I asked a question earlier today https://networkengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/9596/how-to-configure-source-nat-private-ip-public-ip-outbound/9599#9599 which is currently flagged as "On-Hold" for being Off-Topic.

Per the Help Center link, Zentyal specifically would seemingly be a "Prosumer" Product as it fits every criterion:

  • Not really a "Consumer" product
  • Paid Support Option
  • Too cheap to be widely used/understood

Baring even that, this question had less to do with the specific *Nix Distro (Zentyal) and more to do with understanding some of the specific networking terminology. I would argue that trying to understand the terminology being used here is no different than if I were looking for help trying to understand the terminology being used in SonicWall (which given the help center link, would most likely be considered "On Topic").

Further, this isn't just a "server" that "happen[s] to have a firewall included" and any number of other things, it is installed and configured as a gateway and virtual appliance, effectively acting as though it were a piece of hardware I plug all the VMs into (like a SonicWall). The question itself had very little, I would argue next to nothing, to do with the underlying OS/Distro, or even the software in use. I asked in networking because I would expect networking experts to be able to interpret the terminology in use, and help to translate it to something a non-power-user/NetOps could wrap their head around. I certainly wasn't asking about an error I received during installation, or anything exclusively related to the OS.

Also, the question seems to be deemed On-topic per Does the scope of this site extend to virtual networking? and Virtual Networking Questions .

I guess I'm having trouble understanding specifically why this would be considered "Off-Topic" for a Q&A site dedicated to Networking. I feel like, while not unheard of, it would be somewhat unreasonable to expect a *Nix expert to be wholly familiar with the various ways networking terminology might be used or associated, just as it would be unreasonable to expect a networking expert to be able to explain the details surrounding SELinux or something like that. I know if I'd gone to Freenode and posed this question in #ubuntu, I would almost definitely have been strongly suggested/advised to ask in #networking, as #ubuntu would consider this off-topic for them.

Granted, IRC can be fickle, and the SE network is not Freenode, but their structure and organization are fairly similar.

Can someone provide some specific reasoning as to why the question in question would be off topic? Perhaps I'm not seeing the importance of some piece of minutiae that would make this the case. Or perhaps the way I asked the question made it seem more about Zentyal/Ubuntu than it actually was, or maybe the person who flagged the question misunderstood the intent of the question. His commentary makes me think he felt the question had more to do with the Distro than the networking, but I feel like I could strip it all down and the question itself would likely remain fairly unchanged. I provided details about the Distro/Product only as context, but as stated was merely interested in understanding what each field in the config was specifically requesting of me for input.

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Per the Help Center link, Zentyal specifically would seemingly be a “Prosumer” Product as it fits every criterion

Admittedly I have to make a judgment call in this case, but you’re stretching things to call this prosumer networking gear. Zental is a software distribution marketed as a drop-in replacement for Microsoft Small Business Server.


  • Q1: Does Zental have a firewall built into the software?
  • A1: Yes, but so does Microsoft Small Business Server 2011. Neither Zental nor Microsoft SBS 2011 is on-topic as far as I can tell.

We intended prosumer gear category to be a relatively cheap hardware appliance along the lines of the Zyxel ZyWall USG50. I would concede the point that the help center is ambiguous about the requirement for an appliance; perhaps we should re-word the help center to make the appliance part of things more clear.

Perhaps you’re wondering...

  • Q2: Why does it matter whether it is an appliance?
  • A2: Because appliances typically have published specifications for the limits of performance that you can expect from them. Defining the boundaries of expected performance is an important part of supporting anything.

Another point worth mentioning is that there are other Stack Exchange options to get support for Zental. ServerFault certainly looks possible, as does Ask Ubuntu.

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  • But it wouldn't have mattered if this were a SonicWall or something similar, the question would have remained effectively the same: "What do these fields mean or what is most likely to be the expected input given their labeling". – DavidScherer Jun 26 '14 at 14:50
  • I understand that you really want zental to be on topic. It isn't though. If the community votes to reopen we certainly would respect the community decision. – Mike Pennington Jun 26 '14 at 16:26
  • No, I don't necessarily want Zentyal to be on topic, it seems however there are those who want this question to be about Zentyal thus making it off topic. I want a question about networking, specifically terminology, to be on topic. I don't think this is unreasonable for a community dedicated to networking. – DavidScherer Jun 26 '14 at 16:46
  • This argument is no different than those from the hordes of other people who come here with off-topic consumer or server networking questions. It's human nature to assume that all networking questions belong on NE; however that is not what the community wanted – Mike Pennington Jun 26 '14 at 16:51
  • So if I were asking the same question about a SonicWall, would that then be on topic? – DavidScherer Jun 26 '14 at 16:56
  • @DavidScherer I could see this going either way, but the crux of your question seems to be about the operation of Zentyal not the underlying protocols. I'd have to say Mike's judgement call on this one was correct. If this were SonicWall, I suspect the results would be similar. Just look at the amount of 'answers' (if you can call them 'answers') of questions about SonicWall, you'll notice they are unanimously weak. – Ryan Foley Aug 18 '14 at 7:11

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