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The new help system doesn't work at all on ServerFault.com.

Only IT people know the expression 'stack overflow', thus 99% of new Stack Overflow users know it's a coding site. Unfortunately the same can't be said for 'server faults' because my cleaner (thinks she) knows what a server is - thus we get a lot of wildly inappropriate questions about home routers, gaming etc.

When we had a simple FAQ people could read it and the very first line explained we're there for professional sysadmin questions. Now this is buried beneath a generic, undiscussed and mandated 'help' system that does quite the opposite. It's no surprise then that throughout June we've had to close or migrate a lot more questions than usual - we can't even ask them to take a quick look at the FAQ either.

So why the iron-fist approach? I asked this question on meta.sf only to be told that all discussions around this decision were to be addressed here - is that a new policy too, that all SE-wide discussions/announcements are to be on meta.so?

I'm aware that SO had an enormous amount of users compared to SF but we still have a lot. None of the older, more established users, or mods for that matter, are happy about these changes and I know the mods don't feel like they're being listened to.

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I'm a Stack Overflow user, and I read this post. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Jul 1 '13 at 15:07
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Meta.so has always been the main discussion area for SE changes since it was the first site. SE as a whole is supposed to eventually have a meta site of its own and meta.so will be only for stackoverflow. –  Josh Mein Jul 1 '13 at 15:10
    
Link for Josh's comment about M.SO and Meta.StackExchange. Asked just under 18 (?!) months ago. –  tombull89 Jul 1 '13 at 15:12
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Thanks Josh - but that means users for the other sites need to keep a close on on meta.so for issues that will affect them. Couldn't there be a link post on affected site's metas? at least we'd know about them then without having to manually search, on a per-user basis, periodically for notices. It's a very pre-web kind of approach, nail news on the town-square board. –  Chopper3 Jul 1 '13 at 15:12
    
Here's another link on the subject, from the SO blog. –  michaelb958 Jul 1 '13 at 15:12
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Note that help/on-topic is mod-editable. –  Manishearth Jul 1 '13 at 15:18
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@Chopper3 For a moment there I thought you were Iain (who I knew had recently stepped down), but then I remembered that Iain changed his grav. This choppertar business is confusing. –  Manishearth Jul 1 '13 at 15:26
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I have a fair amount of things to say but I do want to first say that you didn't actually have to bring the discussion from Meta SF over here. We may have initiated the discussion here but that's no reason that the thread on Meta Server Fault was inappropriate - it was actually pretty appropriate since that's where most of the rest of the SF folk will see it. –  Grace Note Jul 1 '13 at 15:26
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@Manishearth - I'm the Chopper in the choppertar - I was away from the board for about 8 months dealing with cancer - came back the day of these changes in fact! –  Chopper3 Jul 1 '13 at 15:29
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He's busted cancer and now he's here to bust balls. –  Dan Jul 1 '13 at 15:29
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@GraceNote: Several closely related things have been brought up on mSF recently and I even pointed you and Jaydles at them. Jaydles even went so far as to propose a hangout (whatever that means). Unfortunately y'all haven't seen fit to say anything more... Seems to me that the only place to grab SE's attention is here on mSO. –  Iain Jul 1 '13 at 18:38
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I've posted a response to this over on Server Fault's Meta here. –  Grace Note Jul 1 '13 at 18:52
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@Iain - precisely my point, couldn't have put it better myself –  Chopper3 Jul 1 '13 at 20:18
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@Jaydles: I don't feel ignored but I was disappointed to hear (when I asked a SF mod) that nothing had progressed. GraceNote's comment above (about using SF meta) does not match my experience. Since Phil made this question there has been more SE employee activity on mSF than there has been in months (if you ignore the recent election). –  Iain Jul 1 '13 at 20:44
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Similar issue raised on AskDifferent meta.apple.stackexchange.com/questions/1731/… the on-topic definite should be at the top of the help page –  Mark Jul 2 '13 at 11:09

1 Answer 1

Server Fault does have a new FAQ page, but it's not /help.

It's the About page (which anon users get linked to in a big, shiny button)

enter image description here

The new About explains the target audience, introduces a user to the site, and has bullet points (yay) for the "what's on topic"/"what's off topic" bits. The target audience and bullet points are mod editable.

The new /help pages are meant as a reference; to link to when explaining something to a new user.

