Do questions on WAMP belong on Stack Overflow, Server Fault or Super User?

After reading this Meta Stack Overflow question, I think it might be useful to have a separate question for this subject.

Let me quote a part of Shog9's answer:

SU and SF are generally not great places for WAMP questions... Particularly when asked on SO, these nearly always involve someone working with their development or testing setup (rather than, say, a home or production server environment). If you see someone recommending SF or SU for such questions, politely correct them.

So the argument is that since WAMP is closely related to development, it belongs on Stack Overflow.

My concern is twofold:

• It being development is irrelevant, issues appearing while using WAMP can also appear in a production environment.
• There might be more expertise on the subject over at Server Fault.

Perhaps not many people will support my view, but it's worth asking so everybody knows how to handle such questions: what does the community think?

• The thing is that "Helpz my WAMP doesnt workz" questions tend to fare badly on SF, so it may not be possible to create a general guideline – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Nov 19 '13 at 15:57
• what does SF stand for? – linuxatico Nov 19 '13 at 16:07
• Serverfault ----- – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Nov 19 '13 at 16:08
• But, doesn't SO allow questions about development tools, like IDEs? Isn't WAMP just a development tool? – Rocket Hazmat Nov 19 '13 at 16:33
• I just stumbled upon this question.. I am a new (1 year~) web developer who at home, uses WAMP (php apache[xampp] mysql) and at a new job I use MSSQL. This thread seems to imply (or state) that WAMP is a very inferior testing environment, am I reading this correctly? – HC_ Nov 19 '13 at 17:46
• The pre-packaged systems are considered inferior production environments, @HC_ - that's simply not what they're intended for. They're only inferior testing environments if whatever you're testing behaves differently in production. – Shog9 Nov 19 '13 at 19:36
• @HC_ Wampis not bad per se, but in a professional environment you won't have a stack of webserver+database+OS for your app. Your app will be in a webserver shared with other applications, and your DB in a DBMS with other DB. Most likely, each of these will be in different machines, with HW optimized and tuned for its different profiles. Not to mention that the IT dept. may prefer to use another web server or DBMS. It is ok for home development and you will learn lots of things useful for enterprise, but it is sheldom an enterprise setup. – SJuan76 Nov 19 '13 at 20:17
• What about webmasters.se? They accept .htaccess questions. – fuxia Nov 19 '13 at 20:46
• @SJuan76 Depends on where you work, I suppose. All our products have their own webserver, their own database server, and so on. – Izkata Nov 19 '13 at 21:43
• Could you clarify what you mean by WAMP? As Travis J pointed out, Server Fault's WAMP tag is apparently for "preconfigured packages that include those components [...] usually meant for development purposes only", while most readers are going to interpret it as Apache-MySQL-P* on Windows generally, by parallel with "LAMP". – rakslice Nov 19 '13 at 23:16
• So how exactly can we get rid of a sucky question? Few good choices left after the last change, the "off topic because..." bullet has some handy ones. So, yes, it's off topic in practice. – Uphill Luge Nov 20 '13 at 1:43
• You list two concerns, and WAMP actually has nothing to do with those. The true concerns are in general: questions that mention irrelevant details, and questions about software configuration that are better for Server Fault. Specifically mentioning WAMP is, ironically, an irrelevant detail. Your concerns hold true for any topic. – Jason C Nov 20 '13 at 6:53
• @UphillLuge There are many ways to get rid of a sucky question. You could leave a comment to the poster explaining how to make it less sucky. You could vote to close it. You could flag it for moderator attention. You could downvote it in the hope that if enough people agree with you it will prompt the poster to remove/improve it. Simply saying "WAMP questions aren't allowed" won't actually do anything; it won't stop the questions from being asked. At best, it will stop people from tagging them as "wamp", thus making them harder for us to identify. – Jason C Nov 20 '13 at 6:58
• possible duplicate of There're Stack Overflow, Server Fault, and more -- where should I ask my question? -- Because, essentially, that's what this question is. The WAMP part is inconsequential. – Jason C Nov 20 '13 at 7:01

To put it bluntly, asking this on Server Fault would be a terrible idea - In my opinion (and that of many SF regulars) no professional would run a WAMP system in production, and it would be so out of scope it would be in the next state. I'm unfamiliar with Stack Overflow's norms but I do believe that, if it doesn't involve an issue with the code itself, it's off topic.

