My question in SuperUser was closed as off-topic.
I am not complaining. Moderator is entitled for this decision.
However, I would like a second, or maybe a 3rd opinion. Do other moderators also believe that this is off-topic in SuperUser?

What topics can I ask about here?

Super User is for computer enthusiasts and power users. If you have a question about …  
    computer hardware,   <<<<<< YES  
    computer software, or  
    personal and home computer networking  
and it is not about …  
    programming and software development,  <<<< NO
    video games or consoles,  <<<< NO
    websites or web services like Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress,  <<<< NO
    electronic devices, media players, cell phones or smart phones, except insofar as they interface with your computer,  <<<< NO
    issues specific to corporate IT support and networks,  <<<< NO
    asking for a product, service or learning material recommendation,  <<<< NO

… then you’re in the right place to ask your question!

Looks to me that this is the right place to ask this question. Granted, it may not be right in the middle of the set, but somewhat on the edges. Still, there is plenty of room there where it fits.
If you agree that it does not belong in SuperUser, then where else would you think it is better suited for? I don't mind moving the question to a more appropriate location, but so far this seemed to be the most appropriate one.

If unsure, then would it cause any harm to re-open my question and see if it gets 5 close votes, or if it generates answers?
Those finding it acceptable for SuperUser, could you please mark it for re-opening!


I have give this a lot of thoughts during the past week. I understand most of the concerns that were raised against my question. And when I say "understand", I also mean that I can agree with their reasoning. Yet, I still disagree with the decision. And I am extending this post with my EDIT1 below to explain why. Please keep in mind that I am still not suggesting that Mokubai's reasoning is wrong, I just believe it to be too narrowly focused. Only looking at the top shiny side of a coin and telling all valid statements about it is nothing incorrect. However, those statements alone do make the conclusion one makes about the coin incorrect, if nothing of its shady underside is mentioned and considered. So my challenge is to convince Mokubai and her/his followers that the coin has another side.

Who the question is about
Let me use Mokubai's own example, turning it against her/him. It's like asking about the gas cylinder in your "computer chair" just because it is a chair you use at your computer. Plastic manufacturing is not computer hardware, it is used to make computers, but is not one.
If you take a look at the makers of those gas cylinders, you arrive to the names of companies most visitors of SuperUser have likely never heared of, producers not relevant in the computer industry. Then take a look at who is making those slim, laptop-style keycaps and you do not get back names of chemical plants or plastic product factories. You get names like Apple, Dell, HP, Lenovo. Every single one of these manufacturers is a serious player in the computer industry. The relation here is very clear. Which proves that the subject of my question is closely tied to computer hardware.

Who can answer the question
High-end laptops have their body carved out of a few large pieces of aluminium (or just a single brick of it). Yet it goes against logic to ask questions about these in a Metal Forging and CNCing group simply because it is highly unlikely that the big metal-worker guys there would actually be familiar with laptop body manufacturing. However, it is highly likely that a certain set of SuperUser members know about it.
Similarly, visitors of a plastic moulding group would be unlikely to know how slim computer keyboard keycaps are made because it is too specific to computer manufacturing.

Where else would it fit better?
So far I heared opposers saying that my question does not belong to SuperUser, but nobody said where else it belongs to then. I even asked this as a direct question, yet, no better suggestion. I actually looked through the other StackExchange groups in search of a more approite one for my question, but because of the above reasons, I couldn't find any.

Regarding web search: David is right. A web search does indeed yield multiple on-topic results. Unfortunately they are all about the bulky legacy keycaps that I already have enough knowledge about, and not the modern laptop-style keycaps my question is about. The same goes for the Wikipedia article.
But, since I am guilty of not showing attempts to look for answers on my own, I am happy to add such a search query and the explanation of why those hits are not suitable to my original question, if there are no other issues with it to become active once again.

Regarding the question being too broad and showing 14 separate questions: NotTheDr01ds phrased it better than I ever could. The main question is indeed somewhat broad. But there aren't really 14 different questions, just one. The sub-questions all revolve around the main one. And are there exactly for the purpose of focusing that broad main question. You don't need to put in much effort to see what my intention there was.

Regarding NotTheDr01ds suggestion to break them up to individual questions: it would be very counterproductive to do all that just to literally satisfy a rule. And if Mokubai did not like my original post, 14 similar questions around the same topic would really piss her/him off. Because each of those sub-questions addresses the exact same set of people (those who can answer one, are most likely the ones to answer the other), about the same topic.

