We should discuss what to consider a valid question for this site. We can expect many questions that are not Raspberry Pi-specific at all but rather specific to Linux itself or a particular piece of software. Should we direct them to other Stack Exchange sites or answer the question here?

  • Didn't you ask that question about swap space?
    – Jivings
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 23:05
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    I did. This issue struck me afterwards.
    – user13
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 23:06
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    @Jivings the beta isn't all about doing everything right the first time. It's about figuring things out.
    – ramblinjan
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 0:01
  • The strongest answer against Linux questions says You don't want to set up an environment where the mere mention of "Linux" brings down the wrath of the ban hammer. Yet the site scope still bans Linux: raspberrypi.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic
    – dcorking
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 10:03

9 Answers 9


I think RaspberryPi.SE should be a harbor for people who are interested in the subject or newcomers that desperately require guidance. As long as what they're doing is done on the Raspberry Pi, it's on-topic.

I see the site like, for example, AskUbuntu.SE. Of course it has a major overlap with UNIX.SE, but it serves a very specific purpose for certain people and is an important pillar in the Ubuntu community.

I like that and I would like that for this community as well.

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    This answer strikes me as the best strategy. There are many sites where a question X can be fielded, but the collection of users that gather should be the primary factor for defining something as on or off topic. The OP gets to choose where to ask, the community gets to decide how to answer. For example, you'll get a different answer to an Xcode question on Stack Overflow vs Super User vs Ask Different. This is a good thin once people wrap their brains around the "community feel" of how answers will pop up.
    – bmike
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 22:27
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    Beware of being a site for “people who are interested in the subject or newcomers that desperately require guidance”. You need experts to functions: remember to cater for all audiences, not just beginners. Commented Jul 12, 2012 at 0:24
  • @Gilles: Thanks. I will to keep that in mind :) Commented Jul 12, 2012 at 9:36

I think that we should not outright ban the OS-specific questions. Since RPi is targeted also towards children, we can expect that many people will not have Linux background. They will probably be able to get better answers here as it will be assumed that if they knew enough about the topic, they would go to the general Linux/Unix SE to ask it. Since they came to the RPi SE, we should give them an understandable answer and some pointers where to go if they want to learn more.

Also, I think banning OS-specific questions will not do any good. People are probably going to ask such questions anyway, so being hostile towards them will just drive them away from the site.

  • I don't think we should be hostile about it. We should direct them to the correct site and migrate the question.
    – user46
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 22:34
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    True. But we should bear in mind that many newcomers treat closing a question or even voting it down as utmost hostility.
    – user13
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 22:35
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    True, but there will always be those couple users who get offended at the smallest thing. If we are nice and generally receptive then we should have no problems from the rest of them.
    – user46
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 22:38

I don't know enough about the subject to answer your question directly, but I can provide some guidance to point you in the right direction.

Note: When I say "Raspberry Pi", I'm speaking generically about any subject —

This site is about the subject of "Raspberry Pi" — You cannot reasonably hope to cover any possible questions of interest to Raspberry Pi *USERS*.

Let's look at a site like Stack Overflow (a site for programmers). It hosts questions about programming, but you cannot reasonably expect to ask any question of interest of programmers. For example, Stack Overflow wouldn't host questions about keyboard problems… simply on the premise that keyboards are a prevalent issue among programmers.

See the distinction?

Perhaps an acid test is:

"Is the crux of the question primarily about Raspberry Pi? Or is it a larger concern best answered elsewhere?"

When a user's question involves Linux issues, ask yourself if the primary focus is a problem about "Raspberry Pi" or more generically an issue for anyone dealing with Linux? You're not here to support Linux issues any more than you are here to discuss the best monitor choices, the foibles of ARM architectures, or the problems facing our education system.

But be careful with acid tests. You don't want to set up an environment where the mere mention of "Linux" brings down the wrath of the ban hammer. Always consider the context, and always provide sound, friendly guidance about why you've taken the actions you've chosen.

If you're broadening the scope of your site cover questions only peripherally related to your audience, it's probably better to forgo those questions in the interest of maintaining your scope. This isn't an open, broad-based support group; It's a Q&A site covering a specific subject.

Take it from there.

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    Ask Ubuntu takes the opposite approach: if you're doing anything on Ubuntu, it's on-topic. Even if there's nothing specific about Ubuntu about the answers. A big part of the rationale is that the asker often doesn't know whether a solution to his problem is specific to Ubuntu or not. I think this is a critical element in why Ask Ubuntu is successful and a useful part of the SE network in its own right, distinct from Unix & Linux. Commented Jul 12, 2012 at 0:22
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    The major hole in this argument is that lots of Raspberry Pi-related stuff is a big overlap of different areas where most users are initially clueless as to work out which. For example: I had a problem getting Scratch to talk to my PiFace. Who to turn to? Farnell/Element14 (for PiFace hardware)? PiFace inventors (for instructions)? MIT (for Scratch)? Raspberry Pi Foundation (for hardware)? Debian (for OS) or Raspberry Pi Foundation (for Raspbian)?
    – Benjol
    Commented Feb 28, 2013 at 10:58

I think there is a danger that because beginners will want to come to one place, there needs to be more leniency and understanding here than is typical on most Stacks, and that could hurt this community if they are constantly being redirected elsewhere.

