Relevant question: Has TCP/IP ever "officially" had a fifth layer?

This is my first post on SuperUser, so I want to make sure I'm respecting the community standards, but I'm struggling to make sense of why this question was flagged as off-topic so quickly.

Not looking for help answering the question, but I'd like to understand better: is there a tag I can use for technical topics that aren't specific IT fixes, or is the community eschewing these? I'd love to help update the on-topic docs to make that clearer, if so - I felt really confident based on other content here that this was the right Stack!

  • Mod hat off, I voted (as one of 5 users) because it was effectively asking us to go out and find documentation for something. We have a close reason that states that "product, service or learning material recommendations" are off topic and that was the main thing for me.
    – Mokubai Mod
    Nov 27, 2019 at 14:36
  • @Mokubai That's a really helpful perspective - thank you! I read "learning material recommendations" as "What's the best book for x?" questions vs. hunting for specs/doc references, so I'll adjust my approach to that here going forward and move my question elsewhere.
    – Alex
    Nov 27, 2019 at 14:46
  • 1
    I was a little on the fence as you were asking a broadly technical question, but the "where is the documentation" part was key in my choice. If you'd have gone with "why do some sources state 4 layers and some 5? Is there a technical reason?" Then it could have been in scope as a specific technical query, but might still be a bit broad and opinion based depending on the source.... we aren't mind readers after all. I don't know how else to approach this.
    – Mokubai Mod
    Nov 27, 2019 at 15:05
  • Yeah, that feels too broad to me, too. That was why I targeted a specific documentation source, which falls into a different problem, lol. Quality Q&A is hard! :)
    – Alex
    Nov 27, 2019 at 15:15

3 Answers 3


As far as I know, there is no tag to make an "off-topic" question "on-topic". Technical topics that aren't specific problems with require IT fixes might be better asked in a different community. In regard to your question, I would consider posting it in something like computer science.

  • I had no clue there was a CS stack! That's excellent - thanks so much for the pointer.
    – Alex
    Nov 29, 2019 at 1:21
  • @Alex stackexchange.com/sites#
    – Albin
    Nov 29, 2019 at 22:39

Asking for documentation references may be construed as "product, service, or learning material recommendations", which fits squarely in SuperUser's off-topic definition.

  • Super User has had issues with questions about prerelease / non-released and beta software, perhaps because few people will know anything useful about it, and it’s (usually) very hard for a member of the general public to get any information.  This is no longer a reason for closing a question, but some people may be confused (as I was, until I looked it up just now).  Your question refers to a different version of TCP/IP; people might have thought, if it isn’t being used in the real world, it’s off-topic.
  • Questions about the history of computer technology have also been a bone of contention; some people dislike them.
  • “Why” questions are a problem.  It has been argued that questions like “Why does Document 1 say P when Document 2 says Q?” can be authoritatively answered only by the authors of those documents, and that the questions invite guesses.
  • Our help center says “You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face.”  Some people interpret this to mean that you should only ask questions where you need the answer; e.g., for work, and that you shouldn’t ask questions just to increase your knowledge and understanding.  I disagree with that interpretation, but some people will vote to close questions like that.
  • I am all for questions that are simply seeking information about a topic, but those type of questions have “quality bar” raised, they have to extremely well written and asking something specific. It also has to be something that the community can answer, it’s extremely difficult to speculate about the reasons something was done, in very rare cases past actions can sometimes explain it but not always. If asking about a technology that isn’t mainstream, the author must inform the community about it, otherwise the pool of users who can answer it is extremely small.
    – Ramhound
    Nov 28, 2019 at 21:32
  • Just for clarification: I'm a teacher working on a TCP/IP lesson and wanted to be sure I wasn't overlooking a canonical source for some sort of "TCP/IP 2.0" that I had missed since I finished my CCNA 5+ years ago. So this was a work question seeking a specific answer, not something to scratch my own itch, nor was I looking for speculation. :( I'm still a little confused about why this was shut down, but I appreciate the thoughts you're sharing here re: reasoning! Ultimately, my takeaway is that SuperUser's a better resource for immediate IT help than definitions or spec knowledge.
    – Alex
    Nov 29, 2019 at 1:19
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    @Alex - Believe it or not knowing all of that might have prevented the question from being closed.
    – Ramhound
    Nov 29, 2019 at 4:20

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