39

I'm inclined to edit the help page on what questions are on and off-topic.

The list off-topic items has this category:

Installing or using Apple operating systems on 
non-Apple hardware (and most other 
explicitly unlicensed use of product)

The second part of this - unlicensed use seems to be adequately covered in the site wide legal agreement that all users presumably agree to be bound. We as community moderators (elected and those that moderate by virtue of reputation) already can vote to close and delete things based on the primary terms of use.

That leaves us with the first part - "using Apple operating systems on non-Apple hardware" - where the prevailing opinion seems to me to be that we should allow these questions on the site:

Robert S Ciaccio has net of 30 votes for "no reason whatsoever to keep these questions off the site" and I've got net of 10 votes for "there's no evidence that a ban should be in place" (which I wrote well before nominating myself for election as a moderator) and now that I've seen what the workload is, I support being tolerant of good technical questions even if they involve jailbreaking or hackintosh situations.

Is there any reason to keep that entire sentence (or even parts of it)?

  • 1
    I would add, given the diversity of answers - it's not even clear what a "hackintosh" question is. Is it about how to modify hardware or software so that OS X runs on non Mac hardware or is it about supporting people that have figured the above out? – bmike Jun 27 '13 at 17:48
  • 1
    I've only really been active on the site for a couple of months, but this is something I have wondered about regularly. I can see the arguments for and against including hackintosh questions. For what it's worth, I have seen quite a few hackintosh questions in the Super User community, and a few in the Hardware Recommendations community as well. So perhaps if we continue not to allow them here, we should have a 'policy' of referring them to either of those if the OP's question fits. – Monomeeth Oct 22 '16 at 2:29
  • Why have you suddenly decided to "feature" this question, without either updating the body of the question itself or updating your previous answer that seemed to have resolved the debate to the negative? In other words, what's the point of bringing up what appears to be an old, settled question? If something has changed, either in reality or in your mind, you should provide that context. – Cody Gray Nov 3 '16 at 13:24
33

We allow questions around jail breaking iOS. seems fairly hypocritical to not allow hackintosh questions in light of that. Both are of dubious legality. Why make the hard distinction?

I say lose the sentence and leave the general terms of services to cover the legal aspects such as they might arise.

  • 17
    Jailbreaking iOS is legally quite different from Hackintosh installs, as it is explicitly legal (in the US) under the exemption to the DMCA issued by the Library of Congress in 2010. Hackintosh installs are not covered by this exemption. – LessPop_MoreFizz Jun 13 '13 at 18:25
  • 3
    Building a Hackintosh, running a Hackintosh, etc, will attract a HUGE amount of computer/hardware specific questions that won't be too useful. There's an entire forum for that. – daviesgeek Jun 26 '13 at 20:55
  • @LessPop_MoreFizz can you provide something canonical to support that? – Ian C. Jun 27 '13 at 0:10
  • 1
    @IanC. Here are the specifics of the DMCA exemption for Jailbreaking. It's narrowly tailored to Mobile Phones, and more specifically, to modifications to firmware to allow additional software to be installed. Meanwhile, the courts have previously held that Apples protections of Mac OS X preventing the installation on foreign hardware are covered by the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions. Jailbreaks and Hackintosh are emphatically not legally equivalent. – LessPop_MoreFizz Jun 27 '13 at 0:36
  • 5
    The Pystar judgement didn't decide that hackintosh's were illegal, it decided that Pystar couldn't modify OS X. The modification created a derivative work which was contrary to the license agreement. As long as a hackintosh doesn't modify OS X to make it work, it remains legal. – Ian C. Jun 27 '13 at 0:55
  • I'm not worried about hackintosh questions from a legality standpoint. It's not illegal to talk about hackintoshes, and the legality of making one varies by jurisdiction. If legality were the only grounds, I'd agree with you Ian. But I think @jaume makes the critical point: what is the effect on overall site quality. On those grounds, I'm inclined to leave them off the site. – Daniel Jun 30 '13 at 21:22
  • @LessPop_MoreFizz, my recollection is that the DMCA exemption no longer applies -- while there used to be an exemption, the Library of Congress recently removed it in their latest rulemaking. Do you have any reference to the contrary – D.W. Aug 7 '13 at 3:53
  • @D.W. Looks like the original exemption was renewed as of 10/26/12. In the same ruling, an exemption to allow for similar interoperability for computing devices appears to have been explicitly rejected. – LessPop_MoreFizz Aug 7 '13 at 4:35
  • @LessPop_MoreFizz, thanks for the reference. I had misremembered some of the details. It looks like the Library of Congress renewed the exemption for phones but not for tablets, so now there is no DMCA exemption for jailbreaking of iPads (also, there is no longer any DMCA exemption for carrier-unlocking new iPhones). As a result, jailbreaking an iPad is about as dubious (legally) as a Hackintosh install. I think this undermines your argument about why jailbreaking is different, unless you are prepared to argue that we should ban questions related to jailbreaking iPads or unlocking iPhones. – D.W. Aug 7 '13 at 4:43
  • @D.W. I'd happily be prepared to make that argument. I suspect however, that, given the technical similarities between the jailbreaking of the iPad and iPhone, I'd be far enough in the minority that I'm inclined to just shut up and pick my battles however. – LessPop_MoreFizz Aug 7 '13 at 4:45
  • @D.W. It should also be noted that unlocking of cellular phones to allow carrier interoperability is also covered by a separate and distinct exemption in the same 2012 ruling. – LessPop_MoreFizz Aug 7 '13 at 12:09
11

