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I was having a discussion with @Gilles lately, whether to allow questions about OS X being virtualized. In essence, the Apple license forbids virtualizing certain products, but the majority of votes went for his answer, based on which we should allow these questions.

Now, the question we always link to when discussing the principal issue is this:

Are “Hackintosh” questions allowed?

Initially, @Diago's answer – who was a diamond mod at that time – was the only one, and it seemed like there was nothing to discuss: These questions are off topic, and we don't even need community votes. This was more or less confirmed by @nhinkle:

as Diago answered quite some time ago, the moderation team has decided to discourage these questions. Furthermore, Stack Exchange is a US company, and is therefore beholden to US law – nhinkle ♦


However, @Arjan's answer, which at some point even outscored Diago's, was saying the exact opposite, and for a visitor of the "Are Hackintosh questions allowed?" question, I'd find that highly confusing. Why is there no consensus from the community, when they are off topic?

This is why I asked Arjan to delete his answer, which he did. But at the same time, I asked moderators to make Diago's answer official, by adding a note.

It would be great if a mod could leave an official comment here. There's no diamond sign on this page and it doesn't look official in any way.

Nothing happened. I asked in chat again (can't find the link), but still, no changes. Arjan also raised a flag, which was marked helpful, but there's still no comment:

I don't know why no moderator would leave just one comment here. It would take ten seconds to do so, but nothing has happened after multiple requests by different users.


So, I'm afraid this is a chicken-egg problem. Here's what I'd like to see:

  • If there is a moderation (or SE-wide) policy regardless of what the community thinks, make it official, please. Someone with a diamond next to your name, please add your comment, and delete Arjan's answer (he'd be fine with it).

  • If there is no moderation (or SE-wide) policy without community consensus, we should re-think the Hackintosh questions. If that's the case, please let us know.

  • Nothing happened -> I didn't even notice that. it's easy to lose messages. Could've dropped an @-reply, would've done a edit which I've done now. Not sure why this is being brought up again. – Sathyajith Bhat Feb 23 '12 at 10:48
  • I just brought it up again because of the discussion I had with Gilles on the linked topic. – slhck Feb 23 '12 at 15:00
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In my opinion, I supported Diago back then and didn't see the need to leave an additional comment to show it. Here's a related question about the tag that shows how I feel about them: Banned Tag Proposal: Hackintosh

The reason I would refrain from making it official is that its not a big problem, we can deal with it on a case-by-case basis. If we had to add a bullet point to our FAQ for every single instance of something violating our 'FAQ' or community policies, the list would become way too long.

We didn't put Synergy questions in our FAQ, even though it was made clear to them, we didn't want to be their exclusive support site (as much as I disagree with that).

While it may be a weak excuse, another important reason its not in the FAQ is that I don't see the need for a witch hunt on these questions. If I spot one, I'll deal with it, if it manages to fly under the radar, well good for him. The community can only do so much and I've never seen the need to hardcode the policy somewhere

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    I don't think we need to add this to the FAQ – I didn't even ask about doing so –, but we need something to point to when we close Hackintosh questions, since users may ask why. And we need to be consistent about it. If you point to a Meta question like the one with two equally scored answers, it's just confusing. So, just to be clear, is this still policy, even though Diago's and Arjan's answers were theoretically both at the same score? Would it make sense to make a new poll to re-evaluate what the community thinks? – slhck Feb 23 '12 at 15:02
  • I don't see why it should be revisited. btw, it was +16/-7 v/s +9/-1 @slhck – Sathyajith Bhat Feb 23 '12 at 15:07
  • @Sathya Ah, true that. Arjan's answer was posted much later and has more agreement though, so that's at least interesting. – slhck Feb 23 '12 at 15:08
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Moderators have the job of enforcing policy, not of defining it. Defining policy is up to the community. The lack of posts or comments from moderators does not make a policy unofficial, so long as it clearly expresses community consensus.

Things get trickier when the community doesn’t have a clear consensus. Then it’s up to the moderators to make some featured meta-posts and suchlike to get discussion going to try to reach a consensus. However, this may not be a high priority if the situation rarely arises. How often are Hackintosh questions asked here anyway?

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    I agree with your 1st sentence, and then it gets hazy. Things that are based entirely on community consensus when the community is split can become a moderation nightmare. As the scale tilts one way or the other, subjects could cycle in and out of being on-topic. On-topic questions would go off-topic and get closed, possibly deleted, and then the topic could become OK again. That would lead to unhappy contributors. Topics like this should be tied to some underlying principle, which at most, allows for controlled evolution. – fixer1234 Jun 30 '16 at 2:44
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    I believe that the reason I use when asked to back up deletions is the TOS - specifically part 3 and the lines that go "Subscriber represents, warrants and agrees that it will not contribute any Subscriber Content that (a) infringes, violates or otherwise interferes with any copyright or trademark of another party" There's no legal way to buy OS X/macOS without a apple system, ergo, hackintosh questions are against the TOS. Also... a lot of them are terrible. – Journeyman Geek Jun 30 '16 at 14:49
  • @JourneymanGeek on the contrary, I don't see how information about Hackintosh technology is the same thing as actually violating a copyright or trademark. It's like the difference between talking about drugs, doing drugs, and dealing drugs - three different concepts. Just because you might have told me one time about that time you tried heroin doesn't mean that cop over there can bust you for selling an 8-ball to little kids. Also, see this excellent documentary by Magritte. – Robert Columbia Dec 31 '18 at 22:53
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There is no general Stack Exchange policy. The general trend is to only ban clearly illegal content. In other words, by default, if it's a grey area, it's allowed. See these threads on Meta.SO:

