I recently posted a question, How to recover after messing with hard drive during mid-session sleep?. It appeared to be a Linux issue, which is why I posted it here.

After a lot of diagnosis, it turned out that the intractable aspect of the issue was primarily a hardware problem. It wasn't a fluke, but a relatively common problem (failure of an old external hard drive enclosure). There actually was a Linux problem (corruption of the file system). The added hardware problem turned the issue from something easily resolved into one with more severe symptoms.

The question was closed as a hiccup (not reproducible, solved itself with trivial solution, not likely to be helpful to others). I'm wondering whether that's applicable.

  • The problem is reproducible by anyone unfortunate enough to have an external drive enclosure with a common type of failure.
  • It didn't solve itself or magically disappear. It required significant diagnostic work to discover the hardware issue. Fixing the hardware problem is what allowed the Linux issue to be resolved.
  • Many apparently difficult problems turn out to be difficult because the user is focused on what appears to be a purely OS or software problem when it is actually caused by, or complicated by, a hardware issue.

I don't know how many people would make the same stupid mistake I did, and concurrently have a similar hardware problem. However, I can see value in the example:

  • It illustrates the value of checking potential hardware issues when faced with an apparent OS or software problem that is harder to resolve than it ought to be.
  • For someone who makes the same mistake of disconnecting the drive during a session, the answer provides some reassurance by explaining that under normal circumstances, it may be fairly easy to recover from.
  • There probably won't be a lot of people with the identical problem, but it's conceivable that another person or two might be in the same situation, in which case, the question and answer would be directly useful.

So my questions here:

  • Did the hardware issue make this question off-topic (is the hold appropriate)?
  • Is there any potential for rewording to solve the hold issue?

2 Answers 2


The important point here is that the problem was specific to your hardware. It is, therefore, unlikely to help a broad audience. In any case, yes, hardware issues are off topic here. If the solution was simply running fsck, I would argue that wasn't a hardware issue, as such, but a filesystem issue and that is on topic.

However, you answer mentions that using the cable you had used originally instead of plugging the drive in made it work again. That would suggest that the problem was the cable (hardware). I admit I am not entirely sure what happened.

What does seem clear is that your issue was specific to the setup you happened to have been using and, as such, is unlikely to help future visitors and, therefore, it makes sense to close the question.

One last thing. Don't take this personally. It is in no way a judgement on yourself or your question. Closing is an integral part of how the site works and no black marks will follow you or anything.

  • I'm happy to have solved the problem. My question here on Meta was really to gain an understanding of what are the boundaries of scope for the site. The problem involved file system corruption but if that was the only problem, it would have been pretty trivial. It was the concurrent hardware issue that made the problem difficult. Since that aspect is off-topic, it probably doesn't make sense to try to tweak the question and answer to focus on just the on-topic portion. Thanks.
    – fixer1234
    Apr 2, 2016 at 17:18
  • After posting the comment, I realized that the Linux issue wasn't trivial, after all. I went ahead and updated the question and answer. Not sure if that fixes the hold issue, but if not, at least they will be more on-topic until deletion.
    – fixer1234
    Apr 2, 2016 at 18:11

Flakey or defective hardware is clearly not relevant to the site, which is about the Unix-related group of operating systems.

Unfortunately problem hardware is a fact of life, and granted hardware and OS issues can be difficult to disentangle, but once something is determined to be a hardware issue, it should be removed from the question to avoid clutter and distraction. If the question turns out to be solely about problem hardware, then it should be closed or deleted. Basically, the question (and answers) should try to stay on-topic as much as possible.

  • Thanks. That was the heart of the question. In this case, it wasn't solely hardware, but it was the hardware issue that made the problem non-trivial.
    – fixer1234
    Apr 2, 2016 at 18:07

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