Should questions about how to use vi mode in bash (or readline in general) be on-topic?

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    This is a special case of What is considered to be vi?. I'm not voting to close as a duplicate right away because there may be a good reason to discuss it separately. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Feb 3 '15 at 21:09
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    What is vim mode in bash? – onebree Feb 13 '15 at 18:41
  • I THINK I have seen that before in action, but not absolutely sure... I will research it some more. But See that it only provides the absolute basic of vi commands, it makes sense for it to NOT be on topic. – onebree Feb 13 '15 at 18:57
  • @onebree set -o vi will make bash’s readline behave similarly to vi—effectively, you can hit escape and move around to edit your command using vi commands. – D. Ben Knoble May 30 '19 at 12:33


  1. It's not an editor
  2. It's not "compatible" with vi; it only implements a (very) small subset.

Also see: What is considered to be vi?.

We should focus the site on vi-editors, bringing in the entire kittenkaboodle that has keybinds vaguely reminiscent of vi and we'll basically be superuser or unix.se

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  • Nobody knows what will be next, but we can only prepare for the worst ;) – bitmask Feb 20 '15 at 12:21
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    If memory serves, the expression is « kit and kaboodle » – D. Ben Knoble May 30 '19 at 12:37

I my opinion we should not allow questions about Vi mode in Bash (or other programs). Bash is not Vi(m). And a lot of programs do have some kind of Vi(m) mode. If we allow questions about Vi mode in bash, we should also allow questions about those programs.

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Yes, readline and zle are both stand alone special purpose text editors. Their special purpose is line editting.

This falls in scope of the guidelines proposed here: https://vi.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic

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    I'm inclined to agree. When I wrote the top-posted answer on this question the site was very new, and restricting the scope was a good idea (it's easy to expand a scope later on, not so easy to narrow it). I think expanding it to vi-mode in shells probably makes sense now that the site is more firmly established, and there is probably a significant overlap in expertise. – Martin Tournoij Jun 1 '19 at 2:04
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    I think expanding the scope for this is something that's probably best done with another meta question. I've been intending to write an answer to this one for a while, proposing just that (although I don't think that vi-like shortcuts in browsers should be on-topic). I just haven't found the time yet :-( – Martin Tournoij Jun 1 '19 at 2:04

While my initial impression is to agree that this should be a "no", I also can't imagine that the subset of "all possible readline vi-mode" questions would be large enough to detract from this site in any way.

After thinking about it more (this was a complete reversal in an edit; if you read my answer before, yes, I'm indecisive) I think that these questions should be on topic — or at least should be considered on an individual basis. Having more questions about "vim-like" programs and plugins will only make this a richer community, and a more helpful niche of the internet.

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