Other experienced users have seen this one as off-topic, and I'm struggling to see why. We say at https://music.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic that we DO deal with

  • instrument maintenance or repair
  • usage of specific music software or hardware

Both of which this falls under, to my mind, so I can't see why it's off-topic, as such. (I can see why it might be too broad or even seen as opinon-based, but those are different discussions; I really just want to know why this has been closed as off-topic).

To be fair, the poster on the question also said he wasn't clear on whether the question would be on-topic. But we do say in other meta questions that we cover music production, so clarification of where the boundary is would be good.

FWIW, my experience in this area is a) with PCs, not macs, and b) over ten years old! However, if asked the equivalent question back then, I'd have been able to give a decent answer; maintaining stability of my music PCs was very much a part of my musical life back then!

3 Answers 3


I think one area of disagreement may be whether the question is primarily about an operating system or possibly whether an operating system constitutes "music software".

My reading of it could be analogous to a question like:

I have 20 different synthesizers and I'm about to move to Japan from the USA. I've heard many electronics will work on Japanese power but some of them won't. What problems might I encounter with my synthesizers in Japan?

Even though the concern is regarding the synthesizers, the question is about electrical power. Yes, maybe there are people here who know a lot about different synthesizers and who know a lot about power and maybe even have moved a bunch of synthesizers from the USA to Japan themselves. None of that changes that the questions is about electrical power.

Similarly, this question was about an operating system. Even though the asker uses many music-related applications that depend on the operating system, IMHO the operating system itself is not a music application. Many of us may use many music applications on the operating systems in question and have some knowledge, but that still doesn't change what the question is about.

Now, let's assume for a moment that the question is actually on topic. As far as I can see, there is only one way to answer it correctly, in a similar way to the sample question I came up with above. The only way to answer it would be to get a complete list of all the audio applications the asker is using and then attempt to run down how "stable" (which again, is a word with no clear meaning in this context - and my day job is in IT) each application would be expected to be on each operating system the asker is considering. Just like one would have to check the power requirements and compatibility for each of the 20 synthesizers to know whether it will work in Japan in our example question.

To me, that's too broad. And even if it weren't too broad, we still don't have a list of all the music software the asker would want to use, so we have "unclear what you're asking" (essentially).

Ok, now let's suppose that we've decided it's on-topic, it's (somehow) not too broad and we have a complete list of all the music software and hardware the asker wants to use and we have agreed on what it means to be "stable" (never crashes? only crashes once a year? what constitutes a crash? what about latency?), and somehow magically someone has gone to all the support web sites for all the software and hardware and vetted the eventual operating system and figured out which components will match the stability criteria we have established for which possible operating systems and has posted a textbook-sized answer that satisfies the asker.

There's no way someone isn't going to also answer with "No, that whole textbook sized answer is wrong because I did this with my computer and it blew up/works great/whatever" and now it's primarily opinion-based! Really, it would end up being primarily personal-experience based, but for our purposes they amount to the same thing: a big argument over anecdotal evidence.

Finally, if someone can actually provide a solid, supported, effective answer to this question, then they would have reasonable standing to argue to re-open and they would be able to explain exactly why it's:

  • Music related
  • Concisely and clearly answerable
  • Not a matter for debate

And if that person comes along and chimes in on this meta question, I'll totally consider voting to re-open, but I'll also have to avoid dying of shock because I just can't see how that's possible. And if someone were able to answer this, they wouldn't be too different from me! I use the same software the asker users, I use/have used the same operating systems the asker is asking about, my day job is supporting computers and making sure they are "stable" and querying vendors about compatibility, and I just generally know a lot about both technology and music. And I don't want to touch this question with a 20 meter drum stick. And I did provide a kind of answer and all it was was an argument based on personal experience/my opinion.

Not matter how much we might really want to answer this question, we just can't, and we shouldn't try.

