There are presently over 2 300 questions tagged with at Ask Ubuntu. However, now and then questions are closed on the basis of this tag being off topic. As an example, Thomas W. recently closed this question claiming:

I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because software recommendation is not typically on topic here, especially if you are looking for cross-platform solutions.

The question in question is similar to many others: a user seeking advice on which software may perform a particular task. Cross platform is also a common request in open questions with this tag.

The guidelines page does not reference directly software recommendations, but lists among the questions that may be asked:

  • Running third-party applications on Ubuntu.

Finally a note on the Software Recommendations site. It graduated only days ago, and as far as I know, without fully meeting all criteria. My experience there so far has been rather negative, so much detail is required to post a question that it is often impractical. Most (if not all) of the questions tagged with at Ask Ubuntu would have been outright rejected at Software Recommendations.

I would prefer questions to remain on topic at Ask Ubuntu. Perhaps with additional guidelines in the About page.

Update: Questions tagged as are still showing up in the closure thread marked as off topic. Reviewers should continue paying special attention to this.

  • 4
    What is required for a question to contain “enough information”? doesn't seem "impractical".
    – muru
    Commented Sep 14, 2015 at 10:02
  • 3
    I'm fine with software recommendations in general, but they usually come in super low quality format, alone the lines of "I need software to view pdfs". No details, no specifications, no explanation. Those don't make great questions. As @muru points out above, the Software Recommendations rules would probably work well here as well.
    – Seth
    Commented Sep 14, 2015 at 14:23
  • 2
    Of all the SE sites I frequent, Software Recomendations is the only one where I have felt truly unwelcome. The more details I provide, the more details I am asked, without a clear drive for an answer; soon enough the questions are closed. It is certainly not a place I would recommend to a newcomer. Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 7:11
  • 6
    @LuísdeSousa that might be due to the nature of recommendation questions. Such questions become big-list, unmaintained pools of crap. To avoid that, Software Recommendations have to impose a quality control on questions. Since you haven't shown any examples, I have to assume your questions were, well, crap. I went looking, and, honestly, if If you have never heard about Aptana you probably should not be trying to answer this question is how you respond to people asking for details, you deserved what you got.
    – muru
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 16:50

2 Answers 2


I'd say they're on-topic by virtue of them certainly not being off-topic. Just because something is on-topic on another site doesn't mean it's automatically off-topic here.

That said, we still have standards. It needs to be answerable, ideally in a way where the top two answers cover 99% of use cases. Questions that solicit infinite lists of answers (eg "Please recommend any application") will fall straight into the "too broad" close reason.

I don't think we need to be as declarative as Software Recs are, but that meta post is certainly a good pointer for improving bad software recommendations.

I think the first half of ThomasW's comment was a poor choice of words but ultimately I don't disagree with the decision to close this question. The OP has thrown a bunch of buzzwords at the screen, it's hard to divine what they'd consider sufficient encryption.

I don't think it asking for a cross platform solution is a bad thing, it's just one more limit.


Do you use software? I use software. And there are many software that do the same thing, some better than others and not all of them easy to discover only via search engines and searching Ubuntu repositories. I find really useful to have software recomendations topics.

I have seen questions on AskUbuntu about software recomendation that users made like a wiki, recommending software and posting screenshots. I could see and try various and choose that which I liked most.

I believe that making a topic of these rightly and intelligently is very benefical for the community, more than censoring it.

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