Quick answer I know, but my vote says no.

Hackintosh specific questions are largely user/hardware/software specific. In my opinion, they won't add too much value to the site, they will just be clutter. While it is possible to answer such questions, they aren't going to add a whole lot of long-lasting value.

On the flip side, we will also get huge questions like "How do I build a Hackintosh?", which really can't be answered well in the Q&A format of Ask Different.

Second, the legality of Hackintoshes is still largely debatable.

I say no. Leave the Hackintosh questions to other established forums or create an Area51 proposal.

  • To your first point, that would be closed as too broad, and to your second point, as @IanC said, we allow Jailbreaking. – OldBunny2800 Oct 27 '16 at 22:46
6

Another aspect to consider is whether accepting hackintosh questions helps improve the quality of Ask Different.

Most of the questions I've seen so far fall into the category "I own XYZ. Haven't tried anything yet but do you think I can install OS X? Where should I start?".

In general, answers are (necessarily) vague and usually link to other sites. They hardly ever offer first-hand experience and the OP would get similar results by searching Google in the first place.

Of course, you may argue that questions that stubbornly show poor research should be downvoted and eventually closed, regardless of the subject.

Possibly, but as I say, I notice a pattern here and wonder if it's in the interest of Ask Different to allow a topic where the usual interaction is that other users google on behalf of the OP and copy/paste the search result.

Is this enough a reason to ban hackintosh from Ask Different? Probably not. But after adding the legal aspect to the equation I think the scales tip against hackintosh.

As for bmike's suggestion to tolerate it as a topic and let moderators accept good technical questions: I believe the moderators' decision will be certainly well-thought-out, but wouldn't the outcome, from the OP's point of view, be unpredictable and seem arbitrary? Wouldn't it be better to have a clear rule (either for or against it)?

  • 5
    Perhaps the bright line test should default against Hackintosh questions. A good technical question can likely be generalized in such a way that it is of use to more than just Hackintosh owners, and thus on-topic. Also note that modifying Apple hardware (and thus addressing driver issues, etc) is on-topic here, so many Hackintosh questions, if asked creatively, could become within the scope of the site. Thus, the "Make Mac OS X work on my hardware!" demands get closed, but a creative asker might be able to get their question answered. – Daniel Jun 25 '13 at 17:16
  • 2
    This is my biggest concern about adding a hackintosh to the white list. Although the close reasons are changing, the original stack exchange idea of avoiding "too localized" and "shopping" in general and I would quickly reverse my support of this category if we saw overwhelming bad questions that somehow were still literally "on topic". – bmike Jun 25 '13 at 17:21
  • How does this seem to others? Detailed enough or something to close? – bmike Oct 14 '13 at 7:12
  • Very detailed indeed. It is a driver issue with non-supported hardware, but in this case it seems to be an almost-supported graphics chip. It could turn out being interesting if answers focus on explaining how to debug driver issues or tweak kext's instead of the obvious "take a look at /var/log/system.log" etc. I'd give it a chance -- I see it has been put on hold, though. – jaume Oct 16 '13 at 6:25
  • 2
    i'm not so worried about legal concerns... but it will destroy the group's focus by adding another layer for EVERY problem or question. not only is it about apple, or apps or all the other problems which keep this place busy, but now to add another dimension to the array of problems/ complications seems counterproductive. – neuralstatic Oct 20 '16 at 22:26
  • When searching for the meaning behind a low level error code or verbose mode boot problem you inevitably end up finding 4 or 5 hackintosh forum threads. These threads almost always end in "try this BIOS instead" "great thanks that fixed it" rather than any discussion as to what the error means or how to properly address it. More noise is unnecessary. – osxconor Nov 3 '16 at 21:58
3

A challenging question.

