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This question already has an answer here:

Our game-rec discussion that ended in game-recs being banned focused specifically on game-system recommendation questions (i.e. those tagged game-rec) for the meta-statistics used to support banning. The same statistics do not hold true for tool-rec, which has not been discussed at all, since it's generally not been a very problematic tag. I propose that until such time as the community decides to reverse it's current standing on tool-rec (i.e. that it is on-topic) it remains on topic, and that all tool-rec questions that have been recently been closed for 'shopping' be re-opened. Also the tag-wiki should be rolled back or rewritten.

In the event that we have already revoked our recommendation guidelines for all questions, I propose we re-instate those guidelines for tool-rec. The proposal is, in effect, to return tool-rec questions to the state they were in before they were affected by our game-rec discussion, or to avoid allowing tool-rec to be affected by that discussion by fiat, depending on what perspective one has on what has happened so far.

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marked as duplicate by mxyzplk Oct 31 '15 at 13:42

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm guessing that a successful "Yes, we should allow too recs" answer would have to include a set of clear guidelines for what makes for an acceptable tool-rec question. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Oct 9 '15 at 4:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Tomorrow (if I have time) I plan to follow this (and my prior complaint) up with a question opening the floor in general to the matter: are tool recommendations on topic? (And some extra.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 9 '15 at 7:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why is this getting retagged discussion? \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Oct 10 '15 at 18:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Because it's not a request for a new feature of the site software. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 10 '15 at 19:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ meta.stackexchange.com/a/185486/274165 may be instructive. \$\endgroup\$ – user17995 Oct 10 '15 at 21:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TuggyNE Yep. That's largely why I don't think we even need to develop a policy to permit explicit tool-recs, since they can be asked just by not presuming a tool is the solution. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 10 '15 at 23:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I concur your last comment. In the question of mine that was closed I did not presume that a tool is the solution. Its just the only solution that came to my mind but my question was not targeted that way. \$\endgroup\$ – Angelo Fuchs Oct 11 '15 at 21:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AngeloFuchs A rewrite might be in order, then? Less focus on “here's what I want to accomplish, tool or otherwise” and more “here's my problem, what's the solution?” possibly? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 11 '15 at 21:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I'll try. \$\endgroup\$ – Angelo Fuchs Oct 11 '15 at 21:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie apparently you guys find this question patently offensive. I'm sorry about that, I sincerely did not intend this as an insult of any kind, but rather as a natural outgrowth of Dopplegreener's discussion question but in feature-request format so we could vote on it (I realize that that's not how feature-request works now, which makes this basically a dupe, but whatever). I'm not sure why you find it offensive, as I tried to explicitly express a very neutral frame in the question, and support everything with citations, but that's irrelevant. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Oct 18 '15 at 6:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ (cont.) If reasonable people find a question offensive, that question should be deleted. As mods, you guys are our community's elected standard for reasonable people, so you guys should, like, I don't know what. I guess I can see how mod-deleting it could go over badly even if it's offensive somehow, given people being upset about the topic and stuff. Anyways, I'm deleting the question. I can't reframe it because I don't know what's wrong with it. Sorry I offended you. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Oct 18 '15 at 6:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I may have missed it, but I didn't notice this being called offensive. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 18 '15 at 8:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/a/5856/14848 "This will be my only post to this question and I do not intend to post to darkwanderer's given its current frame. They're frankly patently offensive and I have better things to do than engage with people who are expressing themselves in this manner." mxyzplk, but I can't Invoke Mod By Name (insufficient Candles of Invocation) so I used you. In any case, I do not think offensive content is okay for any reason except as an example of what's not okay in this community, so since this is offensive something needs to be done. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Oct 19 '15 at 5:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Like I said, I don't know what's wrong with it at all, and I'm usually pretty bad about figuring that out if I don't get it right away and it's obvious to other people, so I can't meaningfully improve the question to make it non-offensive. I guess you guys could maybe or someone else who understands what's wrong with it? It's basically a dupe of dooplegreener's now anyways, though, so I don't think it's worth keeping around except for the answers, which could easily be migrated there, right? That one is also maybe ofensive though (and in that case I can kinda see why, in the frame) so... :( \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Oct 19 '15 at 5:21
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I propose that tool-recommendations stay on topic. With the same rules that are active on Software Recommendations.SE.

