12

(Related to and inspired by this question)

In the post that I linked above it seems pretty well established that "There is no currently existing software that fulfills your request", possibly accompanied by a recommendation for development, is a valid answer.

My question is, would the following be a valid answer in the same context (no software exists that meets the question's criteria):

Unfortunately, no software currently exists that does what you want it to.
However, I can create that software for you if you're interested.

It seems to me like this is bordering on unacceptable self-promotion (especially if the answer makes a request for money), but I think it could potentially be acceptable. What does the community think? should posts like this be acceptable or considered spam? Should it depend upon whether or not money is involved?

EDIT:

Another thing to consider, as mentioned in the comments: what about if the answer is along the lines of:

Unfortunately, no software currently exists that does what you want it to. However, here's a batch file that will do what you want:

<code here>

This answer provides a concrete solution, even if it isn't pre-existing software. Thoughts?

  • 1
    Yes, what about for problems like softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/290/… Which i beleive could be solves by writing a script using ImageMagic? Would providing said script count as recommending ImageMagic? I think that would be ok, since it would a answer of the form "You can do with X, using this method: Y" – Lyndon White Feb 5 '14 at 9:07
  • I think "No software currently exists that..." is an invalid statement, because no one is omniscient and no one is aware of the entire contents of the public Internet (to say nothing of software that is available privately but not sold or advertised over the Internet), so making such a bold claim is akin to omniscience. It is much more realistic to say "I have searched extensively and I am unable to find any software that meets these criteria. It is unlikely that such software is available for download or sale to the general public." – allquixotic Feb 5 '14 at 14:53
15

I think that would not be a valid answer. Let's split it into 2 parts:

The "Unfortunately, no software currently exists that does what you want it to" part could be an answer, even though the policy for this is still undecided.

The "can create that software for you if you're interested" part would at best be a comment, and should probably be flagged as spam.

Exceptions:

  • "I am the developer of this software, and I confirm this feature does not exist yet. Your idea is great, please add an enhancement request to our issue tracker here"
  • "This feature does not exist yet. There actually is an ongoing crowdfunding page for this very feature here"
  • If you can write a smallish script to do the task, then post it as part of your answer.
  • If you can write a program to do the task which does not fit in the answer box, then write it, upload it to Github or your website, and post an answer with a link when you are done.
  • 2
    Why is “I’m the developer of it” not spam, but “I can write you a ten-line shell script that does it” is? And even then, where’s the boundary between a ten-liner and a larger solution? I think the aim should be to fix users’ problems – so if any software gets written during that… why not? – mirabilos Feb 5 '14 at 14:10
  • @mirabilos: Thanks for the feedback! Answer updated. – Nicolas Raoul Feb 6 '14 at 3:24
  • Your first two exceptions should definitely be comments and not answers, since they don't provide an actual solution. Assuming that their existence as comments would not be contrary to Robert's answer. – Matthew Read Jun 26 '14 at 0:01
8

I think we should keep our answers to things that currently exist. If someone wanted a program that tosses a bunch of files into various directories on Ubuntu, and I could whip up a shell script that does this, I might consider doing so and say something like:

I couldn't think of or find anything that only suits this specific purpose, which you indicated was your preference, so I made this for you. I've tested it pretty extensively, but beware, it should be considered beta software, and I can't provide much support for it.

But I've met the requirement of making sure whatever it is I was recommending existed prior to answering the question. If we stick with that, I think we keep any potential problems firmly at bay.

  • 3
    This seems like the best approach. Basically, you can answer a software rec with "here you go!" and actually provide the software that you've written yourself, but don't solicit that you can develop it for them if they want you to. You either do it and give them a link to the software, or you don't do it. – allquixotic Feb 5 '14 at 14:48
5

The term spam is a bit misplaced, but this type of solicitation (even if well-meaning) is not allowed on any Stack Exchange site.

Putting it in terms of another site (let's say Stack Overflow), if there were a comment or post on a question that said, "Give me a call; me or my company can help you" — that would be removed. Immediately.

This site simply cannot become a hunting ground for freelance or commercial work, gratis or not. You have to flag/remove such activity on sight.

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