Why is a question about a capability of a software or for as "software that does x-action" put on hold or closed with the justification that it is "outdated quickly and attract opinion-based answers"?

Most software does not evolve that quickly so that answers to such questions would "outdate quickly". And how can a question about a "software that does x-action" be answered with an "opinion". Either such software exists or not.

Please explain.

I also feel that the concerns raised by Synetech in "How do I ask a question that may require recommending software?" are not fully considered in the rules how to ask software questions.


1 Answer 1


To understand why these questions are problematic, you first have to understand the goal of SU: To accumulate a vast store of knowledge that will be helpful for future visitors who are encountering issues with computer software and hardware.

It's the helpful for future visitors that most of these questions fall short on - Software recommendations generally need to be very specific to the person asking the question's needs in order to be useful to him or her, and this inherently makes the answers less useful for others who might have a similar, but ultimately different set of requirements.

The other part of the issue is the future part. While questions can be edited and new answers added, we generally want to avoid answers that will inherently outdate themselves and become wrong. A particular piece of software may not evolve quickly, but new software enters the playing field all the time. A year is a long time in the software world. I myself have been here for more than 4 years - Any software I recommended 4 years ago would be very well outdated and useless for anyone today (unless the requirements from the question were exceedingly strict). It's far too much work to keep software recommendations updated and accurate.

The other thing you have to keep in mind is the software recommendation questions that you do see on this site are not strictly representative of what there would be if we changed this rule and allowed software-rec questions. There are some software recommendation questions that can be phrased well enough, but for each there are also many, many thousands of questions that are absolutely terrible, and would just be noise and clutter. Because we provide other means to help with this (Come visit us in the super user chat and ask instead!), it's much healthier for the website to simply mark software recommendations as off-limits.

  • I understand you concern that you don't wish to have the site flooded with superficial questions such as "what is the best software for x-action". Forums all over the net are full of this and it is a pain to filter out the relevant answers from the clutter. But I can't follow your argument that 4 years down the road an answer to a software question would no be relevant any more because features usually do not disappear from software. It might not be the most up-to-date software 4 years down the road but it is still a relevent one to solve the problem.
    – user291737
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 15:58
  • 1
    I also don't see the difference to questions that your policy allows to post. Example: Who cares about how to fix a problem in Windows XP 4 years down the road. Everything gets obsolete with time, don't you think?
    – user291737
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 16:04
  • It's arguable that it gets to be obsolete, but the distinction I'd draw is that 4 years down the road, the answers should still be correct-ish, regardless of how often they're referenced. (This is also why we don't want link-only answers - links go dead rather quickly in the grand scheme of things as well) Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 16:07
  • If you do want to get a bit of more personalized help, find a question or two to answer until you have 20 rep, and then come join is in the SuperUser chat room, where several of the regulars hang out and are often happy to help with software / hardware recommendations here and there when we have time. Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 16:07
  • I think a better measure for relevance for other users in the future is the technical expertise present in a question. No doubt, unreflected questions like "what is the best software for video editing" are pointless.
    – user291737
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 16:10
  • Thanks that you took your time to clarify.
    – user291737
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 16:17

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