Recently I've seen answers, where the OP is asking for a software recommendations, and the answers outlines how to do this in python, and which libraries might come in handy to solve the issue. But, and this is the key part, it is not a software package/program which the user can install. It is more of an idea on how to develop a program to solve the issue at hand.

Are these proper answers? And if not, how to handle these kind of answers?

Edit: Izzy relates this to "Asking for software, get libraries in answers", but there are a few reasons for me asking again:

  1. Is there a consensus on providing software (as in code) being good/not-so-good answers?
  2. If this kind of answers are not wanted, then how do we handle them?
  3. Should the guidelines be updated?

In addition to the above specifications, I would also to emphasize that I'm wanting to differentiate between software as in a program, versus software as in program code, which for a lot of users is a quite essential difference as they don't know how to program.

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  • Here is a search, where one half of the results are somewhat good answers, and the other half are not so good as the question is not (directly) related to programming (from my point of view) – holroy Sep 13 '15 at 19:17
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    Just skimming the first few: some ask for libraries (so it's OK), or for things like "parsing JSON" (which implicates programming skills – also OK then). – Izzy Sep 13 '15 at 19:21
  • A little down on the list there are answers from people I believe want a finished program – holroy Sep 13 '15 at 20:02

To me it's OK as long as the OP explicitly stated "if some coding is involved with Python, that would be acceptable" (see: Is it okay to ask for algorithms on this site?).

If no coding skills are indicated, one should first seek clarification (see: Asking for software, get libraries in answers).


Almost never ideal, but perhaps preferable to no answer at all?

As someone who does enjoy writing code I would be sad to see such answers go because I find them empowering, but that is not the primary purpose of this site. In my view this form of answer should always be offered tentatively, and it is essential not to alienate those who do not come here for libraries and do not want to code.

If I post an answer which requires coding, then I expect it to languish at the bottom of the pile of answers, and I am rarely disappointed ;-)

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    Preferable to no answer: yes. That could cause somebody to write a proper tool that does the job. In a pile of answers: That shouldn't belong there - There are already tools for the task - if someone asked for a library and code explicitly then fine, else the code answer is a wrong answer. – Angelo Fuchs Sep 17 '15 at 7:28
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    I think that one of the most unique things that SR offers the community is a unique way for programmers to realistically solve problems faced by others. Allowing for a more technical answer improves discussion and is very empowering. SR allows for an open dialogue and ratings of very application- or use-specific software -- much more than other websites. I think this is why I like SR so much. – baitisj Oct 16 '15 at 1:22

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