Super User might be the best place to ask for issues specific to WAMP - We've had questions to do with WAMP and Windows 8 not playing well together, for example. That said, be prepared for folks telling you how horrible an idea it is, and that you should be using a virtual machine running a similar platform to production - I know I would ;).

In short, if your code has issues, ask on SO. If the hosting platform in question is something you would use professionally, and you have properly hard problems with it consider SF. For dev-testish platforms that should never see the light of day in production, SU is the most likely place to ask, but only by default.

• SF,SU,SO,OT,VM - WOW. ;) – Shadow The Princess Wizard Nov 19 '13 at 16:09
• Reduced two of the acronyms. Too lazy to fix the names of the trilogy sites ;) – Journeyman Geek Nov 19 '13 at 16:12
• Better now, but I can only smile when imagining occasional newbie reading this post and wondering to himself about the meaning of those two letter abbreviations. (It's like states in USA ;)) – Shadow The Princess Wizard Nov 19 '13 at 16:15
• I disagree with the premise that "no professional would run WAMP in production" -- there are real-world use cases for everything. Avoid being unnecessarily broad. Not really the topic here, but I don't think the sweeping generalization adds to the subject at hand. – Chris Nov 19 '13 at 19:44
• Does this then exclude all the large numbers of branch office applications where a local lightweight application is deployed on a single machine - specifically because a standard platform is available that is continually maintained? Surely not everyone only works on large farms where they have the luxury of tuning each part of the stack with a specific best-of-breed configuration? – Pekka Nov 19 '13 at 22:16
• My experience with XAMPP WAMP and other windows/apache configurations has been pretty bad, and I guess that colours my answer. If you want to ask a WAMP question on serverfault, go ahead but as shog9 has said - these questions are going to get a hostile response on SF, and my answer merely reflects the current attitude of the SF set towards it. I currently run my local lightweight applications on a small linux system using lighttpd and you could easily run that, or a modern, completely maintainable LAMP stack as a VM. I'll however, edit my answer to reflect that it is an opinion. – Journeyman Geek Nov 19 '13 at 23:58
• I'd disagree there. Sometimes you don't run what you want, you run what you need. A real professional facilitiates technologies that leave a bad taste in his mouth while trying to make sure it dosen't end in screaming and fire. I'm quite sure there's a few sysadmins around here who wake up screaming at night, with nightmares of the ie6/xp and RHEL3 systems they need to maintain for some mission critical role. – Journeyman Geek Nov 20 '13 at 5:09
• Ah, so now you admit that your attack on WAMP was unwarranted and false. Interesting, to say the least (though it's still a long ways from justifying the use of either MySQL or PHP). – Jerry Coffin Nov 20 '13 at 5:33
• Whilst I agree 100% with your prejudices against WAMP for production systems, I really don't think it's the place of the StackExchange network to be saying "Ha! Your choice of platform sucks! No answers for you!" – Carson63000 Nov 20 '13 at 5:38
• @JourneymanGeek And what is the right place for question regarding WAMP not working? Becuase it consists most of the WAMP question. – user219322 Nov 20 '13 at 8:25
• I do believe SU, taking into account what @Shog9 said. Depends on what and where you're running it – Journeyman Geek Nov 20 '13 at 8:36
• Is no one aware of Pro Webmaster's existence? webmasters.stackexchange.com – DisgruntledGoat Nov 21 '13 at 13:05
• @DisgruntledGoat : great idea - why not post that as an answer? – Journeyman Geek Nov 21 '13 at 13:30

As Pekka noted, there are questions regarding WAMP that are so poorly-asked (lacking in detail, or simply hard to read) that there's no point in trying to pick a site - they're going to do poorly everywhere. Sometimes they can be edited and improved, often they are not. Let's ignore those - embarrassingly bad questions are always bad.

