The top listed questions on the front page of superuser.com at the moment:

  • Side Effects of Reformatting Hard Drive
  • Must have iPhone applications
  • “Must-Have” Firefox Addons?
  • What is Wolfram Alpha good for?
  • How to completely turn off UAC in Windows 7?
  • Can I use any USB hub with an XBOX360 and Rockband controllers?
  • Recommendations for a Pre-Built Computer
  • Simple video cropping app
  • What’s your favourite piece of (Linux) software nobody’s heard about?
  • Google Contacts and Mac OS X Address Book
  • Is it better to leave your computer on all the time?
  • Launch synergy client on boot in Mac OS X
  • “Must-Have” Linux Software
  • “Must Have” Mac OS X Software
  • Default Windows 7 Install: What to change to make it faster?

Of these, I would say that maybe a third are the type of questions for which these sites were originally intended: I have a specific problem, I post a question about it, I get an answer that hopefully fixes my problem. The rest are basically for shooting the breeze.

One particularly unfortunate side effect of this phenomenon is that the shoot-the-breeze questions keep getting recycled to the top of the front page, because they attract so many answers (95 answers here for a question that was asked this morning, for example). Meanwhile, questions looking for answers to problems disappear beneath the waves within minutes before attracting a single answer, or even very many views. Witness the plight of the poor fellow looking for a way to connect a MIDI controller to CentOS5 (admittedly a rather esoteric question): 22 minutes after being born, the question scrolled off the front page with a grand total of 0 votes, 0 answers, and 2 views.

The community wiki-type questions can be fun, but at this very early stage in the development of superuser.com it seems like if this trend continues it could create a culture that discourages the participation of people looking for solutions to real problems.

  • +1 Even though one of my questions was the target of this post ;)
    – Jonathan Sampson
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 17:27
  • 17
    For those trying to quickly gain reputation (and the audience is primarily SO/SF users who know how it works) a subjective question that isn't marked community wiki is a great way to do so.
    – crb
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 17:41
  • Once people can start editing tags my conjecture is that the subjective tag will be the largest tag used of the first day's questions. It's a subjective schmorgisborg
    – Chealion
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 17:59

15 Answers 15


I wouldn't worry yet. It's the first day! Give it a couple weeks and I bet things shake out some.

  • 11
    What color is the eye melting blue through your rose colored glasses?
    – Geoffrey Chetwood
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 17:42

What else did you expect from the free-for-all site? Just leave it to the masses and let them burn themselves out on it. As long as it keeps the noise from the other sites I say it is a success.

  • 13
    I find it slightly sad that the one site with the best color scheme has the worst content.
    – TheTXI
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 17:36
  • +1 .
    – Juan Manuel
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 17:40
  • 4
    Best color scheme!? This is why programmer != designer.
    – wcoenen
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 22:06
  • @wcoenen - Programmers are not usually the best designers. There are always exceptions... few and far between as they may be :)
    – AnonJr
    Commented Jul 17, 2009 at 1:21
  • "Free for all" should not mean just dump any ol' questions that are undesired on SO/SF though. There's a number of questions that pop up on SU that didn't belong on the other sites, but shouldn't have been moved to SU either.
    – jtimberman
    Commented Jul 27, 2009 at 5:58

I thought the point of SuperUser was always to serve as a trash heap for all the stuff that didn't belong on SO and SF.

  • 1
    That's what I said a couple weeks ago and Jeff Atwood didn't like that.
    – TheTXI
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 17:35
  • 2
    not "trash heap" but "general computer related stuff". If you think that is too general, then come up with other proposed guidelines that narrow it down to what you think it should be. This is the point of a private beta.. Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 17:39
  • 3
    Please don't make it the "trash heap." There are far too many good topics on there - I'm especially interested in items like dual-booting, networking PS3s to PCs to iTouch's, etc. I would hate to see that mixed with "How can send for operator's system cache" and the like.
    – Jonathan Sampson
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 17:46
  • Indeed, superuser needs more of this: superuser.com/questions/1611
    – Geoffrey Chetwood
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 17:51
  • @Jeff: Perhaps "trash heap" is too strident. If replace it with "catch-all", you still have my general meaning. Although, to be honest, I do mean to imply a bit of negative connotation.
    – Hilarious Comedy Pesto
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 17:52
  • @Geoffrey Chetwood Broken link!!!!
    – barlop
    Commented Mar 12, 2011 at 23:46

The community wiki-type questions can be fun, but at this very early stage in the development of superuser.com it seems like if this trend continues it could create a culture that discourages the participation of people looking for solutions to real problems.

We need to come up with a set of guidelines for what questions work on SU, but it is intentionally a bit open ended ("computer related" is the only current guideline..)

So, if you think these questions are bad, then what guidelines should exist in the faq, and what "close reasons", to prevent them from dominating the site?


