There was a comment and a mod flag on this post about possibly asking the question on AU instead. I don't think our previous discussions on this have been particularly clear-cut, so I'm just going to ask directly: should we migrate questions that only apply to Ubuntu to AskUbuntu?

I'm going to quote from one of Gilles' answers:

Ubuntu questions can be asked here or on AU, but with different expectations on the answers: AU answers tend to focus on the software and UI that's installed by default, and don't make any effort to apply to non-Ubuntu systems. Unix.SE answers tend to be more generic, as the answerer might know nothing about Ubuntu but suggest a generic method that works on all Linux distributions, say.

This assumes that the question has a generic method that works on all distros; should we keep questions about things that don't exist outside of Ubuntu, or migrate them? We're going to be launching very soon, so we'll finally have migration paths 3k users can use, and I imagine AU will be one of the targets.

Edit: Don't get too hung up on the particular post I linked to, it was just what reminded me I should ask this before the launch

Edit: The migration policy is now explained in the FAQ:

Note that Ubuntu posts are a special case. If your question applies to Ubuntu only, or you're looking for answers that are Ubuntu-specific, you should post it on the Ask Ubuntu Stack Exchange site. If your question applies to other distros or you welcome more generic solutions, you're in the right place here.

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    That was me by the way (at least, I think it was)... I'm a moderator over on Ask Ubuntu :) Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 1:08
  • @George It was, I just didn't want to say who it was without permission :) Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 1:29
  • Thanks :) I just wanted to let people know that it wasn't some random guy flagging the post. Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 1:38

4 Answers 4


I like Gilles advice a lot:

Unix.SE answers tend to be more generic, as the answerer might know nothing about Ubuntu but suggest a generic method that works on all Linux distributions, say.

So I'd only migrate questions where the question is extremely and unavoidably Ubuntu-centric, and cannot be generalized to other *nixes in any meaningful way.


No, I assume that the user knows about AU, and if they'd wanted to use AU, they would have asked on AU. The same goes the other way, that AU should not migrate their questions here. They wanted to be a separate community, lets keep it that way.

Yes I'm still bitter

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    FWIW: I feel pain when I see a generic Unix/Linux question in AU. What a waste! The trade-off is the convenience that when you do ask there, you don't expect a response like: In Debian it's done like this, on Solaris it's done like that, and on Fedora it's done like so.
    – tshepang
    Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 5:06
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    @tshepang, I suspect that you'll find very few questions on AU that aren't generic. But I've never used it, so that's possibly incorrect. Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 10:40
  • Err, if someone on AU asks a question about Debian (I think it's happened once or twice), surely it would be legitimate to migrate it here? Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 21:22
  • @Gilles I suppose, but what Ubuntu question wouldn't be valid here? I suppose I was saying questions that are validly ontopic shouldn't be migrated. Debian is obviously not ontopic on AU. But a question about dash is, even though dash has nothing to do with ubuntu. Commented Jan 11, 2011 at 2:19
  • @Gilles As I understand it, it comes down to if the question makes sense for Ubuntu users. If the question is Debian-specific and doesn't apply to Ubuntu, it moves here; if it applies to Ubuntu and Debian, it stays there Commented Jan 11, 2011 at 16:14

As has already been addressed. Unix.SE and Ask Ubuntu are similar and a fair amount of questions can be broken down into a generic fashion. I'm not here to discuss the merits of keeping both open. Rather I agree with Jeff Atwood, and xenoterracide (to an extent). Here is my partially taken response to the same question on our Meta:

The user has come to this site to ask a question. If it's about Ubuntu then that's fine - it still fits within the criteria of Unix and Linux. Though I think some questions will be out of scope that would belong on Ubuntu. Things that relate to Ubuntu and Canonical specific services and tools (Ubuntu One, for an example) Should be closed as off-topic and migrated. I believe a similar stance has been taken on the Trilogy sites for questions that could be on an SE site. They stay there.

Migrating questions because the context is "this is on an Ubuntu machine" or vice versa (Generic linux questions) will only confuse users, ultimately deterring them from asking questions because of the lack of positive user experience, so in that respect I fully support not migrating. Leaving a comment on either with a sign post that "Hey Y site exists, you could try there" is what we have been doing with programming questions or server questions on AU. However, if questions on Ask Ubuntu about other flavors of distributions appear I will make sure they are migrated here (so long as they are on-topic) as they are no longer in scope for Ask Ubuntu.

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    Everyone seems to assume users have thought "Well, there's Unix/Linux, and there's AU. I'm going to think carefully before choosing one" -- I don't think that's true at all. I assume a majority of new users posts on one site are from users who didn't know the other site even existed; they weren't weighing the pros and cons before asking on one or the other. In any case, everyone seems to agree on what should be migrated and not, so I guess it doesn't matter Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 20:11
  • @Michael I left out the fact I comment about other sites on the network which exists in my original answer on the AU Meta. I'll add that here. Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 20:18
  • Ok; we've been doing it through comments too, so I guess we'll stick to that Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 20:24
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    It's not clear from what I wrote before, but I do not support migrating a question from Unix.SE to Ask Ubuntu unless the asker agrees (well, a technical question anyway; maybe a question about the project). Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 21:21
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    @Gilles I think a comment like This question might be better suited for [Site Name](http://siteurl.com). If you'd like we can [migrate this question for you](http://meta.siteurl.com/question/about/migrating/and-how-it-works) Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 22:11

To me, it doesn't make much sense to have someone ask something specific only to Ubuntu here. Anything else asked by an Ubuntu user, and can be generalised, should be generalised, and should remain here. Ask Ubuntu has a larger community than this Unix & Linux, and although that doesn't necessarily translate to quality, it will at least translate to quick answers. [Oh, and I've used the Ubuntu site, and one does get really fast answers, and of decent quality too.]

In short, I strongly support migrating questions.

  • That's a tag I'm glad does not exist.
    – badp
    Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 21:52
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    @badp Challenge accepted Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 22:02
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    I'm not a big fan of "community A is bigger than community B, so questions should migrate to community A whenever possible" -- that's a great way to kill community B really fast Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 4:02
  • @mic That was meant merely as one more reason why someone having an Ubuntu-specific question should post there. The end-user experience does matter a lot, and no, Ubuntu doesn't have the majority of the world's Unix/Linux users, so no community will be killed. In fact, the one reason why that site is so huge is because leaders in the Ubuntu community have promoted it heavily, and not simply because Ubuntu is huge.
    – tshepang
    Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 4:55

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