I have recently asked this question about file management issues with the mobile version of Foxit in iOS. The question was downvoted and marked as off-topic as it belongs to apple.SE.

I am just curious why we have this restriction here. Is the scope of software suitable for this site defined by the hardware on which it runs or by the vendor?

From a user's perspective, how does one tell which to choose from the spectrum of things ranging from Rasperry Pi, to iPhone/iPad, to more powerful computers?

The reasoning here is weird.

-- Update --

As @Bob explained, pads may still be on target and phones are currently considered off-topic.

As a matter of fact, the official name for Foxit mobile only mentions that it works for iOS, both iPhones and iPads. In my mind, iPhones and iPads are not much different software-wise, aren't they? For the Foxit and many many others, it seems to be only the screen size.

So if I had asked the question and call it Foxit mobile or Foxit iPad, it wouldn't be off-topic?

  • @bob Thanks for the explanation. Please see my update.
    – tinlyx
    Commented May 25, 2015 at 0:05
  • 1
    I'd also add, there's a site specifically for apple gear where this would be on topic. Tablets are a bit of a wierd place for us, historically.
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Commented May 25, 2015 at 0:51
  • I agree. In fact, my first SU question was about routers and networks, and I was directed here from ServerFault as they told me non-professional server admin problems belong here. As a user, you can't really tell from SE website names these days. SuperUsers answer Excel questions and ServerFault does not like router questions. Have the veterans considered these naming issues when directing folks around?
    – tinlyx
    Commented May 25, 2015 at 1:02
  • @tinlyx It's impossible to accurately describe an entire site by just the name. That's what the on-topic and off-topic sections of the help centre and new-user tour are for. Again, tablets are a blurry area - especially iOS, which has more in common with phones than desktop computers. The other part is that the decision to allow some tablet questions wasn't really publicised, so some users will still VtC.
    – Bob
    Commented May 25, 2015 at 2:48
  • @Bob Thanks for the clarification. I don't think it's possible either. Just wanted to ask to clarify. I would propose the change as you suggested. But obviously, I don't know this website enough to propose changes. Hopefully this will raise some questions for others to think about scoping issues.
    – tinlyx
    Commented May 25, 2015 at 6:41

2 Answers 2


Understanding our history a little helps to answer this question a little (in that what once was on-topic is now off-topic):

The beginnings of StackExchange was StackOverflow. After noticing a lot of questions that weren't exactly related to programming two sister sites were created, SuperUser and ServerFault.

This trilogy had one really defined scoped site (Stack Overflow) one medium well defined scoped site (Server Fault) and a site that pretty much almost anything went (Super User).

At any rate, if you wanted a community where (almost) anything goes, you’re about to get exactly what you asked for in the form of superuser.com. If your question has to do with computers, it will be allowed there.

We've grown a little since then; Stack Exchange was formed along with it multiple sites that scoped within the bounds of what Super User used to be. This has led to changes in our scope over the years to be what it is defined to now, and will more than likely continue to evolve in the coming years.

With this said, for now, the following is how I (and from what I've seen the community appears to be doing as well) handle questions of this nature:

  • If the question is related to a mobile operating system only, the question is off-topic
  • If the question is related to the interaction of a Desktop/Laptop and the Mobile device then the question may be on-topic.
  • If the question is about the Windows, MAC, or Linux operating systems the question is on-topic
  • If the question is about a PC or Laptop hardware issues the question is on-topic
  • If the question is about networking that may involve mobile/ARM devices then the question is on-topic so long as it's a networking question and not how to connect the mobile/arm devices to the network.
  • Thanks for the classification of historical development. What you quoted is what I perceived about superuser.com. Meanwhile, I also have the feeling that the SE websites are becoming more narrow-minded. Every site, beginning from StackOverflow, is becoming better at rejecting questions, often without a clear solution how these traditional acceptable question should be answered. Re-directed questions are at times re-directed elsewhere. No one seems to care about these outcast questions that much.
    – tinlyx
    Commented May 26, 2015 at 17:28
  • Technically, I don't think mobile OSes are not that different from PC ones, considering the complexity of modern mobile OSes and lack of complexity in early PC OSes such as DOS. What you summarized about mobile OS being off-topic, I agree, may be the status quo. My question though, was, whether this distinction is reasonable at all. Personally, I found it rather arbitrary.
    – tinlyx
    Commented May 26, 2015 at 17:32
  • @tinlyx whether this distinction is reasonable at all yes I do believe that this is reasonable and necessary. Super User came from roots of "anything goes" and now that we've clarified a little, it's helped to raise the quality of questions. The reasoning for being more 'narrow-minded' isn't really narrow-mindedness but rather scoping to a finer degree and then sticking to that scope. I actually find it refreshing personally as I can easily see what the scope of the site is. Commented May 26, 2015 at 17:53
  • I agree the intent is good, to scope to a finer degree. It obviously has its downsides as well. I find it interesting that you and others may find the scope of this site easy to see. To me, it is the outcome of "design by error". The result can be sometimes pleasantly good, such as the python language. I hope that will happen. Again, this distinction based on mobile vs. PC may well be necessary. But I doubt that there is much of a reasoning other than the argument of "openness" raised in the other answer, which is itself on shaky grounds. If we had PCUser vs MobileUser.com, I can still think.
    – tinlyx
    Commented May 26, 2015 at 18:31

The line has become blurrier in recent years, but the openness of a platform plays a large part. iOS, Android, Windows Phone and other phone and tablet OSes tend to be fairly closed platforms that don't give much control to the user and can't be easily used for general-purpose computing. That said, yes, all these areas are converging. We had a discussion on tablets ~2012.

AFAIK, phones are still officially off-topic. If you truly believe that should change, you're free to ask another meta question proposing the change.

See also: How are we going to deal with Windows 8 on ARM? (no complete consensus there)

  • All good points. The line is likely to become even more blurred if the rumours about Windows 10 being (almost) identical on PCs and Phones are true. I see this debate livening up then.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented May 29, 2015 at 10:29

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