As Travis noted, there's some confusion about what WAMP even refers to. While it can refer to the concept of Apache+PHP on Windows (as both Wikipedia and Stack Overflow's own tag wiki suggest), in practice very few people use it this way when asking questions - it's more often used to refer to one or more prepackaged installations of the various software packages needed to develop PHP applications on Windows.

I think it's fairly obvious that well-asked questions about the development tool have done fairly well on Stack Overflow up to this point. Looking at the tiny handful of folks asking and answering such questions on Super User and Server Fault (and considering the often-hostile attitude such questions often receive on Server Fault) there's little doubt in my mind that these questions belong on SO... Provided they're being asked by folks using the package as a development tool.

If you're trying to install WAMP to run your home backup server, then Super User becomes more appropriate. And if you're unlucky enough to be supporting a production server running WAMP, then you'll probably have to brave Server Fault.

• Correction - "probably Pekka" may not want to be associated with me. – Pekka Nov 19 '13 at 22:15
• You can pick your friends, but... – Shog9 Nov 19 '13 at 22:17
• How exactly does the environment change the relevance of your question? From my understanding the idea of having SO/SF/SU is so that those about to pose questions have a better chance of finding appropriate answers. Are you suggesting that two people with the same questions should open new posts on each site simply because one is in production and one is in development? – Aron Nov 20 '13 at 4:06
• In theory, you could ask an identical question in both places, @Aron. In practice, you probably wouldn't have identical configurations for development and production (testing could go either way). See: serverfault.com/questions/453617/why-not-use-a-wamp-stack/… This is why "what is your job title?" makes for such a great rule of thumb when trying to decide which site to ask on: it helps the folks answering make the right assumptions. That done, you'll have a much easier time communicating your problem. – Shog9 Nov 20 '13 at 4:09
• @Shog9 ok...fair-ish... – Aron Nov 20 '13 at 4:18
• +1, I think this is exactly right. And I'd like to add to the comment above that even with identical development/production configurations, there are other differences that can be very important -- lots of traffic vs. one user, assumptions about what is possible, what can be safely changed/tested/tried, different standard approaches to solving certain problems, etc. – Ben Lee Nov 21 '13 at 19:40

So here is my real world example and my take on this: I, as a developer, not a server admin, have recently been tasked with configuring and deploying a production WAMP system.

While I agree production WAMP is not the greatest of ideas, as a third party contractor, I just get paid to implement, not to disagree. And it falls on me mainly due to the fact that I am the third party contractor.

The server admin, while being able to set up and describe F5's passing through Meraki firewalls(to give another real life example), I do not believe has ever set up a WAMP server, and in fact, simply gave me admin access and said good luck, probably due to the fact that this request came from way above his pay grade as well.

Now, I will most definitely come across issues I do not immediately know the answer too and will search or ask questions, on google and on SO. Since I am an experienced developer(meaning that I know that I don't know) and end up on SO almost every day.

I know enough to try to pinpoint the cause and tag that, i.e, php problem, but I would also want to tag it as WAMP to give enough information to everyone so that when they are done telling me what a bad idea production WAMP is, hopefully someone, most likely another developer who has run into and solved this problem on a development server somewhere, can share the answer.

I believe that SO, rather than SF or SU, would give me the best chance of finding the answers to my question, mainly since WAMP tends to be a development environment set up by developers (in my experience, your mileage may vary).

It depends on what you are doing with the WAMP stack. The acronym kind of involves a lot of stuff.. Windows, Apache, MySQL, and PHP. So if you are having trouble with any of that on your WAMP stack then you may be inclined to tag it as such.

It would seem that questions regarding how to set one up and fine tune it would be better suited to Server Fault - granted that they are well researched, unique, and can be reproduced or appeal to a broad audience.

Whereas it would probably be better received on Stack Overflow if you were trying to write some sort of code which specifically works with the WAMP stack. Perhaps there is some sort of context to one of the components being coded within the WAMP stack which would make including the WAMP tag relevant.

What it breaks down to mostly is: Configure - Server Fault. Code - Stack Overflow.

