On other sites much more variation in the question structure is expected. For instance on stackoverflow some questions are very short code snippets, some are in depth debugging - the asker needs a lot of freedom. On this site however I don't think the variation in question structure is needed so much. It seems to me that all good software recommendation questions should consist of essentially the same thing; a purpose and objective requirements.

My proposal is this:

That the "ask question" box be divided in two. One titled Purpose, the other Requirements. the requirements box could include greyed out prompts for typical requirements e.g. operating system, license type etc. This could be further divided into essential and non-essential.

The benefit of this would be a more consistent quality in the software recommendation requests.

  • 1
    While this certainly sounds reasonable (and on reading it, I tend to agree – which I'd rather delay until I've checked through a bunch of questions to verify), it might not be feasible – as it would mean the SE developers had to "invent" a specific feature just for one small site, which moreover is still in beta. I don't think that will happen.
    – Izzy Mod
    Commented Jun 5, 2014 at 23:34
  • 1
    Perhaps just template text in the question box would be easier to implement. E.g. Purpose: and Requirements: etc..
    – Lee
    Commented Jun 6, 2014 at 7:08
  • Even if there currently might be technical things preventing the template from being embedded automatically, it would still be useful to have a template, at least to point new users to it.
    – Nicolas Raoul Mod
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 4:57

2 Answers 2


Following @Izzy's comment (that it might not be feasible to adjust the number of input boxes etc) I thought I'd suggest a simple text template (I'm guessing that this would be easier to implement). I'm sure some improvement could be made but it gives an idea.

This text would pre-populate the "ask question" box . Guidance notes are provided with html comments:

**Software Purpose:**  <!--Put description of what you want the software to do here.
 What are you going to do with it? What is it for? How are you going to use it? -->

**Essential Requirements:** <!--A list of essential requirements here Suggestions
 are shown - delete what you don't need, add others that you do. Put in a numbered  
order of importance-->

 1. Operating System: <!--e.g. Any, Mint, Windows 7, iOS etc-->
 2. License type: <!--e.g. Any, Free, open source, GPL, BSD, proprietary etc -->

**Non-Essential Requirements:** <!--A list of 'nice to haves' here, use suggestions
 from above where appropriate. Again, put in numbered order of importance-->

 1. List item
 2. List item

**Budget:** <!--Either free or a value with a currency unit-->

Resulting in the following template:

Software Purpose:

Essential Requirements:

  1. Operating System:
  2. License type:

Non-Essential Requirements:

  1. List item
  2. List item



I would rather not see this type of pre-populated template in the Question box.

By auto-entering a pre-populated template into the Question box, you are essentially forcing all the questions to look the same. Lots of questions won't fit whatever template that we end up with, and they will read very awkwardly.

Also, when every question looks the same, it will be very boring for the experts who hang out here and read questions.

Instead, if it is deemed necessary, I'd rather see a prominent link on the Ask Question page to the On-Topic help page, the Question Quality Guidelines, or The Ground Rules.

However, is it really a problem currently? I see that of the 50 most recently asked questions, only 2 have been closed for "Too broad" or "Not clear what you are asking." The others were off-topic, and probably wouldn't have been helped by the template.

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