In a previous episode “Can I ask for recommended websites?”, we concluded (in Angelo Neuschitzer's words):
No to Websites; Yes to Webapps.
I think the main difference between websites and software is what they are about.
Websites are about content. You read / write / look at or listen to content. Hopefully the site has features that allow that.
Software are about functions. You interact with it and want content to happen through your interaction.
More generally, by this reasoning, what is in-scope is software — behavior that you interact with. What is out of scope is data.
It's still not clear to me how to draw the line. Sometimes there is very close coupling between a data source and the software to query it. maps is rife with examples, such as:
- Offline OpenStreetMap with vector maps for Windows Phone? — specifies a data source, asks for software to exploit it: uncontroversially on-topic.
- Offline marine navigation software — asks for software, but leaves the data source open; the data source is necessary to fulfill the required purpose, but finding for the data source is not likely to be a difficult part of answering.
- https://softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/1668/detailed-google-map-like-software — asks for software, but leaves the data source (necessary to fulfill the required purpose) open; the existence of the data source is questioned: in fact, if the data source existed, there's a good chance that it would be available through the “obvious” software (Google Maps), which makes the question centered on the data source.
https://softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/1668/detailed-google-map-like-software is what motivated my meta question: is it on-topic? Why (not)? Does it need to be edited?
More generally, when the purpose of a question requires both access to a data source and software to exploit it, how do we make the difference between questions asking for a data source (off-topic) and questions asking for software (on-topic)?