The current policy by community consensus is:

Allow appropriate tablet questions, but not actively encourage iOS and Android. Basically they will be treated like Ubuntu and OS X are treated right now.

I found out today that Tablet questions on Super User are closed as off-topic.

Related question: Will iPad be acceptable subject matter for Super User? I guess not?

There is no rational logic for this, since Tablet PCs are just a different form factor of computer, like laptops used to be. There needs to be a discussion on this.

  • Good question, especially if the trend that tablet-os'es and computer-os'es are converging continues.
    – Nifle
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 13:54
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    How hard is it to ask a question without acting like you've escaped from some sort of oppressive regime that might catch up with you at any moment? Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 14:01
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    All tablets (sans the ones that run a "full" desktop OS) are nothing more than glorified cell phones... Unless there's something my Android phone can't do that your tablet can (in which case, I'd love to hear it). We have to draw the line somewhere, and this is where. Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 14:04
  • @Michael, how hard is it to take all facts into account. I'm reality-driven, not the Pollyanna type. Sorry for the dose of reality. Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 14:23
  • @slhck, that was a sad edit, removing some of the facts from the discussion, but not unexpected. Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 14:24
  • @Lance Nothing personal -- Feel free to roll back, but let's not make this a meta-discussion.
    – slhck
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 14:25
  • @slhck, huh!, this is a Meta post. Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 14:26
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    @Lance But not a discussion about the discussion culture. This post is about whether tablets should be on-topic or not, nothing more.
    – slhck
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 14:27
  • @Lance Can you clarify which questions should be on-topic? Are you asking about tablets running generic Windows/Linux version only?
    – slhck
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 14:31
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    @slhck, I don't think specific OSs should be the issue, otherwise we just trap ourselves into being the Windows/Linux site, and lose ground as other OSs come to dominate in the years to come (what if we'd been the TRS-80 or CPM site?). I think on-topic should be all non-phone-form-factor computers, though I wouldn't mind help defining this more precisely. If you see how to edit it this in, go ahead. And the question that alerted me was actually on the main site (so I edited to reflect that differently). Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 14:36
  • @Lance Roberts you think this site should be about all non-phone-form-factor computers, but you also don't think that specific operating systems should be the issue? I don't see your logic in restricting one aspect of a device but allowing the other. Where do we draw the line, and who decides what a non-phone-form-factor computer is? Also, last I checked, the form factor of a tablet is nearly the same as a cellphone (albeit a bit larger). Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 14:42
  • @lance an embedded system is not a personal computer. Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 15:30
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    @random, it doesn't mention tablet computers at all, just electronic devices and phones. Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 0:21
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    How would the future Windows 8 play into this? Would we only looking at customizable hardware than ran it? Or tablets that run it as well?
    – Vervious
    Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 0:37
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    @Nano8Blazex Forget Windows 8 and tablets, Windows 7 is already on Dell, HP, and Viewsonic tablet devices, I believe. Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 17:47

5 Answers 5


It all depends on what operating system it runs in my opinion. Most tablet operating systems are just glorified, "user-friendly" cellphone-based systems (Android, iOS, WP7), and should not be on Super User in my opinion. If the tablet runs Linux/OSX/Windows 7 or 8/Unix, then it's fair game.

Why? Well, can you create and program an application while running the device? Do you have the flexibility and choice of compiling your own applications that run on other operating systems?

I'm not saying that you can't do these things, but use some common sense. There's so many applications I use on a daily basis that work on Windows/Linux/Mac. And if it didn't, I could (in most cases) easily just compile it on the new operating system.

The same can not be said for most phone/tablet operating systems, and I think that's where we should draw the line. These are highly embedded devices with very specific hardware and software requirements, removing most of the modularity from the system - and that's what a "computer" is all about. I think KronoS worded this point very well:

One thing I would add is the fact that the hardware cannot be upgraded either. I.e. The memory cannot be raised. The fact that it's an 'embedded system' makes it just like the game console and the cell phone. I forsee SE starting it's own dedicated site for these but we don't need to service them.

My final argument, from the FAQ, Super User is not about electronic devices, media players, cell phones or smart phones, except insofar as they interface with your computer. If you want to argue that your tablet is more then a smart phone, we'd love to see some evidence. There is a distinction here, and you can't ignore it just because you feel like your question fits here.

If your tablet runs iOS/Android/WP7, it does not belong here. If it runs Windows 7/Linux/OS X, then it belongs here. 'Nuff said.

