The formal difference is obvious, and there is a strong difference in many contexts, but I can't see any difference in a website like this.

Infact what are you expecting to read as an answer to the following questions?

  • Can you list me the best software*s* to make a forensyc analysis tool that do X.?
  • Can you list me some good software*s* to make a forensyc analysis tool that do X.? harddrive?
  • Can you list some softwares to make a forensyc analysis tool that do X.?

Please explain the concrete difference between the three answers. You can also provide some example.

Do you think we really need to discourage people to use the word best for a merely formal purpose? Ok. If you think that please explain the reason and give a score to the importance YOU give to YOUR reason being conscious that OUR ideas are just relative and not absolute. Try to discuss them. Let's see why we believe they are right. Don't forget the final objective of this website. Please write down how do you think a guideline will help to achieve the final objective.

I think there may be some confusion between the concept of using words as "good", "best" and the less of specification. Saying "I look for the best graphic software" and "I look for the best software for doing this specific thing". It's not the word good or best which makes the difference.

Instead I can understand to deny the use of best with the word is I.e.

  • Which is the best drug for...
  • Which are the best drugs for...
  • 1
    Yupp, and here again: Why question for Best tool is wrong, but for Good are ok? (see my answer over there). Maybe we decide for the best of these questions, and don't open other good ones? ;)
    – Izzy Mod
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 20:00
  • I think this question became more complete than it's duplicate. Can you give an evaluation of that?
    – Revious
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 9:57

3 Answers 3


The problem with "Best" and "Good" is that they're worthless. But that they're worthless isn't necessarily an issue.

It is, without a doubt, that anyone seeking software is going to want the best solution for their problem. It is also our duty to strive to give people the best solutions out there, whether or not they explicitly ask them for it. So these are givens.

As such, the word "best" doesn't actually really impact anything. Judged solely on the word, there's no difference between the three questions. The problem with the word is whether or not the question is reliant on the word. When someone sees the word "best", the first thought that comes to mind should be "Best for what reasons?", and the question should explain these. In the past, this didn't happen very often. That's part of what led to much of the stigma out there for these words, is the lack of effort associated with them. Being exhausted of asking people "Best at what?" eventually led to exhaustion of the word entirely and major negative repercussions for just word choice. It's not just for the class of questions here - questions fine on other sites have been condemned as "premature optimization" and the like for using the word.

That's why most advice given to people who ask for the "best" of something, if people aren't trying to shut down the question entirely for being off-topic, the advice is to explain what is being sought out. Again, it's because "best" is a worthless classifier.

Ultimately I find that all three approaches listed are not useful, but also not much to make a fuss about. The final objective of this website is to provide software to people who have problems they need to be solved. The real focus of any question is in the problem, and consequently the requirements needed of the software in terms of what it can do or what it needs and such. The rest, including things like even mentioning the words "I", "need", "a", "list", "of", "software", best or otherwise, in that order, are extraneous flavor. You need it to make your question sound right but it's just window dressing.

We already have enough problems with people being biased and flying off the handle at the mere mention of the word "best", I don't think it's healthy to continue that here. When you see the word "best", you look at the question and see if it meets our actual criteria as a site here. If they do, then we're good. If not, then focus on that.

  • I agree 100%. The problem with which I was complaining was about the prejudice against the word best! So I would put in the guidelines that NO one should be blamed for using the word "best" instead of "good". This is only making confusion. While we should always say "Best for what reasons?". I think it's is really important for this section but also for the others. It's really important to clarify that there is no issue with using the word best (or the form of the question). Many here were thinking the opposite.
    – Revious
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 14:59
  • 1
    To expand: I think people use the term best a lot here because they want multiple answers. Best implies there will be some contention in the answers, and there will be, which is why we have the voting system. They are anticipating this when they ask these question. Asking what is "A" text editor implies they will be happy with 1 answer. Indeed it is all window dressing.
    – Enjabain
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 15:58
  • @Enjabain: I completely agree. I would really like to stop the dispute against the usage of the word best or good. These words are not changing the mean of a question in any way. I think this should be written in the guidelines. What do you think about? Look at the first answer here: "meta.softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/157/…". It's blaming the word "best". And many users upvoted it.
    – Revious
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 17:11

Best, good, etc. are subjective. Each person has a definition of what is the best for them. This was already discussed here. The third one is not good either. A good one would be: Hard drive forensic tool with X characteristic or Hard drive forensic tool that do X.

You must write the category of what you are looking for (hard drive forensic tool) and some weird characteristic that you consider important. That would make an awesome question.

  • yes, but the problem is ONLY in the lack of specification of what you call "category of what you are looking for". Not in the usage of the word best. The three questions (I've edited now) lead exactly to the same answer.
    – Revious
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 15:02

To put the cart before the horse, would you ask for...

  • the worst X?
  • a bad X?

Asking for "some": How many word processors do you need to write a letter? Does one ask "please only one answer"? Would you downvote subsequent answers? Do you thing if not expressively asked for, there wouldn't be more than one answer? I don't see the point here (but neither would I downvote/VTC a question just for that; I'd rather edit it).

Sorry if this sounds a bit snippy, but as Braiam already mentioned, this is already the 3rd question asking the very same. I'm already considering to ask whether we should merge them all into one.

PS: Don't feel offended, this is no personal attack. But IMHO it sometimes needs a drastic counter-example to make things clear ;)

  • 2
    The problem is that is really (let me use a strong word) silly to be worried about the use of the word "best". It's just window dressing. It doesn't add any that is opinionable to a question, it doesn't change the answer. I showed it very clearly with the three question example. There is absolutely no difference in asking for softwares that does x or asking for good softwares that does x or best softwares that does x. And also asking for the best software that does x could be a wrong word usage but.. doesn't change the answers in any way.
    – Revious
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 22:42
  • 2
    I fully agree. That's why I wrote I wouldn't downvote/VTC just for that, but rather edit (if I feel it necessary).
    – Izzy Mod
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 23:06

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