I am new here, but in my short time using Stack Overflow, I have noticed that for Nginx, where I look at most, over 99% of the questions should be on Pro Webmasters.

Having had a discussion with one of the moderators recently, I thought I'll propose that web server related tags (Nginx, Apache, etc.) should be barred on Stack Overflow.

Using Nginx which I am most familiar with as an example, the tagged questions basically all fall into one of the two following categories:

  1. It is actually a "PHP" or "jQuery" or whatever question and the person just happens to use Nginx so they tag it "Nginx". Replacing "Nginx" with "Apache", "Ligthy", "Cherokee" or any other webserver would not change the issue and there is no point tagging it with "Nginx".

  2. It is a server configuration question. Full stop.

If the "Nginx" tag was not available, Condition 1 would go away and those with Condition 2 would struggle with tagging their questions and would either.

A. Just pick any other tag in which case the inappropriate nature of the query would stand out and presumably get flagged for transfer

B. Rethink where they are posting.

On "B" however, most people only know of Stack Overflow. (I certainly didn't know of all the other associated sites until I started visiting regularly) and may not know where to put the question. Therefore they need help.

Option I: Automatically move all questions tagged with webserver names over to Pro Webmasters. It is after all supposed to deal with issues that affect whole websites ... such as Webservers. I gather there may be some issues with this

Option II: Generate a message suggesting that as they have selected a webserver related issue, they might want to move the query over to Pro Webmasters and give a button to click to do this. That is, get the OP to execute the migration themselves at the time of posting.

I may be totally off base due to my newness here, but this just crossed my mind. Any thoughts?


So following @Robert Harvey's challenge to prove the questions tagged with "Nginx" on Stack Overflow are all off topic and my nice down vote :), I have produced a summary of the 15 posts on the first page of the Stack Overflow Nginx tag as of 22 december 2011.

  1. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/8609897/ajax-request-inside-iframe-not-working-on-ios: Programming related but purely a JavaScript question. It has nothing to do with Nginx and actually the word "Nginx" does not appear at all in the question and if it did, could have been replaced with any webserver. (Condition 1 - Incidental Connection)

  2. Why does Tire not connect to ElasticSearch in production mode (RoR)?: Something to do with configuring Ruby on Rails. (Condition 2. Server Configuration)

  3. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/8604103/uwsgi-errorpython-application-not-found: Trying to get uWSGI working. (Condition 2. Server Configuration)

  4. Is this the right entry for the sudoers file to give php access to reload nginx?: Wants to set up his sudoers file. (Condition 2. Server Configuration)

  5. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/8600269/hostname-command-not-found-nginx: Having issues with server HOSTNAME. (Condition 2. Server Configuration)

  6. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/8600178/nginx-gives-500-internal-error-when-accessing-zend-project: Issue with 500 Internal Server Error. (Condition 2. Server Configuration)

  7. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/8593237/varnish-requirements: Wants to compare Varnish with Nginx - Closed. (Condition 3. Off The Wall)

  8. ember.js node and nginx: Wants advice on server setup. - Probably should have been closed (Condition 3. Off The Wall)

  9. nginx proxy_pass based on whether request method is POST, PUT or DELETE: Advice on using Lua to configure Nginx - Borderline but basically server configuration (Condition 2. Server Configuration)

  10. django admin redirects to wrong port on save: Issue with Django redirecting to a wrong port. (Condition 2. Server Configuration)

  11. Configuring Nginx and Socket.IO: Title says it all. (Condition 2. Server Configuration)

  12. Nginx and Rails gzip configuration: Title says it all. (Condition 2. Server Configuration)

  13. Persistence Workflow Design: Wants advice suitability of Nginx with some server setup. (Condition 2. Server Configuration)

  14. Serving dynamic content from Mongo GridFS via Nginx without a 404 error: Nginx setup query. (Condition 2. Server Configuration)

  15. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/8567697/nginx-having-trouble-processing-php: Nginx PHP setup query. (Condition 2. Server Configuration)

Only one of the fifteen is programming related and that is only incidentally related to Nginx.

I think this proves the point, doesn't it?


Not sure why this is being ignored / voted down without a comment given that I have responded to the challenge to demonstrate the case.

