What do we need here to make this site work? Experts giving great answers. It is especially important that questions get good answers. Otherwise the site is useless.

Currently I can't really give so much good answers since I did not use most tools the questions are about. But here we are adviced not to google an answer and post it:

Good answers on this site will be in the form of honest testimonials that share first hand experience with something and why it meets the needs of the asker.
You should answer questions when you have first hand knowledge of things that satisfies at least most of the constraints given in the question.


I know how to become a programming expert or a cooking expert.
But how can someone become a Software Recommendation expert?

  • When you level of Googling things reaches expert.
    – aman207
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 19:08
  • 3
    But here we are adviced not to google an answer and post it - we should have personally experience with a product we recommend.
    – juergen d
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 19:12
  • Since it seems like a lot of people here are Mac users, it may help to go to Ask Different .
    – Rajiv
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 22:58

3 Answers 3


You can become a programming expert only in so and so much fields. Same goes for Software Recommendations.

Inside your field of expertise outside of SW-Rec you get to know a lot of tools, maybe you even write some.

After you have encountered the n-th iteration of "I need to search" you know what criteria you have to look after and then you become an expert at choosing which tool fits what need best.

I think this is a skill that is only reachable through doing it often and gaining experience while doing so.


I got a good chunk of my early reputation on SU due to software recommendation. I will be cribbing liberally from one of my posts on MSO where relevant

  1. Recommend tools you love and know. Posting a one line answer based off a google search is lame. Post details, showing how exactly the software you recommends solves the problem. Walk the user through it making things as clear as possible. Even if you have two questions where the answer is the same tool, they don't need to be the same answer.

  2. Be Altruistic : Lets say someone posts an answer for a software you use and love. Your answer would have been better - maybe with screenshots and such. Try to improve the answer while keeping the essense of the other answer. Comment with additional ideas.

  3. Research: I often try out new things just for the hell of it, or if a question matches something I may need to sort out in the future. Try new and better tools, learn new skills and document them

  4. Don't be the fastest gun in the west, find someone who's a bad shot, and shoot better than him

    This is sneaky. I get annoyed by bad answers, so I post better answers. It's entirely incidental that this makes your answer look even better and get upvotes.


The way this kind of mechanism, the entire concept of recommendations, is largely by volume, which is what lends itself to the network's capabilities. As opposed to asking an individual, who has a low chance of necessarily knowing the one piece of software that does what you need, you ask the group of individuals in the hopes that the one who does know is amongst the group. Extending from that, the people who excel within this group are the ones who can provide the most help, by a matter of knowing the most.

Whereas in programming you become an expert by knowing the most about the field, in here you become an expert by having the largest breadth of knowledge with regards to solving problems. Much like programming has languages that people work in, recommendations have domains of problems that are solved. How one hones that experience is also largely the same - some people will specialize in particular kinds of tasks (say, a particular user might be an expert on all things used for the many different tasks of home management), others don't necessarily specialize and instead work off of the things they run into on their daily movements. Some will find usable solutions and work with them, others will constantly revisit what they know and see if better exists out there. We all build experience with each thing we try that solves our own problems. So to a point, the greatest experts tend to be those who have needed to solve the most problems on their own, as that would have lent them the necessity to investigate as many problems and solutions to be able to share.

This isn't, ultimately, something people necessary work towards in an active sense. This is largely a passive expertise that is built up as one goes through life (though, again, some people do strive for more). That doesn't make it any less respectable than other kinds of expertise. It's simply a different case.

That, I feel, is what it would mean to be an expert in this site. There are the people who may not know things off-hand, but are experts at research and testing and so they can provide extremely quality answers. I'd though say that that person isn't an expert at recommendations as much as they are an expert at research and testing. Which does indeed help, though.

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