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Proposal: Software Recommendations

Why is a whole new site needed to deal about software recommendations as opposed to making topics about software recommendation "on topic" at other sites.

For example, I'm proposing that we make such questions "on topic" at Pro Webmasters.

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  • Maybe think of this site as a bus timetable for someone who has been told no train will take them to where they want to go, and your suggestion re on topic elsewhere as a request for a new railway line. – pnuts Jan 10 '14 at 21:19
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Because no other site wants them, really.

These questions don't typically do well on a Stack Exchange site. First, they totally break the reputation system as the top "answers" are from whomever gets the most popular app posted first! But more than that, the folks who start these lists have little interest in actually curating them, so the whole thing quickly starts to degrade into an unbounded assortment of noise and astroturfing.

That doesn't really bode well for the viability of this proposal. Either the subject of every request has to be incredibly obscure, or the author's requirements so specific, that there could only be a small handful of answers — otherwise, you're just creating a list of "stuff", and that's not really what we do. I haven't seen much in the example questions that meets these criteria.

Personally, I don't see how the participants will be able to live up to the challenge of making this site work. It's difficult to begrudge anyone of their contribution, so more than likely we'll run into all the problems I listed above — either that, or the moderation requirements will have to be so strict as to make this a very unwelcoming place. I'm just not seeing it.

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    Community wikis are good. – bb010g Dec 15 '13 at 5:15
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It would break the reputation system of these sites - and so, it should be isolated.

This site is needed as proven by its popularity in Area51. The moderators just need to give it more leeway than others. Its base of operation would be somewhat more different.

In case of this site probably user reputation will be quite randomized and rather useless feature. That doesn't mean the site wouldn't work - simply, reputation wouldn't matter much.

This site would work differently from others, depending rather on broad audience with broad though shallow knowledge, rather than a small tightly-knit group of experts. I can see Robert already scrunching his nose and muttering "Yahoo answers" under his breath, but bear with me. This is not a site for clueless kids.

There is no single person who would know even 1% of all existing software. Experts on this subject simply don't exist. But most of us have a reasonable knowledge of this subject. There are simply countless intermediates each of whom knows a hundred or a thousand programs. Among them one is bound to exist, to know a program that fulfills your specific needs, and can help you by pointing it out, and you don't need more - you don't need an expert to get a satisfactory answer. In other words, despite breaking the paradigm of StackExchange sites, this site has a good chance to take off and be successful - unless the moderator team snuffs it by trying to squeeze it into the paradigm of StackExchange sites, which it simply doesn't fit.

Instead of moderating it into ground in vain attempts to make karma here meaningful and shoehorn naturally open questions into a form that will have only one answer, ignore the karma system - or if you can't, disable it entirely, just like Area51 Discussion Zone, or make all answers community wiki by default.

Also, always remember Askubuntu. Not all sites need to fit the same paradigm.

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While such a site would clearly have its difficulties (see Roberts answer), it might be a good way to "contain" such kinds of questions. SO has well maintained lists of books to certain topics; so while I agree that maintaining such a list is harder for library/software, given the many questions on other networks that are flagged as offtopic indicates a demand.

It will clearly break reputation system for "most popular" kinds of requests, but those should maybe be flagged as such and not generate reputation then. I myself have often problems in finding libraries that meet rather specific criteria, and asking "can I do XXX" with this library would be much more convenient than having to try implement this with all available ones, costing many hours of work; instead someone would just say "been there, done that, works perfect".

Questions of this kind will however have really strict requirements of "well formedness", given that the requirements are stated clearly, and most importantly not just be a request of "please google it for me, I am too lazy".

These strict requirements will most likely not fit into any other site, where things are often much more liberal. I can imagine this mostly leading to a vivid discussion about the real requirements, and answers being either quick "here, maybe that works for you, I haven't looked at your requirement but saw some keywords" or only following after long discussions, not getting the reputation because meanwhile some others got rep already (mostly those answers that already have a bit reputation will accumulate more).

Also, all these questions, discussions and stating of requirements (there will be many questions with "almost similar" requirements) will mess up google search results; as such they will -- especially for smaller sites -- make the real intresting ontopic questions have a much lower SNR.

So if at all those questions should be ontopic in a rather limited area, which would be a new site. But I personally think that due to reasons Robert mentioned too, this would have a much too low SNR to be useful. A dedicated wiki with matrix tables of softwares and capabilities in high detail would be incredibly much more useful.

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