So the decision to allow Hackintosh questions or not is up to the Super User community. For a long time, the only answer to Are “Hackintosh” questions allowed? was BinaryMisfit (formerly known as Diago)'s vehement no. Note that although BinaryMisfit was a moderator at the time, his being a moderator is not what carried the decision: what carried the decision was the community consensus.

Later Arjan posted a defense of Hackintosh questions which now has the score +30 to BinaryMisfit's +19. So the SU community no longer has a consensus. There is a weak majority in favor of allowing Hackintosh questions, getting to a point where a change in moderation policy should be considered.

Note that Arjan's answer should not be deleted, since it represents the opinion of a part of the community.

Disclosure: I personally support Hackintosh questions, but this answer is not in defense or support of Hackintosh. It is about Stack Exchange policy.

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    Arjan requested the deletion, twice over. – Sathyajith Bhat Feb 28 '12 at 2:47
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    How is it a grey area if to support or enable others' SLA violations? We're not linking to file sharing sites either, and don't tolerate "Where can I download a cracked MS Office?" questions. Admittedly, that's less technically interesting, but hackintosh answers are never about DIY, but always "Buy a computer with these features, download this patched image". Note that you can't even buy a full copy of the latest major release of OS X in a store, so it's almost always automatically a regular piracy question as well. – Daniel Beck Feb 28 '12 at 8:03
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    @Sathya In his defense, Arjan only requested to delete it since I asked him to, because it never seemed like "This is a community decision" — if it were the case, his answer should have stayed. – slhck Feb 28 '12 at 8:24
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    @DanielBeck It's a grey area because 1: the fact that it's a license violation is not clearly established (I'm not aware of any jurisprudence that confirms that all “Hackintosh” installations are prohibited by the license, and in fact it seems that some installations of OSX on a VM running on Apple hardware are widely thought to be ok); – Gilles Feb 28 '12 at 9:51
  • @DanielBeck and 2: linking to a file distributed in violation of a license is directly accessory to violating the license, whereas technical discussions that may be used in legal situations are fine (for example, if Hackintosh is against the law in SE's jurisdiction (the US) but ok in another (some countries have more restrictions than the US on the validity of contractual clauses), it's ok to discuss Hackintosh in the uS). – Gilles Feb 28 '12 at 9:51
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    @Sathya Arjan's answer should not be deleted, whatever Arjan's wishes are. If Arjan does not wish to have his name associated with the answer, it can be dissociated. Meta discussions must not be erased at the whim of a user or moderator (and there are precedents for that — I won't discuss any specifics publicly). – Gilles Feb 28 '12 at 9:53
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    @Gilles it wasn't deleted at the whim of a moderator - Arjan himself asked for deletion. I don't care if it's a Meta discussion or not. I'm not going undelete it just because some other user woke up few months later. As for the policy, it's been made clear that Hackintosh questions won't be supported. If you're so eager to have the other option, please post an answer yourself. – Sathyajith Bhat Feb 28 '12 at 10:13
  • @Sathya Again: do what you want with Hackintosh questions. It's been a long time since I was interested in SU anyway. I am concerned with Stack Exchange policy. Your behavior is creating the impression that moderators decide what's on-topic on a Stack Exchange site: no, it's the community, with moderators only stepping in when the community does not come to a viable decision. – Gilles Feb 28 '12 at 10:47
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    @Gilles Community has been instrumental in closing Hackintosh questions with little-to-no resistance since the policy was proposed. I have no idea what you were doing till now. – Sathyajith Bhat Feb 28 '12 at 10:55
  • @Gilles that's not right - we come to a community consensus on these things, and so far the majority have declared this off topic. I feel your back lashing at the moderators now because that answer got deleted, even though it was at the request of the OP (twice) – Simon Sheehan Feb 28 '12 at 12:31
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    @SimonSheehan Er, yes, exactly, I am objecting to the deletion of that meta answer, not to the fact that Hackintosh questions are off-topic. – Gilles Feb 28 '12 at 12:39
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    Only for posterity: I don't think I asked for deletion like Sathya seemed to think a long time ago. Instead, I said I was fine with deletion if the other answer was/is indeed the official point of view. (I could easily have deleted myself again, like I did at some point as explained in the question.) – Arjan Aug 27 '13 at 10:54
  • Note that eventually Shog9, Community Coordinator for Stack Exchange, did undelete my answer again. So I guess SE agrees, Gilles. – Arjan Aug 27 '13 at 11:00

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