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Often, there are questions looking for tools or features that may not exist to solve a problem, for example Generate Java class from JSON?.

I find great value in (even unanswered) questions like this until someone finds or writes the tool or feature, or until someone submits an enhancement request. Are these types of questions acceptable?

This is a follow-up question to Should "Is there a tool that...?" questions ever be answered no?.

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I always considered those questions merely as abuse of the community as a cheap search machine. Though, sometimes there are really good questions in there. – Time Traveling Bobby Mar 12 '12 at 15:21
@glenviewjeff I added the "stackoverflow" tag since it seemed you are specifically referring to that site and not the whole SE network. Please feel free to correct me if I was in error. – Michael McGowan Mar 12 '12 at 16:50
@MichaelMcGowan yes, I didn't realize that meta stackoverflow was for anything other than SE. – glenviewjeff Jul 29 '12 at 17:04
up vote 2 down vote accepted

According to the Stack Overflow faq:

We feel the best Stack Overflow questions have a bit of source code in them, but if your question generally covers ...

  • a specific programming problem
  • a software algorithm
  • software tools commonly used by programmers
  • practical, answerable problems that are unique to the programming profession

... then you’re in the right place to ask your question!

emphasis mine.

Questions about software tools are acceptable, and I see no reason why this wouldn't include asking whether there's a tool that does X. Obviously it's possible to ask a question about a software tool that's not constructive or too localized, but that's true of any other acceptable category of question.

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I disagree. Questions about a specific software tool are acceptable (e.g. "How to change font color of a Java comment in Eclipse 3.7.2?"), but questions about which software tools/plugins are available and/or which to choose are definitely not acceptable (e.g. "Which JSF plugins for Eclipse are available?" or "Which JSF plugin for Eclipse should I use?"). – BalusC Jul 29 '12 at 17:20

Shopping questions are off-topic throughout the Stack Exchange network.. As Bobby points out, these questions are just proxies for using Google.

The only exceptions are questions that are narrow enough that they can be reasonably answered definitively with one or two possible solutions.

But Stack Overflow is not a "tool-finding" service. I'm not sure how well asking questions with no current solution scales, although it seems to have worked out well in your specific example. I'm inclined to think such questions are too localized.

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Why would it not be a good idea for SO to offer 'tool finding' services? Is there a good tool finding service I should use instead? Google offers no review on the quality or applicability of the tools. – Myster Oct 10 '12 at 21:11

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