I just reached the rep to get into the close votes review queue. What I see there are a lot of off-topic flags with which I often do not agree. That's sketchy so I'll add two examples:

I'm asking because I'm not sure whether it is community consensus to flag these questions as off-topic (and therefore I'm doing the opposite work by rejecting the flags and I should stop). Or it is just a lack of attention of some users that may be flagging questions at 4AM.

So yeah, are these questions really off-topic?

1 Answer 1


First of all, congratulations and welcome to the janitorial staff! Now, finding things you don't agree with in the review queues is quite normal. That's why they're reviewed, after all. If you don't agree that a question should be closed (by the way, those are close votes, not flags), then vote to leave it open and move on. That's how it works.

As for your specific examples, personally, I consider them both off topic:

  • 3
    Oh, I get it now. Notably the 2nd part about the subtle difference in "how to use the C API" and "how do i use C to perform A whilst using the Linux API".
    – grochmal
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 12:06
  • I am in a similar situation as @grochmal, I simply lack some routine. I find the label "Off-topic" for trival questions a bit misleading. I think I need to get used to it. Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 9:46
  • @countermode what do you mean? Whether a question is on topic or not has nothing to do with whether it is trivial. "How can I set a variable to an integer in C" is trivial but also completely off topic.
    – terdon Mod
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 10:25
  • This was not related to this specific case. It was related to "Off Topic -> Not Reproducible" which includes trivial stuff like mis-spelling commands and the like. Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 10:51
  • 5
    @countermode well, the rationale there is that if I ask "why does echoo foo fail?", that is very unlikely to ever help anyone else since the issue is so obviously a typo, so closing such questions is better for the site. Keeping questions that aren't likely to help future visitors just clutters up the site with noise while not providing anything useful. Hence, off topic.
    – terdon Mod
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 11:01
  • As I said, I need more routine end experience, although I get along pretty well already. Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 11:04
  • I disagree with your argument on the ‘CPU times’ question.  It is not asking “How do I add numbers in C?”; it is “How do I get this system information from the Unix/Linux kernel (using the C API)?” It’s not about the programming language; it’s about the OS. A Stack Overflow user could be an expert on C programming and have no idea how to answer this question. We always talk about how many of the sites overlap: AU and U&L; U&L and SU; and scripts can go lots of places. Questions about the Unix-C API should be in the overlap between U&L and SO, and should stay in the community where they were asked. Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 0:38
  • 3
    I expected that you would refer me to the U&L on-topic guidelines, and I was prepared to argue that they should be changed. Taking questions about process properties and shoving them over to SO is overzealous compartmentalization — if /proc, strace, and scripts are on-topic, then the mere mention of C should not push a question over the edge. But then I saw something I had forgotten — the Help Center explicitly says that “UNIX C API and System Interfaces (within reason)” are on-topic. So I don’t understand how you can say that the ‘CPU times’ question is off-topic at U&L. Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 0:39

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