For Questions.

For Answers.

I'm biased here because I'm active on SR.SE and I'd love to have more questions and answers in the detail and quality of what I see here on . But on the other hand I see that only very few of you are active there as well, so even if you migrate the questions, you most likely won't follow to provide the answers.

Part of (at least my) intention when SR.SE started was to work out ways how tool recommendations questions could work on the whole SE network and then allow the local experts of the various SE sites use our experience to make recommendation questions on-topic on their sites again.

The other argument is that not all tool-recommendations here could be migrated to SR.SE because some tools are not asking for software tools (like this one).

So, in case you are against having tool recommendations here: Please do consider migrating them. But I'd prefer them to stay here where more domain experts are around to answer them.

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  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I don't see how those guidelines are meaningfully different - in nature or complexity and likeliness to be followed - from the game-rec guidelines that failed here already. Maybe an entire SE based on those rules can work, but long rules as an exception case has already failed and been rejected by the community here. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Oct 12 '15 at 2:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk The guidelines aren't meaningfully different, but the questions they're being applied to are. This question isn't about game-recs, which are rightfully off-topic; It's about tool-recs. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Oct 12 '15 at 4:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Which are just another shopping question - why do we think they are different beyond "oh we want them"? Game-rec and tool-rec are not different in nature, we tried having SE-friendly rules like the above and people just wouldn't do it in practice. "Trying again and hoping it'll turn out different" isn't super compelling. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Oct 12 '15 at 5:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk Whether tool-recs are always shopping questions is currently under debate. Personally, I say they aren't (in my answer to this question). I guess we'll have to see which way the consensus ends up falling. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Oct 13 '15 at 1:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ If it's a "tool-rec" then by definition it's shopping. If it's "how do I do X" and a tool gets recommended as part of that solution, then sure, that's fine IMO (just like some people will suggest "maybe you should try game X instead of trying to mod Toon for gritty combat" in other questions). \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Oct 13 '15 at 1:36
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Tool recomendations can sometimes be on-topic, I think, because they're sometimes not shopping questions so much as they're requests for ways of achieving things.

When a user says "I want a (software) random dungeon generator that lets me specify the extent to which the created dungeons are Euclidean," it's functionally no different to that same user saying "I want a (homebrew ruleset for) random dungeon generation that lets me specify the extent to which the created dungeons are Euclidean." As long as a user is asking for tools that achieve a specific game outcome, tool requests are no different to requests for homebrew - and homebrew requests are most definitely on topic, provided they include sufficient criteria for evaluation and aren't just pure idea solicitation.

Admittedly, tool-rec questions have one extra requirement that most homebrew request questions don't: That any proposed answer must involve a tool. The reason for including that requirement is almost always the same: A software tool designed to perform a task will usually* achieve it more quickly, and with less human effort, than performing the same task by hand. This kind of constraint is nothing new or unusual; Several of our existing homebrew questions specify that quick and easy-to-use solutions are preferred, especially when they're intended to be used in play.

Of course, sometimes it'll turn out that a software tool isn't the best solution to a user's problem. Sometimes the benefit of a tool will be too small to be worth it, or the solution they've envisioned is more complicated than what their problem actually needs - but that's just the XY problem, and any question can suffer from that; It's why we encourage questioners to explaining the problems they're trying to solve, and why we have guidelines for challenging the frame of the question. As long as we keep on following our existing policies, tool-request problems shouldn't present any special problems in that regard.

So, yeah. As long as a question includes a clear statement of the problem the questioner is trying to solve and the constraints they're operating under, we shouldn't have any problem allowing tool-rec questions: We just answer with things that work, ask for more details if the problem is unclear, and vote for the answers that best fit the requirements. Just like we do for any question, really.

