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The post in question is "Is there a way to rename menu items in Firefox?"

Generically speaking the OP is saying that "because a third party application has a particular bug/limitation, an Apple feature/function doesn't work." The OP then poses the question "how can the 3rd party application be modified so that Apple's feature/function meets my needs."

To me, this is an issue that falls within the realm of the developer of the 3rd party application. Especially so since the bug/limitation (specific to the question) is consistent across all platforms (macOS, Windows, BSD/Linux).

A moderator seems to disagree citing that "because it runs on macOS, the question is "on topic." A lot of things run on macOS, that in and of itself doesn't make it on topic or something that can be answered. For instance the question "How can I access the source code of my mouse via the terminal?" involves a product that technically "works" on macOS but there's no claims of support or compatibility; even the Linux support is from another independent party.

That said, rephrasing or reworking the question to state "because a a third party bug/limitation, Apple's feature/function X doesn't work. Is there a way to work around it so I can accomplish Y" would be easily keep it on topic.

Thoughts?

  • This is a good question to revisit as it does seem to cause inconsistency at times (here's a recent example: Why are Microsoft and Adobe apps counted as being about Apple, but Facebook apps aren't?). Often there are other reasons these questions can be closed. And, as you point out, sometimes it's easy to rework them so they are on topic. It'd be good to see what other users think, so hopefully we get some answers/comments here. – Monomeeth Jun 13 '18 at 11:54
  • @Monomeeth - I agree that questions about 3rd party apps are, prima fascia, on topic, it's as you state, the reasons (aka "details) that cause them to be closed. I am all for reworking a question but not without at least some communication with the OP. – Allan Jun 13 '18 at 11:59
  • Thanks for bringing it up, Allan! – nohillside Jun 13 '18 at 12:06
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I like to look at this from a distant perspective any time I look to moderate between two people on whether something is on topic or off topic by reading over the core tour and help articles:

The on topic has 4 main sections:

  • Apple hardware
  • Apple software
  • Apple services including iTunes Connect (selling music, books, apps)
  • third-party hardware, services and software when associated for use with Apple products.

So, the last item sure makes a practical question about third party software on-topic. Unless there's a problem with practicality or with scope, we should err on keeping those questions open and here for an answer.

From that framework - we can pick apart any flaws in the linked questions and review where they are on the spectrum of "I have a question about Apple designed software on Apple hardware" to "I had an iPhone in my pocket when my spouse asked for a divorce, what should I do?"

Also, the one bit of thinking that helped me is, even if the best place to get the answer is a vendor forum, that still makes this a good place to ask so someone can explain why the vendor forum is the best place for specific support.

  • 3
    I think this phrase Unless there's a problem with practicality... sums up the perspective I was coming from in that particular question. But, I think the reasoning ...that still makes this a good place to ask so someone can explain why the vendor forum is the best place for specific support is the key differentiator. New (and old) reviewers and mods should see this (IMO) succinct bit of logic. – Allan Jun 13 '18 at 12:44
  • I'd phrase that as "vendor forum might be better". Frequent problems with "is" Either very big vendors might be really incompetent at solving a problem ("mac-marginalization": having trouble with getting your mac to work with something from HP, I'll probably not ask there anymore) or some smaller projects do not have the man-power to deal with problems, that others might have solved in the meant-time or are able to solve. In both cases competent answer might be found here as well or even more likely. – LаngLаngС Jun 14 '18 at 10:36
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Generally speaking this site is for people using Apple products, the hardware used in combination with them, and the software that runs on them. So any question relating to any of these is more or less by default on topic.

Looking at the two examples you list in the question:

  • Firefox: The OP may not have a way of knowing whether the problem is macOS or Firefox specifics, so posting here is perfectly fine (especially since they already did some research and found out about *.nib files). The probably best answer then is, as you write in the question, that this is a general Firefox issue and need to be raised to the Firefox developers (same as we do with other defects).
  • Mouse: I agree that the question could be better phrased as "How can I make use of the special features on macOS", but that's a detail easily fixed by an edit. One answer could be "there is a Linux driver, maybe you can port this", a better answer could be "there is a port of the Linux driver at github.com/foo", and an awesome answer of course would be "I ported the Linux driver for you, check it out at github.com/bar".

To summarize: Look at the problem from the eyes of the person posting it, and based on the intention they have. If it is about using Apple products it's on topic and should be edited accordingly.

Or in other words: why close a question if you can easily answer it while staying on-topic?

  • 2
    Well said. I was going to say the Mouse question has a decent answer of "here's how to run linux in Docker and then attach the USB device to the VM and run the app to fix the mouse LED behavior" but I like a direct port if that's something anyone has done. – bmike Jun 13 '18 at 19:06

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