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    If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, then we might as well call it a duck ... errr Computer. But only then.
    – slhck
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 14:06
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    @Breakthrough, while I disagree, thank you for putting up a rational argument, it's really refreshing. Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 14:21
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    One thing I would add is the fact that the hardware cannot be upgraded either. I.e. The memory cannot be raised. The fact that it's an 'embedded system' makes it just like the game console and the cell phone. I forsee SE starting it's own dedicated site for these but we don't need to service them. Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 15:29
  • @KronoS this is exactly what I was trying to get across, +1. I put your comment in my answer above, it's worded very well. Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 15:32
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    @KronoS So my Macbook is also off-topic, because, besides RAM (not all models) and HDD I cannot replace anything? What about networking devices like routers?
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 18:23
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    The second paragraph is, for me, the most important distinction. While conceivable, it's really difficult to be a "power user" (or SuperUser) with those devices. Yeah great, I downloaded 10 apps today. It's lean-back computing. I love my iPad, but "real" computers — as many questions on this site show — are very different.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 18:26
  • @DanielBeck Well a router would be off topic if it were talking about the router specifically and nothing else. Most router questions stay within the 'except insofar as they interface with your computer' clause of the FAQ. As far as MacBook's they ate obviously on-topic as they do allow for easier customization of hardware than an embedded system. Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 0:49
  • @KronoS DDWRT is about as much a "real computer" operating system as iOS is. It is, for whatever reason, considered on topic.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 7:20
  • This is nonsense, of course. iOS is Mac OS X. There's nothing that makes it a "fake" operating system or a "phone" operating system other than the fact that it was introduced on the iPhone platform first. Windows XP Tablet PC Edition is just as much a "fake" operating system as iOS. Are questions about it allowed? Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 22:31
  • @Cody AFAIK, WXPTPCE is Windows XP plus some stuff. iOS is Mac OS X minus a lot of stuff. Sure, they share a lot of the basics, but you just can't argue that Apple took OS X and just added tablet specific functionality.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Aug 27, 2011 at 14:01
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    @DanielBeck DD-WRT specifically deals with home networking, which is allowed. Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 7:13
  • It's not that we don't want questions like that on the SE sites, I think Jett Atwood makes a good point below: There are just BETTER places for those questions to be asked. Yea, you probably don't have 7 gold, 18 silver, and 21 bronze medals and 12,932 of rep on those other sites. But someone there does, and someone there knows a boatload more about the specific devices you have specific questions with and will be much better suited to answering. Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 17:51
  • Win8/WinRT has thrown a monkey wrench in this, now. Win8 tablet questions obviously fit, but Windows RT is a new category of operating system. It isn't Windows Phone 8, but it is the non-x86 part of the full-blown Windows 8 operating system. You definitely can't say its a glorified phone OS. Thoughts?
    – user939
    Commented Oct 26, 2012 at 18:18

It is something of a grey area, however, there are already good places in the Stack Exchange network for primary tablet questions:

For iPads and variants: http://apple.stackexchange.com

For Android tablets and variants: http://android.stackexchange.com

Super User has historically been modelled on the classic, general purpose computer -- whereas tablets are more like fixed function devices.

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    Whaddabout Windows RT? They would definitely (or at least should definitely) be off topic on windowsphone.se. Where do Surface (and other Win RT tablet) questions go?
    – user939
    Commented Oct 26, 2012 at 18:20

In addition to what breakthrough said (which is pretty much what i would say...)

To me, the question isn't just 'can i post this question here' its 'can i find an answer'. Before the advent of the stackbabies SU was probably the best place for this. I'm a windows/linux guy. I can answer some OS X questions.. the moment it comes down to webos/ipad/android, i'm lost. On the other hand someone on apple.se or android.se might know the answer.

Tablet questions shouldn't just be moved cause its the 'wrong' place. They should be moved to places cause they have a better set of users to tackle the specific question.

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    I like this logic... Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 15:32

I think it would be placed on the Android Enthusiasts if the tablet OS is Android, but in some specific cases where the tablet OS is Linux or Windows it should be posted here on SU. This is the way that doubts are currently posted today, when users have problems with Android, the post is migrated to Andorid Enthusiasts and when is something about Windows or Linux or even hardware that involves this two OSs the question is posted on SU.


Perhaps the criteria should be that a tablet computer must be able to stand on it's own to be acknowledged as a real computer.

Today most(?) tablet computers needs a "proper" computer to synk to, that IMO makes them 2:nd class computer citizens

  • Only if you want to sync... With your logic, my notebook isn't a "real" computer either, because it requires a "proper" computer to sync to in order for me to get any actual work done. You're missing some logic here. iPads can be used entirely without a computer and without syncing them with anything at all. Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 22:33
  • @Cody - I think you are picking nits here. By your logic, my stationary computer isn't an real computer either because I have to sync it to Googls servers to get any real work done. An anyway, an iPad needs to be synced with a computer at least once. I had to "activate" my iPad first time I started it, same for my iPhone 3Gs.
    – Nifle
    Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 9:31
  • A MacBook Air doesn't come with a built-in media drive. In order to (re-)load the OS, you have to hook it up to another computer and share the optical drive. Seems similar. And yes, your example about your computer requiring you to sync with Google to get actual work done is also apropos. Syncing is not a unique, disqualifying "feature" of the iPad. Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 16:36
  • @Cody - Again you are not quite there. My MacBook Air comes with it's recovery media on a memory stick, no cd/dvd drive needed. A tablet or a smart phone needs another computer to be fully utilized. Sure you can use them with out one, but nobody really expects you to. I grow weary of this discussion, this is my last post on this subject. State your opinion in an answer of your own if you have anything more to say on the subject.
    – Nifle
    Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 17:31

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