After reading the question How to architect a globally distributed website, from an IP address perspective, I considered that in its current form, the question may be off-topic. I saw the discussion between Ewan and another user, another user claiming that the question is off-topic, Ewan claiming that it's not. I decided to add some clarification:

The problem with this question is that it's unclear what the OP really wants. If the question is practical, i.e. how I do to deploy a distributed website, the answer is straightforward: use cloud hosting, CDN, etc. If the question is theoretical, i.e. how such systems work at network level, then the question belongs on ServerFault.SE, and is off-topic here. – Arseni Mourzenko

Followed a conversation with Ewan, where I added explanations about why I think the question would belong on Server Fault if my network-oriented interpretation of it is the right one.

Our discussion continued with the following comment from Ewan (emphasis mine):

If you think my answer is wrong then you can downvote the answer. It doesnt make the question off topic. Stop downvoteing/closing questions that you dont know the answer to – Ewan

that I consider rather impolite and aggressive.

  1. It looks as if I'm known here for constantly downvoting and closing questions I can't answer, which is simply not true. For nine years that I've been the contributor of Programmers.SE/SoftwareEngineering.SE, I don't remember at least one time I would downvote or close a question for that reason, and I don't see any reason why I would do such a thing.

    More importantly, at the moment where the comment was written, the question itself had no downvotes (I believe that Ewan has enough reputation to see the number of upvotes and downvotes), and it had a single close vote from Blrfl, which meant that I haven't cast any close vote myself.

  2. It pretends I don't know the rules related to downvoting and close votes.

  3. I'm not accustomed to anyone but four persons giving me orders, and that anonymous user is not one of them. As far as I know, Ewan is not a moderator, and doesn't have any specific status which makes it possible for him to give orders to other contributors.

I therefore ended the conversation by writing the following:

@Ewan: as I explained, I only believe that your answer is wrong, but I don't have enough knowledge to be sure; downvoting your answer is thus inappropriate. Regarding your order to stop downvoting/closing questions that I don't know the answer to, would you mind linking at least one question that I downvoted/closed for that specific reason? You can't? That's what I thought. Please, stop giving orders which make no sense. – Arseni Mourzenko

Am I overreacting?

Rereading my comments again and again, I see nothing which could upset Ewan so much. My remarks were all backed up, and I took a great care explaining that while I believe that his answer is wrong, I don't have any objective element to tell for sure that it's wrong (or right).

I don't remember very well the comments from Ewan in the past, but I'm pretty sure he is a highly respected (and high-rep) member of our community, not accustomed to be impolite or aggressive.

So what's happening here? What did I do wrong?

  • 1
    Looks like the off-topic question was settled.
    – Blrfl
    Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 23:59
  • This closing questions which are not understood as off-topic is a problem in several other forums also. Sometimes kind-of-justifiable (to avoid homework-dodging for example), sometimes not. I guess a community gets the mods it deserves, and then it doesn't get the contributors which it doesn't deserve. SE.SE seems less problematic to me than other places in this regard, but I am just a happy newbie on here so far. Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 9:50

2 Answers 2


Network engineering as asked in that question hasn't been on topic for Software Engineering, Programmers, or even NPR. <shudders> SE.SE is at the level of algorithms and application architecture, not at network architecture. There is definitely overlap between network and application architecture, but that question was clearly in the network camp.

I have migrated that question to Network Engineering, where it is much more on-topic. And FWIW, it has already picked up another answer and a comment related to the migrated answer.

Regarding some of your other thoughts. You are most certainly a long-time, high rep user of the site and your opinion is as equally valid as an other high rep user. You have been around long enough to see plenty of high rep users come and go. While I don't think you're overreacting, opening a question here on meta was an appropriate route to follow.

As far as:

Stop downvoteing/closing questions that you dont know the answer to

Votes in StackExchange are intentionally anonymous and that's by design. Some users aren't comfortable with that and don't understand how the community truly benefits from anonymous voting.

