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Is it ever inappropriate to recommend software which, while it technically fulfils all the requirements, actually bundles a huge bunch of irrelevant stuff with it as well?

I ask because I gave the answer of Google Apps for this question, and my answer was actually deleted because it did not provide enough information about the product, but then I realised that such an answer might not be appropriate at all. After all, the question asks for a mailing list management application (which Google Groups for Business, part of Google Apps, does provide), but not a complete office suite (which is what Google Apps is).

Then again, it is common for people to buy a computer with Microsoft Office and then only use Microsoft Word, and moreover to only use a fraction of its features... so perhaps this is normal in some circumstances.

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  • 1
    Another example (by me) here: softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/252/software-for-creating-and-publishing-game-cards/595#595 They wanted to make card games, I recommended indesign. – Lyndon White Mar 2 '14 at 9:58
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There's nothing wrong with using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. However, if there's an answer that involves a simpler, more elegant tool, say a nutcracker, its more likely to be selected as correct. Posting an answer which meets all the requirements, even if thats a subset of what the product does should be fine, where you clearly show how to use the product, where to find the features needed and why its an appropriate choice.

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8

I would say that such an answer is perfectly appropriate. A great many extra features don't invalidate a recommendation - in fact, they often make it stronger!

In the (very rare) cases where a piece of software is terribly bloated (I.e. needs huge infrastructure to run or has a horrific feature-laiden interface), I would argue that voting should take care of that - people will naturally upvote the more elegant solutions over the less elegant, bloated ones.

We shouldn't delete answers on the sole basis of them being for a piece of software that can do much more than asked for.

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2

There's nothing wrong with posting some overly powerful software that will do the job of nuking someone's mosquito.

However, the answer should be very transparent in both the usual quality terms (how it fits the exact requirement) and downsides:

  • Powerful big software is frequently expensive.

    E.g. Tasker for Android already came up at least twice in answers/comments in exactly the context you mentioned. But it costs $7, much more than usual purpose built Android apps many of which are gratis to $3.

  • It may be a resource hog, in multiple ways.

    Yes, you can use MS Word or Eclipse to edit a small text file. But even if you can bear the cost of Word (Eclipse is free), both of them:

    • takes forever to install;

    • eat up LOTS of memory/CPU compared to a small text editor

    • Take a long time to start up

    • In some circumstances, are just slow to use. I'm looking at you, Eeeeecliiiiiipssssseeee.

  • It may be VERY hard to configure to make it do exactly what you want to do.

    Tasker for Android is again a good example. You can't just answer with "use Tasker", you need to explain which plugins and configurations are required to achieve the requirements.

    In the most extreme scenarios, this may even devolve into "Well you can use Perl for this, just write this 20 line script", which was discussed elsewhere on the Meta.

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