*I work in software quality assurance, and it's conditioned me to never assume that software actually works.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd endorse this idea if it took another step further in that reasoning. Specifically, “I want a tool for X” is a poor way to ask the real question, which is “How can I do X?” If they just asked that, people could give the best answer, which may or may not actually recommend a tool to help/do it. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 9 '15 at 5:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, or an assumption that software is highly time-efficient (many software tools we use for RPGs actually are huge time-sinks, in my experience!), and skipping past the problem description to an assumed software-based solution in an XY problem kind of way. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 9 '15 at 5:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Altered my answer based on your comments. Thoughts? \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Oct 9 '15 at 6:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ 1) I still think it doesn't go far enough in that direction. My thinking is that, if they're requesting a tool, it's always an XY problem. 2) The talk about them being OK so long as they have decent criteria makes me cringe too, since Qs including that and As following them are a significant way in which our recs policy was fantasy. That's point was a moderation nightmare. 3) Homebrew is on-topic, but it's not a well-behaved category that should be looked to for an example of good Q&A. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 9 '15 at 14:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ GM-techniques are also often recommendation requests, and are very much on topic. I think that whether or not tools are ever the right solution to a problem is a matter of opinion and we should assume good faith on the part of an asker who requests a tool, and/or frame challenge appropriately. I think the position that looking for a tool (software or otherwise) is always an XY problem is very much a minority opinion (and also wrong and insulting, but hey) \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Oct 9 '15 at 17:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @thedark GM techniques questions aren't shopping question. If a question asked "What are technique to make combat fast", and didn't describe their problem, it gets closed as unclear, too broad, whatever. That's the only way they ever resemble tool-recs: when they're slam-dunk closes. Once they fix it to describe their problem and ask how to solve it, it gets reopened. Again, I would be fine with that process happening with incoming tool requests—I think that should be policy—because it would turn them into Qs that leverage the best of our process instead of the worst. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 10 '15 at 18:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie What do you see as the difference between a shopping question and a technique request question? (I do think that there's a difference; I just want to make sure we're on the same page when discussing it.) \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Oct 12 '15 at 0:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe The difference is that a request for a technique almost always comes with a description of a problem — the part we need — and we can fulfill or ignore the request according to what actually solves the problem. A shopping question almost never describes the problem or how they've tried to solve it, and just asks for someone to make a shopping decision for them. If someone wants to “ask shopping question” by stating the problem they're trying to solve, what they've tried, and asking for a solution, without actually asking for a recommendation, that's actually good! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 12 '15 at 0:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Thanks for the info - that's close enough to how I'd have phrased it as makes no difference. That said, I'm now not sure how you think this answer should be improved. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Oct 12 '15 at 2:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think he means per this meta.SE guidance: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/158809/… \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Oct 13 '15 at 1:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk Ah, I see - You say SevenSidedDie's suggestion is that tool-rec questions be re-worked until the point where they no longer actually ask for a tool. That's actually a pretty reasonable stance; I do like my own solution, but I like that solution almost as much, and would upvote it if it were posted as a separate answer. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Oct 13 '15 at 2:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll submit that when Dopple gets done submitting his question (this one, rewritten in a more neutral way). In the meantime, check rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/69861/… as an example of a q that could have been a game-supplement-rec or a tool-rec but it has been retooled into a "here's my problem" question that could be answered with a game product, a tool, a technique, or something else... \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Oct 13 '15 at 23:24
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Our previous policy on how to permit and handle all recommendation requests was revoked by popular acclaim, for a simple reason:

Nobody liked following them

It has been asserted that the effect of that revocation on tool-recs was not intended, but that assertion doesn't change the fact that the policy is gone. Revoking the recs policy took tool-recs down with it for the same reason: nobody liked following the policy for tool-recs, and so they were mostly not followed.

