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Back in November I opened a meta discussion asking the community for feedback on what they felt needed to be changed to the types of questions the community felt should be on or off topic.

We have given plenty of time for feedback, and there are several that acheived a score of at least +10, which seems to indicate the community feels strongly about making those changes.

This is the first of those topics and it is currently being presented to define the actual scope of the subject. So I ask that each answerer consider providing two parts:

  1. A brief one line summary that would fit into the On-topic Help Page. This by necessity must be as brief as possible as the longer this page is the less likely users are to actually read it.
  2. A more detailed description of how the community should judge if a related question is on/off topic. We need to take care to include the types of questions the community wants, but also avoid flooding the site with questions that don't quite fit the community and prevent existing members from no longer feeling part of this community.

The first topic was stated as follows:

Advanced routing protocols like BGP, OSPF, IS-IS, VXLAN and EVPN on platforms without a paid support option (like Quagga, Mikrotik, FRR).

Some things to consider in your answers.

  • Which features/protocols should be include or excluded from being on topic?
  • Are we including only certain platforms (i.e. Quagga, Mikrotic, FRR)? Should we exclude certain platforms that may be more consumer oriented (i.e. DD-WRT, Tomato, etc)?
  • How do we maintain these requirements as features/protocols and/or platforms used change (i.e. new features, deprecated features, forks of projects, etc)?
  • The more I think about it, I feel we should either allow all routing questions on these devices, or none at all. It doesn't make sense to me to say BGP is on topic, but static routing is not (to take an extreme case). So long as the question is about professional networks (or not explicitly about home networking) they should be on-topic. I understand the desire to carve out a clear distinction between us and Server Fault or SuperUser, but there will always be some overlap. – Ron Trunk Jul 3 at 18:27
  • @RonTrunk, scope is the exact nature of this question, so feel free to post an answer. Keep in mind I did add a more general entry in the previous meta question (see here), but it was not as well received as Teun's proposal for advanced features. – YLearn Jul 3 at 18:31
  • Coming at this from a different point of view, why can't we explicitly name products/manufacturers? What would be so terrible if we say Cisco, HP, Brocade, Microtik, Quagga are on topic, but DD-WRT, D-link, Linksys are not? It may seem arbitrary, but no more so than "paid support." – Ron Trunk Jul 4 at 19:55
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    @RonTrunk, two reasons. First, because I personally can't name all the vendors that produce "enterprise" equipment on a global market that would be "on topic" and there are new "valid" companies all the time. Second, many vendors provide both business class equipment with paid support options as well as consumer products. Take for example, Netgear or D-Link; which list should those vendors be on since they offer both? – YLearn Jul 4 at 20:48
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I think we can crack the door open a bit and allow Microtik questions. Although they don't have paid support, they do have training and certification, which to my mind differentiates them sufficiently from consumer grade devices. Microtik routers have advanced features that wouldn't ordinarily be found on home networks.

So we could modify the help section to read something like:

Hardware that has a paid support option or offers training/certification on their products. This includes most enterprise/provider class products as well as certain small business class devices.

I realize that this distinction allows Microtik but not Quagga or FFR, which are just as "advanced." But I can't think of a way to clearly include them without allowing too many consumer devices. In an ideal world, we would include them too, but perfect shouldn't be the enemy of the good.

  • I personally wouldn't be opposed, but this is more along the lines of the proposal that wasn't so well received by the community. The proposal that was voted on by the community was allowing advanced routing features of not just Mikrotik, but other platforms you are excluding. Or you could have added this at the time as an alternative proposal. – YLearn Jul 4 at 20:50
  • To me, Teun's and your proposals are similar enough to be treated as one. As I said above, I can't see how we can distinguish "advanced" features from "simple" ones. I think the real issue is not "should we include them", but "how can we clearly define on topic items?" As I said, my answer isn't exactly what I want, but I can't think of a better way. – Ron Trunk Jul 5 at 12:53

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