This is the motivation "Questions asking us to find or recommend an app, device, ROM, accessory or off-site resource are off-topic as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam and become obsolete quickly."

Why are "opinionated answers" a problem? If I ask for a recommendation and five people argue for their favourite solution pointing out advantages with their tool and disadvantages with other tools that's very useful information for me before a decision. If you buy something expensive or important in the real world you usually visit several providers and ask them to argue for their product/against competing products to get a good idea of the market before you make a decision.

And this site is not a safe space for people who can't handle an argument. If you don't like what people are discussing, shut down your computer and watch some Disney channel.

Finally, do you have any source for the claim that these answers become "obsolete quickly"? And what is quickly? If you ask questions about Javascript frameworks or web browser capacity/compatibility I am pretty sure these answers too become obsolete quite "quickly". Are we not allowed to ask that types of questions?

Grow up, ignore threads you don't care about but let other people who care discuss if they like. The live and let live-principle (Yes, I am aware that this principle is no longer practised on American and British universities but that is not a good reason to stop practising it in the rest of the world).

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    Multi-dup. It was tried. It was a disaster. It turned into some horrible Quora/reddit clone. Now, nobody wants it on SO or any other SE site, (outside those who want someone else to do their supplier/market research for them for free). Yah wan' reddit? Gota reddit:) – Martin James Feb 27 '17 at 0:33
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    Even if it was allowed for some narrow requirements that might be possibly summarised in a few paragraphs of text, the record of posters specifying what they want is abysmally bad. Most such attempts at such questions are grossly under-specified, eg 'the best app to do X' - to me, that means the way that minimizes test and debug time. To the poster they might mean 'fastes execution time with input X, (which they will fail to specify), on hardware Y, (which they will fail to specify), to get result Z, (which they will fail to specify). – Martin James Feb 27 '17 at 0:42
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    ..and, after half-a-dozen devs have spend a couple of hours in total, arguing over which DB to use with which server, the OP will comment 'err.. no, my embedded app only has 16K RAM'. – Martin James Feb 27 '17 at 0:46
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    This site is also not a "safe space" for people to ask any question they want regardless of the site's mission and guidelines. There are infinite other places to discuss preferences, we simply have no need to bring it here. – user343082 Feb 27 '17 at 2:04
  • @MartinJames Do you have some links to these "disasters"? – d-b Feb 27 '17 at 2:29
  • @MartinJames So what? No one is forced to answer and people arguing about best database probably do it because they enjoy arguing as well as get some vanity points for it. Let them do that. – d-b Feb 27 '17 at 2:30
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    @d-b - they are free to do so - on reddit. Many sites, most notably SO, are already sinking under a humungous pile of crap. Adding yet more noise to the already weak signal will reduce quality, (such as it is), even further. – Martin James Feb 27 '17 at 3:17
  • I wholeheartedly disagree with this. Experts stick around because such low quality junk is not allowed. And thus people want to ask it because the expertise is here. It becomes a self defeating premise, as allowing it would cause experts to flee. – fbueckert Feb 27 '17 at 23:07

The Stack Exchange network is a series of sites designed for focussed Q&A, and it is not designed to be a series of discussion forums with meandering threads.

Nevertheless, if you are seeking software or hardware recommendations, then there are two Stack Exchange sites that you may like to visit:

Be sure to review their asking guidelines before posting a question on either.

If you do not want to look beyond the sites designed for focussed Q&A, my advice, if you are seeking recommendations, is to not ask for them directly. I think you will find that if you:

  • do your research first,
  • say what you are looking for,
  • say what you have looked at,
  • say what your best candidate is,
  • describe the single main concern you have with proceeding to test/implement that, and then ...
  • ask about that specifically

then you will most likely receive answers that either alleviate that concern, or most SE users, recognizing someone on the "wrong track", will say "you may want to try XXX instead because it meets that requirement in this way".

