I've got an impression about several SE sites and their overlapping scopes:

  1. StackOverflow is for programming questions
  2. ServerFault is for server administration (unix, windows or other)
  3. AskUbuntu is for Ubuntu questions (and judging from the questions, other desktop *nixes as well)
  4. SuperUser is for power users asking questions about software and hardware (and seems to have windows users as a majority, but has unix users within scope, too)

Now, where would be the scope of this site?

It clearly overlaps to some extent with all four of these since the questions about bash programming could also go to SO, questions about using these scripts to administer systems could go to SF, and if we do use Ubuntu it could go there, too.

What kind of a question would it be to fit perfectly here, and less-than-perfectly on the other sites?

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1 Answer

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Noooo! You pointed to the elephant in the room!

Unix is basically a subset of SU and SF. Programming questions are typically closed as belonging on SO.

Ubuntu questions can be asked here or on AU, but with different expectations on the answers: AU answers tend to focus on the software and UI that's installed by default, and don't make any effort to apply to non-Ubuntu systems. Unix.SE answers tend to be more generic, as the answerer might know nothing about Ubuntu but suggest a generic method that works on all Linux distributions, say.

For Unix-related questions, Unix.SE bridges the SU-SF split. It's also a way to make unix questions easy to find by people who don't want to sort through the myriad unrelated questions on SU and SF (this is mostly an issue with SU's abudance of poorly-tagged questions).

I wonder if there is a place in the Stack Exchange ecosystem for a dumping ground for computer questions. SU would be it. Between Unix.SE, a yet-to-be created site for Windows, and a yet-to-be created site for computer hardware (IIRC there's a SE 1.0 site that never took on), almost all the topics of SU would be covered. It would be sad not to have a good place for “alternative” OSes, but SU doesn't attract experts on these topics anyway, because they represent a tiny proportion of questions and they're not easy to find. More problematic is the lack of a good place to discuss interactions between OSes (virtual machines, networking, emulation, ...).

Where to ask shell questions has been inconclusively debated before, e.g. Where questions about linux shell commands go? and I'm sure I've seen other questions. In practice people continue to ask on all three sites, four now with Unix.SE.

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Excellent answer (actually, the one I was hoping to hear) –  Goran Jovic Dec 11 '10 at 22:06
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@Goran: it's not the one I was hoping to hear, though: I wish SU would work, but I fear it won't. –  Gilles Dec 11 '10 at 22:42
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Well actually, when I joined SU, I was thinking it would be like how you described Unix.se. Not Ubuntu desktop, and not actual server administration like on SF. I was disapointed when I saw it. That's why I'm glad there is this one. –  Goran Jovic Dec 11 '10 at 23:01
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