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What is the rationale/criterion on this site for the Too-broad close reason?

I think I have a pretty good handle on close reasons for existing SE sites, and the "too broad" close reason in particular. Because this site breaks with the SE canon by inviting recommendation questions, it may be worth discussing each of the standard close reasons as to a variant meaning for this site before proceeding to Custom close reasons for software recommendations. The too-broad close reason has been discussed with a straw-man example, but here is a real-world case.

The boilerplate text for too-broad mentions that there may be "too many possible answers" or that "good answers would be too long for this format".

Obviously in the context of asking for recommendations, it might well be that the Asker is aware of many possible ways to perform a computer task and wants a first-hand success story to guide their own selection. So this weakens the argument that a Question should not be asked if there are many possible answers.

Likewise the concern that "good answers would be too long" should be lessened for this site. An ideal Answer will treat only one software recommendation, not an exhaustive enumeration of all possibilities or all the steps needed to use a recommended package. It should not exceed the limits of the SE format to identify the package, address the requirements posed by the Question, and make brief remarks about the satisfactory nature of User's own experience with the software.

Of course vague, overly-general or rambling Questions should be closed, but in most cases the "unclear what you're asking" close reason will better suit those cases. So what will be the occasion for using a too-broad close reason on SWRecs.SE?

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it might well be that the Asker is aware of many possible ways to perform a computer task and wants a first-hand success story to guide their own selection

But this isn't a general software review site. We are not here to collect the (as you say) "first-hand success stories" by eliciting an opinion poll about everyone's favorite software in a category.

Software Recommendations SE is about solving "real-world problems" by asking very very specific question that are difficult to find the answer elsewhere. This remains a Q&A site by asking very real questions that only a few out of a large group of people can answer based on personal experience through actual use.

So this weakens the argument that a Question should not be asked if there are many possible answers.

If everyone is simply chiming in with what they use, then the question is too broad. Voting becomes a popularity contest of who knows what. SoftwareRecs isn't supposed to be a people's choice of voting for your favorite software. This is specifically what this site isn't supposed to be about.

"Too Broad" is more applicable to this site than ever before.

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  • I think you are reverse engineering the closing of a question before any answers are given, based on the possibility that many might be given.
    – hardmath
    Feb 18 '14 at 16:33
  • It's not just the quantity of answers, but whether the question is specific enough so the answers aren't just guessing what will help the original author specifically (i.e. broad recommendations). Feb 18 '14 at 16:36
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Too broad is still a "valid" close reason even in the context of Software Recommendations - a question that seeks a recommendation for software without narrowing down the specifics of what the software is still "Too Broad". Asking for an image editor that opens common file formats is "Too Broad", for example.

As you mention, in some cases, "Unclear what you're asking" will work as an alternative, but in the above example, it's quite clear what they're asking for - an image editor that opens common file formats. "Too Broad" is the correct reason to use in these instances.

However, I am in agreement that "Too Broad" is in fact, too broad of a reason, it will be confusing to people who get their questions closed with this reason, which is why I proposed a better worded alternative so that not only can we close a question for not providing enough information, we can point people who've had their questions closed with this reason in the right direction and be as helpful as possible:

This question has been put on hold because not enough information has been provided to answer it or does not meet our minimum quality requirements. For guidelines on what your question should contain please see What is required for a question to contain "enough information"?

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