My understanding of the answers and votes on the question whether software-related questions are on-topic is that indeed, questions on software as tools for work in academia are on-topic. Now this question was closed recently. To my understanding, the question is about tools too. Perhaps it is on something many would regard as too lowly and dirty issue, but I think it's relevant to work people in academia perform. So I would like to finally see how to deal with questions regarding tools, be it software, hardware, or otherwise practical things making life of a teacher, or a researcher easier.

As I expressed already elsewhere, I'd rather take an inclusive position regarding deleting question on this site. This should be a place to provide answers of whatever kind relevant to academia, rather than a list of FAQ for academics. Hence my question above.

4 Answers 4


I agree with you that this question is basically on-topic. To be honest, I'm also a bit annoyed by the fact that the question was closed and deleted without a single comments or explanation as to why the closers/deleters believed it was off-topic, meaning that the OP had no chance to improve his/her question.

I'm going to undelete and reopen the question (there is only one vote missing for the undeletion and two for the reopening, so I don't feel like abusing moderator privileges).


That question is well-phrased as an academic concern, and I agree with you that it's on topic here.

To the broader point, I agree with you; if something is well phrased an academic concern, I would definitely rather keep it here than delete it.


I also agree with this sentiment. Technology plays an essential role in all areas of life, but the needs of academics can in some cases be quite specific. I don't particularly like the attitude of several 'experienced' acad members who tend to punitively close academic specific questions but relating to software, websites, etc on the general presumtion of 'not relevant to academia', despite receiving several constructive responses and healthy discussion. Just because one doesn't personally find it interesting doesn't mean that other people with academia don't find it useful. I do like this site, but in generally I feel that these types of questions are not welcome, despite having no other natural home (for example the first question I asked here got several answers and a good discussion, but was then migrated where it still has virtually zero response).

I would like to get more involved, as this area is personally particularly interesting to me, but I don't see the point in contributing if my efforts are permanently deleted from the ether due to other people's biases.

  • I am experiencing a similar thing with my question about data backup/security - something absolutely critical in academia that would potentially have strategies to share for academics. But, I am told it is a 'boat-programming' thing - something I still don't quite get.
    – user7130
    Jun 28, 2013 at 23:46

I'm confused about the inconsistent application of questions about tools and whether they're on topic or not.

For example:

https://academia.stackexchange.com/questions/10597/how-can-i-use-the-ms-onenote-application-for-my-lierature-search was closed and received downvotes.

How to read and take notes on research papers is open and has a number of upvotes.

The close votes for one is that it is off-topic (rather than, for example, being "not constructive"; arguably the second question shows that the some solutions have been attempted, whereas the first one does not illustrate this preparation) but at the core these questions have similar styles.

  • 1
    The OneNote question is a poor fit in my opinion because there is no single correct answer, rather it is looking for a poll about how people use it. The "how to take notes" question is looking for a fact based answer (is there a tool and if so what is it). This could potentially become a big list or polling question, but it hasn't degenerated into that yet.
    – StrongBad
    Jun 18, 2013 at 12:45
  • 2
    I don't agree with your assessment, as a "How do take notes on papers" can range from "Use Word" to "Use OneNote" to "Use Evernote" to "Print them out and write on them" as I feel that none of those are single correct answers either. But I think I'm more about leaving feedback. We're more open than most SE sites about open-ended questions, but I feel that if we do close a topic we should be clear about why it was closed - if it's not off-topic, then we should instead indicate that the question showed a lack of research or detail.
    – Irwin
    Jun 19, 2013 at 18:57

You must log in to answer this question.

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