We get questions like this where it is immediately obvious that the OP has a much bigger issue than they realise, and they need a consultant or vendor support, much hand holding and hands-on access to their systems:

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In this case they've probably ran catproc in from another version, or been creating/dropping objects in Oracle "internal" schemas. In other cases it might only be apparent after a few comments have gone back and forth, then suddenly the OP drops a bombshell of 'oh I deleted file xyz, does that matter?' or somethng like that.

It might be handy to have a special close reason for these, I'm suggesting something like:

The question or comments reveal an underlying issue that would need extensive investigation by a consultant or database vendor support team: issues like this do not fit the SE Q&A model well

Of course this is not to say the OP will get no help at all here, we might be able to point them in the right direction with a comment, or chat through things in The Heap if we feel like it, but leaving the question open isn't necessary for that to happen.

  • The vote to close reason is not harsh enough. Perhaps something like "This question lacks basic information and the OP should probably use SO."
    – Kermit
    Nov 26, 2013 at 15:30
  • 14
    "I accidentally the database" is my preferred close reason
    – billinkc
    Nov 26, 2013 at 15:32
  • 3
    @billinkc meta.dba.stackexchange.com/a/875/2103 Nov 26, 2013 at 15:51
  • @MikaelEriksson I had already upvoted that or I'd upvote again
    – billinkc
    Nov 26, 2013 at 15:52
  • It seems we now have a nice "Tip of the Iceberg" off-topic close option. Great!
    – Hannah Vernon Mod
    Dec 4, 2013 at 20:57

4 Answers 4


I am all for being welcoming new users and providing great answers that make the internet a better place to find an answer to a problem. This is what we do well and the reason we do it better than many other places is that we have a high signal to noise ratio.

So does pouring effort into this kind of question make the internet a better place? I think not, and here is the reason: this question (and one's like it) are the tip of a very large iceberg in terms of the actual underlying problem. The real problem is that something horrible has been done to their database and we don't know what. Neither can finding out the underlying cause reasonably happen in the format we have: the OP has no idea what the real question should be and finding out would take lengthy, hands-on research.

Meanwhile our messy back and forth is what another user will find when they search for this error. But it won't help them because the horrible thing they have done to their database is different to the horrible thing the OP did (these questions are always very localized). So what have we achieved? We've lowered our signal to noise ratio: the opposite of our mission.


Shall we add a new 'off-topic' reason for questions that really need professional support?

It seems to me that 'needs professional support' is an answer to the question, not a close reason. A good answer to the question would additionally include why this particular question requires professional support, and either a few sentences clarifying the basic misunderstanding / lack of knowledge of the asker, or links to where such information is already documented.

Chris already mentioned that closing the question will prevent the OP from posting the final resolution for future users to find.


Perhaps I'm off base here, but I'm going to play devil's advocate. I can understand the point of a close question piece for the need for extensive research...but honestly? Do we really need it?

First off I see the example posted above with -3 votes to close. Now maybe the OP didn't provide enough information (ok, I get that. hard to work with someone who gives you nothing to go on), but do we really need to vote this question down? It seems to like a viable question. If I had a similar problem I would want to find questions like this on DBA.SE.

Next, I'm not sure closing the question is the best. Two reasons for that.

  1. Put yourself in the shoes of the n00b. The internet is often your best help (even vendors do not always provide the best of support). If a forum shuts you down, it really hurts. How do you find help? Not from the forum that shut you down. And that will probably also deter that person from coming here again. (Despite how even "gentle" we may be with that person.)
  2. Think of the importance of that post. Again, if I'm searching the Internet, I would love to find a post like this, with the associated comments, answers, and links to chat. Even if the end result was an answer of "needed to call tech support", that is still helpful. But that end result should be the discovery of the OP, not the community shutting down the OP. What if there was a strange corner case that could be resolved without vendor support? There might be a valid answer that another person could try. Closing the question prevents this answer. The OP could ask a moderator to open the question again for the answer to be posted, but I'm guessing they may feel turned off and never post the answer - to the detriment of the community.

Perhaps my post here (and I did this to fit my thoughts rather than a comment) is a bit to impassioned. And I realize that DBA.SE is trying hard to keep this forum tight and clean and not get out of hand like what has happened on SO. But I can't keep from wondering if this desire is really shooting ourselves in the foot. People are the reason this type of forum succeeds. It is one of the reasons I came to love the SE format and often come here over other forums (even vendor ones). The more I think we shut down end users without helping them, the more I think we will stop good questions and good answers (and even the though process behind them) from being available for others to find.

Is there another way we can help control things but yet guide the OP to the answer (even if it is "I need vendor help")? I do think of that as a correct answer.

My two cents anyway.

  • 3
    To me, the thing is, that we could go out of our way to welcome every single database-related question with open arms. The problem with that is we become Yahoo Answers. I'm all for helping everyone we can, but the question has to be on-topic, and the answer can't be a week-long training course.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Dec 3, 2013 at 22:52
  • Thanks Chris, I appreciate your attitude even if I don't exactly agree. The desire to help others is such and essential part of why we get great answers like yours on dba.se Dec 4, 2013 at 10:38
  • 3
    ‘Put yourself in the shoes of the n00b.’ – Well, if they are indeed a newbie and are finding themselves in a hard situation, then in my estimation the absence of information on the Internet should be enough for them to come to the conclusion they need professional help.
    – Andriy M
    Dec 4, 2013 at 12:42

I've experienced this being used once, and it was not used appropiately. I see the possibility that something like this can be abused (as it was in this case : Commvault for enterprise backup solution?). Someone should really review an abuse of this. @arron-betrtrand.

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