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Why is looking for alternative programs “not constructive”?

Are questions like Are there alternatives to some product?, considered a shopping question? If so, would it be strictly enforced? People give alternative products recomendations all the time in answers, but are you not explicity allowed to ask are there alternatives to x product if a that product isn't working for that user and doesn't know of similar but different products? In my opinion, there's a difference betweeen can you recommend a product vs the question the title addresses. I would imagine that the person with a question like

Example: "Are there any alternatives to Windows?"

Possible Answer: Mac, Linux, Unix, Chromium, and etc.

would be ok. It merely lists the existence of like products, not promoting one product over the other.

I think I already have an idea where this question is heading, but at least I'll know for sure...

  • 1
    Alternatives to Windows? -1 Question does not show any research effort.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 17:58
  • You weren't supposed to pick apart my crummy example :P Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 18:05
  • Also, meta.superuser.com/questions/3587/…
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 18:14
  • "I'm looking for an application to draw charts and diagrams, please recommend something" vs. "I'm using MS Paint to draw diagrams and charts, but it's tedious. Please recommend an alternative". You'll always find a horribly useless program to use as as the reference to ask the actual product recommendation question (as your OS example proves).
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 18:19
  • "$SomeProgram" doesn't work for me, I need something else" is often also just an indication of an X-Y problem. Just explain the actual problem -- not the first step towards what you think is a solution: "some other software instead of X".
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 18:22
  • Ok, so which is horribly useless when talking about virtualization (VirtualBox, VMware, Xen, KVM). Each has it's place in virtualization from fully graphical to a headless server environment, but non of which I would consider horrible. But, I digress because I accept that this type is not for SE. Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 18:28

1 Answer 1


Its listy and as such non constructive.

"How do i enbiggen my widget on OS Z" or on the other hand would work since it focuses on a task - Enbiggening a widget on a specific OS. You would probably also want to talk about why current enbiggening tools you have tried dosen't work.

I'd also note that in many cases people are happy to talk about alternative software on chat, assuming they're there.

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