Most of the times, in most of the SE sites, polling questions are not well-seen. Paradoxically, they were proven to be quite useful and had a lot of upvotes. When this topic is discussed, however, it becomes a taboo like paying for adult entertainment: most of we pay under the hood, but criticize when we're asked about what is morally allowed.

For this scope to work, I would like to limit my argument or proposal to just polling (and not other subjectivish stuff as described in the question).

Polls are off-topic on almost every SE site where the underlying topic is on-topic (e.g. asking about what game development software satisfies criteria W, X, Y, and Z is off-topic on gamedev.SE, while asking about what python frameworks add websocket support is offtopic on SO), despite proven to be very useful, but now SE sites like Software Recommendations exist to embrace those banished topics.

Should we migrate+reopen those offtopic questions (and tell future users -when closing future questions- the appropriate site to make such questions) to sites like these as long as appropriate sites exist? (currently, Books Recommendations is only a beta -so a migration cannot be done and should be kept close... for now- while Software Recommendations is fully active).

Feel free to upvote/downvote but please add an answer with the reason for either of the outcomes (I personally would like to see an actual opinion instead of just a yes/no statistic). Personally, I think they were useful and now they have a place, so they should be moved to the right place.

  • 3
    Questions, are already migrated to software recs (where appropriate), but they have strict requrements What is required for a question to contain “enough information”. Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 18:42
  • 1
    related: Please stop using Programmers.SE as your toilet bowl
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 19:52
  • Do not see the relationship anyhow. Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 19:53
  • @DavidPostill your comment is pretty much what I would consider expectable and acceptable for migration process :). Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 19:55
  • just try moving "the kind" of questions that "seem" to be acceptable at other site and soon you'll find that regulars of the site you move your trash to are not particularly happy about that
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 19:57
  • Pears and apples. I understand what you say, but I don't see how the two cases relate. Questions like polls have a structure that could be acceptable in SR. It is not the case with the link you provided. Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 20:02
  • I see exactly the same everyday at Duga's Neighbourhood tracking room, where idiots from Stack Overflow repeat it like a mantra oh it's conceptual, should be okay at Programmers and misguided askers repost their garbage, only to find it voted down, closed and deleted
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 20:15

1 Answer 1


No. If the question and answers are useful, then edit the question to focus on solving a specific problem rather than collecting a ranked list of things; if all that exists is a ranked list, assume that the items are out of date and the ranking is compromised, and delete it.


Whatever utility exists for polls, it disappears pretty quickly once they're directed at the wrong audience. If I want to know what Java library the programmers on Stack Overflow use to send SMS messages (for example), asking a group of people who don't work with Java or who've never had to send SMS messages is not going to give me what I want.

The goal for Software Recs was to test two theories:

  1. That it's possible to construct and enforce a set of rules for these types of questions that'll avoid the problems that plagued them on Stack Overflow.
  2. That it's possible to attract enough experienced people to answer them effectively.

It turns out #1 is possible. There were some struggles, but it is possible to get folks to flesh out a problem beyond "I want a thing of type; please list them all so that I don't have to describe my specific needs".

But #2 has been more challenging: you can't expect to find an answer from someone with relevant experience if you ask your programming question on Software Recs, at least not yet. For all the thousands of Java programmers on SO who've struggled with SMS at some point, few or none of them are active on this other site.

Shoveling questions from SO over to SR doesn't fix this either; chances are, they won't have been written with SR's guidelines in mind, so they'll drag along spam and half-assed answers that don't really address a specific problem. And the ones that are suitable for migration mostly don't need to be moved at all - the dirty little secret here is that if you have a specific problem to be solved, you don't actually need to run a poll.

The truth is, polls don't really work much better on SR than they do on Stack Overflow or Super User or... The only difference between a good question on SR and a good question on SO is the structure:

  • SR: I need a software that... problem description follows.
  • SO: I have a problem... problem description follows.

The implicit (and often explicit) assumption on SR is that somewhere out there a piece of software exists that'll solve the specific problem faced by the asker. The implicit assumption on SO is that a solution of some sort exists for the same specific problem - which doesn't preclude existing software. Neither site particularly wants polls. "List for me all SMS gateway softwares in existence" is perhaps slightly more acceptable on SR, but even there it isn't a good question... And neither site is likely to give you anything in the way of a comprehensive answer.

The final nail in the coffin of polling questions on SO was the proliferation of people and companies that saw them as nothing more than opportunities for promotion. Whatever fondness you might have for polls disappears after a few months spent cleaning up spam and voting fraud from companies determined to get their own product ranked higher than their competitor. The questions that still exist are those that've been overlooked; they can keep existing as long as they don't cause problems, but assume they'll be removed as soon as spam starts to appear. If you don't want to see that happen, then take steps now to prevent it by re-writing the question to focus on a problem rather than a potential solution...


  • 1
    So that was the hidden goal? At the Tavern we just assumed you were just grouping up all the question in one place to be able to do just one mass burination ^_^
    – SPArcheon
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 19:40
  • "The truth is, polls don't really work much better on SR than they do on Stack Overflow" << Completely disagree: several potential answers are there, and several users willing to provide a good answer. See this question. Was mine. It has the potential to become a poll. See this one: is more than just a poll, but the list of answers has the potential (even more) to become a poll. Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 19:48
  • Having a poll, and having a specific requirement are not disjoint domains anyhow. Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 19:50
  • @SPArchaeologist you made my day. But no. The question was serious. Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 19:51
  • You're describing a specific problem in that question, @LuisMasuelli. Your specific problem. Critically, you're not asking for everyone's favorite 2D game engine, or a list of all 2D game engines, or a list of all game-related software... You're asking for a solution to a problem, not polling.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 20:03
  • The only difference I see is that I put some constraints. But I remember questions regarding websocket frameworks considered a polling question, even when the websockets topic is narrow enough to become its own constraint. Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 20:10
  • No, it isn't. There are multiple problems that can be solved, and not every library solves every problem. Focus on the problem.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 20:49

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .