I just scored 4 close votes on my question regarding the reason behind using the "snarf" word instead of "copy" in Plan 9 applications (link).

I thought that questions about history (there are 234 questions tagged with at the moment) and Plan 9 (see Did we ever come to a consensus regarding Plan 9 questions?) are both welcomed.

I do not understand the reason of the close votes I receive, especially that I receive no feedback.

Have you got any idea why people vote to close this question?

My question is very specific and is definitely not opinion based. The reason why snarf is used instead of copy is a fact and I believe there might be a reason for that. There are some well-received questions which ask about similar things:

Maybe the my question is simply obvious to other community members (due to the fact that I am not a native English speaker). Nevertheless, this should not be the reason to put questions on hold as it is discussed in Rejecting obvious questions?.

Update: The question was reopen

Thank you for voting to reopen my question. Nevertheless, I'd like to know what cause putting it on hold in the first place.

2 Answers 2


FWIW: I don't see the point in taking questions on historical design decisions as "opinion-based" either.

As you say, there's usually a factual answer as to why the choice was made, even if it's just that some grand old hacker wanted to do it that way 20 years ago. Though an answer like that would need a reference, otherwise it will seem like a flippant remark.

  • I agree that it needs a reference. We do not know if it is a random name or not. In fact, I'd be satisfied with an answer which says that people sometimes use snarf for copying in English speaking countries (like a rarely used slang synonym). Nevertheless, as we can see in the thread about dd (link) people come up with 3 different legit stories. And apparently the community likes it. Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 9:56
  • So, if anything, should that be marked as opinion-based... Except that the answers there contain historical references, not opinions of the answerers themselves. Even if the explanation in that case seems to have gotten a bit fuzzy over time.
    – ilkkachu
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 10:02
  • And I am looking for such references as well. Actually, the real problem is not my question being opinion-based; the problem is that it might be too specific for U&L SE (so maybe I should just ask on the 9fans mailing list). Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 10:17
  • 1
    @MateuszPiotrowski you could also submit it as a sample question on the Computing history Area 51 proposal... (But yes, asking on 9fans is more likely to get you an appropriate answer.) Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 7:26
  • @StephenKitt I've sent an email to 9fans: mail.9fans.net/private/9fans/2016-September/035426.html. Additionally, I think that I've figured out the answer: unix.stackexchange.com/a/309350/128489 Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 10:22

I do not understand the reason of the close votes I receive, especially that I receive no feedback.

My hypothesis, based on some similar experiences: "moderators are people too," "power tends to corrupt," hence folks sometimes feel authorized to snap-close questions that don't appeal to them personally. Especially moderators who occasionally allow their dedication to Specific Questions and Stack Hygiene to go to extremes.

  • 1
    There weren't any moderators involved with the closing or reopening of that question, but five regular users each, so I'm not sure what you refer to with "snap-closing".
    – ilkkachu
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 16:20

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