I know that this has been covered before (for example here), but communities evolve constantly and our current view on this matter can be different.

In my humble opinion, should be burninated. It's quite a big job (~1100 questions), but we've already cleaned up tags that were that big.


  • We don't accept software recommendation questions. There's a dedicated close reason just for them. Why do we have a tag for questions that should never exist? We're encouraging users to post them. Some people don't read what's on topic, they will see this tag and happily use it. Then they will be surprised the question was closed. Others will be confused, because help explicitly disallows software-rec questions. We're sending mixed signals.

  • Historical significance has been brought up previously. Yes, [software-rec] is historically significant, but so are other obsolete tags. We're burninating them, because they have only historical significance and are now obsolete. I remember some thousand-question tags were cleaned up previously. This one isn't any better. It's one of the worst ones.

  • It categorizes low-quality posts that should otherwise never exist. We don't have tags for development questions, web apps, corporate problems and rants, why would we have one for software recommendations?

  • Tag wiki says:

    [software-rec] deals with all questions referring to recommendations for software or applications for particular purposes that will run on the local computer

    While help states that

    [SU] is not about...

    • asking for a product, service or learning material recommendation
  • The rest of the tag wiki has it completely wrong:

    When writing a question looking for specific software recommendations, make sure to include an aspect that can be objectively measured, for example:

    • performance (execution speed)
    • usability
    • feature richness
    • compatibility with hardware or other software
    • free and open source vs. paid and closed source
    • et cetera

    Well, you shouldn't write a question looking for software recommendation in the first place. The rest doesn't make much sense too, I'll just copy this bit from my previous post on this topic:

    Usability is highly subjective, feature richness is a part of almost every single software-rec question and doesn't make it non-software-rec. The latter two encourage questions like Skype alternative which is open source and lets you call phone numbers? or What is the best Paint-like program for Mac OS X? and as you can see, those are getting closed as software recommendations/not constructive. Likewise with performance, I'm sure question titled "Faster alternative to KDE" (or something like that) would end up closed too.

    Both questions I have linked are now gone.

  • A dedicated site for software recommendations is in beta. I know that SE sites sometimes overlap slightly (for example SU and Ask Ubuntu, SU and Ask Different, Ask Ubuntu and Linux/Unix), but it's not the case here. There's entire site for questions people file on SU under this tag just to have them closed. It doesn't make sense.

  • Of the top 30 questions filed under [software-rec]: (Judged just by quick glance, but approximately accurate)

    • Some should probably be removed as obvious software-rec questions: 1 2 3 4 5 6 (no. 5 even has a comment saying that it's a valid question)
    • Some should be removed or edited to ask for solution, not for software: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A
    • 14 remaining questions are still legitimate after removing [software-rec] tag. They don't need it. Nobody will search for them using that tag and they won't be any worse without it.

What do you guys think? Should we kill it with fire or let it gather some more useless questions?

  • 1
    Kill it with fire. Anyone got an explosive device with the yield of a couple Tsar Bombas but with the precision of an arthroscopic surgery? We need to go inside each of these horrible questions, rip out the bad, and then close/delete the questions if they are indeed off topic. Commented Sep 16, 2014 at 22:50
  • Should we blacklist it too?
    – gparyani
    Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 22:09
  • 1
    If someone uses the software-rec tag, couldn't we have a decision tree appear to let the OP know there is a software-rec community and provide the option to: 1) migrate to softwarerecs.stackexchange.com, or 2) reword to focus on "technique rather than a tool" (@Oliver Salzburg). If this is a common reocurring issue, then an intelligent automated response is useful.
    – Sun
    Commented Sep 21, 2014 at 5:25
  • @sunk818 See Braiam's comment on Chenmunka's answer.
    – gparyani
    Commented Sep 21, 2014 at 20:08
  • That site has a design now! Definitely not public beta.
    – EKons
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 8:25

4 Answers 4


I feel like I must point out something here, and let me take How to obtain the result of a chemical reaction given two components? as an example.

Just because someone is asking for a tool to solve a problem, doesn't make it the kind of question we don't want.

Semyon is explaining a very specific, niche problem, which he likes to solve. He assumes that there would be a software that is the solution. A question like that is perfectly valid for Super User.

"What's your favorite text editor?" and "What tool can I use to convert CommonMark to XPS?" are very different questions in our software recommendation context.

We always knew that (especially for new users of the site) this is a very fine line and it's hard to judge if a question is valid for us, but the rule always was "Can the question be rewritten to ask for a technique rather than a tool?" If so, then it should be rewritten. If not, then it's probably not right for us.

That being said, I'm all for cleaning up this tag and, ultimately, removing it from the site. But this is a very delicate tag to clean up.

This is not our regular cleanup job where the primary goal is the removal of the tag from the question and cleaning up small content issues. We're talking about removal of complete questions from the site.