So we currently do not have a policy that could handle tool-recs being on-topic, even if we were to declare them so. Without such a policy permitting recommendation requests (to locally-supersede the SE policy against them), we cannot accept them.

The previous guidelines did not work

Just asserting that tool-recs should be on-topic is technically not implementable, as we lack a supporting set of rules to make it work. Proposing that the old rules should be reinstated with no rewrite is not practical either, as we have ample evidence they fail to do the job.

We won't be re-using the previous guidelines as-written, as they did not work as intended: we were bad at following them. Persuasive reasoning that the community will somehow follow them faithfully this time is, I suppose, not impossible in theory, but without at least attempting to show how they will work differently this time for tool-recommendations, they won't be reinstated as-written.

A new policy that integrates the lessons we've learned since 2010 would have a better chance of success, but as there are ample places on the Internet to make such requests, and this is a fringe use-case for RPG.se, I see no positive cost-benefit value to the effort of developing new draconian rules to allow our site to accommodate these marginal questions.

We-the-community like the idea of *-recs but not the reality

I think we like the idea of recommendation questions more than we like their reality. We want to share our love of awesome things, be they games or tools or whatever, and reap the rewards of others agreeing that yes, that thing is awesome.

But we don't really like the discipline necessary to make them work here. We don't want to follow restrictive rules about what we can and can't recommend, and what we must and mustn't say about the things we love. Even worse, we can't control random new users who aren't even aware of the policy, and who don't understand why they're being hit with downvotes and comments telling them they did something wrong.

We cannot gracefully handle recommendation questions. We don't have the depth of will to do them well. Even those of us who do have the will are not able to pass that will onto new users as the community membership experiences turnover. We recognised that and abandoned the attempt as futile. We still like them, in theory, but in practice we don't actually want what it would take to host them.

The bottom line of our situation is that until someone comes up with a brilliant plan that will address the fact that nobody liked following the rules, we won't be restoring any kind of recommendation request question to on-topic status. We all like them and wish we could host them here, but wish-based decision making doesn't lead to success.

