Nuances of the ServerFault FAQ: Desktop support

As a moderator on ServerFault I run into a lot of the iffy questions. Our users flag them for moderator attention and we deal with them. Some are obviously wrong enough to get dealt with through the normal close-voting process without the mod-hammer being involved. Along the way, we mods do run into some differing opinions on certain nuances of the FAQ. I'll be covering some of the more frequently misunderstood areas of that august document.

#3: Desktop Support
The FAQ states: "If your question is about... Desktop PCs that you maintain the workplace" and "not about... general personal computing troubleshooting"

This is perhaps the biggest gray area, vying with servers in the home for the top spot. There are a lot of varied opinions about this. A sizeable percentage of ServerFault's active close-voters and flaggers are of the opinion that all workstation stuff belongs on SuperUser, never mind what the FAQ says.

That said, for questions involving the technologies surrounding Desktop Support, such as Group Policy, Enterprise Anti-Virus, or SCCM questions, those are clearly topical and stay put. Questions about why Office 2010 is misbehaving on a certain Windows 7 machine? Those'll get migrated, though that's less likely if it is clear from the question that this is in a workplace, and even less likely if there are multiple stations impacted.

A key thing to keep in mind is that questions that are pure workstation troubleshooting are presumed to be asked by an end-user experiencing the problem, not the sysadmin handling it. These questions do not get the benefit of the doubt. There has to be something in the question to suggest this is a professional desktop-support situation.

Another big area that we get a lot of questions on are generic Linux support questions. Even though we have both AskUbuntu and Unix & Linux Stack Exchange sites, we still get a lot of questions from people looking for help. The thinking is probably like this

This is a lot of server people, and I see a lot of Linux questions. These folk know their stuff, I'll ask here.

Just because you're running Linux on your laptop does not make you someone who "manage or maintain computers in a professional capacity." You're a power-user. *I* am a power-user when I'm having trouble with the OpenSUSE install on my own laptop. Power-user questions go (in general) on Super User. Or AskUbuntu if its an Ubuntu question.

Unlike Windows desktop-support questions, the ServerFault community as a whole has a pretty consistent view of what Linux desktop-support questions we'll tolerate look like.
  • Does not involve consumer-looking hardware, like USB drives, optical drives, laptops, or other peripherals.
  • Does not involve multi-media or office software.
  • Does not involve install problems of common end-user distros, like Ubuntu. 
We'll give questions about home web-dev servers a good look first, but those may just be closed as off-topic.

One thing we never see are questions about supporting fleets of Linux desktops. I know they're out there, Novell made a point of advertising the fact that they do just that, but I haven't seen questions about that. If they come, they'll be welcome. To me the few Linux-desktop holdouts of old now all have Macs on their desks instead, but that may just be observer bias.

Enterprise Desktop-Mac support is something SF is not that good with. We do get questions about just that from time to time, and we just haven't attracted enough of the right answerers to handle those questions that well. Questions about general Mac troubleshooting get closed as off-topic, migrated to Super User, or if something is on the ball, mod-flagged for migration to the Apple Stack Exchange site.