Anyone care to add to this?

  • 1
    I'd almost argue that web server software configuration questions are a better fit for ServerFault than Webmasters. I could also argue that nginx's configuration files are syntactically complex enough to be considered programming, and that web servers can easily be considered "programming tools," thus being entirely on topic on SO to begin with. Regardless, if you don't feel a question needs a specific tag, that's what the edit function is for. – Charles Dec 22 '11 at 20:38
  • I think from how questions are closed/migrated there, not everyone (me included) shares the option that the Nginx Config, while syntactically complex, constitutes programming. In any case, this is not Nginx specific, I just used it as example due to familiarity. As for manual retagging, wouldn't it be better if the users were helped to "get it right" (in respect to this issue at least - which seems feasible) to start with? Anyway, interested to see what others think. – Dayo Dec 22 '11 at 20:48

Can you demonstrate with reasonable certainty that all questions having the tag are off-topic? Since the tag is not a meta tag or ambiguous, I don't think you can argue persuasively that the tag should be banned.

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  • Forgive my newbieness ... I don't know what a meta tag is. In terms of a demonstration, will updating my question with links to the questions on the first page of stackoverflow.com/questions/tagged/nginx page do? Perhaps you can check to see if you can find one specifically related to programming. That will be a bit of work though, so perhaps just checking that link might suffice. The same applies to Apache as well. Also, if SO is for programming and server stuff get shut down/migrated, why is there a "server-configuration" tag there? You can imagine newbies like me getting confused. – Dayo Dec 22 '11 at 21:51
  • See blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/08/the-death-of-meta-tags – user102937 Dec 22 '11 at 21:57
  • Thanks for the link. BTW, I updated the question to show what I was talking about. Only one of the 15 links on the front page for the Nginx tag on SO on 22 Dec 2011, could be said to be a good fit and even that falls into Condition 1. I.E., the tag could be/should be stripped out. – Dayo Dec 23 '11 at 12:34

I don't think you quite understand what Pro Webmasters is for; most of the questions you're complaining about actually belong on Server Fault -- our site for sysadmins -- if they are hardcore, highly technical server config questions. I suggest perusing


In a nutshell, webmasters aren't typically sysadmins. Of course there is always some overlap, but we like to place questions on the sites where the most appropriate experts are to answer .. and almost all the examples you provide are highly technical server configuration questions that I'd expect a sysadmin to do best with.

Anyway, I'll certainly upvote you for providing good examples; I wish more meta questions had this much research in them.

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  • Thanks for your input. The main point was not that these should go to Webmasters. The proposal was that they should be moved or perhaps better still, that users should be prompted to place them elsewhere. If SF is better than Webmasters, then let it be SF. I think you will agree with me that these are definitely not suited to SO. If that is the case, I wonder why there is resistance to placing them where they are best suited or assisting users to place them. Nobody has commented on why there is a "Server-configuration" tag on SO as well. All these could be used to trigger the prompt. Thoughts? – Dayo Dec 29 '11 at 12:16

To summarise, in order to accept an answer and draw a line under this, the proposal is to give users asking questions on Stack Overflow with tags such as "Nginx", "Apache" and the bizarre, given that such questions are supposed to be on Server Fault, "server-configuration", a pop up when they click "enter" suggesting that they consider removing the tags if not specifically relevant to the question or to have the question posted on Server Fault instead.

It would appear that despite apparently clearly showing that the issue raised does indeed exist, there is no appetite for this sort of change.

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  • The questions should be voted/flagged to be migrated. – Andrew Barber Dec 30 '11 at 10:36
  • @Andrew Barber Yes they should but as with many things that should be done in this world, this is clearly not being done. Wouldn't it be better to look at what could be done instead? What exactly is your objection to the proposal? – Dayo Dec 30 '11 at 12:24
  • There are absolutely legitimate, coding questions that could be asked about your examples, nginx and apache. One word: modules – Andrew Barber Dec 30 '11 at 12:30
  • In which case, they can go ahead and post them. Suggesting that the person consider whether the tag is appropriate for SO does not mean stopping them. It just would help reduce the number of inappropriate posts at source. – Dayo Dec 30 '11 at 12:36

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