Other places on the Internet serve the need just fine, and we don't. That's OK, and that's the current bottom line.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I am stating that the revocation was for system-reccommendations only, and proposing that as such the 'former' policy should continue to apply to non-system recommendation questions. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Oct 8 '15 at 18:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer Yes, I know. That is incorrect though. The proposal was to revoke the guidelines themselves. This has been done. A few people merely asserting that the proposal was for something else won't overturn the many who supported the proposal that has been enacted. This answer is attempting to correct a mistaken premise, since proceeding on a misunderstanding is going to be difficult. Also, it provides advice on what would be more productive toward your desire than arguing against what is already done. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 8 '15 at 18:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ I voted on game-recs. I certainly never voted on "all recs". If I did do so, you did a damn bad job of communicating that. \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Oct 10 '15 at 8:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Are you saying your total communication failure is somehow my fault? Quote me the line where it says you are going to ban tool-recs please? Which line did I not read? \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Oct 10 '15 at 20:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt The line where the entire post was about how the guidelines don't work and proposing to recind them wholesale? I don't know what to tell you. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 10 '15 at 20:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener It's a documented fact, not our say-so. Look: few to no users liked following the rules in [game-rec] or [tool-rec], leaving us mods to chase users around like children. Do you know how crappy that felt? We are not bringing back rules that weren't even being followed, and that's the end of this story. Propose something new that addresses that failure, or see this go nowhere. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 11 '15 at 22:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ So when you wrote "game rec" in title and body of said posts, you did not actually mean "game rec", but something else. And that I took it at face value and expected your "game rec" to mean "game rec" is my fault and to blame on my missing reading comprehension. Seriously? \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Oct 11 '15 at 22:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is there a list of tags that belong together, so next time I vote on tag [a], I don't get surprised when you ban [b] and [c]? Where would I have looked up the relationship when I read that posts? \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Oct 11 '15 at 22:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ In case it hasn't become clear, total non-acknowledgement plus just pointing people forward and repeating the facts of the matter are not actually a good complaint handling technique in combination. They're great if all you care about is people shutting up and giving up communication with you. You also enjoy a position of authority here, so when you do that, we just go away and feel frustrated for it and have nobody else to comminicate with. That doesn't seem appropriate for here, but it's up to you if you want to pick a technique that has terrible effects on everyone you use it on. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 11 '15 at 23:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ There's other approaches available. Here's one that might work better: "Hey, yeah, sorry, that was obtuse and I apologise for the communication failure. Right now we don't have very workable rules and in lieu of these being rejected we need new ones. The old ones really sucked, and tool recommendations were just as bad from our perspective. Can you open a meta to create new rules for these and we can get this sorted out?" Acknowledging their side plus sharing of your side and then requesting a movement forward can have about the same end result and leave everyone feeling good about it. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 11 '15 at 23:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, validation of a person's complaint - more important whether it's valid from their perspective rather than from yours or any objective perspective - helps them work with you. Refusing acknowledgement or dismissal positions you as someone who doesn't get it. That's fine if they're being unreasonable (I don't think we are, we legitimately have reason for our positions). Here though, you probably want to be able to work with people rather than against them, so walling up... again, up to you if you want to use that, doesn't seem like a great idea though. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 11 '15 at 23:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I do understand the complaints. We all liked having recs on the site (even I did — I championed them for a long time). The rules were obtuse — that was part of why they weren't being followed, and I can see how that would contribute to misunderstanding what we revoked. If a sign that we get it is all that's being looked for here, that we can give. What we've been experiencing this as isn't that though — what we were perceiving here is “it happened wrong, so shouldn't have happened and needs to be un-happened.” If that's not the objective — then we've had a massive misunderstanding, yes. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 11 '15 at 23:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie the initial perspective in my thing was "this happened wrong, we never got to talk about this thing properly and actions happened which shouldn't have, we need to sort this out somehow" but I had such a time of even discussing "this happened wrong" with you that I never got around to being able to put energy into the "somehow" - and then I was told I was being offensive from a mod who was simultaneously insensitive and belittling, and that was about the last straw so I stepped away. I plan on doing the something, which will be opening the discussion that should've been. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 11 '15 at 23:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I can see that. The practical difficulty I have here though is (and I have consider practicality as a mod), is that there's not much I can see to be discussed. If it happened wrong — what's to be done? Nobody liked and few followed the rules we had, so I don't know what profit there is in discussing the old rules; in practical terms, I see only a chance for something new. We could instead discuss what went wrong separate from what to do with tool-rec next I guess, but I also don't see much profit in a discussion just about ad-hoc procedurals of a one-time event. So where to go next? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 11 '15 at 23:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie What can be done is that we at least discuss it. That action be taken consistent with community discussion and agreement. What you have is secure agreement that game recommendations didn't work - but neither of us can say with certainty how many of those voters were people thinking "all recommendations" and how many were thinking "just the [game-rec] tag" (because that information isn't available). I saw tool-recs experiencing separate issues - for example, nobody can recommend their favourite tool for every tool request, because they're very visibly different. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 12 '15 at 0:00
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Tool recommendations should be off-topic, because they are. Not because of any relation to previous game-recommendation rulings.

Tool Recommendations are the ultimate offsite-resource.

Stack Exchange aims to be the place where you find a solution to your question. Not a link to a blog to a forum to a post to a link that is down. No! You open the Stack Exchange question and answer and you got an answer. An off site resource as an answer is contrary to the foundations of Stack Exchange.

A software tool can never be the answer. Because it will never fit in an answer. A tool will always have to be a pointer to an offsite resource.

Stack Overflow has a default close reason for questions asking for tools. And those guys should know. Programming is all about tools. You cannot program without at least one tool (called a compiler or interpreter). And still, they have banned tool recommendations, even if tools are an essential part of the job.