I am not saying that the above make SuperUser the ideal forum to post my question in. But it is not one where it would not fit either. Does anybody here really believes that this kind of question lessens the quality or focus of SuperUser? And while some people have earlier decided not to vote for re-opening it, would you also have closed it yourself? This is all the ammunition I have. If the above are not convincing enough, then I don't mind deleting the question from SuperUser. Just still don't know where else to post it then.


I do not see the details that Giacomo1968 sees.
I do not see what Giacomo1968 sees

  • 1
    I appreciate everybody's contribution. Looks like this is far more complex than it appeared. But we are making great progress, and the two sides are getting closer. Give me a couple of days to collect and properly phrase my thoughts for the defense. I will edit this post then.
    – Keve
    Oct 23, 2022 at 23:30
  • @Giacomo1968 where would I see that a non-mod user voted to close the question before the moderator actually closed it?
    – Keve
    Nov 6, 2022 at 11:08

4 Answers 4


Looks to me that this is the right place to ask this question.

Note that I was not involved in the decision to close your question.

The help center also says:

What types of questions should I avoid asking?

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face.

Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.

Source: What types of questions should I avoid asking? - Help Center - Super User

Have you thoroughly searched for an answer before asking your question? Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you found and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and above all, it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer!

Source: How do I ask a good question? - Help Center - Super User

My observations:

  • Your question is not based on an actual problem that you face.

  • It is also too broad, it includes 14 separate questions.

  • You have not demonstrated any research in your question. A search for "how are keycaps made" produces dozens of articles on the topic of your question. There is a Wikipedia article which covers the basics and other articles which go into a lot more detail.

I would therefore have closed it as off-topic as well.

  • Agree that it is too broad, as I mentioned in my answer, and I also considered whether it violated the "actual problems" rule. But you quote the "actual problems" rule without the full context. The "Avoid asking" goes on to say that "Some subjective questions are allowed.... Constructive subjective questions ... inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”". This question is clearly a "How?" question. Oct 23, 2022 at 2:33
  • But also regarding your comment "I would therefore have closed it as off-topic as well." -- Given the two reasons you mentioned, shouldn't it have been closed as "Needs focus" or "Opinion" rather than "Off/topic - Not about hardware/software"? Oct 23, 2022 at 2:35
  • @NotTheDr01ds No, it is not a "actual problems that you face.". That makes it off-topic.
    – DavidPostill Mod
    Oct 23, 2022 at 2:37
  • 4
    I'm sorry, I strongly disagree. This site has a long history of "why" and "how" questions that are simply from those seeking knowledge rather than trying to solve a "problem". Just working from two of the highest voted, What are the Windows A: and B: drives used for? (997 score) (and Transatlantic ping faster than sending a pixel to the screen? (859 score). And there are, I'm sure, literally hundreds of others. As the help says, questions that inspire "How" or "Why" are considered exceptions to the rule. Oct 23, 2022 at 2:53
  • 1
    @DavidPostill Thanks for the detailed explanation. I must admit that the perspective you described is one I did not consider. And this does put the decision-to-close under a different evaluation. It would be difficult not to understand this approach, at a certain level I even have to agree with it. Yet, the validity of this perspective AGAINST the question belonging in SuperUser does not seem to contradict the validity of points mentioned here in favour of it. The two sets seem to coexist. Being a moderator is not an easy thing, I conclude. :-)
    – Keve
    Oct 23, 2022 at 10:53

I am not complaining. Moderator is entitled for this decision.

Fair enough. You are "disagreeing" with the decision, but you are doing so in the proper manner. You've brought it here to Meta and made a very good argument for your case, in a level and rational tone. So, kudos!

Do other moderators also believe that this is off-topic in SuperUser?

I'm not a moderator, but Meta is here for the community as a whole to discuss these things.

Personally, I think it's "on topic", as it is absolutely a question about computer hardware. @Mokubai commented on your question:

Plastic moulding techniques and materials is not a problem specific to computer hardware or software.

And I see two problems with this:

  • First, the rules here do not say that the question needs to be specific to computer hardware or software. Just that is has to be about one of those topics.

    Stack Overflow actually does use the word unique in their requirements, "unique to software development". Super User does not.

  • Yes, the topic of plastic molding and materials has many different applications, but the process of creating keycaps is likely fairly unique among them. It goes far beyond just the molding.

That said, while it's (IMHO) on-topic and an interesting question, I'm still torn on whether it is a good fit for the site as it is currently written.

My first concern is that you ask a lot of "sub-questions", which could be seen as a reason to keep your question closed on the "Needs more focus". Questions here should focus on one particular problem per question.

