They are off topic for Server Fault, and they are not a strictly programming tool. The tools are normally offered by hosting providers to manage our domains, but where to ask questions about these tools?

  • 2
    If you're not programming against it, keep it off SO. Can't say where they are appropriate, tho.
    – user1228
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 14:58
  • @Won't, as a developer, have you really never had to worry about which options you should use in your environment (e.g. web server, database, ...) for your application to work, in a way that had a direct influence over the way you developed your application (for example, knowing whether something was even possible or if you would have to find a workaround)?
    – Bruno
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 15:02
  • 2
    @Bruno Well, that isn't vague. Considering I've deployed tens of websites into production and have developed as many products against databases, why, yes, I have. I've had to configure hosts on many different systems and many different versions, both databases and web servers. Doesn't mean it's on topic for StackOverflow.
    – user1228
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 15:05
  • @Won't, indeed, I'm arguing some of these questions should be on-topic on StackOverflow, on the basis that they often have a direct influence over how the code should be written (and what code should be written), and on whether it has a chance to work at all.
    – Bruno
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 15:09
  • @Won't, I'm not sure (and I admit cpanel is a grey area). Perhaps something like "I'm developing an application that is meant to e-mail out notifications, here is my code ..., the API documentation for the framework I'm using says that X should be enabled for this to work, how do I configure X in cPanel?". In broader sysadmin terms (not just cPanel), I've seen ssl questions on SO where the dev was asking why their apps wasn't getting a client-cert (for example) and was getting such and such error: it had to be enabled in the config, so strictly speaking a sysadmin issue.
    – Bruno
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 15:13
  • Another classic SSL/TLS question: "what do I need to program to get rid of this invalid certificate message?", answer: nothing, you just need to *configure your trust anchors. Although they are valid development questions, the best solution is to enable to the right options instead of coding around them (or sometimes, you need both the right config and the right code).
    – Bruno
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 15:18
  • I did a quick search on SO Meta and found this: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/270595/… Could Webmasters.SE be an option?
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 15:25
  • @Bruno Meh, doesn't sway me, much. I can see cpanel being involved in an X/Y question, like in your example, but that's unintentional...
    – user1228
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 15:25
  • @Won't, my wider point was that I think there room for sysadmin-related questions to be asked by developers in a more "full stack" context (in the same way you said you'd deployed applications in production yourself). Since SF doesn't like (and has never liked) these questions, SO isn't such a bad place for them. You don't have to read and find interesting all the questions on SO, if there's on a subject that's not your thing.
    – Bruno
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 15:30

2 Answers 2


I found a meta post and it recommends Server Fault.SE and Webmasters.SE.

As you noted, your questions would be off topic on Server Fault, so Webmasters seems to be your best choice. From the Webmasters.SE Tour:

Ask about...

  • Specific questions regarding the operation of websites which you control
  • Real problems or questions that you’ve encountered

I don't know much about web stuff, but it seems like you are managing a domain, so it looks like it would be on topic there.

  • On SF would certainly be off topic.
    – Braiam
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 21:59
  • If they satisfy the general Stack Overflow criteria (in particular, if it's not "unclear what you're asking", "too broad", "primarily opinion-based", "seeking debugging help", or "caused by a problem that can no longer be reproduced or a simple typographical error"), and
  • if it's clearly done within the context of software development (not just "how do I deploy this existing PHP application"),

I would still keep it on Stack Overflow, and tag it with cpanel, so that users who are not interested in such questions can just ignore them if they wish, instead of hunting them down. (Just as users are generally quite happy to ignore questions tags with languages or frameworks they have no interest in, they should be able to do the same with cpanel questions.)

If they're clearly not from a developer's point of view (for example "How do I deploy <some existing blog engine> using cPanel"), I would suggest Super User. Webmasters.SE can also be applicable in some cases, although not everything will be purely web related, as far as I know. In both cases, questions should still adhere to the general quality and answerability criteria, of course.

More generally, I think there's a slight problem in the Stack Exchange model when it comes to being quite restrictive over the subject matter, more specifically about sysadmin-related questions from a developer's point of view. Server Fault is notoriously hostile to questions that don't come from someone performing sysadmin tasks in a professional capacity (as a sysadmin).

Yet, there is a gap for questions from software developers to sysadmins (and quite possibly vice versa), both in a professional capacity. I would argue that some sysadmin-related questions can be appropriate on Stack Overflow, since often developers have to perform a few sysadmin tasks (or at least what settings should or could be used) as part of their development duties, especially for "full stack" developers or in a DevOps context, although I'm not necessarily in favour of a DevOps site (due to concerns over possible over-fragmentation of Stack Exchange).

  • 3
    I think Stack Overflow needs to be careful. The Stack Overflow charter/goals/objectives is programming and development questions. That's the purpose of the site. The site would need to change its charter/goals/objectives to take Super User and Server Fault questions because a developer has a related question. A long time ago, I proposed that Stack Overflow and Super User merge so developers could ask any question about any tool because they use nearly all of them (the tools are commands provided in a typical GNU Linux distro).
    – user173448
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 20:17
  • @jww Yes, SO needs to be careful, but part of the problem comes from the way SO (and SF) have evolved. If you look at the 2010 SO faq and SF faq, SO was always indeed about programming, but in practice it was much more flexible (at least when it came to config issues in a dev environment, it was programming in the broad sense) and it looked like SF was OK for "IT professionals [...] in charge of servers [...]" (which could include full stack devs).
    – Bruno
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 22:45
  • ... Now, things have changed. SF will generally be hostile to sysadmin questions asked by a developer, and SO has also become more restrictive. (There's also a tangent sub-problem is that with increase volume, SO users are far less tolerant of askers who don't quite get their terminology right, or are a bit clueless on some areas of their questions, which can definitely be a problem for people being more knowledgeable in development and having to do a sysadmin on the side or the other way around).
    – Bruno
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 22:47
  • For those interested, the (revived) DevOps proposal is making good progress: area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/97295/devops Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 18:00

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