And when I say "some users", I'm really not singling out the user you quoted. I do mean "users" in the plural sense. There's a reasonably sized subset of the entire SE user population who will ask about downvotes in the comments.

But being attacked in reply comments is one very valid reason why many community users don't bother leaving a comment explaining their down vote anymore. At a personal level, it's why I don't leave comments with my down votes anymore and never will again. I have been attacked and revenge down voted too many times for me to credulously believe that leaving a comment explaining my vote will have a positive outcome. I know I'm not alone in that sentiment as the site's top down and close voter has been attacked with revenge down votes many times as well.

Having reviewed all of the now deleted comments, I don't believe that anything you said was out of line or incorrect. So I would brush this incident off and carry on with contributing to the community like you have for the past 9 years.

  • 7
    It's also worth pointing out that just because you don't know the answer to the question doesn't mean you can't have an opinion about whether or not it's on topic, especially when there's ample guidance provided.
    – Blrfl
    Commented Apr 14, 2019 at 2:23
  • 4
    @GlenH7 as someone who has benefited from seeing their content downvoted I'd like to thank you for your votes even if they've been anonymous. I will say though that when I was coming up gnat's comments provided quiet an education. Please don't let the loud petty few silence your voice. I still have plenty to learn. Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 17:13

Apologies for singling "you" out in that comment. I actually assumed the down/close vote was Blrfl's But the comment should have said "We" as a community. Obviously I have no idea what any individuals reason for voting is.

My annoyance is with the general trend of closing/moving/downvoting questions which don't fit a very narrow and narrowing definition of software engineering. Often within seconds of the question being posted!

This question is not about network engineering. Look at the OPs initial comment on my answer, they just want to know how to implement it in google or AWS.

How to achieve the goal of a globally distributed website is a problem in software engineering which utilises available network technology. It's a good question which many software engineers will come across. Why are we picking holes in it and trying to off load it to another site?

Often I find a question will be closed before I finish typing an answer. If I don't have time to properly research anycast before a question is moved, how can anyone have time to properly consider whether it's on topic?

Check out this other question for example:

What is the relationship between IV&V professionals, Testers and QA engineers?

2 down and 2 close votes for something NASA believes is a crucial part of the SDLC.

or this one: (check out steven's answer)

Working through the single responsibility principle (SRP) in Python when calls are expensive

close votes for duplicate of a general non-python question (although now has got many upvotes) when it clearly can have a detailed and informative python specific answer.

Why do we not want these questions? Why do we not give them a couple of weeks to attract answers from people who do know before curation?

  • ps. if i have lots of points its because i answered lots of questions. not because of any respect earned or due
    – Ewan
    Commented Apr 14, 2019 at 11:49
  • 1
    You assumed correctly. My take is that the question falls on the wrong side of the line between the engineering of software that solves a problem and engineering a solution to a problem where software is part of the solution. I know the answer to the question but stand by my comment on GlenH7's answer. The system (mostly) prevents unilateral closure, so I chip in my two cents. If not enough others agree, it stays open and I'm fine with that.
    – Blrfl
    Commented Apr 14, 2019 at 17:10
  • 3
    I reviewed the question under consideration. I would have done exactly as GlenH7 had done: moved it to Network Engineering where, I might add, it got a very good reception. Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 3:22
  • Usually for me, when you want some high level stuff like that, you need hardware/network related solution. So my own answer would have been to look for such solution because at application level, it just can't handle for such requirments.
    – Walfrat
    Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 6:55
  • 2
    @Ewan: "Why do we not give them a couple of weeks to attract answers from people who do know before curation?" Because if they don't belong here, then they don't belong here. If they don't belong here, they won't belong here any more a few weeks from now. The accuracy of curation is not determined by whether people post answers. In fact, the whole point of closing a question is to prevent users from answering who would otherwise attempt to do so. Commented Apr 20, 2019 at 19:54

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