There is a plethora of questions here (in meta) that involve what to do about questions involving "Software recommendations". None of them seem to mention the proposal for the Software Recommendations site in the Area51 staging zone. (currently in definition stage)

When these posts are found on superuser they are closed and a message is typically presented to help the user understand why:

"Questions seeking product, service, or learning material recommendations are off-topic because they tend to become obsolete quickly. Instead, describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve. Here are a few suggestions on how to properly ask this type of question."

Perhaps this message is not universal, but is created each time a question is closed? - either way, my question is the same:

Should a reference to this proposed "Software recommendations" site be included in such a message? (therefore helping users to know where to go for these kinds of questions?)

  • 2
    Even if this were a good idea (it's not IMO), it'd be months too early. What use is a proposal of a site to someone seeking concrete advice now?
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Jul 18, 2013 at 17:16
  • Together with what @nhinkle has mentioned in his answer below about user friendly-ness - I agree, and that is a valid point that I hadn't considered.
    – dtmland
    Jul 18, 2013 at 17:20
  • 2
    Also, note that the vast majority of Example Questions are basically on topic here if the users bothered to rephrase their question. "How can I record all application audio output on Ubuntu?", "How can I play 10 bit videos on Windows?", "How can I convert image files from TGA to PNG on KDE?", "How can I create screen shot files in a specific folder on Ubuntu?" -- The ones we don't like are covered by alternativeto.net (or Wikipedia) anyway, or extremely specialized with a laundry list of desired features (and none of the examples are like that).
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Jul 18, 2013 at 17:22
  • I've later realized that in the very message I've quoted there is ALREADY a link to a SA blog post that explains why this isn't a good idea. I've since retracted my follow status from this proposed "Software Recommendations" site, as it may be "un-proposed"
    – dtmland
    Jul 18, 2013 at 17:47
  • I'm not sure how to create a link over text in a comment, but here is a link to the SA blog post: blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/11/qa-is-hard-lets-go-shopping
    – dtmland
    Jul 18, 2013 at 17:53

1 Answer 1


Such a site will never fit within the scope of Stack Exchange's style and mission. Shopping questions just don't fit well into the Q&A model, but they can fit in if they can be reworded into a question. Most of the proposed questions on that site would be fine on Super User if rephrased in the form of a problem/solution, e.g. "how do I do _________" instead of "what software does __________".

Furthermore, closed question messages are not the place to promote an Area51 proposal. Can you imagine if you were a brand new user, just asked your question, and were immediately told "oh, sorry, you can't ask that, but if you want you can get involved in a lengthy process unlikely to be successful in attempting to create a site that might someday accept your question"? Not user friendly.

  • If the site will never fit within the scope of Stack Exchange's style and mission, why was it allowed to be created?
    – dtmland
    Jul 18, 2013 at 16:46
  • 4
    @dtmland there's no automatic restriction on proposing sites on Area 51. Lots of poor proposals get created. Thousands of sites get suggested, very few of which even make it to private beta, even fewer of which go through public beta and make it to graduation.
    – nhinkle
    Jul 18, 2013 at 16:47
  • Yes, but doesn't minimal user activity indicate a poor proposal? If lots of people are looking for such a site, and they find it, then user activity will likely increase and eventually the site will progress to the higher stages. Why would you want to prevent someone from finding such a site?
    – dtmland
    Jul 18, 2013 at 16:52
  • @dtmland User activity isn't and shouldn't be the only factor in determining the successfulness of an Area51 prop. Software Rec will never make it through as a site. It goes against everything that SE stands for. Jul 18, 2013 at 16:55
  • @KronoS But user activity/contribution IS the only factor that determines the successfulness of an Area51 site. Is it not?
    – dtmland
    Jul 18, 2013 at 17:00
  • 2
    @dtmland No. There's a lot that goes into defining the site even before it's launched. A site has to have a clear goal, great example questions, and a well formed definition before even being considered for creation. Once it's running it's still graded on number of questions and answers and their ratio as well as traffic and avid users. Jul 18, 2013 at 17:04
  • @KronoS Well, if what you say is correct, then I should probably study the Area51 terms a little more. Also, I will likely retract my follow status for the "Software Recommendations" site, as I don't want to contribute to something that is destined to fail.
    – dtmland
    Jul 18, 2013 at 17:13
  • 3
    It's likely that the people who are invested in this proposal honestly don't realize that the scope of such a site doesn't fit well into Stack Exchange's paradigm. I'm planning to start an Area 51 discussion about that proposal, with particular reference to the semi-official blog post on shopping questions on Stack Exchange.
    – nhinkle
    Jul 18, 2013 at 17:21
  • @nhinkle That blog post is enlightening. Now I see what you mean about not fitting into "Stack Exchange's style and mission".
    – dtmland
    Jul 18, 2013 at 17:24
  • I wish I had seen it before posting this question. Although, if I hadn't perhaps the "Software Recommendations" site would have aimlessly lingered on?
    – dtmland
    Jul 18, 2013 at 17:27
  • @nhinkle I've marked your answer as correct. I'm wondering if it would be possible that you could include that blog link somehow in your post? (making it easier for someone to stumble upon it)
    – dtmland
    Jul 18, 2013 at 17:30
  • @nhinkle I've also just discovered that in the "closed" explanation message that I linked to in my question it includes a link to that very blog post! (embarrassed that I missed that...)
    – dtmland
    Jul 18, 2013 at 17:34

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