11

As we discussed on chat, our /help/on-topic page might need at least a tiny update. I recommend the following addition right after the currently "blockquoted line":

Especially, make sure your question …

* is asking for a *software product* – not a howto, data, content, etc.
* lists all your requirements explicitly – even when asking for alternatives

(pre-formatted for easy copy-pasta)

As "mere mortals" cannot edit it, but mods can – I hereby request (read: "am friendly and politely asking" :) a moderator to apply that.


A little background for those who wonder: We should always "list our requirements explicitly" – even if there's no danger of link-rod in this case :)

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  • How about a "perfect example" question? Link to a really good one at SR, or simpy provide the text? The worst that happens is it has some positive influence. – Ira Baxter May 10 '15 at 7:29
  • @IraBaxter which would be? Maybe you name it explicitely (or better a few of them to pick from) as a comment on Gilles' answer (so he won't miss it)? I cannot do anything about it, as I've stated :) – Izzy May 11 '15 at 8:16
8

Yes, that's a good idea. We currently have this text about how to ask a software recommentation question (plus some bits about answers):

Please read our question quality guidelines before posting.

Good software recommendation requests have two components:

  • A purpose — a task to accomplish, a user story
  • Some objective requirements — a minimum set of features

Please look around to see if your question has been asked before. It’s also OK to ask and answer your own question.

If you're asking for alternatives, be sure to describe the features you're using and why what you have isn't up for the task.

The “please look around …” paragraph is standard wording on Stack Exchange. I propose to move that to the end, and to start with the following wording that incorporates both the ideas you propose and what's already there.

This site is for questions asking for recommendations of software to accomplish a particular task, that is, “what software can I use to do …?”. Note that recommendations of tutorials, data sourced, etc. are off-topic.

Good software recommendation requests have two components:

  • A purpose — a task to accomplish, a user story
  • Some objective requirements — a minimum set of features

Please read our question quality guidelines before posting. Always state your requirements explicitly: even if you're asking for alternatives, we need to know which features you need.

(Plus the paragraph about answers, and the look-around/ask-and-answer boilerplate.)


While we're at it, we should tweak the tour page, which is seen by more people than the rather hidden “help/on-topic” page. It has the “don't ask” box right below the “ask about” box; the don'ts already cover most of your points, but we don't explicitly say “no data sources” (we do say “no hosting recommendations”), so we should add that. And the positive box starts with

Ask about...

Good software recommendation requests have two components:

We can't change that lone “ask about” line, but we could improve the second line. How about this?

Ask about...

recommendations of software to accomplish a task. Good software recommendation requests have two components:


I also added a paragraph about questions and a paragraph about answers at the top of the tour page, in the middle of the existing generic text:

Software Recommendations Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people seeking specific software recommendations.

Good software recommendation requests have two components: a purpose (a task to accomplish, a user story) and some objective requirements (a minimum set of features). Please read our question quality guidelines before asking for a recommendation.

We request that answers demonstrate how the recommended product meets the requirement and is suitable for the intended purpose. Please read our answer quality guidelines before answering a question.

This site is built and run by you as part of the Stack Exchange network of Q&A sites. With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed software recommendations for specific purposes.

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  • 1
    Sounds great! I'd still recommend leaving the paragraph pointing to our "quality guidelines" as a "quote", as it is currently – to highlight it and to make sure nobody will miss it :) – Izzy May 4 '15 at 9:16
  • Ping San... ahem, Gilles, would you put that in our stockings? I couldn't find the right chimney yet (maybe that's why it's still stuck here), and that bunny must have missed it back in May … :D Now that we're out of beta, we definitely need to improve that help page. – Izzy Nov 29 '15 at 20:59

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