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I've written an answer down below, that properly expresses my viewpoints. It can be found here.


I while back, there was the following question: Do we want recommendation/shopping questions?

The leading and accepted answer, strongly discourages the acceptance of software recommendations, and license recommendations. However, I think it would be wise to note that we now accept license recommendation questions. Quoting the aforementioned answer:

In my (strong) opinion, no. If we allow these types of questions, we'll get questions... Noting this message in chat, those will (sorry, but they will) lead to endless debates and arguments about which license is better than another, which is not something we want to have to clear up.

In my opinion, this is fairly outdated, as we now accept license recommendations. Quoting the follow-up answer:

Inasmuch as software that's specifically relevant in an open source context is on-topic here, recommendations for such software is on-topic. The Software Recommendations site has established guidelines for good software recommendation questions as well as answers. I encourage recommendations for software that's specifically useful to a particular community to be asked on a site where the audience is that community, rather than on SR.SE. SR.SE does ok with generalist software, but lacks community expertise when it comes to questions that require experience in a specific domain.

I feel like I should also note a few more things:

  • Fears similar to license recommendations can be rectified in numerous ways: Meta faq reasons, close reasons (I think my close reason on license recommendations can be adjusted to include recommendations on software), and other ways.

  • Policing shouldn't be an issue: Again, license recommendations are great, and super successful.

  • We've also got a few questions that have asked for recommendations, which I have currently hammered down in the process. Therefore, they could also be more popular as time passes.

  • Don't try to find other posts that already state a stance on this issue: I've raised this because those posts are outdated in that they took into consideration other factors. I'm looking for a fresh stance from the community about how we should act.

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    What kind of software recommendations do you expect anyway? Please link to example questions. We need concrete examples to form an opinion. – Gilles Aug 14 '15 at 7:12
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    Would recommendations be limited only to software, or also media etc? – curiousdannii Aug 14 '15 at 12:47
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    @Gilles I'm not exactly sure: I just raised the posts because I realized that the other existing posts are sort of outdated, and I wanted to see a fresh community thought on this. – Zizouz212 Aug 14 '15 at 13:47
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No, because

  • it splits the focus of the site. We currently have a well focused site, and I think adding in software/media recommendations would end up being a thoroughly distinct part of the site. Questions form a network, building and linking to each other. Software/media recs would not connect into that network, but would stand alone.
  • It would also add a lot of questions which are of no interest to anyone but the original asker, whereas now almost all questions are 'reusable'. Even license rec questions can be better in this regard I think, because there are fewer of them. If you look at the license rec tag all of them will be about licensing situations that can't be too dissimilar to your own, but software recs would not be like that. Pdf library recs are useless to phone antivirus recs or fitness tracking recs or hotel booking app recs etc.
  • coming up with sufficient guidelines on what are acceptable rec questions would be hard, time consuming, and would just duplicate the work of the software recs site.
  • it would add a level of subjectivity to the site which we've been able to avoid so far
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    I have to disagree with your second, third, and fourth points: I think software recommendations is a lot like license recommendations: just different contexts. However, that is just my personal opinion. – Zizouz212 Aug 14 '15 at 0:03
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    re point 3: it could either duplicate SR's work, or be time consuming - not both. I'd actually recommend copying and modifying what they've done. – ArtOfCode Aug 14 '15 at 0:05
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    @Ziz have you considered that it won't just be software recs? "I'd like some CC-BY licensed epic chiptune music that loops seamlessly." "I'd like an open access journal on microbiology with a review turn around period of under 3 months." "I'd like a public domain pcb design for the atmega 64 that costs under $5 to manufacture." "I'd like a open corpus of eighteenth century Norwegian newspapers." This will be a huge an unbounded can of worms to open, and I think it is not the site we signed up to. – curiousdannii Aug 14 '15 at 0:17
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    @curiousdannii For those questions, we can take them into the FLOSSLCCOPTER, send them away, and teach them a lesson :P – Zizouz212 Aug 14 '15 at 0:22
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    @Ziz But those are the questions you're proposing making ontopic! – curiousdannii Aug 14 '15 at 0:26
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    Whoa! I'm not proposing anything... I'm just reraising the issue after the context has drastically changed... – Zizouz212 Aug 14 '15 at 2:11
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    Even license rec questions can be better in this regard I think, because there are fewer of them. If you look at the license rec tag all of them will be about licensing situations that can't be too dissimilar to your own, but software recs would not be like that. I don't think so. This won't be something where you're looking for an app that just happens to be open source, I've mentioned that already. – Zizouz212 Aug 25 '15 at 21:33
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I'm writing an answer here, maybe because it will add a couple things:

I think we should base it along how Stack Overflow runs their open source community ad and perhaps we can run it like that. Here's a link: Open Source Advertising Sidebar.

It must be an advertisement soliciting the participation and contribution of programmers writing actual source code. This is not intended as a general purpose ad for consumer products which just happen to be open source. It's for finding programmers who will help contribute code or other programmery things (documentation, code review, bug fixes, etc.).

  • If there are questions that seek a compiled form of something: off-topic. Goes right to Software Recs.
  • If there is a question seeking an open source library: on-topic. For example, is there a [X Category] library for [this]?
  • If there is a request for project utilities, such as a hosting platform, or some project management related item: on-topic.

I'm writing this because I think I may have implied in the question that we would allow compiled requests. Similar to the SO community ads, we shouldn't allow questions asking for something that just happens to be Open Source.

If this is accepted, perhaps we shouldn't call it [software-recommendation], but rather something like [library-recommendation] or [utility-recommendation]? Of course, there are possibilities to having other names as well if they fit better.

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    What about art, music, databases etc? – curiousdannii Aug 17 '15 at 21:10
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    @curiousdannii I'm inclined to say yes, but for those types of things, it could get out of control. Perhaps, we could make them off-topic and redirect users to Open Data SE? – Zizouz212 Aug 17 '15 at 21:27
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    Well products, libraries and utilities are all allowed at software recs.se and disallowing non-software recs here would formalise the informal bias towards software. I think it should be all or none here, and of course I think it should be none. – curiousdannii Aug 17 '15 at 21:30
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    So I think it's not software so much anymore, but now libraries and utilities. Very different from software - which is implies at user-friendly, pre-compiled stuff. – Zizouz212 Aug 17 '15 at 21:31
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    That's not a meaningful distinction for many non-compiled languages where programmes are both useable by themselves and incorporateable. And even then I don't see why this site should be making a distinction between compiled and non-compiled stuff. Are people that want to use FLOSS less important than those who want to develop it? You'll need to argue your case much better. – curiousdannii Aug 17 '15 at 21:34
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    @curiousdannii I must say now that it looks like you haven't read my answer thoroughly: I've recommended libraries and utilities, and I haven't suggesting recommendations for art, music, or databases, but more specifically software libraries. – Zizouz212 Aug 25 '15 at 21:23
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    My point is that recommendations should be allowed for all our audience or none. – curiousdannii Aug 25 '15 at 21:29
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Yes we should.

The quoted, leading, accepted answer on the original post is mine. It at the time expressed my viewpoint; as a mod I stand by the fact that I don't want to be clearing up license/software holy wars.

However, in view of some of our license recommendation questions doing quite well, I do think we should reconsider. As the post here says, SR can sometimes lack specific domain expertise, and we'd be able to provide that here.

As long as we establish similar guidelines here as to what makes an OK software recommendation question. That's a must. And to start with, at least, I'll be pretty quick to close these if they don't fit the guidelines.

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    "I'll be pretty quick" - I think I've been winning so far in the races :P – Zizouz212 Aug 14 '15 at 0:14
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    @Zizouz212 mainly because I wasn't on much today... I caught one when you weren't looking though :) – ArtOfCode Aug 14 '15 at 0:15

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