I am referring to this question of mine posted several days ago that was put on hold as primarily opinion-based:

Ad-hoc network infrastructure for professional meetings requiring high bandwith and low latency (e.g. hackathons)

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to coax a more detailed reason out of the sole closer - in his defense, I declined his proposal of addressing the matter in chat, chiefly due to a misunderstanding of intent.

The question was intended to generate objective answers, to quote from itself:

In summary, what I'm asking about is the topography and practical requirements for equipment features in such a network setup.

In particular, it was not intended as a:

  • shopping list - I've explicitly refrained from asking about specific products (perhaps I've made a mistake in providing a ballpark cost for what I though would be an additional guideline, but wasn't ultimately that important),
  • solve only the OPs problem - I've tried to keep the description general enough to apply to most hackathons,
  • conversely, solve every possible problem for such a setup - the intent was to gather the primary, objective (i.e. based on sources, calculated estimations etc.) "to-dos" and "no-nos" for such a situation.
  • for desire of "fake internet points", as alluded in one of the comments.

The major thing I was thinking about was that there is some missing element that makes the answer trivial, but that's sort of a Catch 22 - the answer "you need X and nothing else, because this [explanation][source]" would be objective after all.

So, is it possible to make question like this to be "objective answer"-safe, and how should it look like?

Addendum: where possible, I've deliberately phrased the meta question as a general one, rather than "Why was my question closed?", since with the lack of reopening activity etc. it's more productive to assume that I'm in the wrong - it will save me some edits when the opportunity comes to "generalize" it.

  • FYI, if you did a good job working through the Network Engineering question checklist, most of the problems with the closed question would be fixed... Jan 20, 2015 at 2:36
  • @MikePennington : your link was my first experience of that post. Perhaps it should be linked somewhere from the help center (I've doublechecked, it doesn't appear to be)?
    – mikołak
    Jan 22, 2015 at 16:09

2 Answers 2


So, is it possible to make question like this to be "objective answer"-safe, and how should it look like?


To make it "objective-answer" safe, you'd have to stop requiring so much speculation about what you need. Furthermore, by asking for a one-size-fits-all solution, you're venturing into the classic "best practice" bad assumptions.

Long answer:

You are asking for:

  • an "instant network" stash that connects to the venue's router and handles wired networking for all the attendees
  • topography and practical requirements for equipment features in such a network setup
  • general enough to apply to most hackathons
  • ...gather the primary, objective (i.e. based on sources, calculated estimations etc.) "to-dos" and "no-nos"...

However, you've tainted this for "objective" answers; see each section I've marked with [subjective because]... Quoting from your question...

  • reliable bandwidth is a must

[subjective because] How are we supposed to know what you mean by "reliable bandwidth"? How much is that? Between what endpoints? Is this only concerned with "internet" bandwidth? It would also help if you could explain situations when the bandwidth wasn't reliable enough. These days, even a basic pfSense gateway will give you at least 100Mbps in and out at large packet sizes (read the packet sizes used by ftp, scp, git, etc... do you really need more?

Furthermore, I'm struggling to understand how you'd have control over bandwidth provided by your venue unless you purchased it yourself. That's possible, but I can't imagine someone doing that for the small number of attendees quoted in the question. If you are purchasing bandwidth for each of these hackathons, that significantly changes the requirements (cost, setup / teardown, coordination with the ISP / venue's IT staff, etc...)

  • low latency is a strong desirable (since there may be e.g. contests that are timing-sensitive)

[subjective because] Could you please quantify what you mean by low-latency? For what applications? To what endpoints? Again, real experiences when this has been a problem would be helpful.

At first blush, you seem to be making this much harder than necessary. Even a bunch of Wal-mart fast-ethernet switches will give what I consider low-latency within the venue. Outside the venue is of-course, out of your control unless you buy a circuit from a provider and/or start throttling users bandwidth. But, throttling users gets complicated quickly... and I don't get the sense that this should be a technologically sophisticated solution.

  • the network might be spread out over multiple, close-by rooms

[subjective because] What do you mean by "close-by"? Can you guarantee that the rooms will be within 100 meters or 300 feet (including having to run things through the ceiling, if required)? FYI, 300 feet is the distance limit for most copper cabling you'd use.

  • we're looking for a setup consisting of a central router (or possibly more than one?), some switches, and the necessary cabling.

[subjective because] Besides perhaps PAT/NAT, what exactly do you want this router to do? While we're on the subject of features, are we to assume you actually want to deal with spanning-tree, and knowing how much bandwidth each port is consuming? In other words, do you want a bunch of managed switches or unmanaged switches?

  • what features of routers, switches and other possible component devices may help with reliability in environment like the one outlined?

[subjective because] You're basically asking for a poll for what features you need, but so far we have no way to know what you need. As I mentioned multiple times above, we have no idea about the practical problems you've faced at past hackathons. Are you worried about a few bandwidth hogs of your internet connection? Do you want utilization and error stats? Do you want to map users to specific switchports?

If you an address the concerns above, I think we'd be a lot closer to a question that gets "objective" answers.

  • Thank you for the very exhaustive answer. I've reworded the question to the best of my ability. I wasn't able to to modify the "we're looking[.]" part, as it wasn't really intended as anything else than "glue" - generally, part of the points you expand upon are the "Catch 22" clauses I've alluded to (i.e. requiring, in my opinion, knowledge of the answer or at least parts thereof). Details for the changes are in the edit summary. Overall, I'm not really confident I've made the question compliant. However, it has definitely been a learning experience, so thanks again for your time and effort.
    – mikołak
    Jan 22, 2015 at 16:10

By not listing any "products", you are eliciting a shopping list in the answers, and a potentially never ending series of "I've done it with [X]" opinion answers.

  • 1
    ...and by listing products I'm afraid it could devolve to an "X is clearly better then Y, because I've used it" flame-war, so that's a lose-lose on that front.
    – mikołak
    Jan 22, 2015 at 16:11
  • 1
    It would very short lived as such answers aren't answers, and comments would be flagged as such and removed.
    – Ricky
    Jan 22, 2015 at 21:57

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