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It is very often the case that users will ask off-topic questions on SO. Mostly I see server-configuration questions, which are flagged, as this is technically not programming and the mods would say this should be asked on, say, Server Fault.

The major problem with this is that Server Fault is comparative tumbleweed neighbourhood, whereas SO is very busy and contains a LOT of users, many of which have the precise expertise sought for by the OP.

I see many off topic questions with a high number of upvotes, answers with high upvotes, and answers that are accepted before the question is closed. Clearly, the users of SO got a lot of mileage out of something that 'technically' shouldn't have been there.

Given the purpose of Stack Exchange is to find answers to problems and queries, is it not acceptable to allow questions to be asked in a community where expertise is so much broader than mere 'programming', as it often goes in hand with very regular server issues, and Server Fault just doesn't have the numbers to get the pleasant speed and efficacy of response seen on Stack Overflow.

This comes to mind because I'm currently waiting for an answer on SF, and I know that if I ninja'd my question on SO, I'd probably get the answer I need before it gets closed.

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So how do you expect ServerFault to ever gain enough users if we don't send the on-topic questions over there? – Martijn Pieters Jan 25 '13 at 14:01
Set a bounty on your ServerFault question instead of burdening SO with off-topic questions, is what I'd say. – Martijn Pieters Jan 25 '13 at 14:02
You posted that Q on SF less than 15 minutes before complaining about it here... have a bit of patience. – Mat Jan 25 '13 at 14:03
Yes, I see that argument. But given both are so closely related, perhaps we should consider the whole existance of SF to be redundant. Putting those questions on SO wouldn't, to my mind, make much functional difference. Meanwhile the user's question is pushed to a quiet site where it probably won't be answered. Sucks for that user. – monkeymatrix Jan 25 '13 at 14:03
"Yes, I know you're a butcher, but you know a lot about cars as well. So what do you think the problem is? The battery?"....No, just no. – Bart Jan 25 '13 at 14:04
I'm not complaining @Mat, and it's not my first question on SF (although points for stalking). My point is more to do with the fact I see very many off-topic questions getting a lot of SO attention, whereas on SF they... don't. – monkeymatrix Jan 25 '13 at 14:04
@Bart more like 'You're a butcher, but do you know a lot about running a business?', the two go hand in hand a vast majority of the time. – monkeymatrix Jan 25 '13 at 14:05
@monkeymatrix At which point I would throw a meat cleaver at your head if you persisted asking me off-topic questions. Or to bring it back to SO speak: do it often enough and you'll be banned. – Bart Jan 25 '13 at 14:06
@Bart, I don't do it myself at all. I respect the rules even if I don't see them being effective. The point is to get answers to questions, not to idealogically follow rules that result in questions going unanswered. – monkeymatrix Jan 25 '13 at 14:07
Very small-minded downvoting going on here. The question is perfectly valid and warrants discussion. – monkeymatrix Jan 25 '13 at 14:08
@monkeymatrix: On meta, downvoting indicates disagreement with the premise, not a dispute with the question having been asked. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 25 '13 at 14:09
The premise is an invitation for discussion, not stating my support for asking off-topic questions. The discussion is worthy, disagreement or not. – monkeymatrix Jan 25 '13 at 14:10
Server Fault's answered percentage is actually a little higher than SO: So not only are you more likely to get advice from a proper professional, you're slightly more likely to get an answer period (and that's ignoring the whole off topic thing) – Ben Brocka Jan 25 '13 at 14:28
@monkeymatrix Have you tried Quora? If not, try it out for a week, and lets see if you still think that SO's laser sharp focus is a bad thing afterwards. – Yannis Jan 25 '13 at 14:44
140,000 questions and 110,000 users seems like an enormous, sprawling web site by almost any standards, not a tumbleweed neighborhood. – Bill the Lizard Jan 25 '13 at 15:47

I don't see the need for this at all. The sites within the network have a somewhat narrow scope for a reason. It attracts a specific audience with a specific set of knowledge. And it keeps the level of quality within the appropriate subject matter at a high level and well focused.

Allowing off-topic questions would go against that. And what's more, it would simply invalidate the existence of the site where your question would be on-topic. If it's a non-beta site, its existence has been justified already. But if you want to argue against that and propose a site-merge, by all means go ahead.

Yes, there sometimes is an overlap between the respective areas of expertise. And yes, users of one site might be well able to answer a question on an other site's topics. But that does not mean it needs to be included on the other site. If that means you'll have to wait that little bit longer for your answer, so be it.

And even though you disagree, I'd argue that you're more likely to get a good quality answer (and possibly more likely to get an answer at all) on the site where your question is on-topic.

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This is not an answer. You're merely repeating the sentiments of you comments. Looking for some easy rep are we? – monkeymatrix Jan 25 '13 at 15:18
By all means feel free to downvote the answer. And if you must, flag it for moderator attention as "not an answer". You asked for a discussion, you get a discussion. – Bart Jan 25 '13 at 15:19
That's a laughable suggestion, since I've been downvoted far beyond the point of being able to downvote myself. And it seems you can't flag questions on meta. Either way, still not an answer and you're just gunning for what you think is easy rep. Very distasteful. – monkeymatrix Jan 25 '13 at 19:19
Yes, you are correct about the flagging and downvoting. You do need rep for both of those indeed. In the flagging case that's perhaps understandable, but also somewhat strange. In any case, I'm confident that my answer would stand up to scrutiny, so flagging would, I think, be a pointless exercise. And as for rep, they are fake points on a Meta site where rep doesn't really mean a thing... And with almost 200rep on SO, you'll get your free 100 rep bonus here anyway. So don't sweat it. – Bart Jan 26 '13 at 16:56

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