I may want to ask for websites where I can find recommended music the way IMDB is a good site for Movie information.

Or I want a website where I can read Firefox OS news, in a similar format to OMG! Ubuntu!

Or I may want to ask is there an alternative to the Google Play website for Android Apps?

Or I am looking for a social network that provides more privacy.

If this is not allowed, then when does a website become a Web App?

  • 4
    It is good question, But poor people can only donvote without leaving any reason... Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 22:47
  • It is a question. Is the downvote supposed to be an answer?
    – Enjabain
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 22:47
  • 3
    @Enjabain Yes and no. On meta downvotes are used to show agreement or disagreement.
    – Seth
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 23:22
  • 4
    As fuel for the discussion, on Area 51 one question did seem to indicate positive support for webapps on softwarerecs. If webapps are allowed, how would we draw the line between a webapp and a website, if websites were disallowed? Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 23:45
  • This is a good question, can someone explain the downvotes?
    – aman207
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 0:39
  • 2
    @Seth - if the question asks something WITHOUT taking a position (like this one), how can one "disagree" with it? OP didn't state whether he supports or not the idea of websites being ontopic.
    – DVK
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 0:49
  • 2
    @Enjabain - you should post your own answer (assuming you HAVE an opinion) so that people can clearly see that the question simply asks yes/no and can vote "no" via your answer.
    – DVK
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 0:50
  • @DVK good call.
    – Enjabain
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 1:28

3 Answers 3


No to websites; Yes to webapps.

I think the main difference between websites and software is their purpose.

Websites are about content. You read / write / look at or listen to content. Hopefully, the site has features that allow that.

Software is functional. You interact with it and want content to change through your interaction.

While some websites clearly behave like software (Google Apps), most do not (Wikipedia).

If a given site behaves more like a website then a webapp, I think it leaves the scope of this site.

A webapp is an application that runs on the web that helps you accomplish a task much the same way as a desktop app does

Please feel free to add Elements to either category as you see fit

Elements of a Website:

  1. mostly static content
  2. few possibilities to create own content
  3. site invites you to stay and consume what (others) made
  4. if it allows user created content that is moderated and / or filtered (you can mark it as offensive and it gets removed)

Elements of Webapps:

  1. designed to be interacted with
  2. possibility to create content
  3. possibility to transport (own) content out of the site
  4. ability to import content to manipulate it
  5. Your content is your own, other people cannot (or its not intendet) ("You" could mean "You and your peers") change it (not even moderators)
  6. Your content is private if you want to
  7. Given you had the program of that thing yourself and would run it on your own server without any data from the original source, the program would still be useful.

If something is on the line in between we should disallow it for now and see how this develops.

Also, I think some examples are helpful.

If you add one please make certain that they are on the line between Webapp and Website and then make a point on why they are one or the other

  • + denotes an argument about why it's a webapp
  • - denotes an argument about why it's a website
  • 0 denotes an argument that's in between

Examples of Websites

  • Wikipedia.org (as opposed to wikia.org)
    • + It has a vast set of possibilities to create content
    • + It encourages visitors to create / edit content
    • + You can easily export your content, HTML can be copy and pasted or printed along with any formatting.
    • - People usually go there to read
    • - Editors don't add "personal" content (outside of their user page)
    • - Everyone (or at least a lot of people) can change your content
    • - You can't create any content you like (strong restrictions)
    • - You have moderators that can delete your content without (necessary) warning because it's against their internal rules
    • - Your content is public
    • - If you remove all the content from Wikipedia it is no longer itself. It stops serving its purpose if you run it on your own server without the original data.

