I gave an answer today, being just a software recommendation, to a question, asking for a recommendation.

If you cannot see deleted answers, there was the software name, a link to homepage and installation instructions. I understood that it's quite short by the SE standards, but had no idea of what to add. Any speculations about pros and cons seemed subjective, and giving a full usage guide seemed absolutely off-topic.

The answer recieved +1-2 votes and a comment, proposing that I should improve it according to the software recommendation guideline. (Then it was deleted as spam, but that's another story)

I've read the guide, linked above, and I want to improve my answer, but I need some advice. These requirements are quite troubling to me in this case:

  • Give a brief overview of HOW to use the product OR in cases where it's too long, link to the product's manual pages.

What first comes to mind is "Read the manual and use it just as X, but on system Y". Should I make a research and give a full feature comparison?

  • Give any personalized information to the OP regarding how the recommendation solves his/her question.

I have no idea of how OP is going to use a 2-pane file manager. There's no personalized information in the question.

I hoped that the other answer (recommending just the same software) would be a good example, but I fail to see how it answers the above questions. It gives a good insight on the history of the subject, but no usage instructions, and not even an installation instruction, which mine had.

I'd really like to know how I could have answered it in a good way. Please give me some advice.

1 Answer 1


The question itself is not a good fit for Super User, thus, it really isn't possible to write a good answer for it.

The user wants to find a specific product, which is a software recommendation. Something that is rarely acceptable on this site. The user might want to take the question to Software Recommendations.

The kind of questions we do like are the ones that focus on the process, not on a specific tool.

  • 1
    Oh, this really sheds some light on the topic, thank you. Next time I will just flag such answer as off-topic. By the way, it's a little strange that asking recommendations is off-topic, but there's an upvoted guide on how to give recommendations. Aug 31, 2015 at 13:02
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    @NickVolynkin: That guide exists to make it clear how the "good" software recommendations should be answered. The problem with software recommendation questions was only partly the questions themselves, it was also the answers. People just answer "I use product XYZ. It's the best". These kind of answers are bad, thus, the guide. Additionally, software recommendation questions get outdated quickly. Products get replaced, renamed, get outdated, improved, abandoned, … This is why they are discouraged in general on Super User Aug 31, 2015 at 13:07
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    here I totally agree. If some question has to be answered with a software recommendation, the answers should at least be objective. Again, thank you for your help. Aug 31, 2015 at 13:09
  • // , @OliverSalzburg, wouldn't including that rationale help people understand the guide to how to give software recommendations? Sep 11, 2015 at 18:17
  • @NathanBasanese: The question was written so there is something to point people to, when they fell into the trap of writing a bad software recommendation. New users generally don't read through heaps of meta questions to prepare themselves for the site, so it's not necessary to include every piece of meta information. However, if you feel like it would be beneficial, feel free to add to the answer, it's a community wiki post :) Sep 14, 2015 at 7:52

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