(I thought that we had a similar discussion, but couldn’t find it.)

Are software identification questions on-topic?

I.e., questions where the OP is not looking for options/alternatives, but for a specific software. In the usual case, such questions would only have one correct answer.

Here are some questions for discussion:

  • Actual examples:
  • Conceivable examples:
    • Which tool does Trinity use in Matrix Reloaded? (Answer: Nmap)
    • Which OS was used to render Avatar? (Answer: Ubuntu)
    • Which tool does Canonical use to build Ubuntu releases?
    • What was the name of the driving game included in Windows 95?
    • Which OS run Deutsche Bahn ticket machines?

5 Answers 5


I think we should discern between two things.

Some questions formulated this way, such as Wiki software being used by Gnome, or Which tool does Canonical use to build Ubuntu releases, in fact may be asking for "a tool to set up a wiki similar to Gnome wiki" or "a tool to build Ubuntu-based distributions". These seem on-topic to me, although badly formulated.

Other questions, such as "What was the name of the driving game included in Windows 95", are clearly not asking for software rec', and should be dismissed as off-topic.

  • 1
    But even if we’d understand such "badly formulated" questions as questions asking for the same or similar software, the question wouldn’t include any required features etc., because the OP was asking for identification of a specific software and so there was no need to include any requirements.
    – unor
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 2:16
  • 2
    They have requirements- only those are hidden. Take the gnome-wiki thing example again. It asks for a sleek, open source, documentation-friendly media-wiki alternative, if you know how to read it.
    – VicAche
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 18:13
  • 1
    So you are recommending we should take the burden to extract requirements by reading the feature list of the mentioned software? That cannot be the way it works. For high-quality answers, we can expect at least quality answers. Taking the Wiki example: "slick and clean" being the only features explicitly mentioned simply isn't enough. What OS does the questioner use? Maybe it won't even run on that. What are the core features he's interested in? Maybe there's something similar which fits much better.
    – Izzy Mod
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 5:56
  • 1
    I believe we really should try to be as open as possible regarding questions asked, as long as they can be helpful. Yes, "what wiki does gnome use" is an interesting question asking for software recs. After identifying, it can lead the OP to ask for an equivalent that meets such and such criteria. I believe it should be read as a question plus a suggested answer that the OP doesn't know well enough to develop. Wether this answer is useful or not is another question, it is relevant anyway.
    – VicAche
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 11:51
  • Follow-up: Quality guidelines for software identification questions/answers?
    – unor
    Commented Nov 22, 2015 at 12:37

I think such questions should be off-topic here.

Answers wouldn’t recommend anything.

Instead of asking "Which wiki is used on wiki.gnome.org?" one could ask "Which wiki could I use to create a site like wiki.gnome.org?", where the question should describe which parts and features of the site are meant exactly, and which other ("invisible") features the tool should have.


Why not simply treat any and all such questions as asking for recommendations for software similar to that in question.

If the OP steps in to "correct" it as an identification question, then remind them that the site is specifically for recommendations.

This way anyone searching the Internet for recommendations of software similar to X they will still find it here, which is more important than serving the OP anyway.

Of course still go and kill it if it's bad for other reasons.

  • 2
    If this includes the OP updating his question, adding specific requirements etc., I'm fine with this. Otherwise, just correcting it to "software similar to" is not enough, as it would require potential answerers to figure the features of X and which of them the OP might be interested in. This burden should not be put on the answerer. There might even know a much better fitting product for the specific purpose of the OP but nobody knows (without at least core requirements mentioned).
    – Izzy Mod
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 6:00

An identifying factor that can be used is the possible number of tools that can qualify as an answer.

For example, the question:

Which Wiki software does Gnome currently use?

can only match one specific tool.

Whereas the question:

Which Wiki software can be used for a huge project like Gnome? It must have features x and y and z.

can match many possible tools.



Is software identification on-topic?

The premise of the site is software identification given a set of qualities and requirements. There may be one solution or several or none. The suggestion part of it is complementary and omitted when unnecessary. If someone wants to provide a requirement of "was used by y in z." They should be able to. That requirement is no different than any other.

Other than that, this question is just a wording confusion.

About the title of the site

The title is only two words. You can't define the site like that. And if you look at other site's titles, arqade, superuser, stackoverflow, they don't have any defining meaning at all in most cases. They're just short memorable names.

  • 1
    So you think this question should be reopened?
    – unor
    Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 14:48

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