I just saw this question: https://softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/1718/looking-for-hosting-for-laravel
It's asking for a hosting recommendation. Are these on topic here?
We need to clearly draw a line between
Which (company|provider|X) offers hosting for Z?
which (as everybody here already correctly stated, so I skip the reasoning) should be 100% off topic here, and
Application to (self-)host Z
which clearly is asking for software. To give a clearer example of the second, consider this user-case:
In our company, we deal with sensitive data. Our offices are spread across the (town|country|A), and data needs to be available in each of them. What software would allow us to build an own cloud, matching the following criteria: ...
Clearly on-topic, and valid answers would probably include ownCloud – a software package which can be installed on your own hardware, and configured to your needs.
Web apps are on topic. What this means is that if you are looking for a solution to a particular task, you can ask about web apps as a solution.
Here's the dilemma. Web apps inherently include hosting data as part of the app. If they didn't, there would be no point to using a web app.
So whether or not a particular question is on topic or not really depends on the context and the quality of the question.
We want to recommend and evaluate software, but not services.
Let's look at WordPress.com as an example. Is it a webapp, a website, or a hosting service? It's really all three. We can't declare WordPress.com officially on- or off-topic in all cases.
These questions would not be on-topic:
However, this question could be on-topic:
Website web app with blog and customizable theme
I'm looking for a web app that will allow me to set up a website. I need the following features:
- Blog capability with dated posts and comments
- Customizable look with pre-designed templates to choose from
- Doesn't require separate hosting
- Gratis, ads are okay
- Integrates with twitter
- Easy to use without knowing HTML
WordPress.com would certainly be a potential answer to that question.
GitHub has a similar situation. We don't want questions that ask us to recommend a reliable code hosting service, but if a well-written question comes along looking for a version control solution with specific features, and GitHub happens to fit the bill, it should be on-topic.
To summarize what everyone else has been saying, web hosting is a service, not a form of software. This does not necessarily mean that all services are off topic though. As Franck Dernoncourt pointed out, web service recommendations such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and Github are on topic. This is because these services are web applications.
What is a web application? As defined by Wikipedia:
The problem here is that a web hosting service does not provide any clearly definable software and is, instead, merely a service used to host your own website. Thus, it is not on topic or within the scope of our site.
No, they are not on topic. Hosting is a service. Hosting is not software. Even though you can get some software thrown in with the hosting.
If you were to include hosting in the scope, why stop there, why not include software development services recommendations, web design recommendations or any other kind of service.
I think that software used in the context of web hosting is appropriate.
I wouldn´t use that question for references:
haven't got a clue if a web hosting is okay to use or best to get VPS?
This simple sentence has two problems... OP doesn´t even know what is the problem to solve, and it invites people to share subjective opinions rather than facts. An answer to that question would be:
Use X because they are great and never failed to me. It will solve all your problems.
That is a valid but bad answer. It answers OP question it doesn´t tell me how or why it does.
Now, strictly speaking, no, we are not hosting/service recommendations but software recommendations. Hosting providers are outside the scope of the site.
No, because these are overwhelmingly shopping recommendations.
The kind of recommendations we host there have characteristics which give them value beyond the asker. They define a problem to be solved, and call for answers that are solutions to this problem. Anyone else with the same problem is likely to find the advice given in solutions relevant. Although software can become unavailable and prices can vary, such events are relatively rare.
On the other hand, a request for a pure hosting service is extremely sensitive to price. Prices vary based significantly in time, based on geographical location, and based on the precise amount of data or computation that is performed. Recommendations on hosting alone can very rarely be expected to have lasting value.
This is the same argument raised against hardware recommendations, only to a far worse degree.
While any recommendation for a service provider suffers from the same defect, the degree is significantly less as the field is much reduced and the differentiation between actors is greater. Hosting provider A provides substantially the same services as hosting provider PPPP, whereas software-as-a-service provider A provides substantially different services from software-as-a-service provider C.
We may need to see more examples to draw the line.
Sort of, but only in so far as they are looking for a platform recommendation not a service provider.
If you are looking for a place to do x (host X Gb data via http and ftp) then no. If you have a user story and are trying to settle on a platform then we can probably cover the platform part. Is some cases the platform will also be a service that will naturally lead to a provider.
As consensus seems to have been reached, I post this as CW so we can explain the rationales for our choice and give examples.
As a general rule, we do not accept hosting questions. We do accept hosting-related questions, ie questions about software interacting with a hosting service. Of course, we understand hosting isn't a self-evident notion. Please see the examples below if you need to be clear on what is regarded as hosting here on SR.
It has been previously decided that we will accept webapps as answers. You cannot ask for a hosting provider, even indirectly. Questions that specify which webapp they want hosted somewhere are clearly off-topic. Questions that are about a service providing some information are not OK either, except if they're asking for a way to access that service. Faking the system asking for "a webpage that questions a given database for such and such info" are not fine either, as you could have guessed yourself.
For further reference, also see the Wikipedia article on "Internet Hosting Service".
Our "opening question" for this Meta page. No explanation needed: hosting for my laravel website is clearly asking for a hosting service, and not any kind of software.
This was not an easy one to close, as it's well redacted. Nevertheless:
Asking for a service, not for the software: looking at payment gateway and eCommerce services
Not asking for any kind of software, not even web-app or API – rather for a service providing the wanted information.
OP is looking for the hosting service again, the software part is already decided (wget). The "other way around" it would have been on-topic (looking for the command-line tools to exchange the files, with "wget" being on of the possible answers).
Though it might look like belonging into the next section (border-line: "Is it web-app or hosting?"), OP clearly wants his own scripts/web-apps being hosted, hence it's a "hosting question".
OP is looking for a company dealing with his sites payment stuff ("what I'm looking for is a payment service". While some API might kick in eventually, the question's current main purpose is to find a service provider handling payment stuff in the specific way described – which clearly goes beyond the scrope of this site.
Items like the following might make a closer discussion necessary, dealing with where exactly the border is between "clearly hosting-related" and "a web-app implying hosting". Bens answer partly covers this, but we still have no "clear line" yet.
Originally explicitly asking for a service, it's no longer clear to me whether this one could not be seen as "web-app" request. It's obviously a mix of both, as it requires the images to be "hosted" on the given site.
I have no opinion on this. But I would like to point out that the most of the opinions in other Answers are at odds with what is said here: Are web service recommendations off-topic?
If you want to make a distinction between
then there need to be a COHERENT explanation of where you draw the line and why.
Saying that Github and Dropbox are "applications" or "webapps" is circular logic. Github is BOTH an application AND a service, and in reality web hosting services are likewise BOTH applications AND services.
So that distinction boils down to an arbitrary assignment of vaguely defined labels.
I will just chime in. It is completely acceptable that recommendations for services be outside scope, as services in general are broad and are susceptible to subjective opinion.
However, for extremely narrow cases, where there may be precisely one solution, or cases where a web service replaces a desktop application, does it not seem against the spirit to not answer them?