of usenet police :) and a little verbosity is not that bad nowadays, in the time of acronyms and illiteracy –  ldigas Feb 16 '10 at 13:26
    
+1 vote for adding the "FAQ" link, and also adding in the FAQ a link to why super user is so restricted. –  Cawas Mar 3 '10 at 16:13
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excellent suggestion, not sure why we didn't think of this sooner.. implemented! –  Jeff Atwood Mar 16 '10 at 8:52
    
@Jeff - thank you, that will really make such situations easier. –  Gnoupi Mar 16 '10 at 9:12
    
@Jeff - thank you! It will ease things in the future, for certain. –  ldigas Mar 16 '10 at 21:16

Websites related questions (Gmail, Facebook, Twitter ...) often get closed on that basis. I just checked on Wikipedia - what they are is certanly software.

Just because you use a car to get to the store does not mean a Walmart question should be posted on an automobile website.

GMail is not computer related. They use computers to run the service. You use a computer to use the service. But GMail usage questions in and of themselves are not computer questions.

They are not software either - they are services.

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Of course all this is simply splitting hairs. The real "feature request" here is to differentiate close reasons into finer degrees so that newbies and nitpickers feel better about their question being closed. –  Pollyanna Feb 15 '10 at 17:21
    
I'm not sure what you're trying to say. The first sentence below the grey part makes no sense to me. As to the second ... how is it not computer related (not trying to provoke, but honestly asking) ? What is it related to then ? It certanly isn't related to growing wheat. It may not be related to offline computer usage, but it is related to computers. And to software, as that is what it is. Also, having trouble understanding what did you mean under "computer questions". –  ldigas Feb 15 '10 at 17:25
    
(just now saw that you changed the answer in the meantime): No, actually, I wasn't aiming into differentiating reasons into finer degrees but just as I stated, into a language issue of the current differentiation. As to the services ... it has nothing to do with what I said. They are services to the customer (from a sociology and political point of view). It has nothing to do with software (which is a technological point of view). The fact that they are services, does not cancel the fact that they are software/computer –  ldigas Feb 15 '10 at 17:30
    
related. I can make Notepad on my computer a "service", if I use it and provide it to a customer for recompensation with a goal to satisfy his need for it, ... but it is still software and computer related. –  ldigas Feb 15 '10 at 17:31
    
Maybe better example of a web browser ... I can make a web browser on my computer a "service", if I use it and provide it to a customer for recompensation with a goal to satisfy his need for it (internet caffees), ... but it is still software and computer related. Even if I "box it" into a "kiosk stand". –  ldigas Feb 15 '10 at 17:39
    
GMail and facebook are not computers. They run on computers, and you use a computer to access them, but they are not computers. You do not run them on your computer, so it's not software. Just because you use a keyboard, CPU, browser, ISP to use their service does not mean that questions about them are related to computers. Questions about them are related to their specific service. The analogy I made in the beginning should be very clear - even though you use a car to get to walmart, and you buy product, and then transport it home in your car, questions about walmart are not car related. –  Pollyanna Feb 15 '10 at 18:46
    
Perhaps the analogy is better if we choose a pizza place with a drive through. You never leave your car when you pick up the pizza, and further the pizza place also uses cars of their own to deliver pizzas to customers. They also get all their raw materials through vehicles. The employees take cars to work so they can do their job. The building was built in large part with help from vehicles. Yet if you went to an automotive forum and asked them, "Why won't ABC Pizza cut my pizza into 128 slices?" you would get blank stares. It's not the right forum. –  Pollyanna Feb 15 '10 at 18:50
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Similarly, superuser is a forum for computer questions. Just because you use a computer to access the GMail service does not mean that Superuser is the best place to ask, "How do I get GMail to delete messages that include attachments over 10k in size?" It's not computer related. It's GMail related. –  Pollyanna Feb 15 '10 at 18:52
    
@Pollyanna's 1st comment - Before we go any further with this. 1st - I never said "Gmail and facebook are computers". I do not believe that I even said anything remotely close to that, from which that can be misinterpreted, but I could be wrong, that being dependent on the reader. Also, as is implied, I never stated that software should run on my computer (or even locally) to be software per se. I never mentioned anything related to where it is executed, since that being irrelevant. Please, check on Wikipedia (or anywhere else really - I –  ldigas Feb 15 '10 at 19:40
    
believe the definition is mostly agreed upon) the definition of: software, hardware, computer, cloud computing maybe. As to the analogy, I admit I still don't understand it. Nor the pizza place ... –  ldigas Feb 15 '10 at 19:40
    
@Pollyanna's 3rd comment - In trying to understand what you are trying to say; are you saying that software is software only if it is run locally and not if it is run remotely, or in the cloud. And that it also stops being software if watched from a client point of view (to whom it represents a "service" provided by a server side representative) instead of the server-side ? –  ldigas Feb 15 '10 at 19:48
    
@idigas - Unfortunately I've made myself as clear as I can. If you do not understand my point, then there is little reason to attempt to explain it another way. Sorry I can't be more helpful. –  Pollyanna Feb 15 '10 at 20:32
    
@Idigas - I think your point of view is clear, but even if "software" includes web services like gmail, facebook and else, the objective is to limit to software "that can be installed on your computer". Typical example: "I want to use offline gmail, but Gears fails to install on my computer, what can I do?". This is linked to gmail, but relative to something you actually install on your computer. –  Gnoupi Feb 16 '10 at 8:55
    
@Gnoupi - "locally" -> ah, in that case we can come to an accord'. of course i understood what polyanna was talking about but decided to play stupid for now, waiting for the moment when someone will finaly rectify that. but, still ... if i may add ... 20 years ago that was an easy distinction to make. nowadays, not so. we don't allow gmail/fb/twit. but we do allow google docs/zoho/livespace/there are numerous examples which can bring the rule down. should we explicitly state in the faq that this site is about locally installed software, and also explicitly disallow services mentioned here ? –  ldigas Feb 16 '10 at 13:20
    
cause, nowadays, i can't see the difference between gmail/zoho and livespace in view of implementation towards the user. ... another example: amazon s3 ? –  ldigas Feb 16 '10 at 13:21

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