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In a perfect world, the so-important advice "do not reinvent the wheel" would be extensively followed. In practice, everyday millions of wheels are reinvented simply because someone didn't know an existing solution for a specific problem. The best way to find a library, today, is googling it, but it's not always obvious which keywords to use. The lack of a tool for finding solutions is very counterproductive for the dev world as a whole. Stack Overflow is not very receptive for recommendation threads. So what about a new SE for it?

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marked as duplicate by gnat, hims056, Martijn Pieters, Azik, Aziz Shaikh Oct 3 '13 at 9:50

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

Wikipedia is the first place I go to find things like this. – Michael Hampton Jan 28 '13 at 22:54
@MichaelHampton in order to go to wiki - you need to know what you're looking for. What if you're looking for a tool that has a specific functionality - but you have no idea about its name ? – alfasin Apr 20 '13 at 19:10
@alfasin If the question is: "I need an X that does Y" then you hit up "List of X" or "Comparison of X" and look at the features list(s). For instance: "I need a text editor that automatically indents my code" will lead you to Comparison of text editors with whether each editor supports the feature. – Michael Hampton Apr 20 '13 at 20:05
@MichaelHampton I know how to use Google LOL :) what I'm saying is, that I have more trust towards recommendations made here in SO not only because I like SO, but also because chances are higher that members here will post an answer such as: I like to use X to do Y because it supports the following list of features: 1,2,3... And that is, to me, very helpful as well as constructive. And, TMHO, it is also relevant to the programming world - which is what this website is all about, isn't it ? – alfasin Apr 20 '13 at 20:11
@alfasin OK, so how do you solve the "vi vs. emacs" problem, which tends to make such questions and answers non-constructive? – Michael Hampton Apr 20 '13 at 20:17
@MichaelHampton I would treat it as any other question: meaning, if it's REALLY not constructive (just argumentative) - close it, but if it has any kind of added value to the community (like in the case I described above) - leave it open. If someone states that he likes emacs/vim more because of this and that features - that's great, cause there may be users that are not aware of these features. – alfasin Apr 20 '13 at 20:36

There are none. Stack Exchange really isn't the place for recommendations of any kind, no matter how broad or specific.

On the broad end, your question would get closed as not constructive because it allows basically anyone to post anything they can think of that meets the very few, if any, criteria you have set forward. It just becomes a crazy free-for-all up in there.

On the specific end, your question becomes too localized. The more criteria you add in, the more constructive it becomes, as there's fewer and fewer possible recommendations to make. However, the additional criteria also make it less and less relevant to the community as a whole since now you're getting users visiting who might not care about one or two criteria you have, but they're only seeing recommendations that match those.

These questions basically fall under the “What’s your favorite __?” type questions which are specifically disallowed in the FAQ.

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I agree with the restriction on asking for favorites. However, I see very clearly that StackExchange sites are riddled with recommendations for this or that some are literally including the keyword recommendation in their question:… At times these types of questions are closed and sometimes I can understand why because StackExchange is a place for answers and facts, not opinions. What I'm asking for is a tool or list of tools for the job that has the specified requirements. – Sn3akyP3t3 May 18 '12 at 5:35
@Sn3akyP3t3: Programmers.SE is a much more subjective site, and that is a very edge-case example of a "recommendation." The real question behind that is "How do you write a bug report?" The phrasing is just bad. – animuson May 18 '12 at 5:39
But, @Sn3akyP3t3, if you see any more examples of these types of questions, feel free to bring them to our attention here or flag them for moderator attention on the host site. Our guidelines haven't changed, but not everyone follows them. – Cody Gray May 18 '12 at 6:36
Understood and I will always be checking this site out for answers. I still have a need to satisfy my above question and I'll be searching for a place to get those types of "opinionated" answers. – Sn3akyP3t3 May 18 '12 at 6:48
According the the FAQ section, it's totally okay to ask about "software tools commonly used by programmers" – alfasin Feb 10 '13 at 20:09
@alfasin: If you're asking for help with them (aka having a problem). It is not okay to ask for software recommendations. Please read the FAQ more thoroughly. – animuson Feb 10 '13 at 20:13
@alfasin "Visual Studio keeps rebuilding all my sources whenever I compile. How can I prevent that?" <-- on-topic. "What IDE would you recommend for C++?" <-- explicitly off-topic. – Bart Feb 10 '13 at 20:19
@animuson and bart - sorry but I can't find the distinction you're making on the FAQ section: – alfasin Feb 11 '13 at 3:47
@alfasin: You can't just take one line out of the FAQ and apply it to everything. You have to follow all the guidelines. If you read the "What Not to Ask" section, the very first bullet point is "every answer is equally valid" which includes shopping list questions. – animuson Feb 11 '13 at 4:12
@animuson Asking "what's your favorite software ..." is not like asking: "do you know a software that does ____ ?". I also don't like questions like "what is the best..." but when someone is looking for A tool that has a specific functionality (and he/she did their research) - I would think that he/she has a solid reason to post the question, and I also think that other developers might benefit from that question (once answered) - which is why we're here after all ;) – alfasin Feb 11 '13 at 4:35
@alfasin: Actually, it is. "Do you know software that does this?" still invites users to post their favorite software that achieves the result. Just because the question is phrased differently doesn't mean it will attract different answers. It's still not constructive. – animuson Apr 20 '13 at 17:38
@animuson I guess that our definitions of constructiveness are different :) but seriously, when I started using a Mac I was looking for a good IDE for Ruby. A search over the web brought me back to stackoverflow and I found 3 good options two of which were free! So I totally agree with you that "favorite" is not something you can measure, but due to the fact that different people posted different answers - I was able to find a few good tools and pick one that became "my favorite" :) it saved me a lot of time and hence I consider it constructive. – alfasin Apr 20 '13 at 19:06
@alfasin I think the crux of the problem is the one of choice: you did your choice based on your own criteria for those Ruby IDE, without specifically asking for it. You used google, it gave you the options, and you made your selection. If you were to phrase your question as: What are the different available ruby IDE on SO, the question would be valid, since not argumentative, but people would certainly tell you to use google. adding "best" in the question gives it a subjective spin (the choice part), which is not allowed. – didierc Jun 28 '13 at 10:47
@alfasin another way to formulate your question is the "How do I accomplish this task?", without further constraint. Then people might tell you to use this or that tool. The question is constructive because it puts the emphasis on the task, not the tool (which is where the bias comes from). – didierc Jun 28 '13 at 10:51

