No to websites; Yes to webapps.
I think the main difference between websites and software is their purpose.
Websites are about content. You read / write / look at or listen to content. Hopefully, the site has features that allow that.
Software is functional. You interact with it and want content to change through your interaction.
While some websites ...
I would say that it's certainly okay to answer a question with a webapp, as long as
They don't say it needs to work offline (yeah, some do, but you still have to load them)
The question doesn't explicitly ask for native software
Then a webapp is fair game.
I think the most important aspect of any solution is how well it gets the job done according to the specifications that the asker has. If the person requires that this be something they can download onto their device and use off-line, then naturally a website wouldn't be useful. But if they do not have this requirement, and if an online service gets the job ...
Good observation, Nicolas.
When I see that type of answer, I often wonder "What is wrong with the answer that they decided to also include a link to a list of apps?".
I then reread the answer at least one more time.
I've found that sometimes the answer is somehow lacking (does not really address all the feature requirements). In that case, I add a ...
I don't think website recommendations in general fit here.
Website for reading about Firefox features?
Website for information about movies?
Website for a mathematical analysis of knots?
Website to download Harry Potter fanfic?
Website to buy plane tickets?
Website to download songs in Spanish?
Website with pictures of people playing the kazoo in the shower?...
Yes, as long as the question is asked in terms of features or functionality. Not based on the content of the website alone. For the same reason we wouldn't want people asking "Can you recommend a Linux Distro?" or a "Text Editor?", we wouldn't want people asking "Where can I buy plane tickets?", without also requesting specific features and functions that ...
I would argue that the question asks and the answer provides a webapp. If I had the tool myself without the data it would still be useful as I could enter the data of the cars that interest me myself and still use that comparison. That assumes that I not only have the frontend myself but also the data entry side that the operators of that site surly have.
I've been thinking about it too, and there is my answer:
TL;DR: When you don't know, it's on topic.
I believe people shouldn't judge on the difficulty of answering a question while judging it as on/off topic. A crucial pat played by software today is handling data. That does include finding and providing data to the users.
While data sets are clearly off ...
The answer is: It depends on the wording of the question - What are you looking to replace of GMail?
GMail consists of several parts:
The software that runs on the Google Server and handles the mail. If you are looking for a different Engine to host it yourself - thats on-topic, ask: "Mail Engine to run on [system]."
The Interface / Frontend to that Engine....
I find RockPaperLizard's paragraph about "lacking answers" very true. Answers that have such links are often lacking something else. Often the answer would otherwise be a one-line answer (which usually attracts downvotes), and the author added the link as if thinking "I must write a bit more to make it (look like?) a valid answer".
I would go further than ...
Wow, we have opened a can or worms here ,-)
A static, HTML only, page is clearly a web-site. And what we are discussing - in this case - is not.
However, with the advent of the new Beta site for "web site recommendations" I have been recommending people to post there.
And I have only just discovered "Web Applications".
Clearly, we need some ...
Increasingly software applications will be packaged in online presentations. I don't have an objection to answers recommending software that runs on cloud servers more so than on desktops.
That said, I think it's misguided to try and "game" Questions simply so that a webapp has more acceptability than a desktop app. Presumably there are enough actually ...