If they ask a basic Linux question because the Raspberry Pi is their first experience with Linux or even any command-line computer, then it is probably better answered here than referred to another Linux site because:

  • If they are a beginner, it is quite possible that they didn't choose Linux for their Raspberry Pi, it's just what runs on it (for instance if it is provided by their school)
  • They may not be familiar with the wide variety of technology which has been used to make a Raspberry Pi and adequately judge which questions should be asked here vs. Super User vs. Linux vs. Stack Overflow
  • They won't like being continually sent away and won't feel welcome and want to come back
  • They won't be beginners for long, but there will always be new beginners
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    Would they be welcome at U&L? Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 6:32
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    @AlexChamberlain A lot of the sites are not terribly gentle in directing newbies. I'm expecting this site will have to be - it's one of the few sites which is aimed at an audience where the hardware is specifically directed at children/newbies.
    – Cade Roux
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 12:26
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    Agreed! We should be nice to newbies and recognise that when we are answering questions. Lots of links to other questions etc. Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 12:29
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    @AlexChamberlain Unix & Linux has no problem with newbie questions (but please check for existing questions before asking there, a question may be applicable to the Pi even if it's not specifically about it). Unix & Linux covers unix-like OSes on any device, including the Pi. You might not find Pi-specific expertise there; expect to find people who understand U-boot, BusyBox, etc, but who might not know the specifics of the official Pi distribution. Super User is out, because embedded systems such as the Pi are off-topic there. Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 17:28

I believe this should depend on the question. For instance a question like "How can I move a file?" is not really needed here. Whereas a question such as "How Do I Build For ARM?" might be. Depends if it is too general or focussed on how to do it using the Raspberry Pi. Also take into account that drivers and hardware might be different to answers for general linux questions.

  • What about the questions that are in-between? For instance, there are a number of questions regarding setup that are Linux-specific but may be especially relevant to Raspberry Pi users.
    – ramblinjan
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 18:43
  • I would say it is okay to have one question about this, with good answers and then close the rest. The elinux wiki has very good answers already though. Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 18:45

I think one the problems we are having right now are OS-specific questions. Such as these.

  1. How to set up swap space? - This question is more OS specific than Raspberry Pi specific.

  2. Console unusable after running SDL app; How to recover without rebooting? - This question deals with how to do this in Debian as the procedure may differ based on the OS.

I think that these questions should be asked on Unix.SE instead of here. However, we need to figure out what our criteria for OS-specific vs Raspberry Pi-specific questions are.

My first instinct is to say that if a question or answer doesn't apply to all Operating Systems supported by Raspberry Pi, such as Debian, Fedora, and Arch Linux, then it is off topic and should be migrated to Unix.SE.

Note: The only exception I can see are OS questions that only apply to Raspberry Pi. Such as how to install a specific OS for the Raspberry Pi.

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    But on the other hand we can expect people coming here to have no UNIX background, so they may get more suitable (simpler, not assuming prior knowledge) answers.
    – user13
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 22:12
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    @Tibor The site is supposed to be about Raspberry Pi, not Unix/Linux Operating Systems.
    – user46
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 22:16
  • @dunsmoreb By that logic we'd end up directing all other questions to superuser.com? We need to decide what is absolutely on-topic, as well as what is absolutely off-topic.
    – MattJ
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 23:20
  • @MattJ Not true. If a question is not relevant to all Operating Systems that run on Raspberry Pi, then it doesn't belong on Raspberry Pi.
    – user46
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 23:24
  • I do not know the answer to my question yet, but it is possible it is related to dispmanx, and if that is true then it may affect other OSes and will certainly be Pi-specific.
    – finnw
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 10:56
  • Maybe you should remove your answer, or roll it back so it represents an alternative point of view?
    – Alex L
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 8:47

I would like to propose another acid test that we can use for future questions:

If you remove the words 'Raspberry Pi' from the title and question, would you be able to say for sure that the question is about the Raspberry Pi?


This issue keeps coming up on Area 51 and I've been pointing people to the example of Raspberry Pi as a good example of how to handle it sensitively. See:

The crux of my argument is that while some questions should strictly speaking be moved to another site, it is worth keeping them here because while they could be answered on those other sites, they are still directly relevant to Raspberry Pi users and answers on raspberrypi may be more appropriate to Raspberry Pi users than an answer on a sister site might be.

As such I would suggest that we maintain our currently quite tolerant attitude towards questions and continue to only migrate questions which aren't actually about Raspberry Pi.


If the question is just about the OS, migrate it. If it is about how the OS acts on the RPi as a computer or a piece of hardware, leave it here!

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