As soon as you outright ask for a recommendation you are asking for the community to put together a list of options for you to choose one from i.e. most answers will be wasted effort by our volunteers. This is what I see as being the main problem with asking questions seeking opinions on sites designed for focussed Q&A.

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    Please, be advised: is not your good ol' "what's a good washing machine" kind of site. You will probably have to research what the characteristics of the washing machine you want, provide context about where you will be using it, etc. etc. etc. – Braiam Feb 27 '17 at 1:21
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    Thank you for a concrete advice. That is pretty rare here. – d-b Feb 27 '17 at 2:31
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    @d-b it's only rare when you respond like this – Memor-X Feb 27 '17 at 3:08
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    @Memor-X Why should I mince matters when someone obviously hasn't read my question? – d-b Feb 27 '17 at 12:20
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    @d-b because we have this be nice policy which can be summarised as "if you can't post something nice don't post at all" and calling someone a stupid #%<>€!, saying that someone must have autism from their reply (completely irrelevant), those I would definitely class as offensive and you admit that it is. the mod closed your question as off-topic because recommendations are off-topic on Android.SE, that means the Mod did read you question because you are here asking why recommendations are off-topic, not that your question isn't a recommendation – Memor-X Feb 27 '17 at 12:49
  • I've been on SO/SE for a long time now and had never heard of SR or HR. This is a real problem, because all those very good, useful off-topic closed recommendation questions that I frequently visit on SO should be there, people should know about them and the community should grow. Instead people still post on SO, topics get closed. It's sad actually. Things we could do are: - We could move those posts to SR/HR and link to that site. - We could make the site show up when adding new questions that use keywords like "tool" or recommendation". I really hate all this knowledge going to waste. – Bim Oct 5 '20 at 10:43

Recommendations are on-topic on certain sites like Software and Hardware Recommendation SE, however but these have guidelines in how questions should be presented.

this Meta Answer on Anime.SE explains some problems with recommendations, first off

  • They're an excuse for discussion. -- Good recommendations will require extensive knowledge about the OP's tastes and likes/dislikes. This is better done in chat.

unless we are mind readers if the OP isn't clear in what they want it needs to be discussed as you indicated

If you don't like what people are discussing, shut down your computer and watch some Disney channel.

ignore threads you don't care about but let other people who care discuss if they like

however comments really aren't meant for discussing as indicated when there is alot of back and forth comments to a question or answer with a notice suggesting to take it to a chat room. ideally they are meant for clarifying question/answers

  • Not empirically answerable. -- They don't have one, or even finite, correct answers.

Take for instance these poor questions which would appear

i wants a new RPG that can play on Windows 10 [list PC Specs]

recommend me a website login form

program for typing text

first one you can list every RPG that has been released for Windows XP including any RPG that you'd run off an Emulator. the second one you can list any number of log in forms which run off PHP, Java with AJAX, ASP, and these themselves will be broken up between different database types, connection technologies, programming methodologies. the third one you can list anything from Notepad to Vi to Scrivener to OpenOffice to MS Office

sites which allow recommendations, like Software Recs, require you to specify your requirements. a question asking "A 32-bit program for typing text with Style Formatting and Free for Windows XP" or "PHP Login Form for a MySQL Database using MySQLi Library" greatly makes them less broad than their originals.

  • They're flamewar bait. -- People will get into comment-fights about which anime is better, which is the better recommendation, why someone's rec was wrong, etc. I don't want to see that kind of drama here.

these generally are nonconstructive regardless if discussions are encouraged or not. i could say Notepad++ is way better than Vim but you'd have someone who will religiously defend Vim. one of my classmates in university can argue why they wrote the equivalent of 10 pages in Notepad using ASCII to show interface designs instead of using MS Word and drawing the UI Designs in something like paint.

you might think it's easy not to start or get involved in these the truth is less kind