Since today we have exactly such a new site called Software Recommendations:

Software Recommendations Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people seeking specific software recommendations.

Good software recommendation requests have two components: a purpose (a task to accomplish, a user story) and some objective requirements (a minimum set of features). Please read our question quality guidelines before asking for a recommendation.

We request that answers demonstrate how the recommended product meets the requirement and is suitable for the intended purpose. Please read our answer quality guidelines before answering a question.

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Stack Overflow isn't very receptive to requests for recommendations because more often than not those questions don't really work with the Q&A philosophy & format, for a variety of reasons:

  • Voting fails, people vote for their favourite suggestion instead of the more useful solution,
  • Recommendation questions typically don't show much prior research (which makes them bad questions in general),
  • Recommendation questions are often time dependent,
  • Recommendation questions are very attractive to link only answers, and link only answers are not answers,
  • Recommendation questions are extremely attractive to spammers,
  • blah blah blah...

Given that Stack Exchange sites share exactly the same philosophy & format, I don't see how a separate site for recommendations would work.

PS. You might be interested in checking out Slant. Not everything needs to be on Stack Overflow / Exchange, and the Slant folks are doing a very good job so far (not affiliated, I just like their service).

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Yannis thank you! But as I said, I was going to delete this question as it's not fit for this site. I can't do it when it have answers, so could you delete your answer so I can remove my question? Thank you! – user189341 Mar 27 '13 at 1:50
Also great recommendation on Slant, thanks! – user189341 Mar 27 '13 at 1:52
@Dokkat Why delete it? Voting on Meta is often used to show agreement/disagreement, don't worry about the downvotes. It's a fair question to ask, people just disagree that we need a recommendations site. – Yannis Mar 27 '13 at 1:53
oh, well, if the question is valid then it's not nice to lose reputation for opinions though. – user189341 Mar 27 '13 at 1:56
@Dokkat MSO reputation is meaningless, no one really cares about it and neither should you. In fact MSO is the only Meta that has reputation, every other SE Meta doesn't. MSO reputation is just a historical artifact, you can just ignore it. – Yannis Mar 27 '13 at 1:56
Slant looks really great, but a) I'd like to stay here "at home" and get software recommendations from SO members! and b) I would trust a recommendation for a PHP framework from someone that has a PHP badge - more than recommendations from people that I have no clue about their backgrounds. – alfasin Apr 20 '13 at 20:40
@Yannis btw, excluding the first point you mentioned, all the other points have no weight: "typically", "often", "attract"... if there's a "link only answer" - downvote it, if you spot a spammer - flag it. And this is relevant to every question on SO, etc. And about the favorite point - I don't think there's anything wrong with that, as long as it is being explained as: this tool is my preferred tool cause it supports a,b,c - not because "I never used any other tool"... – alfasin Apr 20 '13 at 20:44

It doesn't exist. See Ask questions about how to make your software selection instead.

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