I am concerned about how unfriendly it seems to new users that we invite them to Ask a Question but don't put helpful information next to them when they do.

It turns out that Stack Exchange has two features we can make use of to help immediately:

  • We can customise the "How to Ask" box
  • We can put triggers for particular keywords

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I have put as an answer my proposal.

All suggestions and observations gratefully received.


2 Answers 2


How to Ask

I think something like:

Network Engineering Stack Exchange is for asking questions about
professionally managed networks in a business environment.

(Note: All questions about RESIDENTIAL/HOME networking and
CONSUMER-grade equipment, are explicitly OFF-topic.)

On-Topic subjects include*:

  • List of a few common on-topic subjects

Off-Topic subjects include*:

  • List of a few common off-topic subjects

*For more details, please see our What topics can I ask about here? page.

To help guide you to ask a better question that can get a good answer in less
time, we have put together the Network Engineering Question Checklist.

Questions about this web site should be asked on Network Engineering Meta,
and many answers about this web site can be found on our Help Center.

Discussions and other off-topic subjects should be discussed on
General Network Engineering Recommendations.

Trigger Tags

For the Trigger Tags, I think it could be greatly simplified. Since it is set up to link to something else, I would propose we get together a list of tags covered by the Network Engineering Canonical Questions or FAQ (this may also be subject to expansion), then we could have a single message for when one of those tags is chosen.

Something like:

Many questions asked for this tag are closed as duplicates.
In order to prevent your question from being closed as a duplicate,
please review the

Network Engineering Canonical Questions or FAQ

to see if one of the canonical questions already answers your question.

Also, please perform a search on the main site to see if your question
has already been asked and answered.


The following is a first-cut proposal for what we should do. All suggestions and comments gratefully received.

How to Ask

We currently have a completely generic "How to Ask" box, which I think is unhelpful.

I propose:

Network Engineering is for professional networks

On Topic questions include

  • Configuration of professional switches, routers, firewalls etc
  • Protocol theory and network design
  • Networking tools
  • For networks under your direct control

Off Topic Subjects include

  • Layer 4 or above protocols, such as HTTP (perhaps Super User)
  • Consumer networking (perhaps Super User)
  • Server configuration (perhaps Server Fault)
  • Homework problems (because it doesn't help you if we answer)
  • Bypassing security (The one who pays for the network chooses its rules)
  • Product and resource recommendations (but welcome in chat)

For more details, please see our On Topic page

Just for reference, this is what they did at Mathematica.

Trigger Tags

We can have "trigger tags", which make text pop up if the tag is selected

Propose that triggers:

We get many IPv4 subnet mask questions

  • Want to understand IP addresses and masks? See LINK
  • Want to understand "slash notation" like /24? See LINK
  • Want to understand the binary maths? see LINK
  • Want to know what mask corresponds to /X? See LINK
  • Want to divide a /X into /Y and /Z? See LINK
  • Want to know how many hosts fit in a /X? See LINK
  • Want to know special address 192.168.X.Y., 172.16.X.Y and 10.X.Y.Z? See LINK
  • Want to know about all the other special addresses? See LINK
  • All our network mask questions are collected at LINK

Propose that triggers

We get many DHCP questions, many of which are duplicates.

  • Want to know about DHCP broadcasts? See LINK
  • Want to know about DHCP relays? See LINK

For reference, this is what they did for "what font is this?" questions at Graphic Design.

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