The image also links to the question itself. Is something wrong with including that text? From my perspective, it helps define the scope of the question to 'I don't need to learn what a user is or why you need them (even 'fake' ones), but this other concept isn't intuitive to me'.

I've tried soliciting reasoning in the edit history, but that didn't work.

edit history

I should add that despite my rep on this site, I've been on SE sites for a long time (mostly TeX.SX), so I get the general ideology.

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    Kudos for using the edit history to attempt to understand the reason for the edits. Ideally, all edits of other people’s posts should explain the reason for the changes in the Edit Summary. Jan 7, 2019 at 10:30
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    @AnthonyGeoghegan Ideally :-) I'm glad that the requirement is a bit heavy-handed for newer users (otherwise the review queue would be a lot more challenging), but it seems to be easy to fall out of practice :-) Jan 8, 2019 at 17:33
  • @SeanAllred ... your comment is not about the question ... it is about you and your learning curve and/or conceptual understanding of and with UNIX. I cannot see at all how telling the SE community your 'level' with UNIX is important. It was as if you were pleading for "big kid" answers, so you were like ... "hey guys, I know some UNIX." It is not a forum for that ... if you need to define scope, then define it objectively and cite sources or definitions if needed. respectfully, imho
    – oemb1905
    Jan 18, 2019 at 6:23

2 Answers 2


I think this is (perhaps overenthusiastic) removal of parts of your question which seem extraneous to the editor (see also Should 'Hi', 'thanks', taglines, and salutations be removed from posts? for some context).

The problem with “I’m not new to basic UNIX concepts, but I am pretty new to UNIX sysadmin” is that it doesn’t convey much actionable information. Drawing a line between “UNIX concepts” and “UNIX sysadmin” is difficult, and its position depends on the reader — but here we try to write answers which don’t depend (too much) on the question author’s knowledge.

Your own clarification, “I don’t need to learn what a user is or why you need them (even ‘fake’ ones), but this other concept isn’t intuitive to me” is much better; I recommend editing that into your question (rephrasing “this other concept”).

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    Except that the longer and more specific explanation is also unnecessary, since the question itself implies that the concept of "a user" is already known. Even with that longer phrase, we can't stop anyone from giving broader background information in answers, if they want to do that.
    – ilkkachu
    Jan 7, 2019 at 10:28
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    @ilkkachu You can't stop anyone from doing anything they want (within the rules, naturally) -- but that doesn't mean a snippet defining the scope of the question isn't valuable. One of the main goals of SE sites is to reduce the duplication of knowledge. In this case, there are certainly much better introductions to the concept of a UNIX user than what would have been warranted to answer my original Q. // I've gone ahead and made your suggested edit, thanks! Jan 8, 2019 at 17:31
  • @SeanAllred ... your follow up and clarification define the scope. The original comment does nothing except relay to users that you have an idea about two terms, i.e., sysadmin and concepts ... does that mean sysadmin does not contain basic concepts? ... or, that basic concepts do not include sysadmin ... after you reading your clarification about how you thought it defined scope, I reread it and was wondering how that conveyed any of that ... I do not think your clarification is consistent with the original comment.
    – oemb1905
    Jan 18, 2019 at 6:26
  • @SeanAllred ... you almost did the same thing with this post, when at the end, you stated how long you have been on SE, as if longevity in and of itself, is what matters. But then, you caught yourself on this one and instead of self gratification, you mentioned that you were familiar with "the rules." If so, then why does this bug you still? I am chiming in because I hate my posts being edited (honestly), but I do get it ... just my perspective to help. ;)
    – oemb1905
    Jan 18, 2019 at 6:28
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    @oemb1905 To restate it, I'm a long-time, active member of SE sites with low reputation on this site. One of the difficulties with how the system is designed and how the community generally behaves (because let's face it: everyone makes assumptions) is that you're treated differently if you have low reputation. I needed to make it clear that I wasn't whining about my post being edited (because it is indeed one of the great things about SE!) -- I was concerned that the culture of Unix.SE far-enough out-of-line with that of TeX.SX that I couldn't see the problem with my original Q. Feb 22, 2019 at 18:16

From How do I ask a good question?:

Make it relevant to others

We like to help as many people at a time as we can. Make it clear how your question is relevant to more people than just you, and more of us will be interested in your question and willing to look into it.

Adding a note that "I'm not new to [concept]" may look like you're requesting, instead of a full and complete answer, one that omits any details about [concept] and is tailored only to fill a specific gap in your own understanding.

The next person who has the same question, and finds yours with a search, won't necessarily have the same level of prior knowledge, so a partial answer would be less helpful to them. One that includes the necessary background, even when some of that is more than the OP needed, would be more widely useful.

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    This is a good answer. Instead of self identifying details we should add detail that identify the known and unknown. e.g. "I know that a *nix user is ___ but what is____? " There have been a number of times when a well asked question on a similar topic has helped me reason out a solution because the asker understood the topic better than I did. Jan 10, 2019 at 18:34
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    On the other hand, flagging that a particular concept is familiar may help answerers avoid heading off in the wrong direction. Jan 14, 2019 at 9:01

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