Questions asking us to recommend or find a book, tool, software library, tutorial or other off-site resource are off-topic for Stack Overflow as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam. Instead, describe the problem and what has been done so far to solve it.

A best-case tool recommendation is an opinionated shopping list of off-site resources. That really is all SE is not supposed to be.

Make tool recommendations off-topic, because they are off topic. They are not solving the problems by presenting a solution. They seem to solve problems by sending people on a wild chase through the internet, on a hunt for the solution. That is not what SE/SO stand for. SE/SO stand for helping people right here, with SE/SO being the last site one needs to open to have a fix for a problem.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note: SO very carefully bans rec questions, not because rec answers are inherently bad, but because most of the answers those questions get tended to be bad. An answer that recommends software and gives a sound, specific rationale for its use is fine. An answer that also instructs in the details of how to use that is great. If you flag such an answer on SO, you have a pretty good chance of getting a well-deserved decline. \$\endgroup\$ – user17995 Oct 10 '15 at 19:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Basically, a link to an off-site resource is only a problem when a) it could reasonably be excerpted, but isn't or b) the only reason to suppose it's an answer to the question is because it's in the answer box. Completely banning anything that's not Markdown-expressible is not how SE does things. \$\endgroup\$ – user17995 Oct 10 '15 at 19:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just to make my point: We at Software Recommendations.SE not only allow, but actively want tool recommendation questions and yes - Use Software X CAN be an answer, even if the links rot. In case you are interested how it works, come over and have a look. (There are some other SEs who also allow rec-questions, so it can't be that evil. Banning rec-questions is more a SO thing and spread from there, afaics.) \$\endgroup\$ – Angelo Fuchs Oct 10 '15 at 20:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TuggyNE I don't understand your rationale. An answer to a question that's off topic can never be great. It should not be given in the first place. \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Oct 10 '15 at 20:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt: A question on SO must not ask specifically for "software to do X", because on SO, such questions usually invited lots of opinionated or contentless answers, just saying "Use YZ package because reasons." However, if in the course of asking to do X, it becomes apparent to an answerer that YZ provides a good way to do things, they can and should recommend that, explaining why. The fact that rec questions happen to often prompt lots of bad answers is a statistical observation, not exactly a fundamental semantic assertion. \$\endgroup\$ – user17995 Oct 10 '15 at 20:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TuggyNE I agree. But still, we are talking about questions here. Having questions that ask for tool recs is off topic. If someone asks another question and a possible answer is "You can do X, tool Y makes it easy." that's cool, but the question should always about doing X, not about what Y is the best. And the answer should always have an explanation of X, no matter what Y is used. \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Oct 10 '15 at 20:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt: Your answer here claims that the best case for a rec question is an opinionated list of bare links. That's clearly far from the case. If you want to argue that here on RPG the same historical accidents (if you will) that caused tool-rec questions to be off-topic on SO apply, well, that may be the case, but right now you're not actually arguing the way SO policy was formed, so you can't actually use SO as an example. \$\endgroup\$ – user17995 Oct 10 '15 at 20:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TuggyNE I'm not saying bare links. I'm saying that a tool must by definition be an offsite resource. You can add a great description and explanation and picture with that link, but still, it's an offsite resource and not what SO or SE aim to have as an answer. \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Oct 10 '15 at 20:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt: Again, SE (and SO in particular) really do not have a policy that requires everything to be Markdown-expressible to qualify as the core of an answer. If the answer really is "Use X to do Y but watch out for Z", trying to delete or ban that answer because X is a 150 KiB package that SE doesn't mirror is silly. So the key is whether questions will actually lead to that desired end state of good recommendations — which are upvoted on SO — or whether they'll attract bad ones. Assuming all recs are bad by definition is flat-out wrong. They aren't. They never have been. \$\endgroup\$ – user17995 Oct 10 '15 at 20:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TuggyNE I'll stop arguing with you. SO stated it's intent quite prominently in the close reasons for questions, I quoted it. Answers are not the topic here. \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Oct 10 '15 at 20:41

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