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What is our stance on questions “Is there any software that can do X or can it be achieved natively with Windows"? Are they on-topic or off-topic? I don't know if that's regarded as a software recommendation question.

Example: How to create a virtual audio device and stream audio input with it

Is it possible to create another audio device and redirect only wanted input streams to it?

Here's my concrete problem:

I am broadcasting a game via XFire and it uses the Windows audio device to capture any audio I receive. As I am broadcasting, other users who watch the video stream are communicating with me over Skype, and they hear themselves back within the video stream and it is entirely logical since I am broadcasting the audio I hear.

What I want to do is create another audio device within Windows and redirect (pipe) ONLY the audio input from that game and not the input reveived from Skype. I would then tell XFire to use that newly created "virtual" audio device to broadcast and therefore my partners won't hear themselves back.

Is there any software that can do that or can it be achieved natively with Windows? (I am under Windows 7).

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The question, as it stands, is off-topic as a software recommendation. The line that makes it as asking for a software recommendation is:

Is there any software that can do that or can it be achieved natively with Windows? (I am under Windows 7).

But it can probably be edited to just ask how to do it rather than asking for people to recommend software. There is enough information on the problem to be able to distinguish it from a pure "Gimme software to do X" question.


To clarify, I don't see a problem with stating what your problem is and saying "how can I fix this?" as stating your problem allows users to find alternative solutions and describe a real solution that or may may not need external software.

Conversely simply saying "What software does X?" without saying why is lazy and not particularly useful for future users trying to solve real world problems using software. Just asking for software means all you're going to get is a group of people belching the name of their favourite softwares, which we don't really want.

We want to be a site that gives solutions, not just lists of things.

  • Thanks. Does this mean any software recommendation question can be made on-topic by simply asking "how"? – Franck Dernoncourt May 6 '17 at 19:01
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    @FranckDernoncourt Yes. That is exactly why I think the "ban" on software recommendation questions is stupid. If rewording your question with a simple syntax replacement makes it OK, what the heck is the point? We have a bias against specific words? What we really want to ban are questions that show no research effort or don't describe the use case in detail, IMO. But our topicality rules don't word it that way. Maybe our newer moderators like Mokubai and DavidPostill can help rectify this utterly stupid situation... – allquixotic May 6 '17 at 19:05
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    For me it is a matter of simplicity. Stating what your problem is and saying "how can I fix this?" is okay, simply saying "What software does X?" without saying why is lazy and not particularly useful for future users trying to solve real world problems using software. Stating your problem allows users to find alternative solutions and describe a real solution that may not need external software, only asking for software means all you're going to get is a group of people belching the name of their favourite softwares. – Mokubai May 6 '17 at 19:14
  • It's worth noting that asking What software does X doesn't invite functional solutions that would otherwise be elicited by asking How can I fix this? IMHO this is a just another XY problem where the OP assumes his solution is software. – Twisty Impersonator May 6 '17 at 20:00
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    @allquixotic, the difference in the wording is in the nature of what constitutes an answer. "Is there a program that does X?" can be answered with a list of software. "How can I accomplish X" requires a solution. Just naming a program isn't a solution to the question. – fixer1234 May 6 '17 at 21:07
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    Majority of software recommendations answers in the past are pretty bad, which is partially the reason, questions seeking them are not on topic. Software Recommendations SE was created to fill that void and I think it does it well – Ramhound May 7 '17 at 1:59

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