I see some posts about asking for product recommendations, which is not allowed in StackExchange family. I understand. QA for recommendations, or shopping questions is not feasible. But for getting a list of names of software applications fulfilling some requirements should be ok, and very useful.

This need showed up when I was going through a document with 30 steps, scrolling up and down, and thought there should be a tool that converts text to a wizard. But searching for such a tool in google returns irrelevant results (maybe my keywords are bad).

I love the way Stack Overflow and the other Stack Exchange sites answer questions. It would be really helpful to ask 'Is there a tool that does X' and get a list of products.

What do you think? If you agree, how can we get such a site?

  • @ben-is-ueq-backwards: Thanks for your edit and tag – thehhv Aug 26 '13 at 13:09
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    Questions which generate lists are known as polls. Jeff covered these kinds of questions in a blog post in 2011. I can't really see the difference between your suggestion and a shopping question, aside from the fact that you aren't explicitly asking for the "best". You have requirements and want a recommendation. People will recommend their favorites. People will disagree and things devolve into a flame war. Same result. – JDB still remembers Monica Aug 26 '13 at 13:59
  • @Cyborgx37: will check the blog post. poll rather than question makes more sense. But still, I can't get my point through. I am ok with people recommending their favorite, but no one should care. The only thing I care is the product's name. In such a site, the community should get this and moderate-out anything but the product name. Not the word 'recommend', not 'I think'. No comparison. No comments. Nothing, but just the product name. Thus no flame war. Not even a spark allowed :) – thehhv Aug 26 '13 at 14:27
  • @thehhv it's usually hard to definitely tell if product meets requirements. Even simple things like "is blue" may generate war: "But it's lapis!", "No, that's azure, my one is really blue!" "you kidding, it's violet not blue!" and so on. – Mołot Aug 26 '13 at 14:29
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    Don't ask for tool recommendations, ask how to solve a problem. – Cody Gray Aug 26 '13 at 14:31
  • @Mołot: product meeting a requirement is quite subjective and problematic. Therefore: No comments, no opinions, just product names and votes could be allowed. But I can conclude if a product meets requirements or not in a few minutes once I get to the product's web site. – thehhv Aug 26 '13 at 14:33
  • @Cyborgx37: Checked the blog post. What I am looking for is not a poll either. Can't even find what it is called. I think I will call it a-catalog-of-products with a-human-search-api :) – thehhv Aug 26 '13 at 14:35
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    @thehhv as was already said, it's against what Stack networks tries to be = objective and as hassle-free as possible. – Mołot Aug 26 '13 at 14:35
  • @Molot: "objective" is the operative word (though can't find where it was already said). I had the impression I was at the wrong place. Now I know why. Good point well-made. Thus end of discussion :-) – thehhv Aug 26 '13 at 14:35
  • @thehhv - I think there are few activities less productive than speculating on how people "should" behave (and how different things would be if they only did x). The issue is how people have and do behave. These kinds of questions have and do generate a tremendous amount of noise, the occasional flame war and very little value. The community has trouble keeping up with this kind of chaff, and moderators are burdened enough as it is (and are really only there to deal with exceptional situations), so the issue was dealt with at the root - banning the question. – JDB still remembers Monica Aug 26 '13 at 14:37
  • @Cyborgx37 - One thing felt like a low blow. How people have behaved is no guarantee about how they will behave. It might be a good indicator, that is just that. Speculation about people's behavior was not my point. Pulling the discussion towards there felt like a low blow. – thehhv Aug 26 '13 at 15:04
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    I apologize if I misunderstood your point, but that's the impression I got from what you wrote: "I am ok with people recommending their favorite, but no one should care" and "... the community should get this and moderate-out anything but the product name." and "No comments, no opinions, just product names and votes could be allowed." Reading this, I got the impression you have some ideal of how other users should behave, how the community should respond and a (in my opinion, nearly unenforcable) rule to control other users toward (in your opinion) positive behavior. – JDB still remembers Monica Aug 26 '13 at 15:15
  • @Cyborgx37 - My bad, those sentences were side-track and formulated in haste. Now I see that I sound like you understood. Just to explain, I was thinking enforcing those behaviours with removing the comment functionality, limiting the answer to few words, and having an enforcement of 'product-name-only' policy by detecting 'recommend', 'think', 'best', 'opinion' etc. Automatic-enforcement should be possible to some extent. Not sure if this was attempted-and-failed before, but to my knowledge it is not. In no way do I want to burden already burdened moderators, or the community itself. – thehhv Aug 26 '13 at 15:27


And these sort of questions don't work with the Stack Exchange model for a number of reasons:

  1. They are time limited. What satisfies the criteria now might not in the future.
  2. They will attract "answers" based on opinion rather than fact.
  3. There is often no possibility of a single "correct" answer.
  4. They'll also attract spam.

You might find that asking in the relevant chat room will get you answers.

| improve this answer | |
  • Not to mention, just a list of product names would not be much of an answer either. – psubsee2003 Aug 26 '13 at 12:47
  • What is 'the relevant chat room'? Chat rooms are new for me. – thehhv Aug 26 '13 at 12:48
  • @psubsee2003, quite right: but it is an answer when I can't find the name to start with :) – thehhv Aug 26 '13 at 12:48
  • I wrote a comment for a recent post I closed. I like the way you put it because it's more succinct, but this is what I said. – George Stocker Aug 26 '13 at 12:49
  • @thehhv Each site has a set of chat rooms associated with it. See the chat link at the top of the page. There may well be a room where people hang out who'd be happy to help you with product recommendations. – ChrisF Aug 26 '13 at 12:49
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    @George Stocker: Not sure if I agree with fulfilling a requirement can be an opinion. After all the person who asked the question, and people that are interested in similar tools will -1 the people who are recommending wrong tools. I think the community will take care of 'opinions' and adjust to 'facts'. – thehhv Aug 26 '13 at 12:52
  • @thehhv It's really hard to have sustainable knowledge about something as transient as a technology stack. For instance, the sheer number of permutations of the "Which JavaScript technology stack should I use, A or B" question would cause the sanest person to pull out their hair. – George Stocker Aug 26 '13 at 12:57
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    @GeorgeStocker: I wonder if we are talking about different questions. As I said 'Which one, A or B' is not the question. Not 'which one is better', or not 'which one I should use/choose'. The question is 'Which products can do X'. I just need answers that are product names, an answer pointing to Product A, another pointing to Product B, another to Product C. – thehhv Aug 26 '13 at 13:08
  • @thehhv In that case, what's the right answer? How do you accept an answer when all answers are equally valid? – George Stocker Aug 26 '13 at 13:23
  • @GeorgeStocker: I see. But, the way I thought, there were two groups of answers. One group that fulfills the requirement, which are right. The other that does not, thus wrong. So as such, there are no 'right answer', but more like right answers. I don't think finding the right answer will be problematic. The people could gather the names of products that fullfill the requirement and mark that as an answer. – thehhv Aug 26 '13 at 13:38

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