How far should software mentioned in questions be described? Now and then, I encounter questions where I don't know the software described ( like here ), but I think I might know an answer. Is it good to include a short description of the software mentioned, or should the potential answerer check themselves?
1You should describe the software the absolute best you can, and I usually include a screenshot as well.– SethFeb 5, 2014 at 18:56
Related: meta.softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/86/…– SethFeb 5, 2014 at 18:56
1@Seth And in my opinion especially focussed on the requirements.– BernhardFeb 5, 2014 at 18:59
1Make your question accessible to someone who's never heard of that software. (A case I often see: “equivalent of WinFoo on Linux?” → Linux users can't answer because they have no idea what WinFoo does.) See How to ask for an alternative to some software– Gilles 'SO- stop being evil'Feb 6, 2014 at 18:35
I think that if we're going to go through the effort of making our answers as detailed as possible, then askers should respect it in turn with similar efforts in specifying what they need. What exactly a software does is, quite frankly, an important asset to finding alternatives to that software. Even if you give a list of the requirements, those primarily tend to describe what the current software doesn't do for you, which is why you're looking for an alternative in the first place.
It doesn't need to be long. No more than 2 lines should be necessary to clarify something. A quick pitch saying at basic what kind of software it is (text editor? word processor? tax payment? chess solver?), and any distinct features that may be relevantly important as to why you picked it in the first place (lightweight? has certain features?). A link to the software would also help clarify things - if we can't cover the data here, let's at least show people the doors that will tell them what they need to know.
This is tooting my own horn, but This is what a good answer looks like,
It isn't perfect, and answers that are less good will no doubt be acceptable, but we should aim high.
The level of detail, and style of answer on the LaTeX IDE question on Tex.SE (particularly on the first few pages), is another good example