I have a question about my Unix & Linux Stack Exchange post: Replicate an Ubuntu server onto another ubuntu server

I'm trying to get better at asking questions on stack exchange websites. I know this question is of poor quality and I am too inexperienced to understand how and what I should change. In the question I was asking how to replicate the contents of the server I have onto a newer and stronger server. This was quickly downvoted indicating this question was either not following community guidelines or unhelpful to the community. I've read the community guidelines again since posting and still have some questions. Could any of you chime in?

2 Answers 2


The question does not look off-topic to me, but it is certainly quite broad. It says "copy the entire server" which could be divided up into

  • "replicating the installed software" (you got an answer relating to this)
  • "replicating custom software configurations"
  • "replicating user data"
  • "testing the new server"

Each of these require a very different answer.

I'm in favor for closing the question due to its broadness (I did not vote on it), but I also recognize that it may be difficult to formulate specific enough questions that wouldn't be too broad.

As a general rule of thumb, trying things out by yourself and then reporting exactly what you have done (a specific task rather than the whole project of replicating the entire server), why it did not work (verbatim error messages etc.) and what you expected to happen, will most likely generate the best answers.

  • 1
    I disagree that the question is too broad. An answer doesn't need to go into all the details of each of these points: even just listing those points is a start. And we've had similar questions before and we (I) did answer them. Mar 3, 2018 at 10:40
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    I also disagree that “trying things out by yourself (…) will most likely generate the best answers”. This often leads to XY problems and answers that focus on fixing fixing the Y solution but not on solving the original problem. Mar 3, 2018 at 10:42
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    @Gilles I won't argue with your first comment because it depends on the reader and their expertise to some degree. As for your second comment, it depends on how the question is phrased. If the question says "I'm trying to do this and I thought I'd try doing it this way, but it doesn't work because" (i.e. mentions the overall goal and the task at hand), then it would make a good and more specific question.
    – Kusalananda Mod
    Mar 4, 2018 at 10:33

I'm afraid you were unlucky. The close reason that people picked is wrong: you definitely weren't requesting learning materials. Kusalananda argues that your question is too broad, but I can't agree with that: we've had similar questions before. I'm a bit surprised yours got such a poor reception.

I guess that this site is growing up, and moving from small-town habits to large-city habits. It's becoming more like Stack Overflow, with more attention paid to (partially unwritten) rules and less attention paid to the goal of the rules. Here the goal being that “too broad” is for questions that cannot reasonably be answered on the site.

I won't vote to reopen the question because it would be a duplicate of Moving linux install to a new computer . (There may be points that aren't covered by this generic question, but then you'd need to ask a specific question about each of those points.) This question is the second-highest scoring question tagged /cloning and the highest-scoring question tagged /migration. On this site it's often a good idea to do a tag-based search. (Admittedly the tag names aren't obvious here, unfortunately there isn't a single well-established term for this concept.)

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