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Several days ago, I asked a question in serverfault. It is a question related to a problem I'm having in an Ubuntu proxy server. No one gave me an answer for two days, not even a comment or a clue. So I headed to the Serverfault chat room, The Comms Room, and asked the guys out there about that question. They told me that it is not a bad question, but it'll get more chance at the unix site. After transferring the question here, still no response, even it got a vote to close claiming it is too localized. The Unix chat room is almost always empty (never interacting). So I wanna know what's wrong? and how it can be too localized? I'm asking for any kind of guidance or pointing to what might be the problem, and it is not too localized (but that's my problem).

Here is a link to the question: Sarg report error

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This question is about a tool that few people use and is pretty long. This is an observation, not a criticism. I think it's well-written, you give a lot of facts, and they're (potentially) relevant. Unfortunately, such a question is not exciting: it isn't applicable to a wide audience, it isn't easy to understand. I expect most people saw the title, thought “Sarg, what's sarg, I don't care about this question”; and the few that viewed it went “too long, stopping reading”.

I disagree that the question is too localized. Sure, it may end up being some peculiar line in your log files which nobody can reproduce. Even if that's the issue, how to diagnose the issue, how to locate the troublesome line are good questions that are applicable at least to the not-that-narrow world of Sarg users.

  • Well said.. I agree. I posted the question originally at serverfault, I thought that sysadmins there might've seen similar things.. – amyassin Jun 27 '12 at 6:40
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One thing that may be keeping people from visiting your question is that the title isn't phrased as a question. Often when I see a title that isn't a question that explains in brief what the problem is, leaving me an opening as to how I can help, I pass it by thinking "Great, another problem about [pick something]. What am I supposed to do to help that? Next!" especially if there is NO detail in the title.

Especially in a question/answer format, if I see 2 titles. One is:

My windows is broken

(which, arguably probably needs edits) My knee-jerk reaction is "Well! Good for you! I wonder what someone else is doing..."

Another is:

Why is Windows not acquiring a DHCP lease?

My reaction is: "Hmmm. DHCP problems. Maybe I can help."

This is one of the things that I try to rectify if I'm editing someone else's question, and the title isn't phrased as a question. Questions beg for answers, and beg for help. Statements don't beg for anything.

It may seem a little cold, maybe a little callous, but that is how my brain is wired.

[edit] in this case, Windows is just an example... I hang out on Superuser a lot too...

  • That's a good point, but how can I phrase it as a straight question? I have no clue, and all I want is the clue.. Can you suggest a title? – amyassin Jul 10 '12 at 13:16
  • @amyassin Maybe, "Doing reporting with Sarg/Squid, why does one cron job run OK, but another start exhibiting errors?" It is a complicated question, to be sure, but it does help flesh out what isn't working. – killermist Jul 10 '12 at 15:07
  • actually both cron jobs are't working, and the basic execution of sarg binary fails as well, but I'll edit the title accordingly... – amyassin Jul 11 '12 at 0:27
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I voted to close. The reason was mainly because of the output of sarg -n shows that the problem probably are your log files (it even says SARG: Maybe you have a broken date in your /var/log/squid/access.log file). Maybe it was a little bit too stringent but for me it seemed that the problem is on your site (maybe some corrupt log file, memory problem…).

But I also think you provided all the necessary information to your question - maybe even too much as the part about cron seems to be unnecessary (but I am not using sarg). So yes, I voted to close but I was the only one.

  • Thanks :) I'd appreciate it even more if you said so when you voted.. Yeah I know the error eventually is a broken data, but I wanted to know why that data got corrupted at the first place.. And it just keeps getting that error even when I remove the corrupted line. And I added so much (even the cron part) because I was clueless, and since it may help troubleshoot if I made some silly mistake here or there, I thought it might be a clue for somebody to point out... – amyassin Jun 26 '12 at 9:52
  • @amyassin as I said you provided all the necessary information which is good. But I am not sure about adding a comment about the vote, seems to be unnecessary as you would need at least 4 other votes. – Ulrich Dangel Jun 26 '12 at 10:07
  • But it clarify your point.. – amyassin Jun 26 '12 at 11:02
  • And now you found the solution? But why as comment - not as answer? – Nils Jul 5 '12 at 21:09
  • @Nils i didn't find an answer? i just provided some pointers, i am not sure what the problem is (something is wrong in the logfile, logrotation, non continuous increasing timestamps etc.). Therefore i didn't answer it as i personally don't know what caused the problem / how to solve it in detail. – Ulrich Dangel Jul 5 '12 at 21:16
  • That was a good point, but still is not an answer. But I actually would prefer if it was in the form of an answer, so further modification can be done to it till it can reform a good solution... – amyassin Jul 10 '12 at 13:18

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