Examples of Webapps

  • wikia.org (as opposed to wikipedia.org, and concerning the main site, not each individual wiki there)
    • + It has a vast set of possibilities to create content
    • + It encourages visitors to create / edit content
    • + People usually go there to create
    • + Editors can and do add personal stuff (about themselves, devote whole wikis around an individual)
    • + You can protect your pages to restrict others from changing them
    • + You can easily export your content, HTML can be copy and pasted or printed along with any formatting.
    • + If you had the wikia software and ran it on your server, it would still fill the use: host a wiki.
    • 0 You have moderators that can delete your content but only if it is against the law
    • - Your content is public
  • 1
    This is basically what I was planning to cook up. As a site this seems geared towards doing things. Software does things. Sites have things. Web applications do things. We would want to avoid things like "What sites out there have data on X?", but quite frankly if I ask "What software is there that I can do X with?", for a sufficiently scoped X, sometimes it's a web application rather than something I install on my computer.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 16:06
  • 1
    In terms of wikipedia, you are forgetting the whole WIKI side of the website where anyone can create the content using a plethora of functions. Where does stack exchange fall in this division? "On the Line". I'd say it is a pretty Broad Line.
    – Enjabain
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 16:14
  • 1
    @Enjabain The way I look at it again resolves to the goals of the asker. If you ask for "A user system that I can ask questions, users can vote each other up, votes determine privilege levels, [etc.]", then we'd fit here as that is part of the service we provide. But if you ask for say, "Where can I find software that will help me on programming problems", then it wouldn't work because from a functional angle that's not what we do even if it is what we enable to be done.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 16:49
  • @Enjabain Wikipedia is about reading content. A wiki (be it wikimedia or a different one) is about making content. Wikipedia clearly has a focus on showing content. It has about 1.000 editors and 5.000.000 readers. - Yes it has editing devices but can you easily export your texts from there? Is it intended? No. Same goes for SE. Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 16:53
  • @Enjabain Also, the line should no be broad (I don't feel it is). If you see a criteria that matches one but not the other please add it so the line gets as thin as possible. Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 16:55
  • @GraceNote I edited my answer added a first paragraph that addresses this.
    – Enjabain
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 16:56
  • 1
    @AngeloNeuschitzer Wikipedia can be edited by anyone. Look at the SE wikipedia page. A main button at the top is an edit button, for anyone to use. the 5,000,000 Readers can also edit every single page, unless it was deemed too controversial and locked by an editor. The 1,000 editors are Editors they oversee the content created by millions. That is the whole point.
    – Enjabain
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 17:09
  • @Enjabain They can but they wont because it is not the purpose of the site to edit it. The purpose is to have all the information and show it and be able to edit it. Less than 1% of the users of Wikipedia contribute to it in terms of content and thats fine. Same goes for YouTube (You CAN add content, but over 99% of people are there for consuming not creating). I'm all with you that a wiki (like wikimedia) is software, but the actual site "wikipedia" is not. Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 17:15
  • @AngeloNeuschitzer All of the web is written in HTML so that you can Copy and Paste anything you created out of it. Or Print off of it. Wikipedia was definitely designed with the purpose to be interacted with AND edited by anyone. Even if those features are not used by everyone they are appreciated by everyone. That is why it is successful. You can not create anything with a music player/streaming service Web App, would those apps be frowned upon? It is a very broad line here. I think your definitions need to be more clear.
    – Enjabain
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 17:58
  • @Enjabain I think a music player / streaming service is a website, not an app. (I'm in chat currently. Want to come?) Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 17:59
  • 1
    I went over to WebApps.SE and people are asking lots of questions about Wikipedia, Wordpress, IMDB or even Kayak. I think that their definition is so vague because it would rule out way too many web apps.
    – Enjabain
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 13:21
  • let us continue this discussion in chat Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 19:10

I don't think website recommendations in general fit here.

  • Website for reading about Firefox features?
  • Website for information about movies?
  • Website for a mathematical analysis of knots?
  • Website to download Harry Potter fanfic?
  • Website to buy plane tickets?
  • Website to download songs in Spanish?
  • Website with pictures of people playing the kazoo in the shower?

(Imagine specific requirements in each case, so that it isn't a bad question.)

Hmmm, no. This site is about using computers to do something. Not about reading material.

Web applications, of course, are on-topic, like any other software. Web Applications Stack Exchange has been around for a while. They define their scope as “website which behaves like an application”. Let's define our scope, relating to web apps, by aligning with Webapps.SE. (Is there a good FAQ? The best I can find is Define “web application”, which isn't very informative and doesn't seem to express any kind of community consensus.)

  • People are going to recommend websites as answers whether they are asked for or not. Almost all websites have features that distinguish them from reading material. Like being able to upvote, give 5 star ratings, comment, discuss, log in, share. Isn't that using your computer to do something (not to mention the reading itself). Can these be considered Web Apps?
    – Enjabain
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 14:54
  • Do Youtube, and soundcloud, and twitter count as web apps? the main distinction I see between these and the kazoo website is the number of features. Which is why the others will be asked for more often, and have more interesting answers.
    – Enjabain
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 14:56
  • @Enjabain I don't feel competent to define what a web app is. I defer to the Web Applications community, they have not only a lot of experience about web apps but also a lot of experience defining the notion. Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 16:09
  • All of your listed questions fall into the bad question category according to my edited answer(first paragraph).
    – Enjabain
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 16:47
  • @Enjabain I only listed generic question titles. Whether the question is good or bad is a different matter. Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 17:16

Yes, as long as the question is asked in terms of features or functionality. Not based on the content of the website alone. For the same reason we wouldn't want people asking "Can you recommend a Linux Distro?" or a "Text Editor?", we wouldn't want people asking "Where can I buy plane tickets?", without also requesting specific features and functions that would make this a good/interesting question with interesting answers.