You have already mentioned it and I'm going to bring it up again as well. Historical significance is very important in this. We like people visiting our site. If there is a question that isn't right for us, but has 1500k views, then there is a good chance that we'd like to keep it. Questions like that should be locked for historical significance and not deleted. should obviously still be removed from the question.

While on the subject of deletion, the questions that we want to get rid of can't simply be closed. They need to be deleted. This could mean a lot of flags, because I don't see how else we would get rid of them.

Ultimately, we want to save every question we can. If it can be rewritten to suit our site, then it should. Example: https://superuser.com/posts/324051/revisions

  • 1
    This seems in line with Shog guidance
    – Braiam
    Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 13:42
  • 4
    Too bad we can't lock the tag, so it can stay in the system but never be assigned again. Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 16:58
  • 1
    Get rid of its sister hardware-rec too!
    – gparyani
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 23:24
  • I think that the first question you linked is a perfect example of something off-topic that is trying to masquerade as on-topic. It is essentially a chemistry question, so possibly science or math. The coincidence occurs that solutions might tend to be a computer program, if one exists.
    – killermist
    Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 12:56
  • I edited the example question you use, focusing on the task at hand instead of the "tool" to solve the problem.
    – Braiam
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 18:54
  • If we're moving to remove [software-rec] then I feel your example question would be better served tagged as [computational-chemistry]. What do you think?
    – Robotnik
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 0:49

It should be destroyed.

While this is going on, the tag wiki should not only say DO NOT USE, which many wikis of burning tags do, but it should also say Go to the Software Recommendations site.

I understand the objection to adding a beta site to migration options but this way you are not migrating, just steering the poster in the right direction.

  • 4
    BAD, very bad! Most of the software recommendations questions asked anywhere on SE would get closed on Software Recommendations. They have very, very specifics sets of requirements that should be fulfilled before you ever ask for a recommendation.
    – Braiam
    Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 16:14
  • Even of the specifics are not there, they belong on softwarerecs.stackexchange.com . If the post merits being closed for insufficient info then do it after migration. I often see posts not being migrated but closed. If off topic is relevant on another community, the post should be migrated. Every moderator should know what the on topic rules are for every other community on se. Needs to be part of their training. Otherwise, closed for off topic seems inappropriate close reason.
    – Sun
    Commented Sep 21, 2014 at 23:08
  • 4
    @sunk818 The cardinal rule of migration is Don't Migrate Crap. If the question will be closed after migration, it should not be migrated.
    – gronostaj
    Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 15:28
  • Can you explain the benefit of keeping an off-topic post in the community it was posted in? Does that prevent repeat off-topic posts?
    – Sun
    Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 16:09
  • @sunk818 It doesn't matter if question is closed for being off-topic here or low quality there, it's useless anyway. Furthermore, migrated question needs another 5 close votes or moderator's action on target site to be closed, so migration is doubling the work that needs to be done on a crappy question to close it.
    – gronostaj
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 9:59
  • @gronostaj I have to question then, whether closing off-topic is best for the StackExchange community, or is selfishly motivated by overworked moderators. What is the best action for the health and organization of the communities?
    – Sun
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 14:27
  • @sunk818 As I said, it doesn't matter if it's closed here as off-topic or there as low quality. It's useless for both communities. If we can deal with it right here on SU then there's no point in outsourcing that work to another site.
    – gronostaj
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 15:24
  • @sunk818 Imagine you're searching for something on google, and you find a link to something here, but you follow the link and find that the question and answers are junk. You are then annoyed because the link was junk. Scenario 2, the community and moderation obliterates the crap, including off-topic. The stumbling-block link on google fades to nonexistence. The signal-to-noise ratio of the internet improves. The whole planet wins.
    – killermist
    Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 13:03
  • Which brings up another question is why migrated questions have a redirect link from the previous site. Even if it is junk Q&A, if it belongs on another site... I think the categorization is important so that future searches coming from Google land on the correct site.
    – Sun
    Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 20:01
  1. Lock all questions
  2. Warn in the tag to not use it, and to use the software recs instead
  3. Migrate the good ones to software recs
  4. Close the bad ones (for historical significance, but offtopic)
  5. ???
  6. Profit
  7. Burninate!

SoftwareRecs.SE is the place to ask. All good, high-quality questions (per SoftwareRecs.SE, not SU) less than 60 days old should be migrated there.

Maybe migration should be allowed at whatever time, because a new site might be created after 3 months...


  • No they shouldn't. Many of them are crap and the migration will be rejected. Read What is required for a question to contain "enough information".
    – DavidPostill Mod
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 9:32
  • In addition, questions can only be migrated if they're less than 3 months old.
    – DavidPostill Mod
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 9:34
  • @DavidPostill Edited to match. I was in a rush when I posted this.
    – EKons
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 12:06
  • @DavidPostill: Is it 3 months (or 90 days), or is it 60 days? This says 60 days. Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 2:25
  • @Scott You are correct. It is 60 days. I can't remember why I thought it was 3 months :/
    – DavidPostill Mod
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 9:08

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