  • Appreciate your long answer, but honestly, the only thing I am asking about here is why some users don't see it as music-related. If people were just saying that it was too broad or opinion-based, I'd have nothing to say here. And I still don't quite understand your reasoning on the 'music-related' aspect, which seems to be based on the idea that a question can only be 'about' one thing; your '20 different synthesizers' example is about electricity, but it seems to be also about musical instruments. Analogously, this OSX question seems to be about computers, yes, but also music. Feb 24, 2017 at 0:39
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    @topomorto Maybe it might help me to understand your point if you explained why you think it's on topic. Do you feel that because music software is part of the question, that is enough? What if the question were, "my hard drive that holds all my music files won't mount. Are there any data recovery services that can get my recordings back?" Would you consider that on-topic? To me that's clearly a computer question, because the existence of the music recordings has nothing to do with what data recovery services are available. Feb 24, 2017 at 1:14
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    @topomorto If the asker in this case had written that they wanted to upgrade but only if they could be certain that the stability of their astrophysics modeling software would not be compromised, the essentials elements of an effective answer would be the same. The fact that this asker is running music software is auxiliary to their actual question. Beyond that, we could theoretically vote to re-open and then vote to close again as "too broad", but why bother? Feb 24, 2017 at 1:17
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    @topomorto Closure of a question is often not 100% aligned with a reason from the help center. If a question is not a good question, it doesn't matter that much in the end whether the stated closure reason is exact and definite. And questions get closed all the time for mixed reasons (e.g., some vote too broad and some vote off topic). Feb 24, 2017 at 1:19
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    @topomorto I can't help but notice you yourself describe the question as being about "computer maintenance and audio performance". How does that align with your assertion that it is somehow more primarily about music practice or theory? Feb 24, 2017 at 1:21
  • "If the asker in this case had written that they wanted to upgrade but only if they could be certain that the stability of their astrophysics modeling software would not be compromised, the essentials elements of an effective answer would be the same". This is perhaps the point where we diverge. Setting up a computer for good real-time audio performance represents a well-known family of frequently-encoutered problems that are core to music practice as undertaken by many people. Advice in this area is as relevant to computer musicians as advice about, say, how to store a guitar is to guitarists Feb 24, 2017 at 1:50
  • ... even though many questions about guitar storage are essentially "about wood" more than "about music", they're still relevant to music practice. Going back to astrophysics- is there actually a group of well-known problems with the stability of astrophysics software? If so, the analogy works - otherwise it doesn't, really. Feb 24, 2017 at 1:53
  • ....and I really don't agree that closure reason doesn't matter, especially when it comes to new users; having a question treated incorrectly can come across as the kind of bullying and nastiness that's been alleged here on meta recently. But before leaping to that conclusion I am trying to understand if there is any reasoning by which the question is outside scope. (I know close reasons are limited, but that would not be an excuse for having a close reason that's 100% wrong, if that were hypothetically the case). Feb 24, 2017 at 1:58
  • "Setting up a computer for good real-time audio performance represents a well-known family of frequently-encoutered problems that are core to music practice as undertaken by many people." I must have taken a few wrong turns in life to have gotten 25 years of semi-professionally using computers to make music and 20 years of professionally maintaining computers for business use without learning what any of these "well known" problems are (aside from a few that are no longer problems because so many things have changed in that time). Feb 24, 2017 at 2:05
  • Ultimately, though, I'm not saying that I definitely think the question is on-topic - I'm asking if we can clarify where the line is. After all, the poster themselves said they had doubts. Feb 24, 2017 at 2:05
  • @topomorto Aha, that is a question I can get a grip on. The line is gently re-drawn every time people vote to close, so it's fuzzy and a moving target. Many cases are borderline, so the judgement of users is often the only way to make a call on some things. This is the same reason why we have panels of judges make the final call on issues that are not clear-cut. Feb 24, 2017 at 2:07
  • "aside from a few that are no longer problems because so many things have changed in that time" - maybe that's true - it could be that the kind of problems that i'm familiar with simply aren't a problem with macs now. My knowledge is from PC's 10-15 years ago. Feb 24, 2017 at 2:11
  • "The line is gently re-drawn every time people vote to close, so it's fuzzy and a moving target." This gets to the heart of the issue I'm talking about - it's fine to have that process, but it's still good if the current position of any line can be outlined as much as possible either in meta (hence this question) or in the help center. If not, then i'm just very aware that to new users we might look like a cliquey group using unspoken rules to keep outsiders away. Feb 24, 2017 at 2:15

For any OS, this question has to be off topic.

It's entirely opinion based.

I like to keep one of my machines at cutting edge, so that would be a yes (not that I use any Apple products, but the principle is the same no matter what OS :-)

Some of my other machines are on varying OS's and versions. I think my oldest machine is running on an OS over 15 years old now. I cannot upgrade it, but it does what I need it to so that's fine.

The OP is asking about advantages to sticking with the current OS, including problems and gotchas with the most recent one compared to the one he is on.

That is nothing to do with Music, and everything to do with opinion and potentially problems with new versions of an operating system.

Totally off topic.

  • Saying that the question is nothing to do with music adds to my confusion, given that the question is explicitly asked from the point of view of stability of the system's audio/music performance, and is therefore obviously something to do with music. If the question is still the wrong side of some line, then sure, let's clarify where that line is - but this reply seems to be simply misrepresenting the question. Feb 24, 2017 at 0:24
  • Also - as stated in my meta question here, I can see arguments that the question might be seen as broad and opinion based, but neither of those is what I'm asking here - I'm asking why it's seen as off-topic in the sense that it does "not appear to be ... within the scope defined in the help center", as per the close reason. Feb 24, 2017 at 0:32

On topic.

The posted answer is actually far more likely to be given among musicians than generalists. In general seemingly "general" questions like this have subtle reasons for different answers within community. At large scale Stacks become more close-minded, but I would very much leave this open to see if an expert has an oddball reason to observe music-specific practice.

The posted answer is, subtly, music-specific. The advice would never be given on a generalist site or especially a programmer site (and one may venture generalist Mac sites will be loved by programmers).

In detail why this is: as a programmer I do the exact opposite of this answer, because 1) I often need support for various tools and they want the current version and 2) if something breaks it's basically my occupation to be able to go fix it. A musician has a profile much more fitting this answer. So this answer would have never appeared on a site for Mac or programmers. It's also a quality answer in that it notes the exceptions (security) and how to manage inevitable, infrequent updates (obsessive backups).

Also as a programmer I never worry about obsessive backups because all of what I do is in the cloud. Creatives are much more sensitive to theft of IP and ownership contracts getting slipped up (does FB own that clip you posted?) so are more likely to live on their hard drive, amid other reasons.

Disclosure: I'm far from an expert here but enjoy reading answers on classical theory and occasionally post amateurist questions. My answer here is pretty conjectural but I felt an apologist approach was needed too.

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