This site is called SoftwareRecs, it will most likely have a user base who wants to ask questions based on features. If they don’t, those questions should be flagged just like they are now.

The only reason that traditional Software for accumulating movie reviews , or sharing news is not abundant is because of Websites. They are a form of software that is much more capable of allowing consumption of information by the masses.

If they were allowed I could ask, is there a website like softwarerecs.SE that allows website recommendation questions? If it were not allowed I could ask is there Q&A Software for making and receiving software recommendations?

You are going to see these questions asked in the form of the second question and they are going to have Websites as answers. So can you ask for websites if I know very well the best answer will probably be a websites but you don’t call it a website?

The main difference I see is that traditional Software is generally for Creation, and Websites are generally tools for consumption, with Web Apps we are seeing the line blurred.

Websites can be discussed in the same way that software is, You can talk about the UI, the code, how open source and cross platform they are. What the awesome features are. Why you no longer like using a website due to its change in features or UI.

My main hesitation is that websites have content which can be very controversial. Traditional Software generally does not. So maybe questions and answers can not be based on content of those websites. SO you would not ask Is there a Yahoo answers where the people aren’t idiots? You would ask is there a yahoo answers where you can vote on answers and moderate the site democratically?

I think that the distinction between websites and software is making certain parties millions. :Looks at google: as they make feature rich applications for the internet, so that there are only a handful of websites worth visiting for some people.

I think the distinction between "Apps" and Software is making people millions. Many people I talk to do not realize that Mobile Apps are Software, they know I am a programmer who builds web applications and desktop applications but they assume I know nothing about mobile app development (if they even know what that is) They don’t even know that Apps is just short for Applications! Good thing Web Apps are on the rise, and I can make those, without conforming to some Android or iOS API. (Yes I know there Is a big difference but mobile app discussion is accepted here so why not Websites) This is all genius marketing thought up by Apple. People keep hearing us Say "Oh there is an APP for that?" Well guess what there is probably a Website for that too that you don’t have to buy through Google or Apple.

If you look at WebApps.SE they aren’t distinguishing between Kayak.com and Google Drive as bad questions one is for buying plane tickets. If you look at alternativeto.net and type in IMDB, Kayak, Wikipedia, Wordpress, Netflix, Spotify, Google Drive, Gedit, Notepad, Eclipse, they all come up with answers.

Now this is the polar extreme of my argument but I think it makes some valid points:

If these were aloud I could ask for blogs. I could specify the content of the blog, but I would concentrate on the features of that blog.

  1. Do they allow questions?
  2. Do they use Disqus or Open ID to allow easy commenting?
  3. Can I easily share with friends?
  4. Do comments get closed if they become too controversial?
  5. Do they have certain plugins installed?
  6. Do they have Tons of flash advertising?
  7. Is it open source?
  8. Do they track me?
  9. I hate the colors they chose on this blog, or it is not Universally accessible. can you recommend one that is?

Or is there a Kazoo in the shower website that allows me to Enlarge, crop, save to desktop?

I totally see why this is not the popular answer with software enthusiasts. But think about it a little and If you can distinguish between a Website and software to make the majority happy I am all for it, but I doubt that is possible.

I see no reason not to give it a try.

  • 1
    I think we should start out with a narrow scope. A site like this will bloat out all by itself. So if we disallow websites now and see that the questions regarding webapps are sufficiently rare not to overrun the site we can broaden our approach. If the site has lots of website requests it will bore tool building experts and thus water the usefulness of the site down. Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 17:04
  • @AngeloNeuschitzer I am a tool building expert, I build them in the form of websites and desktop applications both. They might not have the extensive features of a google website but It is still a web app. I think people are having a hard time accepting that HTML + javascript is extremely powerful for software. Even though you are seeing it in Google Apps, Facebook, this website etc.
    – Enjabain
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 20:33
  • I'm totally with you (even though I don't do HTML, JS etc. myself) and I'm using webapps and am totally pro having them here. What do you think: Should "Blog about the political situation in Germany" be an allowed question? Or "Site for Harry Potter Fan Stories"? Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 21:05
  • @AngeloNeuschitzer From chat: I do not think it should be allowed in such a general context, You could ask "Are there any blogs about the politics in Germany presented in a similar format to "such and such"? Or are there any blogs on this topic that have huge user base and answers can be upvoted/downvoted? Since the site is called software recs this site's user base would be more interested in the features and functions instead of the content necessarily.
    – Enjabain
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 23:08
  • I am all for disallowing these questions if we can succinctly define the difference between a web app and a website . If we can not, then they should be allowed at least for a trial period.
    – Enjabain
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 23:09
  • I gave your points some through thoughts which led me to add criteria #7 on the distinction of website and webapp. Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 11:22

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