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So they replaced the faq link with help, then replaced the faq with about? I see. Sure. I'm sure that makes sense to somebody. –  Scott Pack Jul 1 '13 at 15:19
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serverfault.com/faq redirects to serverfault.com/help not serverfault.com/about –  Chris S Jul 1 '13 at 15:20
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That page doesn't place much emphasis on what is on topic, which is the thing we are having trouble with over there. Yes, it is near the top, but the wording is pretty weak and it actually took me a moment to find. –  Falcon Momot Jul 1 '13 at 15:20
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@ScottPack A new user is expected to read through it. From what I see, the old FAQ was something very few people would read (it was quite long). The new about has less text and more pictoral explanations. It's also more prominent to anon users. There's a far greaterchance people will actually read it. In the event that you have to link to the list of what's on topic, use serverfault.com/help/on-topic –  Manishearth Jul 1 '13 at 15:24
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@Manishearth - the first line said "this site is for professional sysadmins, not for home stuff" (I'm paraphrasing obviously :) ) - that helped, seriously, just that. –  Chopper3 Jul 1 '13 at 15:27
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@Manishearth: Even as a long time user I've read through it and have a helluvatime figuring out what's acceptable and what isn't. Keep in mind, this entire conversation is regarding the on-topic topics. On the old FAQ that was a concise bullet list at the very top. It's a struggle to find it in /help. –  Scott Pack Jul 1 '13 at 15:27
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The very first two statements on the About page are contradictory. On the left it says "for professionals". Under "Here's how it works", it says "Anybody can ask a question". I have seen people reference that sentence repeatedly in the past week, claiming that we could not talk about a target audience because it clearly says anybody can ask. –  Jenny D Jul 2 '13 at 8:27
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@Manishearth Having to repeatedly inform people that just because you can ask a question here doesn't mean you should, means that the "allowed" audience is driving the targeted audience away. If you want a site for professionals (and a lot of us do), then it should be made clear from the start what the site is and isn't. The latest changes in faq/help/about have resulted in a reduction in question quality. That means that the changes have failed to achieve their purpose - how else would you measure whether a change is successful or not? –  Jenny D Jul 2 '13 at 9:36
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@LightnessRacesinOrbit with the greatest of respect, there IS a problem on Server Fault with the quality of questions being asked. To judge that Jenny, a SF regular, is being offensive by talking about the issue when you've barely visited SF yourself is also somewhat offensive - You appear to be affected by the typical mindset that I've seen in a lot of Stack Overflow users when an issue from the other sites appears here: You're confusing the fact that you aren't having a problem with whether or not the problem exists. –  RobM Jul 3 '13 at 13:42
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And, again, it highlights the problem with mSO being the place to go. mSF means nothing, and mSO doesn't really care about anyone who isn't SO. –  Dan Jul 3 '13 at 13:47
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"And whatever your quality issues are, disallowing users on the basis of their expertise is not something any SE site will do." -- actually the "charter" of SF has always been that it's a site for IT Professionals. Check the description in your own SE account list: "Q&A for professional system and network administrators". Now I personally interpret that as referring to the standard of questions rather than the standard of the person asking them, but either way the standard is there, and right now we do have a problem because the site's scope isn't being presented properly... –  RobM Jul 3 '13 at 14:30
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@LightnessRacesinOrbit No offence, but you seem to have a massive misconception of what ServerFault is, how it works and who it's designed for. The whole point of ServerFault, and it's success hinges on this, is that it separates "users" from "administrators". We're for professionals, not for users and user based questions do not belong there. –  Dan Jul 3 '13 at 15:02
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Unfortunately, These ServerFault "representatives" do hold the same opinion as the majority of the most active high-rep users. The simple fact is, ServerFault has already lost two high-rep users and a moderator has resigned over the level of "professionalism" shown on the site. If it continues to get low-quality questions more higher-rep and expereinced users will leave, eventually leaving ServerFault as the Yahoo! Answers site where the accepted answer isn't always the best. –  tombull89 Jul 3 '13 at 16:46
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"You're telling me that I can't set foot there? That's ... quite discriminatory. The point here is that you should discriminate on the basis of posts, not users." -- Oh. You mean exactly like what I already said I do (and several times in the past on mSF too, btw)? If you're going to try and pick something to accuse me of discrimination over, you might try picking something where I'm not actually working in the way you think I should, otherwise you might look a little foolish. –  RobM Jul 3 '13 at 16:54
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Your main page was a mess last I checked. -- No arguments there. Sadly we get panned for closing... sorry, we're supposed to call it putting on hold aren't we ;-)... too many questions. We get accused of being elitist and discriminatory when we try to 'enforce' those standards and that brings us back to how unhelpful it is for both us and new visitors that the help/faq pages are vague and contradictory. –  RobM Jul 3 '13 at 18:14

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