Are questions on software on topic?

This question on writing software seems almost identical to questions on poster, illustration, notebook, citation, and data analysis software. The citation and data analysis questions were closed. All but the data analysis questions are highly voted.


3 Answers 3


As I stated here, I think software questions are definitely on-topic. I think it would fall under the rubric of "Life as a graduate student, postdoctoral researcher, university professor", which is on-topic as per our FAQ.

  • 1
    I wasn't referring to all software questions, but rather ones that are likely to produce a long list as an answer with each being equally valid.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 15:31
  • 1
    @Daniel - Such questions are already discouraged here. That being said, I personally judge these questions individually; if it's well-written and useful, go ahead, says I.
    – eykanal
    Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 19:38
  • Software is of great interest. The correct answer should be modified to indicate this answer.
    – userJT
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 13:25

Across StackExchanges, asking for recommendations for products is strongly discouraged.

As are long-list questions.

As are questions where there is no one right answer.

These software questions hit all three of those. Let's close them all.

  • 6
    Agree with you on that product recommendations should be discouraged. But specific questions with specific needs should be addressed. For example, academia.stackexchange.com/questions/3054/… asks for specific comparison of 3 products for a specific need. If the answers start to go beyond what the OP asks/needs, those answers should be moderated. So in general all software related questions should be handled, separately on case-by-case basis. Should not be banned all the way. Commented Sep 1, 2012 at 8:20
  • The problem is that I am not sure it is the question, or how we answer them. There is a big difference between using LaTeX and MS Word to write a paper or make a poster. See my CW answer: academia.stackexchange.com/a/1894/929
    – StrongBad
    Commented Sep 3, 2012 at 8:06

I think according to the rules software list questions are off topic since the are not "practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face"

That said, I think other sites (e.g., tex.se) have a history of allowing long list type questions.

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