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Superuser website applications policy

I recently had a question on Superuser closed:


Those voting to close it claim that it violated a section of the Superuser FAQ. Specifically this text:

and it is not about …
* websites or web services like Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress

To me, that note means that questions should not be about how to use services like those mentioned. Perhaps it can be extended to mean not to ask questions about what WordPress plugin could accomplish what you need.

But what I asked is not anything like that. I am asking for a piece of software that accomplishes a specific goal. The only way it is related to that FAQ entry is that I happen to be looking for a piece of software that will traditionally run on a web server. I don't see it as any different than asking for a video editing program, or a regex checker, or a good free word processor.

I do not believe that my questions such as mine are what the SuperUser creators meant when they created that FAQ entry.

Am I misunderstanding the intention of that part of the FAQ? Is asking about software that is traditionally accessed by the end user via the HTTP protocol somehow different than asking about software that executes locally on your computer?

  • 2
    IMHO, I don't think that question should be closed, though a voice in my head is telling me it should be moved to SF. – o.k.w Feb 20 '10 at 1:54
  • I voted to close this question because I thought it was a duplicate, but now I realize that that other question here on meta is about USING web applications, and my question is notably different in that I am asking about RUNNING a web application on my OWN computer. – OverloadUT Feb 20 '10 at 2:05

Is asking about software that is traditionally accessed by the end user via the HTTP protocol somehow different than asking about software that executes locally on your computer?

Yes: Facebook isn't running on your machine. Note that you can ask questions about web browsers - those do run on your machine. You can even ask questions involving your operating system's TCP stack. But once control leaves your box and enters that nebulous "Internet" thingy, who knows what it's running on? Your WordPress problem could be caused by some sloppy SysAdmin spilling RC Cola onto the rack, or hordes of rabid squirrels dancing the Macarena in front of the AC fans...

Point is, there's just no way of knowing! The Internet is a scary place, and best left alone. Go back to MS Word, where it's safe and warm.

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    But what I am asking for IS going to run on MY MACHINE. It just so happens that MY machine is in a datacenter and serves up websites. I am NOT asking how to use a third party web service running on someone else's server. I am asking about software running on my own computer. – OverloadUT Feb 20 '10 at 1:47
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    In fact, what if a piece of software, like uTorrent, which runs as a local application on a user's personal machine, has a feature that can allow you to administrate it via a web browser. Now uTorrent is also a webserver? So are questions about uTorrent no longer allowed? – OverloadUT Feb 20 '10 at 1:48
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    I'd say it's a gray area, prone to misinterpretation and embarrassing mistakes. You're best off prefixing your question with I AM INSTALLING SOFTWARES ON MY PERSONAL COMPUTER WHICH I OWN AND CARE FOR AND DEARLY LOVE AND WOULD NEVER EVER ALLOW TO BE MOLESTED BY THE COLD EVIL TENTACLES OF The Internet! ...just to be sure no one gets the wrong impression. – Shog9 Feb 20 '10 at 1:57
  • What about a question about World of Warcraft? It's not a web service and yet it doesn't run completely on your machine – Kop Feb 20 '10 at 2:02
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    @Koper: ah, that would be a wrenching philosophical question... if WoW questions weren't completely disallowed anyway via the "no game questions" policy. – Shog9 Feb 20 '10 at 2:03
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    @Koper: Gaming questions are explicitly forbidden so that's not relevant. – OverloadUT Feb 20 '10 at 2:06

I have re-opened this question. I closed it at 1 in the morning and will admit I made the wrong judgement call on this one and therefore apologize. The questions is valid, however I did leave a comment that it might be more suited for Server Fault based on the type of software on environment you want to use it in.

I have posted a detailed answer with regards to the policy here which I would prefer not to repeat.

  • this reopening has me very confused. so, webapps in general are offtopic, but running your own web apps, eg on a home server, is ontopic? (that makes sense for a site called Super User, and it's what i'd like to see on the site, but i have known reading comprehension problems and may be misinterpreting.) – quack quixote Feb 20 '10 at 21:54
  • In this case he was not asking how to do something with the software, he was asking where he can find it. To be honest I agree with you that it has a better place on Server Fault. He is not asking how to install it, just where can he download it. Some questions we will allow because the line is extremely thin and gray. – Diago Feb 20 '10 at 21:58
  • did i say that? about the question in question? hmm. if i did it may have been a response to a looming not-computer-related-close. ...in any case, i think i get why this question is ok, i'm just not confident i can properly recognize the same in other questions... – quack quixote Feb 20 '10 at 23:13
  • I am going daft. This must have been your response to another question. Apologies. Long day and night. – Diago Feb 21 '10 at 1:25
  • no apology necessary. honestly, it could be either of us misremembering. or both. – quack quixote Feb 21 '10 at 2:05

Your question mentions nothing about where you're going with the website software.

It's about some forum recommendation with a couple of specs. In any case, you're asking about running a website. That is not part of Super User.

It does matter where you're running the thing. Voted to close.

If you see similar questions that are still open, feel free to point them out. Would vote to close those as well.

  • So you're telling me that if I had added one sentence at the beginning of my post saying "I am going to run this software on a server I physically own" then it would be okay? – OverloadUT Feb 20 '10 at 2:03
  • Depends on if the server is local (SU) or on a farm (SF). But running a website is greyish leaning to black. Would still vote to close. – random Feb 20 '10 at 2:07
  • So the geographical location of my computer will change what website I should post my question to? Do you realize how asinine that is? – OverloadUT Feb 20 '10 at 2:17
  • And what is the meaningful difference between a piece of software that outputs HTML files and a piece of software that renders a GUI? At the low level they are EXACTLY the same: machine code. At the mid level they are EXACTLY the same: programs being run on my computer. Only at the end-user level is there any noticeable difference at all, and even that is only an interface difference. Why should the interface of an application determine whether or not it's a valid question? – OverloadUT Feb 20 '10 at 2:19
  • SU concerns questions about software that runs on your computer. If it uses a browser, it's okay. But when it tips to being a website or websoftware only support question, then it's out. @ove – random Feb 20 '10 at 2:52

This question is problematic from a number of angles -- but most of all I think it is too localized, in that you're asking for such a narrow set of conditions that apply only to you, I don't think anyone else in the world would ever get any utility out of this question or any of its potential answers.

Now if you reframed it as "stack overflow clones I can run" that'd actually be better, but it would probably belong here on meta.


You can't ask questions about Web Applications or anything that runs on a website.

See this discussion.

Your question didn't fall under that rule, and shouldn't have been closed, but a moderator made that ruling, so I'm not sure you'll be able to get that changed. I put a tag on it of software-rec, which is the standard tag for those kind of requests.

  • @OverloadUT, do you mean SO or SU? – o.k.w Feb 20 '10 at 1:50
  • I removed my comment here because I am sad to admit that I did not read your entire answer, so my comment made no sense in context. Sorry! – OverloadUT Feb 20 '10 at 2:28

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