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This question was rapidly closed, as I was writing a detailed answer actually:

https://superuser.com/questions/458666/is-it-neccessary-to-use-antivrus-tools-for-linux

I'm not questioning why the question was closed in its current format; but could we not have edited it, or encouraged the author to edit it? Because I believe what he was actually looking for, a reason, is a constructive question.

Which brings up the purpose of this question/discussion:

If I ask for an opinion, like he did, obviously, this is subjective and question should be closed.

But what about asking for a reason? If I ask what is the reasons to use PHP5 vs PHP4; it has definite answers that can be given. There are certain patches, bugs that were addressed, new features that were added, no one can "argue" that, its not subjective, it's pure fact.

I feel it's the same in this case, if I ask if there are valid reasons to have anti-virus on Linux, which is what I believe the poster was trying to ask, and just had a poorly phrased question. There are definite reasons, or answers to that.

Any answer that tries to give an opinion, instead of a reason, should then be flagged I feel, but not the question itself; as the question isn't asking for an opinion, its asking for a very answerable question of what reasons exist.

Am I right? Am I wrong? Is this a gray area or line? Could we have fixed this question by editing instead of closing, or encouraging the user to edit or rephrase the question himself?

  • 2
    It's a valid question, but a great example of how to get a valid question closed as quickly as possible. Read the question from the perspective of an average computer user (which is whom Super User is trying to appeal to), and you'll see very quickly that the question was asked in a way to try and sway your opinion before the OP even asked what he/she wanted to. We take security questions seriously here on Super User, and I feel that any question that prompts you to prove why you need an antivirus software is of bad form. Start with the most security, and reduce it where needed. – Breakthrough Aug 7 '12 at 19:31
  • Agreed, I don't disagree with the closing of this question at all, I just wanted to make sure in the future, had the question been properly asked, or edited, if a "reasons" type question is allowed. I realize you have to carefully phrase or word it, or risk being subjective. I just wish there was a better way to do it than closing the question, but I guess with our current technical capabilities, and past questions having gotten out of hand, there really isn't, in addition to the low rep of the user. – Brian Deragon Aug 7 '12 at 22:36
  • Brian, as I said, we welcome any hints to the OP on how to improve the question. I can understand it's hard getting used to the Stack Exchange format of asking subjective questions and wording them in such a way that the community will not instantly close them. However, we're not Skeptics, so it's always been hard to enforce good answers (a lot harder than just closing the question). Hope you understand where we're coming from. – slhck Aug 8 '12 at 10:32
  • Seems wrong to close a question that can be salvaged via an edit by someone with enough reps or by the OP, some questions get closed too quickly, disallowing any editing, so what is the point in allowing improvement of poor questions in the first place? – Moab Aug 16 '12 at 2:21
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Could we have fixed this question […] encouraging the user to edit or rephrase the question himself?

This is mentioned in the banner below:

Also, commenters have been very verbose, including Darth Android, who said:

If you could clarify exactly what criteria would define a "correct" answer to this question, it would be a large step to making it much more suitable for SuperUser

That's the main point.

I feel that in this case, the user basically shared their opinion and then asked for others. Actually, I didn't really see the actual question until the last paragraph — everything before was (all valid) reasoning, but in that sense they already answered their own question, right? They already had their opinion and asked others about what they thought.

The problem that always exists is that these kinds of topic inspire everyone to have an opinion. While we do have the means to put up a banner below the question asking people to include specific references and backing up their claims, this message is often ignored. A question then slowly drifts into the state where every answer is equally valid, which is absolutely not what we want.

If the OP were asking for specific evidence of malware being a threat to Linux systems, and factual references supporting that, then I guess the question would be acceptable. Also, asking for reasons, yes. To some extent, that is an acceptable question.

However, most other users don't feel confident enough to completely change another user's question on their own – rightfully so. If you can come up with an edit to improve the question, and then post a good answer, that's of course something we'd appreciate.

Understand that the past has shown us that we can't let questions sit around forever until they spiral into becoming a pile of personal opinion, and then close them. We need to encourage askers to read Good Subjective, Bad Subjective, and we need to be more strict about point number 5:

Great subjective questions insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references.

Opinion isn’t all bad, so long as it’s backed up with something other than “because I’m an expert”, or “because I said so”, or “just because”. Use your specific experiences to back up your opinions, as above, or point to some research you’ve done on the web or elsewhere that provides evidence to support your claims. We like you. We want to believe you. But like wikipedia itself, {{citation needed}}. And good subjective questions make this clear from the outset: back it up!

To wrap it up, you can of course suggest an edit to the question, then ask for the community to reopen it if they think that salvaged it.

4

As one of those who first voted to close the question, I have to agree with slhck's answer, but also feel that I should offer my own viewpoint on why this particular question was closed so rapidly.

My first issue was with the title, worded as though it should have to be proven that antivirus tools are necessary on Linux. A much better title would have been, "Is it recommended to use an antivirus client on Linux?" which is a preferable and more open format for such a question.

Second, the original poster of that question had several different definitions for when an antivirus client should be used, stated his/her own reasons, then assumed why Linux might be targeted less, and concluded all of this on his/her own without any external sources (aside from the small link at the end, which coincidentally supported only the OP's viewpoint).

For these reasons, I felt that the question was designed to mislead both readers and answerers that antivirus software should be "avoided" on Linux. The question then goes on to quickly mention a few other security tools in a one-liner (SELinux/AppArmor...), and then continues to ignore them.

My final nit-pick with this question:

If there is necessity please list out the needs to use antivirus I like to here the reasons why I need to use antivirus programs on Linux?

This may just be personal opinion, but I think a much better way to end such a controversial question would be to maybe guide the discussion towards the specific cases where an antivirus software is not required - rather than take your average user, and try to convince them that they must have these reasons before installing an antivirus program. Perhaps this would have been a better way:

If it's not necessary to use an antivirus program on Linux, can anyone tell me reasons why it's not necessary?

See the difference? The second question assumes you're already using an AV, and lists the cases where you might not want to use it. This contrasts with the first version (asked by the OP), which only lists reasons why you do want to use it (and thus, if the average person doesn't happen to fit into any of those categories, he/she may opt to not use antivirus software even though it may be beneficial).


TL,DR: OP was trying to ask a question in such a manner that people looking at the question would be lead to believe that antivirus software was not needed running Linux. Furthermore, OP limited discussion to only antivirus software, and limited his/her sources to a single resource - which happens to support only his/her viewpoint on the matter.

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