I have software X and I like it. However, I want an extra feature that X doesn't provide. Or I want to run X on a different platform. How can I ask for an alternative to X?
A good recommendation question has precise requirements and a goal.
“Alternative to X” is not a precise requirement. You need to say which features of X matter. Otherwise the question is not clear enough, and you may get answers which propose an alternative that does not have the features you rely on most.
Furthermore, as usual on Stack Exchange, questions work because they define a problem to be solved, a hurdle to jump over. On this site, the problem to solve is a task to accomplish or a purpose to which to put some software. When the question is an alternative, the hurdle is generally that you know some software that meets most, but not all of your requirements. That is, if you're asking about “alternatives to X”, X should not be a valid answer, or at least not a good answer (“X works, but not very well, because…”). If you're looking for alternatives in an open-ended way, questions and answers aren't the right format — look for a comparison matrix instead.
Do note that people may know about the alternative you're after but not about what you're using now. For example, if you're looking for a Linux alternative to your favorite Windows software, the people who could answer you might not have heard of that Windows software.
So a good alternatives question goes:
I am looking for software to achieve this goal, with the following features:
- can do this
- can do that
I like X, but it fails in a critical way because …. What alternatives are there?
Don't use X as a tag, either. Your question is not about X. It's about software in the same broad category as X, but your question doesn't call for X, in fact it excludes X.