I asked this question, which was subsequently closed as being off-topic because it was deemed a shopping question for asking about software. However, the Meta help question linked to by the close reason itself states clearly that not all such questions are off-topic, and gives guidelines for asking one, which my question adheres to.

My question doesn't simply ask "recommend a program for X", but states clearly the specific problem I'm having, and explains that ffmpeg and MKVToolNix, two of the industry-standard tools in this context, wouldn't help me for this use case.

What's more, a day later, I have my own answer to this question prepared, and it involved having to use no less than three different pieces of software (not including Handbrake) further proving that it was a very specific use case that didn't amount to a simple recommendation of software, but required a fully-developed solution (that would be off-topic on Software Recommendations).

With all this in mind, why was my question closed as being "off-topic" when it subscribes to all of the guidelines for a good question?

  • 4
    Requests for "what tool ... will allow me to do this?" Is a software recommendation question and should be on the Software Recommendations. The fact that it might not have a single tool solution is not relevant to where the question belongs. – Michael Frank Jan 7 at 0:00
  • @MichaelFrank Then you're disagreeing with the very guidelines of the FAQ, and the guidelines linked to in the close reason for my question. Did you read those guidelines? – Hashim Jan 7 at 0:02
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    Broad strokes: "What tool can I use to accomplish XYZ" is generally off-topic. "Describe the procedure I can use with ABC software to accomplish XYZ" is generally on-topic if the subject matter is on-topic. "Is there a way to accomplish XYZ" is generally too broad, but the community makes exceptions, especially if there is a simple standard answer, including "you can't". – fixer1234 Jan 7 at 5:18
  • @fixer1234 "The community makes exceptions" is a creative euphemism for a lack of consistency in the rules, especially when those "exceptions" are clearly allowed for in the very guidelines linked to in the close reason. Speaking of those guidelines, I notice that no-one - neither the original closers nor the downvoters to either question - has actually responded to the direct issue of why the question was closed despite it adhering to those guidelines; I'm guessing because all involved are aware of just how inconsistent the rules they're applying are and no longer think anything of it. – Hashim Jan 7 at 23:16
  • No, why actually address actual issues of inconsistency when you can just bury a good question with downvotes and punish users for taking the time out to research and ask them, and for daring to question why they're closed if the dice happens to roll that way. – Hashim Jan 7 at 23:17
  • The site is community moderated based on general guidelines, precedent, and a culture. It is what it is, and you won't get anywhere just pointing out the apparent flaws in the system. It is a lot more effective to learn and understand how the community thinks and work within the system. Your interpretation of the guidelines doesn't seem consistent with that of others in the community. (cont) – fixer1234 Jan 8 at 0:12
  • re: your linked question, I didn't downvote or VTC, but I can see several ways in which it's a poor fit for the site. 1. You're asking for a tool. 2. Even if you tweak the wording to just ask for a solution to the problem, it's broad to the point of being a brainstorming question, which tends to be more of a discussion topic than something with a definitive answer. (cont'd) – fixer1234 Jan 8 at 0:13
  • If you want to make it more on-topic, reframe the question so you are not asking for a tool, just trying to solve a problem. Limit the scope to a specific program rather than anything and everything. Do a little research and pick a program that you think might actually support what you want to do (if you don't know of one, the question is on-topic at Software Recs rather than here). You can add that if it is impossible using your chosen software, you would be amenable to a solution that uses something else (key: solution, not software rec). – fixer1234 Jan 8 at 0:13
  • @fixer1234 Edited. – Hashim Jan 8 at 0:31
  • You removed the explicit request for a tool, but the question is still too open ended and still looks like you're asking for a tool. Getting a specific application to do what you need is a software problem that is clearly on topic. Brainstorming a solution from no starting point tends to be considered too broad. It sounds like what you're looking for is really a software recommendation, at least as the first step. The best place to do that is the Software Recs site rather than trying to force-fit a square peg in a round hole here. – fixer1234 Jan 8 at 0:44

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