BUT (arguing against myself), your sub-questions are (a) clearly related to the main question, and (b) if left out, the main question would still be just as valid. So I think having these examples of "specific questions to guide you along the details I am interested to learn" is useful, and shouldn't count as "having more than one question". That's definitely my personal opinion, and there are others here who believe otherwise.

I see two ways to solve this:

  1. Take out the sample "sub-questions" and leave only the "how is it made" top-level question.

  2. Break this up into separate questions/posts. For instance, a question specifically around how the symbol on the top of the keycap is generated during manufacturing would be much more focused.

I'd opt for the second approach. Option #1 has a fair chance of running afoul of the What types of questions should I avoid asking? guidance:

Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.

Personally, I can imagine a book on this topic as it is currently scoped ;-).

And it's on that basis that I (have finally convinced myself while answering this) won't be voting to reopen as it's currently written.

While I think it's on-topic, I think it still needs some focus before being a good fit -- That's assuming that enough others here agree that it is on-topic.


It isn't a bad question, but it isn't for this site. It is a "how is this manufactured" question, and is only tangentially about computers, inasmuch as it is about how a specific computer accessory is made.

People often assume that questions being closed here means we think they are bad questions.

That simply isn't true. Questions are closed for many reasons, and this one is closed, and should remain closed, because it is not about the use or function of a computer. It's a good question, just not right here.


The core issue here is you are asking for a 2nd opinion initially, but then engaging in a rambling battle with one lone moderator.

Your core question here is basically asking that others look at this closed question and add their thoughts. That is fair. That said, your question here on meta has become this rambling stream of consciousness that only confuses things more.

You state this:

“So my challenge is to convince Mokubai and her/his followers that the coin has another side.”

This is the core issue here if you ask me. You seem to be latched onto the idea Mokubai as the sole arbiter of why this question was closed, when looking at the close reason clearly shows:

“Closed 14 days ago by John, Mokubai♦”

enter image description here

The way this community works, is community members vote whether to close a question. Without any mod intervention, 5 non-moderator users can come along, vote to close that’s it; question closed.

If then the community feels that a questions should be reopened, there is a “Reopen” link at the bottom of the question. If community members vote to reopen the question, the question is reopened. Here is what that question’s status looks like:

enter image description here

As you can see, before you can even move onto “Reopen” the question needs to be undeleted.

So the takeaway you should have is:

This is a community effort.

In this case, your question was flagged by John as off-topic and then Mokubai (as a moderator) came in, saw that flag and decided to just close the question. But despite Mokubai doing that, anyone else can now come in and vote to undelete.

But that said, I will repeat what I said initially here as well as some comments I made regarding “this rambling stream of consciousness.”

In your initial question you are rambling and all over the map.

You asked question that is completely off-topic since nobody here can explain a manufacturing process like keycap design and production.

You state this:

“Give me a couple of days to collect and properly phrase my thoughts for the defense. I will edit this post then.”

This is part of the problem as well. Your inability to simply phrase a question in a clear and concise way and engaging in extended personal debate with yourself over this stuff.

This site is not about that. Nor do we have any insight into how manufacturing processes become standardized.

The core of your question is off-topic and all of the rambling “cruft” doesn’t help anything.


You also state:

“If the above are not convincing enough, then I don't mind deleting the question from SuperUser. Just still don't know where else to post it then.”

Where else to post it? Not on Stack Excahange. Maybe Ars Technica forums or Quora? But not here.

And for the record, the question was deleted on this site after sitting around with no “Ropen” votes coming through the automated “Community” user/bot.

  • 1
    Thank you for the details. Much of this is very useful. Too bad you do it with a tone and attitude which is more offending than helping. The details you show, are not visible to me, they never were, not even now. See the screenshot below.
    – Keve
    Nov 6, 2022 at 14:13
  • As I have never seen anything related to John or anybody other than the Moderator who closed my question, that Moderator was the one and only who seemed to have decided the fate of my question. Your approach is twisted, because you talk about community opinion, but my original issue was that there was no community in it. You are lecturing me about waiting to get 5 votes to reopen the question. Well, I did not know that. I did not know that other people can still see my question even if it is already closed. Still, the fair way would have been to wait for 5 votes to close it, don't you think?
    – Keve
    Nov 6, 2022 at 14:21
  • I am giving it a rest. Primarily, because I don't think it would look good here for other users to see what you are doing.
    – Keve
    Nov 6, 2022 at 14:41

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