Why would root own anything in my personal home directory? That goes against any ethical doctrine.

This is an answer I posted. It stirred some opposing reactions, as it turned out. I also later opened a question concerning the matter. And then Kusulananda suggested I start a discussion here on Meta if I think it's worth it.

As for the discussion, I consider the answer valid basing on my experience, however small it be. Also a simple check for root-owned files in the home directory on my Debian confirmed my intuitive grasp of this apparently implicit philosophy.

Two reviewers found the answer valid.

Four reviewer, on the other hand, claim it should be deleted. The arguments on this side are that the answer is low quality and not an answer at all.

I'm bringing this here as I'm curious what a bigger forum might say. Possibly some constructive discussion evolves too.

2 Answers 2


The reasoning behind my "delete" vote:

The answer consists of a question ("Why would root own anything in my personal home directory?") along with a personal opinion ("That goes against any ethical doctrine."). It does not answer the question about what the ownership of the files in $HOME/.gnupg should be, can be, or might be, and why.

There are many reasons why files under $HOME may be owned by root, including using sudo to run certain software. In these cases, the answer should IMHO explain this along with some reasoning around the merits of changing or not changing the ownership of those files, and the possible outcome thereof.


The text you posted as an answer starts with this sentence:

Why would root own anything in my personal home directory?

That... is not an answer. Not to the question presented there: "What are the standard ownership settings for files in the .gnupg folder?", and not for anything else. In fact, it's a question of its own.

I'm not saying its a question without merit, you might very well ask for reasonable situations to do that. But a question it is.

An answer would be something phrased like this:

The proper settings for foobar are baz and barf, because that makes it easier to frobnicate foobar and besides, the standard HJKL003 from 1962 requires it.

  • 1
    Since I’m one of the reviewers who recommended deletion, I’ll chime in to say that the above expresses my thoughts exactly.  If you (tomasz) had taken your comment, “no root ownership in home directories of other users”, and written it as a complete, articulate sentence in your answer, I might have voted otherwise.  But questions aren’t answers, and comments aren’t answers. Jan 21, 2018 at 22:14
  • With all due respect, @G-Man, “no root ownership in home directories of other users” and "Why would root own anything in my personal home directory?" are the same to me. As far as I agree with judging the merit of my answers, I consider their form a minor matter.
    – user147505
    Jan 22, 2018 at 0:53

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