I made it so the force community wiki threshold is 10 answers on Super User

  • 7
    I was under the assumption that if it wasn't going to be the StackOverflow/ServerFault dumping ground, that the questions should still be as close to Q&A as possible. All these questions about "what are the best" and "must haves", not to mention all of the navel-gazing Community Wiki posts is absurd. I think SuperUser should be answering questions about how to perform X task or how to fix Y problem, not a repository of top product lists.
    – TheTXI
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 17:53
  • 2
    This is the problem with having a bunch of 'SuperUsers' and no people with close or edit abilities.
    – Geoffrey Chetwood
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 17:55
  • Start defining it here: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/5778
    – Geoffrey Chetwood
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 18:00

I asked the question about firefox addons - I think it's totally appropriate for a site about super-users. These are users who modify the way their machines work, and firefox addons do exactly that.

I do agree that many other questions ("What game are you playing online now?") should be ditched though.

  • 4
    Unfortunately, it was promised that "almost anything goes" on SuperUser, so unless it's not about computers it would be difficult to justify its removal.
    – Kyle Cronin
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 17:27
  • 3
    we need to come up with a set of guidelines for what questions work on SU, but it is intentionally a bit open ended (computer related is the only current guideline..) Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 17:35
  • 1
    Keep in mind also that today is the first day - people going to to be plowing out the trenches, which means we're going to see a lot of similar-style questions we saw on SO. The community-wiki posts are going to come out fast and strong. After everybody has finished talking about XKCD, the winds will die down, and the real exchange will take place. I think, at least :)
    – Jonathan Sampson
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 17:44
  • 1
    Wishful thinking, Jonathan.
    – Ladybug Killer
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 19:01
  • @John I hope it's not. Super User has so much potential.
    – Jonathan Sampson
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 19:18
  • The problem with that precise question is that its covered, in depth, on a number of other sites, over and over every new release of Firefox. Most often, on Lifehacker.
    – jtimberman
    Commented Jul 27, 2009 at 5:59
  • @jtimberman, It doesn't matter if another site addresses the same question. That's the case with a large portion of items on SO. That doesn't matter. SO serves to steal that thunder, and become THE place to get those answers. It's a czar, not a supplement :)
    – Jonathan Sampson
    Commented Jul 27, 2009 at 12:41

Unfortunately, you'll probably see certain types of questions continuously popping up in various mutated forms, like the "Must have blankety-blank" questions. It's really easy for a user to just cut and paste the basic form/concept of a popular question, replacing the blankety-blanks. Another type of question this has happened with on SO was the "Hidden features of blankety-blank".

If it's low-hanging fruit, someone desperate for more Rep is gonna snatch it up.


Perhaps there could be a way to filter CW questions off the home page? Like ignored tags?


Implement something that tends to bury items tagged "subjective", without having to close or remove them.

Users should be able to put "subjective" in their ignored tags and moderators can be sure to tag all subjective questions as such.

Another idea is to bin the subjective questions into another sort of sub-area of the front page. This would mean changing the layout, so the subjective questions still have a place on the site, but they don't crowd out the "real" questions.


For getting actual questions answered, it doesn't matter what bubbles to the top of the front page, anyway. We fastest-gun types know to watch Questions -> Newest. Hardly going to score yourself a couple dozen Enlightened badges wading through well-established questions, am I right?


I was just going through some of the early posts on Stack Overflow, they had very few votes on them, regardless of content. I think you just have to wait for things to settle down.

This is the same thing that happened on all of the other sites, when they went open-Beta.


Of course, if the subjective questions are the hottest questions, it could just demonstrate that people are most interested in the subjective questions...

  • 3
    Similar to how some people like discussing the colour of the bikeshed?
    – Andrew Grimm
    Commented Jul 17, 2009 at 0:11

What if 'subjective' and community-wiki questions are hidden from the front-page by default? That would present new visitors with a relatively clean first look at the site, but people who want to see all the junk could turn it on.


I think it's fine to have the subjective questions. How do you get rid of them without making subjective.com?

Just help the other questions out more. Move non-subjective questions that haven't seen many answers back to the top of the list every so often.

That guy who wants to hook up MIDI to CentOS? Automatically pop his question back to the top every 13 hours (to gradually shift the question into other time zones) for a week.


There are far more questions than can fit on the front page even if you eliminate what you consider 'shoot-the-breeze' questions. I can't imagine any consensus or rule fixing this.

We just have to hope that people with answers regularly scan the 'unanswered' lists filtering by tags they are interested in.

Maybe we can have a 'blink' tag and insist that only important questions use it :)


Perhaps the there should be checkbox labeled something like "subjective topic or poll" placed like the existing community wiki checkbox. Checking it would auto-tag with subjective and force CW status.

Both checkboxes should be moved closer to the Post Your Answer button and made much more visible.

I suspect this would work across the family, not just on superuser.com, and would relieve the strident cries for polls to be changed to CW by encouraging them to be that way in the first place.

I would be fine with this checkbox being a one-shot deal that caused its effect when the question was posted. When editing a question, only the CW box could be visible, and conversion from a normal question to a poll would be exactly as it is now.

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