Yes... the problem again. Over the past few months we have put a wall up against new questions and deleted some of the old ones. But that's some not all, so seeing that we have been here for a year, is there a better solution we can give to the web app recommendation problem? Because every day or so, a webapp-rec questions comes in.

To play both sides (where before I was strong on closing these questions),

Could we allow recommendation questions based on whether they are specific enough?

Specific being considered on a case by case basis such that if a user sees a recommendation question they must try to aggressively edit it in shape or flag a mod for attention. If a mod deems, it cannot be saved ... it is closed as Not constructive.

The reason being it is indeed easy to find apps with a simple Google search though at one point does it become difficult enough to rely on WA?

The list goes on, we still have 400+ questions tagged so I think we need to be clear on this one.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 12 down vote accepted

What's good is when a question comes through where the user has obviously tried their hand at something, anything, and now needs further assistance or a brand new set of eyes in order to push them through the gates.

What's not so good are users too lazy to do one iota of research beforehand and are throwing their arms up into the crowd for suggestions. Suggestions which may or may not then need to fit through a series of tubes of certain criteria that only they would care for.

Recommendations are really shopping questions before the person starts a first attempt. That doesn't sound constructive, nor does a list of answers that try and land.

There are all sorts of web apps out there. But what have you tried at least? Then we've got something more concrete to work off of.

Example

Not so good version:

I'm looking for an alternative service to HurgleBurgl to manage my time and bee-keeping activities. I've tried BuzzWorthy but it just isn't up to snuff and only allows for 1000 bees and two nests. What do you suggest so that it can ping me when a population of the bees have decided to form their own swarm with a newly elected queen?

Better version:

How can I set up BuzzWorthy to notify me when a new queen bee has been chosen by the swarm that I keep? I've tried setting the alarm to warn me when new bees have been droned in, but the limit is only 1000 bees.

I've also tried it with HurgleBurgl, but it does not have any notification feature at all.

Is it possible to set this up in BuzzWorthy? Or perhaps I should look to another service?

The difference here is that while you may think you need a recommendation, what you really need to show is that you've tried something with an existing service. Failing that, you're more than open to having suggestions for other ways to solve the problem, which may include a totally different service altogether.

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And who are you to determine if someone has done enough "research"? Is there some defined metric that users can measure their research attempts against? If someone asks a question and you feel it is "beneath" you to answer then just move move on. Somebody took the time to post the question, at least give them the respect to allow others to answer. –  webworm Jun 13 '12 at 20:39
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The metric is if they have tried at least one product. Many times, the answer is no and they're just asking for a list of products. That's no research at all. @web –  Eight Days of Malaise Jun 13 '12 at 20:55
    
But how do you know what they have tried? Are you omniscient? It is incredibly arrogant to appoint yourself that judge. Don't be so quick to dismiss the questions that others ask. It may just be useful to others and you can be certain at least one person is interested in the answers. –  webworm Jun 13 '12 at 21:04
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What they lay out in the post is what we have to go on. If they're holding back information then they're being vague. If we have to guess, then it's not a real question. What we see is what we vote on. They have about 30k characters to use. If they don't mention what they've tried, then they haven't tried anything. We're not mind readers. @web –  Eight Days of Malaise Jun 13 '12 at 22:12
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An excellent primer on what constitutes a good question (and how to ask them) can be found in "How To Ask Questions The Smart Way" by Eric Raymond. –  BryanH Feb 26 '13 at 14:34
    
I realize I'm a bit late jumping in here, but I've been running into this a lot and am trying to get a sense of the community consensus- the thing I'm having trouble with is distinguishing (for questioners) between having done research and making a wish-list of features- if that makes sense –  batpigandme Jun 1 '13 at 1:21

I am inclined to widen the scope the FAQ to allow Web App recommendations.

There a lot of existing questions that are useful. However, I would suggest that the FAQ be amended to include an example of a good question that is requesting a Web App recommendation and also an example of a bad question.

It should also be made very clear in the FAQ that questions which are not explicit enough or well defined will be closed as Not Constructive.

I think that we should also include a section in the FAQ about answering these types of questions*. An answer that simply provides a URL, or Why not give xyz.com a try, should not be tolerated.

These types of questions should be useful in generating traffic to the site and as long as we keep an eye on them I think they will be of more use than a hindrance.

* Maybe this should be included in the FAQ for answering any question as standard.

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I think the definition relies somewhat on the answers the question elicits - which is basically what Barry is saying in his answer too.

If it's a bunch (exact value to be determined) of Try abc.com then it's not constructive.

If it's a couple of longer answers that explain why abc.com is the site you need, including possible pitfalls, alternatives etc. then it's probably OK.

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The situation has changed:
All recommendations should now be posted to the new QA site Software Recommendations.

Questions should be tagged web-apps.

Please note that rules are very strict over there:

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I think I saw something there though that implied "services" might be or about to become off topic. Seemed to be "of a web nature" but I'm not sure what was meant (and I could well have "the wrong end of the stick anyway!) –  pnuts Sep 18 at 21:40
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@pnuts: Sort of. You can ask for "email hosting with a XHTML-only UI" but not for "cheapest email hosting". Questions should be more about software features than about service conditions. You can require "gratis" or "under X€" though. –  nic Sep 19 at 1:11

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