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We get quite a few questions. I'd like to bang out an expected format for these questions to prevent them from melting into too localized or subjective trite.

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  • Please feel free to expand where ever you see fit! Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 21:29

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Answers

Suggestions for answers to a software-recommendation question

Be specific!

If your answer is less than a paragraph you likely haven't created a high quality answer to a software-recommendation.

A picture is worth over 9,000 words

The title says it all! Include screenshots of the software in action, a photo will typically help hook a user and encourage them to read more. It's no secret users love pictures in answers decorate your answer with 1-2 pictures of it in action and consider the quality of your post increased!

Details, Details, Details!

Consider highlighting features that are related to what the user originally requested or include use cases for this piece of software in particular. What sets it apart from every other solution? Why do you use it? The more information you can pack in the answer, without simply just copy-paste the product page, the more informative your answer becomes and the more awesome you are!

Learn more, tutorials, additional resources

Topping off your post with a round of links to the software's tag, the homepage for the software, really good tutorials for getting started, or any other places for a user to explore further!

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Questions

Tips and points related to asking for software recommendations.

Scope, Scope, Scope

If a question is too broad it will attract a large quantity of answers which will likely lower the overall quality of the question due to the impossibility of sifting through each. However, if the scope is too narrow the answers will only pertain to a very small audience, resulting in many narrow scoped questions about similar topics and a fractured solution overall.

When can narrowing the scope improve the quality of the answers?

When you ask a software-recommendation question, make sure you detail the features you're looking for and/or what your end goal/ideal solution would be.

Simply asking "What games are available on Ubuntu?" will be too large of a scope and can generate too many answers to be of value. Instead you may wish to ask something like:

I used to play a game on my Amiga that was a Lunar Lander clone with the added feature of dodging meteors while landing. Are there any similar games for Ubuntu that anyone is aware of? Or other "gravity games" like Lunar Lander that I might try on Ubuntu?

When can broadening the scope improve the quality of the answers?

When asking questions like:

  • "Photoshop Alternatives?"
  • "What music players are there other than Banshee?"

... consider making your question a little broader in scope. For example:

  • "Graphic Manipulation Software for Ubuntu?"
  • "Music Players for Ubuntu?"

... appeals to a larger audience and can be used as a canonical answer for other such recommendation questions. The answer to the later will also, of course, include Banshee as an answer, but it will also provide a list of additional music playing software.

At the same time, keep in mind the "Narrow Scope" rule above, and list any requirements or features that you consider essential in the alternative.

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