Server Fault WAMP tag information:

WAMP stands for Windows, Apache, MySQL and PHP / Perl / Python. It refers to preconfigured packages that include those components. It is usually meant for development purposes only, not for production use. This is due to the insecure default settings, which are designed to get a developer up and running quickly. In production environments, it's usually preferable to install and configure each component separately.

Stack Overflow WAMP tag information:

WAMP refers to a style of web development utilizing Windows, Apache Web Server, MySQL database, and the PHP programming language.

• Interesting to note that the SO WAMP tag info as pasted here is not very accurate.. WAMP has nothing to do with coding/dev "style". We should adopt the SF tag wording on SO. – BenSwayne Nov 19 '13 at 16:25
• Only problem is alot of SF folks frown upon non-professional questions. I.e. if I'm a developer setting up WAMP for the first time, and I am troubleshooting an error I believe is related to my setup, then it will be pretty obvious I am very new to WAMP. Even if my problem is well described, and I don't even want a solution, just recommended basic troubleshooting steps, it will be obvious that server administration is not my primary role, and there will be some SF mods who rush to close it. – AaronLS Nov 19 '13 at 18:00

I think the topic of this discussion is fundamentally flawed. "WAMP questions" seems to be a general category of questions that involve WAMP at some level, but this category is far to general to say that every question in it does or does not belong here.

Instead of trying to make such a general assessment, what you should do is continue to judge questions individually on a case-by-case basis as per the criteria for a good SO question. It does not matter if it involves WAMP or not, it only matters if it's a well-formed programming question.

Questions like the following would not belong here:

• I am having trouble installing WAMP on Windows, can you help?
• Do you like WAMP?
• Please write such-and-such program for me. I am using WAMP.

Questions like the following would belong here, IMO:

• I am using WAMP. I have wrote the following minimal test code and I am getting a MySQL authentication error. I have tried setting the following options, but the problem is not resolved. I am not sure if it is a configuration error, or a problem with my DB connection string. What is going on?
• I am trying to configure WAMP to include such-and-such PHP module. I am running into issue X. I've tried the following things, which I found via Google, and am still seeing this error. How can I configure this? (Specific, well-formed questions about programming tools do belong here.)
• I am having issues with some SQL query. I am expecting the results to be X but I am getting Y. I have tried Z. I am using WAMP. What is the problem? (In this case, the question isn't about WAMP, and the poster included it as an irrelevant detail.)

It really just has to be case-by-case.

If you spot questions where WAMP is irrelevant, that does not mean the question doesn't belong here. That simply means the poster believed WAMP was relevant. You may correct the poster in a comment, or in your answer, or edit their question if it is appropriate. If somebody asks a question and erroneously mentions WAMP, it could very well still be a good question with a useful answer, and there is no reason to discount it simply because WAMP was mentioned.

It is the same thing with any poorly tagged question, or any question where the poster mentions something irrelevant. It's no different than somebody saying "Why doesn't int x = "hi"; compile? I am using Java 1.7." -- that's not a case for a blanket ban on "Java 1.7" questions, it's a case for clearly explaining why it is irrelevant in the answer.

As for how to deal with it: There are many ways to get rid of a poor question. You could leave a comment to the poster explaining how to improve it. You could vote to close it. You could flag it for moderator attention. You could downvote it in the hope that if enough people agree with you it will prompt the poster to remove/improve it. Simply saying "WAMP [or whatever topic] questions aren't allowed" won't actually do anything; it won't stop the questions from being asked. At best, it will stop people from tagging them as "wamp", thus making them harder for us to identify.

In a meta sort of way, this very discussion has a similar quality - WAMP is, if you really stop and think, irrelevant. You list two concerns, and WAMP actually has nothing to do with those. The true concerns are in general: questions that mention irrelevant details, and questions about software configuration that are better for Server Fault. Specifically mentioning WAMP is, ironically, an irrelevant detail. Your concerns are appropriate for any topic.

IMHO it depends on what your actual problem is. For example your code is not working on wampserver, then it certainly relates to StackOverflow, since the main problem is with code and it can be solved only by those who KNOWS code.

