Stack Overflow and Server Fault are both clearly for problems in their respective fields. As such, why is Super User to be called Super User? Is it because it too begins with an S? What were other names that were under consideration?

  • 15
    Are you implying that superusers aren't a problem?
    – Shog9
    Jul 2, 2009 at 14:54
  • heh, well they are. Just in a different way.
    – AlbertoPL
    Jul 2, 2009 at 19:06
  • 12
    Well, bofh.com was already taken.
    – Richard
    Jul 13, 2009 at 15:38

9 Answers 9


I think it might have to do with the other name for root. I suppose they could have called it root...but that would have sucked, IMO.

That, and yes, it begins with an S and has a nice acronym (SU). IIRC, the su in the nix sudo command used to mean superuser (today it's an acronym for "substitute user")...

So it's just nice all around.

  • 12
    su means "Substitute user" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Su_(Unix)
    – hayalci
    Jul 13, 2009 at 16:43
  • 3
    @hayalci: It originally stood for "superuser", before it could take a user name as an argument.
    – Teddy
    Apr 6, 2010 at 12:57
  • @hayalci happy now?
    – Pylsa
    Sep 20, 2010 at 16:54
  • And here I thought it meant "set user" or "switch to user" now...
    – SamB
    May 15, 2011 at 18:58

Aside from SuperUser being an incredibly easy name to remember (good for business), it also gives off the impression that there are plenty of super users out there who know how to answer all your questions in lightning fast time.

  • 1
    Which is not true much of the time.
    – Milind R
    Feb 15, 2014 at 5:04

But shouldn't superuser (which is the other name for root) be the name for what we currently call serverfault? I mean if that site is for sysadmins, superuser seems appropriate, whereas a site for the common "Internet Explorer is broken" type questions seems like we're giving them too much credit by calling them super users.

  • 1
    SuperUser could also imply that the site houses a lot of "super users" who are very knowledgeable and can answer your question in very fast time.
    – TheTXI
    Jul 2, 2009 at 14:34
  • 21
    Like stackoverflow houses a lot of people who's code has stackoverflows in it ;)
    – Michael Pryor
    Jul 2, 2009 at 14:46
  • Exactly .
    – TheTXI
    Jul 2, 2009 at 14:55

IIRC it was substantially because:

  1. Joel and Jeff found or knew someone that owned the domain superuser.com and would sell it to them.

  2. The domain was fairly appropriate to the subject matter.

... with (1) being a constraint on the options they actually had it was the best choice available to them.

  • 2
    Necromancer of the month, obviously.
    – Gnoupi
    Apr 6, 2010 at 12:47

Based on the Stackoverflow podcast (#59 or #60) Jeff was okay with Superuser breaking from the consistency of StackOverflow and ServerFault. He particularly talked about being okay with the inconsistent icon. It stands to reason that the thinking would extend to other aspects of the site (the title, we'll see where the other inconsistencies are).


If I recall correctly, there was a contest to name SU and SF where users submitted ideas as comments to the blog post in which it was annouced.

(I cannot seem to find a link to the post(s) now that I need it—isn’t that always the way? If someone has or can find a link to the blog post(s) with the submissions, feel free to add it.)


If they wanted to keep with the "failure" theme of the names for StackOverflow and ServerFault, they probably would have had to call SuperUser "BlueScreenOfDeath". =) Not as catchy as SuperUser, IMO.

  • I think BlueScreen.com would have been fantastic name for the superuser site. Still light and pithy and following the failure-mode naming of the other sites. Bonus that it happens to follow the color scheme, too. Unfortunately, the domain name is not available.
    – Robert Cartaino
    Jul 13, 2009 at 17:55
  • 1
    Also, it's OS-centric. Only one operating system I know of shows blue screens to indicate fatal failure, and SU is multi-platform.
    – peth
    May 2, 2011 at 18:05
  • How about UserError?
    – ADTC
    Jan 29, 2014 at 3:28

Ultimately, for an internet site, doesn't it come down to a tradeoff between a name that describes what a website does versus the domain names that are available to be used?

In some of my other website ventures, I am often driven to choose a name simply because I can find a .com, .net or .org that is still available.


Apparently UserError.com must not have been available. :-)

  • 2
    I was thinking along the same lines too: UserError, UserBlunder, UserNeglect, CarelessUser, UserFailure, UserMistake, ProblemBetweenScreenAndChair (kidding about this one but you get the idea)
    – ADTC
    Jan 29, 2014 at 3:27
  • Issues may happen not only by user error. Sep 16, 2014 at 9:39

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