I can understand that, since this stackexchange is called Network ENGINEERING, it shouldn‘t be full of questions like „why did my router stop working“.

But given that most of the questions on the meta here are about why questions are off-topic and where they should be asked instead and then a discussion has to be had here about why it can‘t be asked (rather than just being answered in the first place), isn‘t that a clear indication that the current scope definition is probably too narrow and there would be value in widening it to at least any kind of topics on network engineering?


Short answer: things are marked off-topic because they're off-topic.

The fact that people won't read the FAQ -- or understand what's there -- isn't something we can control. A great many people are absolutely certain their question is on-topic, and should be immediately answered. Instead of (again) reading the closure message, and asking their question in a more appropriate venue, they argue about it; they take issue with the rules (again, that they didn't bother reading) under which NE has operated for years.

  • If so many questions are off-topic, you might consider that your help site is not precise enough. – kaiya Jun 19 at 9:47
  • Doesn't matter when people don't bother to read it. – Ricky 2 days ago
  • It matters as long as you don't want to piss off people that are capable of reading by treating them with pure ignorance. – kaiya yesterday

Network Engineering was split off from Super User and Server Fault so that professional network engineers did not need to wade through a huge amount of other questions to find questions and answers for professional networking.

Opening up Network Engineering to questions that do not directly relate to questions other than those about "professionally managed networks in a business environment" really defeats the whole purpose of the site. The community decided early on what types of questions should be allowed, and what type of questions do not interest the community.

There are plenty of questions here, on Meta, about what should or should not be allowed on the main Q&A site. For example, What is ON-topic? Let's improve our FAQ/Help, where it explains:

Network Protocols' Design/Theory –

Network protocol questions, like 'Why does Cisco's bgp process pack update packets in path attribute groups like this?' or ' Why does OSPF use this next hop address for these external LSAs?'

Application level protocols (example, host / server protocols above the TCP / UDP / ICMP PDUs) are explicitly off topic.

Note the last sentence. Your question on the main site is about something above OSI layer-4.

You are free to try to change the mind of the community, but if you read the Meta questions and answers, you will find that such things have been routinely rejected over the years. The site community is focused on questions and answers about professionally managed networks. Other SE sites, such a Super User, do entertain questions about peer-to-peer network overlays, but those are not really used in most business networks.

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    That'd be like calling questions about VPN connections an Application-layer problem. My question was about routing strategies, independent of protocol (so it applies just as well for layer 1 based connections as for virtual connections layered on top of an existing network - it's ultimately the same in terms of algorithms that have to be employed) – matthias_buehlmann Mar 1 at 22:42
  • Why are VPNs application-layer? GRE tunnels are in layer-3. VPNs can be part of router configurations, but VPN servers are off-topic as host/server configurations. If you are asking about routing strategies, then define your routing protocol and ask a question about it. Layer-1 and layer-2 have nothing to do with routing, which happens at layer-3, so, no, routing strategies have nothing to do with layer-1. – Ron Maupin Mar 1 at 22:48
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    you may not like the terminology, but a Layer-2 forwarding table is also a form of routing (as it decides on what ports to forward a packet). VPN connections are application layer connections if you so will (whether they are implemented in the embedded software of a router or running on a client computer) as they implement the connection on top of layer 4 - and they just provide either Layer-3 or Layer-2 endpoints. But that really is just hair-splitting. – matthias_buehlmann Mar 1 at 23:06
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    Router configurations for things like VPN, DNS, DHCP, etc. are on-topic, but not if they are handled by a server. What router handles your peer-to-peer? That would be a server, and those are off-topic (on-topic for Super User and Server Fault for business). Layer-2 forwarding is not routing (sending packets to a different network, not bridging frames on the same network like a switch; routing is layer-3 and bridging is layer-2). This is all terminology that network engineers use. It seems you are stuck in amateur ideas and terminology. – Ron Maupin Mar 1 at 23:38
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    I'm well aware of the popular meaning of that terminology - what I say is that it's silly to insist on certain rules based on wording if that wording has been chosen to keep the focus on network engineering and the question clearly otherwise falls into the category of doing exactly that - engineering a network. – matthias_buehlmann Mar 2 at 3:50
  • "I'm well aware of the popular meaning of that terminology" That is the professional meaning of the terminology. Professional network engineers (the focus of Network Engineering) have agreed on certain terminology (heavily influenced by the RFCs). That is how we communicate, and trying to use the terminology in other ways on a network engineering site will lead to the same problems you have discovered. – Ron Maupin Mar 2 at 4:08
  • "what I say is that it's silly to insist on certain rules based on wording if that wording has been chosen to keep the focus on network engineering" Your original question is not about a professionally managed network in a business environment. You are free to start you own networking SE site, see: Area 51, just as this community did for its own reasons. If you do not like this community, nor do you want to ask on the communities that will entertain your question, you should start the site you want. – Ron Maupin Mar 2 at 4:14
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    In any case, you may have already had an answer to your question if you had simply followed the advice to ask on Super User, where some network engineers here participate, and others there are experts in peer-to-peer networks rather than spend all your time arguing about the community here. – Ron Maupin Mar 2 at 4:18

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