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I've found a large number of "shopping recommendation" questions that ask about the "best programming language" for a specific task, and I'm wondering if all of these question should be closed as "off-topic".

This search query shows a large number of "shopping recommendation" questions that ask for the best programming language for a specific task, and it appears that most of these questions are in the category of shopping recommendation questions.

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Looking at the first five questions, they're all closed as NC. So I think: yes. –  ɥʇǝS Apr 20 '13 at 19:37
    
On the Stack Exchange Network, I've noticed that "shopping recommendation question" is often used in a very broad and metaphorical sense, to describe any question that asks for the "best solution", "best tool", "best strategy", or "best programming language" for any problem. –  Anderson Green Apr 20 '13 at 19:37
    
Yes. That's correct. I don't know how it got the name, but anything "best solution" is usually NC (seeing as "best" is disputable). –  ɥʇǝS Apr 20 '13 at 19:39
    
@Seth What does the abbreviation "NC" mean in this case? –  Anderson Green Apr 20 '13 at 19:40
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"Not Constructive" –  ChrisF Apr 20 '13 at 19:41
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@Seth: The "shopping" label comes from Jeff's blog post discussing the phenomenon of recommendation questions: Q&A is hard, let's go shopping! –  Josh Caswell Apr 20 '13 at 19:42

2 Answers 2

up vote 13 down vote accepted

What ChrisF said.

And then...

Please, please, please read the questions before flagging or voting to close!

Some folks use this "best" phrasing out of habit, but aren't actually asking anyone to give them the single best X for every Y that has ever been. IOW, they look like recommendation questions, but aren't. Read the question, see if there's a real problem to be solved there, verify that the answers are actually solving it, and if so... Just edit to tweak the language a bit.

Also... If you use the search operators on Stack Overflow itself, you can narrow that list down quite a bit

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For a little perspective we decided that these questions would be explicitly mentioned as being off topic in the FAQ over on Programmers

what language/technology you should learn next, including which technology is better,

which links to the "Gorilla Vs. Shark" blog post.

It was one of the first things we did to try to increase the quality of the questions we were getting (still work in progress unfortunately).

Unless you've got a very specific set of requirements, in which case your question is really too localised, all you are going to get is a a list of people's favourite language/toolkit/operating system/IDE/what ever.

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