I came across this question:


The title seemed innocent enough, but the bulk of the question seems like the answer they want is a software recommendation. But they obfuscate their off-topic-ness by simply stating "what I'm actually looking for is a means of finding a software recommendation."

I don't know if we approve of off-topic-ception (an off-topic question within a potentially off-topic question), but how do we handle questions regarding online research when it's general? Do those fall under learning material?

  • 2
    My thoughts on that are that they are off-topic (questions regarding how to search the Internet), because the Internet is not a piece of software or hardware one has in their computer (hence off-topic on SU). For the webapps stack that would be acceptable, I would assume. – Doktoro Reichard Oct 14 '13 at 23:45
  • As for the question itself, it seems like a product recommendation, with 2 weak prepositions (looking alike another program and being open-source) – Doktoro Reichard Oct 14 '13 at 23:51
  • @Moses - If a question is written in such a way where the author actually says they are looking for a software recommendation I flag for moderation for that exact reason. – Ramhound Oct 15 '13 at 11:31

Software recommendations are off-topic no matter how you dress them up. The VTC option gives a good reason why:

Questions seeking product, service, or learning material recommendations are off-topic because they tend to become obsolete quickly.

In this particular case, it's a software recommendation and should be closed. Asking about how to do something (besides searching the internet) is on-topic. See these two meta questions/answers for more details:

How do I ask a question that may require recommending software?

How do I recommend software in my answers?


At the StackExchange network, we now have Software Recommendations site in public beta, which is quite healthy and can be definitely recommended.

So you can flag the question as off-topic and recommend the user to check at softwarerecs.stackexchange.com (and add that AFTER they find nothing, they can post their question there).

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