Several users ask licensing questions related to open source software. As faculty member and a software engineer researcher, I propose an open source tool that helps OSS developers and user better understand, compare and differentiate between OSI-approved open source licenses. The tool may be the start point where users may look for an answer for their questions; if not they may ask (more precise) questions on the site.

As the tool is the result of a piece of research (actually built on existing works and licensing tools along with OSI-approved licenses texts), I need to prove / demonstrate that it is useful in practice for its (potential) users. That's why I need to collect users (OSS developers and experts) feedback.

Knowing that the tool's potential users may be found here (OSS.SE), I want to propose the tool for the community (share the link) and ask them for their feedback (I have a questionnaire intended for that). Certainly, the tool is related to open source development as it contributes in understanding open source licenses, comparing them and selecting a license. (OSS.SE) also accepts licensing questions since a software cannot be considered open source if it is not released under (accompanied with) an open source license.

May I post a question on (OSS.SE) to ask for feedback in situation?

  • I tried to post the question but it was deleted by the moderator. I clarified here the reason behind the question. Also, I am asked to disclose my identity. OK, I may include it in the question's text. Actually, in the bottom page of the tool my full name is displayed. Furthermore, in the description text of the questionnaire's feedback, there is a link to a demo video and anyone may see my name and email there.
    – Spinelly
    Commented Apr 4 at 9:42
  • I've removed the "win-win" commentary; the reason you're asking here is precisely to determine whether it's a win for us (in accordance with site rules. etc.), so to presume it in the question is to pre-judge the issue. Also, I accept that users of your tool are in no doubt about your identity, but sites rules require that readers of your question be in no doubt either, without further research. Also also, the question that was deleted was flagged as "spam" by a user, leading to deletion; the other wasn't deleted, but downvoted and closed, and mostly by the community at that.
    – MadHatter Mod
    Commented Apr 4 at 10:54
  • is the following structure acceptable when posting the question (to avoid downvoting) "A part of open source community encompassing potential users (OSS developers / (legal) experts) may be found here. I share the [tool's link][1] with the community; If anyone identifies him/herself as potential user or is interested in the tool in a way or another (like having enough knowledge to evaluate the tool), could you please try the tool and give your [feedback][2]?" If not, please tell me how should I ask my question to ask for feedback.
    – Spinelly
    Commented Apr 8 at 11:40

1 Answer 1


I don't think anybody else is going to jump in on this, so I suppose I should.

One strong requirement of a question here is that it must actually ask a question, so simply writing a posting advertising your open-source tool isn't going to be well-received, and as you know, if you are not extremely up-front about your involvement with the tool, this will be even worse received.

We also like questions that stand alone. A question asking for feedback on a tool, that leaves it to the user to go and read about the tool to find out what it does and how, isn't a good question. Neither is a question like "Will you follow this link to leave me feedback?".

You mention a questionnaire, which is again worrying; we like questions that have two or three parts at most, so work out which two or three specific questions you're most keen to have answered, and cut it down to that. Any question that can't be answered in (at most) a couple of paragraphs isn't a great fit. Any question that's a thinly-disguised request for project help or involvement isn't a great fit. Any question that requires someone to spend several hours using the tool before answering isn't a great fit.

My gut-feeling (and it's just my feeling - I'm a moderator, not an oracle) is that if you wrote a question that said what your tool is, what it does (in at most a couple of paragraphs), with links so those minded to do further research could easily do it, that clearly disclosed your association with the project, and that asked specific answerable questions soliciting feedback, that would be an OK question for the site. So, to summarise, something like:

I've recently written a tool called Gnomovision (link) which makes passes at compilers. I'm releasing it under GPLv3, and I'm trying to find out whether it's likely to be of use to the community. Specifically, I'd like to know

(a) Which tools do you currently use to make passes at compilers?

(b) What are the major shortcomings with those tools that you'd like to see fixed?, and

(c) If you work with compilers, and you don't use a tool to make passes at compilers, what other techniques do you use in order to get your compilers passed?

I don't guarantee such a question won't get downvoted - one feature of the SE sites is that users with sufficient rep may downvote, without explanation, entirely at their own discretion. I don't guarantee it will get answers; anyone who doesn't have a need for the sort of tool you've written is unlikely to have anything to add. I don't guarantee it won't get closed; it's up to the users with sufficient rep to close questions they perceive as off-topic by casting votes, and it's not (usually) the moderators' job to overrule them. Furthermore, we have a list of on-topic questions, and although this list isn't intended to be comprehensive, you're not asking any of those things. But I think such a question might at least avoid collecting too many close votes for long enough to have a chance of decent answers.

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