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A question about Linux could belong on these sites on the StackExchange network:

  •, if it is about using software rather than programming
  •, if it is about Ubuntu
  •, if it is about professional infrastructure maintenance
  •, if it is about
    1. a tool mainly used for programming
    2. OR shell scripting

So technically, a question about simple shell scripting to create a firewall on Ubuntu could belong on any of those 5 sites.

This is likely to lead to many questions being asked on multiple sites, and scattering of questions amongst these sites, making it harder to find questions that already exist when searching one of those sites.

What can/should we do about this?

In particular, should we comment on questions that seem to be unlikely to be answered, to suggest that they should be deleted by the asker and reposted on what we think is "the most appropriate site"? Should we flag them for migration? Should we allow questions to appear on multiple sites (a perennial proposal)?

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A specific question will fit to only one site. – juergen d Jan 2 '14 at 19:12
Oh really? Then please tell me which site my firewall script example would belong on, and explain how a newbie would know this. – Robin Green Jan 2 '14 at 19:13
Well, I guess it mirrors the schism in the Linux Distributions themselves – StuartLC Jan 2 '14 at 19:16
I agree there is overlap, but I think it has worked okay so far, with no major problems. The scattering isn't that big a deal, as Google will treat the sites roughly equally in the search results – Pëkka Jan 2 '14 at 19:17
If the question is about a firewall, it could go on, too. – Scott Jan 2 '14 at 20:42

It is possible that 1 out of 1000 questions (on-the-fly-stats-don't-ask-for-source) has the possibility of belonging to all the five sites. But.... most of the remaining 999 questions are taken care of in their correct destination.

There is not a massive overlap among the sites you have mentioned. If there is some overlap, then it is between Unix.SE and Ask Ubuntu; but if you look at the kind of questions posted on both the sites you would understand that both the communities serve a vastly different purpose.

  • Unix.SE is more into explaining the advanced stuff and catering to the needs of all the linux distros.
  • Ask Ubuntu serves as an official support channel for Ubuntu and its official derivatives. The questions here are more newbie friendly but focused specifically on Ubuntu.
  • Super User is more for general questions about softwares and programs that arise and seem to be cross-platform including Linux. I won't recommend SU for questions focused on Linux.
  • Server Fault is more about network and server maintainence - has a niche of its own.
  • Stack Overflow - I don't consider it to be overlapping. SO is for codes and programming.

At the end, you should post your question in the community which seems to be most applicable in the particular scenario - this would help in getting better, faster, focused and accurate answers.

If you find a question which is on-topic for the site - let it remain. However, if you feel that it would be better-off at the other place, you may leave a comment to let the question-asker know about the existence of the other site and he could flag to get the question migrated if he wished so. (I wouldn't recommend you to flag for migration yourself).

As far as the question of allowing duplicate questions across different sites are concerned - there are some, let is remain as it is - a bit of overlap is ultimately unavoidable.

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Yes, there is considerable overlap, but a question would have a hard time fitting on more than three of these sites.

SU and SF are pretty much disjoint (more so now than they were in the past); if your firewall question is about enterprise hardware, it's SF material and unfit for SU, and if it's about home/small office hardware, it's SU material and unfit for SO.

If the question is about the scripting part, it's on-topic on SO, but if it's about the firewall part, it's off-topic. Shell scripting questions are also fine for SU and UL. They're allowed on AU as well, but not a good fit unless your script is specifically for Ubuntu and you don't care whether it runs elsewhere.

U&L accommodates any question that's about a unix platform, and AU accommodates any question that's about a genuine Ubuntu. Both sites mostly cater to generic user and administrator questions; if your script is configuring Cisco hardware and that's an important aspect of your question, you'll be better off on SF even if the question is on-topic on U&L and perhaps AU.

The overlap between U&L and AU was discussed when the sites started and put to a vote. In practice there's little overlap: people who only know Ubuntu and don't care about other unix variants use AU, people who may use Ubuntu but consider it just one Linux distribution amongst many use U&L. You can see more of my take on this on Meta U&L: OS-specific questions, overlap.

Even if your question falls into the overlap between sites, pick a site and ask there.

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