XKCD is relevant yet again

  • Did you ever thought of just ignoring not well formed questions? I asked a question (about reminder/note apps) including the following use case that was marked as OT "Use case: I make a reminder 'buy a spare part for the car'. There are five workshops in different directions from where I live that have this spare part. I want to be reminded when I pass any of these workshops.". I'm pretty sure this use case is both quite generic as well as possible to give a few good (if it exists) recommendations for software. Hence, people could've posted useful responses. – d-b Feb 27 '17 at 2:36
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    @d-b because ignoring them will give the impression they are allowed despite being ignored which then might cause a flood of bad questions to take over the site (i would cite the id requests on Anime and Manga as an example). Software and Hardware Rec wasn't expected to be successful but the community put in the effort to establish a strict guideline to make it work. you also seem to be ignoring that your question is still off-topic on Android as indicated in the help center because it's a recommendation – Memor-X Feb 27 '17 at 3:06
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    @d-b why should a question that isn't on topic be ignored? If you use vulgarity or insult me I will report your comments – Ramhound Feb 27 '17 at 4:14
  • @Ramhound How do you handle everyday social situations when someone changes the subject in an undesired direction? – d-b Feb 27 '17 at 12:17
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    @d-b I don't insult them like you did in that screenshot – Ramhound Feb 27 '17 at 12:39
  • @Ramhound Don't change the subject, we are talking about ignoring comments and questions in real life that are OT. Besides, the insults started when they didn't read my question and groundlessly put it on hold. I reserve the right to respond to an insult with another insult. – d-b Feb 27 '17 at 16:32

First, you have the http://softwarerecs.stackexchange.com site for that questions. My experience with it is that you get surprisingly good answers. Much better as on the quota/reddit/co... (sorry it is so ugly that I won't even write its name, I think everybody knows it googling for Java problems). But not very fast. Answering questions there is also hard, because most questions ask for a very specific sw.

Also I think a little bit more lenience could be much more useful in this sense.

The "obsolete quickly" reason is nonsense also to me (the "half life" of sw tools due to obsolete is around a decade, which is absolutely not quick in the IT).

These questions tend to attract probably a lot of spam, too, although I can't see them in the lack of a 10k+ account. But people getting through regularly on posts marked as "spam" (=mods), probably experience that too many happens with swrec questions.

I think the real reason behind this that these questions attract a lot of crap text.

What you can do: you don't need a sw just as you want. You need a sw tool for a task, to solve a problem. So, ask for the problem without mentioning the need for a tool name. It is possible, that you get a much better solution as a single line tool name ever could become.

Only encrypting the real question "behind the lines" won't work, after some hundreds of reviews everybody can detect it on the spot. The question should be really not an swrec one.

Don't ask, for example: "Give me a tool to crawl a homepage from unix command line". Ask this: "How can I mirror a homepage from a Unix command line if its content is available only after passing a captcha?"

If your question is border case, it depends on reviewers, how they classify it. If you ask high quality, interesting question, it will significantly improve your chances. It happens also often that you actually don't need a new sw, because your problem can be solved by an uncommon configuration/combination of the for you already known ones.

Furthermore, even if your question is closed, you may get useful information fragments in comments. These helpful people tend to invest above average efforts to help others.

  • I like your answer. Especially "What you can do: you don't need a sw just as you want. You need a sw tool for a task, to solve a problem. So, ask for the problem without mentioning the need for a tool name. It is possible, that you get a much better solution as a single line tool name ever could become." that is a perfect illustration of how antisocially anal some antisocial and unkissed IT-people can be. They have a problem, not I! Have a look at this question android.stackexchange.com/questions/170000/… – d-b Feb 27 '17 at 2:40
  • @d-b If you know the system, you can ask practically anything. You need to know, how can you follow the site rules while you still get your answer. I don't know the Android SE very well, compared to my other accs, but my few experience with them was pretty negative, with similar reasons as yours. In your place I would focus to different sites, practically every Android question can be asked on the SO, SU, Swrecs or Unix SE. This question is deleted by them now, and I don't plan for my this life to get to 10k+ by them. – peterh Feb 28 '17 at 0:36

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