I'll confess I'm confused about whether DNS setup and routing protocols are considered on or off topic here.

Could moderators and similar clear this up?

2 Answers 2


Routing protocols (OSPF, BGP, EIGRP, etc) are definitely on topic and likely this is the best site on the SE network of communities to answer such questions.

As for DNS, DHCP, NTP and other similar services, this was debated early on in the life of this community (see here for example). On one hand I personally believed there is room for such topics here and spoke to that position, but on the other felt that these were also topics that overlapped with larger and more established communities on the SE network, such as ServerFault. General DNS question were likely to get faster and more diverse set of answers from a community such as ServerFault.

In the end, the community tended to agree with the position that such topics were best handled by other SE network communities and should be off topic here so that we could direct such questions to those communities. While I may personally disagree with that position and feel that overlap with other sites isn't a negative, the community has made it's decision and as a moderator I will continue to enforce the position (unless the community decides to change this position at some future time).

So DNS/DHCP/NTP configuration as it applies to configuring a on topic network device are on topic. However, general DNS/DHCP/NTP service related questions are not.

  • 1
    Thanks for your reply. For whatever it's worth, my view is that DNS, DHCP, NTP, SNMP, SYSLOG, specifically, fall into a category somewhat like electricity and many kinds of networks will be considered to be faulty if those aren't functioning or supplied adequately, and that we need to be more generous about the overlap.
    – jonathanjo
    Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 18:20
  • @jonathanjo I tend to agree with you, but it is the community that makes the decision, not individuals.
    – YLearn
    Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 18:45

Routing protocols (RIP, OSPF, EIGRP, BGP, etc.) are very much on-topic for Network Engineering.

DNS is not a routing protocol, it is an application-layer protocol, and protocols above OSI layer-4 are off-topic for Network Engineering, but the configuration of something like the DNS server built into an on-topic device may be on-topic as a feature of the device. A stand-alone DNS server is off-topic, and it can be asked about on Server Fault.

  • 1
    Thanks for clarity. It's nonetheless surprising to me, as it is pretty much impossible to set up a well-functioning, well-maintained, network without good DNS, DHCP, NTP, SNTP and similar. If we take a purely protocol-oriented view, deciding whether it's in or out based on whether it sits on top of TCP or not seems unhelpful, and would, for example, distinguish OSPF and BGP. Is that really what we want? Further, these functions are very frequently implemented in the networking hardware by the networking team.
    – jonathanjo
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 13:30
  • The community has decided on what is or is not on-topic here. If you read the What topics can I ask about here? page, it explains in the Off-Topic section that "protocols above L4 in the OSI model (e.g. HTTP, FTP, etc)" are off-topic. Basically, we are concerned about the functioning of the network, not the content of the data on the network. Networks can function just fine without DNS, DHCP, etc. Servers are hosts on the network, not the network itself.
    – Ron Maupin Mod
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 13:39
  • 2
    In addition to Ron's comments: there are already a number of Stack Exchange sites dealing with those specific protocols. Having yet another Stack Exchange makes it less clear where those questions are on topic and harder for new people to find similar questions which have already been answered.
    – Teun Vink Mod
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 16:00
  • Thanks for your comments. I respect the consensus achieved, without agreeing with certain points of it. For example, many kinds of network would be considered absolutely broken without functioning DNS, even if the packets would route perfectly. Thanks, nonetheless, for the vigorous moderating.
    – jonathanjo
    Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 18:21

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