Is it OK to ask questions like "what is the etymology of hdparm command name?"?

General topic matches https://unix.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic ("Shell scripting", "Applications packaged in *nix distributions").

It is not explicitly rejected by https://unix.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask

Main problem that I see is that while for some commands there may be some obviously correct answer for others the best answers is "it appears to be unclear" and it is impossible to guess it before asking (except cases of self-answered questions).

I earlier thought that askubuntu would fit but I was directed here as answers typically would not be Ubuntu specific, though it was suggested that this type of question is rather OK.

I found some examples of this type of questions that seem to be accepted:

Why BitchX is called BitchX?

Why is dmesg called dmesg?

Etymology of "descriptor" in "file descriptor"

What does 'touch' stand for?

though it is impossible for me to guess to see what is nowadays a typical reaction to this type of this questions (I am unable to see deleted ones, maybe I encountered rare case of not deleted ones).

  • 9
    History questions are generally on-topic. There's a tag for it: history. There can still be bad on-topic questions. Feb 14, 2018 at 0:37

2 Answers 2


I hesitate to post this as an answer, but since this is a , here goes. I can see some value in gathering historic information at U&L, if there are people who know (or know people who know) the answer to such a question. "Why" questions could have evidence behind the answers, or may have an unknown origin. The worst-case scenario is that it gets (and remains) closed.


Please note that some research effort is expected from people who ask questions here, so simply asking "Why is hdparm called hdparm?", you'll likely get downvoted. Don't set your expectations too high because you see that some such questions are well-received: it's a known effect of the HNQ list. General curiosity questions sometimes get there and receive their share of upvotes from people coming from other sites, regardless of quality.

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