If the problem is with the installation, it belongs to SU for sure. why? Because it's one kinda desktop application and people who knows the tweaks about installing any software may help you.(Although people on SO can help you either, if you've written the question with appropriate details).

If the problem is with installation and/or configuration on production environment at your workplace, where it's going to affect multiple machines, then it should belong to SF.(I am not sure about this, since I have never actually asked any question on SF), since people who knows about Servers can only help you.

The idea behind asking questions is to get them solved, and it can be solved only when asked at the proper place, where the experts are. Experts can solve it only when they actually know about it.

So in short the place depends on your actual problem.

• Just noticed, Jason C's answer says the same thing in detail :-) – noob Nov 20 '13 at 7:39

IMHO questiong regarding WAMP are at least two different sets. One is about integrating WAMP with Windows, Apache, PHP and SQL of any kind together, these likely belong to ServerFault. Another is about resolving development issues in either part of WAMP/LAMP stack, these also split naturally into Apache-related problems, SQL, PHP, with two of the latter are perfectly fitting here at StackOverflow, and Apache-related problems can be either asked at SuperUser or ServerFault. I think it'll be better that WAMP questions should exist at at least both SU and SO, with tags say wamp-development meaning WAMP plus PHP/SQL issues, and wamp-operation meaning WAMP plus Windows/Apache issues, with preset bias about development belonging to SO, and operation to SU.

While I agree with a lot of the opinions posted here, I think there are WAMP questions that are appropriate for SO, SU and SF.

For SO, generally, I'd stick with questions that relate to code. Some maybe about configuration like: why is my php mail() function working in production but not in my WAMP setup. Its not code but closely relates to code. Also other developers could've run into the same issue.

For SU, I'd stick to questions that relate to how you'd usually use the WAMP stack at home/testing/dev/etc. Note the word, usually. For example, if I work in a small office with has a single server with WAMP and a normal(?) ISP connection. This is your production server but it closely resembles a typical home setup. So if I'm having trouble accessing it remotely, I'd ask the question in SU instead of SF since I'm bound to get more help there and our circumstances are more similar.

For SF, I'd stick to questions that relate to sysadmins, clusters and all that complicated magical stuff that I personally don't understand! So if for example, I need help setting up my home mysql cluster with 4 nodes or whatever. I maybe using it for development and doing it at home but its not something super users usually do. So even if its not a production setting, you'd probably want to ask this question on SF since you're more likely to get more help there.

My examples aren't the best, I know. But my point is, it depends on how your question and your circumstances relate to the users of the site. I don't see why WAMP questions should only be SF or SO questions. I'd say if you're bound to get more help on SF then go for it and vice versa.

SO accepts questions for (and provides tags for) application servers such as Weblogic and Glassfish.

If Weblogic and Glassfish are taken as development platforms, then, in my opinion, WAMP` should not be treated any differently.

My best guess is: Stack Overflow would be the best choice.

We deal with programming and development on SO, and WAMP is almost exclusively related to development environments. Almost no one considers WAMP on production, right? So most problems and problem solutions are present somewhere in the SO community.

The problem is that PHP is one miserable failure to abstract anything useful about the underlying system(s), with the result that system configuration problems tend to leak into what seem like API-usage problems at first glance.

Therefore, there should be a separate SE community expressly for PHP developers. From there, anything which is not readily sorted by changing a config item in Apache, PHP, or MySQL (or by reading RFC 2616), could be directed to the relevant community.

This would cover WAMP, LAMP, and xN/AxP (letting Ngnix in on the act). The latter acronym is suggestive of the likely SE community name, since it onomatopoeic for 'nnng - exasperation!'.

• Only half-flippant. – David Bullock Nov 20 '13 at 5:25
• If you're uncertain about the root cause of the problem, ask where you think the probability of getting the answer is more. If you think the problem should be in my code, ask on SO, if it turns out otherwise, it an be moved to SU or SF and then it can be answered. The idea is to get answers and learn the secret of asking questions in the process. – noob Nov 20 '13 at 7:41
• -1. I wanted to upvote because I hate PHP as much as the next guy, but I really don't see this turning out well, for anyone really. – Ben Lee Nov 21 '13 at 19:46