There's the wish to be inclusive, and supportive towards all fair and reasonable uses of Apple software. I do wish those things, but for Ask Different I believe that the answer to bmike's question must be:

  • no

– please, let's maintain the extremely well-formed and predictable relationship between and Apple hardware.

… whether accepting hackintosh questions helps improve the quality of Ask Different. …

This is critical, and we should think long-term.

If OSx86 questions were allowed, then in an ideal world (for some users of Ask Different) we would gain a great range of high quality questions with high quality answers. In theory that sounds great. 

Workflow, simplicity, ease of use and relevance of content

At https://apple.stackexchange.com/questions a person might choose to ignore but then:

  • a simple search will return results that include that tag.

There may be other ways to exclude or ignore the tag, but let's focus on ease of use.

Consider: an excellent answer to an OSx86 question might be completely irrelevant to a similarly worded question about the OS on Apple hardware. Now imagine hundreds, thousands of OSx86-specific answers over period of time:

  • will there be a negative effect on users who are seeking answers about the OS on Apple hardware?

Thoughts

Wherever an question is implicitly about Apple hardware, then in the linked and related portlets: other questions that are implicitly about Apple hardware should or must be ranked higher than OSx86 questions. Can this be achieved programatically and if so, can/should it be obvious to the end user that there's a sinking of OSx86 content?

That's not meanness towards OSx86.

Simply: sometimes I need to focus on an issue with the OS on Apple hardware … I mean, really focus – without the potential white noise of OSx86 content.

Observation

Part of the beauty of Ask Different is that it's easy to either:

  • get a great answer quickly; or
  • quickly realise that getting a great answer might take time.

If OSx86 is added to the mix, I fear that we'll lose some of that ease.

Food for thought. Certainly a challenging question … thanks, bmike!

Beyond Ask Different

For starters, tonymacx86 FAQ

… AMD nor Atom CPUs and NVIDIA, ATI, VIA or SIS desktop chipsets are not supported by the methods and software on this site and will not work. Any post requesting help for or asking about these will be deleted. …

If users of those variants were to appear in Ask Different – alongside users of the things that are supported in the tonymacx86 area – alongside users of the OS on Apple hardware:

  • how easy will it be to tell at a glance what's being used?

Before answering yes or no to bmike's question, maybe familiarise yourselves with some of the styles of Q&A in the tonymacx86 area; the styles of Q&A in forums that support other variants from the Apple hardware norm; and so on.

3

With the points mentioned here, I'm no longer inclined to edit things. The current discussion seems heavily in favor of keeping the wording as is.

  • I'd be inclined to edit things if the majority of the moderators were on board or if the votes were 20 to 1 or at least 35 votes for the change. Thoughts @Fiksdal - Also - I'd be more inclined to agitate for change if there were some examples of good type questions for mackintosh. What would a good question look like? – bmike Oct 15 '16 at 21:34
  • shouldn't this be a comment to the new meta question posted by the mentioned user? – nohillside Oct 16 '16 at 5:13
  • @patrix You mean bmike's comment? It was a response to me. You can see my deleted comment on this answer since you are a mod. – Revetahw Oct 17 '16 at 19:00
  • 1
    @fiksdal ah, ok. Didn't see the deleted comment on the iPhone – nohillside Oct 18 '16 at 7:25
-2

I personally think that since this is not legal in the sense that apple does not condone nor support this behavior, I'd say delete all questions from the site having to do with the hackentosh.

  • 1
    Last time I checked, Apple was a company, not a government with the authority to issue laws. Apple doesn't condone jailbreaking either, should all jailbreaking questions be deleted from Ask Different too? – Revetahw Nov 8 '16 at 8:00
  • That might be true, however apple has specifically stated if you do this you are invalidating (if that is even a word) the TOS and license agreements therein. So yeah I say again, remove those threads. I'm not trying to start anything, but I am saying this as it is not legal, and people on other lists I'm on have gotten band for posting such information – user57081 Nov 24 '16 at 18:19
  • Do you want to jailbreaking threads also? – Revetahw Nov 24 '16 at 18:49

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