8

Are questions about a specific product off topic?

For example, about problems with a certain hardware model, questions about upgrading a specific product.

It's already discussed if comparison and shopping questions would be on topic, here I mean good questions but very localized.

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11

Absolutely, these should be on topic. Please, this is not at all what is meant by "too localized." This close reason is being severely reworked because of these misunderstandings (more on that soon) — but it almost never makes sense to close a question because it pertains to a specific product.

Yes, questions about the products used in this subject space should be on topic. As a matter of fact, the developers of these products tend to have communities of their own. We should encourage them to become part of the ecosystem of this site.

We get a lot of requests from project teams about how they can use Stack Exchange to support their communities. I see no reason why this site couldn't provide fantastic technical support for products or services closely related to Network Engineering. I'm not talking about customer support issues (bug reports, feature requests, etc), but technical support for problems you encounter in the day-to-day use of these products.

This is really no different than the product-specific support we provide on Stack Overflow, and the top two answers from the link below are worth reading:

Is it okay to use Stack Overflow as the support forum for a product or project?

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  • Thanks for the clarification and the links! So for me it remains to try hard to make such questions a bit more general if possible, so the focus isn't too restricted to the mentioned model. – Stefan May 16 '13 at 16:00
  • @Stefan Don't try TOO hard to make them general. This site works better for very specific questions, for reason outlined in this thread: About those tipping questions... Just replace the subject of "travel" with "network engineering" — same concept. – Robert Cartaino May 16 '13 at 16:27
3

If a question is of the type "specific problem and solution", then that should trump it being highly localized [ie, about a specific model of hardware.]

"How do I make FOO protocol propagate my WHATSIT widgets from my FROBNITZ model 42 to my other site's FROBNITZ model 43?" doesn't become off topic just because the question involves very specific hardware details. The solution/answer is very likely to apply to other problems.

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  • If it could apply to other problems, the question could be adjusted. – Stefan May 16 '13 at 12:32
  • 2
    @Stefan Why? I've tried generalizing my questions in the past and it hasn't turned out well. I even put a bounty on one because I was convinced I wasn't understanding a very basic premise. It turned out to be the wrong @$*! drivers. Generalizing runs the risk of assuming a problem/solution is widespread; specifying the hardware doesn't exclude anything. – rtf May 16 '13 at 16:23
1

I would say

  • off topic: closely model related questions
  • on topic: questions about a series (catalyst, nexus)

This site is primarily intended to be a knowledge collection. The strict Q&A style helps in growing, but it's not a support forum. While it's great if one questioner could be helped, we should always aim for the benefit of network engineers in general and the site itself.

If we see a question which is aimed specifically at a certain product, we could

  1. Ask the questioner in a comment if he or she could make is question more general.
  2. Especially when answers would show, or if it's already obvious, that the issue actually applies to a series, rewrite the question to be more general and canonical.
  3. If it cannot be made more general, vote to close as too localized.

Mentioning a model as a specific example within a question is fine of course.

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  • I agree with Roberts answer here, but with the desire to extend the focus to a series if the issue isn't restricted to the model. – Stefan May 16 '13 at 16:02
-1

Isn't localized based on regional market share?

For example, people living in areas where Cable has never existed might not relate to any questions about shared bandwidth or address reservation. Furthermore, there are Cable customers who have never heard of address reservation.

With regards to restricting questions closely related to manufacturers: Why should someone working in a MLE equipped with Juniper devices consider any questions about proprietary Cisco protocols not to be localized?

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